Saturday, January 31, 2009

NCYC09 CONVERGE Bible Study THREE



A recent version at the MPH Concert/see also the GetUp version by Uthboy etc

Bible Study # 03 BEAUTIFUL - NAKED [Curator: Rah]
Today's theme is about us 'emerging' from and through the NCYC experience and is a recognition at this stage of potential 'overload' or at least where punters will have experienced speakers, worhsip, submersions in community action, calls for response, as well as Bible Study.... a lot!
There was a keenness in Rah's brainstorming and curatorship that we also recognise our carbon footprint and strip back this day from electronics, screens, and complexity... to allow the participants a space to process while offering another step along the input journey!!
There were also [2] aspects of NCYC more widely which pre-empted our plans and were reflected in our Order!

1. Participants were kept outside and were addressed...
Bradon: 'This [pointing to his feet] is what I stood on when I came to NCYC"
Lenny: 'But once here, we have been saturated with information'
[Bradon doused in a bucket of water]
Bradon: 'What will you be standing on when you leave?'
[People enter the space]
2. STORMS VIDEO on the JT massive screen...
In development [and fearing us giving heaps over the stripped back plans] Rah included an edited video of STORMS from storm chasers, found all over youtube...
On the floor floodlit like last nights water tank from the alt.worship was a bluecloth surrounding a small boat made from riveted softdrink cans.
3. 'The Great Storm is Over' sung by Sam/Katie
4. BIBLE READING DRAMA [Gregor and Lenny]
Reader 1 and Jesus: [Mark 4:30-37] he also said, "With what can we compaer the Kingdom of God or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth: yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that birds of the air can make nests in it's shade.
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to the disciples.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side."
And leaving the crowd behind, they took him in their boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that boat was already being swamped.

Reader 2: It will be a hard day for me to forget... A hard day for all of us to forget.
I mean, I am a fisherman, I am a man of the sea... but I have never experienced a storm like this. It made me so nervous and queasy. The waves were high, and the wind belted around my ears fiercely. I couldn't hear myself think.
Jesus! It was a storm and a half! I couldn't believe it, Jesus was asleep!

Reader 1 and Jesus: [Mark 4: 38-40] But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still! Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?"

Reader 2: Crikey! [we had a throwaway line linking the pathos of the film 'Australia' in our first drama just to give it a contemporary link and Rah cleverly repeated that to link both dramas] The wind died down because he said so! I looked at the others and we were all stunned. I am sure deep down, they all felt like I did... a little gutless. Jesus was always so trustworthy. I wanted to know what he knew, be reassured by God the way he did... Maybe he was right though,... maybe I didn't have enough faith. I had no idea what storm was brewing in the bigger scheme of things... He was taking us somewhere completely foreign to Jews.

We'd all seen him do his thing before... Heal people, blind people, lame people, all of that. He was pretty good to people, you know? But, what he did... what we saw when we got to the other side was a bit of a challenge. You have to understand, that as a Jew, when you see a group of gentiles realise that God is good and doesn't want them to be opressed anymore... when a demon of death is exorcised... it is pretty amazing. That trip made me wonder? 'can it be true?, can we become like he says we can? Like Mustard? [pause] can we be free [pause] do we dare?

5. TALKY BIT
This outline was expanded on live....
'Our Team has called this the NAKED day
What happens to us now?
WE are the disciples. WE can see a storm. WE already know what the water is like, the conditions of the sea, the things to expect... WE have our own experiences already of injustice, of sadness, of forgiveness and grace, yet we still trun to Jesus and say "Teacher we're in trouble"
The Bible is an interesting book... It can also be hard to read. It's old. It's weird.
How often do you read it, AND understand it?
There's a thing called "hermeneutics"....
We backgrounded Mark... first book, 70 years, in a hurry...
Jesus had messed with people a bit and Mark wanted people to 'get it'

Mark is clever, wants people to have courage, uses the mustard seed story and others to speak into the situation with the opressive leaders at the time...
Uses the STORM as a symbol that its going to be challenging, that the disciples were challenged...
The Jews didn't believe it all included the Gentiles, but in stories like Legion Jesus included others, continued the layers of meaning and the disciples like us, take a while to realise what's going on...

Sometimes this will take time... the faith stuff, the justice stuff.

