Category Archives: News

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‘popup church’.

POPUP is an informal get together of people, who have faith communities, but sometimes like to to discuss, vent, encourage, be encouraged and heard in a different setting.
Today three of us spent one and a half hours drinking coffee/hot chocolate and discussing matters of faith and personal stuff.
We are quite different, rather than look for differences we share what we have in common and challenge and are challenged to think and rethink what we believe and why.
It is always good to listen and be heard, and to go away knowing we love and care for each other.
One person who is a regular, has recently moved back with partner and family after a time of separation,another is a single dad coping with all the stuff of life and who hangs out with ‘dangerous’ people, then there is me, who struggles to make sense of doubt and faith.

Together we travel this road we call ‘our faith journey’, and together discover the importance of life before death!!

It’s a mixed group, crazy group, and its sinners and saints together making sense of life


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Where you stands depends what you see

Getting around Melbourne by various means of transport, including Car, Motorcycle, on foot, Tram and Train, has provided some observations about us humans.

Depending on which mode of transport we take, often depends on what we expect from others, and our own actions or behaviours.

One thing tat appears not to change is our expectations on others to put our needs first, our biggest need, or so it appears from my observations is, the need to get where we’re going.

This then may mean we need to ignore the usual rules around obeying traffic signals and rules, even if it means putting ones self and others in danger!!

So we’re guided by our needs and mode on getting around, as to how we act and react.

I wonder how it might look if we put others needs before our own, it could get messy!!

Category : Bubba , Community , Family , News , streets


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Our blog has moved

We are now hosting our blog here –

melbournewelshchurch.blogspot.com.au

Please bookmark it and read it there.


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You know it’s hot outside when you go outside and it’s hot.

This is a paraphrase of a great sign that was sent to me – I love it. It’s so obvious it’s actually quite silly and it makes me laugh every time I see it. But, you ask, how do you get a blog out of a silly sign like this? Well…..
Our sign this week IS just plain silly and it doesn’t really hurt anyone. We’ve all done it. We’ve all asked the daft question “Is it hot outside?” Well my answer will now be – “I don’t know, go out side and see?” (For hot you can substitute cold, wet, dark etc). We can all say silly things sometimes but we churchy people take silly to a whole new level. We take it to the level of hurting people. We are great with coming up with really stupid sayings that, at best, don’t mean much or, at worst, are very insulting / demeaning.
There are loads of them and here are just a few, (I offer my thanks to various people who drew my attention to them – some of the best are here – http://tinyurl.com/kos2fgh).

God helps those who help themselves. 

This, I have been told, is one of the most quoted Bible verses ever. REALLY??? Listen everybody – IT IS NOT IN THE BIBLE – ANYWHERE. AT ALL. IT IS NOT THERE. IT IS NOT A BIBLE QUOTE. And it’s very demeaning. “Listen you homeless bum who might have mental health issues and a drug problem everything’s going to be okay as long as you start to sort yourself out because, as we all know, (say it with me boys and girls) God helps those who help themselves.” ARGGGGGGGGH! Stop it, stop it now!

Everything happens for a reason.

No it doesn’t.
I should stop there. It is that obvious, this really shouldn’t need anymore explanation. Saying this in many situations implies that God is a cruel and manipulative deity who plans out bad things for us. In my ministry I have only had to deal with two women who have been raped, I can’t imagine the damage caused in saying this to them. Not only have you been attacked and violated but it’s a God sanctioned violation. That’s basically what this says – everything happens for a reason. ARGGGGGGGGH!

The Bible clearly says….

Don’t go there, please DO NOT GO THERE.
I know professors of Biblical studies who have spent decades studying the Bible who would never say this. The Bible says very little clearly. It should be VERY important to us as Christians. It says an awful lot that we should read and think about, it teaches us many things, it tells us the ways of God, it shows us who Christ is, it should be taken very seriously but it says very little clearly. There are at least 5 versions of the creation story (Genesis 1, Genesis 2, Psalm 104, Job 38, Proverbs 38) and each one is a little different. It can’t even agree on how many donkeys Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem, Matthew says there are two, “…and he sat on them” (Matt 21 v 7) where Luke only has one donkey, “…they sat Jesus on it.” (Luke 19 v 35). The parables seem easy and yet the disciples didn’t understand them all, neither do we and don’t start me on the book of Revelation. The Bible says very little clearly, we have to read, study and think about what it says, even then we may not get it right. We should be very careful about what we say the Bible says “clearly.”

