A Reflection from 3rd Year Pastoral Leadership Student, Jonathan Edmeades
How has your study enlarged your vision of God?
My time at Carey has left me marvelling at just how big God is. It is often easy to allow our understanding of who He is works to be shaped by our individual experiences of encountering and offering worship to him. At Carey, I’ve been fortunate to have my vision of God broadened by journeying with others who he is drawing to participate in his mission in extraordinarily diverse ways.
I’ve ended up doing bombs at the river in Dannevirke and reading the bible with local kids, listening and sitting on the frontline at Ihumātao considering what it means to ‘act justly’, picking up fish heads to be redistributed to whānau through one of our local marae in Māngere – the list could go on! I find myself marvelling at these diverse ways in which God draws people to himself and enables them to not only call him Lord, but to join in what he is doing to demonstrate that love for those around them. He truly is a ‘great BIG God’.
How have you been challenged in your thinking about worship this year?
It would appear COVID has brought some of our more common visions of worship to a crossroads. If the numbers watching church livestreams are anything to go by, our times of corporate gathering are valued as much (if not more) for their human connection than for their content. This challenge of rediscovering what it means to gather in worship as the people of God in a different age faces so many of our congregations.
The challenge for me has come in understanding the Holy Spirit as the originator and sustainer of the church. Recognising that our worship of God is not simply our own, but rather an act of participation in the ongoing work of the Spirit, grants a simultaneous sense of freedom and challenge. The freedom to know that our worship (and the church itself) is not dependent upon our own wisdom and righteousness, whilst also being challenged to step into a full participation in the news ways in which the Spirit is shaping our worship.
How have you been equipped to curate worship for the people of God?
I think one of the great gifts of my time at Carey has been the chance to develop a ‘scriptural imagination’ that can shape our worship in all of life. It has offered the chance to engage rigorously with scripture and then with the world that surrounds us, looking for how the story of God’s word might inform and shape our daily lives together as his church.
I love the chance to bring scripture into the conversation of all that we do, helping us to engage with what it means to be formed by God as a faithful and holy people for the sake of the world around us – primarily by asking good questions of the text. This might look like examining history of the whenua of Aotearoa, considering what it means to consider examples of radical, complex and costly restitution like those we see in Ezra 9- 10 or thinking about God as the one who ‘makes the grass grow for the cattle’ whilst in the midst of a drought in Dannevirke.
These types of questions don’t just curate worship for our Sundays, they draw us into a life of worship that unites us with one another throughout our weeks in a shared commitment to imagining and embodying a life of holy commitment to Jesus.