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’!!


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!


Irony

Christian
Non-Christian
Oh, the irony
Before I go on I must say that the person mentioned in this blog does not express the views of all Christians or, for that matter, all non-Christians.
I had the dubious pleasure this morning of listening to a prominent church leader (an archbishop, I think) chime in with his ideas on the marriage equality debate. It was an entertaining few minutes, I actually laughed once or twice. Then it sunk in that this man was representing to the radio audience the views of the whole Christian Church and that horrified me because what he said is certainly not my view nor the view of most of my Christian friends (and non-Christian friends as well.) 
The two things that will stick in my mind from his, most illuminating, speech were these – 

  • that anyone who supports the proposed marriage equality laws is not ‘a whole person.’ 

and

  • there shouldn’t be a vote in parliament on the marriage equality debate because it is too important an issue to be decided by politicians. 

I have to admit that this is not an ridiculous idea, or so I thought until the speaker followed up, answering a question, with the idea that yes, politicians have been given the mandate to start wars but not change the marriage laws, they shouldn’t be allowed to change the marriage laws as they are not qualified to do so.
If these weren’t such stupid statements I’d laugh. 

How can someone say that anyone who supports the proposed marriage equality laws is not ‘a whole person’? Does that mean that the 73 years old grandmother of 5 I was speaking to yesterday, who supports the idea of marriage equality, is not a ‘whole person’. According to a recent poll 72% of all Australians are not ‘whole people’ because they support marriage equality. 

I’ve heard the view about who is a whole person before from (primarily) Roman Catholic clergy and I’ve read the same view in (primarily) Roman Catholic publications, but it has always been aimed towards gay people. The Roman Catholic Church seems to view all LBGTQi people as not whole but never before have I heard it expressed that ANYONE who supports marriage equality is not a whole person. 

It seemed to me that I have to agree with the speaker on everything to be considered a whole person. I don’t and yet I feel quite whole but then again am I qualified to speak about that? Which brings me on to the second point.

Politicians are not qualified to make a decision on marriage equality.

What qualifications do they need? Is there a test that politicians should take to work out which laws they can change? 

They have the power to send our military away to die but they are not qualified to decide if legislation needs changing. From the way it was worded by the archbishop this morning it seems that it’s not just the marriage equality legislation they can’t change, it’s all legislation. They are unqualified. 

How does it work then? If they are able to drive a car can they debate the traffic laws (which relate to cars but not trucks obviously, unless they can drive a truck)? What about the laws on adoption and fostering – if they haven’t adopted a child should they abstain from the debate? Do they have to surf the internet to take part in a debate on the N.B.N.? They are elected to do this stuff. It’s what they do and, despite what I say sometimes, they do it quite well on the whole.
But this isn’t a blog about politicians, this is about Christians and how some of them don’t seem understand irony especially the irony about preaching one thing and yet doing another. I could go on and on about this but I’ll end with a short story and a Bible verse to demonstrate what I mean.
I have a friend in the U.S. (who happens to be gay). She works in a bar/restaurant and is given Sunday mornings off by the atheist owners to go to church because she is a Christian. One Sunday she went to one of the big churches they have over there. After the service the pastor came up to her and asked her not to come back to his church as he doesn’t want “her kind” in his church. The passage he had just finished preaching on was the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:40 – “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” 
She feels more welcome in the atheist’s bar – 
Oh the irony.


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.


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.





THEY CALL IT DEMOCRACY……..

Back loitering tonight, its cold and wet. I sense despair on the streets tonight………..mean while many of our senior politicians make excuses about their own fate after the election. Leaders spew out hateful words about ‘others’ who are different…. one multi millionaire business man even suggested we needed a ‘dictator’ to sort things out!! I wonder if there are many who give a ‘*flying f*#k’ about those who live in misery.
This poem, while written in a different time,  still reflects,I reckon on our society today. Obsessed with home ownership, status, creating personal wealth and the accumulation of more stuff we don’t need, sadly this includes some of us ‘churchies’ too!!! 
They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown;
For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet
My window-sill is level with the faces in the street —
Drifting past, drifting past,
To the beat of weary feet —
While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,
To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and Care;
I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet
In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street —
Drifting on, drifting on,
To the scrape of restless feet;
I can sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

In hours before the dawning dims the starlight in the sky
The wan and weary faces first begin to trickle by,
Increasing as the moments hurry on with morning feet,
Till like a pallid river flow the faces in the street —
Flowing in, flowing in,
To the beat of hurried feet —
Ah! I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

The human river dwindles when ’tis past the hour of eight,
Its waves go flowing faster in the fear of being late;
But slowly drag the moments, whilst beneath the dust and heat
The city grinds the owners of the faces in the street —
Grinding body, grinding soul,
Yielding scarce enough to eat —
Oh! I sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

And then the only faces till the sun is sinking down
Are those of outside toilers and the idlers of the town,
Save here and there a face that seems a stranger in the street,
Tells of the city’s unemployed upon his weary beat —
Drifting round, drifting round,
To the tread of listless feet —
Ah! My heart aches for the owner of that sad face in the street.

