This too shall pass

“This too shall pass” is a phrase with a long history. Abraham Lincoln sums that history up well in a speech he gave in 1859 – Lincoln said;

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

For some people this has been a great week. A new grandchild; a new job; a long deserved holiday; it could be a thousand different reasons.

For some people this has been an awful week. A relationship breakdown; bad news at work; an unwanted sickness; again a thousand different reasons.

Our sign this week can be read and understood by both of the above groups, it should teach us to enjoy the good times for the do not last forever and also have hope in the bad times because they, too, do not go on indefinitely.

There is a verse in Paul’s letter to the Romans which reminds me of “this too shall pass” – Paul writes “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” To me it reminds me to be in the moment with people, if they allow you to share in their lives then sit with them, be with them, show up and live the moment with them. Reading my Gospels I find that this is what Jesus did. He shared with people where they were, in what ever circumstances he found them, with a grieving centurion or a joyful healed woman. 

Over the past few weeks we have been opening the church hall on a Sunday evening to serve food and offer shelter to anyone who wants it. Those who have helped out have had the privilege to sit and eat with many people – the happy ones (like the chap who learned he had just been granted housing), the unhappy ones, the addicted ones, the lonely ones, the ones who just want to listen. We have also been heard and helped by those who have joined us, this community stuff is not just a one way street – we (the volunteers) get as much out of it as those who join us week by week.

Last night I arrived at church to find the place buzzing – people everywhere, eating, talking, joking, one even crying. There was rejoicing and weeping going on and Jesus was there sharing in all of it. I cannot thank the Melbourne Welsh Church, and the elders in particular, for allowing us the opportunity to minister like this every Sunday evening.

So wherever you are in life; with whatever is happening remember that this too shall pass – enjoy the good moments, have hope in the bad for, as in all things, this too shall pass.


Cliffhangers are so…



Cliffhangers are so…

Sunday at 11am in church.


Be good to people..for no reason

Be good to people…. for no reason.
Those of you who know me will know I’ve got a minor shoulder injury. I’ve been having physio for it and a couple of weeks ago I went to a physiotherapist in South Melbourne. I parked my car, put my coins in the meter and went in to be stretched and moved in very painful ways.
As with all these things the physio was running late, took longer than the appointed time and then it took me a while to pay. All in all my half an hour appointment took me nearly 50 minutes. I’d paid for about 35 of parking (all the change I had).
Walking back to my car I could see a couple of the other cars parked near mined parking tickets on it. Mine too had a little slip of paper flapping under the wiper.
Dismayed I went over and pulled it out. But imagine my joy when I found that it wasn’t a parking ticket, it was a note that said – 
“I saw the parking attendant coming round and so I fed your parking meter for you.
Someone did it for me, all I ask is that you do a random act of kindness in return.
Yours,
A Helpful Stranger.”
Whoever this stranger was I want to thank them and if they ever read this please know that I will do as you ask. 
And now I’ll remind you to do the same – do a random act of kindness to someone. It could be to feed their parking meter, pay for their coffee, give up your seat on a tram. Any one of a thousand little things. Do it! It makes the world a better place. A little brighter for you and a lot brighter for the recipient. Trust me, I know, I’ve been the recipient. 
So be good to people…for no reason.
It’s the essence of that Bible verse that says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
or as the Message Bible puts it (verses 31-34)
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the loveable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.”
Yes, we’ve all hear stories of these random acts of kindness of cafe bills being paid or pathways cleared of snow (not an issue we have here) etc – well don’t just listen to the stories – be one. GO and be good to people…for no reason at all other than it’s what Jesus has told us to do! 

Make the world a little brighter for someone!

Blah, blah, balh

Blah, blah, blah,
Just come to church
Oh we’ve put up many signs in the past few years. Some have been funny (at least to me), some have been thought provoking, some have had a lot of responses, some have had none at all.
This week – well, pretty self explanatory. Enough talking – come and listen to what we have to say.
Everyone is welcome. 

Now I know that every church says that but when you go you find that everyone doesn’t mean you or people like you. Lots of churches have hidden agendas about who is welcome  and who isn’t (some of them aren’t too hidden either). Some will question your sexuality, others will wonder about your bank balance, skin colour, racial background, do you have a place to live? These and other things are all ways that you can be excluded from various churches.
One of the tenants we at the Melbourne Welsh Church feel is at the heart of the Gospel is the idea that “all means all.”
We cannot decide who we let into the church of God – it is not our call – it’s God’s call; it’s his church after all. We are custodians and, if we understand the Gospel, it is very clear that all means all. The church is open to everyone – not just the ones we want to welcome in but everyone; absolutely everyone.
We will not get on with them all; we will not like them all; we should love them all. 
So blah, blah, blah, just come to church – everyone is welcome; after all – ALL MEANS ALL! and that includes YOU and ME.