Love the sinner; hate the sin.

No matter how well intentioned you are and no matter what the situation is – this can never sound good. It’s like that phrase “I’m not a racist but…..” nothing good can come after it. It smacks of judgmentalism, even though you may not mean it to. It is a very ‘us and them’ phrase. Us, the good people, condescend to share our love with you, a wretched sinner. Compare it to the pharisee in the temple thanking God that he’s not like other men; oh look, it’s not much different. It’s scary like that other well known and terrible phrase – there but for the grace of God go I – implying that the other person doesn’t have God’s grace. YES they do! So stop loving the sinner and hating the sin and stop thanking God that there but for his grace you go and start loving people for who they are – children of God.

It must be true, it’s in the Bible.

The King James version tells me there are unicorns – 9 times! Be careful, most people think God helps those who help themselves is there too.

AND MY ALL TIME PERSONAL FAVOURITE

I’ll pray for you.

I can’t tell you how many times people have said this to me with genuine concern on their face. Usually after I tell them I don’t believe in the medieval version of hell that the so many churches try to scare people with. A hand on the shoulder, staring into my eyes – “I’ll pray for you.” What they fail to add, which is written plainly on their smug, self satisfied features is “you misguided, heretical, non Christian. I pray that God will damn you so that I never have to share eternity with you and your kind, and you will see that there is a real hell – sinner.” And I can take that if they will actually pray for me. But I have to ask myself ‘do they actually pray for me?’ If they do then that’s great and I will not mock the genuineness of the concern – but I fear that “I’ll pray for you” is just one of those well used Christian platitudes that is trotted out and not meant. It’s like the person behind the checkout at Coles asking how you are. They don’t actually want to know how you are, they say it to everyone. If you say and mean it and do it then use I’ll pray for you whenever it’s appropriate. If it’s just another hackneyed saying then please desist – you’re giving people who genuinely do pray for others a bad name!

I could go on and on but I have to go outside and see if it’s hot!

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When all is said and done – there is more said than done!

We are all very good at talking. Especially us religious types. In churches we do like to sit around and talk about things….a lot. 
We discuss…
How terrible the state of the world is. 
How awful it is that there are homeless people sleeping on our streets.
How can we get more people into church?
Are we relevant to the problems of the world? 
Etcetera etcetera…

But when all is said and done, there is more said than done.

presence minister, Bubba, said that to me a few weeks ago. It would make a good sign of the week he said.
He walks the streets of Melbourne, sees the needs on our streets, meets the homeless and outcasts, talks to anyone and everyone and spreads as much of the love and grace of God as he can.
I’m sure it frustrates him as much as it does me to see all that need and to see people taking that need to another committee to discuss what can be done about it. 
The city council discusses them, the state parliament discusses them, the federal government discuss them, the religious types of church and mosque and synagogue and temple discuss them and a few forego the talking and go out and get their hands dirty, helping those around.
Those few will not change the world, will not solve all the problems but they will change the lives of one or two – who will change the lives of one or tow who will…..
Surely that is what the gospel is all about!


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Stangers and Friends

Getting to know your neighbours (strangers) is full of surprises I am discovering.

Each day i am out  ‘loitering with intent’ on the Melbourne Streets I have contact with people encountering ordinary  “stuff’ of life, just being.

This is different to the ‘work’ I have done in the past. 
No programs that have KPI’s, no ‘problems’ to ‘fix’, rather to BE with and journey with in the ‘ordinary stuff’ of life.

It is good to do, however ‘being’ is amazing!!






