Sunday, November 30, 2008

Joern Utzon (of Opera House fame) dies.

The Opera House is right near where we will live and minister (God willing). It is just over a kilometer (under a mile) -- I guess about a 10 minute walk. You can see it via Google Maps HERE. We will be walking to the Opera House regularly with all our visitors who come from New York City. (You want to come. You know you do.)

Just so you can get a snap of the story of the area, you can read a little about the Danish designer of the Opera House HERE. His name was Joern Utzon, and he died in over the weekend.

The story behind the building -- a tustle between artist and bureaucrat, designer and owner -- has always been interesting since Utzon left the project, going back to Denmark 7 years before the building was opened. He never returned to Australia to see his most famous work.

(And, as an aside, I was there in the city the day it opened on 20 October 1973. My earliest memory.)

Pic on Flickr by Linh_rOm.


Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy.

Thanks for all your notes in my last post. I have some thoughts coming, but it has been, as you can imagine, a busy week.

In the meantime, H/T Byron, watch the YouTube above...


Sunday, November 23, 2008

News: We are moving from über-urban Manhattan to urban Sydney

We are moving again. As of today, we are planning another Trans-Pacific schlep from über-urban to urban. From the city of Manhattan, to the city of Sydney. That is, we are swapping the Lower East Side for Downtown Sydney. From New York to York St.

And, as you can imagine, it is bittersweet.

The Bitter part of this is that we are leaving New York City. We have loved living in this city. Christ Church NYC has been a great church in which to serve. We have seen the church grow and change its shape and culture over three years, and we will miss Christ Church. We love how this church loves Jesus. We will miss our friends. We tried to imagine how to stay in New York City, but I have been thinking for some time that I need and would like to be a Senior Minister (Rector).

The Sweet part of that we have accepted the Archbishop of Sydney's invitation to be Rector of St Philip's Church Hill on York Street in Sydney. We have prayed diligently. And we believe that this is of God in the power of his Spirit.

The Parish of St Philip is the original parish of the Anglican Church in Australia. The first Christian services were held nearby in 1788. The present building has been in use since 1856. In other words, the parish is the birthplace of Christianity on the continent. It is, you could argue, Ground Zero for the spread of Christian faith in Australia. It is a short walk to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay and the Opera House. You can see a Google Map HERE, and zoom in and out to see where we will serve Jesus.

The people at St Philips are keen for the next stage in their ministry. They are a small church, with an eye on the city. I'll need to check the histories here, but I'm fairly sure that I will be one of the youngest rectors of St Philip's, and the first with a family of toddlers in the last 50+ years.

Why the city?

Leaving Manhattan has not dampened our enthusiasm for the city. Sydney and New York are different, but the city is still where extraordinary things happen. It is where people live and come to work and play, day and night. The city is where the homeless find anonymity and perhaps shelter. The city is where government sits and art is displayed. There are 38,000 people who live near St Philips. There are more men living there than women, and the average age is 29. From this central place, there could be a central faith.

This will be neither church planting, nor missionary service, but at times it may feel like both.

I will be producing some literature soon with some early thoughts about the way forward, with some things that God has placed on my heart, and that I hope will be worth discussing with those in the parish, and those interested in serving there.

We'll need your help. No one is telling us that this will be easy. If you live or work nearby, or if you want to talk about ways we can partner, then email me by clicking HERE.

Pic 1 is inside the Sanctuary (to use a US term)
Pic 2 is of St Philips and the rectory from York St.
Pic 3 is a picture a plate glass negative (1884-1917) from the Powerhouse Museum.
Pic 4 St Philips from above by Adam and Tennille.
Pic 5 of Bridge on Flickr by Wellingtonwidebrow.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Man tries to pay bill with spider drawing

Hmmm. It's been more than a week since posting. In the interests in keeping your interest, I thought that THIS series of emails was a fun distraction for the afternoon.

H/t Seapea.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lady Perth

And this one is by a gentleman I haven't met, Dave E, who writes of Lady Perth:
She swims in from the shore - long legged and golden brown
she is aloof from the world and looks a lot at her own reflection.
men of iron and and men of gold have tried to claim her.
Her eyes reflect the great blue expanse of sky and sea.
she owns a lot of pretty things
intoxicated by wealth and self.
For the record, I was born in Perth.

