National Anthems ARE NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED

I often wondered why we don’t sing the other verses to out NA.I am happy to be a citizen in Australia, sadly our history is littered with hurt and mistakes.One would have thought we might have learnt from them, but it appears not.



A verse from our ‘anthem’ with additions in brackets by me….Beneath our radiant Southern CrossWe’ll toil with hearts and hands;To make this Commonwealth of oursRenowned of all the lands;( for being a pack of bastards)For those who’ve come across the seas ( to stop the boats and send them back)We’ve boundless plains to share;(not really but it sounds good)With courage let us all combine(courage to do the right thing is lacking)To Advance Australia Fair.(actually Dutton cannot read so me missed this point)In joyful strains then let us sing,Advance Australia Fair. ( then stick our heads back up our bottoms)










Australia: What are we doing???

Australia: Where the Government will try and put a sick baby on a plane but won’t do the same for a sick Cardinal.

This blog is inspired by a twitter post I read over the week end.

I’d like to continue the re-working of Bible verse this week with a look at Matthew 25 40 & 45

40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me.’
and
45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

What would Jesus say to the idea of the government (working for the people of this country) sending a sick baby, who was born here by the way, to a detention camp? I think he would say something like, “Just as you did it to baby Asha, you did it to me.”

I don’t care what your politics are, which side of the line you sit, if you can tell me it’s right to send a sick baby to a detention camp I don’t think we’re going to agree on our views of Jesus (among other things).

For once this isn’t about Cardinal Pell or the Roman Catholic church.* This is about doing what is right – is it right for the government to try and deport a sick baby and yet not ask a sick Cardinal to come back and answer questions that he has to answer? Is it right that, in our name, the government are denying human rights to one group of people and yet defending (or at least not infringing them) in others? Are we seeing a double standard here? Foreigners are less important than Australians living overseas? Somehow Cardinals are worth more than Refugees?

Jesus never made that distinction. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me.” 

I, for one, do not wish to stand before God with the deportation of baby Asha (or any of the asylum seekers) on the list of things I have done wrong – that list is long enough without adding to it. 

Australia – we are better than this! Far better. We live in the lucky country not the cruel country. Let’s tell those who have the power to make decisions that some things are just plain wrong and shouldn’t be done – not in our name.

just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me!

* I have been accused of being anti-catholic and that is not true. Let me make it very clear here that I am not anti-catholic. I am anti-cover up; I don’t agree (and that’s putting it mildly) with the way some of the leaders of the Roman Catholic church seem to have covered up the systematic abuse of children in their care. If that is the case then they should have to answer for any crimes (and covering it up is every bit as bad as actually doing it in my book). I think that Cardinal Pell has a duty to answer, in person, the questions from the Royal Commission. I am not making any statement about his guilt or innocence, I don’t know anything about that – under law he is innocent until proven guilty but I think he should front up and not have the relative safety of a video link to hide behind.

If it would encourage him I point him again to Matthew 25 v. 40 and, in light of him not testifying yet, verse 45.

But like I say – this isn’t about him. He will face the Royal Commission and also a far higher judge soon enough.


Whatever you do give 100% unless it’s giving blood


Today we continue the re-vamped Bible verses – how about Matthew 5:41?

 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

Or in modern speak – 

Whatever you do give 100% unless it’s giving blood.

The original verse is about the practise of impressment, when a Roman Soldier could command a civilian to carry their pack a mile for them. Jesus was saying that you should even help those with whom you don’t agree. Not just help them but do more than you’re expected to. 
Society doesn’t do this anymore, at least it’s not common practise anymore. Here, in Australia, on the whole, we seem to have a “that’ll do” attitude.
The job isn’t quite finished but that’ll do
I went to church three weeks ago, that’ll do
I helped a little bit, that’ll do
I saw someone else give that homeless woman 50c, that’ll do
Climate change? I turn some lights off sometimes, that’ll do
Insert need here – Other people help, that’ll do
People – it isn’t good enough. I don’t care if you share my faith, have a different one or don’t have one at all – in a world with so much suffering as ours “that’ll do” is never good enough. Basic humanity demands that everyone has just that, basic humanity. When did it become normal for someone to work over 40 hours a week and still not be able to care for their family? When did we so shut our eyes to the needs of others that it became okay for some children to go to school hungry because their parents can’t afford food for them?
I met a guy the other day at a food van who has a choice – either he or his two kids eat. He can’t afford both. And before you shout that “he should get a job” he has TWO and still can’t afford to pay rent, bills, etc and get food. 
And this is becoming more and more common. Western ‘civilisation’ globally is now finding it has a new emerging class – the working poor. People who do work hard and who still can’t afford to live. People who struggle everyday to try and make ends meet only to find the gap between the ends is getting bigger and bigger. 
If ‘that’ll do’ then I pity you. If you can read and understand that concept, if you agree it’s happening and your heart doesn’t say that you should do something about it then your faith and mine are very different. Our views of social justice will not agree and our understanding of who Jesus is and what he wants us to do is markedly at odds.
The faith I follow demands I walk with those in need – not to make me feel better but to make their lives easier. Jesus told his followers to do that for the invading army. Carry the burdens of the Roman soldiers – not just carry them but to carry them twice as far as you need to. Go the extra mile.
It’s not just Christians that have this idea; most (if not all) of the faiths of the world do; Muslims do, Jews do, Buddhists do – we do not have a monopoly on compassion and caring, but we are commanded to do it. 

