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The Seed Disperser May/June 2023
Calm in the chaos
What’s in this month’s Seed Disperser
Book of the month
Notes to a Friend
Inspiration this month
Calm in the chaos
Climate & weather report
Find calm amidst the chaos
Find calm in sensory seasonal experiences
Find calm with co-operative endeavours
Find calm with mindfulness
Church of the month
Rhythms of Grace
Featured this month
Happy Birthday to Taking Flight
New this month
Lectionary Year B
5 Senses to Prayer Virtual Prayer Room - Join the journey to Book 2
Christianity in Aotearoa
On a personal note
Snapshots of Autumn
Book of the month - Notes to a Friend
For centuries, western society has been embedded in Christian teaching. Now, for a number of reasons, this has changed. The scriptural references cherished by many Christians have no meaning for a large number of people, yet many believe in God. Increasingly those hungry for a spiritual understanding attend retreats, spirituality workshops and days of reflection. They sit outside religious structures, and are likely to remain so, but they are all seeking maps for the journey. Celebrated and much loved New Zealand author, Joy Cowley wrote Notes to a Friend as a response to that need. The notes in this book borrow from centuries of Christian devotion but leave out the church language that sounds alien to many. Joy’s style uses a very ordinary, down to earth approach, with contemporary language and settings to provide profound inspiration for those searching and discovering God.
Kereru Publishing only has this book available as an EPUB
Inspiration this month - Calm in the chaos
Climate and weather report
Here in Aotearoa, the days are getting shorter, the nights longer, and there’s a crispness in the air. Winter is here. In Te Ika-a-Māui, the North Island, it’s been a fairly confusing time over the last few months in terms of seasons and weather.
In Auckland our poor plum tree has experienced four seasons all at once. It is now currently bare of leaves but is decorated by small green plums, gradually ripening to a pinkish red. Twice in the last three months it has been covered in blossoms assuming that after a season’s worth of heavy rains spring had arrived. The question is… are these plums six months early or six months late? Plums in July just isn’t a thing.
We’re not even in the rainy season and we’ve already experienced 90% of average annual rainfall. This article from the NZ Herald explains our recent weird weather.
Meanwhile, many of our subscribers are in other parts of the world also experiencing weird weather. Our friends in Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada are dealing with record breaking wildfires, spreading chaos in places that are not usually so badly affected. This article from Reuters seeks to explain the phenomenon.
The conversations around us are filled with a wariness and weariness in confronting the challenges our world is facing today. For those around me the questions are, “How much more rain can the ground cope with? What happens to the people who are still homeless after the recent floods? For others it’s a case of changing the words rain and floods to fire or heat.
As faith-walking people, more than ever we need to personally find ways to navigate the things that life throws our way, while also being a beacon of light for others to follow.
Finding a sense of calm involves setting aside time and energy to reflect, plan and take purposeful action. Rather than just reacting to what’s around us, we are invited to pay attention and to focus. This helps us stay grounded in the moment and gives us strength to cope with what is going on in our own lives and in the world.
In this month’s Seed Disperser we’ve called our feature section, “Calm in the chaos”. Most of these ideas are winter themed for Aotearoa but they can be adapted for other seasons and other parts of the world. These are ideas for individuals and for groups. They’re ideas to generate light, warmth, peace, hope and joy. They invite care of others and connection with others. They invite us to walk and talk with our God.
Find calm amidst the chaos
Sara Bareilles 2019 album, ‘Amidst the chaos’ has several tracks that resonate for coping in turbulent times. Sara’s songwriting is honest and thought provoking. The whole album encourages us to keep on walking through the chaos we encounter through the journey of life while reaching out a hand to help others along the way.
The ocean is wild and over your head
And the boat beneath you is sinking
Don't need room for your bags, hope is all that you have
So say the Lord's Prayer twice, hold your babies tight
Surely someone will reach out a hand
And show you a safe place to land
Be the hand of a hopeful stranger
Little scared, but you're strong enough
Be the light in the dark of this danger
'Til the sun comes up
Sarah Bareilles - A Safe Place to Land
Find calm in sensory seasonal experiences
We have a lifetime of inbuilt knowledge that comes from our experience of knowing and recognising the passing of the seasons in an annual cycle. Actively marking the seasons can help us physically, mentally and emotionally and spiritually. By looking outward and noticing and celebrating what is happening in the world around us, we strengthen our inner life too.
Connecting with creation, connects us with our Creator. Even when the season isn’t behaving how we have come to know and expect we can still find wonder and delight in the little things. Look for ways to celebrate and find joy in the season. Embrace all that the season brings.
