i am currently on a couple of months extended leave from work which is a wonderful thing to be able to do. it's fairly common in other colleges teaching theology that people get time to research and write from time to time and i am glad to say cms have recently agreed that for people like me who are involved in teaching you can apply to do so every four years. i jumped at the chance as this year i think i can fit that in my life! apart from instagram where i post photos i decided to keep a fairly low profile on social media as that can be such a distraction and take what could be headspace for reflecting on other things. but given the weird circumstances we are now in i thought i would post an update and indeed i feel like i have a number of blog posts i want to write so may start to post a bit more anyway.
the exciting news is that i have finished writing a book i have been working on with cathy ross. it's called imagining mission with john v taylor and will be out in the summer in time for greenbelt (hoping that goes ahead?!). i am excited about it and thankful to cathy for inviting me to work on it with her. we had done loads of work on it already before my leave so no i haven't written a book in a few weeks, but i have had the time to add some sections especially focussing on creativity and how you can nurture imaginative approaches to things. john taylor was a cms leader back in the 60s and 70s and the book riffs off of his bold and inspiring work to hopefully speak in a creative and contemporary voice about mission today. anyway more about that nearer the time i guess.
then the second thing i wanted to do was to take the opportunity to get inspired by visiting other contexts especially to think about pioneering. so the first stop has been new zealand where i am now (and part of that has been welcome rest). i was also due to visit three places in asia to learn more about cms and mission there but unsurprisingly i have had to cancel those. i certainly picked a weird time to travel! i have been to christchurch airport twice so far and returned having had to cancel flights for different reasons. but i am due to fly back later today and get into london thursday. i have boarding pass and seat numbers so am hoping it will all be fine as no doubt the uk will shut its borders like other european countries before long. the photo above seemed apt - and i hope it's not too optimistic. i hope it doesn't prove to be poignant because my host roger gets another phone call from me at the airport saying i am still here and can he come back and pick me up again...
i have loved new zealand - what a beautiful country! this is my first visit. i have not seen much of it really having spent all but one day in the south island but what i have i have loved. and it has been so interesting in relation to cms whose missionaries are so tied up with new zealand's history. one of the ideas around creativity that we explore in the book is that you often come up with ideas when you get knocked off your usual routine as it provokes you in a different way. the most common kind of provocation is something that happens to you that you simply learn to receive. so getting stuck in new zealand has been that kind of a provocation and the gift that has been in it is that in the extended time i have had here i have had more conversations and time to reflect on mission in new zealand and its history. one of the people i met, paul has been amazing in that regard and i have so far read huia come home, bible and treaty and our story: aotearoa – the story of mission in new zealand through the lens of the new zealand church missionary society whilst in coffee shops or park benches round christchurch. i won't say more about that now but i will no doubt blog some thoughts from a naive outsider's perspective at some point.
i have taken a ton of photos - i'll add some here as part of reflections but i have added a selection to two flickr albums if you are interested -