And when the hours on lagging feet have slowly dragged away,
And sickly yellow gaslights rise to mock the going day,
Then flowing past my window like a tide in its retreat,
Again I see the pallid stream of faces in the street —
Ebbing out, ebbing out,
To the drag of tired feet,
While my heart is aching dumbly for the faces in the street.

And now all blurred and smirched with vice the day’s sad pages end,
For while the short `large hours’ toward the longer `small hours’ trend,
With smiles that mock the wearer, and with words that half entreat,
Delilah pleads for custom at the corner of the street —
Sinking down, sinking down,
Battered wreck by tempests beat —
A dreadful, thankless trade is hers, that Woman of the Street.

A ‘mens club’ on one  of  our city streets.
DREAMS is the name, I wonder if dreams are made or shattered here???

But, ah! to dreader things than these our fair young city comes,
For in its heart are growing thick the filthy dens and slums,
Where human forms shall rot away in sties for swine unmeet,
And ghostly faces shall be seen unfit for any street —
Rotting out, rotting out,
For the lack of air and meat —
In dens of vice and horror that are hidden from the street.

I wonder would the apathy of wealthy men endure
Were all their windows level with the faces of the Poor?
Ah! Mammon’s slaves, your knees shall knock, your hearts in terror beat,
When God demands a reason for the sorrows of the street,
The wrong things and the bad things
And the sad things that we meet
In the filthy lane and alley, and the cruel, heartless street. 

Another Winters night out on the city streets 
I left the dreadful corner where the steps are never still,
And sought another window overlooking gorge and hill;
But when the night came dreary with the driving rain and sleet,
They haunted me — the shadows of those faces in the street,
Flitting by, flitting by,
Flitting by with noiseless feet,
And with cheeks but little paler than the real ones in the street.

Once I cried: `Oh, God Almighty! if Thy might doth still endure,
Now show me in a vision for the wrongs of Earth a cure.’
And, lo! with shops all shuttered I beheld a city’s street,
And in the warning distance heard the tramp of many feet,
Coming near, coming near,
To a drum’s dull distant beat,
And soon I saw the army that was marching down the street. 

Then, like a swollen river that has broken bank and wall,
The human flood came pouring with the red flags over all,
And kindled eyes all blazing bright with revolution’s heat,
And flashing swords reflecting rigid faces in the street.
Pouring on, pouring on,
To a drum’s loud threatening beat,
And the war-hymns and the cheering of the people in the street. 
Life is a blur for many in the ‘most liveable city’
Local Council make it hard for people, often moving them on.

And so it must be while the world goes rolling round its course,
The warning pen shall write in vain, the warning voice grow hoarse,
But not until a city feels Red Revolution’s feet
Shall its sad people miss awhile the terrors of the street —
The dreadful everlasting strife
For scarcely clothes and meat
In that pent track of living death — the city’s cruel street. 

??

Blah, blah, balh

Blah, blah, blah,
Just come to church
Oh we’ve put up many signs in the past few years. Some have been funny (at least to me), some have been thought provoking, some have had a lot of responses, some have had none at all.
This week – well, pretty self explanatory. Enough talking – come and listen to what we have to say.
Everyone is welcome. 

Now I know that every church says that but when you go you find that everyone doesn’t mean you or people like you. Lots of churches have hidden agendas about who is welcome  and who isn’t (some of them aren’t too hidden either). Some will question your sexuality, others will wonder about your bank balance, skin colour, racial background, do you have a place to live? These and other things are all ways that you can be excluded from various churches.
One of the tenants we at the Melbourne Welsh Church feel is at the heart of the Gospel is the idea that “all means all.”
We cannot decide who we let into the church of God – it is not our call – it’s God’s call; it’s his church after all. We are custodians and, if we understand the Gospel, it is very clear that all means all. The church is open to everyone – not just the ones we want to welcome in but everyone; absolutely everyone.
We will not get on with them all; we will not like them all; we should love them all. 
So blah, blah, blah, just come to church – everyone is welcome; after all – ALL MEANS ALL! and that includes YOU and ME.


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….

The Home of the Lost and Found

Easter Saturday Vigil

What happens when a few people,with no idea of what they are really doing, don’t seek notoriety or claim success,  are aware of their own ‘issues’  and failings, take risks, love people and seek to see where God is and join in??……….. well you get something like this…
children hiding chocolate eggs in the park for other children,whose  parents score their ‘stuff’ in this park, where dispossessed people meet, hot chocolate, hot x buns and conversation for those whose backyard this is, a meeting place during the day to converse as together we share life in the simple day to day stuff………….