Intro to "From Little Things, Big Things Grow" and a reminder of the first day story of Roas Parks.... out of people tired and weary of the systems that keepthem hungry and unrespected.
It is part of our story, one we can and should enter....
6. "FROM LITTLE THINGS BIG THINGS GROW" sung by Sam/Katie with brief extra explanation re Vincent Lingiari...
7. STATIONS for INTERACTION
Again a stripped back appraoch although we had discussed setting up some from the previous session because we'd run out of time and had a band scheduled straight after us....
a. Used Rah's 'Discussion/Reflection Circles' with slightly different focus of A4 paper with either RAT [as in I smell a RAT] or FISHY [as in there's something fishy about this thought] to allow people to 'unpack'
b. Writing on your FEET... was pre-empted at whole convention gathering by Shane Claiborne but we left it in as a reflection/addition...
c. SEEDS were provided for people to symbolically take home
d. WRITTEN responses on newsprint with time to write
e. We planned the opprtunity for people to WRITE on their HANDS or a scan of them to take away ideas, commitments etc
8. THANKS/FEEDBACK/Q&A MAILBOX RESPONSES
9. SENDING OUT SONGS
"Flame Trees"
"True Colours"
"Beautiful" with the Audiovisual in Photostory of everyone's photos from Day One
Sung by Sam/Katie

We were down on numbers a little today [testament to the 'overloaded' call] and a little 'all over the shop' feeling like we were nearly done... so I think that flavour came across and people were a little restless BUT we got there and today was similarly well received and people stayed,participated and connected!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NCYC09 CONVERGE Bible Study TWO


Bible Study # 02 UGLY [Curator: Rob]
Today's theme is about the fact that Jesus spent time with, chose, spoke out for and represented those on ther margins and calls us to the same margins!! That the Christian faith is not a selfish me first, consumer driven posession but is indeed an invitation to see others with Jesus eyes, to join God's mission in the world and it means getting UGLY!!

1. As people entered we had looped the Matrix styled countdown clock and backing with a darkened room. It reminds me that what we were attempting to do was engage the punters more fully than a 90min lecture or even a dialogue with multi-media would have... the great thing for us as a team is the way the group embraced what was offered, engaged in the options and gave great feedback to us and other leaders that asked!! We await the qualitative evaluation feedback but know ourselves that we 'did good!'
2. After the Matrix loop when people were 'in' we switched to the previously posted AV I had put together with "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay as a primer about our fragility and that none of us is 'invincible.'
3. Brief spoken intro to 'Ugly' [Rob]
4. A bracket of songs from Sam/Katie finished with a cover of "Not Pretty Enough" Kasey Chambers and it was as usual a distinctive rendering.
5. Somewhere in putting this day together there was inspiration that as Jesus surprised, cajoled and the disciples it had something in common with the great Aussie TV invention "Thank God You're Here" where actors, comics and celebrities are thrown into improv drama sketches with the task of responding for a laugh and Tom Gleisner the judge...
In this sketch Jesus was invited to walk through the BLUE DOOR and was greeted with "Jesus, thank God you're here..."

“THANK GOD YOU’RE HERE” DRAMA SKETCH
The ‘blue doorway’ is in place and a few disciples are together. Jesus arrives and [maybe even a show host introduces him and invites him to go thru the door]
JESUS enters via the door
James has one foot on a milk crate, Jesus is carrying one.
James: “Jesus! Thank God you’re here!
Have you seen the local newspapers, have you heard what people have been saying in Jerusalem?
This is outrageous!!”
Jesus: asks quizzically “James?”
James: [shows newspaper] “No, look…
What have you been saying to people?
And who have you been hanging around with?”
[pause]
Jesus: “Arrggh”
James: “Blessed are the peacemakers”, quoting the Torah back at the Teachers,
And who was that woman at Simon’s place the other night?”
Jesus: “Arrggh”
James: “Jesus, you are our leader…
some witty slogan on a t-shirt isn’t gonna bring in this revolution you know!
We didn’t leave our fishing nets to live on the edge…, we thought… “
[Jesus interrupts]
Jesus: “James, I called you, to live out God’s version of your life,
siding with those who struggle. Despite what people think,
life isn’t actually lived out on a DS Lite…”
James: “But…”
Jesus: “Look, when I said “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength…
and love your neighbour…
I bloody well meant it!”
James: “Crikey!!!
You mean your premis really is that you ‘represent’ Jahweh,
whose efforts to connect with humanity stretch back to and beyond Deuteronomy
in the Jewish scriptures you were quoting
AND that your comment about ‘being a servant’ is a POLITICAL statement about the seductive nature of power and how this God we worship is about giving up power, connecting ourselves with others by siding with them,
speaking up, not standing for injustice
and by being THE BEST PERSON WE CAN BE!”
Jesus: “Ah, yeah…, in a nutshell!’
Explainer: [interjects] [stands on a milk crate]
“G’day, I’m Nigel from the Explanation Company!!
Any questions? [brief pause ignoring any actual questions]
I’ve been hired to explain this drama. I think we’ve reached that point!...
My card… [hands blank business card to one ‘punter’ at front]
You see,
Jesus and his followers are heading for trouble, confronting the powerful in Jerusalem and speaking for life lived, not by the rules, but by love…
His hermeneutic (write that down and look it up later)
his message for you and for me today is…?
His message for you and for me today is…?
Mmm, well, Jesus showed who God sides with and who is not ‘far from a world lived according to God’s values…
Zack the Tax Collector, the woman at the well… we’ll call her Amber!,
people who care, who ask questions, who aren’t fooled by brand names and fashion,
People who see their own story, linked to everyone else’s story…
Jesus: “As I was saying James… sometimes we need to get UGLY,
to know our own monsters and to look beyond them in others!”
James: “Riiigght!”