When life is fair for all, when everyone, regardless of their faith, or colour, or background can feed their family and have basic human rights then that’ll do – until then go the extra mile; until then give 100% in everything, well, unless it’s giving blood.
(And yes, that is a Joel Osteen quote – I don’t agree with all he says, I’m sure he doesn’t agree with all I say but we agree on the following Jesus bit and that’s a start.)

BE KIND

In a world where you can be anything; be kind.

Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A25-37) to answer the question – who is my neighbour? 
2000 years later things haven’t changed that much. There are still people who ‘fall into the hands of robbers’. The robbers have different names now they are ‘dealers’ or ‘pimps’ or ‘bikers’ or ‘fundamentalists’ or any other group that takes advantage of people – some would put ‘politicians’ and ‘media barons’ on that list too.
People are still left by the roadside, bruised and beaten, by so many different experiences in life and there they lie as the world passes them by. It’s not just priests and Levites that walk past on the other side, almost the whole of humanity does. We see the needs of others and we turn the page or change the channel; we lift our phone to our ears and pretend to be on a call instead of talking to them or we put our head down and walk faster so they don’t talk to us; we don’t offer a smile, a kind word or a bit of change where it’s needed. 
We all do it at one time or another. We are all guilty of ignoring the needs of others. We wrap ourselves in in cosy excuses to make ourselves feel better – I’m too busy; someone else will do it; I gave last week/year/millennium; it’s their own fault; they shouldn’t be here and so on (insert your favourite excuse here…….).
The spirit of the Priest and Levite is alive today and is stronger than ever; in fact it is becoming ingrained in our society – it’s being drilled into us from childhood, spoon fed to us by some of our politicians, drip fed to us through some of the media, incessantly we are told to look after number one, that ‘we’ are important, that we have no responsibility for ‘them’; that as long as we’re okay then all is right with the world. Our leaders tell us “Let ‘us’ deal with the problems ‘you’ should just go on with your little lives” and we hear some variation of this in almost every news bulletin or news paper story.
But still the bodies pile up at the locked doors of our nation’s compassionate heart; still we ignore them as we walk past or over them to carry on with our ‘comfortable’ lives. We Priest and Levite our way through the week, hoping someone else will deal with all the shit around us. The trouble is no one does and the piles keep getting higher and higher.
Our society needs some Samaritans, our society needs a Samaritan. That someone who does the little bit to help the need around them. They do not change the world, their aim is not to fix everything, they have no intention of instilling chaos into the order of society. They are not communists or troublemakers or fundamentalists – they are humanitarians that see the need and do the little they can. It won’t cost them everything they have, it won’t even make them miss their important meeting or coffee date but it will make them more human and (if they have one) closer to their God. This Samaritan can be anyone – they might wear biker colours or a suit, they might have tattoos and facial piercings, they may wear a hijab or a turban, they may have a cross around their neck, they may not even be able to afford shoes, they may look like someone else or they may look just like you. There are hidden samaritans around, if only we could see more of them, be more of them.
We are told from infancy that we live in a lucky country and that we can be anything we want. Yes you can be prime minister or an astronaut or a doctor or a vet or a zoo keeper or a gardner or a chef or an author or whatever we want. So THIS is what Jesus was saying in that parable…. 

   In a world where you can be anything, be kind. 


An arm around my shoulder and a hand over my mouth

We all do it and some of us are far better at it than others. Some do it completely by accident, others are master’s of it and enjoy the feeling it gives; and we have all been on the receiving end of it and it’s rarely pleasant.

It’s that time when you sit and look at the speaker or you think in your head as the words come out, “Keep your mouth shut.”

It’s a real gift to be able to keep your mouth shut when you want to say something and its a gift that very few people seem to have anymore – and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have it in the kind of amounts I want or need.

