Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ordination Reflection

Last Sunday, on the 29th November 2009, our Parish Deacon was Ordained Priest. It was a wonderful occasion and I shared this message.

The Ordination of Delfina Trail – 29th November 2009
The sermon – the Reverend Canon Cameron Venables

We gather in this Cathedral as part of the Anglican Diocese of Rockhampton. This Diocese covers a huge area for if you drive West for fourteen hours you’ll come to a place called Boulia, and you’ll still be in this Diocese. At our Diocesan Synod this year we were told that we cover a land area twice the size of New Zealand – ‘though we have less sheep and more cattle! However, though we are big in geographical area – we are small in population, and our communities are scattered.

Because we are small in number we do not often have Ordinations – indeed this is only the fourth Ordination in six years. Consequently, it would have been tempting for Bishop Godfrey to take the retreat, and preach for Delfina’s Ordination. It is a blessing for us to have a spiritual leader who shares the good things as well as the difficult things, and I thank him for his generousity in giving me the opportunity to do these things.

We have gathered this night from places near and far. It is wonderful to see some of Delfina’s family and friends who have travelled from North Queensland Diocese – particularly the communities of Home Hill and Townsville. I see friends who have travelled from Brisbane Diocese, and from different parts of this Central Queensland Region. More than this, I see friends from different parts of the world. It is so good to see friends from the growing Congolese community in Rockhampton that Delfina has come to know in the last three months. It is good to see friends from Botswana, Zimbabwe, and the Sudan – for they are a visible reminder that we belong to the world-wide Body of Christ.

It is good to see friends from different Christian denominations here tonight: from the Roman Catholic church, the Baptist church, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, some Pentecostal Churches and the Anglican Church.

It is good to see people of different generations here: from those who are only a few years old to those who have retired… and those who are much older than that.

Clearly there is something significant taking place tonight, and it is worth celebrating. A woman called Delfina is being Ordained a Priest. It is fantastic… what does it mean?

To help explore this question we have some story and direction from the wisdom writing of our faith.

In the Gospel of Luke we are told that Jesus, recognizing the need for help, called some people who were already busy doing something else. The ones that we heard about tonight were fishermen, and we particularly remember Andrew….

In preparing for this night I’ve read some interesting stuff about the fisherman called Andrew, who became Saint Andrew. I’ve read about his travels, the legends that have grown up around him, and even stories of his bones being moved from place to place! Because we are remembering someone who lived two thousand years ago it is hard to get a clear picture, but I offer some highlights. Andrew apparently travelled from his homeland to preach and encourage Christian communities in the countries we now know as the Ukraine, Russia, Rumania, and Turkey. He is therefore a very significant saint in the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches…

Saint Andrew’s much later association with Scotland and the Celtic Church did not develop until after the Council of Whitby in the seventh century, and it becomes a bit blurred in the church politics of that time. Consequently, my mother who comes from Scotland, may need counseling when I share this news with her! Andrew remains the patron Saint of those who fish, those who sell fish, those who make rope, those who sing and those who perform.

Delfina has responded to Christ and I would suggest that her primary vocation is the same vocation for all who are baptized, including all of us. Her primary vocation, our primary vocation, is to follow Christ, and in the following become Christ-like. That is not to say we are to grow long hair and wear sandals – it is rather to say that we are live in relationship with God as he did. We are to recognize those who are excluded in the world and respond to them, and we are to live and love with generousity and creativity – as he did.

Delfina is already a Deacon, and in midst of this service will become a Priest, so it’s worth thinking about the difference between these two vocations and their roles in the life of the church. There has been much literature written about this and it appears there is no single understanding about either role. Broadly speaking the Deacons role is often understood as a serving role which forms an interface between the worshipping community and the wider community. Bishop Godfrey has sometimes referred to this as a boundary rider role. In comparison a Priest is theoretically to spend most of their time gathering the church community while equipping them to share faith with the wider community.

I think in reality the roles are not so clearly defined. Hopefully all Priests never forget that they were first called to be Deacon, and that a serving / relating with the wider community role is still part of their ministry to a greater or lesser extent. But there is something that Priests are authorized to do which Deacons are not allowed to do. A Priest can preside at the Eucharist, which is also known as Holy Communion.