6. BIBLE READING/s were pre-videoed on the Tour heading into NCYC just as another variation on someone having to read at length
Mark 10: 32-45 Mark 12: 28-34
7. TALK [Rob]
I will have to add these notes when they're written up but the theme was that we are invited to 'get UGLY' and that faith is not a gift we simply receive but a relationship we are invited to participate in by losing ourselves to gain life.... that those who want to be great need to be 'servant' and that living out the commandments to LOVE GOD and LOVE NEIGHBOUR are costly...
It included clips to illustrate the point [and typically went a little overtime...]
“Big Issue” clip from a doco from Melbourne found on Youtube
“Fall at Your Feet” clip previously posted about with Sam/Katie singing beautifully ala the James Blunt cover of Crowded House but to a backing video from my daughters annual ballet concert with a solo dancer from that night [spookily known to Sam/Katie from their Performing Arts High School here in Newcastle. All credit to Jessie Attwood.
I included my ongoping theme about the power of stories and us 'entering into the story' with a snippet from Phil Jamieson on 'Enough Rope' cut but leaving in his final song and the audience member reaction.
"Another Radiohead Fan" from Youtube is an advert about not jusging people outwardly and features a disabled person in a wheelchair singing along to 'monsters in my head' Radiohead, which would sound a little off-putting without suspending judgement.
We cut the clip from the film "Saved' where the girls try a drive by exorcism and Mary gets hit in the back with a Bible... "this is not a weapon you know!"

8. Originally the plan was then to have Sam/Katie sing "Ugly" Sugababes with a backing of the pictures I'd taken on day one of most people from our Bible Study as they entered the door...
9. The previously posted Google Earth Prayer which we ran but used the singing as its backing.
Peoples prayers had been entered and the big screen saw the globe zoom in and out to places like Gaza, London, Zimbabwe..... brilliant!!
10. Interactive Stations
a. Planned Geoff Boyce' 'WHITE LADY' DVD of the busker from Rundle Mall [who serendipitously was in Bourke Street Melbourne two days later] as an opportunity to sit and reflect
b. AFFIRMATION or Beliefs
Writing ‘I believe… ‘ statements on newsprint inspired by the Savage Garden song lyrics for 'Affirmation'
c. TELL-A-VISION video camera with responses to what people had been experiencing
Videos about how people would change the world
d. ‘THE LEAST’ A series of b&w pictures of those who might be seen as 'the least' were on the floor with a question/prayer opportunity
d. REVERSE BUSKERS Sam/Katie with a crowd
e. DESK LAMP/BIBLE with a light on one Bible and 200 copies of todays stories with a set of questions:
I'll find this file....
Large copy on easel
f. “2020” the Herd clip on loop with copied newspaper headlines on the wall and opportunity
for news headlines you want to see
g. MASKS write on both sides of the brown paper bag... Who you want to be/who you are
h. TEAR FUND PRAYER VIDEO the plan was to invite people to video theirs “I pray for…”
OR link to Tell-a-vision activity ???
i. ROAD LESS TRAVELLED Frost's poem on a poster... Write a verse> which road?
"Two roads diverge in the woods, and I, I took the one less travelled by..."
j. Floodlit TENT Post It notes on the tent re how we could ‘bring out the God colours and flavours
k. Callico CIRCLES for discussion/reflection as per # 01
l. LASER GRAFFITI as per # 01
m. PICTURES of YOU picture or scan of you & writing on it about taking up God’s mission
n. CLOCKS wall clocks props & newsprint sheet for writing about if you had one week to live…..
Add your thoughts
o. McLAREN VIDEOS about the Kingdom of God and the nature of power and justice
11. We planned a final live SONG and Matt Harding's Dance DVD from Youtube