Pic on Flickr by Beaumitchell.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gentleman New York

I described New York City as a woman in THIS POST. Give it a go on your own Blog, or in the comments on mine. Describe your city as a woman. The forth is from Mrs. W, ex-NYC, now Vancouver, Canada.
He stood transfixed, silenced by what
sprawled above his head, pushy and
unruly as a junior high classroom.

It shoved him numbly from here to there,
Central Park: Harlem: Times Square. The wet
wind blew snow and umbrellas in his eyes as
he shivered.

But the old ladies always gave a dollar to the
crumpled man with leukemia when
he sang the song that requires no teeth between
subway stops and there was
always a seat available for the fragile, well-wrinkled gentleman with his
pert cap and clear, dripping nose.

Traveling is hard on the bones.
Pic on Flickr by Saint Roch.

Christ Church Centenary...

Not Christ Church New York.

Christ Church St Ives -- in Sydney.

I received this note from the organizer of the centenary celebrations:
Christ Church St Ives (in Sydney, Australia) will be 100 years old on 30th January 2009. We will be celebrating with a dinner on Friday 30th January and special services on 1st February 2009. We are attempting to contact ex members of Christ church who have moved away and we need your help. We have no records of forwarding addresses. If you know of anyone who we should contact, could you get them to take a look at the information on the website HERE. More importantly, can you simply EMAIL Judy Hughes and let her know if you'd like to keep updated for more information.
And I'd add something -- email the this post to everyone who you know who has been a part of Christ Church St Ives over the years.


Pic is from 1909 -- Corner Cowan Rd and Mona Vale Rd.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Obama Victory: Impressions from New York City

I was asked today to comment on three things to do with the election.
  1. What was my impression of the election coming from New York City?
  2. What do I think is the impact of this election?
  3. What do you think we ought to be praying about?
Here are some of my answers:

Impressions from New York City

The noise that erupted outside my 4th floor apartment at 11PM after the California polls closed told me that this was an historic moment. Something happened in California, and I could hear people celebrating on 1st Ave in NYC! Senator Obama had become President-Elect Obama.

Now, you should know that Jesus is my president: my personal hope and my agent of change.

I serve Him in New York City, the capital of a so-called ‘blue state’, which last voted for a Republican in a Presidential election in Reagan’s landslide of 1984. Many of the new, young voters in this election were not yet born in 1984, and care little for the ‘Reagan Revolution’. The students I know at New York University predominantly voted for Barack Obama. That is true of many Christian students too. Young voters here were generally excited about Obama and ‘change’, and it is worth saying that in their minds, it is not fashionable to say that you voted for McCain!

I know some conservatives – of all ages – who felt very ‘small’ here in New York City. This is very different, perhaps opposite, to my wife’s home state of Georgia.

The interesting shift from my perspective is the movement of the younger (predominantly white) evangelicals away from the views of their parents and pastors. The older voices tended to run on specific moral issues (like abortion), on protecting the fabric of society (traditional family values) and on a specific economic platform (Small Government etc). The younger voices – many of whom would agree with their parents on the personal moral issues – are concerned also about social and ethical issues: was America unjust in going to war? Do we as a society care for the needy and the poor? Is our society marked by inappropriate triumphalism?

Impact of this election:

An African American winning the White House is monumental in and of itself. We woke our 4-year-old son up to witness Obama’s acceptance speech. I woke him not because of any political persuasion (which I won't say here), but because of the symbolic nature of the moment. I wanted him to remember this moment in history.

The impact is hard to tell at this stage. One of the things that people regularly note is that Obama is relatively unknown – he is young, and voters were basically informed by his short voting record and what he said on the campaign trail. I spoke to one young man about this who said: ‘Yes, I know, but I took a risk and voted Obama anyway.’

Obama has moved closer to the center during the campaign, as Clinton did in 1992. Obama’s Presidential campaign was more centrist than his more left-wing Senate voting record. So what will happen on his watch remains to be seen. But obviously the Republicans and the media will watch his administration closely.

One of the big concerns that conservatives have is the appointment of what they call ‘activist judges’ – judges who they say ‘impose ideology’, rather than simply interpret the law.

Matters for Prayer:

Do our prayers change from one President to another? Aren’t we always meant to pray for ‘all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.’ (1 Tim 2:2). I will be praying that President-Elect Obama will govern wisely and justly.

