A Covid Lock-down Tale

Royalty-free ID: 1369386470 by Seventy-Four

Let me introduce you to the characters of this little story. Firstly there is Sean, he is a man after my own heart. If I ever met him I know we’d see eye to eye on most things; and then there is his faithful dog, a playful little thing called Lido. Together they are a great team, but it is a little like the blind leading the blind as both can be as silly as the other. There is Sarah, she is a helpful woman, always looking out for others, and then there is Bubbie, an old friend of Sean and Sarah’s – Bubbie comes from the spare the rod, spoil the child school of thinking but has fallen on hard times.

Sean and Lido had been happily resting in the land of nod one evening when the alarm on Sean’s watch went off. It was time to rise and shine because, as we know, there is no rest for the wicked. They both stretched and yawned and in the twinkling of an eye they were ready for their evening walk. It was 7.15pm, the eleventh hour because the curfew started at 8pm and they needed to be back by then if they were to follow the letter of the law.

That day the powers that be, who sometimes seem to be a law unto themselves, had announced another 2 weeks of lockdown. Two weeks, in the scheme of things is only a drop in the bucket but many where at their wit’s end with the whole lockdown thing and just wanted to go out and eat, drink and be merry. But it was a sign of the times that this just wasn’t possible.

So Sean and Lido were outside for their walk, “We have plenty of time,” said Sean, but that was just the kiss of death on their evening wander. Sean put on his Ipod, Queen’s another one bites the dust was playing and off they went around their neighbourhood to see what they could see. As they went down the street they saw a person standing on the side of the road, “Isn’t that Sarah?” Sean said, Lido just wagged, “She must be out fighting the good fight, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” 

As they drew closer Sarah waved and, staying 1.5 metres away, said, “Hi Sean and Lido a little birdie told me you’d be out here about now I’ve come to ask you a favour.” 

“Go ahead,” said Sean, “We’re listening.” Turning off his music.

Sarah looked at them both and asked, “Do you remember Bubbie?”

“Big headed Bubbie? The mouth of the south? Yes, what’s he up to?”

“Well,” said Sarah, “He’s not doing too well at the moment and I was wondering if you could help him?”

“Well pride goes before a fall,” said Sean, “What’s he need?”

“A little money”

“What? The root of all evil!”

“Anyone of us could fall by the wayside” said Sarah, “He’s changed.”

“A leopard cannot change its spots, he always was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, OH see how the mighty have fallen.” intoned Sean.

“Yes they have, and there but for the grace of God, go you and I, and remember it is always better to give than to receive. You once said you’d go to the ends of the earth to help people and I don’t wish to put words in your mouth but he needs your help. Will you?”

Sean thought about it and looked at Lido who just wagged, “Well it would be sour grapes if I didn’t, of course I’ll help. When the writing’s on the wall it’s what we do isn’t it?”

“Thanks” Sarah said, “There’s just one fly in the ointment, he needs it now.” 

“Sure”, said Sean reaching for his wallet and handing over some money, “here, take this, will it be enough?”

“More than,” said Sarah.

“We’d better go if we are to finish our walk before curfew, we’ll just make it by the skin of our teeth if we go now. See you and thanks for looking us up, glad we could help.”

They waved goodbye and Lido got her walk, not as long as usual but she understood. She is, after all, a very clever dog.

THE END.

What a nice story. When Sara asked me to write this blog she said to write it on Proverbs. Well I looked up proverbs from the Bible that are still in everyday use and in that little story are 34 of them. Not all from the book of Proverbs but all from the Bible. See if you can spot them. On Tuesday evening we’ll put up the list of what they are and where they come from but this little story goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun. (Number 35, from Ecclesiastes 8).

S.

Category : #Bible , Pandemic , Siôn


Jonah and the deep

Jonah and the Whale …

…  or big fish, or Kraken, your choice of HUGE underwater beast that can swallow a man whole.  I’ve heard this story described as a fish story, one of those exaggerated catch, “It was a meter if it was an inch!” kind of things.  And it might need, irony, humour and laughter are just as important for our understanding of God as awe and miracles.

