Journey of discovery

AS YOU STAND ALONE ON THE PRECIPICE OF DESPAIR REMEMBER THIS: YOU WILL HAVE NO ONE BUT EVERYONE ELSE TO BLAME! (Kaz Cooke’s little book of crap).

The Devil made me do it, is a reply I have heard when someone is called to account for their actions, not that you or I as the reader of this would have, no, but we all know someone who has!

In times of change, which finds us being challenged in how we do life, we often look at who is to blame.

I often find myself seeing other peoples driving as less superior to my own, while sometimes being oblivious to my own inherent bad habits.

Some years ago, I undertook a two-day course to obtain my riders license. It was intense and challenging because it showed the ability, I thought I had, was not as good as I imagined and even though I had been riding for years bad habits had developed along the way that then became the normal. Of course, I didn’t know they were bad habits until they were pointed out, OUCH!

It was only when they were challenged, and when I took ownership of those bad habits, that change was possible, and this change was for the better. With guidance from experienced instructors I quickly discovered that if I had had relied upon my years of engrained habits, it may not have impacted on not me but also those around me, fellow riders, other vehicles and any pillions.

We at MWC face challenges in the COVID normal times, we do this together as we grieve what we may no longer do and embrace new ways of being, discovering new expressions of being together, ways of expressing our faith and we may find that rather than losing we have gained something new and invigorating.  This is something we do together not alone, are you ready to pack your bags and start journey?


Godsmacked

To be Godsmacked is to be left speechless by the Almighty. Like its secular sibling, ‘gobsmacked’, Godsmacked implies an unexpected event. In the book of Acts in the bible Paul is Godsmacked on the road to Damascus; Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration could justifiably be called Godsmacked, that of course is not to mention how Joseph, Mary and the shepherds felt at various points in the Christmas story.

The action of being Godsmacked is not limited to the New Testament there are many examples in the Old Testament as well; Goliath – literally Godsmacked, Nebuchadnezzar on seeing Shadrack and his friends in the fiery furnace – Godsmacked, talking donkeys, heavenly ladders, large floods and burning bushes – all Godsmacking.

These are just a few of the many examples of scriptural Godsmacking. There are of course many other stories of people being Godsmacked – some dramatically like Martin Luther, others are Godsmacked more slowly like C.S. Lewis. However it happens being Godsmacked is not something you can ignore nor can you miss it.

Most Christians I have talked to have had a Godsmacking experience, for some it is a one off, never forgotten event for others God smacks them time and time again. There is no right and wrong when it comes to being Godsmacked – as there are millions of, as Larry Norman termed us, ‘Jesus freaks’ so there are millions of ways of being Godsmacked…

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fanpop.com%2Fclubs%2Fgodsmack%2Fimages%2F19204673%2Ftitle%2Fsmack-art-fanart&psig=AOvVaw2QvPYylu9v-JXacMoeZTlE&ust=1594519005674000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCJjJqreMxOoCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD

Winds and waves.  

My first recollection of being truly Godsmacked was sitting, in my college room  in Aberystwyth, gazing out of the window one dark and stormy night in November many years ago, but before we stare out of that window here’s a brief history of how I got there.

I am one of those Christians who cannot put a definite time on my conversion – having been taken to church at the tender age of 6 months (it would have been earlier but I was incubated for about 5 months, I hope it didn’t involve a large hen sitting on me but it might have done, I don’t really remember and in all the photos I’m obscured by feathers ). I cannot remember a time when God was not a normal part of my life. Understanding grew as I got older, I asked questions and made decisions about God and Jesus and miracles and church etc and my faith grew. I cannot say there was a definite moment of conversion, over time my prayers became more fervent and my conviction that I needed Jesus far more than he needed me became more acute. I moved from a church going child to a church going youth and then to a calling myself a Christian for I found  that I was following Jesus and was getting to know him as I read and prayed more and more.