Videos posted soon...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NCYC09 CONVERGE Bible Study ONE

video

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Bible Study # 01 INVERTED [Curator: Bradon] Up to four screens and projectors Three TVs in a pile Stations spread around the edges and spaces of the auditorium Staging, a pretend brick wall partition, two lounges and music set up on stage 1. As people arrived Sam and Katie were outside 'reverse busking' where you were welcome to take some lollies from the guitar case as you listened. Inside the big screen/s had a looped video of an inverted animated roller coaster. There are heaps of these clips on youtube 2. Welcome and Team Introductions, explaining the space and setting the scene were led by Bradon and cast as everyone being 'misled' by the 'Rob Hanks and Team' tag as I wouldn't be 'speaking' today. 3. We were all introduced by answering Bradon's 'icebreaker questions' 4. "Waiting for the World to Change" originally John Mayer Sam/Katie 5. "Name" NOOMA DVD Rob Bell [The one with all the t-shirts] As a beginning to people thinking about identity, choices and possibilities 6. BIBLE READING Mark 1: 14-20 and Mark 2: 13-17 about 'Jesus calling the fishermen' where they left their nets immediately and followed...broken up and parts printed on paper plates, frisbee into audience and punters read aloud the bit they caught, in order!! 7. Bradon spoke about the reading, theme, today... People were challenged that the message was 'follow me' away from empire/consumerism and questionable values and into the upsidedown adventure with Jesus... a choice! 8. It included a clip from "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" which not only reflects JK Rowlings understanding of all that HP is about but also reminded us we have the choice.... "It's not our abilities that make us what we are, it's the choices we make..." I have the clip isolated but the audio has been corrupted... I'll see what I can do? 9. It also included the significant scene at the end of the film "Coach Carter" where the young player thanks the coach for 'saving his life' and answers the question he was asked when they first met... "what's your deepest fear?" where he quotes the teacher/writer often confused for Nelson Mandela's Presidency Speech... "our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure..." and is about not 'playing small' so as to blend in or not offend... 10. "Meant to Live" Sam/Katie 'Switchfoot' 11. Interactive Stations to EXPLORE: a. Rubbish bin into which you could place 'the cr#p you came in with' b. Wooden Cross with carving tools, into which you could 'make your mark' c. Mending netting and reflecting on what you're being asked to 'put down' to follow d. Besser bricks, feathers, 'post-it' paper asking what foundations your building on, what's pretty? Stick responses in the wall e. Tell-a-vision video booth, saying your name and something about yourself f.The TVs and DVD players didn't work out BUT it was to be Jesus images and movies asking your image/impressions g. Prayers for the world, on brown paper [to be used later in Google Earth prayer] h. [3] Discussion/Reflection calico cloths and illustrations/words on the floor around which people could gather to reflect or chat: Unpacking Getting to levels of meaning Overall reflections i. Digital Graffiti I will get the details of the programs but Tristan's 'brain child' was the computer program where with the aid of a data projector and red laser pointer you were able to freeze and hold graffiti on the projection... stunning! It worked beautifully in practice BUT part way into our time the camera on the tripod, took a dive and hit the floor... tech difficulties indeed... word is it's working now though!! j. Sam/Katie continued busking on one of the couches we'd requested for our space 11. "Oh the Places You'll Go" was read to the regathered group while Rah painted a black illustration of the story on a white board 12. The final challenge was for people to write/reflect on their deepest fear in the context of today's input and their NCYC experience thus far!!

NCYC09 CONVERGE Bible Study INDEPTH

Following a few highlights I now have the info to post a little more detail of our 'experiental' Bible Study in Melbourne at our biennial youth event known as NCYC09 Converge!! It's for 16-30s with plenty of adult leaders and volunteers.
There were [3] levels in SURFING, snorkelling, scuba diving and three options from each level so we were always going to have between 150-200 punters from the younger or exploratory end of the spectrum and hopefully appreciative of the many mediums on offer and the attention to their context/s and culture/s.
I had pitched this idea to the NCYC Team and was very glad to be able to assemble a Team of young adults with the talent, insight and enthusiasm to carry this off.

The Team were:
Rah Bryan who is creative and kept us grounded
Tristan Davison with tech savvy and left field 'or we could... ' suggestions
Wes Champion and mob, with puppetry and robotics
Lenny Ohye embracing drama and logistics
Gregor Newton with early ideas, drama and doing all that was asked
Bradon French resident theologian, evangelist and puppetry
Sam Evans and Katie Evans providing brilliant live music
Angus Davison who made it all actually work flawlessly

After a few false starts, we did manage to get some planning time together and worked through a long list of brainstormed 'dreams' to match the themes, discipleship and eventually what we actually wanted participants to see, hear and experience of Jesus call for us 'to follow'!!