Politicians certainly don’t seem to possess it – a quick google search comes up with some corkers –

I give you Australia’s Minister for Women’s Issues at the time he said this (oh and prime minister too) Mr. Tony Abbott –

“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up,”

Now for those who are worried about the impending war with the underwater animals, worry no more – President George W. Bush has reassured us that he

“ know(s) that the human beings and fish can coexist peacefully…”

PHEW!!

Then of course there is the (now ex-) governor of California Mr Schwarzenegger who set us all straight, no matter what we think of the subject – 

“I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” 

But of course it’s not just politicians – Princes have a good track record, one in particular, ladies and gentlemen may I present to you a few pearls from Prince Phillip – 

During a recession he mused: “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed.”

“You look like you’re ready for bed!”
To the President of Nigeria, dressed in traditional robes.

To the Aircraft Research Association: “If you travel as much as we do, you appreciate the improvements in aircraft design of less noise and more comfort – provided you don’t travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.”

To the General Dental Council: “Dontopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, which I’ve practised for many years.”


I’m sure there are many others from many different people – me included!


Over the next few blogs (unless something else comes up) I’m going to try and give some old Bible quotes an update. Take Psalm 141v 3 “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord…” I believe what David is saying here is Lord I pray the you keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth. Amen.

So the point is, and I’m writing this for me and letting you all read it (aren’t I nice?), remember the old Chinese internet meme that goes – “You have two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk.”

COMPASSION

Compassion is the church’s job.
And the government’s job.
And your job.
And my job.

So Christmas is over and the silliness that is new year has passed. We are nearly 2 weeks into 2016 so we’ve all broken any resolutions we made and all the residual niceness from the holidays has gone.

Road rage has started again – I hadn’t seen any for about a month, everyone was polite and letting people merge in and waving and stuff but not today. On my 13km drive this morning I saw 4 incidents – 2 bird fingers, one raised fist and one lean out of the window and hurl abuse. None of it was aimed at me I hasten to add! But the Christmas spirit has well and truly gone.

Which is sad. I saw this on Facebook last week and this morning’s drive made me think of it again –

The work of Christmas never ends, in essence the Christmas spirit should always be with us – not the party hats and silly jokes nor the plates of food and the mountains of sweets but the idea that, as Dickens puts it, there is a time when we think of other people as fellow-travellers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

This idea, lets call it compassion, is not a job we can do alone, its a job that we all need to do and each little bit has an effect in the world around us. It makes it a slightly better place – and if enough of us do that all those slightlys become a lot of difference and suddenly the world where we are is brighter.

It doesn’t have to be big things. Most of us don’t have the power to bring world peace or stop hunger but we do have the power to love a little more and share a bit of what we have with the people we see. 

The government (in fact most of the world’s governments of whatever stripe or leaning) aren’t really doing their job when it comes to compassion. In Australia billions has been cut from both foreign and national aid budgets, I know the same is true in the U.K. 

People who rely on government aid can’t get it anymore. A recent survey should that over a third of Australian pensioners are living below the poverty line. So this isn’t just about those ‘homeless drug users’ as one person said to me last week.

So it’s down to us – the yous and the mes of the world. Compassion is so desperately needed in our world, my prayer this week is that we will all do a little more good around us and brighten up our little corner just a bit. After all it’s what Jesus would do!!


BE

For the past few weeks Bubba has been posting his blog on the sentence “Be still and know that I am God.” Every week he has been taking a word or two off –

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
Be still

Today we end with BE.

There are so many things to be

Be yourself;

Be positive;

Be different;

Be consistent;

Be original;

I’m sure you can add more to that list.

Sometimes though, it’s just good to be. That’s it, just be. Sit and think and be. We don’t do enough of that. We are so caught up with meetings and deadlines and what’s on next that we forget to be.

So this week take a little time to sit and to

Be still and know that I am God
to Be still and know that I am
to Be still and know

but also to just be.

(Couldn’t resist this!!!)


Billy Goats, Bow-ties, Monuments and Brains,

It has been said you can put a bow-tie on a billy goat but you can’t put a brain in a monument??!!

I have been asked what that means, my response, what do you understand it to mean??

 I meet people who maybe considered by some to be ‘derelict’, ‘lazy’, “hopeless’ and …., well you get the drift, but,  have a grasp on life many who search for hidden and deep meaning in sayings don’t.

Sitting with ‘M’ after a memorial service for a mate, he looked at me and said “life is a mystery”.

We get so busy searching for reasons for this and that, trying to understand why people do and think the way they do, that we sometimes forget, we are mere mortals and that there are some things we will never comprehend.

So remember what my mate “M’ said, life is a mystery, now get on with life!!!!