In this action the Priest is able to affirm to the gathered people that God meets us in the ordinary and extraordinary things of bread and wine… in the ordinary and extraordinary crucibles of human relationships… in the ordinary and extraordinary struggles for justice and peace… That God is somehow present in the ordinary and extraordinary gift of each breath, each life, and each day.

So, what do we look for in a priest, long for in a priest, and hope to find in the life and ministry of a Priest. An American Bishop who came to stay in Rockhampton a few years ago gave a profound insight to these questions. He suggested that ministry gifts and abilities are fine and have their place: pastoral gifts; administrative ability; the ability to teach and preach effectively; the ability to create worship experiences that give people a sense of God, and hope, and community; an inclination to advocate for social justice… and so the list goes on. in worship, social justice advocacy…
All these things he said were important and desirable, but, after twenty five years as a Diocesan Bishop the most important thing he looked for was a willingness and inclination to love the people and place they were sent to serve. However inadequately, however incompletely, a willingness and inclination to love the people and place they were sent to serve.

Don’t be surprised if this sounds familiar for it is not completely original! We find this same theme in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. The christian community in Corinth was a rich and complex community who were divided in an argument about which spiritual gift was most important. Paul cut to the heart of things when he wrote ‘you can have the most extraordinary gifts, but if you don’t have love they are worth nothing.’

It also resonates in the response accorded to Jesus in the Gospels which were written several decades after Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church. In those Gospel encounters when Jesus was asked to identify the most important of the 613 religious rules of Judaism, he replied – ‘love God; love your neighbour; love yourself. With your heart, your mind, your soul, and strength; indeed with everything that you are: love God, love your neighbour and love yourself.’

As a priest Delfina is called to love in a very public way. Delfina already lives out her vocation to love as a wife, as a mother, and a grandmother… but as a priest her family is now bigger. The church community will look to her for love... and will look for encouragement in their journeys of living and loving.

We think Delfina is up for it, and is gifted and called by God to this new chapter of ministry – that is why we are here tonight. We give thanks to God for her willingness to say ‘Yes’ – and we pray for her…

But as we give thanks for Delfina’s willingness to say ‘Yes’, can I invite us all to reflect upon our own vocations – the different ways that we are each responding to God’s love and God’s call. Are you at peace doing what you are doing, or do you have some sense that God is calling you to do something new?

Let us pray…

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Gift from Thomas

Jesus teaches us (please note the present tense), in the wisdom writing of our Christian tradition that we are to love God with our heart, with our mind, with our soul, and with our strength. I think it is a deeply reassuring direction for all of us whose world view is informed by the insights of science, and the experience of technology. Our love of God is not simply based on feelings although feelings have a part to play in our love of God and each other. We are also called to love God with our minds and our ability to reason. So I thank God for Thomas when he said, ‘I won’t believe unless I see. I won’t believe until I touch the scars and know that what you others are saying is real!’

Our minds enable us to question, and learn, and make sense of things; our minds give us the ability to be creative and communicate…

I would like to invite all who read this little column to consider some faith related questions because ‘though I thank God for Thomas I think there are some things we cannot see and would struggle to measure…

Can we see love… or do we only see what love leads people to do? Does that make love any less real?

In a world that faces seemingly overwhelming challenges what role does hope have in keeping people going? We cannot measure it or grasp it, and yet hope seems to have the power to keep people going, and transform them.

The Hebrew word ‘Shalom’, and the Arabic word ‘Salaam’, are each words of blessing which we translate into the English word ‘Peace.’ What does peace taste like? How do we work for peace and experience it as individuals and as a community?

The questions are not entirely random because love, hope and peace seem to be recurring themes in the faith journey that Jesus calls us to.

Reflecting on Resurrection

The week before Easter is always an intensive time of story telling for the Christians that belong to mainline denominations.