Before you get the idea that the author was and is a boring God botherer it should be noted that on this slide towards Christ there were many high points – parties, lots of drinks, fast driving, accidents, loud bands, late nights and early mornings, fights, long hair, friends, mistakes, more parties, more drinks, road trips, weekend concerts, leather jackets, dinner jackets, flack jackets and lots of fun. The wonderful thing is most of them still happen, it just now Jesus comes with me. I’m not sure if the Son of God enjoys heavy metal concerts but he’s been to a few and I’ve never heard him complain (it is true I can’t hear much for days after a concert but I figure Jesus made the blind see so if he didn’t want to go AC/DC again I’m sure I’d get the message).

So after many adventures, a brush or two with very nice policemen, taking some orders from some very scary men in uniforms  and a bit of traveling I ended up being accepted into the hallowed halls of academia or at least the bleach smelling halls of The United Theological College, Aberystwyth. I was there to study theology, but in reality I played lots of sport, drank loads of whiskey and did just enough work to scrape through my degree.

And so you find me at my desk one night in November, starring out of the window, trying to write an easy on the use of duct tape in Sunday School or some such interesting topic. Looking for distractions from this engaging topic proved easy – my window faced west, over Cardigan Bay and the ever changing vista of the sea was a constant draw for my duct tape weary eyes. This night was special however.

Many times I had sat in that self same seat and watched as storms came in over the sea. The lightning was always spectacular as was the effect the wind had on the waves but that  night was different. It was differenter from any other night I had witnessed there – I was about to be well and truly, completely and utterly Godsmacked.

Looking out I could see the storm building in the north and driving huge clouds ahead of it over the hill. It was black and bleak and brilliant. I always looked the other way (south) towards the harbour to see if all the boats were safely moored and as I did I saw the reflection of the storm in the window. That couldn’t be right, it wasn’t the reflection it was another storm been driven up from the south on a collision course with its northern brother.

In awe, and I use those words as they are truly meant, I watched as the winds grew stronger and the waves grew higher, as the lightning lit up the sky and the thunder deafened the town. But the best was yet to come, all the lights of Aberystwyth went out in a sudden flash and then night became day as the two storms met in the middle of the bay and literally tore each other apart.

The sight was unlike anything I have ever seen, and I watch the Discovery Channel A LOT. I could see everything from horizon to horizon. The lightning wasn’t coming in flashes but was a constant burn in the night sky. The noise was horrendous as peel after peel of thunder echoed again and again and again. The rain lashed, the winds howled, the sea vented its fury against the land. Rocks were hurled 100s of feet into the air and flew just as far inland, windows were smashed, cars wrecked and some were even dragged by the fingers of the waves back into the watery depths to be driven by Davy Jones on the way to his locker. I learned later that no one had been seriously hurt but the damage bill ran into the 100’s of thousands of pounds.

It was In the middle of this natural pyrotechnical display that I was Godsmacked – it came over me like one of the claps of thunder and lit up my mind like one of the flashes of lightning, a couple of  verses of scripture, I didn’t (and still don’t remember the reference, without looking it up) but I clearly heard the voice of my old Sunday School teacher saying, “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”” (It’s actually Luke 8 v 24 & 25, but I had to look that up.)

Watching those storms hit the Bay and seeing the power they unleashed and then remembering that even the winds and the waves obey him, Godsmacked me. I was utterly speechless before the power of nature and the even more awesome power of God. I had found, or maybe re-found, the faith the disciples were rebuked for not having. If he can control all that fury he is worthy of the title THE ALMIGHTY, no arguments from me!


BEWILDERED PERPLEXED PUZZLED

By now you will be aware of the events in part of the CBD in Melbourne.

We as a part of the community have been involved in the community support.

There is nothing more to say, so I’ll leave you with our sign message….

JESUS
WEPT


on earth as in heaven

It happened again today as I was was on my way to meet with someone over coffee (again!!).

I was stopped by two strangers who were on for a chat.

The subject heaven and a woman who posts on youtube about her many and varied experiences in heaven.

According to this person there are Hotrods, Harley’s  (among other things) and even a flying school, which Christopher Reeves is the CEO of?

The drift is that what ever your passion in this life, your wildest dreams will be realised in ‘heaven’ and your passions continue, only on steroids!!