You can’t tell me there is no mystery
Mystery
Mystery
You can’t tell me there is no mystery
It’s everywhere I turn
Moon over junk yard where the snow lies bright
Snow lies bright
Snow lies bright
Moon over junk yard where the snow lies bright
Can set my heart to burn
Stood before the shaman, I saw star-strewn space
Star-strewn space
Star-strewn space
Stood before the shaman, I saw star strewn space
Behind the eye holes in his face
Infinity always gives me vertigo
Vertigo
Vertigo
Infinity always gives me vertigo
And fills me up with grace
I was built on a Friday and you can’t fix me
You can’t fix me
You can’t fix me

I was built on a Friday and you can’t fix me
Even so I’ve done okay
So grab that last bottle full of gasoline
Gasoline
Gasoline

Grab that last bottle full of gasoline
Light a toast to yesterday
And don’t tell me there is no mystery
Mystery
Mystery
And don’t tell me there is no mystery
It overflows my cup
This feast of beauty can intoxicate
Intoxicate
Intoxicate
This feast of beauty can intoxicate
Just like the finest wine
So all you stumblers who believe love rules
Believe love rules
Believe love rules
Come all you stumblers who believe love rules
Stand up and let it shine
Stand up and let it shine

Songwriters
COCKBURN, BRUCE



Minority – the term applied to the majority of the world’s population

Minority – the term applied to the majority of the world’s people.

I can’t remember who said this to me, but I instantly liked the thoughts behind it. Think about it.

We are all very good at marginalising people. We started doing it in school – the playground games, those who were allowed to play and those who weren’t. The excuses why were many and varied but the reason was usually that they didn’t fit in.

We continue the establish trend into adulthood and by then it’s ingrained into us – that idea of us & them, with us being right and them wrong.

Through school, Uni, work and our social lives we develop this pattern. The divisions become wider and more numerous. And, like in school, they are usually just as ridiculous.

Different clothes, different tastes in music, different political ideas, the list goes on and on and the only people who can break its cycle is us, ourselves. Only we can make a difference and change the minorities into the accepted.

Those of you who come to the Melbourne Welsh Church think how you would feel if you went to a Mosque or Synagogue for a service. You would have no clue what to do – you certainly wouldn’t fit in, you’d need someone to show you the ropes.

We are all in the minority when we look at things in different ways.

I have a friend called Columbus. Columbus is a very tall gentleman from Ghana. He is also (in his own words), “Very, very black”. I went with him to one of his family parties once. I was the only non-Ghanaian there, one white face in a gathering of over 100 people. I could have felt very uncomfortable but I was made to feel part of the group, included in the festivities, although very much in the minority I was accepted, I still look back at that day as a wonderful time.

If we look at the New Testament at the life of Jesus and the work of the early Church we see minorities valued, cherished and loved.

A young, unmarried woman from a little backwater town.

A group of smelly fishermen.

A band of followers in which women were number and counted.

Meals with prostitutes & sinners.

Work with outcasts, even tax collectors.

Healing of lepers and the family of Romans!

Talks with Samaritans.

The very first gentile convert to this new way was an Ethiopian Eunuch – can’t get much more marginalised than that. No one would want him around – except God to whom he had great worth.

It seems that in God’s eyes there are no minorities; no us and them – just us, all of us, children of God, brothers and sisters on the same journey.

As we approach Easter when we remember that Christ died and rose again for ALL – let us try and view the world with the eyes of God and see, not that which divides us, but that which makes us all the same.


The voice of a faith is not always the voice of its leaders

It continually astounds me how people can live their faith despite what the leaders of that faith say it should be.
Take Ali – a young lady who is one of the most Christian people I have ever met. She is a good Catholic girl, follows her faith, lives it out in all she does, serves others and works hard in her parish, her priest thinks she is one of the greatest assets to the community. All sounds great except the leaders of her church would disown her because she is gay. 
Eric works hard for the church. He is the caretaker. Almost everyday he goes in and scrubs and polishes, buffs and shines. He picks up the rubbish left by the congregations that meet during the week, he cleans the toilets and even makes sure that the gardens look tidy. Expect Eric can’t attend the church, the preacher has said it’s for whites only and Eric has a little too much colour – he’s black. 
Take a look at this picture 
– this is one of hundreds that you can find online. It’s an image of Muslim men protecting their Christian brothers as they hold their service. What’s wrong with this image…? Well the main thing wrong (or right) with it is that if these men listened to many of their Imams they would be burning the church not protecting it.
Zac was a thief. He hid it well under the guise of his job but he always took a little off the side. Despite this the Man had come to dinner at his place. Despite what the leaders said (He eats with that kind) the Man still came. Zac changed, the high ups didn’t; they still whined and moaned about what’s wrong, but Zac had changed. He came to realise that people usually do change when they meet the Man, but what does that say about the high ups??

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,