The NCYC09 day themes grew out of the CONVERGE motif of the great variety of people COMING TOGETHER!!

CONVERGE arriving and joining
MERGE shared experience and beginning to 'hear'
URGE the 'call' to get involved, to follow and to be who we could be
SUBMERGE a day of community action for justice, life and faith across Melbourne
EMERGE unpacking experiences and bringing life, action and faith together anew
VERGE AND DIVERGE standing at the edge, being empowered, being 'sent' and leaving

Our three DAY Themes were:
[MERGE] INVERTED or UPSIDE DOWN
[URGE] UGLY
[VERGE] BEAUTIFUL/NAKED
Our injoke was that despite printed material, at one point I was convinced there were four sessions, so our last two were collapsed together.

The Bible Study central thread was Mark's gospel and in particular a political reading of Mark [not out of step with the work of Ched Myers or others from the so-called 'radical discipleship' movement.
The sessions took place in the MLC School JT Auditorium [which was not ideal but offered some brilliant tech possibilities in return for not being a large rectangular room with a flat floor]. It worked but would have been better if we'd seen it and the courtyard outside a little sooner... The BS and Venues support teams did a great job of working with us/putting up with us so it could happen well.
They were especially gracious and fast acting when we discovered on day three that we had just tipped over an entire 5 litres of water based paint onto the storeroom carpet!! This was directly related to our less than ideal pack up on day two with a band hard on our heels in the program...

Following posts will detail:
THEME
BIBLE
RUN SHEET
INTERACTIVE STATIONS
DRAMA
MEDIA
SPOKEN and AUDIO_VISUAL INPUT for each day

All this will be collated more fully and produced as a resource after the Team party late February as it would be ideally suited to a weekend or three session Camp along similar lines.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

'Australian of the Year' Mick Dodson



Courtesy of Wikipedia

"Professor Michael James "Mick" Dodson, AM (born 10 April 1950, in Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia) is an Indigenous Australian leader, a member of the Yawuru peoples in the Broome area of the southern Kimberley region of Western Australia. His brother is Patrick Dodson, also a noted Aboriginal leader.

Following his parents death he boarded at Monivae College, Hamilton, Victoria. He graduated in law from Monash University in 1978.

He has been a prominent advocate of land rights and other issues affecting indigenous peoples in Australia and globally and has extensive involvement in United Nations indigenous peoples forums."

Read more here




Mention almost any major TV or news piece about Land Rights, the 'Intervention', our bicentennial etc and Mick features being asked for a view. Often a lone voice, with a unique perspective on issues he is often best able to encapsulate and represent the diversity of views amongst aboriginal people. Most issues of self determination, land rights, independence and the future are complex and Mick Dodson is one who can be relied upon to 'give it to you straight.'




A desreving and inspired choice for 'Aussie of the Year' lets hope his term can represent real and significant improvement for indigenous aussies everywhere!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"The Rising" Bruce Springsteen


From this last weeks Inauguration Concert called "We Are One" you could do worse than use this Springsteen song as a 'Call' or for 'Reflection.' It's the title track of the album he wrote following the events of 9/11 and some time spent hearing the stories of survivors and family members of the New York Fire Department [FDNY]. That album includes the similar stirring and vivid 'Into the Fire.'
He seemed to very much be singing about a lifting of a heavy weight, the hope for change in difficult times that the 44th President represents... a soundtrack for future HOPE!

"The Rising"
Can't see nothin' in front of me
Can't see nothin' coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I've gone
How far I've gone, how high I've climbed
On my back's a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile line
Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Left the house this morning
Bells ringing filled the air
Wearin' the cross of my calling
On wheels of fire I come rollin' down here
Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li
Spirits above and behind me
Faces gone, black eyes burnin' bright
May their precious blood forever bind me
Lord as I stand before your fiery light
Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li
I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There's holy pictures of our children
Dancin' in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin' on the end of the line
Sky of blackness and sorrow (a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness (a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear (a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow (a dream of life)
Your burnin' wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life (a dream of life)
Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li

Inauguration Benediction


I suppose if I were doing something in worship this Sunday I could do worse than craft a version of Rev Lowery's Benediction into a suitable piece for the Australian context [especially with Australia Day on Monday!!
Remarkable to hear the spirit, wisdom and deep faith of someone there when Dr King and others were drawn into the civil rights movement by the actions of Rosa Parks. It mostly left me reminded that for all the cr#p in the church there is still an everlasting God who inspires, connects and loves and who drives a deep sense of connectedness and purpose in the minds and hearts of those who choose to try to follow!! A remarkable moment in a remarkable day!!