Find calm with co-operative endeavours
It’s very easy in times of chaos to feel isolated and alone. Doing simple things with others helps ease these feelings of isolation. More than that, when we’re doing things with others and for others, it creates a sense of shared purpose and the benefits are multiplied between all those involved. Working together to actively support and help others, particularly in these tough times, improves our own wellbeing. Look for those on the fringes of your groups or contacts and bring them into the warmth of participating in co-operative endeavours. Pay particular attention and make accommodation for those who experience challenges in participating in social situations, but want to be involved.
Work together on a service project to help others
Help in a local soup kitchen
Gather a team to make, prepare and deliver meals for elderly, sick, families with young children or those struggling with current cost of living.
Contact your local Womens Refuge, City Mission or other charity already working to support others and find out ways your group can contribute.
Tidy up and clean for someone who is sick. Clean driveways, mow lawns, wash houses, clear roofs, vacuum, clean windows.
Host a family movie night
Prepare by choosing a movie that will appeal to all ages. Watch the movie in advance and prepare a few open-ended, thought provoking theme related questions for discussion after watching the movie. Invite participants to come up with their own questions. If the group is large, break into smaller groups to question and discuss. Don’t underestimate the contributions that even the youngest attendee can make in a discussion. Some of our favourite family movie options to inspire thoughtful reflection include Shrek, Wreck-it Ralph, Paddington and Ratatouille. Serve a simple meal of pizza. If you have the kitchen facilities you could invite people to bring some pizza ingredients and get everyone to make their own pizzas.
Host an all-ages picnic with games
Plan an all weathers picnic. If you can’t get outdoors prepare for an indoor picnic. Invite everyone to bring picnic blankets and chairs and set up around your space as if they were outdoors. Invite everyone to bring picnic food to share and set this out on trestle tables for people to help themselves. Play games like ten pin bowling, petanque or indoor bowls or suitable games for all ages to encourage everyone to participate and a connection to develop between different people in your group.
Hold a quiz night
Prepare an All-Age quiz night or afternoon with questions and topics that are suitable for your group. Set up tables to sit 6-8 people and try to have a mix of ages at each table. Provide drinks and snacks for each table as well as pencils and answer sheets. Working together as a group means no one person is put on the spot and there’s no pressure to get answers correct. The emphasis is on having fun together and building connections with each other.
Here are resources from an all-age quiz event we held a few years ago. It’s well out of date now, but you could use this as a guideline to create and prepare for your own quiz event.
Find calm with mindfulness
If you’re new to the practice of mindfulness, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand has an excellent list of suggestions. Many of these fit well with a contemplative tradition and spiritual practice.
Knitting with mindfulness
Knitting has been experiencing a major resurgence in recent years. There are now many studies, books and articles written about the benefits of knitting. The process and practice of knitting has been recognised by many as a spiritual practice and is being embraced by young, old, male and female. Knitting in this way is less about the finished product and more about the process of gentle repetitive movement. Spending a few minutes every day knitting has been proven to improve our mental, phsyical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
For those wanting to learn to knit there are many tutorials on YouTube. Find some needles, yarn, and start knitting, breathing, calming, listening to God and praying.
For a group activity team up knitters with non-knitters who want to learn to knit. Ask if anyone has wool to donate or spare needles, or have a hunt at the local opportunity shop. Work on a shared project such as making squares for a blanket to donate to a City Mission or shelter.
If you’re looking for resources to understand more about the benefits of knitting, Betsan Corkhill’s Knit for Health and Wellbeing is a great place to start. Betsan surveyed over 3500 people as part of a study with Cardiff University. The results were startling and the research has resulted in many other resources being published by others. This blog post from God Space details one person’s spiritual journey with knitting. Julie Cicora is a knitter and Epsicopal Priest. She writes about Contemplative Knitting on her blog. She also published a book in 2021 on the subject.
Church of the month - Rhythms of Grace
Rhythms of Grace is led by Mark Pierson. Mark is a long time colleague and friend. He has been, and still is, a trailblazer on the path of finding new ways to be Church. His creative approach to worship inspires people all over the world. Mark writes about his community and shares images of some of their recent creative endeavours.
Rhythms of Grace Church is an interdenominational community that gathers in the Undercroft below Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, Auckland. Despite meeting there and being creatively-liturgical (which makes Andrew’s weekly “Taking Flight” posts of great value) we aren’t an Anglican Church.
We aren’t all tea drinkers either but we’ve developed a tea ritual we use regularly in church services and meetings to have conversations and get to know people we might otherwise not. “Tea & Be” is about taking time for conversation and slowing down.
We’re also strongly committed to artists and the arts and commission works for our worship space and regularly have artists talk to us about their work. We use a lot of art in worship.