Having spent sometime thinking about it it occurred to me that we have some ‘out there’ ideas on stuff like heaven, Angeles Demons and the like based on little knowledge or true understanding.

I grew up in an era where ‘end -times’ books, speakers and people with graphs and models ruled the world, at least in ‘Christian’ circles.

What always intrigued me was no one ever mentioned things that won’t be ‘in Heaven’ like poverty,  abuse, exploitation, sexism and so on.

I could be wrong…perhaps we need to put what Jesus said in perspective and not take ‘literally’  or personally what  said when it comes to the poor, marginalised, prisoners, children,the other, outcast,exploited and abused?

Moreover these are the things we ought to strive for now, no waiting for Heaven!!
‘your will on earth as in heaven;!!

Perhaps it’s all hotrods and Harley’s in heaven,,,,,,,but I think not,  its much more, so lets make a bit of heaven here and now and wait to be pleasantly surprised by ‘heaven”!!  I hope there is cheese in heaven!!!!!!


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!


HOMELESSNESS IS UGLY

Working on the streets and being involved in peoples lives is challenging.
I get that, I get that it creates inconvenience, I get that it may  not ‘be a good look’ for the streetscape and I even get its ugly…….HOMELESS IS UGLY, BUT its not those who are homeless which makes it ugly!!

I read a recent article in the online version of one of our newspapers The Age,following is a quote from our Lord Mayor taken from that article.

“We should be supportive of people that are vulnerable, but we shouldn’t romanticise the situation,” he said.
“There are challenging, illegal behaviours that we shouldn’t put up with, whether people are homeless or not.”

As I walk the streets on our city, I witness some of the behaviours of those who are not ‘the homeless’, so why do we make statements about those who are vulnerable and often have no voice??


Perhaps Mayor Doyle if we prioritised some real solutions, and made as much effort to care for vulnerable people as we do for the ‘top end of town’ we might believe you actually care.
Just because you give $$ to some organisations to give bandaid solutions, don’t think you can wash your hands of this issue.

You give them soup, but they want their lives back.





Here we go again……….

You could be forgiven for thinking that the US was the only place on Earth there was an election going on.

While the quality of candidates both here and there are about on par, you probable won’t get  wealthy business people from the US suggesting we need a dictator to step in, as we have here in Australia!!

At the very basic level you would hope our political leaders would be the voice of the voiceless and not the wealthy!!

Sure perhaps an enquiry into the union movement is needed, so is one into the banking and finance sector, sadly the issues with the bank/ finance sector are not seen as moral issues, only of the safe schools program or marriage equality are deemed to be the only ‘moral’ issues up for debate.

We ought to be providing housing for the homeless, shelter for the asylum seeker and support for those who have issues around their mental health.
Sadly these issues are left to smaller political parties with weird names.

So as we become further disillusioned with our politicians we sail towards a ‘hung parliament’.

If we do have a ‘Hung’ Parliament lets hope its ‘Well Hung”!!!


#TogetherStronger

You may think that this week’s sign is a bit strange – and you might be right. If you look on Twitter the hashtag #TogetherStonger is the hashtag for the Welsh Soccer team. As of today they are in the semi finals of the Euro 2016 soccer championship. This is unheard of and (being honest) quite unexpected.

So we at the Melbourne Welsh Church wish to show our support for the Welsh Team as they play Portugal on Thursday morning our time. C’mon Wales!

But thinking about it – #TogetherStronger is a great idea. If we’re honest (and by that I mean Welsh Soccer fans) we don’t have that many world class, top name players. (One of our strikers doesn’t even have a contract for next season yet!) Apart form Gareth Bale we don’t have any world beating superstars. In fact mention the names of the Welsh team to most soccer fans and they’ll know a few of them and have heard of some of them but we don’t have a team of over paid stars like, say, the English soccer team. Most of the English players are household names in football – well known and well paid players who play for big teams and expect success. By comparison the Welsh boys were just pleased to get to the Euros at all – it’s our first major championship for about 50 years.

To get to the semifinals is a huge achievement for Welsh football. It shows that a star team can beat a team of stars and that we are greater than the sum of our parts; that we are #TogetherStronger. To Chris Coleman (the manager) and all the staff and players we can only say well done, keep it up, you’ve made your nation proud!!!!

