Waging Peace for Lent

It’s Lent. Lent is about preparation through prayer, and repentance and we have decided that divisiveness and disagreement is something that needs to be addressed as something to give up for

Community events:  First, I want to thank everyone who helped us raise over $3000 for donation to the bushfire appeal.  We won’t stop caring about our community, even with the immediate threat of fire lessened, we’ll continue to be available for what is needed as we are able, I hope you’ll do the same. To that end, because there is so much BAD on the internet, false or misleading information, waging of dissent and disharmony, here at the start of Lent, we’ve decided to WAGE PEACE for Lent.   

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au%2Fnews%2Fartists-do-their-bit-for-bushfire-appeal%2F3921951%2F&psig=AOvVaw0E6Q7sjX1Y8LOawxrfBHLc&ust=1582938301183000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCMChh_SG8-cCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD

To that end, we will look at Peace in Song for the first week in Lent, beginning March 1st.    This is an easy one because ON March 1st, something new to me is happening. With a rich traditional history, the Gymanfa Ganu will be on the 1st of March, St. David’s Day. We will raise the Welsh flag in song at 11am at the Welsh Church, but amount of music and singing is so encompassing that we have to go to a bigger place! So hopefully we will see you at St. Michaels Uniting on the corner of Collins and Russell Streets at 3pm.

It’s a singing festival!  And not just that, but a festival of hymn singing.  So many of the wonderful rich hymns that I know and love came out of this tradition.  To my delight, I am told that new hymns once made their debut at local Gymanfa Ganu, and then are practiced in the pubs in the evenings by the choirs learning them, or by choirs, conductors, song-writers, who are making their own new ones to present.  And larger regional and national Gymanfa Ganu follow.  If they are good, they are taken to a Gymanfa and shared wider and wider.

And we’re busy!  We’ve welcomed guests from Wales, to sing and conduct and even preach!  The voices, the singing, are pretty amazing.  With all these guests, and immersed deeply in the hospitality of the time, we’re waging Peace in Example for the second week of Lent.

The third week in Lent we will wage Peace in Community, and the fourth will be Peace in Creation.  Peace in Hospitality is our last week in March.

Lent is a season for ‘giving up’ things as we turn to look to the Cross of Easter, and we do so, with peace in our hearts and on our lips!


Welcome to …

As a child in Sunday School there was a song that began with …

“There was a dear old darkie

His name was happy Joe

Although his skin was black as soot

His heart was white as snow.”

There were more appalling lyrics, but you get the point.

I had hoped we would have grown out of our racist and prejudice in 2020, but apparently not.

Sadly there is debate among some Evangelicals and other Christians as to whether a welcome to country is important.

It appears for some if we acknowledge our First People that somehow we are not acknowledging God as creator?

I’m not convinced God would see it that way. I reckon if Jesus was walking around today, he would have more in common with the indigenous peoples of any country. Moreover I believe Jesus would acknowledge all first peoples.

Image from publisher’s site. 
Use of this image is not for commercial or promotion purposes, but to illustrate the idea of the possibility an existing (or pre-existing) relationship that is not mutually exclusive. https://secure.stpauls.com.au/product/97/Special+St+Pauls+Australia+Clearance/Fletcher+MSC,+Frank;+Byers,+Fabian+(ed)/7571/Jesus+and+the+Dreaming

Bigotry Bill

There will be Religious Freedom Bill in front of Parliament soon. As a church that should be a good thing right?

WRONG!!

And not just wrong – its very, very wrong!!

You don’t have to dig very deeply into the legislation to find huge flaws in the bill. A very quick google search comes up with hundreds of hits for people standing against it. But that is not usual, there are people who stand against every Act or Bill before Parliament. But usually it’s not the associate professor of constitutional law of Monash University. Luke Beck, for that is his name, has written that the Bill “appear(s) to be motivated by a desire to allow people to be nasty to others”.

The Australian Discrimination Law Experts Group call the bill, “Deeply flawed” and the Professors Simon Rice and Beth Gaze, of Sydney and Melbourne universities respectfully, have said the bill’s wide definition of “statements of belief” meant current unlawful acts of discrimination would “likely become lawful if based on religious belief”.

These ‘current unlawful acts of discrimination’ are not just against marginal groups. Before any major revisions take place here are some of the things that could allowed according to the Guardian who have collected these examples from various sources – 

Here are some Statements of religious belief that, if the bill is passed, will not be found in breach other federal, state and territory discrimination laws.

(These things could be allowed!!)

                                    A single mother who, when dropping her child off at daycare, may be told by a worker that she is sinful for denying her child a father.

                                    A woman may be told by a manager outside work that women should submit to their husbands or that women should not be employed outside the home.

                                    A student with disability may be told by a teacher their disability is a trial imposed by God.

                                    A person of a minority faith may be told by a retail assistant from another religion that they are a “heathen destined for eternal damnation”.

All that needs to happen is that these statements must be made in good faith; not be malicious or harass, vilify or incite hatred against a person or group; not advocate for the commission of a serious criminal offence but apart from that all of the above will be legal.

In the future discrimination against a person on the basis of religious activity will be unlawful.

So a public evangelist / street-preacher cannot be stopped even where they are in contravention of council bylaws and no matter how bigoted they are being.

Under this bill, unless it is against the law to refuse treatment, health practitioners are allowed to conscientiously object to providing a health service and no professional rules can override that right.

So soon a doctor could refuse to provide contraception to all patients or to prescribe hormone treatment for gender transition because he/she doesn’t agree with it.

                                    Or a nurse can refuse to participate in abortion procedures or to provide the morning-after pill to a woman admitted to hospital after a sexual assault.

                                    A pharmacist will be able to refuse to provide the pill to women for contraceptive use

Although the primary aim of the bill is to prohibit religious discrimination there are a range of exemptions that will allow other religious discrimination to happen:

                                    Religious hospitals, aged care providers or accommodation providers such as retirement villages may discriminate against their staff on the basis of religion both in terms of hiring and to set codes of conduct requiring them to act in accordance with that faith at work.

                  These are just some of the things that could happen, and I haven’t touched on education, social media and the workplace that have their own major problems under this bill.

                  I’d love to be able to say that these examples are far fetched and in reality will not happen but, unfortunately they are not, all of these things, and worse will happen if the bill is passed unchanged. 

                  Many of the major churches and their leaders, many Muslim and Jewish leaders have already spoken out against this bill; whether they will be heard and listened to is yet to be seen.

The Uniting Church in Australia, in its submission against this bill, echoed the concerns of legal experts, saying the redrafted version of the bill does not “get the balance right”.

“To be a welcoming, inclusive, multi-faith and multi-cultural society, it is important that people are able to freely practice religion without fear,” Uniting Church president Dr Deidre Palmer told a forum in Sydney last week.

“But privileging statements of religious belief at the expense of other people’s dignity and wellbeing is not something we support. Christians in Australia are not persecuted. In Australia, churches aren’t victims. To cultivate some kind of victim status is disingenuous.”

Professor Beck, who we heard from at the beginning of this blog, says the practical effect of the right to make statements of belief was to establish “the right to be a bigot”.

As Christians we are not victims and we would like to believe that bigotry is not a religious freedom!!


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