A Liturgy for Sleeplessness.

A Liturgy for Sleeplessness.

It’s Day 35 of Covid-19 lockdown for me and while usually I would make no attempt to timestamp these types of offerings to the universe; I began to notice a few weeks ago that more and more of my friends around the world were beginning to report of sleeplessness. Once reliable patterns of rest and slumber and recovery becoming unreliable in the face of a strange new unknown threat. A symptom for the symptomless, but nonetheless impacted victims of Covid-19.

So amongst the liturgies I have written for this Covid -19 time, I wrote a liturgy for sleeplessness. I wrote it first on hearing the sigh of a dear friend sleepless in the dark skies of New York. I read it to myself watching the dawn rise after another sleepless night. It does not promise to cure your insomnia, but I hope it will comfort you and keep you company in the small dark hours.

This is my gift to you. May you find rest.

A Liturgy for Sleeplessness

At the counting of the hours

and as the ‘un’s’ collect before my eyes

The undone, unsaid and unfinished things in my body

The work of my hands

The unsolved puzzles of my day

May there be rest in knowing there is always something undone that we might sleep and rise tomorrow

The unfelt, unheard and unspoken things that haunt

Swirling in the soft, shadowy edge of the mind

Not enough to wake us but enough to jostle us from deepest slumber

Let my slumber be the safe and soft space for all that is un-

To become part of tomorrow, safe for tonight without needing my concern, my worry, my energy.

For today, I have given all portions and allotments that belonged to it.

But for the catchment of hours left in the night before dawn, grant me abundant mercy as I wander long hours in the small darkness, awake or dreaming.

Give me strength for the dawn. Satisfy even the curiosity of the deep night I find myself aware of.

May the alchemy of body and mind, mystery of eyes responding to light and noise relent — to the tonic of sleep; the easy weighted fall of eyelids, the slowing rhythm of breath.

I lay down into the rhythm of the hours and surrender to them, even the most unwilling parts of me. Grant me mercy in slumber and keep me there.

I offer my evening prayer to the morning and ask for the unknown knitting together of fibres, for entering the healing of deep rest.

For the peace and end of the day, done and undone, and for sleep.


The Body Communion

The Body Communion

I wrote this piece in the last few days.

It’s a simple prayer really; it has a lot of uses and it echoes a number of sacred acts.



my body welcomes your body

my blood rises to meet your blood

our body welcomes your body

our blood rises to meet your blood

come to me deep, i am hungry

i thirst over and over

collide in me, divine


my face turns to the sun

turns to the sun to feel warmth

my blood and bones touch your

body and blood and bones

under the sun

i drink you in


my body welcomes your body

our blood rises to meet your blood

i hear the song of the tui

the fantails dance beside me

by this i know, the body knows

death and life are coming

my body touches your body

tells my soul, thirst no more

hunger not, here is our body

death and life colliding

in our oneness

Words About The Body

There’s a ritual many of us partake of each week or month that has a tone of Holy Sacrament. It is visceral, complex and symbolic. We take bread and say that it is the body of man. We do not say it is ‘like’ the body of a man, we say simply ‘it is’. We eat the bread and our bodies respond. Tastebuds activate, tongues moisten and the body welcomes the body back inside. We take wine or juice and pour it. This time, even more primitive, we say that wine is blood and we swallow deeply, blood into our blood. Lips flush, cheeks redden and we taste.

The intimacy of eating and drinking, the act of consuming another person’s body is not unlike other intimate acts. Oneness is the goal, union and communion the objective of these acts. The body willing, the mind open, the heart and soul receiving one person into another. Adopting that personhood into ourselves.

What a gift of beauty, what an act of love to welcome another’s body into your body and to realise the Christ ritual of Holy Sacrament is deeply personal; the idea of communion with the Divine a holy sacred and intimate one.

Storytellers: To Emerge Or Not Emerge

A Dangerously Long Comment on Fallout from the “Emerging Church”…

Here is the genesis of my dialogue, plus some. From Steve’s site. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I don’t think Steve himself is actually being attacked. And I think that Lynne’s fruit counts, and is valid.

The danger is.. that people get all caught up in it being one way or the other. There are a couple of very ‘Modern’ pastors at my church, who have read the Emerging books and now think that’s how we should do church.