We remembered a triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the crowds full of hope and expectation. We remembered the controversial clearing of the temple which left the crowds confused and the Jewish authorities determined to end a man’s life. We remembered this Jewish man sharing with some close friends in a festival meal. We remembered him washing their feet and reinterpreting the familiar symbols of bread and wine. We remembered how this man was betrayed and deserted by his friends. We remembered how he was tortured and killed.

We remembered the sense of loss, and fear that the friends of this man had and were quiet in that remembering.

Then into the darkness came light, a candle was lit and we began to sing songs of joy. We remembered a woman going to a tomb and finding it empty. We remembered her weeping and somehow the Jesus she had known became present to her, transformed into the Christ figure no longer limited by the boundaries of time and space.

In a literal and metaphorical way there is so much hope present in this story. Somehow in the mystery and grace of God, death need not be the end. In the mystery and grace of God, new life and new beginnings become possible. In the mystery and grace of God, no matter how great the injustice or overwhelming the darkness, the light of justice can shine. This is good news for a world all too familiar with bad news.

So, let us each live knowing that life is a gift; that new life is possible; and that unselfish love is the only thing that makes sense.

An Easter Prayer:

Holy and loving God, we thank you for the hope of resurrection in the daily nitty gritty of our earthly life. In the midst of disappointments, fears, hurts, sicknesses, and difficulties in sharing relationship, we ask for the grace to recognise and find new life. Then in the mystery of whatever happens after we die, we ask that you take care of us, in the same way that you took care of Jesus, our Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Arms and Zimbabwe

Each week through Lent we have an inward focus grounded in Psalm 139 verse 14 which affirms that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. To help us reflect on this statement we have a life size skeleton in the church for Lent and each week we have been thinking about the bones found in a particular part of the body. This week we remember and give thanks for the bones of, and related to, our arms: clavicle, scapula, humerus, radius, ulna, carpals, meta carpals and phalanges.

Our outward focus this week is the African country we know as Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's total population is 12 million. According to the World Health Organisation, the life expectancy for men is 37 years and the life expectancy for women is 34 years of age, the lowest in the world in 2006. The HIV infection rate in Zimbabwe was estimated to be 20.1% for people aged 15–49 in 2006.

Shona, Ndebele and English are the principal languages of Zimbabwe, English being the official language. Less than 2.5%, mainly the white and mixed race minorities, consider English their native language. The rest of the population speak Shona (76%) and Ndebele (18%).

The economic meltdown and repressive political measures in Zimbabwe have led to a flood of refugees into neighbouring countries. An estimated 3.4 million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the population, had fled abroad by mid 2007. Some 3 million of these have gone to South Africa.

Please pray for the people of Zimbabwe.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Feedback to 'those commandments!'

I have received some wonderfully creative responses to the challange of reframing the commandments so I thought I'd share some of them having received permission from the authors:

Mary wrote:
1. The Lord God is one, all embracing, all religions, all peoples, the Cosmos. He is everything that is and isn’t, therefore mystery. All we know and don’t know, therefore mystery.

2. Be creative and imaginative; write, sculpt, draw, paint, sing, compose, play an instrument, dance with joy.

3. Remember thought is matter and matter is energy. Be positive rather than negative.

4. Remember to keep every day, however spent, holy; that is, complete and worthy of the highest ideals.

5. Honour your father, mother, family and nation, all people and all species, the planet and the cosmos.

6. Seek peace. Love the unlovable as well as the lovable.

7. Sex is a gift and a necessity. Use it with love and wisdom.

8. Share what you have, be generous.

9. Be honest in all your dealings and relationships.

10. Show gratitude and be thankful.

Pam wrote:
1. Remember and acknowledge the mystery that is God within everyone and everything you know and don’t know.

2. Remember that God is beyond containment and beyond any image you have.

3. Remember to bestow your blessing on everyone and everything in your environment and to speak with kindness.

4. Remember your body is wonderfully made and treat it with respect.

5. Remember with thankfulness your parents who gave you life and reward them by being the best you are capable of.

6. Remember your responsibility to enrich and endow the lives of others.

7. Remember to honour the intimacies of marriage and family.

8. Remember the abundance of the earth and the rights of all to share in its plenty.

9. Remember to speak and act always with integrity and truthfulness.

10. Remember that greed diminishes and insults the goodness and generosity of God.

Patty wrote:
ONE: 'You shall have no other gods before Me.' Do remember that God is my best friend, always to ask for help, and to say thanks to when I find something, or just want to appreciate a beautiful day.