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kids SHOULD run in church

I’m sure many of you will remember when you were a child being made to sit in church in silence – sshhh’d and told to keep quiet until the end of the service. AHHH the good old days of quiet children and boring sermons.
The sermons may not have changed but the quiet children have. 
Every Sunday one of the highlights of the day for me is when the kids arrive – they don’t just walk in and sit quietly – they charge in, laughing and smiling, so pleased to be there. They run down the front, wanting to be there, eager to join in worship and learn more about Jesus.
So what happens between childhood and adulthood that changes our view of church?
When did church change from being exciting, somewhere we wanted to go to somewhere we feel we should go? A place were we drag ourselves out of bed to go to on a Sunday morning not because we want to but because we feel we ought to.
Why don’t we rush into church eager to be there and wanting to join in worship an learn more?
Why can’t we be, like Jesus says, more like the children? Eager to be in the house of God.
So today all I want to say is a big thank you to God for the children who make Sunday so special and for the same spirit of excitement in all of us.

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For people who love Jesus so much that they hate YOU, we pray a lot!

“Okay, watch that step as you climb onto my bandwagon….again”

I was reading the Bible the other day, yes I do read it occasionally despite what some people think, and I found a bit I’d never seen before…

There’s this bit in the Bible called the Gospel of St. Matthew, it’s full of great things, stories and sayings and stuff. It’s split into chapters and the chapters are split into verses. In one of those ‘chapters’, 22 actually, at verse 37 and 39 there is this great bit that seems to have been edited in many Bibles. The first part seems to be there but some Bibles don’t seem to have the second bit.  The whole thing says…

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

 
I meet lots of nice Christian people who seem to have Bibles with only the first part. Lots of loving God and Jesus and stuff and that where it ends – they miss out on the next bit, it looks like it’s been cut out of their Gospels and that’s very sad because it’s a commandment. This commandment that is ‘like’ the first one and the first one is ‘the greatest commandment’. So that second, missing one is also an important commandment – ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ We can’t ignore that it, yet so many seem to or at least choose who they think their neighbour is.

I get emails from people and it surprises me how many are from ‘Christians’ who tell me I’m wrong for, and I’ll quote one for you, “caring for the rag heads and fags bcoz Gods sending them to hell.” So that second part doesn’t count then – those ‘people’ aren’t your neighbours, is that’s it?

I get so frustrated – why can’t people see this? – It’s not rocket science – WE CANNOT PICK WHO JESUS TELLS US TO LOVE, we don’t get to make that decision.

And yet so many Christians think we can. I’ve seen lists that ‘Christians’ have written of people that God hates – everything from authors who write about children who go to magic school to people who watch films about kids who go to magic school to people that listen to rock music to people who read C.S. Lewis (yeah that one made me laugh too). If you put enough of these lists together you can see that God hates everyone and, therefore, so should we!

Yet I see that little verse in that Matthew Gospel thingy that says, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Let’s narrow the whole thing down to the street on which I live  – I don’t get to choose who my next door neighbour is – I’d like to but I don’t get to. I’d like Hallé Berry but, like I said, I don’t get to make that choice. So my next door neighbour is whoever ends up living in the house next to me – it could be a horrible, rich, white Christian family or it could be a nice, poor Muslim family or, well my point is it could be anyone – even you.

And here’s the steps for that bandwagon – climb up and join me as we look BIG PICTURE again  –

Guess what – Jesus says that we should ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ – WHOEVER that  neighbour is! The ‘rag head’ or the ‘fag’, or any other of 10,000 derogatory terms you can use, do not let you escape the fact that Jesus has told you that they are your neighbour and you are commanded, COMMANDED, to love them like you do yourself.

Tough isn’t it! No one said it would be easy.


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Keep Jesus weird!!

Jesus is now so mainstream – I mean there is even a Ken Jesus now. 

It’s frightening how ‘accepted’ Jesus is, everywhere. He is talked about in parliament, he is mentioned in court rulings, he has books written about him by ‘nice’ authors; movies and T.V. shows depict this nice, kind, white guy with perfect teeth and hair and a voice makes honey look lumpy and scratchy. People don’t want to know him but he is ingrained in our national psyche, this nice, comfy man who kisses babies and tells a few stories about God and stuff.

