Out of difficulties grow miracles



Last night we held another “A Night Off the Streets”. It was a brilliant night – so many good things happened.
We had about 30 people turn up. We had so much lovely food, including apple pies that went down a treat to many variations of, “I haven’t had apple pie since I was a kid.” 
So many people form the church are being so generous – with food and clothes and time. With your help we are making such a difference in some of the lives of the homeless and street people of Melbourne.
Yesterday we had a success story too. On the first week we opened (and for a couple of times afterwards) a homeless lady came for food. She had been living on the streets for a while and was doing it tough. She stopped coming and we didn’t see her for a while though,. She returned again last night and told us that this week week she had been given a place to live. She was so excited and wanted to share her news with us. We are all so happy for her!
We have issues too of course. One of the biggest problems we have is having enough stuff to give out. There is always a need for various things; blankets, socks, undies etc etc. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen the miracles that our sign talks about.
Firstly there was the Sock Run. Shepherd’s Victoria organised this and brought us 2,500 pairs of socks, and blankets etc. Here is a message I got from Dean (the organiser) about one of the donations he received.
On Saturday around 2:30pm, a young man arrived with his mother and sister, I was so upset when I found out as I was away due to nature calling. My wife (Lee) was at the table with Jess and Mick and luckily they took a photo.
His mum pulled up and woke him up, he had been at karate training and was tired. She advised that they had driven in from Lancefield and that he came to be there as he came in to see his mum and was very concerned about the homeless, he had saved his money ($3) and wanted to know how he could help. His mum had seen our page and talked to him about it. This little champion went out and collected 220 pairs of socks and a pair of runners. 
They had left before I got back so I posted his picture on our site and thanked him and his mum for their incredible work and compassion. His mum contacted me yesterday on Facebook and told me his name is James and he is 6 years old. 
Miracle 1
but wait there is more –
Yesterday we took delivery of a car full (and I mean full) of blankets, clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags etc from the Social Justice Group of Goulburn Valley Grammar School.
The attached picture is a copy of the letter they sent.


Miracle 2.
We are so grateful to everyone that helps, for all the miracles (great and small) that happen weekly. 
Thank you all.


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.


BEING AND DREAMING RESTING BEING HUMAN

Life is ‘full’ and we often feel the need to be ‘busy’.
Im not opposed to ‘hard work’, Ive been in ‘the work force ‘since 1974, when I was fourteen.
These photos below were taken on a recent weekend ‘retreat’, the need to retreat and be is part of being human.
Don’t fall for the ‘Christian Work Ethic’ which makes one feel guilty for taking time to be.
Be still and know I am God, is often said but rarely practiced.

MAKE TIME TO TAKE TIME

Take me back, take me way, way, way back
On Hyndford Street
Where you could feel the silence at half past eleven
On long summer nights
As the wireless played Radio Luxembourg
And the voices whispered across Beechie River
In the quietness as we sank into restful slumber in the silence
And carried on dreaming, in God
And walks up Cherry Valley from North Road Bridge, railway line
On sunny summer afternoons
Picking apples from the side of the tracks
That spilled over from the gardens of the houses on Cyprus Avenue
Watching the moth catcher working the floodlights in the evenings
And meeting down by the pylons
Playing round Mrs. Kelly’s lamp
Going out to Holywood on the bus
And walking from the end of the lines to the seaside
Stopping at Fusco’s for ice cream
In the days before rock ‘n’ roll
Hyndford Street, Abetta Parade
Orangefield, St. Donard’s Church
Sunday six-bells, and in between the silence there was conversation
And laughter, and music and singing, and shivers up the back of the neck
And tuning in to Luxembourg late at night
And jazz and blues records during the day
Also Debussy on the third program
Early mornings when contemplation was best
Going up the Castlereagh hills
And the cregagh glens in summer and coming back
To Hyndford Street, feeling wondrous and lit up inside
With a sense of everlasting life
And reading Mr. Jelly Roll and Big Bill Broonzy
And “Really The Blues” by “Mezz” Mezzrow
And “Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac
Over and over again
And voices echoing late at night over Beechie River
And it’s always being now, and it’s always being now
It’s always now
Can you feel the silence?
On Hyndford Street where you could feel the silence
At half past eleven on long summer nights
As the wireless played Radio Luxembourg
And the voices whispered across Beechie River
And in the quietness we sank into restful slumber in silence
And carried on dreaming in God.
Songwriters
VAN MORRISON
Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

 Street Lyrics | MetroLyrics 


Cliffhangers are so…



Cliffhangers are so…

Sunday at 11am in church.


HOMELESSNESS IS UGLY

Working on the streets and being involved in peoples lives is challenging.
I get that, I get that it creates inconvenience, I get that it may  not ‘be a good look’ for the streetscape and I even get its ugly…….HOMELESS IS UGLY, BUT its not those who are homeless which makes it ugly!!

I read a recent article in the online version of one of our newspapers The Age,following is a quote from our Lord Mayor taken from that article.

“We should be supportive of people that are vulnerable, but we shouldn’t romanticise the situation,” he said.
“There are challenging, illegal behaviours that we shouldn’t put up with, whether people are homeless or not.”

As I walk the streets on our city, I witness some of the behaviours of those who are not ‘the homeless’, so why do we make statements about those who are vulnerable and often have no voice??


Perhaps Mayor Doyle if we prioritised some real solutions, and made as much effort to care for vulnerable people as we do for the ‘top end of town’ we might believe you actually care.
Just because you give $$ to some organisations to give bandaid solutions, don’t think you can wash your hands of this issue.

