Pentecost Party

Did you know it’s Pentecost this weekend? In the Presbyterian tradition it almost seems that Pentecost is the forgotten cousin of the major days. You know the one that lives up in the hills in a small house in the middle of nowhere and only when Christmas and Easter are together having fun at the party does someone say, “Oh where’s Pentecost?” And another cousin says, “We forgot it again!! Oh well, next year.” 

And yet, in terms of actual importance to us, as Christians, it’s arguable the second most important day after Easter. It marks the birth of the Church and, like all the major days, has some amazing miracles and stories surrounding it. Just read Acts chapter 2 to get an idea of what happened. (Press here to read it.)

This year, with working very differently due to the virus, I’ve had time to reflect on the importance of Pentecost and why we are prone to forget it. 

One of the main reasons we forget it, I think, is that it’s boring compared to its brighter, more jazzy cousins. It’s a bit drab and we don’t get anything from it. There are no presents or chocolate eggs, no big feasts or huge parties. Pentecost hasn’t been hijacked by mainstream society and had massive amounts of commercialisation thrown at it. It’s still the poor cousin living in the sticks and only remember by some crazy old Aunts like the Anglicans. And so we have no real reason to remember it. We remember Christmas because we get presents and a few days off; we remember Easter because we get chocolate eggs and a few days off; we forget Pentecost because we don’t get anything special and no days off!! It’s a shame really, a few days off are always good. 

It wasn’t always like that. Pentecost used to live in a really nice house over the road from its cousins, Christmas and Easter. It used to come to all the parties and it even threw a huge one once a year where everyone was invited. I’ve seen pictures of Pentecost events with 1000’s of people at them. 

There used to be a day off for Whitsun but it seems to have been forgotten. There always used to be big parades and churches would walk together around the cities and towns to celebrate their unity and the birth of the Church. We’ve even got a banner here at the Melbourne Welsh Church that the Sunday School used during those parades; but Whitsun became less popular and its parties grew smaller. Eventually only a few people came and so Pentecost moved out to the country and was, like other long lost cousins, forgotten and only remembered by some eccentric people. 

And yet it should be a really important day, it should be up there with it’s better known relations, Christmas and Easter. It marks a hugely important day in the history of the Church – the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church of Christ. 

There should be parties and cakes and songs and dancing and streamers and Holy Ghost shaped balloons – it’s that important, it’s that special. So this Sunday, at church and at coffee chat, we are remembering Pentecost. We WILL have cake and songs, we’ll invite Pentecost down from its little house out there is the back of beyond and we’ll have a church party and remember all the good things about the day. 

So happy Pentecost everyone and happy birthday to the Church throughout the world!!!
Thanks, 
Siôn.

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Quiet Confidence

In recent days there have been books released with titles like Where is God in a pandemic?, and are these the ‘ends times’. It reminds me of a sign I saw in a country town asking ‘when will Jesus return?’ I wonder if it is people who live in western civilisations who ask these questions? There are places in the world where famine, warfare, and hardships part of the every day. It seems to me that the more privileged we are, the more we expect answers when we face difficult times. I wonder if it is because we feel unsettled as our norms are challenged? We experienced panic purchasing when news broke of a pending pandemic. I wonder if those of us who say the follow Jesus buy into that panic, or do we as Siôn’s sermon on Sunday suggested, be still in the quiet confidence that God is there in the middle of this with us and we don’t need to have troubled hearts? As humans we do have questions, we often find these questions come when we are facing difficult times, it in these times we need to reassure each other that God has not abandon us, God has not wound the world up like a giant clock and flung it into the universe and wandered of elsewhere, NO God is here and we are not alone nor abandoned. Those I meet with who live life in isolation, are often aware of the presence of God. We too can share in that. Let’s comfort each other knowing the assurance of the creators love.