For crying out loud!!! We have completely forgotten how weird Jesus was. We are ignoring how radical his message was (and still is).

You see Jesus was REALLY weird – he was a longhaired, homeless hippy who went around with his dropout mates telling really strange stories to anyone who would listen. He upset everyone with even a little vested interest in power or authority, he made the clergy feel very uncomfortable and he upset the order of things wherever he went. 

How is this mainstream? It wasn’t even mainstream in the sixties! 

For some following Jesus is far too comfortable, far too beige – HELP! We need to bring back the Jesus weirdness!

Walk with those who are marginalised – the poor, the homeless, the outcasts, the sinners. Tell the stories of our faith for they give hope to the hopeless and make the comfortable squirm. Live out the commands of the divine weirdo for they make us and the world a better place. 

Accept people where they are and for who they are; judge less and love unconditionally; spread the grace of God wherever you go. 

Be as weird as Jesus; our world needs to see him as he really is and not what he has become – let’s do away with the nice, kind, white guy with perfect teeth and hair and a voice like honey and remind the world of the of the longhaired, homeless hippy who went around with his dropout mates telling really strange stories and changing the world.



KEEP JESUS WEIRD AND CHANGE THE WORLD!


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church could be like THIS

So I’m back in the U.K. and heading to Leeds – WHY? I hear you ask – well for one simple reason to visit Harehills Lane Baptist Church – WHERE? I hear you say – Harehills Lane Baptist Church in Leeds, the church where Graeme Dodds is a minister – WHO? you might say – this guy…

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He preached at our church a couple of years ago and many people (including me) said it was one of the best sermons they had ever heard!

Anyway, I went to Harehills Lane Baptist Church – and I have to say that church should (or could) be like this!

I walked in and the first thing that hit me was the welcome I got – the guy at the door seemed genuinely pleased I was there. He explained a little about the service, asked me where I was from and was really nice.

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I sat down and everyone who came in (I mean everyone) said hello and as it filled people came over to talk and introduce themselves. Graeme came out and sat with me throughout the service, which was brilliant and was all about everything I had been to America to see.

The theme was traction – the idea of the ‘rubber hitting the road’. It emphasised everything I had hoped about the trip – the idea that doing is a vital part of believing. All that stuff in the book of James that faith without works is dead etc, etc. One thing, said almost in passing, struck a huge chord with me – “Pastoral work is important and it can be just a word, a phone call, a text or a facebook message.” God was speaking to me in that service – he really was.

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The community of Harehills Lane is amazing – we sang happy birthday to a lady in her 90’s, I talked to a Ugandan asylum seeker and a northern biker, we moved furniture and ate cakes – it was a brilliant morning.

After the service (which was superb and, as usual, I won’t go too far into detail because I want to use some of the stuff – especially the music)  there was a lunch that could easily compare to anything the Melbourne Welsh Church would put on. People freely mixed and chatted it, was like being in at home on any Sunday morning. It felt great.

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Another wonderful surprise was that Harehills Lane had a group going to Greenbelt and I was invited to join their number, I didn’t realise at the time what an amazing blessing that would turn out to be.

As with almost everything else I’ve seen on this trip so far it’s the little things, the simple things that make this church so special. Community is at the foundation of everything – you build the rest of the church on that. Harehills has got it right – their community is a warm, welcoming and worshipping one – it was a pleasure to share time with them. Thank you all.

After a bit of news from my folks the look of my week changed a bit – things were re-arranged. I missed visiting Zac’s Place in Swansea and I missed seeing John and Gail Rees but I was on my way back to Greenbelt after a gap of 16 years and I was excited!!!


Upcoming Events

Mar
1
Sun
3:00 pm St David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu
St David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu
Mar 1 @ 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Guest conductor from Wales National Eisteddfod of Wales blue riband winner / soloist 2 other blue riband winners 5 local Welsh voice choirs Congregational hymn singing Projected 700+ in attendance. Wow….should be wonderful!!!