AND THE TRANSCRIPT:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen!

REV. LOWERY: Say amen –

AUDIENCE: Amen!

REV. LOWERY: — and amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

Heath Ledger nominated for an Oscar


None of us really "knows" a celebrity, public figure, actor or musician unless we've met and spent time and gotten to ask a few questions and spent fun time with someone...
But this interview says so much about the media hype, impressions, death and life of WA's Heath Ledger who died 12 months ago and has just been nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at this year's Academy Awards!! This is of course for his role as 'The Joker' in 'The Dark Knight'
Heath's family have been at pains to counter the stories about the mental and emotional effect of this work on Heath Ledger by emphasising this quote that he'd had 'the most fun' playing the Joker.
What you'll also notice in this interview I would interpret as a shy young man who loves to act but hates to talk about it, himself and anything other than getting on with the job. A person who left Sydney's northern beaches to live in Brooklyn and then Manhattan to escape the invasive media.
There's no doubt Heath Ledger took drugs, enjoyed the escape of WA, family and the growing significance of the life of his daughter Matilda...
His accidental death [which his insurance company refuses to pay out] was a tragedy and it'll be a huge shock if he is not recognised in February with one of those amazing little statuettes!! Who really cares, well as a movie freak I love what they represent [as rigged as the voting may be] and enjoy seeing actors be themselves at awards shows vs the confidence and clarity of the characters they portray.
Likewise across the world young people lose their lives each day to road accidents, drownings, drugs, illness and most culpably lack of food and clean water. It's a crazy world where people will visit a Manhattan apartment block this week to place flowers on a sidewalk with candles, photos and posters of a movie star and yet every three seconds a child somewhere in the world dies from preventable causes.
The loss of Heath Ledger is no less tragic, it's just a reminder of the false nature of a world of celebrity.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Newcastle's "Lovett Gallery"


A hidden gem above Newcastle's Regional Library is the Lovett Gallery which hosts a few standout and a few local exhibitions each year which consistently outdraw the actually regional gallery [almost next door]!!

Two upcoming examples include:

REBUILDING AFGHANISTAN is a photographic display sourced from government, defence and aid agency sources. The pictures show the 'ray of light or hope' represented by Australian and Canadian joint efforts in the rebuilding and include: soldiers socialising; children at school; and community members and politicians meeting.
The show runs until early March before heading to Perth!!

NIKON WALKLEY PRESS PHOTOGRAPH AWARDS
This exhibition opens March 13

Monday-Wednesday: 9.30am-8.00pm
Thursday & Friday: 9.30am-5.00pm
Saturday: 9.30am-2.00pm

Gen 'Y' and Tennis

An interesting annual conversation happened on local radio this morning as Australia has no male tennis player in the Top 100 as at this week while the Aussie Open Tennis plays out in Melbourne. Next will come doubts about it's status as the 'Grand Slam of the Asia/Pacific' with credible competition from Brisbane and Sydney, or more likely Beijing or Dubai.
There have been announcements about a clay court in Spain taking visiting Aussie junior squads, the AIS, Eurpoeans resettling here with family and some future champs have been given media exposure.
But the much more interesting underlying conversation has been around whether it's simply a case of the rest of the world catching up with us, the motive of a better life inspiring Eurpoean and soviet youth OR is it the soft, spoiled and consumer focused gen Y anglos who lack the desperation and commitment to 'do what's required' to rise to the top of the pile?
The same discussions go on in other sports. This one included stories of the old fashioned coaches conducting sessions and sending kids out to collect all the balls [the time honoured slog work of being part of a tennis lesson] only to be told by their young charges that they were happy to pick up the ones they'd hit, but not the ones 'you' or others had hit...
Do Gen Y members of a post boomer generation have it too easy with all the mod cons, a lack of desperation and a lack of appreciation for hard work....?
It reminds me that my two commitments to do some work for the Assembly Next Gen's project didn't really pan out this year... at Winter Camp we were overrun just getting Camp happening and at Synod we didn't get enough younger people to attend the session for it to be widely representative!!
I am still keen to: write up some observations from my NCYC Bible Study experience and to do some video-ing and a dialogue with gen Y's at coming events in 2009.
In the meantime lets hope some young aussie tennis talent don't mind sharing didgy hotel rooms, trooping arounf European clay trauining venues and having to actually pick up a few tennis balls on their way to the worlds Top Ten!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pride [In the Name of Love]

