Peace through… um, I’ve lost track…

I THINK I am supposed to be writing about waging peace through hospitality, because we are waging peace through Lent. But I am going to go off script. It’s still waging peace, but it is to speak directly to the here and now. Lent is a time of reflection, so I am going to do just that.

I was pondering what to write today, and there was, I admit it, a temptation to wallow a little.   As in, “this is the Lentiest Lent that I ever Lented” kind of wallow.  But I have an admission to make.  Now that I am no longer feeling two parts confused and one part winging it … I kinda like the slower pace.  It’s quieter, have you noticed?  It’s less smelly.  I see WAY more people walking past my front gate than ever, and people wave from across the street at each other.  I stood on the balcony of a friend, an appropriate two meters apart, and we could see the lights on the OTHER side of the bay.  We could see down to Mornington, and all the way to Queenscliff, and there was almost no traffic on the highway, so we could hear birds, from way up high. 

from A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Don’t get me wrong, it was weird.  Surreal, even, but there is something to be said for one of the casualties of the coronavirus being Busy Backson, hurry up and rush about, overly scheduled, and utterly crammed scheduled at that.  I’m not advocating tossing the entire work-ethic out of the window; because one thing I have also noticed, is that we need PURPOSE.  And I think our houses will be tidy, our yards cleaned up and worked on, and projects that haven’t gotten to being gotten to.  I know OUR house has a list. Playing games as a family has come back, or sitting down to a movie, and taking walks together.

Did you notice that people we more willing to work on physical distancing (while gathering ever closer socially, but using technology), when we were doing it for someone else?  It’s like we need to be forced not to be selfish, and are more than willing to do so, with a little shove. 

Sure, sure, there are plenty of not-nice stories, and goodness, don’t leave the news on 24/7 or it will overwhelm you much sooner than it should, because it IS more than a little overwhelming really.  But there are also things like special hours for healthcare workers at the grocery store, and prioritising the delivery of groceries to those in quarantine or those who simply cannot make it to the stores as well.  We’re going to need to notice those things more and more, in case the stories do get grimmer and grimmer.  But, we’re moving slower now, so perhaps we won’t miss them as life flashes by out the car window. 

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Waging Peace through Community

It seems the headlines of our papers, on-line news and through the airwaves are all fear based then followed up with messages to stay calm

When news of this broke I was in New Zealand, and listened and watched as  our community began to act in FEAR.

I don’t know about you but I was mildly amused by the rush on loo paper 😬, however I was less amused to hear of scuffles at the shops over essential items.

I find it difficult to understand people driving up to 200 Kim’s to find a supermarket in a rural community and stock up on item, with little or no obvious interest in the wellbeing of local residents.

Who recalls he call to BE ALERT NOT ALARMED, message we were repeatedly told during John Howard’s time? We were even sent a information sheet to stick on our fridge along with the terrorist hotline number.

Well here we are again, a new threat, and a time of concern for us all, now is a time, a time not to be fearful, rather sensible and aware.

It does sound a little doom and gloom, but that’s not the whole story.

There are individuals and groups responding in kindness.

Some examples I’m aware of which are rays of light.

My barber Caroline is offering to support those most vulnerable, providing her contact details and going to their homes to cut hair or pick them up and bring them into the shop.

Our daughter in-law Peri started a FB page in the Yarra Valley for people who had home grown produce available to share.

Communities are offering services to support those who may need shopping done, via community pages.

Another example of supporting someone through this confusing time.
A Melbourne Library opened up a shower block and put a chair out for a person living rough.

History is littered with accounts of community living in fear, not so much of viruses, more of the tyranny of war, hatred and bloodshed.

 You don’t have to look very far back to find such events, even in our own history, and there are always stories of individuals and groups who against the tide of anxiousness and fear rose above it to offer a different response.

We are human and we are all concerned about what is going on, let us be those who offer a different response.


So how should we respond, how do we stay calm and carry on.

We claim to be ‘different to the world’, that part of a world view that it’s all about me, rather all about us, so let’s be different, let’s listen to the still small voice of God.

At this point I think the words of the prophets and OT Testament writers offer some words of comfort, while the context may be different, the words are still relevant.

Psalms 46: 10

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,

though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;

though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.

The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord;

see what desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God!

I am exalted among the nations,

I am exalted in the earth.”

The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah

In the words of Jesus:

Peace. I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Friends please take care, however don’t allow fear and anxiousness rule your life.

Shalom

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Waging Peace through Example

Peace begins with a smile! – Albert Einstein.

This Lent we at the Melbourne Welsh Church are waging peace! In the every day we are trying to find ways to bring a little more peace to our own lives and the world around us. Sometimes its easy, sometimes its hard. Sometimes its big things that make a difference and sometimes its the small things. St. David’s (the patron saint of Wales) most famous quote is, “Do the little things.” they are most often the important ones. So what little things can we do to bring peace by example?

Albert Einstein gives us one good suggestion – Peace begins with a smile. Did you know smiling is consider to be contagious? In a world where everyone is super concerned about contagious things it is good to know that smiling does not require the use of hand sanitiser or toilet paper none of which you can get in Australia at the moment anyway. 

There are many, proper scientific studies to back up that ‘Smiling is Contagious’. A study at Pennsylvania State University says, 

Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides, neurotransmitters, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, which decrease stress levels, relax the body, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and serve as an antidepressant/mood lifter.

When a person is smiling, they are viewed as “attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere” (Sarah Stevenson). When a person sees another person smiling, his or her orbitofrontal cortex is activating, which processes sensory rewards. So when a person catches another person smiling, he or she feels rewarded, which is a good feeling.

So by smiling you are spreading a little happiness around and other research has shown, definitively, that happy people are usually peaceful people. 

Research also shows that even if you don’t feel like smiling the very act of doing it puts you in a better mood. It’s a win/win situation. You feel better; the people around you feel better; the world is slightly better. Actually a win/win/win situation. 

So spread a little peace around the place by putting a smile on your face. 

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Upcoming Events

Aug
9
Sun
12:00 pm Coffee Chat after Church on Zoom
Coffee Chat after Church on Zoom
Aug 9 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
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Aug
11
Tue
11:00 am Tuesday Tea Too
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4:00 pm Tuesday Tea on Zoom
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Aug
12
Wed
10:00 am Bible Fellowship
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Aug 12 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
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