PW 17/05/2020

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Lock down Day 1008 Dear Diary,

Last Sunday was Sara’s induction. It was a great service and it’s lovely to have her on board with the Ministry Team. She is already proving to be a huge asset during this crisis, and there is no way we could be doing so much without her. Last week I was asked by a couple of people why we had “to rush” her induction service and not wait until this pandemic is over when we could all join together “as the church” to do this. Before we recorded the service, we thought about why we should and also why we shouldn’t do the service and the Ministry Team decided that we would go ahead with the Induction Service. The thinking behind this was simple – we have tried to keep things going during this crisis as normally as possible. We have kept services going – even adding other services to the calendar (like a Welsh Easter service and evening Vespers which we never normally do). Bible study has kept on (and it’s even grown), we’ve celebrated communion, found ways to sing hymns, started a book club, continued pastoral visits, are sending out the Monday Missive to keep as many people in touch as we can and are even doing coffee after services and during the week. So since we announced Sara’s induction in February (before this lockdown) we decided to keep it on the calendar. It was not a rush decision made at the last minute but a carefully considered idea to try and keep as much normality as we can. The church still meets, the church is still working, we met “as the church” for Sara’s induction, as we have for all the other services. In fact over 500 people met as the church for Sara’s induction and we have had overwhelming positive feedback. The building is closed, 320 Latrobe street is a quiet and cold place at the moment but that is exactly what 320 Latrobe Street is – a building. If this lockdown has shown us anything it has shown us that the Melbourne Welsh Church is a widespread and active community which reaches, literally, round the world. We have regular attenders at our worship services from Wales, Scotland, Germany, The USA, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and of course all over Australia. We think that having the services online is a wonderful thing and we are hoping to continue this, even when we get back to using the church building every Sunday. We are looking into getting the equipment in place before we get back to our buildings so that as many people as possible can share in our worship. Thanks again for listening diary. I had risotto for dinner. It was 16 degrees today with clouds. Ludo’s training went well. Alan started a new job. So nothing interesting really.

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Stone Soup

A colleague of mine in the US wrote a post, which he has consented to share with us. It reminded me of the children’s book, Stone Soup, but with differences. Have a read, then I’ll meander through my mind on this one.

Grief Stew: thanks to Eric Wolf, ELCA pastor in South Carolina, USA

We’re grieving. Just to be clear, it does not have to be death which causes grief. That’s the EASIEST one to recognise but we’re grieving lives not lived, lives on hold, lives re-routed, lives transformed AND lives ended. And that’s bitter sauce.

When I learned how to cook, I was heavily influenced by my mother, who made a lot of chicken (I swore I would not serve chicken)(spoiler, I do serve chicken) and did not ever use salt. Ever. That I know about. My father had high cholesterol, and a low-sodium diet was absolutely necessary to keep him off of medications, so we all got to share that particular lifestyle. But the bitterness of salt in necessary, in portions.

When we left the US, we also left “cooking” as I knew it. Suddenly it was open-air markets (and yes, wet-markets, NOT recommended if you’re pregnant for sheer awfulness of smell alone). I no longer had to prepare meals, I had to plan, find, adapt AND cook. And I had to figure out substitutions. And I had to learn to make things like soft cheeses, grind and spice sausages. Oh, and some of the stuff I made was frankly awful. Seriously. And some of it was amazing.

When we lived in Turkey, as Americans we had access to some of the military commissaries and so we could get pork. EVERY-one wanted to be invited to our house for holidays for standing crown roast of pork (not lamb like here, which was another revelation for me) and a Mediterranean woman told me to ‘put pears in there’. I accidentally did what I usually do, rub the outside of the roast with a LOT of pepper (and some salt, sorry Mom). And peppers and pears was born. It’s really good. Everything we make, bitter or sweet, combinations of new flavours or old ones mixed in new ways, brings something to share to the table. I almost always halve pears, put feta cheese and pomegranate reduction and seeds, some walnuts and pepper in the oven and roast for the last fifteen minutes that any pork roast is in the oven.

We can salvage the stew. What we put in the pot is what we share, and the combinations are complex, confusing, confounding and crazy.

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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
Please reach out to the church e-mail, the Ministers or the Elders, for the meeting information.
Aug
11
Tue
11:00 am Tuesday Tea Too
Tuesday Tea Too
Aug 11 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Stage 3 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
Aug 11 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
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Aug
12
Wed
10:00 am Bible Fellowship
Bible Fellowship
Aug 12 @ 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!