If I was asked to go and talk to the Welsh team before the game I would give them this advice from
Joshua – it fits the hashtag #TogetherStronger (and it can apply to all of us as we face the various problems in our lives).

Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.”

So Strength, courage, don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged – we are #TogetherStronger be that with teammates on the pitch or with God in life!!


heaven don’t miss it for the world


heaven don’t miss it for the world….
so said the sign on the road side…..

It appears like we think Heaven is somehow going to be better than The World????

When we pray for God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, what are we asking or expecting??

Its seems  we are just biding time, or waiting for ‘pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye rather than steak on the plate while we wait’?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m eager for things to be ‘put right’, whatever that looks like.

All new things or all things renewed??

Its Easter, perhaps its time to get on with God’s will being done on earth, rather that waiting for your insurance policy to be invoked.

Don’t hide Jesus this Easter, get out there where its happening and be part of things being renewed…….if your looking for Jesus this is where Jesus will be…..





death is not the end

One of the ‘stuff’ of life issues  which I’m honoured to be part of is  that of taking part in funeral services..
There is a sense of beginning and ending, as one of my mates i met on the streets of melbourne put it, after saying goodbye to a mate, ‘I’ve come to the conclusion death is a mystery’.
This week I along with a club brother, we  support a family with six daughters age 18>4 as they farewell their dad, their mothers partner.
As we sat with them the second to youngest daughters handed us a letter she wrote, which she would like read out at the funeral
This is the stuff of life where the mysterious ways of God are often the only way to make ‘sense’ of tragedy and loss.
When you’re sad and when you’re lonely
And you haven’t got a friend
Just remember that death is not the end
And all that you held sacred
Falls down and does not mend
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
When you’re standin’ on their crossroads
That you cannot comprehend
Just remember that death is not the end
And all your dreams have vanished
And you don’t know what’s up the bend
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
When the storm clouds gather round you
And heavy rains descend
Just remember that death is not the end
And there’s no one there to comfort you
With a helpin’ hand to lend
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
Oh, the tree of life is growing
Where the spirit never dies
And the bright light of salvation shines
In dark and empty skies
When the cities are on fire
With the burnin’ flesh of men
Just remember that death is not the end
And you search in vain to find
Just one law abiding citizen
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
Songwriters
BOB DYLAN



Upcoming Events

Dec
6
Sun
11:00 am Advent 2: An American Advent
Advent 2: An American Advent
Dec 6 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Our services can be found by going to the Media page on our website, following the Watch Video button on Facebook, clicking the link on the Facebook thread with our pre-service chat, or going directly
12:00 pm Coffee Chat
Coffee Chat
Dec 6 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
After our services, we gather on Zoom for chat. Please feel free to contact the office, an Elder or a minister for the information to join us.  Our Zoom Room information is also found on
Dec
8
Tue
12:00 pm Member Picnic – North (Coburg)
Member Picnic – North (Coburg)
Dec 8 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Time to be determined.  We will meet our members in the north for a picnic lunch!
Dec
9
Wed
9:00 am Drop-in with Bubba
Drop-in with Bubba
Dec 9 @ 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Our Zoom Room is open for one-on-one chat with a minister.  Feel free to call the office, an Elder or a minister for the info.  If someone is in the room when you come on,
11:00 am Bible Fellowship Break-up
Bible Fellowship Break-up
Dec 9 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Our Bible Fellowship will be breaking up for the holiday season.  We will celebrate our year together by gathering, currently thinking Sassafras, for a light lunch.
Dec
10
Thu
2:00 pm Cooking Chat
Cooking Chat
Dec 10 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
We gather on Zoom for cooking chat. Please feel free to contact the office, an Elder or a minister for the information to join us.  Our Zoom Room information is also found on the back
Dec
11
Fri
10:00 am Drop-in with Sara
Drop-in with Sara
Dec 11 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Our Zoom Room is open for one-on-one chat with a minister.  Feel free to call the office, an Elder or a minister for the info.  If someone is in the room when you come on,