Category Archives: Stranger

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CELEBRATE WHAT WE HAVE IN COMMON NOT WHERE WE DIFFER

 Loitering and ‘being’ opens the horizons of the mind and heart, it also challenges prejudice.
Meeting people from around our world. people with who we have much in common, others who see the world quite differently from us, all make a rich and interesting tapestry.

At a Vigil held in the city of Melbourne where I work, after a tragic incident to place, I observed a diversity not always appreciated. Mostly this is often as a result of ignorance, fear and mistrust of other.

Sitting after the vigil with a man, a complete stranger to me, we held hands we chatted about what we have in common.

He a Hindu and me a white anglo-saxon commonly known as ‘a Christian”.

Both affected by what had happened, both deeply moved by the service and both saying how at times like this we need each other.

While we do love ‘our’ country, and want it to ‘be safe’ and for some just like ‘the good ol’ days’, we are called to love.

For those of us who claim to ‘love God with all our heart, strength and mind’ sometimes forget to love neighbour as self.

I don’t expect its always easy, its not for me, so together lets strive to get it, who knows we may even look back one day and claim these were the ‘good ol’ day’!!


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Love Others Radically

Love others so radically they wonder why.

This weekend it was announced by the Prime Minister that he wants to pass a law that says that anyone who has tried to come to Australia, illegally,  by boat since 2013 will NEVER be allowed to enter the country. It is being done as a “sign to the people smugglers of how serious we are” about border protection. That’s great , Mr Turnbull, but it’s not the people smugglers who are being effected by this, its the little people desperate to find a new life away from tyranny and oppression – they won’t find it here apparently. (Yes, I know that some of the boat people are trying to jump the queue and beat the system but the (documented) majority are trying to escape terrible lives. Just think, what would have to happen to you and your family to make you jump into a boat and risk your life? It’s not a decision that most of the people make lightly.)

I was listening to the radio yesterday morning and a politician (I don’t remember her name) confirmed to the interviewer that if someone has tried to come to Australia to seek asylum by boat, even if they are found to have a legitimate claim, they will not be allowed to enter the country EVER! My friend (who works for the United Nations as a lawyer) cannot work out how many U.N. statutes  and Internation Laws this new law (if passed) will contravene. Where is our nation’s compassion? Where is our love for our neighbour? When we will stop singing the National Anthem that says, in the second verse, “For those who’ve come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share”?

Please don’t think I’m advocating that we do away with our immigration laws – I’m not. I went through the system to be allowed to live here, it was fair to me. I am questioning the fairness and justice of a law that contravenes many International laws and treaties for those legitimate people who have been so oppressed in their own country that they have had to make the difficult decision to flee and will be denied the right I have because of the way they travel; for many the boats are the only way they can get out. (And I’m very aware of the amazing privilege I have to be able to write this blog, granted to me because I do live in a ‘free’ country.)

The sign this week speaks of the Christian value of love – that love that Jesus speaks about and shows to others. To those who, in the eyes of the government of his time, didn’t deserve love; to those that did him all manner of wrong; to those who oppressed him and, eventually, killed him.

This ‘radical’ love is what we, as Christians (I would say decent humans), should strive for; a self giving love that sees others as equals; a love (and a way of life) that doesn’t judge the worth of others by what their job is, or where they come from.

Love one another because love is from God – to quote a book a read from time to time.

A very appropriate meme!


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This too shall pass

“This too shall pass” is a phrase with a long history. Abraham Lincoln sums that history up well in a speech he gave in 1859 – Lincoln said;

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

For some people this has been a great week. A new grandchild; a new job; a long deserved holiday; it could be a thousand different reasons.

For some people this has been an awful week. A relationship breakdown; bad news at work; an unwanted sickness; again a thousand different reasons.

Our sign this week can be read and understood by both of the above groups, it should teach us to enjoy the good times for the do not last forever and also have hope in the bad times because they, too, do not go on indefinitely.

There is a verse in Paul’s letter to the Romans which reminds me of “this too shall pass” – Paul writes “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” To me it reminds me to be in the moment with people, if they allow you to share in their lives then sit with them, be with them, show up and live the moment with them. Reading my Gospels I find that this is what Jesus did. He shared with people where they were, in what ever circumstances he found them, with a grieving centurion or a joyful healed woman. 

