kia ora and welcome to st paul's, a vibrant community gathering in auckland's oldest city church. come along, get stuck in and help us in creating, relating, restoring and whole pile of other 'ing' words...

Boom! Over one hundred of us from St Paul’s have registered for Festival One. Bust out your tent and sleeping bag and join us for a long weekend soaking in the sun, building community and worshiping together. Our very own Chris Cope will be leading the morning worship and Sam Bloore is the keynote speaker. We’ll have our own exclusive St Paul’s camp area and a St Paul’s version of The Koru Club – a marquee with glamping luxuries including bean bags to relax in, barbeques to create meals together, phone charging stations and so much more. Go online to register for Festival One and use the code #stpauls for a 10% discount. #summerbeats #allthecomforts

St Paul’s is a Category 1 Historic Place and the original building was the first permanent church structure in New Zealand. Although the current building has never been completed St Paul's is, according to Heritage New Zealand, “a particularly fine example of Gothic Revival architecture. The architects handling of the proportions and detailing was both skillful and elegant. St Paul's invites comparison with Sir Gilbert Scott's only New Zealand work, Christchurch Cathedral, c.1863.”

Have you experienced the pre-service prayer gathering on Sunday nights? Come and encounter beautiful worship as we pray and wait on God. This is a great opportunity to enter into God’s presence before the 18:30 service. It’s open for everyone, so come and join us in the crypt.

If you love to pray for others we’d love you to sign up for the St Paul's Prayermail. You will receive email requests from time to time when a prayer need arises. It’s an exciting ministry to be a part of as we continually hear of amazing breakthroughs in tough circumstances. To join up email the Prayermail team. #powerofprayer

Has your shuffle playlist become a little blah lately? Does your morning cardio routine scream out for something more power-punched than a Tony Robbins cassette tape talk? Make your day a little brighter and listen to a recent St Paul’s podcast.

We’ve had an awesome response to our Spotify playlist and now we are spreading the love even further. You can now find us on Apple Music as well. Click here to listen to all your favourite songs on a playlist created for St Paul’s.

Come and join students from different cultures and backgrounds – it’s a great way to get to know people from all over the globe without having to use your airpoints! Our regular Wednesday International Student Lunch and English Conversation Group is growing, so if you're free any time between 12-2pm on Wednesday, please contact Conrad to get involved. Qualifications necessary: are you breathing? 'Nuff said. Volunteer today!

Pick up a St Paul’s parking dashboard pass this week at the welcome desk. A 'dash pass' needs to be displayed whenever you park in the Wilson’s carpark at 47 Symonds Street for any weeknight event such as The Well, Baby Prayer or Deeper. Please note that these passes are only valid after 5pm during the week for St Paul’s events only. It’s handy to keep one in the car. Remember the code is 1357 ‘IN’.

Want to keep up-to-date with what's happening in the life of St Paul's? Every Thursday, we sent out an enewsletter to over a thousand subscribers where you'll get the latest goss on upcoming events, important church dates and a prayer item or two! Sign up to the Happening newsletter here. If you've got some little munchkins at our children's programme, do sign up for Ignition enews too! Get it here to hear about programmes, room changes and rosters! For those with a heart for the co:mission, we also send out a mission enews — the appear under the site here, but it's even easier subscribe here. Ka chow.

Last Sunday, our Anglican lectionary fell upon the prophet Isaiah’s divinely-uttered poetry in Isaiah 65. This stunning book is often called the “5th gospel” because it so clearly anticipates what would unfold in Jesus and the New Testament. Through Isaiah, God expresses our future hope that all will be well: “Pay close attention now: I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy.” This picture of “new heavens and a new earth” is especially comforting after a traumatising week of earthquakes and aftershocks across the country.

With Advent just around the corner, we’re reminded that we have a foretaste of Isaiah’s future hope right now and that God is on the journey with us, like a proud parent filled with both joy and grief as we experience the ups and downs of the present age. The same goes for our life as the church, the heavenly-community-in-training.

This week you would’ve received letters from Bishop Ross and our Vestry, drawing to a close a process that began at the beginning of the year and was referred to at our AGM in May. For me personally, these last few years have been the best of times and the worst of times. The confidential and sensitive nature of the processes referred to in the statements has required me to remain silent in the face of the stories that have swirled around, which has been a deeply painful and complex journey for both Esther and I. At the same time there has been the great pleasure of leading a church that is so full of energy and life, and I’m constantly staggered by the incredible people we have in our staff team and congregation.

