Tag Archive: grow

Second Helpings

credo meal table hospitality.jpg

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

For over 20 years Credo, in Melbourne, Australia, was a community gathering around food, recreation and creative art to foster a sense of home – especially for those of us experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental illness and isolation.  The Credo community believed good community development is possible when people from all economic and cultural backgrounds get together and support one another…

Read the rest of this article on RadicalDiscipleship.net and find Credo’s Spaghetti Bolognese here…

you put yourself out there

footscray graffiti orange black white house with a couch and cat on the porch

You put yourself out there.
You put yourself out.
You put your Self out.
Here I am.


We gather for prayer – everyone is sent out into the garden, in silent reflection, to collect something that speaks to the space they’re in and these are planted in our tray of red earth imported from Bron’s recent trip to Western Australia… our dryness, brittleness, zest, hope, strength, fragility, potential, healing…

We sing:

Everything I need is right in front of me (x2)
Can we be manna, manna?
Can we be manna for each other? (x2)

Humble yourself in the arms of the wild
you got to lay down low and humble yourself in the arms of the wild
you got to ask her what she knows and
we will lift each other up (clap) higher and higher (x2)

Can it be that what we need to feel fulfilled, heard, held, connected exists in the environment around us?

How can we be daily sustenance to one another? What can a garden teach us about how to do that?

Wilderness is speaking. What does it say? What can we learn?

With climate change our children are inheriting a legacy where the environment, weather, water and oil will all feature prominently in their future – how are we equipping them to meet it?  If our children,  godchildren, nephlings, neighbourlings and anyone who comes along asks of us: “why didn’t you do anything?”, how will you answer?  Whatever seeds of hope we might have, we must sow.


Mark 4: 8-9
“…still other seed fell on good soil, where it sprouted, grew up, and produced a crop—one bearing thirtyfold, another sixtyfold, and another a hundredfold.”
Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”




Non violence is a weapon for the strong – Mahatma Ghandi

Non violent communication (NVC) is base don the principles of nonviolence – the natural state of compassion when no violence is in the heart.

NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassioante by nature and that violent strategies –  whether verbal or physical – are learned behaviours taught and supprted by the prevailing culture.  NVC assumes that we all share the same basic human needs, and that each of our actions are a strategy to meet one of more of those needs.

People who practice NVC have found greater authenticity in the communication, increased understanding , deepening connection and conflict resolution.

(Further reading: Non-violent Communication by Marshall B Rosenberg)

We are made in the image of God > compare Christian creations story with others.  We are created in the image of a Creator. This has been co-opted by empire – trying to sell clothes, make up, some ideal image – they are trying to sell something I already have.  The world and earth are alive and creating always. There is a scientific link between art/creativity and healing… when you are writing a story, cooking, drawing, gardening… we are not functioning out of the survival part of our brain.  Importance isn’t what is made but the process of creating.



The Mandala (Sanskrit for circle or completion has a long history of being recognised for a deep spiritual meaning and representation of wholeness.

The very nature of creating a mandala is therapeutic and symbolic.  The shapes and colours you create in your mandala will reflect your inner self at the time of creation.  Your instinct and feeling should inspire and guide you through the process of creation.  Ultimately, you will be creating a portrait of yourself as you are when creating the mandala.  So whatever you are feeling at the time, whatever emotions are coming through, will be represented in your mandala.027

So then, how shall we live?

Practices and principles for compassionate, non-violent communication

Proposition: We are made in the image of God, therefore if I am careful and I am creative, exploring who you are and revealing who I am can be an act of worship (our communication)

First issue is realising our reaction to what we perceive as agression or conflict… this is not right or wrong this is just how we are made:

  • fight or flight
  • non-verbal agression
  • tone and inflection

Colossians 1:18-20

He was supreme in the beginning and – leading the resurrection parade – he is spreme in the end. From beginning t end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone.  So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding.  Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

Basic technique:

  1. Observe (without judgement)
  2. Share our feelings
  3. Sharing what needs, values or desires have created our feelings
  4. Requesting (a concrete action we are requesting to enrich our humanity)

Stumbling blocks: judgements, comparisons, denial of responsibility, demanding.