The Saturday of Light
or
The In Between Days Liturgy 
for 
Easter Saturday
Father forgive us, for we know not what we do.
In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, today is known as the Saturday of Light, it is the first celebration of Easter and the first time the “Hallelujah” is used since the beginning of Lent. The sadness of Friday has passed and the faithful wait for the Light to shine in the darkness once more, renewed for the beginning of the liturgical year. 
We give thanks for the traditions of the faithful in other places.
The Church has a history of making solemn the celebrations of it’s seasons. We, called to live in hope and joy, more often than not live in the struggle of fear, of doubt and in ignorance. It is only what is appropriate, for on this night long passed, those followers of the Light sat in mourning, in disbelief and in terrible fear. For the Light that shined around them had gone out and they knew not where to find Him. The land had turned to darkness, the veil was rent, the women wept at the foot the cross, His disciples had fled in mortal terror. Only John stayed, to keep comfort His mother and to hear that sinner’s great prayer “truly, this man was the Son of God”. 
LORD we are scattered like sheep with no shepherd
Lifeless He hung there, bruised for our transgressions, heavy with the weight of the world. The Jesus of the miracles, of the parables, of the teachings, the Jesus of the highways and the byways, somehow, had become the Jesus of the garden, the Jesus of the trial, the Jesus of the cross. Where should they turn now? He had the words of eternal life, and now, that life was over. Were they condemned because the light had come into the world and that light was the light of men? What now when there was darkness? Where is light in the darkness, where is faith, hope, joy, love? The darkness of this Saturday was darker than any before.
Between dark and light
Between death and life
LORD grant us Faith
and strength to keep searching for the Light
Scripture is filled with stories of darkness, from the creation in Genesis, the barren womb of Sarah, the slavery of Egypt, the time before the Torah, poor Jonah in the belly of the great fish, that time when there were no prophets in Israel and God had taken the light of revelation from the people who would declare His truth. Beside the rivers of Babylon, exile, genocide, the darkness prevailed. Hope was lost, doubt was everything, and in the hearts of men and women, terrible fear. 
LORD in your mercy, HEAR OUR PRAYER
Yet…..God in the darkness is still the God of light, even the darkness of a new tomb, sealed by rock, and guarded by enemies. He clothes Himself in light as a garment, He made two lights in the heavens, He made the stars also. He is the God of Life we are never to forget, those stars are meant to remind us of the glory of the creator of all light.
LORD we seek you in the glory of your creation, light our path we pray
We too are in darkness, sometimes, in despair, loneliness, loss, uncertainty, in the fear that things will never be bright again. We stumble in the darkness of our own faithlessness and arrogance, in the dark night of legalism without grace, judgement without justice, crown without cross, in the darkness of plenty in a land barren of salt and light.
You LORD, only you, be our light in the darkness
For the Jews, the new day starts at the sunset of the old, a new beginning in the darkness of the day before. Night before light, blackness before the morning, the waning moon before the rising sun. The Rising Son. 
LORD the Son rises.
Life must overcome, the life that is the light of women and men, of girls and boys, of lost and found, is rising. This is the story of tomorrow, and the story of tonight. For what went on in that tomb was life besting death, which now will have no sting. Mourning has been soothed with the oil of joy. Beauty for the ashes of despair. This is the Good News of the light and of life. The Son is rising anew, for the first time, forever.
LORD we pray
for those trapped in darkness, LORD we pray
for those who prefer the darkness, LORD we pray
for those in the darkness of addiction, LORD we pray
for those who suffer abuse, LORD we pray
for those who abuse, LORD we pray
for the wealthy, LORD we pray
for the poor, LORD we pray
for those in war, LORD we pray
for the soldier, LORD we pray
for the child soldier, LORD we pray
for those without a safe home, LORD we pray
CBD
for those seeking refuge, LORD we pray
AltarInTheWastelandfor those without clean water, LORD we pray
for those stricken with illness, LORD we pray
for those who minister to them, LORD we pray
for those without power or voice, LORD we pray
for those in power, LORD we pray
for us, LORD we pray
for the weak, the weary, the sad, the broken, the fearful, the despairing, the grieving, the hungry, the ignorant, the doubting
LORD hear our prayer.
It is the custom of Christians to wait until the new night of tomorrow, to kindle the candles that brighten the new year. We of faith, gathered here now, in faith, knowing that tomorrow is already history, light these candles, because for us, tomorrow is here, tomorrow has already come. Life and light are ours, the new light of tomorrows miracle shines in our hearts, darkness is no more. The life is the light of women, and men, and we prefer the light.
Let us light these candles, and go forward, bearing the light into the all our tomorrows.

LORD, in your goodness, hear our prayer

POPUP

broken people in a broken world
working on mending together
offering hope where it would appear 
there is none to be found
light where often there is only darkness
love where love is often lost


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…..





Upcoming Events

Oct
28
Wed
10:00 am Bible Fellowship
Bible Fellowship
Oct 28 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
The event occurs on Zoom until further notice.  Contact the office or one of the ministers for the Meeting ID and password for the information!
Nov
4
Wed
10:00 am Bible Fellowship
Bible Fellowship
Nov 4 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
The event occurs on Zoom until further notice.  Contact the office or one of the ministers for the Meeting ID and password for the information!
Nov
11
Wed
10:00 am Bible Fellowship
Bible Fellowship
Nov 11 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
The event occurs on Zoom until further notice.  Contact the office or one of the ministers for the Meeting ID and password for the information!