I grew up with a little stained-glass blue whale, with a man sitting in his belly, hanging in the back window, no more than 10cm long.  When my parents moved, Jonah went too and hangs in the kitchen window now. He’s always been there, reminding me of … well, whatever it was that I needed reminding of when it came to life, faith, and journeys.  My mother provided the image for Friday’s clue.  She cross-stitched one of her favourite images of Jonah and the whale for my ordination because I tried to run away from God’s call to ministry.  See, I don’t think I am very good at it – I lack patience, and understanding, and will NEVER know as much as some do about the Bible.  She joked that she had to hurry to Nineveh because I ended up finishing seminary two years earlier than anticipated, so she stitched in the car, and every spare second she had to get it done in time. 

Jonah is complicated.  It’s a delightful story in and of itself.  It uses irony and allegory, it has symbolism of birth and death, there’s faith and questioning, miracles and moaning, humour and horror – the open sea, and the deep depths, and what is in it, is a fear I share with the folk of the 5th or 4th century BC.  I am delighted every time I hear Jonah complain to God that OF COURSE God forgave Nineveh, so why did he have to go through all that he went through in the first place?  I hear that is so many different tones, the snarky sarcasm being my favourite.

https://picryl.com/media/jonah-from-bl-yt-14-f-70v-1fedbc

One scholar writes that he “sees Jonah as a thoughtful prophet who comes to religion out of a search for theological truth and is constantly disappointed by those who come to religion to provide mere comfort in the face of adversity inherent to the human condition. “If religion is only a blanket to provide warmth from the cold, harsh realities of life,” David Bashevkin imagines Jonah asking, “did concerns of theological truth and creed even matter?”[i] The lesson taught by the episode of the tree at the end of the book is that comfort is a deep human need that religion provides, but this need not obscure the role of God.

And so for me, Jonah is a companion.  God is always present, haranguing me, harassing me, humouring me.  I do occasionally miss the presence of God, overlooking it or getting so wrapped up in myself that I simply forget to look up, but it doesn’t matter.  Like that little stained-glass in the window, God simple IS present, for all of us, a constant.


[i] Bashevkin, Dovid. “Jonah and the Varieties of Religious Motivation.” Archived 2016-10-12 at the Wayback Machine Lehrhaus. 9 October 2016. 2 October 2017.

Tags :

Category : #Bible , Uncategorized


Good Samaritan

I’m not sure what annoys me most about this story.

Is it then way the term Good Samaritan is used in good news stories, to describe when someone helps someone out? or the fact we still debate who is my neighbour? you get the drift.

Many words like neighbour and hospitality mean different thinks to people from different cultures.

We have narrowed them to mean, the people next door, or people like us, or having friends over for a BBQ and a drink.

I was reminded of this last year when door knocking with VVCE after a incident in the suburbs where murder had taken place in a park.

We were following up people in the street to ensure they were able to access any support they might need.

The person I was working with knocked on one door, the occupants were from the Middle East, we were invited in as strangers, given water and offered food.

Offering hospitality and concept of neighbour to ‘other’ is understood by many cultures quite differently to how we see it as Westerners (although we are learning).

Context means everything and to understand this story.

There has been many conversations about why the people who didn’t stop didn’t stop, some reasons have been suggested however there appears to be no such discussion in the biblical account of the story.

The point seems to be that people didn’t stop because the main character was from an ethnic group who were not liked, in-fact they were hated.

Please note the difference of not loving is not hate, it is indifference, and Samaritans were hated.

People did not just walk past, they stopped weighed up the options and made a decision to keep walking.

Does the story raise questions for you and your understanding of neighbour and hospitality? It does for me.

Illustration Taken from the Complete Works of Henry Lawson

Australian Poet henry Lawson wrote several poems using biblical stories here is one.