Some thoughts on to Emerge or not Emerge.

Exegete the culture of your community. Who are the not-yet followers? Tell the story in their language, and celebrate the story in the language of your community. That’s what our explorations should be based upon.

We are storytellers. Employ whatever means you like to tell the story, there is no set way.. jsut know that for some people they will like to skip to the end, some like to read for themselves, some like the same story told the same way over and over. We have the freedom to do that, so long as we tell the right story, it doens’t have to be about telling the story right.

Well, doesn’t this one come close to home?

I think, read and observe, that proponents of the Emerging Church do carry this ideology close to their hearts. So it’s almost understandable how things quickly seem to become viscious and snide. It’s why the blogosphere is a great place to air ideas, but only if you have a thick hide. Much like print media, you have to accept that someone will always read and interpret in a contrary tone. So the suggestion of coffee is a good one, but the suggestion of an open forum is also excellent.. and inevitably the kind of exercise that will hopefully bring widespread productivity to these discussions.

As a relative new kid on the block in terms of ministry, theology and experience, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have anything relevant to add, but.. I am living and breathing in the generation that is meant to be delighting in their ’emerging’ nature, and I don’t really see a lot of it. My peers can talk about the ideology, but their practice of worship, community etc, remains unchanged. And I am a proponent of the Gospel, so I shall endeavour not to focus my energy on changing the way we do church, but working to ensure that however we do church, it’s relevant to our immediate context.

We are storytellers. Employ whatever means you like to tell the story, there is no set way.. jsut know that for some people they will like to skip to the end, some like to read for themselves, some like the same story told the same way over and over. We have the freedom to do that, so long as we tell the right story, it doens’t have to be about telling the story right.

In a congregation that does experiment from time to time, I count more failures in our experiments than successes. That is a lot to do with my weaknesses, for sure. But I also think it has a lot to do with the fact that a lot of so-called ’emerging’ practice isn’t simply not relevant or connective with the people I am ministering too. It’s relevant to me. But then, so is a major rock’n’roll concert. Here am I, caught in a parallel. Sometimes I like church to be like a rock’n’roll show too.

I work as part of the team organising a youth gathering that’s highly evangelical. Here’s what I’ve learned that’s still true about youth culture..

  • big is beautiful, in fact sometimes size really does count.
  • sometimes celebrating small is easier in the context of a large gathering.
  • hype is sometimes just fun, and that’s ok.
  • stages that look great don’t have to dominate the landscape of the message.
  • Stages that look great make sense to kids.
  • it’s an uplifting experience for kids to see a God who is working, real and relevant in the lives of their peers across the country.
  • Arty kids and sporty kids, extroverts and introverts can all find expression and a sense of belonging in a big kick-ass event.

In the five years between adolescence and young adulthood.. what are we really expecting to change?

My environment is a challenging one, because things are openly critiqued, vigorously so. Not much is done just for the sake of it. But it’s an open critique that has a good motive underneath it. We are responsible for ministering to, leading and opening up doors for longtime, middle-aged, newbie and no-yet followers of Jesus, and the way we tell the story must bear all of those things in mind. So we experiment, but we try and do it with wisdom.

I, for my part, respect the fact and the manner with which our national leader is engaging and endeavoring to dialogue on these issues. It seems wiser and safer to me than others who seem to delight in picking up the books, and immediately wanting to leap into implementing new worship styles. It speaks to me of being all things to all men, and a willingness to put the needs of others ahead of self. After all… there are many ways in which I can connect with God, but I care much more about how my sisters, my neighbour and my friends will connect with His Story. That is the overwhelming, pressing urge on my heart.

When emerging fits for them, that’s great. And when they go to Hillsong and love it, that’s great. And wherever they find the truth of the Gospel, that’s the answer to my prayers and the cry of the Kingdom.

For the sake of the Kingdom, we need to, and I implore all.. to humble ourselves enough to admit, we all need God to lead us and speak to us through one another.

