Who am I? Daniel!

WHO AM I?

Daniel was always one of my favourites because of the lions.  Which means I missed a lot of this story when I learned it.

Daniel was interesting LONG before the lions.  This little fact freaked me out a little bit…. ”Islamic literature names the father of Daniel  – Hizqil the Second.  He is also known as Ezekiel when Latinised.”  Daniel is mentioned in the book of Ezekiel, so his DAD might have been writing about him.  Some sources name King David as his father, others say that he never actually existed.

The history of Daniel says that he and a number of other noble Jewish youth were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, and while Islam and Christianity consider him a prophet, Judaism does not, but contends that he was the most distinguished member of the diaspora in Babylon.    But here is a twist I never knew: Daniel is given the Babylonian name Belteshazzar while his companions are given the Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!   I like that story too!

Daniel interprets dreams, specifically the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuchadnezzar does not like what he hears – the four kingdoms will be smashed, and oh, he does not like that at all. And it happens, the Medes and Persians do just that and Daniel is appointed to a high position there too!

Wikipedia gives me two more Daniel stories:

  1. The tale of Susanna tells how Daniel saves the reputation of a young Jewish married woman when two lecherous Jewish elders condemn her to death, supposedly for unchastity, but actually because she resisted their advances. Daniel’s clever cross-examination unmasks their evil and leads to their deaths. The story is unique in that the villains are Jews instead of heathens; it may have been written as a polemic by the Pharisees against the Saducees, who, according to their opponents, were abusing their control of the courts.
  2. Bel and the Dragon consists of two episodes. In the first Daniel exposes the deceptions of the heathen priests, who have been pretending that their idols eat and drink (in fact it is the priests who have been consuming the food set out for the false gods). In the second Daniel destroys a giant serpent that Cyrus believes to be a god; the Babylonians revolt, Cyrus imprisons Daniel without food, the prophet Habakkuk miraculously feeds him, and Cyrus repents.

There’s just so much there beyond the lions. There are beasts, fiery furnaces, madness and feasts, dragons and dreams, so many dreams.  It’s Darius, not Nebuchadnezzar, who brings in the lions. Nebuchadnezzar stuck with the fiery furnace. He is sent there when his enemies trick Darius into passing a law that says not to worship any other god or man for 30 days. Daniel continues to pray to God three times a day. Darius does not WANT to punish Daniel, but is obliged to follow his own law, so he’s HAPPY when Daniel is just there, hanging out with the lions in the morning, and not eaten.  Instead, the lions get a hearty meal of accusers, wives, and children.   And Darius acknowledges the True God. 

And true or false, fact or fiction, that is really who this man is, someone who brings the One God to us, sheltered no matter how far from home we are, cared for, taught and protected. 

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Category : Quiz , Social Media


Crustless Quiche

Ingredients: 250g frozen spinach –thawed 1 small red capsicum – chopped 1 medium onion – chopped 3 full rashers of bacon – chopped 2 cloves garlic – chopped 1½ cups full cream milk or cream ¾ cup plain flour 250g grated tasty cheese 4 large eggs ( or 5 small ) 1 tsp salt

Christine takes us through the creation of an easy crustless quiche, that most folks can make with ingredients in their own home!


Enjoy!


I’m Jealous of Noah

The Saint of Zookeepers

I’m a little jealous of Noah. No, I am a LOT jealous of Noah. 

He and his family were the Irwins of the Bible; one family running a zoo.  On WATER.  In the rain.  There’s so much going on in this story and I, as usual, only see the animals.

I know that this this story is not LITERAL (for a whole slew of reasons, starting with physics and engineering and going on to hydrology and geometry), it is wonderful fodder for fiction.  I remember reading Biblical archaeology books where they find it, alien interference with it, all kinds of fun.  There are all kinds of flood myths, across cultures from China to the edge of Europe.

But that is not why I’m jealous of Noah.

I used to work at a zoo.  It was one of the few times in my life where I woke up EARLY in the morning, happily. One of my most favourite times was that time just after the keepers arrived, the animals had been woken up and moved to their enclosures.  In the zoo I was in, the lions were at the bottom of the hill and would roar their salute to the sun, which is a build up, a crescendo that will make your liver vibrate if you are in line of the sound (take a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS0pZDPZWc8 or here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rf4LGT_GMg ) .  The howler monkeys would pick up the calls (you can hear that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYar0dkZ6v8 ), and and on up the hill.  The last animals, at the top of hill, by the main road was the New Guinea Singing Dog : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwxV1wbBrfU.   It was glorious, and occurred an hour or so before any humans (besides keepers, and truly they’re not entirely human) entered the grounds. 