He comes from out the ages dim—

The good Samaritan;

I somehow never pictured him

A fat and jolly man;

But one who’d little joy to glean,

And little coin to give—

A sad-faced man, and lank and lean,

Who found it hard to live.

His eyes were haggard in the drought,

His hair was iron-grey—

His dusty gown was patched, no doubt,

Where we patch pants to-day.

His faded turban, too, was torn—

But darned and folded neat,

And leagues of desert sand had worn

The sandals on his feet.

He’s been a fool, perhaps, and would

Have prospered had he tried,

But he was one who never could

Pass by the other side.

An honest man whom men called soft,

While laughing in their sleeves—

No doubt in business ways he oft

Had fallen amongst thieves.

And, I suppose, by track and tent,

And other ancient ways,

He drank, and fought, and loved, and went

The pace in his young days.

And he had known the bitter year

When love and friendship fail—

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear

That he had been in jail.

A silent man, whose passions slept,

Who had no friends or foes—

A quiet man, who always kept

His hopes and sorrows close.

A man who very seldom smiled,

And one who could not weep

Be it for death of wife or child

Or sorrow still more deep.

But sometimes when a man would rave

Of wrong, as sinners do,

He’d say to cheer and make him brave

‘I’ve had my troubles too.’

(They might be twittered by the birds,

And breathed high Heaven through,

There’s beauty in those world-old words:

‘I’ve had my sorrows too.’)

And if he was a married man,

As many are that roam,

I guess that good Samaritan

Was rather glum at home,

Impatient when a child would fret,

And strict at times and grim—

A man whose kinsmen never yet

Appreciated him.

Howbeit—in a study brown—

He had for all we know,

His own thoughts as he journeyed down

The road to Jericho,

And pondered, as we puzzle yet,

On tragedies of life—

And maybe he was deep in debt

And parted from his wife.

(And so ‘by chance there came that way,’

It reads not like romance—

The truest friends on earth to-day,

They mostly come by chance.)

He saw a stranger left by thieves

Sore hurt and like to die—

He also saw (my heart believes)

The others pass him by.

(Perhaps that good Samaritan

Knew Levite well, and priest)

He lifted up the wounded man

And sat him on his beast,

And took him on towards the inn—

All Christ-like unawares—

Still pondering, perhaps, on sin

And virtue—and his cares.

He bore him in and fixed him right

(Helped by the local drunk),

And wined and oiled him well all night,

And thought beside his bunk.

And on the morrow ere he went

He left a quid and spoke

Unto the host in terms which meant—

‘Look after that poor bloke.’

He must have known them at the inn,

They must have known him too—

Perhaps on that same track he’d seen

Some other sick mate through;

For ‘Whatsoe’er thou spendest more’

(The parable is plain)

‘I will repay,’ he told the host,

‘When I return again.’

He seemed to be a good sort, too,

The boss of that old pub—

(As even now there are a few

At shanties in the scru .

The good Samaritan jogged on

Through Canaan’s dust and heat,

And pondered over various schemes

And ways to make ends meet.

He was no Christian, understand,

For Christ had not been born—

He journeyed later through the land

To hold the priests to scorn;

And tell the world of ‘certain men’

Like that Samaritan,

And preach the simple creed again—

Man’s duty! Man to man!

‘Once on a time there lived a man,’

But he has lived alway,

And that gaunt, good Samaritan

Is with us here to-day;

He passes through the city streets

Unnoticed and unknown,

He helps the sinner that he meets—

His sorrows are his own.

He shares his tucker on the track

When things are at their worst

(And often shouts in bars outback

For souls that are athirst).

To-day I see him staggering down

The blazing water-course,

And making for the distant town

With a sick man on his horse.

He’ll live while nations find their graves

And mortals suffer pain—

When colour rules and whites are slaves

And savages again.

And, after all is past and done,

He’ll rise up, the Last Man,

From tending to the last but one—

The good Samaritan.