#TogetherStronger

You may think that this week’s sign is a bit strange – and you might be right. If you look on Twitter the hashtag #TogetherStonger is the hashtag for the Welsh Soccer team. As of today they are in the semi finals of the Euro 2016 soccer championship. This is unheard of and (being honest) quite unexpected.

So we at the Melbourne Welsh Church wish to show our support for the Welsh Team as they play Portugal on Thursday morning our time. C’mon Wales!

But thinking about it – #TogetherStronger is a great idea. If we’re honest (and by that I mean Welsh Soccer fans) we don’t have that many world class, top name players. (One of our strikers doesn’t even have a contract for next season yet!) Apart form Gareth Bale we don’t have any world beating superstars. In fact mention the names of the Welsh team to most soccer fans and they’ll know a few of them and have heard of some of them but we don’t have a team of over paid stars like, say, the English soccer team. Most of the English players are household names in football – well known and well paid players who play for big teams and expect success. By comparison the Welsh boys were just pleased to get to the Euros at all – it’s our first major championship for about 50 years.

To get to the semifinals is a huge achievement for Welsh football. It shows that a star team can beat a team of stars and that we are greater than the sum of our parts; that we are #TogetherStronger. To Chris Coleman (the manager) and all the staff and players we can only say well done, keep it up, you’ve made your nation proud!!!!

If I was asked to go and talk to the Welsh team before the game I would give them this advice from
Joshua – it fits the hashtag #TogetherStronger (and it can apply to all of us as we face the various problems in our lives).

Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.”

So Strength, courage, don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged – we are #TogetherStronger be that with teammates on the pitch or with God in life!!


What’s morally wrong shouldn’t be made politically right.

Just a short blog today.

This week we have our general election.

I’m not going to insult your intelligence with the whole WWJD stuff. You’re an adult, you can make your own decisions and you can also work out for yourself how your faith affects your vote and it’s not my place to tell you how to vote or who to vote for but I will ask you to do one thing before you cast your vote on Saturday –

THINK!

Not just of yourself and how each party will affect you but of others and of our country and then to do what you think is in the best interest of all.


Look at things differently

Look at things differently….
Why do so many Christians forget where this church thing all started? Why do we forget where we come from and who started all this?
It all started with a Jewish man who bucked all the social trends of his time. This man broke all conventions. You think I’m making this stuff up – Look at these examples
In a time when women where considered worthless (or even property in some cases) this man, Jesus, spent time with women; even Samaritan women, who Jewish people considered the lowest of the low.
Then there was the sinners – oh there were loads of them. The ‘establishment’ wanted nothing to do with them; Jesus spent the majority of his time with them. There was a man called Zac – he was a tax man for the invasion army. He was, to say the least, hated and yet Jesus had dinner with him – spent time with the worst of the worse.
The list goes on – lepers; prostitutes; the demon processed; the sick; collaborators with the authorities etc etc etc.
So with the example we have why do so many churches and so many Christians forget where we come from? Why do they (we) forget that Jesus walked and talked with ‘all the wrong people’ of his time? 
So here’s the thing – we need to talk with and walk with ‘all the wrong people’ of our time. 
Now I’m not sure who they are where you are but here, at the Melbourne Welsh Church in Melbourne, Australia, all the wrong people might look homeless, or like refugees, or maybe gay, or different from us, or maybe the same as us – hey, maybe we’re all the wrong people; maybe I’m all the wrong people and this Jesus guy wants to talk to me.
Now there’s a terrible thought….

You’re a muppet!