That wasn’t my most favourite time though.  It moved me to tears of joy to park as far away from the big cats, at the bottom of the hill, and walk through the early morning nautical twilight, particularly in the rain, mist, or fog.  It was so silent, except for the animals who were already out, just beginning to move around.  The absolute one-ness of that moment in time is what I imagine it would have been like for Noah and his family – suspended in the centre of God’s created beings, one of them, with them, all connected. 

Here’s the theological twist. 
We are all Noah and his family. 

All of us.

We are responsible for caring for the creation around us, not just humans. 

We need to care for them with what we plant around us, so the native birds, animals and insects have habitat and food.  We need to support conservation, contain our cats, be their voices because in a world filled with the cacophony of human voices, they have no one to speak for them, no one to scoop them up and take them away to safety.

Support your local animal shelter, make a donation to your local zoo; they’re hurting right now with volunteers and visitors curtailed.  If you do pictures with wildlife, make it from an ethical organisation, that works hard for conservation and habitat both.  And enjoy your neighbours, they’re fascinating.

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A Jesus party!

Rowan Atkinson: (just for fun)

Jesus and twelve of the disciples walk into a bar.

Jesus says to the person behind the bar, thirteen glasses of water please, turns to the disciples and winks.

Did Jesus like a good party and collecting wine?

Or is the story of Jesus first miracle at a wedding of turning water into wine more than about the wine and the marriage feast?

This story is like a mini drama, a marriage was big do in the cultural context, the embarrassment as the host didn’t order enough wine from the local wine merchant Theophilus Murphy, Jesus mother getting involved and the wait staff watching with interest to see how this disaster would play out.

If NetFlix was around at the time of this story it would have made a mini -series of it and imagine the Twitter FB frenzy!!

What was going on? was it as one of my mates says, shows Jesus knew how to party? did it show Jesus understood the customs and culture of the time, maybe, or is there more to this story?

There is one account of this event, there are witnesses to this event, which is interesting because there were stories going around of others turning water into wine.

Some other questions we might ask ourselves.

Was Jesus just a magician?

What’s this calling Mary Woman and not Mum (Mom)?

Was Jesus a party animal?

Was this event a significant shift in history?

Was the incarnation about to get really serious?

I have read several blogs and articles story, some are helpful, some use it as an opportunity to ‘dismantle’ other peoples’ theological thoughts.

Take some time to listen to the piece of music attached called Water into wine by Canadian singer Bruce Cockburn and as you do close you eyes or read the story again. YouTube Bruce Cockburn Water into wine.

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Jonah and the deep

Jonah and the Whale …

…  or big fish, or Kraken, your choice of HUGE underwater beast that can swallow a man whole.  I’ve heard this story described as a fish story, one of those exaggerated catch, “It was a meter if it was an inch!” kind of things.  And it might need, irony, humour and laughter are just as important for our understanding of God as awe and miracles.

I grew up with a little stained-glass blue whale, with a man sitting in his belly, hanging in the back window, no more than 10cm long.  When my parents moved, Jonah went too and hangs in the kitchen window now. He’s always been there, reminding me of … well, whatever it was that I needed reminding of when it came to life, faith, and journeys.  My mother provided the image for Friday’s clue.  She cross-stitched one of her favourite images of Jonah and the whale for my ordination because I tried to run away from God’s call to ministry.  See, I don’t think I am very good at it – I lack patience, and understanding, and will NEVER know as much as some do about the Bible.  She joked that she had to hurry to Nineveh because I ended up finishing seminary two years earlier than anticipated, so she stitched in the car, and every spare second she had to get it done in time. 