I am also profoundly sad that some people within our community have felt the need to move on from St Paul’s in the wake of this season. Our vision has always been for reconciliation rather than rupture. We wish this group well in their new gathering and pray that God will bless them richly with the new hope Isaiah describes. The statements from the Bishop and Vestry effectively draw to a close this prolonged chapter of transition and we now look ahead to building on the blessed foundation we have at St Paul’s. Leading the church through such a challenging season has been a steep learning curve for me — one full of lessons that I’ve had to learn the hard way.

When Esther and I first felt called to come to St Paul’s, God planted a strong vision within us that this church would become a deeply relational community. That we would walk with conviction into the call to be a spiritual family and the intimately connected body of Christ. This remains a challenging vision for a fast-flowing city church that is always changing. But it’s a journey that I want to invite you into afresh in this coming year. The Apostle Paul, consciously echoing Isaiah’s words, says: “When someone is in Christ, look, the new creation has come!” It is our challenge and our inspiration to walk towards Isaiah’s vision of unrestrained joy in a future world where all is well. So today, as God encourages us to do: “Look ahead with joy.”

Blessings
Rev Jonny Grant

2016 will go down in history as a year of geopolitical shocks. First Brexit, then The Bachelor, and now a triumphant Trump. It’s a good time to take comfort from the fact that we don’t put our ultimate trust in earthly kings and their fleeting reigns. As I watched this week’s election with a mixture of fascination and disbelief, I couldn’t help but wonder if Donald Trump hadn’t stacked the deck all along, by filling American cities with huge glimmering monuments to his power and success in the form of the Trump Towers. Like King Nebuchadnezzar before him, they are powerful visual advertisements for a man who postures to rule the world.

But aside from all this, one thing that’s always impressed me deeply about American elections is the incredible number of people who passionately engage in the political process and volunteer their time and energy to the causes they believe in. Something was birthed into the American spirit that still lingers there—a belief in service, commitment and sacrifice—essentially Christian virtues.

It reminds me of the “beating heart” of our church too, which is those of you who work so hard to keep this church going in and out of season. The Spirit gives breath to the body of Christ, the church, but it’s our volunteers who keep that body moving. I’m filled with admiration and relief every Sunday morning, especially during the depths of winter, when I walk into a freezing church to see a group of volunteers already preparing for the long day ahead. What motivates these people to give their time so early in the morning within a building that’s impersonating a fridge-freezer? It’s just one of countless examples I could give from throughout the week.

On Friday night we celebrated and thanked our volunteer leaders at a private St Paul’s showing of Hacksaw Ridge, a film that put faith, conviction and sacrifice in shockingly clear perspective. Last Sunday you responded generously to Esther’s invitation to financially support our church family. As a church funded by its own people, we live and breathe through your gifts of time and money, and we are truly blessed by the generous spirit that exists at St Paul’s.

In biblical times it was only the priests who worked on the Sabbath. By facilitating the worship life of God’s people, they helped to renew God’s creation and especially His image-bearers—us! As I see it, our volunteers are like those Sabbath-working priests. They work so that the whole body of Christ can be built up for the mission that Jesus has prepared for us.

So, brothers and sisters, please be upstanding and charge your glasses. I propose a toast to our tireless volunteer leaders—our beating heart; our Sabbath-working priests; and most importantly of all, our image-bearing reflections of Jesus himself. Be sure to thank them in person when you see them.

Blessings

Rev Jonny Grant

From the very beginning we humans were born into a wrestle of epic proportions. We were made by God to be like Him, and to look after the good creation he set us within. But we’ve always been tempted to put our trust in the things God made rather than God Himself. Even in that abundant Garden-gift—Eden—we put our trust in the tree and the serpent and ourselves, rather than the One who made them all.

Fast forward countless generations and we find ourselves in that same, age-old bind: Who will we trust? What will we invest in? This is heightened by the stressful economic reality of a city that seems too expensive to live in and strong competition for jobs and career opportunities. Even within the relative wealth of Auckland, we feel intense pressure to keep our lives and families financially afloat and safeguarded for the future. As they often do, trust and fear go hand in hand. Just look at the US Elections!

It’s within this context that the Gospel blows like a cleansing wind. It challenges us with that original question: Who will we trust? What will we invest in? The Gospel antidotes to the modern fear of scarcity are found in the form of joy, gratitude and generosity. Joy expresses that God holds our ultimate future in His hands, while gratitude keeps us firmly focused on the God who is the source of all good things. Our generosity turns these two gifts around and allows us to be like God by letting His abundance flow from us to others. Scot McKnight calls this the “reciprocity of grace … God gives to us so that we can become grace to others.” The New Testament vision of money is that we would express these three gifts within the church as the family of God and Christ’s body in the world.