In the States recently, I saw a lot of creativity for creativity’s sake that was more about artisitic expression, than about relevant spiritual engagement. It was as off-putting, stale and inauthentic as some of the more theologically inaccurate mega-congregations I could attend in Auckland or Sydney. And it was at one of the flagship Emerging Churches. Which throws up lots of questions for me in regards to what Emerging Church really does look like, feel like, sound like. In terms of production values, and performance intensity, speaking with some of the practitioners there revealed remarkably similar values to a Hillsong, or large-scale ‘Modernist Icon’ church.

Some of the congregations that we read about, happily denote that the success story of what they are doing is the numbers of faithful who are retaining ther faith, staying in Christian community, being discipled. But Both-And tension is so vital here, because as a youth worker I have a responsibility to communicate the importance and relevance of the Gospel for us and others, and if we do not value the numerical growth as well as spiritual growth of our ministries we are in trouble. In the ministries I have participated in, people leaving, or people sitting and not participating or engaging with the mission are signs of trouble. Celebrate the raspberries, and remember to plant lots of them.

I am in a ministry context that is experimenting with some different approaches to worship, communication and community. Some things work well and become meaningful, many do not. I am a keen experimenter, but I count more failures than successes with my work. Why? Because I read and think and talk.. and it suggests that there are ways my congregation ought to be engaging, or would like to engage.. the reality is that they don’t. When we create and invite them into those spaces and experiences.. more often than not, it doesn’t carry meaning when part of our services. It’s the same over a small but significant number of congregations that I have participated in and/or observed on a micro-level.

But we have some great sports teams. Touch teams that participate in community tournaments, smaller community groups going to the beach together, adventure sports together and more recently.. lawn bowls for young adults. It has all the elements we emerging ones love.. embracing nature, community, participation, the old and the new, it’s embracing and inviting, it’s evangelical by way of relationship.

So whilst church with candles, symbols, prayers, words, images, darkness and light works really well for me, I also have to accept that the majority of these supposedly ‘post-modern’ young adults who all connect really well with the ideology in their heads.. actually prefer the practice of community that looks more like Hillsong, or CLC or CCC. It’s simple, and understandable. It’s accessible to the masses.

Swing to the other side of the pendulum. So much of our emerging energy seems to get spent up on healing and restoring those who didn’t do mainstream church well, those who didn’t fit. Read the blogs, the books, listen to the seminars. There are a lot of church folk out there who just are looking for a way of doing church that suits them. It will always be that way, but I don’t think we will ever have an entire generation that will pick up the post-modern flag and wave it on a hilltop. And there are some people who need to stop preaching that message. And it shouldn’t ever be that way, because all of this debate comes dangerously close to pulling us away from the task at hand..

Lord, hear the cry of your Children

We are weak, we are limited in understanding

Grant us your eyes to see and ears to hear

For the sake of the Kingdom, may we strip ourselves away

For the sake of Your name, may there be nothing left

For the sake of those who do not yet know Your Love

Make us humble at the feet of our brothers and sisters

Teach us to learn from those around us

Teach us to walk in Your ways

Refocus our eyes, change our lens

Cleanse from us the sin of pride

In a world where there are many Right Ways

Simply help us to avoid the Wrong Ways.

In a world where there are many Voices

Help us to listen wisely, and to speak more so.

For the sake of the long-time, middle-aged, newbie and not-yet

For the sake of Us, the Followers

Tell us again the Story of finding and feeding sheep.

Find us, feed us again.


Christmas Prayer.

A Christmas Prayer

Lord as we celebrate Your birth

May we live knowing

Jesus, You are our Hope

Jesus, You are our Peace

May we share with all those around us

Family, friends and strangers that

Jesus, You are our Joy

Jesus, You are Love

Great God of love and light.

We remember the star that shone

to first lead people to your Son.

Lead us now, by the light of your love, that

we also may follow you to new life in Him.

Teach us and show us how to live in love

In a world that is filled with violence.

May we be just, truthful and willing to love

All those that we meet along the way.

Those that are filled with sorrow

May they know joy & be comforted

Those that are hungry

May they be fed & be satisfied

Those that are lonely

May they know love & find community

Those that are angry

May they find peace & restoration

May we love freely

And know God with Us

May we give joyfully

And know God with Us

May we receive with wonder

And know God with Us

As we celebrate Your entry into

The human timeline by birth

Messy, complicated, mysterious

May You enter into our lives again

Glory be to God