Category Archives: Church sign if the week

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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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Bubbles!!

JULY 24

 

 

There is a lot of troubling things going on in our world at the moment. This is not a full list but some examples are –

 

The downing of MH17 and the situation in he Ukraine,

The troubles in Israel and Gaza,

The plight of the Asylum Seekers and what will happen to them,

The crash of a plane in Taiwan,

and the list could go on.

 

We are not trivialising any one of these or the countless, unreported, horrors and tragedies across the world and we are holding each of the situations in our prayers.

Many of us are not directly affected by these events but we still read our papers and watch the news getting more and more concerned and upset at the state of the world, so to you we offer this little bit of  joy….

 

There is no angry way to say Bubbles!!!

 

Try it and try not to smile.

It won’t make your problems go away, it won’t make the world a better place but it will bring a smile to your lips and if that happens (for just a moment) this sign has done it’s job!

Now go and bring a smile to someone else……


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AVAST & AHOY

 

Last week was Big Mouth Camp and we had a sign and a flag flying outside church to show our support. Eight people from church were counted in the 109 people who turned up to share a weekend of fun and learning. The theme was pirates and, as you can see from the photos, we all entered into the spirit of the occasion.

But what is Big Mouth Camp?

The official spiel says…

The Big Mouth Camp is a residential camp for students from 6 to 15 years of age, who use speech generating devices. The camp is also for their families and carers.

The primary aim of the camp is for the children using the device to improve their device use and become much more competent communicators in a fun and relaxing atmosphere. Intensive communication therapy will be provided each morning and the afternoon will involve activities and opportunities for everyone to practice the skills they have learnt in the morning.

Separate sibling recreation sessions will be conducted in the mornings, and this time will also provide parents/carers to discuss and work on issues around augmentative and alternative communication.

The camp will also be offering mentoring from experienced adult communication device users, training from device manufacturers / support staff, sessions on related disability computer software and much more!

And that is just what it is, all of that and so much more but for those of us who don’t do official statements here is my version of what Big Mouth Camp is.

 

BIG MOUTH CAMP IS…

 

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 fun. But far, far more….

 

BIG MOUTH CAMP IS…

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communicating,

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adventure,

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friendship,

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not relaxing (despite what Jono says),

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learning,

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thinking,

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and awesome chocolate cake.

BIG MOUTH CAMP can be scary….

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but more than all these things,

Big Mouth Camp is

A COMMUNITY.


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CHEERS!!!

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and a big thank you to

everyone who made

Big Mouth Camp

possible…

 

from all the Big Mouth Family.

 

That’s some of what Big Mouth is to me.

I cannot thank the Melbourne Welsh Church enough for its generous support (both financially and in terms of prayer and people) of the BMC.

Thank you all.

 


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Jesus and the Jedi mind trick

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I was with a certain esteemed clergyman of our fair city the other day. I didn’t know him too well but the time was supposed to be a sort of getting to know you session. We decided to go out for a coffee. I met this ArchBishop (not his real rank but I’m trying to protect the guilty here) at his rather large church and we walked to a rather famous coffee place that is not far from where he is based.

As we approached said coffee house (which has sliding doors) we both, simultaneously and (this next phrase is for emphasis) at the same time, raised our hands and did the Jedi door opening move. We looked at each other and then collapsed in fits of laughter. What people must have thought of two grown men, both in suits and clerical collars, rolling around crying tears of laughter, I neither know nor care. It was one of those priceless moments. As you can imagine the conversation was Star Wars based after that. Things like – “Jesus said to them, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”” and “These clergymen are not the ones you’re looking for.” etc etc You can imagine the rest. It was a fun hour, one of the best meetings I have had in a long while.

I don’t remember when automatic sliding doors became widespread but for as long as they have been around I have been opening them like a Jedi. They let me express my inner child, who is about 8 and still loves Star Wars and bubble gum (although mum doesn’t let me have it very often).

I don’t know about you but for me it’s the simple things in life that make me happiest – sliding doors that open on my command; texts from friends; a decent hot chocolate; a meal with nice people; a good book; 10 minutes of peace and quiet while people watching. The list goes on and each thing on there is a ‘simple pleasure.’ I get child like delight from a wrapped present; I love the feel of clean socks; those times when the shower temperature is just right; lying in bed listening to a storm; the wags of the dogs as I get home; smiles on friends’ faces; perfect toast.

Dickens reminds us, “That it is good to be a child sometimes” and I think he’s right and never more so than when we are in church. We must never forget that Jesus tells us that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Now I’m not saying that we should all be doing colouring in and dot to dots on a Sunday morning, but I am saying that I think God wants us to see faith as a simple thing.

Christianity is not a set of rules to be followed, not a series of tick boxes to be filled in every day.

Prayers said – tick

Been nice to a few people – tick

Mentioned Jesus to a couple of friends (who already go to church) – tick

Was bigoted enough about the place of (insert whatever group you wish to hate today here) – tick

That is NOT what following Jesus is about.

The heart of the gospel is like the heart of child – filled with love and wonder.

Keep that in mind and we won’t go too far wrong. Acceptance, forgiveness, tolerance, compassion, patience, love. Things children (and Jedi) have in abundance (most of the time) – but this is gospel message. Not fear, not anger, not hatred – to relapse into Star Wars mode for a moment; “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

If you must have things in adult terms then look at this – “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbour as yourself.” You could spend the rest of your life working out what that sentence really means.