Featured this month - Happy Birthday to Taking Flight
This May marks 10 years since we launched Taking Flight. Our weekly lectionary resource continues to inspire those who prepare worship services, studies and seasonal events. Since the early days the resource has grown in size from ‘Taking Flight Light’ to what could now be nicknamed, ‘Taking Flight Bumper’.
Andrew spends two to three days each week compiling the weekly offering. After ten years of Taking Flight and five years prior to that writing 10 Minutes on Tuesday, he continues to produce fresh and relevant weekly content. This is then sent out every Tuesday morning (NZT) arriving two and a half weeks before the Sunday to which the resource relates. It is intriguing and heartening to hear stories of the material being used by people all over the world.
Our subscriber base is small but steady. We’d like to see our subscriber numbers increase so if you know of anyone who might be interested in subscribing we’d love it if you could tell them about Taking Flight.
To celebrate this major milestone we have some special Birthday offers available.
Birthday offer - Free trial for one month
If you’re not already a subscriber to Taking Flight you can sign up via Substack for a 30 day free trial. You’ll be able to access up to 4 weeks previous material on the website and receive the weekly Taking Flight every Tuesday for the duration of your free trial. This offer is valid until 30 June and can’t be combined with other offers.
Use this link to sign up and receive a free trial
Birthday offer - 20% discount for first year
If you’re not already a subscriber to Taking Flight and you know you want to subscribe for a year take advantage of our 20% discount offer. This offer is only available if signing up via our Taking Flight website. We rarely offer a discount on Taking Flight so this is a great special.
Use this link to sign up and receive a 20% discount for your first year
Give a gift subscription - 20% discount for first year
Celebrate our Taking Flight birthday by gifting a Taking Flight subscription to someone you know might appreciate it. You can include a personal message to your intended recipient. If you’re already a subscriber to Taking Flight we’ll add one free month onto your own Taking Flight subscription.
Use this link to send a gift with a 20% discount for the first year
New this month - Lectionary
This Lectionary and Calendar follows the Common Lectionary Revised (1992) produced by the ecumenical liturgical body the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), and is produced by permission of the CCT as a service to parishes and preachers. The booklet is edited and produced by the Methodist Faith and Order Committee on behalf of the Methodist Church of New Zealand/Te Hahi Weteriana O Aotearoa and the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Andrew Gamman is the current editor of this Lectionary.
Kereru Publishing offers electronic versions in both PDF and EPUB. These are a free download and complement the Kereru Publishing Lectionary resource, 'Taking Flight'.
Download here or find them on our website.
If you’d like a printed version we will shortly have these available on our website. To pre-order please contact us.
Coming up… 5 Senses Virtual Prayer Room
Our weekly email from 5 Senses Virtual Prayer Room is about to enter into a new phase. For those who’ve been waiting for the second book in the 5 Senses to Prayer you can get access to the content early. With publication date in 2024, Caroline will share two to three prayers from the book each week in the Virtual Prayer Room.
The prayers will be in the same format as those in 5 Senses to Prayer Book 1 and will include notes and sample ideas on using the prayers in prayer stations, small groups, large groups and as an indivual. Paid subscribers will have access to the full archive of prayers on the 5 Senses to Prayer website page on Substack.
One prayer each week will be accessible for free subscribers both on the website and sent via email. If you’d like to receive the full resource take advantage of our current special called From the Vault which offers a paid subscription with a discount of 80% on list price. Pay $6 USD per year (approx $10 NZD) This offer is only available by purchasing through the Substack website using the link below and is valid until 30 June 2023.
Don’t want to pay for a subscription? Sign up for free and receive one month free access to paid content. You’ll continue to receive weekly emails with partial content and you can subscribe at any time for $15 USD per year (approx $25 NZD)
We are delighted to be publishing “Christianity in Aotearoa”. This title written by Allan K. Davidson has previously been published by EFM. The updated and revised edition is written by Allan K. Davidson and Peter J. Lineham. The original book and it’s earlier revisions has been a must-read for every theology student in New Zealand since it was first published in 1989. This new edition has been extensively revised and the scope broadened. We hope to have more details available for pre-order in our next edition of The Seed Disperser.
On a personal note
You’ll notice that this is the second time we’ve combined our monthly edition of The Seed Disperser into a two-monthly bumper email. We can’t quite believe we’re in June already as it’s been a busy start to the year. Caroline’s energy levels are always up and down and she struck a problem the last few weeks with medication supply. This has meant her temporarily pausing some of her writing projects including writing the latest edition of The Seed Disperser. She’s now back into writing and pacing herself.
We did manage to have a small holiday in Hawkes Bay, taking two of our adult children and Caroline’s parents with us. Caroline’s dad’s dementia means the holiday was a respite for her mother as well as providing us with a privilege of holidaying together and building some memories. Here’s a few Autumn themed snaps.