I love the way Tom Wright puts it: “Don’t let the parodies put you off. The habit of giving, of giving generously, is not an extra option for keen Christians. It is absolutely obligatory on all – because our whole calling is to reflect God the creator, and the main thing we know about this true God is that his very nature is self-giving, generous love. The reason why “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7) is that that’s what God himself is like. Someone like that is a person after God’s own heart. Making a regular, formal and public practice of giving money is designed to generate the habit of heart which forms a key part of what is meant by agape love.” NT Wright, Virtue Reborn

So, today I want to thank you for what you give to this community of faith and the Kingdom of God through St Paul’s. What our church does is only possible because of your generosity, and the potential of what we’re planting here at St Paul’s excites me. After a long period of transition and change, we now have an opportunity to plan for the future and to start putting those plans into practice.

What makes us unique as followers of Jesus is that we believe in an Age beyond this one—a divine reality that shapes and gives significance to everything we do now. Our firm conviction is that what we sow into and through the church now will pay great dividends in the future—not just in our lifetime but in the Age to Come in a world without end. What better investment could you wish for?

Blessings
Jonny

I vividly remember when we first went to live in London in 1999. What was known as the “dotcom boom” had created a feeding frenzy of deals, and the big law firms were hungry for energetic young lawyers, which was the description I fit at the time. Entering those gargantuan firms was literally like walking into another world that you didn't need to leave—and often couldn't leave—for days at a time. Some firms even had their own restaurants, beds and gyms! It was a world designed to help you forget about any other reality or commitments you had outside its frantic walls.

We hear a lot these days about living in a “post-truth world” where reality is constructed by those with influence and access. A prominent feature of the recent US Presidential debates was the real-time “fact-checker,” which casually acknowledged that the highest public servants in the land treat truth like putty to be molded according to the desired message. But not much is new under the sun.

In the Gospels we see Jesus shaking up the perceived realities of his day—people’s views of what God was like and what made the world tick. Today we’re focusing on the moment in Mark’s Gospel when Jesus nears Jerusalem, where he’s about to complete his mission. As he reaches the final staging point near Jericho, the nature of the kingdom he is ushering in starts to crystalise, and it poses an uncomfortable challenge even to those who know him best. Jesus challenges them and us to see beyond the illusions of the world as we’re told it is, and to immerse ourselves in the unseen reality of God’s rule—the truest and most enduring reality of all. Human revolutions tend to displace one world with another by rejecting or destroying what already exists. Instead, Jesus mixes the reality of heaven into the present world to save it and restore it.

He gives us a model for how we can engage with our context today, by sowing the seeds of heaven into the world as we find it. Paul Sawrey talks a lot about our vision of being both “the church gathered and the church scattered,” and in mission we express God’s heart to rescue and restore the world. One of my great privileges as leader of St Paul’s is to have a front row seat to the many different ways we as a church are joining in with God’s mission in the world, both in NZ and to the ends of the earth. I’m constantly blown away by the energy, vision and leadership that exists in our congregation for mission. Whether it’s hosting international students throughout the week, supporting Nvader combat sex-trafficking in Thailand, the great work of Feed my Lambs in Kaitaia, our students helping the ultra-poor in Cambodia, Dianne Bailey’s work in the Philippines, the recent Concert for Congo aiding maternity care in that region, and our developing partnership with the Red Cross in support of refugee families in Auckland.

As a church we are stepping into Jesus’s call to plant seeds of the new world in the soil of the present one. If we’re not careful, we might even start a revolution!

Blessings,

Jonny

One of my privileges while studying at Regent College in Vancouver was to take some of the last courses ever taught by the great New Testament professor Gordon Fee, including the Book of Revelation (we win in the end!). Even in his 80’s he had the energy of a teenager and he taught with the passion of a fiery preacher, which made even the most technical classes spring to life. But the most enduring thing I learned from him was a little expression he used to say: “there’s no such thing as writing, only re-writing.”

His point was that nothing good ever begins in perfect form. Writing, like building a house, is a process with many different phases: first the creative thinking and drawing, then the roughing out, then the filling in, and then the polishing and refining. This was a truth that I had to learn over and over again in the writing of my own book. Almost everyday I’d need to recall and rehearse that simple wisdom: “there’s no such thing as writing, only re-writing.” And every time it released me from the arid striving for perfection in every sentence — it unlocked fresh creativity and freedom.