Jonah is complicated.  It’s a delightful story in and of itself.  It uses irony and allegory, it has symbolism of birth and death, there’s faith and questioning, miracles and moaning, humour and horror – the open sea, and the deep depths, and what is in it, is a fear I share with the folk of the 5th or 4th century BC.  I am delighted every time I hear Jonah complain to God that OF COURSE God forgave Nineveh, so why did he have to go through all that he went through in the first place?  I hear that is so many different tones, the snarky sarcasm being my favourite.

https://picryl.com/media/jonah-from-bl-yt-14-f-70v-1fedbc

One scholar writes that he “sees Jonah as a thoughtful prophet who comes to religion out of a search for theological truth and is constantly disappointed by those who come to religion to provide mere comfort in the face of adversity inherent to the human condition. “If religion is only a blanket to provide warmth from the cold, harsh realities of life,” David Bashevkin imagines Jonah asking, “did concerns of theological truth and creed even matter?”[i] The lesson taught by the episode of the tree at the end of the book is that comfort is a deep human need that religion provides, but this need not obscure the role of God.

And so for me, Jonah is a companion.  God is always present, haranguing me, harassing me, humouring me.  I do occasionally miss the presence of God, overlooking it or getting so wrapped up in myself that I simply forget to look up, but it doesn’t matter.  Like that little stained-glass in the window, God simple IS present, for all of us, a constant.


[i] Bashevkin, Dovid. “Jonah and the Varieties of Religious Motivation.” Archived 2016-10-12 at the Wayback Machine Lehrhaus. 9 October 2016. 2 October 2017.

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Godsmacked

To be Godsmacked is to be left speechless by the Almighty. Like its secular sibling, ‘gobsmacked’, Godsmacked implies an unexpected event. In the book of Acts in the bible Paul is Godsmacked on the road to Damascus; Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration could justifiably be called Godsmacked, that of course is not to mention how Joseph, Mary and the shepherds felt at various points in the Christmas story.

The action of being Godsmacked is not limited to the New Testament there are many examples in the Old Testament as well; Goliath – literally Godsmacked, Nebuchadnezzar on seeing Shadrack and his friends in the fiery furnace – Godsmacked, talking donkeys, heavenly ladders, large floods and burning bushes – all Godsmacking.

These are just a few of the many examples of scriptural Godsmacking. There are of course many other stories of people being Godsmacked – some dramatically like Martin Luther, others are Godsmacked more slowly like C.S. Lewis. However it happens being Godsmacked is not something you can ignore nor can you miss it.

Most Christians I have talked to have had a Godsmacking experience, for some it is a one off, never forgotten event for others God smacks them time and time again. There is no right and wrong when it comes to being Godsmacked – as there are millions of, as Larry Norman termed us, ‘Jesus freaks’ so there are millions of ways of being Godsmacked…

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fanpop.com%2Fclubs%2Fgodsmack%2Fimages%2F19204673%2Ftitle%2Fsmack-art-fanart&psig=AOvVaw2QvPYylu9v-JXacMoeZTlE&ust=1594519005674000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCJjJqreMxOoCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD

Winds and waves.  

My first recollection of being truly Godsmacked was sitting, in my college room  in Aberystwyth, gazing out of the window one dark and stormy night in November many years ago, but before we stare out of that window here’s a brief history of how I got there.

I am one of those Christians who cannot put a definite time on my conversion – having been taken to church at the tender age of 6 months (it would have been earlier but I was incubated for about 5 months, I hope it didn’t involve a large hen sitting on me but it might have done, I don’t really remember and in all the photos I’m obscured by feathers ). I cannot remember a time when God was not a normal part of my life. Understanding grew as I got older, I asked questions and made decisions about God and Jesus and miracles and church etc and my faith grew. I cannot say there was a definite moment of conversion, over time my prayers became more fervent and my conviction that I needed Jesus far more than he needed me became more acute. I moved from a church going child to a church going youth and then to a calling myself a Christian for I found  that I was following Jesus and was getting to know him as I read and prayed more and more.

Before you get the idea that the author was and is a boring God botherer it should be noted that on this slide towards Christ there were many high points – parties, lots of drinks, fast driving, accidents, loud bands, late nights and early mornings, fights, long hair, friends, mistakes, more parties, more drinks, road trips, weekend concerts, leather jackets, dinner jackets, flack jackets and lots of fun. The wonderful thing is most of them still happen, it just now Jesus comes with me. I’m not sure if the Son of God enjoys heavy metal concerts but he’s been to a few and I’ve never heard him complain (it is true I can’t hear much for days after a concert but I figure Jesus made the blind see so if he didn’t want to go AC/DC again I’m sure I’d get the message).

