On the subject of Angels - Scene II

Edward Burne-Jones the artist once wrote: “The more discoveries science makes the more angels I shall paint.” His mission was to offset the negative influences of technology through the positive power of art. Of course science also can be creative and life-giving, and art can be destructive and life-sapping. But artists don’t like to acknowledge that.

As a theological thinker I find his angels more interesting. In the popular imagination angels are white-winged creatures, carrying bows or messages, well supported by the Christmas card industry. The Bible dispenses with the wings and has them purely as messengers. Note that a messenger of the Divine can also be a human being, or in Balaam’s case an ass. They don’t need to be invisible human-shaped demigods.

Burne-Jones uses angels as symbolic of transcendent goodness. When a piece of art is so outrageously attractive it eclipses a nearby machine that is the work of an angel. When a piece of music penetrates into the recesses of our soul it is the work of an angel. When a graceful action touches the mediocrity of our day and lifts our spirit that is the work of an angel.


On the subject of Angels - scene 1

There was an old social worker I knew. She had fostered and cared for countless numbers of children. Although she was a gentle soul the words her son said at her funeral have stayed with me: ‘She cared enough to be angry’.

There is an anger that destroys the soul and there is an anger that fuels it. There is a flaring anger that leads to violence and destruction and there is an ember anger that fires the engine of change. The latter is stoked with compassion.

The old social worker didn’t just pick up society’s rejects she sought to challenge and change the causes of rejection. She was angry that the priorities of profit took precedence of the priorities of alleviating poverty, and she did something about it.

One of those children at the funeral called her ‘my angel’. By her actions she held out to us all a way of being both good and spiritual and challenging.

Another accolade that struck me at that funeral was that ‘She was humble enough not to give in’. Acquiescing to another’s power or the power of bureaucracies, while at times expedient, is not beneficial to the ‘little ones of the earth’ from whence the word humble derives. Sometimes the only way to be true to the earth, and be true to the collective good of all, is to stand against the arrogant assertions of others.


Lucky's silence

Hi everyone,

I'm aware that I've been rather silent recently. There have been three main reasons for that which I'd like to share with you.

Firstly, I've spent a lot of time this year writing liturgy. Liturgy when its written for a congregation needs to involve considerable consultation. As such a liturgy takes about 6 months - beginning with writing and sharing that writing via email with a group of 6, then sharing it in public forums, then sharing it with theologians, then writing music for it, and finally trialling it with the congregation and inviting feedback over a two month period. This year I've initiated and crafted two. The current one is found here [following the notices for the week]: http://www.stmatthews.org.nz/images/UserFiles/File/WH%20&%20Pew%20Sheet.pdf

Secondly, I've spent a lot of time over the last three months bringing to conclusion a negotiation with our neighbour, the Auckland City Mission. They are wanting to do a major redevelopment of their site [a $70 million redevelopment] to enhance their services and offer new ones. Between our church and the Mission is a carpark that belongs to us. We have been negotiating to lease that carpark site to the City Council in order to transform it into a park whilst keeping a small portion [250 sqm] on the road front for a cafe/administration building. You can see a model of what is planned here: http://www.missioninthecity.org.nz/

Lastly, Lucky's time has been occupied caring for his wife who has fractured her back.

I have been writing sermons and a few other things which you can access through www.stmatthews.org.nz I'm currently working on a piece that is supportive of the Revd Ann Holmes Redding of Seattle who will shortly be defrocked for the crime of being both a Christian and a Muslim.

Blessings to you all,