Over the past few weeks we have been opening the church hall on a Sunday evening to serve food and offer shelter to anyone who wants it. Those who have helped out have had the privilege to sit and eat with many people – the happy ones (like the chap who learned he had just been granted housing), the unhappy ones, the addicted ones, the lonely ones, the ones who just want to listen. We have also been heard and helped by those who have joined us, this community stuff is not just a one way street – we (the volunteers) get as much out of it as those who join us week by week.

Last night I arrived at church to find the place buzzing – people everywhere, eating, talking, joking, one even crying. There was rejoicing and weeping going on and Jesus was there sharing in all of it. I cannot thank the Melbourne Welsh Church, and the elders in particular, for allowing us the opportunity to minister like this every Sunday evening.

So wherever you are in life; with whatever is happening remember that this too shall pass – enjoy the good moments, have hope in the bad for, as in all things, this too shall pass.


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Look at things differently

Look at things differently….
Why do so many Christians forget where this church thing all started? Why do we forget where we come from and who started all this?
It all started with a Jewish man who bucked all the social trends of his time. This man broke all conventions. You think I’m making this stuff up – Look at these examples
In a time when women where considered worthless (or even property in some cases) this man, Jesus, spent time with women; even Samaritan women, who Jewish people considered the lowest of the low.
Then there was the sinners – oh there were loads of them. The ‘establishment’ wanted nothing to do with them; Jesus spent the majority of his time with them. There was a man called Zac – he was a tax man for the invasion army. He was, to say the least, hated and yet Jesus had dinner with him – spent time with the worst of the worse.
The list goes on – lepers; prostitutes; the demon processed; the sick; collaborators with the authorities etc etc etc.
So with the example we have why do so many churches and so many Christians forget where we come from? Why do they (we) forget that Jesus walked and talked with ‘all the wrong people’ of his time? 
So here’s the thing – we need to talk with and walk with ‘all the wrong people’ of our time. 
Now I’m not sure who they are where you are but here, at the Melbourne Welsh Church in Melbourne, Australia, all the wrong people might look homeless, or like refugees, or maybe gay, or different from us, or maybe the same as us – hey, maybe we’re all the wrong people; maybe I’m all the wrong people and this Jesus guy wants to talk to me.
Now there’s a terrible thought….

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Australia: What are we doing???

Australia: Where the Government will try and put a sick baby on a plane but won’t do the same for a sick Cardinal.

This blog is inspired by a twitter post I read over the week end.

I’d like to continue the re-working of Bible verse this week with a look at Matthew 25 40 & 45

40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me.’
and
45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

What would Jesus say to the idea of the government (working for the people of this country) sending a sick baby, who was born here by the way, to a detention camp? I think he would say something like, “Just as you did it to baby Asha, you did it to me.”

I don’t care what your politics are, which side of the line you sit, if you can tell me it’s right to send a sick baby to a detention camp I don’t think we’re going to agree on our views of Jesus (among other things).

For once this isn’t about Cardinal Pell or the Roman Catholic church.* This is about doing what is right – is it right for the government to try and deport a sick baby and yet not ask a sick Cardinal to come back and answer questions that he has to answer? Is it right that, in our name, the government are denying human rights to one group of people and yet defending (or at least not infringing them) in others? Are we seeing a double standard here? Foreigners are less important than Australians living overseas? Somehow Cardinals are worth more than Refugees?

Jesus never made that distinction. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me.” 

I, for one, do not wish to stand before God with the deportation of baby Asha (or any of the asylum seekers) on the list of things I have done wrong – that list is long enough without adding to it. 

Australia – we are better than this! Far better. We live in the lucky country not the cruel country. Let’s tell those who have the power to make decisions that some things are just plain wrong and shouldn’t be done – not in our name.

just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me!

* I have been accused of being anti-catholic and that is not true. Let me make it very clear here that I am not anti-catholic. I am anti-cover up; I don’t agree (and that’s putting it mildly) with the way some of the leaders of the Roman Catholic church seem to have covered up the systematic abuse of children in their care. If that is the case then they should have to answer for any crimes (and covering it up is every bit as bad as actually doing it in my book). I think that Cardinal Pell has a duty to answer, in person, the questions from the Royal Commission. I am not making any statement about his guilt or innocence, I don’t know anything about that – under law he is innocent until proven guilty but I think he should front up and not have the relative safety of a video link to hide behind.

If it would encourage him I point him again to Matthew 25 v. 40 and, in light of him not testifying yet, verse 45.