I’m hugely thankful to Gordon Fee because that wisdom is foundational to everything we do. What’s true of writing is also true of life and faith. It reflects the reality that we are all on a journey as followers of Jesus. Not yet the finished article, but in process. This gives permission for God’s freedom and creativity to be at play in our lives. It rescues us from the tyranny of perfection; that awful need to project a certain image, rather than the reality of what’s really going on. And that’s where the true meaning of what it means to be a community of faith comes into focus. It’s about developing relationships of intimacy and trust where we get to write and re-write, without the marker’s red pen hovering over the script of our lives.

The same is true for us as a church. It’s all too easy in the modern marketplace that competes for our attention with shiny new objects, to drift towards slick marketing and perfect services as if we will find redemption there. As the image of Jesus walking the dusty streets of the Gospels shows, the Spirit finds expression in the messy, honest reality of people’s lives, en-Spirited and always “on the way.” Our vision is not to be a tidy sort of church at St Paul’s, it’s to be a welcoming and authentic place where people can find home.

So today I encourage you to seize upon that great spiritual truth that in life, as well as in church, there’s no such thing as writing, only re-writing.

Blessings
Jonny

I recently went snowboarding in the South Island with an old group of friends (or was that a group of ‘old’ friends!). Aside from the comedy of our attempts to recreate the energy and staying power of our 20’s, the highlight for me was spending a few days under the ‘big sky’ of the southern alps — pristine lakes and golden tussock grass with those rugged white peaks that a child’s imagination couldn’t exaggerate. I always feel my mind expand when I’m back down south. This recent trip reminded me that our stunning hope and source of joy as Christians is that we live under an eternal sky, with a horizon line stretching towards a world without end, as the apostle Paul describes it.
This gives huge significance to every part of our lives, not just the good and productive bits, but also the challenges, losses, illnesses and failures. The vision of the Kingdom of God is that one day when Jesus returns, our lives will be swept up into this new reality. Rather than being washed away, everything we have sown into this life will be preserved and made full. What a challenging and potentially freeing way of seeing life!

First the challenge. One of the most powerful dynamics of our cultural set-up is the idea that you own what you make, or put another way, you reap what you sow. We spend our lives building our personal resources, career, and family to varying degrees. But here’s where the vision of the Kingdom becomes subversive to the point of scandalous. In this vision we get to sow into something much bigger than ourselves. Sowing into this Kingdom may feel like a less tangible or secure venture but, ironically, it’s the only truly
guaranteed investment on the market. What’s more, it allows us to give ourselves more freely because we’re released from the need to protect our patch. Paul reminds the young church in Corinth that everything we do feeds into God’s bigger Kingdom project.

As he says, Paul planted, Apollos watered, but it’s God who grows the garden as the source of life. Today we’re saying farewell to Blake from our clergy team and thanking him for his investment into this community of faith over the last few years. In his time here he’s been a thoughtful teacher, a vibrant communicator, and an attentive pastor. In the economy of the Kingdom, we want to thank Blake for the life and potential he has sown into our ground, and we pray that in his next assignment he will also reap the blessing of what others have sown ahead of him.

So let’s celebrate and practice the scandalous economics of the Kingdom. As we scatter seed in the daily contexts of our lives with Spirit inspired abandon, we’re investing in the eternal Kingdom of grace, where nothing is lost and all is gain. As the great Christian philosopher and pastor Jonathan Edwards once said: “the best is yet to come”!

Blessings,
Jonny

Here at St Paul’s we’re always looking to strike a bold balance between life and order. Like all things in life, this is far from an exact science! Over the last few weeks we’ve been doing our best to step into Scripture’s call to pursue the “gifts of the Spirit” for today. It’s reminded me again that we live on the fault-line between two competing stories—the dominant one where the world is a closed system of cause and effect, and the subversive one where Jesus is Lord over all creation and actively engaged in the detail of our lives. Our imaginations and faith are shaped by which story we really believe.

The modern scientific paradigm has set up a closed cosmos where God is locked out of the world and restricted to the spiritual realm at best. But instead of this “God-out-there” way of thinking, Christian Philosopher James K. A. Smith calls us back to a genuinely charismatic or Spirit-centered way of seeing the world where the Spirit is intimately involved within creation: from the restorative work of our jobs and vocations, through the joyous chaos of family life and our relationships, to the dramatic and miraculous works of God.

In this true picture of reality, God is not a stranger or an occasional visitor to His creation, but is already present within it. We see this come to life most vividly in the Gospels and, ironically, it’s often the blind who first see who Jesus really is. For me, the blind beggar Bartimaeus is one of the truly inspiring figures in the Gospel story. Trapped in a dead-end existence of poverty, he refuses to miss the moment when Jesus walks by.