TWO: 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.' Do remember that God is complex so there isn’t any point in trying to copy him, he’s just awesome, do try to remember that He also made me, and apparently I too am awesome(I can’t make anything in my body without him, and he made me in his image, right?)

THREE: 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.' Do have a bit of respect for Him. Mouth wise =Zip it. *My hardest challenge!

FOUR: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.' Do make the time once a week to relax and reflect, and if it’s church, then be sure to take something of value spiritually away with you, and leave a little something too.

FIVE: 'Honor your father and your mother.' Do love your parents, too easy, but also understand that as parents; they unwittingly gave me my greatest gift, of life, and they are human. Appreciate them every day, living or not.

SIX: 'You shall not murder.' Do help others, and share what you can with them, in every way. Help enrich their life, and not take away things that might disempower them. Do encourage, not criticise, do not kill ideas, or hope, or courage. Do enable people to step beyond themselves, and help them grow as a person, and they might just do the same to you. :)

SEVEN: 'You shall not commit adultery.' Do be faithful, in a loyal and loving way, both mentally and physically.

EIGHT: 'You shall not steal.' Do have original ideas, and be prepared to do the hard work yourself, and not take someone’s else’s anything: thoughts, stories, plot lines, concepts.

NINE: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.' Do tell the truth, at all times. Be honest, especially with yourself, you’ll sleep better.

TEN: 'You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.' Do celebrate and share your own possessions, and life, your home and family, and friends. There’s little point in living an envious life, it just makes you sick.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reframing Those Commandments

The first reading last Sunday morning came from the Hebrew wisdom writing known as Exodus. I think it is a very important piece of writing for it describes God giving to Moses, on the top of a mountain, the Ten Commandments. These are the ten rules for community life that the Jewish people understood God had given them at some stage in ancient history. Even though we are not Jews these commandments have still played a significant part in shaping the legal systems of the Western World, and the understanding of the Christian Church about what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, there is no doubt in my mind that we have to take these Ten Commandments seriously, and the invitation in Lent is for us to say them as part of our community worship each Sunday.

You may be thinking if they are that important why don’t we say them each Sunday of the year? You’ll notice on other Sundays of the year we say the Great Commandments that Jesus identified when he was challenged by a lawyer described in Mark 12:28-34, Matthew 22:34-40, and Luke 10:25-28. At the time of Jesus the Ten Commandments had been developed into 613 laws that the Jewish religious professionals debated and made judgements about. We need to remember that Jesus lived in a world without TV or radio, without CD players and mobile phones, a world that may seem incomprehensible to some of our teenagers. In that time people talked to each other face to face and discussed and debated how to please God in the different circumstances of life. The ‘hot potato’ hypothetical at the time of Jesus between the two leading schools of Pharisees, one led by Ben Hillel, and the other Ben Shimai, was that if you saw a Samaritan drowning and you let them drown… would God judge you for it? One school said, ‘Yes!’ and the other said, ‘No!’

So when the lawyer asked Jesus which of all the Jewish rules was the most important, people would have been very interested in the response. Astonishingly, Jesus didn’t refer to any of the Ten Commandments he said – and I paraphrase, ‘Really there’s only one, and maybe another that flows on from that!’ He said, ‘Love God – with everything that you are, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.’

As I have reflected and taught about this over the years I’ve reframed the statement of Jesus into three phrases because I find so many people do not love themselves. From my work with young people and adults I would suggest that there is a chronic lack of self-esteem, a lack of self-worth, in our society. I think the reasons for this are many and complex and possibly the focus for a different sermon. But the three phrases that come from this teaching of Jesus are active and positive – Do love God! Do love others! and Do love yourself!

I think the gift that Jesus offers in transforming the Commandments, those being the rules from an honourous list of negative Do Nots’ to a threesome of positive Dos… is immense. Anyone who has worked with teenage boys would understand this!