So after many adventures, a brush or two with very nice policemen, taking some orders from some very scary men in uniforms  and a bit of traveling I ended up being accepted into the hallowed halls of academia or at least the bleach smelling halls of The United Theological College, Aberystwyth. I was there to study theology, but in reality I played lots of sport, drank loads of whiskey and did just enough work to scrape through my degree.

And so you find me at my desk one night in November, starring out of the window, trying to write an easy on the use of duct tape in Sunday School or some such interesting topic. Looking for distractions from this engaging topic proved easy – my window faced west, over Cardigan Bay and the ever changing vista of the sea was a constant draw for my duct tape weary eyes. This night was special however.

Many times I had sat in that self same seat and watched as storms came in over the sea. The lightning was always spectacular as was the effect the wind had on the waves but that  night was different. It was differenter from any other night I had witnessed there – I was about to be well and truly, completely and utterly Godsmacked.

Looking out I could see the storm building in the north and driving huge clouds ahead of it over the hill. It was black and bleak and brilliant. I always looked the other way (south) towards the harbour to see if all the boats were safely moored and as I did I saw the reflection of the storm in the window. That couldn’t be right, it wasn’t the reflection it was another storm been driven up from the south on a collision course with its northern brother.

In awe, and I use those words as they are truly meant, I watched as the winds grew stronger and the waves grew higher, as the lightning lit up the sky and the thunder deafened the town. But the best was yet to come, all the lights of Aberystwyth went out in a sudden flash and then night became day as the two storms met in the middle of the bay and literally tore each other apart.

The sight was unlike anything I have ever seen, and I watch the Discovery Channel A LOT. I could see everything from horizon to horizon. The lightning wasn’t coming in flashes but was a constant burn in the night sky. The noise was horrendous as peel after peel of thunder echoed again and again and again. The rain lashed, the winds howled, the sea vented its fury against the land. Rocks were hurled 100s of feet into the air and flew just as far inland, windows were smashed, cars wrecked and some were even dragged by the fingers of the waves back into the watery depths to be driven by Davy Jones on the way to his locker. I learned later that no one had been seriously hurt but the damage bill ran into the 100’s of thousands of pounds.

It was In the middle of this natural pyrotechnical display that I was Godsmacked – it came over me like one of the claps of thunder and lit up my mind like one of the flashes of lightning, a couple of  verses of scripture, I didn’t (and still don’t remember the reference, without looking it up) but I clearly heard the voice of my old Sunday School teacher saying, “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”” (It’s actually Luke 8 v 24 & 25, but I had to look that up.)

Watching those storms hit the Bay and seeing the power they unleashed and then remembering that even the winds and the waves obey him, Godsmacked me. I was utterly speechless before the power of nature and the even more awesome power of God. I had found, or maybe re-found, the faith the disciples were rebuked for not having. If he can control all that fury he is worthy of the title THE ALMIGHTY, no arguments from me!


Good Samaritan

I’m not sure what annoys me most about this story.

Is it then way the term Good Samaritan is used in good news stories, to describe when someone helps someone out? or the fact we still debate who is my neighbour? you get the drift.

Many words like neighbour and hospitality mean different thinks to people from different cultures.

We have narrowed them to mean, the people next door, or people like us, or having friends over for a BBQ and a drink.

I was reminded of this last year when door knocking with VVCE after a incident in the suburbs where murder had taken place in a park.

We were following up people in the street to ensure they were able to access any support they might need.

The person I was working with knocked on one door, the occupants were from the Middle East, we were invited in as strangers, given water and offered food.

Offering hospitality and concept of neighbour to ‘other’ is understood by many cultures quite differently to how we see it as Westerners (although we are learning).

Context means everything and to understand this story.

There has been many conversations about why the people who didn’t stop didn’t stop, some reasons have been suggested however there appears to be no such discussion in the biblical account of the story.

The point seems to be that people didn’t stop because the main character was from an ethnic group who were not liked, in-fact they were hated.

Please note the difference of not loving is not hate, it is indifference, and Samaritans were hated.

People did not just walk past, they stopped weighed up the options and made a decision to keep walking.

Does the story raise questions for you and your understanding of neighbour and hospitality? It does for me.

