In a world where you can be anything; be kind.

Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan ( to answer the question – who is my neighbour? 
2000 years later things haven’t changed that much. There are still people who ‘fall into the hands of robbers’. The robbers have different names now they are ‘dealers’ or ‘pimps’ or ‘bikers’ or ‘fundamentalists’ or any other group that takes advantage of people – some would put ‘politicians’ and ‘media barons’ on that list too.
People are still left by the roadside, bruised and beaten, by so many different experiences in life and there they lie as the world passes them by. It’s not just priests and Levites that walk past on the other side, almost the whole of humanity does. We see the needs of others and we turn the page or change the channel; we lift our phone to our ears and pretend to be on a call instead of talking to them or we put our head down and walk faster so they don’t talk to us; we don’t offer a smile, a kind word or a bit of change where it’s needed. 
We all do it at one time or another. We are all guilty of ignoring the needs of others. We wrap ourselves in in cosy excuses to make ourselves feel better – I’m too busy; someone else will do it; I gave last week/year/millennium; it’s their own fault; they shouldn’t be here and so on (insert your favourite excuse here…….).
The spirit of the Priest and Levite is alive today and is stronger than ever; in fact it is becoming ingrained in our society – it’s being drilled into us from childhood, spoon fed to us by some of our politicians, drip fed to us through some of the media, incessantly we are told to look after number one, that ‘we’ are important, that we have no responsibility for ‘them’; that as long as we’re okay then all is right with the world. Our leaders tell us “Let ‘us’ deal with the problems ‘you’ should just go on with your little lives” and we hear some variation of this in almost every news bulletin or news paper story.
But still the bodies pile up at the locked doors of our nation’s compassionate heart; still we ignore them as we walk past or over them to carry on with our ‘comfortable’ lives. We Priest and Levite our way through the week, hoping someone else will deal with all the shit around us. The trouble is no one does and the piles keep getting higher and higher.
Our society needs some Samaritans, our society needs a Samaritan. That someone who does the little bit to help the need around them. They do not change the world, their aim is not to fix everything, they have no intention of instilling chaos into the order of society. They are not communists or troublemakers or fundamentalists – they are humanitarians that see the need and do the little they can. It won’t cost them everything they have, it won’t even make them miss their important meeting or coffee date but it will make them more human and (if they have one) closer to their God. This Samaritan can be anyone – they might wear biker colours or a suit, they might have tattoos and facial piercings, they may wear a hijab or a turban, they may have a cross around their neck, they may not even be able to afford shoes, they may look like someone else or they may look just like you. There are hidden samaritans around, if only we could see more of them, be more of them.
We are told from infancy that we live in a lucky country and that we can be anything we want. Yes you can be prime minister or an astronaut or a doctor or a vet or a zoo keeper or a gardner or a chef or an author or whatever we want. So THIS is what Jesus was saying in that parable…. 

   In a world where you can be anything, be kind. 

Minority – the term applied to the majority of the world’s population

Minority – the term applied to the majority of the world’s people.

I can’t remember who said this to me, but I instantly liked the thoughts behind it. Think about it.

We are all very good at marginalising people. We started doing it in school – the playground games, those who were allowed to play and those who weren’t. The excuses why were many and varied but the reason was usually that they didn’t fit in.

We continue the establish trend into adulthood and by then it’s ingrained into us – that idea of us & them, with us being right and them wrong.

Through school, Uni, work and our social lives we develop this pattern. The divisions become wider and more numerous. And, like in school, they are usually just as ridiculous.

Different clothes, different tastes in music, different political ideas, the list goes on and on and the only people who can break its cycle is us, ourselves. Only we can make a difference and change the minorities into the accepted.

Those of you who come to the Melbourne Welsh Church think how you would feel if you went to a Mosque or Synagogue for a service. You would have no clue what to do – you certainly wouldn’t fit in, you’d need someone to show you the ropes.

We are all in the minority when we look at things in different ways.

I have a friend called Columbus. Columbus is a very tall gentleman from Ghana. He is also (in his own words), “Very, very black”. I went with him to one of his family parties once. I was the only non-Ghanaian there, one white face in a gathering of over 100 people. I could have felt very uncomfortable but I was made to feel part of the group, included in the festivities, although very much in the minority I was accepted, I still look back at that day as a wonderful time.

If we look at the New Testament at the life of Jesus and the work of the early Church we see minorities valued, cherished and loved.

A young, unmarried woman from a little backwater town.

A group of smelly fishermen.

A band of followers in which women were number and counted.

Meals with prostitutes & sinners.

Work with outcasts, even tax collectors.

Healing of lepers and the family of Romans!

Talks with Samaritans.

The very first gentile convert to this new way was an Ethiopian Eunuch – can’t get much more marginalised than that. No one would want him around – except God to whom he had great worth.

It seems that in God’s eyes there are no minorities; no us and them – just us, all of us, children of God, brothers and sisters on the same journey.

As we approach Easter when we remember that Christ died and rose again for ALL – let us try and view the world with the eyes of God and see, not that which divides us, but that which makes us all the same.

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!!!!

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??

Silent Vigil, Actions Speak louder Than Words!!

Every Monday on a prominent mall in the Melbourne CBD, a Silent Vigil happens.

The Quakers have been there at the same time for the past 15-18 years.
Not a bad effort by any standard.

I join them from time to time, as they respectfully acknowledge Australia’s First Peoples.

Anyone who is interested or curious are able to take a handout explaining why they hold this vigil.

Many years ago a student in her final year of secondary school, presented her art workpiece for the yr 12 art competition, a State wide competition.

It was at the same time as the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania in 1996

This was described as the ‘worst massacre’ in our short history, by many journalists, commentators and politicians.

This student disagreed, and depicted in her piece the massacre of many of our First Peoples in Tasmania, suggesting this was the first massacre and equally despicable.

This student was aware her piece would not qualify to win the competition, and proceeded anyway.

 As I watch people. observing the vigil, and recall the students art, it reminds me that there are times when actions speak louder than words!!

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??

Bikers and the open road.

Have just returned from four days away with sisters and brothers from all over Australia and some  from the UK.

We travelled  around two thousand kilometres. 
As we spent time over food and drink we listened to stories of other people as together we journey the road of life. Not all have had a good journey, some have been broken on the journey, some have lost loved ones while on the journey and others are staring death in the face. Others have had exciting  journeys, while others have had  opportunities opened up on the journey, some have made choices to risk all to continue the journey.
 We have shared joys, heartache, disappointments and thrill of the journey as we travel the road together.
We may not know where or how the journey will go. We know we will have crashes on the way and we know we would not make the journey alone.
The one thing we have in common, is the journey and the purpose of that journey, that is to love God with all our hearts, soul and mind and to love the stranger, outcast, broken, lonely, ‘the other’, so we can journey together.

Category : Community , Family , Fear , GSCMC , The Other

The Trouble with ‘normal’ is it always gets worse!!

Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian musician a favourite of mine has a song called ‘
The Trouble with Normal, from an album of the same name.

One of the lines goes, “It’ll all go back to normal if we put our nation first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse.
AnotherPerson in the street shrugs — “Security comes first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse.

Being ‘self obsessed’ whether personally or as a Nation is unhealthy. 

National Security in this country is surrounded in fear. 
Fear, that leads to lack of trust in those around us and of those in other places who we don’t know.

Community needs to be built on trust of ‘the other’.
‘The other’ may look different, dress different, eat different food and believe different things, however ‘the other’ is a fellow citizen and fellow traveller. 

As we travel together let’s look for what we have in common, try and understand the differences and build a strong community.

The only thing to fear is fear itself.

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