Maybe it is a Western cultural phenomena where we encourage individualism and affirm the right of individuals to live the way they want to. Maybe it’s just a normal part of adolescent development where a young person may want all the rights without the responsibility. Whatever it is... when you tell some people they should not do something, that thing can becomes more attractive to them. The challenge for them is to somehow do that thing without being found out… or do that thing legally through some loophole in the law. I think people can often play games with the ‘Do Nots’ of legal systems.

An example that comes to my mind is the law that says ‘Do not steal’ – that seems pretty clear. But what do we call it when a company called Pacific Brands increases the pay of their CEO by 170% in the midst of a global economic crisis? Her pay last year was increased from $686,000 per year, to $1,860,000 per year. This was done at a time when the company was deciding to make 1,800 workers in Australia redundant. Last year, the thirteen Directors of Pacific Brands did not technically break the law as they more than doubled their own salaries and almost tripled the salary of their CEO. Technically they honoured the letter of the law which says ‘Do not steal’, but I would argue they have flagrantly ignored the spirit of the law which is ‘Don’t take from another person what belongs to them.’

I would suggest that the greed of these Corporate leaders has stolen from a significant number of people in Australia the opportunity to work. The opportunity to pay off their houses, educate their children, and pursue their leisure activities. I think there are gross inequalities and injustices in our world because of the legal games people play with the ‘Do Nots’ of our legal systems.

In addition I think there is another aspect to the psychology of ‘Do not’ because it is an absolute term. When I stop to reflect on the Ten Commandments I think I am compromised on each one of them. I am not simply sharing this because the Bishop is out of the country and it will be a few days before you can call him to make a complaint!

When I read ‘Do not worship anyone or anything other than God’ I recognise that I have frequently fallen short of that ideal. I have worshipped and adored my wife and my children and they are, quite rightly, central in my life.

When I read ‘Do not make idols or bow down to them’ I recognise that I have pursued my work sometimes at the expense of everything else. Sometimes to prove to others that something is possible that they thought was impossible… and in those times I made an idol of my work.

When I read ‘Do not use the name of God wrongly’ I don’t wonder about the occasional word that slips out when I hit my thumb with a hammer because I don’t refer to Jesus at such times! But I do wonder about some of my teaching in the past where the answers I gave were too easy and I don’t think the mystery and challenge of God was honoured.

When I read that I am to rest on the Sabbath and I recognise the wisdom of it – I remember the culture of activity and busyness that all too frequently causes me to ignore the Sabbath principal and not have a day off.

When I read that I am to honour my parents – there is a complex response within me because there are unresolved things in our relationship. Because we live in different parts of the world and see each other every five years it is easy to ignore the pain of that reality. But is that honouring my parents, or running away from them?

When I read that I should not kill I feel confident that I have not taken somebody’s life with my bare hands, or some kind of weapon. This will probably come as a relief to many of you? But when I think about the cheap clothes that I wear made in the sweat-shops of Asia. When I remember the life expectancy of people who work in such sweat shops – because they are overcrowded, underpaid, and have dangerous machinery. My confidence is diminished because I have condoned the conditions of their work through the economic system that serves my interest.

When I read that I should not commit adultery – again I can feel confident that I have not kissed or had sex with another woman since I married Kate eleven years ago BUT I have from time to time thought about it – and been attracted to it. So I have fulfilled the letter of this law – but I don’t think the spirit of the law has been honoured all the time.

When I read ‘Do not steal’ I again think that I’ve honoured the letter of this law – but then I remember some of the books that I’ve borrowed over the years; books that I’ve still got on my bookshelf because I’ve forgotten to return them. So, I’ve still got property that belongs to other people and surely that is one form of stealing.

When I read ‘Do not lie’ I am forced to ask the question ‘What is a lie?’ If a lie is telling the half of the story which puts me in a good light, while omitting the other half of the story which puts me in a less favourable light? I think I am guilty of this one as well.

