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Please Remember this Christmas...

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Please remember this Christmas… When Jesus was born, he was displaced and homeless because an occupying power demanded compliance… Please remember this Christmas… Shortly after Jesus was born, one of the most powerful men in the world and from his land spied on him and put a hit out on him… Please remember this Christmas… This power-hungry ruler slaughtered many innocent children because he was hunting a toddler he perceived to be a threat to the empire and his legacy… Please remember this Christmas… As the sadistic king launched an attack on children, the most powerful ruler in the world didn’t use his power to prevent it. The children and families of Bethlehem were victims of collective punishment and genocide… Please remember this Christmas… The parents of Jesus did everything in their power to keep their child safe and alive, and as a result, they took their youngster and fled their beloved country and became refugees in Egypt… Please remember this Christmas… While the Powers-That-

He Lived Under a Bridge...

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He  lived under a bridge... where trains roared overhead He lived under a bridge… because he said his house was haunted and he was afraid He lived under a bridge… because the voices got too loud and the images he saw became too terrifying He lived under a bridge… because he smashed all the windows of his house out of fear He lived under a bridge… because when he got kicked out of his house he had nowhere else to go He lived under a bridge… and we found him and supplied him with food and necessities and an offer to find suitable housing He lived under a bridge… and we kept on visiting him and saw his smile grow. Hope started visiting him too! He lived under a bridge… and we drove him to his potential new home, where he signed the paperwork. Hope grasped him all the more! He lived under a bridge… and we drove him again to pick up household items and he successfully moved into his new home Now!   He no longer lives under a bridge! Now!  He has people who stand with him and lift him up! No

Living Under a Canopy of Trees

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He lives under a tarp and a canopy of trees. He lives among singing birds and rustling leaves. He’s hidden. He’s alone. He’s content. He’s comfortable. He’s resilient. He’s a trooper. He’s created his own little whare*. He knows how to stay warm and dry in our damp Aotearoa. His journey has been long, difficult, and varied. He tells me how he's experienced homelessness since 1988. One day, he trusts me enough to say “Let me show you where I live”. We walk up some stairs, under a handrail and then through the trees, undergrowth, and muddy terrain to his place on a hill. It’s the place he calls home. He’s made his whare comfortable. It’s calm. It’s peaceful. It’s him. He speaks of his only disturbances being possums and stormy nights. He loves the occasional chicken that invites itself in. I feel honoured, this gentle resilient man has trusted me enough to give me an exclusive tour and invite me into his home. Affluence surrounds him. He’s hidden, yet only a stone’s throw away from t

Imagine

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Imagine if Jesus ignored or assaulted the Samaritan woman at the well because she was not included in his tribe, because she worshipped in a different way and place, because she was a woman, or because of her 5 ex-husbands and current partner. But Jesus did not ignore or assault her, he chose love, he accepted her, he included her, and he liberated her! Imagine if Jesus decided to take the safe route by not preaching God's inclusive love of foreigners. imagine if he didn't point to the prophets Elijah and Elisha and how, through them, two perceived enemies were accepted and healed. But Jesus didn't tell safe stories, he knew the danger and persisted in reminding his listeners that God's inclusive love goes well beyond their narrow stubborn toxic ways. Their hatred of the “other” caused an uproar, so they resorted to violence by trying to toss him off a cliff. This murderous attempt didn’t prevent Jesus from continuing to preach his message of radical acceptance! Imagine

When I Was Young...

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When I was young, it felt like my tongue was stapled to the back of my throat! I had words to say, but I could never get them out. People loved to focus on how shy I was, how my face would turn bright red, and how I just needed to “speak up”. These comments only fed my social anxiety and caused me to retreat further.   When I was young, I saw and felt the pain and suffering of those less privileged. It was a burning in my heart, in my soul, in my whole being! Internally, I questioned the gross inequality and injustice surrounding me! I wanted to cry out, loud, in anger, but my tongue was stapled to the back of my throat! When I was a teenager, I was part of a youth group which meant attending Home Groups. They were nightmarish events for socially anxious kids like me. Near the end of these 90-minute Bible studies, there were always prayer times. We’d all shut our eyes, and one by one everyone around the circle would pray, except me, because I felt my tongue was stapled to the back of m

What is Our Faith?

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What is our Christian faith, if in the name of Jesus, we justify oppressive control and horrific violence on a people deemed disposable? Christians, we must cast aside that superiority Christians, we must quit craving after riches Christians, we must smash our lust for power The gospel isn’t a “pray the right prayer” formula, with obedience to a set of rules, to ensure that special ticket to heaven The gospel is good news to the poor The gospel is liberation for prisoners and oppressed The gospel is loving our neighbours as ourselves Jesus proclaimed that His Kingdom, manifested in Him, and lived out by Him, was not a system of domination and violence... He came to aggravate the rich He came to challenge the powerful He came to humiliate the proud The Kingdom Jesus fulfilled in himself doesn’t drop bombs on the helpless, oppress those in poverty, or withhold food and water from those imprisoned... His followers should be called humble His followers should be called merciful His followe

Heaviness!

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Every night I go to bed with heaviness. Every morning I wake up with the same heaviness. As a father, it’s so painful to see distraught fathers running through the rubble with their babies covered in debris and blood. They’re wailing in pain, in despair, in desperation. I feel so helpless, but not nearly as helpless as those suffering in Gaza and the West Bank. We march in solidarity with millions of others begging the Powers-That-Be to put down their weapons of mass destruction and choose peace, knowing it is the poor, the weak, the prisoner, the oppressed, the colonised and the sick who are suffering and dying. I march for a ceasefire. I chant on the crowded streets, "Ceasefire now". I pray for a ceasefire, but not nearly as much as those surrounded by death and destruction in Gaza. I believe Jesus called us as followers of him to bring good news to the poor and liberation to the captives and oppressed. I believe Jesus called us to "love our neighbours as ourselves&quo