You’re special – You are reading this sign instead of looking at your phone – Thanks.
The number of accidents involving pedestrians in Australia’s cities has gone up quite significantly over the past 15 years and research has been conducted into why. One of the main reasons, the study concluded, is that many people are too busy looking at their phones and not at where they are going and just step out into traffic and get hit and injured. I’m sure most of us have had to move so that the oblivious phone staring muppets don’t walk into us. Maybe (like me) you have even been an oblivious phone staring muppet yourself. 
If so then this blog is for you, if not then it’s for you anyway because we’ve all been guilty of muppetry of some form or other.
Today we are updating that famous bit from Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 7 –
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Q. How do you know if there is a vegan, an atheist or a politician in the room? 
A. They’ll tell you!
An old joke that makes a good point……
The world is full of people who think they know the answers to everything. They churn out their ideas if you want to hear them or not. We’re in the midst of a run up to an election and we’re hearing a lot of this stuff. America, apparently, is having an election too (who knew?). So we are being inundated with these people who have the answers to everything and really want to tell us all about the stuff we really don’t need to know about. Let’s be fair though (even to politicians) they are not the only ones afflicted by this problem. We all know people like this (being totally honest, on some subjects I am one of these people – if I ever am around you just tell me to stop will you?).
Most of the time it’s harmless; most of the time it’s just people wanting to share (too much) information. Sometimes, though, it can be dangerous, very dangerous.
Take the people who claim to know exactly who God hates. There are many of them and I seem to find it quite funny that God seems to hate exactly the same people as they do! 
There are those that claim that (and I kid you not on any of these) that women who don’t cover their heads in church will be punished by God; left handed ? – watch out you’re stuffed!; not as white as Jesus was (which gets me every time – as he was MIDDLE EASTERN) well if you’re not as white as the historically accurate (?????) paintings we have made of Jesus you are not welcome here; in a relationship with someone who has the same chromosomes as you, please don’t come here, neither we nor the God we’ve made up, want you, and the list goes on; there are churches that will exclude you if you don’t earn a certain amount of money every year because if you aren’t hitting the target then your faith in God isn’t strong enough and, therefore, God hasn’t blessed you enough. So unless you’re in a Porsche or above please stay away from church.
THIS STUFF IS REAL – you can’t make it up – let’s talk about planks in eyes shall we????!!!!!
Now before you all write in the comments section that I’m just as bad as all the rest and how do I know that my view of God is the right one? etc etc etc – I agree. All this stuff is my opinion. The plank in my eye is HUGE and I need all the help God can give me to get it out but I am not going to use my version of God to condemn people who don’t agree with me. 
I make fun of those who condemn others for not believing what they do – and I could, and probably should, place myself among them. What I say is my opinion of what I think the Scriptures say – the whole love your neighbour thing, the whole Jesus eating with the publicans and sinners stuff, the whole I come to serve not be served attitude, that judge lest ye be not judged bit. That’s where I’m coming from.
So yes. I’mm sure I have a plank in my eye but what I’m saying is so do a lot of other people and they should look for the plank first before they go searching for sawdust specks – look at the sign and not your phone.
As I have said before on this blog and I’m sure I’ll say again – I am bold to paraphrase the words of the great Aretha Franklin – THINK! 
Think about these things – thing if I’m right or wrong – think if there is another answer – read your Bible and see what you think it says – challenge me – challenge them – challenge everything.
I don’t think God wants mindless clones who have a list of people they hate (and therefore God does too). I think that God wants people who search for truths and when they find them hold on to them and share what they have learned with others –  not force their version of the truth on others but who show it by living it; being it; showing it in all they do. 
So stop staring at your phone, remember you have a plank in your eye – every bit as big as everyone else. 
You’re a muppet- but a muppet who can change the world around you by being the truth you have learnt. So do it! Be the change you want to see.

P.S. You can’t be Animal – he’s my muppet!