President Obama


For some crazy reason [despite setting the vcr to record some hours of cnn coverage] I decided to respond to my speculative 3.25am alarm and got up to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama.
The same 'empire' that so dominates the world of business, politics, military action and culture also reflects the reality of it's huge 'footprint' and celebrates the election of an impressive and hopeful figure who is also an African American. Obama and those he invited to participate, made some amazing links with US and world history.
Empty rhetoric? Inflated sense of self importance? Wallpapering over a world of pain and injustice? Well, time as ever will tell!
As I listened to Obama and to Rev Lowery in the Benediction I had a mix of memories of David Letterman's 'Great Moments in American Presidential History' highlighting the bumbling stupidity of George W and a poignant sense of the connections with the civil rights movement, the struggle of African Americans for justice and equality and the significance of a moment in time when the US stands able to change, to be different and to strike a chord for the future.
At the same time the values of God [who loomed large in the phsyche, words and philosophy of the ceremony] as I perceive them, are independent of the system represented in Washington today. God's call to all people is to embody the kinds of values that were alluded to and listed today. There were some impressive and inspiring words spoken!
As ever, the true test of those will be in the choices, the living out and the reality of there delivery. In other words are they any chance of living up to the rhetoric?
God calls us to the very values espoused but that call is less tied to the identity or story of any given nation and more fundamental to who we are and how we will be. We heard the best of what's possible with an appropriate note of what's been lost in America's mistakes and what's been exposed in the financial disasters unfolding around us at this time.

"and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a nearby restaurant, can stand here and take this oath of Office..."

The connections with Lincoln, the naming of various faiths, the invitation to the Tuskedee [?] Airmen [the African American airmen group described as an experiment, in seeing whether they had the bravery, determination and skill to participate as soldiers] and the artists and contributors chosen all gave the ceremony an air of possibility. Geez it looked cold though at sub zero. How poignant that Dick Cheney strained his back shifting boxes and ended up participating in a wheelchair and the Chief Justice stuffed up the Oath so Obama had to verbally stumble.

Anyhow, I suppose we can go back to sleep, back to not knowing what the US is doing and has done in Central America, we can watch the movies, see the President on the news, hear the justifications for not lowering greenhouse or raising the aid budget and head to the Westfield to ease our pain and salve our consumerist needs with a new hat, donut or DVD!!

So why did I get up? Why do I feel despite all my usual 'love/hate' feelings about the US that this will rank up there with staying up to see Mandela freed? Who gives a cr#p? Well I do, with equal measure of scepticism, uncomfortableness and yet hope that what I've watched live via amazing satellite might actually make the world a genuinely better place and definitely asks me what I am willing and able to do about the things that are wrong!
It certainly reminded me of how I felt and what I hoped, listening to/watching the opening of Federal Parliament with the new Aussie Rudd labour Government, delivering an apology to our country's indigenous people so movingly and appropriately not so long ago!!

Will they [in the words of the movie 'Springtime'] "pick [themselves] up, dust [themselves] off, and get to work..."

Climate change
World politics
Government
Interfaith struggles
War/Conflict
Finance
Human rights

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Row M Seat 30 "Seven Pounds" starring Will Smith



'Ben Thomas' [Will Smith] has a secret where even the previews talk about how he took only seven seconds to ruin his life. We pick up the unfolding story in this film where it seems Ben has chosen a range of people to help out in life, seemingly out of his capapcity as an IRS [Tax Ofice] Case Worker.
This moving film comes from the 'Pursuit of Happyness' team and has a similar grain and feel whilst Will Smith works hard to create the depth and complexity of his character who is surprised by the girl he meets who is in need of a heart transplant.
As the truth about Ben and the reasons for and nature of his helping become clear, this turns into a very moving and thoughtful story of one persons attempts to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Will Smith quote:
"Usually with the films that I make there are ideas that I connect to, but lately I've been dealing with the bittersweet in life because it feels more natural. You don't ever get it really the way you want in life. That really fascinates me. As an actor, there are certain parts of a character that you create, and you train yourself to have those reactions and then it becomes hard to stop them when the role is over. You have to retrain yourself. My character in this film is like hot grits. You know you can't shake them off and when you do, it hurts."

Rotten Tomatoes movie review website was like many others not exactly raving about the film.

SPOILER ALERT
While I found the story had weaknesses and some aspects were simply implausible, it is a 'fable' in the truest sense and offers reflections on:
life
mistakes
that things don't always go well

There are challenges awaiting many thoughtful viewers and the films climax is sudden and definitive!!

U2 News



As ever the publicity and media hype surrounding U2 goes into overdrive in the lead up to every new album! As blogged before, there are stolen lyrics, stunts, rumours etc and this time is no different!!