When I read ‘Do not covet your neighbour’s possessions…’ I think I go OK most of the time. Generally speaking I don’t think I wish I had her house, his car, her guitar, or his income. However, I do sometimes covet their talent.. I wish I could play guitar like him, or sing like him, or run like her, or speak a language like her… and so on.

So, I score zero out of ten. This has the potential for leaving me feeling like a failure because it seems to me like I just don’t measure up to the big rules.

All is not lost… I think as human beings there is an interplay between words and people. What I mean to say is that people shape words, and words shape people. So let us shape some words together! I’d like to invite people in our Parish this week to use their creativity and reframe the Ten Commandments from ‘DO NOT’s’ to ‘DO’s’. Let us have a quiet revolution of words that can overflow into our spirituality, psychology and sense of being.

To help with that process I’ll share with you some of my thoughts, recognising that they are imperfect and quite personal. But they are offered to prime your creativity in responding to the challenge…

ONE – Do remember that God is present in every moment – in the easy times and the hard times. So remember to say ‘thank you’ as well as ‘help!’

TWO – Do remember that you are unique, and awesome, and loved.

THREE – DO think about the way you use words and name your experience of God.

FOUR – Do rest regularly and take to time to reflect and play, so that your physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual batteries get recharged.

FIVE – Do love your parents.

SIX – Do help others

SEVEN – Be creatively faithful to your partner, your family, your friends, and your ideals.

EIGHT – Be thankful for what you have and share it.

NINE – Be truthful

TEN – Be thankful and ask God’s blessing on those who have more things or abilities than you.

I look forward to reading yours…

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pelvis & Philippines

Each week through Lent we have an inward and an outward focus for reflection. The inward focus is grounded in Psalm 139 verse 14 which affirms that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. To help us reflect on this statement we have a life size skeleton in the church for Lent and each week we will think about the bones which are found in a particular part of the body.
This week we give thanks for our pelvis: The pelvis, or pelvic girdle, is the irregular
bony structure located at the base of the spine (properly known as the caudal end). The pelvis gets its name because in Latin, "pelvis" means "basin" or "large bowl". Because of our pelvis we can bend over, walk upright, and do so many things…
Our outward focus is grounded in the reality that within our worshipping community we have people who speak twelve different languages other than English. As we progress towards Easter we are invited to pray intelligently for the countries that seven of those languages come from.
This week we remember the people of the Philippines. The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands in the Western Pacific Ocean. It has a population of 90 million people making it the twelfth most populated country in the world. In addition to this a further 11 million Filipinos are estimated to be living in other countries. 90% of Filipinos identify themselves as Christian with 81% being Roman Catholic. Please pray for the people of the Philippines.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Two Focus Areas for Lent

Each week through Lent I’d like to have an inward and an outward focus in reflection.

The inward focus is grounded in Psalm 139 verse 14 which affirms that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. To help us reflect on this we will have a life size skeleton in the church throughout Lent and each week we will think about the bones which are found in a particular part of the body.

This week we give thanks for the bones of our feet and legs: the femur, tibia, fibula, tarsals and meta-tarsals, and phalanges; the ball joints of our hips and ankles; & the hinge joints of our knees and toes. What a gift to be able to walk upright – run – dance – play games. What about those people who cannot walk, and have to use wheelchairs? What about those people who have joints in their legs that are worn out, or are damaged by disease?

The outward focus is grounded in the reality that within our worshipping community we have people who speak twelve different languages other than English. As we progress towards Easter I’d like our Parish to pray intelligently for the countries that seven of those languages come from.

This week we remember the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In land area it is the twelfth largest country in the world, and has a population of 62,600.000. The languages used for administration are French, Lingala and Swahili. The Capital of the DRC is Kinshasa, and the country has extraordinary cobalt, copper, diamond, and other mineral reserves. Tragically, the ongoing conflict in the DRC is regarded as the world’s most deadly war since World War Two. It has claimed an estimated 5.4 million lives! Please pray for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Lat weekend we had our Annual General Meeting and I wondered if I should 'blog' my report because it talks about what has been and looks forward to what lies ahead. It's been uploaded to the Parish website so interested folk can read it there unless I get a request to post it here. For this week I'll share the reflection that was in the pew sheet...