You give them soup, but they want their lives back.





THEY CALL IT DEMOCRACY……..

Back loitering tonight, its cold and wet. I sense despair on the streets tonight………..mean while many of our senior politicians make excuses about their own fate after the election. Leaders spew out hateful words about ‘others’ who are different…. one multi millionaire business man even suggested we needed a ‘dictator’ to sort things out!! I wonder if there are many who give a ‘*flying f*#k’ about those who live in misery.
This poem, while written in a different time,  still reflects,I reckon on our society today. Obsessed with home ownership, status, creating personal wealth and the accumulation of more stuff we don’t need, sadly this includes some of us ‘churchies’ too!!! 
They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown;
For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet
My window-sill is level with the faces in the street —
Drifting past, drifting past,
To the beat of weary feet —
While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,
To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and Care;
I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet
In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street —
Drifting on, drifting on,
To the scrape of restless feet;
I can sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

In hours before the dawning dims the starlight in the sky
The wan and weary faces first begin to trickle by,
Increasing as the moments hurry on with morning feet,
Till like a pallid river flow the faces in the street —
Flowing in, flowing in,
To the beat of hurried feet —
Ah! I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

The human river dwindles when ’tis past the hour of eight,
Its waves go flowing faster in the fear of being late;
But slowly drag the moments, whilst beneath the dust and heat
The city grinds the owners of the faces in the street —
Grinding body, grinding soul,
Yielding scarce enough to eat —
Oh! I sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

And then the only faces till the sun is sinking down
Are those of outside toilers and the idlers of the town,
Save here and there a face that seems a stranger in the street,
Tells of the city’s unemployed upon his weary beat —
Drifting round, drifting round,
To the tread of listless feet —
Ah! My heart aches for the owner of that sad face in the street.

And when the hours on lagging feet have slowly dragged away,
And sickly yellow gaslights rise to mock the going day,
Then flowing past my window like a tide in its retreat,
Again I see the pallid stream of faces in the street —
Ebbing out, ebbing out,
To the drag of tired feet,
While my heart is aching dumbly for the faces in the street.

And now all blurred and smirched with vice the day’s sad pages end,
For while the short `large hours’ toward the longer `small hours’ trend,
With smiles that mock the wearer, and with words that half entreat,
Delilah pleads for custom at the corner of the street —
Sinking down, sinking down,
Battered wreck by tempests beat —
A dreadful, thankless trade is hers, that Woman of the Street.

A ‘mens club’ on one  of  our city streets.
DREAMS is the name, I wonder if dreams are made or shattered here???

But, ah! to dreader things than these our fair young city comes,
For in its heart are growing thick the filthy dens and slums,
Where human forms shall rot away in sties for swine unmeet,
And ghostly faces shall be seen unfit for any street —
Rotting out, rotting out,
For the lack of air and meat —
In dens of vice and horror that are hidden from the street.

I wonder would the apathy of wealthy men endure
Were all their windows level with the faces of the Poor?
Ah! Mammon’s slaves, your knees shall knock, your hearts in terror beat,
When God demands a reason for the sorrows of the street,
The wrong things and the bad things
And the sad things that we meet
In the filthy lane and alley, and the cruel, heartless street. 

Another Winters night out on the city streets 
I left the dreadful corner where the steps are never still,
And sought another window overlooking gorge and hill;
But when the night came dreary with the driving rain and sleet,
They haunted me — the shadows of those faces in the street,
Flitting by, flitting by,
Flitting by with noiseless feet,
And with cheeks but little paler than the real ones in the street.

Once I cried: `Oh, God Almighty! if Thy might doth still endure,
Now show me in a vision for the wrongs of Earth a cure.’
And, lo! with shops all shuttered I beheld a city’s street,
And in the warning distance heard the tramp of many feet,
Coming near, coming near,
To a drum’s dull distant beat,
And soon I saw the army that was marching down the street. 

Then, like a swollen river that has broken bank and wall,
The human flood came pouring with the red flags over all,
And kindled eyes all blazing bright with revolution’s heat,
And flashing swords reflecting rigid faces in the street.
Pouring on, pouring on,
To a drum’s loud threatening beat,
And the war-hymns and the cheering of the people in the street. 
Life is a blur for many in the ‘most liveable city’
Local Council make it hard for people, often moving them on.

And so it must be while the world goes rolling round its course,
The warning pen shall write in vain, the warning voice grow hoarse,
But not until a city feels Red Revolution’s feet
Shall its sad people miss awhile the terrors of the street —
The dreadful everlasting strife
For scarcely clothes and meat
In that pent track of living death — the city’s cruel street. 

??

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.


Here we go again……….

You could be forgiven for thinking that the US was the only place on Earth there was an election going on.

While the quality of candidates both here and there are about on par, you probable won’t get  wealthy business people from the US suggesting we need a dictator to step in, as we have here in Australia!!

At the very basic level you would hope our political leaders would be the voice of the voiceless and not the wealthy!!

Sure perhaps an enquiry into the union movement is needed, so is one into the banking and finance sector, sadly the issues with the bank/ finance sector are not seen as moral issues, only of the safe schools program or marriage equality are deemed to be the only ‘moral’ issues up for debate.

We ought to be providing housing for the homeless, shelter for the asylum seeker and support for those who have issues around their mental health.
Sadly these issues are left to smaller political parties with weird names.

So as we become further disillusioned with our politicians we sail towards a ‘hung parliament’.

If we do have a ‘Hung’ Parliament lets hope its ‘Well Hung”!!!


#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!!