That having been said, the three big things that come to mind are: First, that more people would know that Jesus is the Messiah who gives Hope and Change, as opposed to any American President. Second, that the Middle East finds peace, and does not descend into further chaos. And third, that many in America continue to fight for the rights of the unborn.

At times, the language of change and the desire for hope sounded like the foundation for a gospel message, albeit without Jesus’ name being on the ballot. The campaigns at times sounded like they were going to bring peace on earth – something promised only in Jesus. My biggest prayer is that those who hope in a president would hope instead in Jesus.

Did I misread the moment?


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Taskers and their godson

Nathan and Cassie spent some time with us, singing at our new Evening Service, and spending time with their godson, Junior. Above are some pics...

And click HERE to read a summary of their time in NYC and Nath and Cassie's Blog.

We had a great time with you all.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Is Mike Winram watching? And is James Beasley watching? Hope so...

Give him the vote!

They should give him the vote!

For the record, we took the following YouTube in 3 takes. And The Little Man declared Obama the winner on 1 take, and McCain the winner on 2 of them. So he is a true independent. A swing voter.

Today, he is declaring Obama the winner. When asked by his mom why he was favoring Obama, he replied:
I don't know, Mommy. [pauses] I don't know what it is about him. But I just like Barack Obama.
It appears that he qualifies the vote.

To all of you that have the vote, I'm sort of jealous. But in part, I do not envy the choice you have to make. Take care.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

VOTE: The Politics of Marriage

OK. So Dr Laurel can vote tomorrow. I can't. And she's not telling me who she is voting for.

That ain't right, right?

So, a make your voice heard on November the 4th:

If your brother sins against you...

Click (or right click 'save as') HERE to listen to one of the best sermons I've heard in a while. It is by my friend Andrew Katay, of MoMA fame, on Matthew 18:15-20. Andrew is the rector of Christ Church Inner West Anglican Community in Sydney.

Here is Matthew 18:15-20:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Andrew deals with at least these three questions:
  • How am I to handle sin Christianity? (He mentions some sub-Christian ways of dealing with sin.) The answer, in case you were wondering, is to cut it out.
  • How do I distinguish between psychological sins (which need forbearance), and actual sin (which needs repentance). This is a great distinction.
  • How do I reconcile with someone who has wronged me?
If anyone is in a tough relationship issue right now, I urge you to listen. It may change your life.

Pic on Flickr by Crowolf.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Driscoll's 300, Where Art Thou?

I know this three months old, but Church Planting is vital, and Shane got me thinking. The 5th Obstacle for evangelism in Driscoll's 18 was about Church Planting. Mark said:
No less than 300 men have walked up to me and said ‘I want to plant a church and I can’t. What do I do?’ They need to be assessed and trained and only those who are fit should be released, but they have to be released.
Yes! My questions: has anyone tried to gather these 300 men? Can anyone account for this number? Has any gone looking for them? Does Acts 29 know who they are? Are you one of them? Do you know someone who spoke to Mark about wanting to plant, but can't? Has anyone asked Mark about this yet? Can they be gathered for prayer and initial planning/dreaming?

Man, that's Gideon's whole army!

If it's true, you can change a nation with that many people.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

I bought YOU today for a mere $US10:99

YOU was quite cheap.

Am I the first person in the US to buy YOU?

I wonder if my US readers might by YOU too?

Buy it in HERE in the United States. (Or HERE in Aus).


Saturday, November 01, 2008

My friend wrote a book about You...

This is the first time anyone of my close friends wrote a book. Check out this photo from 1987.

I feel like I've come of age.

Join the Facebook Group HERE.


YOU: An Introduction is a book about being a human. It is not as easy as it looks, being a human person. Each chapter addresses a different facet of human life – being a child, owning stuff, being male and female, having and being a body, dying, death and what comes after. What is like to be one of these things in the contemporary world? And what does the Bible say about this, especially in the light of the life of the best human who ever lived? A unique feature of the book is that it contains comments, questions and discussion that came from originally blogging the material – comments which take the argument in often unexpected directions.

YOU: An Introduction is a book that will be of interest to anyone – and it should challenge them/you, whether they are Christian or not, about what having a human life means.