Bon Iver

I went and saw Bon Iver live last night, in the Wellington Town Hall. It was truly one of the most magnificent performances I could ever wish to see! I may possibly relocate to America and follow these guys around just to hear them live every day...


A story

It is in our stories, and our song, that we are united.

I used to think that I wanted to be a good Christian. That I should read the Bible every day because otherwise I wasn't worthy of God's love. Church taught me a "them and us" mentality - we had something, a salvation, that made us better than those who didn't. I thought that if I smiled enough, and lifted my hands enough in worship, and taught enough Bible studies in Sunday school, that I would be a good Christian. And maybe, if they were lucky, the rest of the world would realise that our way of life was better than theirs.

And then one day, Jesus broke me. I don't know when...maybe it was when I looked at all my friends and realised that I wasn't the only one that was striving for recognition in the wrong places. Maybe it was when I stood in the driveway of a women's refuge in South Auckland, and shared a scone with a little girl who had no earthly father to love her. Maybe it was when I wept as thousands died for capitalist greed in the Middle East. Or maybe it was when I realised that Jesus loves every human being that was ever born more than we could ever imagine. And I was only one of them.

I think that we forget that we are family. My sister and I used to ask Mum which one of use was her favourite, and she would always answer "Neither of you - I love you both the same, so much." I was always comforted by the answer because I knew that no matter what, my sister and I were a team. She is there for me, and I am there for her, bound by blood and love. We share the same whanaungatanga, the same history, ties, ancestors. And we are loved the same by our parents.

It is the same within all humanity. We are brothers and sisters and gender-bending lovers. The blood that runs through our veins is the same blood that stains the rivers red in the war in Congo. The hearts the beat in our chests are the same as the broken hearts of those who lost their loved ones in 9/11. And the wrinkles in the corners of our eyes are the same as the wrinkles that line the faces of kaumatua mourning the loss of their youth to violence on the streets of Aotearoa. And no one is loved more or less by God. We are all abundantly loved with passion and fire.

I don't think Jesus is not about who is in and who is out. I don't think that He is not about who goes to church and who doesn't. I think that He is about healing your wounds. I think that He is about a good eternity, and he is also about making this earth a Good earth of love and freedom and understanding. Just because a person is a Muslim, or Jew, or Hindu, just because someone doesn't attend a megachurch, just because someone is imperfect, doesn't mean that they are unloved by God. Martin Luther King Jr. said "I believe that in some marvelous way, God worked through Ghandi, and that the spirit of Jesus Christ saturated his life. It is ironic, yet incapably true, that the greatest Christian of the modern world was a man who never embraced Christianity." I think that these are wise words from one of the greatest Christ-followers of our century.

Now, I see Jesus everywhere. In my friends who come off the street and in to my home to eat with our household every week, I see Jesus the most. Because every time I tell someone from work, or university about where I live and what we do, they think I am crazy. And to be honest, I probably am...but aren't we all? And isn't that where the beauty lies? I think that to follow Jesus, we all have to be a bit crazy - in the kind of world we live in, to feed the poor and clothe the homeless isn't what we would call normal. But as I look into the eyes of my friends who honour me with their presence at our meals, I see an acceptance that am in love with. My friends teach me what it looks like to be loved.

I once loved someone that couldn't accept it. They thought they were unworthy of God's love, and they couldn't accept God's grace, and they ran away from God's embrace. And I didn't realise it at the time, but this paradigm existed with my love as well, which eventually was transformed in to regret and pain and wondering. But I learnt, over time, that if we cannot accept love, then we cannot love others, because to love our neighbour as our self means to be able to accept that we are worthy of the same love. I think that a lot of the worlds pain stems from this problem. 

If we could just accept this transcending love, and let that overflow in to an abundant love and passion for others, no matter who they are or what they believe, then a lot of people would be saved from their pain.


"That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To him. To the God whom we endlessly crave."
- Ann Voskamp


The beautiful mess.

Do you often notice that when something is going wrong for you, no one seems to care that much? When you break up with one you loved, or you lose a close friend, or you start to doubt your entire life's purpose. When you are hurting, does it feel like everyone tip-toes over the topic? When you don't have the strength to reach out for help, does it seem that noone will reach to you instead?

Lately I've heard countless stories about people being shunned by those they thought they could rely on, just because they were slightly different and they didn't 'belong' anymore. Because they were hurting and it was just too difficult to deal with them. People who had broken hearts, people who'd lost loved ones, people who were questioning their fundamental beliefs. I remember, when I was about 18, I struggled in my church for this very reason. Having fallen completely and utterly in love with Jesus, I was awakened to the fact that I was broken just like all of humanity. I was striving to reach out to other people within this new revelation, yet they were all so focused on being 'good Christians' that I just felt looked down upon. Judged. Condemned for the fact that I was different. A 'hippie,' 'radical'...I didn't belong in their clique, because I was too messy for them. Jesus had ruined me for the world in the most beautiful sense, yet the very people I thought were my family in Christ in fact pushed me away without even realising it.

I think we avoid other peoples mess because we don't want to admit that we ourselves are a mess. When we turn to someone, face to face, and see the brokenness in their eyes, we fear that they can then see the brokenness behind ours. Jon Foreman sung it; "I can see the river running through your eyes." That river of brokenness is too hard for us to deal with, so we turn, in self-preservation, in selfishness and fear, alienating our brother or sister with their pain just so that we don't have to admit to our own. Whether it is in our empty words, or our lack thereof. In our ready judgement, or our hesitation to love. We avoid, and they slide further in to isolation.

The truth is, we are all messy. We all have our crap to carry around. We are all broken, and have been for our whole lives. And our only chance of redemption is true love. Jesus knew this when He picked up an adulteress off the ground, and gently set her free. When He befriended a Samaritan woman, a social outcast, and quiet honestly told her that her life messy, but she was a child of God and still had hope. When He looked upon Peter, and challenged him; "Do you love me?" And when He later said to Peter "Feed my sheep. Look after my sheep."

What does this mean? It means reaching out to the lost. Loving the broken. Listening to the hurting. Healing the pain. But to do this, we need to be prepared to face our own brokenness. Because we cannot reach out to others who are broken whilst pretending to be whole and perfect. Can a rose convince a weed of its beauty? Instead, we need to look to the definition of whanau, family, church; "And they devoted themselves to ... teaching and fellowship ... awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common..." (Acts 2:42-47, ESV).

All were together, and had all things in common. How beautiful that would be. And how impossible it seems in a world so reliant upon individualism and capitalism. Yet God offers us another option - humility, generosity, love. And when we have been humbled, blessed and loved, then we are able to sit at the table with one another as equals under His gaze, to share our stories with no shame nor isolation, but instead with grace and with our family. Is that so utopian? I wish it was not. Yet, days go by and no one asks the girl with the bruises whether she is alright. The boy with the broken heart whether he would like to talk. The woman with no hope nor faith whether she would like to share a meal. Because we are all to scared to face the truth. The very same truth that sets us free...

"He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9)


Alaska E.P.

A band from my hometown that everyone should dance in a meadow to.