But like I say – this isn’t about him. He will face the Royal Commission and also a far higher judge soon enough.


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a nobody.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what would this pictures words be??

This shot taken on a street in Melbourne, on the street are great cafes, a bakery and restaurants.
It is also home to one of the few funeral parlours in the ‘inner’ City precinct.

It has a history of funeral services for people of means, criminals, famous people and of the granddaughter of some friends.

The place was packed, I was there as a mark of respect for the grandparents. It was so packed many had to stand out in the street, which is where I stood.

I had no official part to play, no words of comfort to offer, no antidotes and I shed no tears, I just observed others grieving and ‘coming to terms’ with death and dying.

I went and purchased small packets of tissues to hand to people and to place a hand on the shoulder of strangers.

I was reminded of the line in a song, everybody gets a chance to be a nobody.

I like being a nobody.

Category : death , grief , Neighbour , nobody , respect , Stranger


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Still Small Voice

In the bigger scheme of things, where you have your morning coffee in not that important…..right?

Maybe not, but sometimes you have to listen to that ‘small still voice’.

Recently as i was riding into the city for my daily loitering activities, I had my mind made up where i would go first and get a long black!!
As I neared my destination, something, I call a ‘still small voice’ suggested an alternate venue.

I listened, and went to another cafe instead, had my coffee and you guessed it nothing happened, that is until I was skulking back to the bike, when out of nowhere a pair of arms came around me from behind and I got a bear hug.

It was a bloke I had met once, at the funeral for Les, which I wrote about last year.

We hugged and chatted for a time, which was good for the heart!!

We parted company a short time later, and I now listen more carefully to the ‘small still voice’, maybe just maybe its God and maybe I should listen.

PS Please don’t tell The Ruth, she says I never listen!!!!


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Community Humanity

Loitering on the streets of Melbourne over  fourteen hours during the white-night festival is a little different to the ‘normal loitering and lurking’ i undertake.

The crowd was intense the  creative expressions and emotions of humanity are out there for all to see, sadly so were those ‘other’ human traits we try to hide.
For me it was not so much about the art in all its expressions rather the people and their interactions with each other.
Putting thousands of people into the city precinct, for a 12 hour festival is an interesting idea.
I did not see many of those friends with who I spend time, although a generous, warm hug from one ensured the evening got off to a good start.
It was the stranger and the interactions which made the night.
Extracting a smile, the giving of a high five, a hello or an intense conversation about a dead brother, an upcoming coronal inquest, a request to visit some of his mates’ doing time’ or the connection with a young man from one of the schools I worked at years ago, now living of the streets or the warming conversation with a young Maori girl abandon by her ‘mates’.
These ‘strangers’ and the interactions made me wonder, who and what they encountered as we connected together as fellow humans??


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What we ‘wear’ may identify us.

Travelling around Melbourne on the train, I get to see and hear some interesting stuff.

On a recent trip, a woman boarded and a conversation started between her and a stranger.

This stranger, a male was very observant, during the conversation he asked which part of Russia she was from.
The woman was surprised at his accurate ‘guess’ and enquired as how he knew, he replied, it was the unique jewellery she was wearing.

He had purchased some for his partner and knew it came from a particular jeweller in Russia.

It made we think, what is it we ‘wear’ that identifies our residency??


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even everything is not everything

As December 25th approaches I’m hearing that it’s beginning to look a lot more like Christmas??!!

I’m not quite convinced, but then I suppose it depends on what Christmas is supposed to ‘look like’??

If its supposed to look like,more extravagant gifts, more excessive giving,more abundance of food and more alcohol, then perhaps for the minority of the world it is indeed beginning  to ‘look a lot  more like Christmas’?

So what of the ‘others’, those facing more loneliness, more suffering, more hunger, more war and so on?
What of them?

Perhaps we all need more, more Peace, more Hope,and more Joy?????

Imagine this: it’s possible to have less stuff and have more life as its supposed to be for all!!!

Now that looks more like Christmas!!


Upcoming Events

Dec
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11:00 am NATIVITY SERVICE
NATIVITY SERVICE
Dec 23 @ 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
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3:00 pm 2019 St. David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu
2019 St. David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu
Mar 3 @ 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm
A wonderful afternoon of traditional hymns and music held at St. Michael’s U.C. on the corner of Collins and Russell Streets. Features the Blue Ribbon winner from the 2018 National Eisteddfod of Wales, Andrew P.