My U2 GPS is broken…

It took me where the streets have no name and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
My friend Graeme Dodds has a blog called Rock Goes the Gospel in which he talks of the Gospel message in rock songs. (Go to http://revgraeme.blogspot.com.au)
Graeme has more than his fair share of U2 songs on that blog – he has looked at both these songs.
U2 are not a ‘Christian’ band although Bono and the boys do claim to have faith. They are not overt about their beliefs but they are very open about their stand on social justice issues, bigotry and their stand for what is right. Both these songs touch on those issues.
In their song ‘Where the Streets have no name’ Graeme sees a correlation with one of the beatitudes – 
This U2 track is essentially about persecution, it’s about racial divides, it’s about the ghettos and does not just reflect Belfast during the 1980’s but across the world. It’s a global issue. People who are persecuted for the colour of their skin or where they are born, persecuted for their nationality, or their religion. Persecution runs deep. It’s this that Jesus is touching in this the eighth beatitude “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus is giving hope to those who were enduring life at the hands of the oppression of the Roman state and the religious institution of Judaism.
My U2 GPS has taken me where the streets have no name – these could be the streets of Melbourne. Over the past few months the ministry team of the Melbourne Welsh Church has increasingly been coming across people for whom the streets are not nice places to be; homelessness, persecution, feeling cut off from family or friends to name but a few of the situations we’ve come across. These nameless streets can be lonely places especially when you cannot find what you are looking for (whatever that is).
The Church is supposed to be a place of help for these lost people – in another of his blogs (this one on ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’) Rev. Dodds examines the idea that many have doubts in the value, not just of Jesus, but of organised religion.
You could not be blamed if you have second thoughts about organised religion or that you have doubts about faith. It is not wrong to question, It’s not wrong to doubt. On the contrary it would be very suspicious to many if they met someone who seemed to have it all sewn up. You know the kind, that perfect person that does not have any problems, no issues, no worries, no questions, no brokenness and answers to the name of perfect Peter. I’m not sure that they person really exists. I have encountered many people who have said they have no issues, but scratch the surface and there they are.
(Read the full blog here – http://revgraeme.blogspot.com.au/p/15.html)
The roadmap of life is not easy and wherever we get our guidance from, whatever GPS we use, there are some things that are universally right – the stand against injustice; working against prejudice; the value of all people – to name just a few.
If we wander where the streets have no name and spend time with those who still haven’t found what they are looking for we must be prepared to be the church and take the values of Jesus with us – those values that Jesus showed to those of his time that walked those same streets – let us take with us love, forgiveness and grace to name just a few. If we show people those gifts then maybe hey will be a step closer to finding what they are looking for.


on the turning away

Hey you, hey you, yes you…I wanna talk to you, this is what I heard as I loitered intentionally recently on the streets of Melbourne.

‘It was a bloke who I knew from a community in  another suburb.

I had not see him for a while, and to be honest the last encounter had been a little strange.
Strange, because this man spotted me riding my motorcycle, jumped in his car and started to follow me!!
This man, has a history of severe mental health issues.

This chance encounter was a bit different, although I did have an uneasy feeling, and I made a snap decision to keep it short.

After a brief conversation we went our separate ways.

I was reflecting on that encounter recently while listening to some Pink Floyd on vinyl.

I considered the words from the song, on the turning away.


On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won’t understand
“Don’t accept that what’s happening
Is just a case of others’ suffering
Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
The turning away” 
It’s a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it’s shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud 
On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerised as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night 
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It’s not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there’ll be
No more turning away?

I am aware that not all those I encounter are my ‘responsibility’, however on this occasion i wonder if a meal or coffee together may have been appropriate? I may never know, I can only hope that we meet again, or I hear that still small voice and respond.




Leunig







Upcoming Events

Dec
6
Sun
11:00 am Advent 2: An American Advent
Advent 2: An American Advent
Dec 6 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Our services can be found by going to the Media page on our website, following the Watch Video button on Facebook, clicking the link on the Facebook thread with our pre-service chat, or going directly
12:00 pm Coffee Chat
Coffee Chat
Dec 6 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
After our services, we gather on Zoom for chat. Please feel free to contact the office, an Elder or a minister for the information to join us.  Our Zoom Room information is also found on
Dec
8
Tue
12:00 pm Member Picnic – North (Coburg)
Member Picnic – North (Coburg)
Dec 8 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Time to be determined.  We will meet our members in the north for a picnic lunch!
Dec
9
Wed
9:00 am Drop-in with Bubba
Drop-in with Bubba
Dec 9 @ 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Our Zoom Room is open for one-on-one chat with a minister.  Feel free to call the office, an Elder or a minister for the info.  If someone is in the room when you come on,
11:00 am Bible Fellowship Break-up
Bible Fellowship Break-up
Dec 9 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Our Bible Fellowship will be breaking up for the holiday season.  We will celebrate our year together by gathering, currently thinking Sassafras, for a light lunch.
Dec
10
Thu
2:00 pm Cooking Chat
Cooking Chat
Dec 10 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
We gather on Zoom for cooking chat. Please feel free to contact the office, an Elder or a minister for the information to join us.  Our Zoom Room information is also found on the back
Dec
11
Fri
10:00 am Drop-in with Sara
Drop-in with Sara
Dec 11 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Our Zoom Room is open for one-on-one chat with a minister.  Feel free to call the office, an Elder or a minister for the info.  If someone is in the room when you come on,