Friday, February 26, 2010

We went to the Winter Olympics

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!


Monday, February 22, 2010

A Sense of York Street Anglican

This pic (taken from an iPhone) is of a model of part the Central Business District of Sydney (like Wall Street in NYC). The model is under a glass walkway in Custom's House near the Opera House. York Street Anglican is represented in the middle of the picture -- once towering above Sydney, now dwarfed by her.

You can compare this picture to Google Maps if you like.

The Road to the left of the Freeway crossing the Harbour Bridge. The Opera House is to the right of the picture.

Some perspective for my American Friends.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Love this Pic

Profound, and just a little bit sad.

Or a lot sad.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dinner Tonight

Guess where?


Friday, February 19, 2010

New Evening Congregation brainstorm...

Our Evening Service met last week.

We gathered in the front of our church. The lights were dimmed. We sat in the round. Lots of anticipation. Good Gandevia coffee and fruit and chocolate. (see my iPhone pic)

And we then spent about an hour discussing how we could be sensitive to the newcomer. We brainstormed, and prayed, and discussed what we thought may work for someone who does not know God, especially for someone who lives within 15 minutes walk, drive or public transport from POSTCODE 2000.

This is the upshot of our discussion:


People felt the current lighting was adequate, but would prefer spotlights on main areas – on preacher and band, less yellow light, and other mood lighting. A few commented that the lighting was potentially too dim. One comment was to have mood lighting illuminating the bell ringing area.


Our people identified food as hospitality, either inside or outside the church. The thought is that we should have food where possible served before and after service, but it needs to be good, otherwise not worth doing at all. Universal support for good coffee to be served, either by a barista or good quality plunger.

Food after church was broken down to those wanting to share a meal in church as a witness of community, and those wanting more casual but open welcoming to going elsewhere for food after the service. It was felt that cost, accessibility from the church (no more than 5-10 minutes), ability to cater for large groups, noise and variety of food options were most important. Some felt like they would like a venue where they could opt of either a full meal, or just a drink.

Venues for food after church included Jacksons on George, The Glenmore, The Australian, Cargo Bar and the two Japanese places on York St opposite the church.


People felt like the Chancel (front of Church) worked for the short term, and preferred the orientation as it was set up. They suggested maybe that the band stand in the middle, but were soon at risk of overcrowding the area. Others wanted the musicians to the side, and the preacher facing the main area of the church as to not make latecomers feel embarrassed. Most people did not like the use of the communion table in the middle. They felt it was either ritualistic (high church) or cultish.

If using the existing pew setup, people were universally against the use of the pulpit (seen as high church). Suggestion then for greater visibility of the musicians and preacher was that the chancel should get a raised platform of about 1 foot, but needed to be done tastefully.


Universal support for direct debit and credit card giving. Felt that plate passing was uncomfortable to seekers and new people. Felt there needs to be a box in the back to give, but (naturally) it needed the accountability of how that money was to be handled.


One point that was raised: we should be potentially more thoughtful about where our church sits relative to our culture. Should it match or be different to our cumulative backgrounds? Thought needs to be given on how the space can let us anticipate an encounter with God, with silent spaces, and not being too formal, ordered or predictable.

It's the right discussion to be having.

Has your church thought through all this?

We have a long way to go, but I'm keen to see where God takes us.

Pic of the food on Sunday taken on an iPhone

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Where I used to live in New York City

My Friend Ben Jonker sent me this article from the Sydney Morning Herald this morning. It is about the set of apartments we lived in while in New York. It is called Stuyvesant Town, and it's sale a few years back was the largest property deal in US history. But a few year on, they are in big trouble. From the article:

Stuy Town is...
...a complex built immediately after Word War II and so vast that its 110 connected apartment blocks have their own newspaper. The lenders to the deal included the world's savviest property speculators, such as the Singapore government and the Church of England. They watched in horror as the asset crashed to a value of less than $2 billion. Last last month the humiliated owners - they had borrowed $4.4 billion - handed back the keys to their banks and walked off.
Its incredible how much was lost.

Take a read.

Imagine just handing over the keys...

The First Pic is outside our old apartment.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lent Preaching Program at York Street

Sunday Mornings 10:15AM in Lent:
(Lent Series on Mark 10-16):
  • Passion - Joel 2:12-17 (Feb 21: Lent 1)
  • Passion's CHALLENGE - Mark 10:17-34 (Feb 28: Lent 2)
  • Passion's LEADER - Mark 12:1-44 (Mar 7: Lent 3)
  • Passion's WARNING - Mark 13:1-37 (Mar 14: Lent 4)
  • Passion's PATH - Mark 14:1-72 (Mar 21: Lent 5)
  • Passion's PROBLEM - Mark 11:1-25 (Mar 28: Palm Sunday)
  • Passion's SUFFERING - Mark 15:1-39 (April 2: Good Friday)
  • Passion's HOPE - Mark 16:1-8 (Apr 4: Easter Sunday)

Sunday Evenings 6PM in Lent:
(Lent Series on 1 Peter 4:7-11)
  • Learning to PRAY - 1 Peter 4:7 (Feb 21: Lent 1)
  • Learning to LOVE - 1 Peter 4:8 (Feb 28: Lent 2)
  • Learning to offer HOSPITALITY - 1 Peter 4:9 (Mar 7: Lent 3)
  • Learning to use GIFTS - 1 Peter 4:10 (Mar 14: Lent 4)
  • Learning to SPEAK - 1 Peter 4:11a (Mar 21: Lent 5)
  • Learning to SERVE - 1 Peter 4:11b (Mar 28: Palm Sunday)
  • Opening to the City of Sydney (Apr 4: Easter Sunday)
For your prayers.