In the Gospel today Jesus is described taking three close friends for some ‘time out’ on a mountain. While they were up on the mountain Jesus was transformed somehow, and the three friends were given a new insight into the relationship that Jesus had with God.

In the story Peter was so moved by the experience that he wanted to build three shelters on the holy ground where that encounter took place.

There are at least two things I’d want to draw from this account known as ‘the transfiguration’.

The first is that if Jesus made time in the midst of a busy life for reflection and prayer, should we not also do the same? We may not be physically able to get up Mount Archer but we could go for a walk on flatter ground! We could create other spaces in which reflection and physical exercise are possible eg weeding the flower beds, mowing the yard, walking the dog, riding the bike.
It is wonderful to be presented with this reading just before the journey of Lent. There is an opportunity for each of us to prioritise our time so that for a few weeks at least this practice becomes part of who we are, and how we operate. I’m not going to ask what you gave up for Lent – I’m going to ask what you took on!

Are you planning to be part of a Lent group? Are you planning to read a devotional book, or a portion of the Bible? Are you planning to keep a journal, or sit quietly in front of a candle at the end of each day?

Whatever we do there is a good chance that we will find ourselves in Peter’s shoes. Awed by the reality of Jesus in the ‘holy ground’ of our lives.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Anglican News from the Bush Fires

In a letter to all Victorian clergy the Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Philip Freier has written of his sense of disbelief “about the enormity of the devastation in Victoria”:

“We think of those who have lost their lives, those under care in hospitals, of those waiting for news of family and friends, those now homeless and the many still threatened by fire. The loss of property, while secondary, is beyond imagination, with homes, businesses and even whole townships destroyed,” he said.

“Our hearts go out to all affected, now and in the coming weeks, and we pray that in the midst of the blackness and grief, God’s healing presence will sustain those caught up in the firefighting, the recovery, the identification, all emergency services personnel – from front line firefighters to the police, paramedics, ambulance and medical staff, volunteers, aid agencies and chaplains - all of whom have given so courageously and self sacrificially.”

Their bravery and compassion are a great example to us all, he said.
“We acknowledge the community spirit which is binding and supporting the thousands whose lives have been changed by the events of these last days.”
“I pray for all who minister in the Diocese and for the community at large, all confronted by the immensity of this tragedy. Never forget that God is with us in our grief, our pain and our despair.”

Here in Rockhampton we are collecting money through the Parish to send to the Melbourne Diocesan Appeal which will be used to help people on the ground through the work of Anglicare Victoria.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Weekly Reflection

I will put up an article each week and invite people to respond - I will write a 300 word reflection - hopefully that can stimulate discussion and in the midst of the dialogue we could develop some sense of cyber community?

On Tuesday 20th January 2009 Barak Hussein Obama was formally sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. Two million people came out onto the streets of Washington to cheer him, there were joyful gatherings across the USA, and in many other parts of the world.

In the midst of a global economic crisis, intractable conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and fears about the future of our planet… people are looking for hope. Obama seems to embody hope with his vision of change in so many areas of human enterprise, made possible he suggests through collaborative effort.

I wonder if there was a similar sense of excitement among the communities of Galilee as Jesus shared his vision of hope… as he spent time with people who were excluded in his society and explained that they were important to God and worthy of love.
When we hear this week’s Gospel describe Jesus calling James and John we might imagine that his message and his miracles would have been the topic of conversations all over the region. So when Jesus said to James and John, ‘Do you want to be a part of this?’ They’d already had time to think about it and they joined the team we’ve come to know as ‘the disciples’.

In some ways two thousand years later we are also part of that same ‘team’ because of the promises that were made at our Baptism and Confirmation. As we celebrated Australia Day this week we might remember some of the needs in our country, in our local community, and in our Church community? We might then ask ourselves what it is we’re planning to do as part of the ‘team’ this year in response to those needs.

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*posted on behalf of Cameron Venables

Monday, January 19, 2009

Welcome to the new blog for our All Saints Community, North Rockhampton. You may post your comments here, and come back for weekly thoughts and sermons. Have fun!