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What is the kingdom of God like? To what can we compare?

Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

What are you discussing as you walk along?…..What things?

Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?

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Queries What is our honest experience of Jesus Christ?
What are the stories that found and shape our lives, our locality, our culture?
How will we discern the Living Word who speaks to us through the biblical story, prayer and the people and situations around us?
How do the questions from the gospel stories shape our understanding?
 What are the connections between the story of the Bible, our world and ourselves?

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Do you also want to leave? Did I not choose you twelve?

Have you anything here to eat?

If there were not (many homes in my Father’s house), would I have told you that I am going to prepare a house for you?

What were you arguing about as we travelled on the road?

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Queries Who are our kin/mob/family? (Mark 3) 
In what ways will we or will we not ‘be there for each other’ as ‘family’?
How do our families of origin and previous experiences of community affect us now?
How can we practice the disciplines of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience in this locality?
What are our economic necessities? (home, household, village…etc.)
What does it mean for us to be the body of Christ? Where am I putting my own body?



When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?

How many loaves do you have?

Which one was neighbour to the robber’s victim?

Do you want to be well?

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How does Jesus’ life, incarnation, death & resurrection shape our practice of mission?
Who is at our table? Whom are we offering hospitality?
 Are we dependent on those we serve? Are we experiencing hospitality from those we serve?
 What is my vocation/calling? What voices are shaping our choices?
 What is ‘good work’? 
In what ways can we put those considered least at the top of our priorities?
 How are we deepening our understanding and practice of Teaching, Healing and Exorcism in light of the Word?

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desert fathersA hermit said, ‘When you flee from the company of other people, or when you despise the world and worldlings, take care to do so as it if were you who was being idiotic’. (p83)

A brother sinned and the presbyter ordered him to go out of church.  But Bessarion got up and went out with him, saying, ‘I, too, am a sinner.’ (p84)

In Scetis a brother was found guilty.  They assembled the brothers, and sent a message to Moses telling him to come.  But he would not come.  The the presbyter sent again saying, ‘Come, for the gathering of monks is waiting for you.’
Moses got up and went.  He took with him an old basket, which he filled with sand and carried on his back.
They went to him and said, ‘What does this mean, abba?’
He said, ‘My sins run out behind me and I do not see them and I have come here today to judge another.’
They listened to him and said no more to the brother who had sinned but forgave him. (p85)

If you are angry with your brother for any kind of trouble that he gives you, that is anger without a cause (Matt 5:22) But if anyone wants to seperate you from God, then you must be angry with him. (p100)

If a man answers before he has heard, it is foolishness to him and discredit (Ecclesiastes 11:8). If you are asked, speak; if not, say nothing. (p102)


I arrived Sunday and am settling into life in Oak View –

so far we breakfast at 7.30am and have a reading from the Anabaptist Prayer Book “Take Our Moments and Our Days”, we have a lunchtime (scrummy bean burritos!) post-prandial reflection from “All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time” by Robert Ellsberg, before dinner I’m reading a little something from the Anglican English/Maori Book of Common Prayer “The New Zealand Liturgy 1970” and we will be reading aloud of an evening – potentially – “Ask That Mountain” which is the story of Parihaka, a little-known Maori chieftain who was doing non-violent resistance before Ghandi*.  But not on Tuesdays, when we will take turns at leading Vespers, or Thursdays when we will be praying through prayer points from a community called Sabeel in Jerusalem with whom Ched & Elaine have a connection… and, uh, we haven’t had a conversation about my specific study plan yet.

I’m rolling in the big leagues of Type 5! And yet,

The main foci of the BCM are as follows:

1. Radical Discipleship in the Christian tradition
2. Education “between the seminary, sanctuary and the streets”
3. Full spectrum restorative justice & peacemaking
4. Biblical literacy with an emphasis on social context
5. Movement history and interconnectivity
6. Ecojustice and sustainability
7. Indigenous justice/racism/Truth & Reconciliation

The importance of the story of their name ‘Bartimaeus’ is in the discipleship journey from the “blindness of denial to the sight of engagement” (Ched) and as Lanza del Vasto would say (one of my new Saints) “one could not hope to resolve the problems of the world as long as one was a part of them”… There is a sense of solidarity in learning together.  Ched and Elaine are inviting me (us!) into their discipleship journey and I just hope I can keep up!