Illustration Taken from the Complete Works of Henry Lawson

Australian Poet henry Lawson wrote several poems using biblical stories here is one.

He comes from out the ages dim—

The good Samaritan;

I somehow never pictured him

A fat and jolly man;

But one who’d little joy to glean,

And little coin to give—

A sad-faced man, and lank and lean,

Who found it hard to live.

His eyes were haggard in the drought,

His hair was iron-grey—

His dusty gown was patched, no doubt,

Where we patch pants to-day.

His faded turban, too, was torn—

But darned and folded neat,

And leagues of desert sand had worn

The sandals on his feet.

He’s been a fool, perhaps, and would

Have prospered had he tried,

But he was one who never could

Pass by the other side.

An honest man whom men called soft,

While laughing in their sleeves—

No doubt in business ways he oft

Had fallen amongst thieves.

And, I suppose, by track and tent,

And other ancient ways,

He drank, and fought, and loved, and went

The pace in his young days.

And he had known the bitter year

When love and friendship fail—

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear

That he had been in jail.

A silent man, whose passions slept,

Who had no friends or foes—

A quiet man, who always kept

His hopes and sorrows close.

A man who very seldom smiled,

And one who could not weep

Be it for death of wife or child

Or sorrow still more deep.

But sometimes when a man would rave

Of wrong, as sinners do,

He’d say to cheer and make him brave

‘I’ve had my troubles too.’

(They might be twittered by the birds,

And breathed high Heaven through,

There’s beauty in those world-old words:

‘I’ve had my sorrows too.’)

And if he was a married man,

As many are that roam,

I guess that good Samaritan

Was rather glum at home,

Impatient when a child would fret,

And strict at times and grim—

A man whose kinsmen never yet

Appreciated him.

Howbeit—in a study brown—

He had for all we know,

His own thoughts as he journeyed down

The road to Jericho,

And pondered, as we puzzle yet,

On tragedies of life—

And maybe he was deep in debt

And parted from his wife.

(And so ‘by chance there came that way,’

It reads not like romance—

The truest friends on earth to-day,

They mostly come by chance.)

He saw a stranger left by thieves

Sore hurt and like to die—

He also saw (my heart believes)

The others pass him by.

(Perhaps that good Samaritan

Knew Levite well, and priest)

He lifted up the wounded man

And sat him on his beast,

And took him on towards the inn—

All Christ-like unawares—

Still pondering, perhaps, on sin

And virtue—and his cares.

He bore him in and fixed him right

(Helped by the local drunk),

And wined and oiled him well all night,

And thought beside his bunk.

And on the morrow ere he went

He left a quid and spoke

Unto the host in terms which meant—

‘Look after that poor bloke.’

He must have known them at the inn,

They must have known him too—

Perhaps on that same track he’d seen

Some other sick mate through;

For ‘Whatsoe’er thou spendest more’

(The parable is plain)

‘I will repay,’ he told the host,

‘When I return again.’

He seemed to be a good sort, too,

The boss of that old pub—

(As even now there are a few

At shanties in the scru .

The good Samaritan jogged on

Through Canaan’s dust and heat,

And pondered over various schemes

And ways to make ends meet.

He was no Christian, understand,

For Christ had not been born—

He journeyed later through the land

To hold the priests to scorn;

And tell the world of ‘certain men’

Like that Samaritan,

And preach the simple creed again—

Man’s duty! Man to man!

‘Once on a time there lived a man,’

But he has lived alway,

And that gaunt, good Samaritan

Is with us here to-day;

He passes through the city streets

Unnoticed and unknown,

He helps the sinner that he meets—

His sorrows are his own.

He shares his tucker on the track

When things are at their worst

(And often shouts in bars outback

For souls that are athirst).

To-day I see him staggering down

The blazing water-course,

And making for the distant town

With a sick man on his horse.

He’ll live while nations find their graves

And mortals suffer pain—

When colour rules and whites are slaves

And savages again.

And, after all is past and done,

He’ll rise up, the Last Man,

From tending to the last but one—

The good Samaritan.

Henry Lawson


Library books

One of the things that I rattle on about, besides living in right relationship, is diversity and adaptation.  This sounds very scientific and academic, but it applies across the board.  See, I am not a literalist when it comes to … literally anything!   And so when it comes to reading the Bible, I’ve been taught to look at it in a diverse number of ways, and be open to other ways that I am not used to, or are new to me.