Henry Lawson


Library books

One of the things that I rattle on about, besides living in right relationship, is diversity and adaptation.  This sounds very scientific and academic, but it applies across the board.  See, I am not a literalist when it comes to … literally anything!   And so when it comes to reading the Bible, I’ve been taught to look at it in a diverse number of ways, and be open to other ways that I am not used to, or are new to me.

A close up of a piece of paper  Description automatically generated

This has come up in our Bible Study recently, because we’re reading Esther.  And Esther is … well, religious fiction.  A fairy tale.  As we were reading it carefully, we realized that there were cartoonishly large sterotypes, and over-the-top descriptions, and more than one stranger-than-fiction coincidence.  It is gorgeously structured, as a piece of literature, and was probably told as a story to children before the celebration of Purim before it was written down.  And this idea that Jesus sat at the feet of his mother or father or uncle or aunt to hear this story of beginnings, literally sat and listened, came home to me during this  Bible fellowship.  But when we look at the Bible as a library of many different kinds of literature, we realize that we don’t read everything in the same way.  We read letters differently than we read poetry, and we read that differently than we read science fiction/fantasy, and we adapt our filters whether we realize we are doing it or not.  However, all of these different kinds of reading, inform our understanding of (wait for it) living in right relationship with God, ourselves, and others. 

Saw that coming, didn’t you?


An arm around my shoulder and a hand over my mouth

We all do it and some of us are far better at it than others. Some do it completely by accident, others are master’s of it and enjoy the feeling it gives; and we have all been on the receiving end of it and it’s rarely pleasant.

It’s that time when you sit and look at the speaker or you think in your head as the words come out, “Keep your mouth shut.”

It’s a real gift to be able to keep your mouth shut when you want to say something and its a gift that very few people seem to have anymore – and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have it in the kind of amounts I want or need.

Politicians certainly don’t seem to possess it – a quick google search comes up with some corkers –

I give you Australia’s Minister for Women’s Issues at the time he said this (oh and prime minister too) Mr. Tony Abbott –

“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up,”

Now for those who are worried about the impending war with the underwater animals, worry no more – President George W. Bush has reassured us that he

“ know(s) that the human beings and fish can coexist peacefully…”

PHEW!!

Then of course there is the (now ex-) governor of California Mr Schwarzenegger who set us all straight, no matter what we think of the subject – 

“I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” 

But of course it’s not just politicians – Princes have a good track record, one in particular, ladies and gentlemen may I present to you a few pearls from Prince Phillip – 

During a recession he mused: “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed.”

“You look like you’re ready for bed!”
To the President of Nigeria, dressed in traditional robes.

To the Aircraft Research Association: “If you travel as much as we do, you appreciate the improvements in aircraft design of less noise and more comfort – provided you don’t travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.”

To the General Dental Council: “Dontopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, which I’ve practised for many years.”


I’m sure there are many others from many different people – me included!


Over the next few blogs (unless something else comes up) I’m going to try and give some old Bible quotes an update. Take Psalm 141v 3 “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord…” I believe what David is saying here is Lord I pray the you keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth. Amen.

So the point is, and I’m writing this for me and letting you all read it (aren’t I nice?), remember the old Chinese internet meme that goes – “You have two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk.”

Upcoming Events

Sep
22
Tue
11:00 am Tuesday Tea Too
Tuesday Tea Too
Sep 22 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Stage 4 version: a second tea added during the six week Stay At Home order. Please contact the Elders, Ministers or Church Office for the Zoom information.
4:00 pm Tuesday Tea on Zoom
Tuesday Tea on Zoom
Sep 22 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Please reach out to the church office, one of the Ministers or Elders for the meeting information!
Sep
23
Wed
10:00 am Bible Fellowship
Bible Fellowship
Sep 23 @ 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!
Sep
27
Sun
2:30 pm Welsh Worship service
Welsh Worship service
Sep 27 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Available on Facebook @melbwelshchurch  and on the media page of our website: www.melbournewelshchurch.com.au