Formation: Christian Empire and the Roots of Exclusion

The central story of the Old Testament is about a remarkable escape of numerous Hebrew slaves from a powerful empire, while the New Testament is centred on a small group of people who follow a prophet largely rejected by his own people and executed as a criminal by the State. Whether we realise it or not, this profoundly shapes the writings of both ‘testaments’; a fact that can be commonly obscured if we read them in the light of a Christianised Western world 2,000 years later.

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Beyond TribalismClint Gibson
Whanaungatanga: Table Fellowship

It was a sensory experience, a thing of beauty. The bread was placed in my mouth, which would be followed by a sip of wine from a beautiful chalice, a cup we would all share from. I can still feel the burning sensation of port trickling down my young throat. And it was an embodied experience. Posturing, waiting, kneeling, hands open, receiving, and tasting, this was an invitation into something real, real food, and something mysterious that this food also metaphored. 

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WhanaungatangaClint Gibson
Formation: Behold I make all things new (or do I?)

The point of Christian faith is not to descend into the depths of the darkness and get lost there, but neither is it to ascend only into the glory of hope and possibility and deny the very real experiences of pain and challenge. Christianity is the rejection of that kind of duality, and instead asks us how we might find God present to us in the midst of the human experience. 

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Stairway to HeavenClint Gibson
Formation: Reverse Rapture

“Paul’s mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, as the Left Behind series suggests, but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere.” - N.T. Wright

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Stairway to HeavenClint Gibson
Whanaungatanga: Tribalism, Belonging and Inclusion

Jesus offers us a different vision of what it means to be human, and offers the antidote to Psalm 137. Not the elimination of our need to express our pain and grief, but a refusal to use our pain and grief to turn us against one another. Instead, Jesus offers a kind of belonging that does not depend on excluding those who are different from us.

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WhanaungatangaClint Gibson
Whanaungatanga: Temples and Connections

Our hope is that as we share experiences together, and learn what it is to work together in ways big and small, we discover a sense of belonging. This can be a really practical sense of community, but the New Testament also invites us to think of this in a mystical kind of way too. That somehow we are imaging the divine in the way we belong to each other, and that our common life together includes an invitation into a different way of being in the world that resists the rampant individualism that is stifling life in the West in the 21st century.

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Manaakitanga: I and Thou

Creation is the first loving and beautiful act of God’s manaakitanga – and it becomes our invitation to tune in to the pulsing rhythm of grace and generosity that sits just beneath the surface of things, calling us into a living embrace.

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ManaakitangaClint Gibson
Formation: Naming the Antichrist

There’s an empire that is doing everything it can to make you fall in with the system, to play by the rules of power, oppression, violence, economic superiority… to follow their narrative. Are you going to fall in, or are you going to follow a different path? Will you follow the way of the lamb that was slain, the way of life in which true and lasting power comes from sacrificial love?

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Manaakitanga: Sharing our common life

The concept of Manaakitanga encourages us to reach out beyond the desire to share on the condition of self-preservation. It’s easy to share in a safe environment with those you trust and like. Generosity really blossoms however when your life is shared in a way that challenges our insecurities and fears which guide us every day.

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Formation: What the hell?

If God is a God who tortures people forever for not getting their religious choices correct, then God is a monster, God is Molech and I have no interest in following that kind of God. That kind of God can be used to justify violence and war and oppression. That kind of God sets us up for tribalism. Instead, Jesus asks us to forgive, and when we say ‘how many times?’ he says ‘again and again.’ So does God do the same? 

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Manaakitanga: An Invitation

The eternal way of living is big love and the eternal way of punishment (in need of rehabilitation) is that side of my nature that is entrenched in annoyance. What I allow to annoy me will  forever torment my sensibilities and firmly close the door to the spirit of Christ that knocks with the sound of Manaakitanga.

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Formation: Heavenly Creatures

Every single time the New Testament talks about the ‘future’ it is to challenge, inspire and enliven the way we are living in the present. This all has implications for our relationships, the work we do, for the art we create, the things we do that give order and shape to God’s creation in the present

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Whakapono: A Gospel of Inclusion

May you come to know that God is always speaking, God’s voice echoing in the cosmos; and revealed in the sacred stories of those who have gone before us. And may you see that the circulating flow of divine love in the Triune God, also lies at the heart of all things; for God is love.

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Whakapono: De/Re-Humanisation

The path to transformation starts with radical acceptance, an acceptance that leads to a profound re-humanisation of self and others. The story of the ‘gospel’ acknowledges that when we are unable to accept and forgive ourselves and one another, God names our acceptance, God names our forgiveness, and the Spirit of Christ enlivens us to experience transformation and renewal.

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Whakapono: Imago Dei

We were late-comers to the story and our imago dei has emerged from the soil of time, space and matter. Humans are not the pinnacle of creation but the result of the ground of matter evolving in a way that reflects the imaging of God. Humanity has its roots and beginnings in a very beautiful poem that suggest that all matter is ‘good’ and our imago dei is underpinned by that goodness.

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