Pic on Flickr by patchworkgandolf.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Report: New Evening Service

Just thought I'd report in on how God is showing his kindness among us at York Street with the New Evening Congregation:
  • 32 People met on Sunday at our city apartment
  • Another 6 couldn't be here, but are keen
  • Matt Straw played tunes on his classic record player
  • We ate and met each other with joy
  • Three musicians, including one banjo player, led us to sing with joy
  • We took communion with 200 year old communion silver
  • Our text from Jesus was Matthew 9:9-16:
On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
  • Last person left 5 ours after we began.
  • Next week, we gather again, asking God what is good and perfect will is ...
So many possibilities.

We have only prayers.

Pics by Jenny Ihn.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

New Evening Congregation starts this Sunday...

I am still haunted by Frederich Nietzsche's observation that he would 'believe in a redeemer' if the 'redeemed looked redeemed'.

I wonder if you feel the same.

I am haunted, because I most certainly *do believe* in a redeemer. I believe in the redemption he brings, and I enjoy the redeemed community he creates: Jesus has died, Jesus has risen and Jesus has formed a new community of people who belong to him, eager to do good. At York Street Anglican, we have been given grace to take our place in this Story of Redemption, for the sake of Sydney, to the Glory of God.

To that end, we are beginning a New Evening Service this Sunday.


We mark the beginning of this community in a fresh and hospitable way. 5:30PM for a 6PM Start.

We will meet in our Apartment. Dr Laurel and I are hosting, and Matt Straw is organising. Our living space will be recreated into a place where the Redeemed can look Redeemed: we will eat, break bread, sing, pray, hear from God's Holy Word, and ask every question needed to to begin in a fresh way.

(Parking: There is always parking on the streets around - Jamison, York, Clarence. The Wedding Bay on Clarence St costs nothing on Sundays. Or simply bring a few gold coins with you, or use the Credit Card Meter in front of Mio's on Clarence St. Easy.)


A New Face to Sydney -
Orthodoxy; Orthopraxis; Orthokardia. (Lent Series on 1 Peter 4:7-11)
  • Feb 21: Learning to PRAY - 1 Peter 4:7 (Lent 1)
  • Feb 28: Learning to LOVE - 1 Peter 4:8 (Lent 1)
  • Mar 7: Learning to offer HOSPITALITY - 1 Peter 4:9 (Lent 1)
  • Mar 14: Learning to use GIFTS - 1 Peter 4:10 (Lent 1)
  • Mar 21: Learning to SPEAK - 1 Peter 4:11a (Lent 1)
  • Mar 28: Learning to SERVE - 1 Peter 4:11b (Palm Sunday)
  • Apr 4: Easter Sunday -- Opening to the City of Sydney.

In the end, this is not about a 'Service'. This is about a Community who love the Redeemer. So we want your say. Especially while we plan, we want you to be bold and speak up. What would be good for your friends who don't yet believe? Where ought we to meet? What ought we to study? What ought we to sing? How do we pray? What do we do? We want to know the way forward. And there will be ample opportunity to pray about that.


We are working towards one thing: Opening our doors to the City of Sydney on Easter Sunday: April 4.


Let me know if you or any you know would like to be a part of this...

For the Redeemer,

Justin and Laurel and Matt


Free Nelson Mandela

You kids won't even remember this, but when I was a kid, Nelson Mandela was in still prison. Gosh, this Youtube brings back many memories:

I went to look for this song for no other reason than the song came into my head. I wondered while listening to the song how long it has been since he was released. So I googled it.

And -- get this -- it has been 20 years today that ' F.W. de Klerk reversed the ban on the ANC and other anti-apartheid organisations, and announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison.' He was released 20 years ago on February 11.

20 Years today. Freaky.



Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Dr Laurel on Shakespeare (3rd Interview with CPX)

Shakespeare's fun with love from CPX on Vimeo.

What's not to love?


Dr Laurel on Shakespeare (2nd Interview with CPX)

Shakespeare's wise fool from CPX on Vimeo.

This is the Second Interview...


Dr Laurel on Shakespeare (1st Interview with CPX)

Totally proud of my wife, if that is allowed. Laurel was interviewed late last year by the Centre for Public Christianity here in Sydney on Shakespeare. She's on the front page. Nice.

Laurel did her PhD on "Shakespeare's Idea of Nothing." I believe that the three videos (which I will post each in turn) were released yesterday in time with the start of the new school year (Southern Hemisphere).

Take a watch:

Her Graduation: Graduation pics.
Her Defense: "In Defense of Nothing".


Monday, February 01, 2010

Is God Killing the Uniting Church?


Read this.

It's called 'The lowest common denomination: a lament'.

It is a piece by Scott Stephens, a pastor and theological educator in the Uniting Church in Australia.

He builds a case, and he ends this way:
What if God is killing the Uniting Church? Here is what Stanley Hauerwas told the congregation of Broadway United Methodist Church in South Bend, Indiana, in 1993:

“The plain truth is that Broadway survives as part of a larger church that is dying. Mainstream Protestantism in America is dying. Actually I prefer to put the matter in more positive terms: God is killing Protestantism and perhaps Christianity in America and we deserve it.”

Is God is killing the Uniting Church?
I don't really know about the Uniting Church.

But I pray to the God whom I fear that he will spare us.

Pic on Flickr by oldsads.