What’s interesting about this story is that Jesus doesn’t seek out Bartimaeus. This guy literally cries out for Jesus’ attention until he can’t be ignored anymore over the hostile and impatient crowd. Despite having no status or standing, he refuses to take “no” for an answer. What seems to catch Jesus’ eye is that Bartimaeus names the truth: that Jesus is the Son of David, the one they’ve been waiting for all these generations. In response Jesus asks him a deceptively simple question: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51).

Bartimaeus’ answer seems too obvious for words—almost rhetorical. It’s literally written all over his face. But seen another way, his answer is unlikely and subversive. The religious leaders of his day believed that someone’s poverty or blindness were God’s judgment for sin. So, for a cursed beggar who relied on the mercy of others for daily survival, the rhetorical answer was: “money, of course.” But instead of playing to script Bartimaeus asks for the impossible: “Rabbi, I want to see.” And yet it’s not a wasted wish because the source of the question is the source of life itself—the Creator-in-the-flesh. Jesus’ response gives Bartimaeus back his dignity and much more: “Go … your faith has healed you.” Perhaps we need to check our vision today; to take another look at who it is that stands before us and asks: “What do you want me to do for you?” If you had the improbable faith of Bartimaeus, how would you answer that question today?

Blessings,
Jonny

Hi St Pauls & Co.,

We're a Christian flat looking for 1 more person to complete our lovely wee crew of housemates.

-Royal Oak/Epsom
-$200 p/wk including expenses
-Current flatmates are 4 gals & 1 guy
-All late 20's/early 30's working professionals
-Beautiful, spacious, warm, dry, light & modern home
-Close to supermarkets & Cornwall Park
-Swimming Pool
-Cleaner/gardener/pool maintenance all included
-Off a main Rd (Pah Rd)

We are looking for someone reliable, considerate and clean, who is happy to chill out and have a good laugh with the rest of us when you can manage it.

If this sounds close to what you're looking for, send me an email at sophspost@gmail.com.

Move-in dates are flexible from immediately, to the end of Jan/Early Feb.

Look forward to meeting you,

Sophie :)







The Wilderness Precinct at Festival One is a large scale desert/wilderness reflecting the biblical stories of desert encounters with God.

It is a big job to install 60 tons of sand inside, in a carpeted venue and not get any sand on the carpet! To say nothing of building the 50 sq.m oasis and waterfall and artificial sky and 26 mission agency booths….

We need some hard working volunteer help in the set up and pack down of this precinct. We especially need help with set up on Monday and Tuesday 23-24 January and packing down on Monday 30 January.

Free Festival One passes are available for those who commit to the entire set-up period (Mon 23 - Fri 27 Jan).

If you are able to help, please call John Morrow at 021 441 087.

I have a home for orphan girls in Uganda and am going in early May. Would anyone have an IPad they would like to gift? I will load educational games to help with the girls learning. Please contact me on 021740943 or jaynebaileynz@hotmail.com. Thank you! Jayne

To all those interested in social justice, ethical trade, consuming with integrity, restoring right relationships and making a difference... The Fairfield Trust warmly invites you to the inaugural Fairfield Conference, 10-11 February at AUT.

Empowering producers, traders, retailers and consumers to make ethical choices which bring freedom, integrity and allow all people to enjoy the work of their hands.

Through speakers, seminars and participatory workshops, a marketplace and documentaries, we will explore different approaches, models, issues and strategies.

Everyone is welcome! Attendance and food is free.

See the amazing speakers at  www.fairfieldconference.org.nz  and to register.

We're a pretty social lot at St P's. So if you have great shots of our community, please share them on our photo social channels. 
You can get to them by clicking the icons at the top of our website, or here for Flickr, or here for Instagram
On Flickr, add your album or shots to our photostream. On Instagram, tag your shots #stpaulsauckland
Or if you have shots of anything and anyone in our community that you think might look ace on Happening or our Welcome sheet or as a website header or in a film, send em to me at spam@stpauls.org.nz
We're a pretty diverse lot, so the more contributors and the more creative the better. Shots of 'official' events are great. But so are pics of you and your church mates just doing your thing.

Want to know more about our story as Auckland's oldest church? The "Mother Church" of Auckland in fact? I've been beavering away at our formerly sparse Wikipedia article over the last few months, incorporating Kate Hannah's wonderful brief history, the Parish Profile we all helped create, various written and pictorial historic sources and some contemporary stuff including Tom Roberton photos. Hit the W icon at the top of this page or click here.