A close up of a piece of paper  Description automatically generated

This has come up in our Bible Study recently, because we’re reading Esther.  And Esther is … well, religious fiction.  A fairy tale.  As we were reading it carefully, we realized that there were cartoonishly large sterotypes, and over-the-top descriptions, and more than one stranger-than-fiction coincidence.  It is gorgeously structured, as a piece of literature, and was probably told as a story to children before the celebration of Purim before it was written down.  And this idea that Jesus sat at the feet of his mother or father or uncle or aunt to hear this story of beginnings, literally sat and listened, came home to me during this  Bible fellowship.  But when we look at the Bible as a library of many different kinds of literature, we realize that we don’t read everything in the same way.  We read letters differently than we read poetry, and we read that differently than we read science fiction/fantasy, and we adapt our filters whether we realize we are doing it or not.  However, all of these different kinds of reading, inform our understanding of (wait for it) living in right relationship with God, ourselves, and others. 

Saw that coming, didn’t you?


Sourdough, COVID and Romans (oh my!)

The COVID-19 era has people doing things we once did as part of everyday life.

Staying home more, going out less, preparing food at home and who can explain the sour-dough phenomenon?? It even has me hooked!!

It all started when a cousin who is also a wine maker offered to send me some of her starter, which she has been using for seven years. She in turn got it from her Nona.

Those of you who know about sour dough, will know that it based on wild yeast, meaning the starter is a mix of only flour and water. Much like COVID-19 there is much going on silently in the starter, which just does its thing, while we attempt to ‘get back to normal’!!

Every few days a measured amount of flour and water are added to the starter. It then sits on the kitchen bench or in the fridge, where it develops and grows, silently, slowly and gently. When you’re ready to make a loaf, you measure a percentage of the starter out, and add carefully weighed amounts of flour, salt and water, making a dough. The dough is then rested for a period of time. After this the dough is turned over in 30-minute intervals until the dough develops. This process can take hours, depending on the room temperature., the dough is then turned out onto a floured surface and stretched, if in this process it breaks, it needs more resting.

Once it is stretchable, you can then shape it into what ever shape you like.

Mine goes into a cast iron pot.

The dough is then rested overnight, in the fridge or on the kitchen bench.

The next morning it is prepared to bake, but there is still a careful process to follow.

The oven and cooking vessel are heated to 235 degrees, once both vessel and oven have reached the desired temperature, the carefully shaped dough is placed in the pre-heated dish, small incisions are careful scored into the top of the dough, allowing the natural occurring gasses to escape. The first 30-minute cooking time is undertaken with the lid on the pot and is removed allowing the top to develop its golden crust. It is at this stage when the aromas of freshly baked bread fill the house, and entices you just rip a piece out and lather it with butter, BUT to do so is not wise.

You need to rest the bread, before turning it out onto a cooling rack and have a fabulous product ready to enjoy with lashings of butter, honey or vegemite, a bowl of soup or some cheese.

Peter, I hear you say, that’s a lot of work for a loaf of bread, there must be an easier way. Well, not with sour dough, which is much the same way we deal with COVID-19.

What do you mean it’s like how we deal with COVID-19??!!!

Well think about this….

There are no short-cuts, try that with sour dough as I did, and it’s an epic failure!!

Sour dough teaches patience, and being measured.

Did you know bakers weigh all ingredients,? yes, they do, including liquid, its more accurate!

A friend of mine who was a baker made his own wedding cake. Each piece of fruit was sorted and cut in half!! No messy chopping; no each individual cut in half, the results were stunning!! Process and taking care and time is important, but I digress!!, back to COVID-19.

As we may become a little impatient, and want to get back together to sing, chat share food and celebrate our Christian journey, we might think, let’s just take a short cut or two!!

I have a new found respect for sour dough, while it doesn’t ‘frighten’ me, as COVID-19 may ‘frighten’ us, we should respect the virus, and ensure we are measured in our approach, and so that when we are able to gather the experience will be all the ‘sweeter’.

Together let’s share and hear each -others concerns. Like me, who listens to experienced sour dough bread makers, learn patience. Let us listen to those who are helping us put processes into place, as we plan a way back to meeting together, in a way that ensures a good outcome for us all.

A reading from Romans:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.


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.