Archive for the Life Category

Inclusive Church Communities

Posted in Church, Life with tags , , , , , , on June 10, 2011 by stephengardner

Christian Blind Mission has launched a fantastic new initiative called Luke 14 (See the video below). The purpose of Luke 14 is to help churches to care for disabled people.

20% of Australian’s live with a disability – is that reflected in your church community? I’m assuming its not and so, Its worth asking why not? Is your building wheelchair accessible? Does the service exclude those who live with a particular disability? They’re the more obvious questions to ask, but what about at the level of personal contact. How are people with disabilities welcomed by others?

I was part of a church community of around 120 people some years back. One of the people from the congregation, lets call him Brad, had a profound disability. Brad was wheelchair bound and had great difficulty speaking. It was hard work to hear and understand Brad. Perhaps thats why out of a church of 120 people only 3 people would speak with him. Perhaps thats why Brad stopped coming to church after persisting at it for a number of years.

Last night I stumbled upon these helpful words from Jurgen Moltmann:

The first thing that people discovered in Jesus, according to the synoptic gospels, was the healing power of the divine Spirit. That is why people who come into contact with him are revealed not as ‘sinners’ (as they are in Paul), but as ‘the sick’. Out of the corners into which they had been forced, out of the wilderness to which they had been banished, out of the shadows into which they had crept, the sick and possessed emerge, and try to be near him. In the neighbourhood of Jesus men and women reveal themselves, not as people who fulfil the Greek ideal of the healthy mind in the healthy body, but as sick, suffering and in need of help. In the vicinity of Jesus, people do not show themselves from their sunny side but from the sides that are dark and shadowed (Jurgen Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 189).

O that our churches were free of superficiality. O that the divine Spirit would change God’s people that we would look at the world with the same paradigm shifting eyes of Jesus. O that God would forgive us of excluding other image bearers of communion with their Maker.


When I grow up I want to work at Google

Posted in Life with tags on March 12, 2010 by stephengardner

Today I had the great privilege of having lunch with Dave Symonds, an old friend who now works at Google as a software engineer. Basically, when I grow up and finish school I want to work there. It is the most seriously decked out work environment I have ever seen.

From their funky reception desk, with themed wall and swinging tyres hanging from the ceiling; to their staff hang out areas complete with pool tables, table tennis tables, wii’s, playstations, food, food and more food.

There are something like 5 full time chefs who provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for the staff. Google obviously prides itself on providing their people with whatever they need to make them feel valued.

Its a truly awesome place. I liken it to walking into Willy Wonker’s chocolate  factory!

A massive shout-out to Dave for showing me around! If you listen to the podcast stay tuned for a future episode with Dave. It should be fascinating, he is involved in some pretty cool things.

comings and goings

Posted in Life with tags , , , on January 25, 2010 by stephengardner

As I mentioned last post this year is full of comings and goings for Claire and I. Last time I focused on the things that are going, the things I’m really going to miss this year. Today’s going to be a bit more optimistic -here are the things I’m most looking forward to this year:

A new church family

Claire and I started at St Aidan’s Hurstville Grove on Sunday. While we’re both pretty sad to being saying goodbye for now to our family at CCIW, we’re excited about serving in a brand new context. St Aidan’s is a great church with a long history of faithful, Jesus-centred ministry which, as much as first impressions can be trusted, is evident in the current life of the church. Stay tuned for some more reflections on changing churches.

Running a half-marathon

The plan is to officially start training in late April. The program I’m hoping to use promises to get me fit and fast enough to do the half marathon in under 100 mins. I’m really looking forward to the training and to posting my progress (or lack of) updates.

Adventures in the middle east

In April, Claire and I have the great privilege of going to the middle east for three amazing weeks. Some things I’m most looking forward to; exploring the old streets of Damscus, camping out in a Roman theatre in Bosra and walking through the old city of Jerusalem. Cant wait!

Reading some sweet sweet theology

Third year doctrine at MTC focuses on; The person and work of Christ and The Church. So, I’m looking forward to getting into dogmatics,  particularly finishing off  IV.1. and Miroslav Volf’s After Our Likeness: The Church as the image of the Trinity.

I was particularly excited to get stuck into the forthcoming monster Paul and the Faithfulness of God by N. T. Wright as it was rumored to be published this year. But alas, it looks as though its another year away.

Living in funky Newtown

We moved into Newtown last week and we’re loving it. Already eaten our fair share of great food and really looking forward to getting to some of the pubs around here that still have live music. 

The Pilgrim’s Podcast

For me, one of the highlights of last year was doing the podcast with Mark Earngey. We’re all set for another year, looking to begin recording in the next couple of weeks. There will be some new things happening this year, including the launching of a website devoted to all things Pilgrim.

comings and goings

Posted in Life with tags , , , on January 20, 2010 by stephengardner

A new year brings a whole lot of new and exciting things for Claire and I, but along with that comes a whole lot of goodbyes and farewells. So, I thought I’d do two posts on the comings and goings of 2010.

Below are the things I’m going to miss most this year (in no particular order):

Shanghai Night Chinese Restaurant

NB Food will feature heavily in this post… Forget about hygiene, forget about ambiance, go here for for the best dumplings you can find… 275 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield.

1/9 Arthur St Croydon

We had three excellent and blessed years here. The best years of my life.Sure, the house was rundown and we had our share of noisy neighbors, but, it was beautiful and it was our first home. I’m already missing the place and we only moved yesterday.

Our church family at Christ Church Inner West

We shared fellowship with the saints here for three years. In that time we saw; St John’s Ashfield amalgamate with St Alban’s Five Dock and St Oswald’s Haberfield to form CCIW, Claire join the staff team, me serve as a student minister for two years, a heap of people come to know Jesus, and a heap of deep friendships formed.  We were both richly blessed. We learnt a heck of a lot about church, life, each other and God. CCIW is a seriously grace filled community that is seriously zealous for outreach and seriously faithful to the Lord Jesus. I hope to post more on this later… But for now, we are already missing our dear family

Canada Bay

Sometimes after work, Claire and I would walk around different parts of the Bay, sometimes we would get fish and chips and sit and stare. But my favourite thing to do was to pound the pavement doing the ‘Bay Run’. I hope to get back there when I can.

Gelato and Cannoli at Haberfield

I’ll finish off this post where I began…with food! Haberfield is one of my favourite places! Sometimes we would go and get gelato, or cannoli, for dessert and then try and walk it off by checking out all the cool restaurants and suspicious shop-fronts that don’t appear to sell anything much. You know, the ones with old Italian men sipping espresso’s and smoking all night…

There are many more things I’m going to miss this year not the least of all are the people I wont be seeing as often as I did. I’m incredibly thankful for all that the last few years has brought me.

Next up, what I’m most looking forward to in 2010…