Na, i tenei kapua nui o nga kaiwhakaatu e karapoti nei i a tatou, whakarerea e tatou nga whakataimaha katoa, me to hara whakaeke tata, kia manawanui hoki tatou ki te oma i te omanga e takoto nei i to tatou aroaro.          Hiperu 12:1

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with perseverence the race that is set before us.                                                 Hebrews 12:1

*note that Ched is providing me with these resources I didn’t bring them with me and can claim no prior knowledge!

I shifted over from NZ in July & started connecting regularly with Seeds from about October 2007. I have spent a lot of time since then trying to figure out exactly what “community” is. Marcus regularly talks about this concept of “growing home”, meeting to prepare and share a meal together, to be neighbours and engaged in the community together – that’s where church happens.

This tapped into this greater struggle I already had going in my head: relating to missing family and friends back home, to feeling like I have no support networks here. In a new city nothing is familiar; the streets, street/place names, the skyline, the public transport system – going out, it feels like you need to arm yourself for a hostile environment.  Can feel vulnerable and insecure all the time.

When I started learning about the work of Urban Seed, I approached it based on the assumption that I would be on the ‘giving help to homeless people’ side of the service. I didn’t realise that actually, I am homeless myself…

“homelessness” is nothing to do with not having a house. Urban Seed doesn’t provide housing, Urban Seed provides an opportunity to be connected in a community. Feels like a really profound revelation for me – my definition of homeless was quite narrow:

Homeless: Without a home. Persons who lack permanent housing.

But in reality, homelessness is:

Homeless: ‘An inadequate experience of connectedness with family and/or community.

If we use the latter definition, does that change the number of homeless people you know?

The picture at the top is a poem I wrote when in this space – trying to express something of my experience of the state of homelessness…

This is loosely based on the parable of the farmer in the gospels (Matthew), the farmer scatters seed and the stuff on the road gets eaten by birds, the seed in rocky ground grows but gets scorched and some landed in the weeds and got choked but some landed in good earth and produced 100/60/30x what was planted.

I have times when I wonder whether shifting here was the right thing to do. I keep waiting to see one of those big signs like you have on the highways here that say WRONG WAY, TURN BACK! I am afraid that I might not flourish here, that I might not find good earth I which to put down strong roots.

Marcus pointed out that we’re all homeless, all on a journey back to our heavenly home – having to leave the home we know, that’s part of our history.

This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You belong here… God is building a home. He is using you in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, seed by seed with Jesus as the cornerstone that holds everything together. We see it taking shape day after day…  (slight paraphrasing, Ephesians 2:19-22)

I was feeling adrift, like I wasn’t connected to anything, reading this was really grounding, it gave me something concrete to hold onto – it was such a relief to have something I felt certain about.

Maybe I’ve been homesick all my life, homesick for heaven, and because all of the things that made my life full I couldn’t see it as clearly.  Perhaps because my environment was known and familiar I could pretend that was enough, and it’s only through shifting to a new country that I’ve had to question what I think I know.

2 Corinthians 5:4 reads “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we wish to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”  Perhaps the pursuit of happiness in this life is really part of the search for home, a search for heaven.  Maybe this life is never meant to be completely satisfactory, the passage goes on to say God has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. So we have this Spirit within us that is always longing for God, to be with God… longing for home.

For a lot of people in the pursuit of happiness, they express dissatisfaction with their tents by redecorating them or damaging them. Perhaps no one’s quite sure what our home’s supposed to be, we live by faith not by sight, but it seems we’re all agreed that it’s something other than what we have.  What we’re pursuing is change, what we long for is to grow home…

Now when I go back to NZ I found it very valuable in helping me to see how much progress I’ve made towards growing a home here. Urban Seed is helping me do that, helping a lot of people do that. That’s what Urban Seed/Seeds is about: It’s about providing good earth, where people can put down some roots and grow, it’s about providing spaces where people who feel homeless can experience connectedness while on the journey to grow home.