No, there are no tix yet for a summer UK Tour
Yes, the new single will debut on Dublin radio Jan 19th
Yes, U2 will play alongside others at the 'We Are One' celebration at the lincoln Memorial in Washington as an Obama Inauguration Celebration that's open to the public.
No, they will not redefine rock n roll with the new release

AND maybe the above has something to do with the new album cover by Hiroshi Sugimoto?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Holiday Blogging

Just letting my three or four devoted readers out there know that for the next 3-4 weeks I'll only be blogging for fun and not out of duty... so resource ideas, inspired stuff, NCYC write ups etc will have to wait... sports, movies, news and observations may appear but only if I'm surfing for FUN!!

Catch you in a few weeks... I have also decided that I will then be launching a lectionary based worship resource blog as a seperate and collaborative project with links and reference to several existing blogs that this will hopefully complement... just one of many different focal points in 2009!! Stay tuned for more...

Festival of Sydney "Play Me, I'm Yours" Pianos


As an art installation Luke Jerram has placed 30 pianos outdoors across Sydney with the aim of 'creating community' as budding pianists 'have a go' and gather those around them with a tune!!
The artist tells the story of waking at 2am the other night and worrying the Hyde Park Piano hadn't been properly covered with the light showers forecast. He arrived to discover a 'rough sleeper' playing a few tunes but from half under said cover so both were out of the rain... surreal!
The Festival of Sydney never disappoints for quality free street drama, performance, theatre and engagement! WE dip our toes in next Monday with the annual trip to the Openair Cinema on the harbour at Mrs Macquarie's Chair seeing 'Valkyrie' with Tom Cruise.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Worship Unplugged # 56 Google Earth Prayer


Over three Bible Studies at our biennial national youth event [NCYC] we used Google Earth to plot the punters specific prayers alongside some related to news of the week. Each place was pinpointed and as the globe rotated and zoomed in and out we planned a musical soundtrack for reflection which for time sake became a live backing. This was typical of Tristan D's creativity following the usual response of "or we could..."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Post NCYC in Melbourne










The dust hasn't settled on NCYC but I find myself having farewelled various groups within our tour, including dinner with the Wollongong crowd tonight at St Kilda!! and so now I am in the home stretch!!
I decided not to go to the 'gigglefest' 20Twenty at the G and so I am looking forward to a good sleep before hitting the roasd for home...
For the record, while I find the batting entertaining I still think they ought to just put a bowling machine at one end and let rip... and I don't believe it'll be good for cricket in the long run... yet it is how I liked to bat in all forms of the game...
Perhaps while Israel bombs the tripe out of Gaza there are more important things going on in the world!!
In coming weeks we will be celebrating our work at Bible Studies and writing our material into a Resource for use by others. It was really energising and it was quite amazing to work with such a talented team who all worked hard to go with the creative style that got such great feedback from the 'punters.'

My highlights included:
Our day themes of Inverted, Ugly and the legendary Beautiful>Naked
Rah's painting
Sam/Katie's music
'Fall At Your Feet' with Jesse Attwood at Kicks DVD while Sam/Katie played live
Google Earth Prayer was very cool
Laser Grafitti was great until the video camera took a spill
[note to self about replacing that]
The feedback we received from delegates and their leaders was really positive
Having the time/resources/talents to do most of what we dreamed
Just seeing drama, music, speaking and video come together
Overcoming the limitations of the space
Laughing a lot about the 5 litres of paint we spilled on the storeroom floor

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

ncyc09 Converge

i am blogging today from Melbourne where we have today been'flash mobbing' to draw attention to 'make poverty history' as a submersion action.
I have also been working with a brilliant team in presenting a 'surfing level' bible study with 170 punters over 16

Photos to follow in coming days...

Friday, January 02, 2009

Deadpool 2009

I'll write more when I get home from NCYC09 in Melbourne BUT I know some will be horrified that I am again entering a 'Deadpool' for 2009 with some cricketing mates and friends of friends....

Each will sumbit 15 potential well knowns who might die during 2009 and earn a point for each year under 100 of each successsful prediction.... I was leading in 2008 with Edmund Hillary and Steve Fossett [legally dead in Feb] but didn't punt on the Bali Bombers who were tragically young in wasting their lives...

Anyhow, if offended, look away now:

1. Nelson Mandela
2. Barack Obama
3. Fidel Castro
4. Michael J Fox
5. Billy Graham
6. Patrick Swayze
7. Phyllis Diller
8. Farah Fawcett
9. Kirk Douglas
10. BB King
11. Mickey Rooney
12. Britney Spears
13. Paul Gasgoigne
14. Eli Wallach
15. Joan Fontaine

Just remember... I don't want any of these people to die... but they just might!!