Be filled with love and wonder, open doors like a Jedi, let your inner child out and while you’re at it spread that love a bit more too. It’s a simple thing that can change the world!


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Love thy neighbour

Love thy neighbour as thy iPhone

#BeAPPtitudes

We’re going to write some new BeAPPtitudes. They are like the Beatitudes only moderner. Occasionally we’ll find one and put up a blog about it.

Feel free to send them in – @MelbWelshChurch and we’ll use them (if they are any good of course).

The first one, shamelessly stolen from the monks at @UnvirtuousAbbey, is “Love thy neighbour as thy iPhone.” Before any of you take the fun out of fundamentalist and tell me that “Love thy neighbour as thyself” is not a Beatitude – remember this – I know it isn’t – but we’re writing the BeAPPtitudes and we can take any piece of scripture we want and BeAPPify it!

So

Love thy neighbour as thy iPhone!

If Apple’s numbers are to be believed 402,000 iPhones are sold every day (figure from the first quarter of January 2012) and almost all of them are treasured by someone. I know I would be completely lost if I misplaced mine.

It goes almost everywhere with me. It knows everything I do each day, it gets me up (with the alarm app); it’s my address book; it guides me (with my TomTom App); it entertains me (with my music and audiobooks); it reminds me of what I should do (with my iCal and Reminders); it helps me to pass time (with Angry Birds); it keeps me in touch with people (with my Twitter and Facebook Apps); it helps me write my sermons (via the Internet and Dropbox); it expands my knowledge (with iBooks); it helps with my Bible reading (with my Glo Bible); I can take pictures and video with it (with the camera); I do my banking on it; it keeps my plane and cinema tickets (in passbook); I wrote this blog on it (via WordPress); I track my runs on it (with run keeper); it holds my emails; it tells me the weather (with the weather Oz app) and I can even use it as a phone – if I need to!

I love my iPhone, I would be lost without it. I look after it, I make sure nothing happens to it. In short I take very good care of it. I’m sure most people do the same. Most people would take care of their $500+ iPhone.

Imagine how much better the world would be if we took as much care of other people as we do of our technology. Imagine if other people meant as much to us as our iPhones (or Samsungs or whatever else you have), we would live in a very caring world where everyone saw everyone else as important and not someone to beat down and climb over on the way to the top.

So I say, in a clear and loud voice,

“Listen to a new BeAPPtitude – Love thy neighbour as thy iPhone!”

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Church Sign of the week 19

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

From Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen”


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Church Sign of the Week 16

He who angers you controls you.

I was going to write about the life of controversial Australian Nurse Sister Elizabeth Kelly, who first came up with a version of the words of our sign. (Her words were, ‘He who angers you conquers you’) but given events in the last few days I want to say something else.

There are a lot of stories inducing public anger in the media at the moment (being realistic, there always are). The Slipper incident, yet another pedophile discovered in the Roman Catholic Church, the radio star that many wished video had killed to name just a few.

If you have followed the story of the alleged child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church (not just in Victoria but nationwide and, indeed, globally) you will know that the Victorian Police have said that the Roman Catholic Church is actively stalling the investigation.

Now, the Bible never instructs us not to get angry but it does warn us to be slow to anger, to keep control on our temper for anger is not always the wisest of emotions. We have all said and done things ‘in the heat of the moment’ that we have regretted later. A word or action that once released cannot be taken back. However there are some cases where anger is truly justified, and this,I believe, is one of those cases.

Why, oh why has the Roman Catholic Church not been as open and helpful as possible to rid the Church of these horrible atrocities? Priests, Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals and Popes should have spoken out against and stopped protecting the evil, child abusing priests years ago and their failure to do so is seen in the public anger against the Roman Catholic Church and rightly so.

I know of a priest who was forced to leave the Church after he was outed as gay and yet, within the same diocese, a priest accused of pedophilia was quietly moved to another job and no further action taken. Is this right? In the country where this happened only one of those ‘offences’ is illegal and yet it seems the real crime wasn’t investigated.

Our society sees child abuse as one of the most heinous of crimes and there should be no place for child abusers to hide from prosecution especially not inside the Church!

Tim Minchin has a song around the whole issue of pedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church. Called ‘The Pope Song’ it cleverly asks the listener to question their attitudes to child abuse within the R.C. Church. It is not for the faint of heart, for as Billy Connolly would put it, “There is swearing in it” but it makes the point well. Many will find the language offensive but if you listen to it all the way through even that issue is addressed. To paraphrase; Mr. Minchin says that if you don’t like the language but are prepared to tolerate the behaviour then you need to have a long, hard look at yourself.

I should say that I haven’t cleared this blog with the Elders of the Melbourne Welsh Church and these are my feelings but I feel confident in saying that all the Elders would agree that there is no place for child abuse in any church.

So to Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Hart I implore you to open up your Church to a full investigation and not protect those accused of terrible crimes done to innocents placed in their charge. Disobey the Pope if you need to because, in this policy of silence and non compliance, he is wrong.

I pray to a God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that you will seek justice for the wronged and help in the healing of many broken lives.

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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!!!