|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Just before Christmas last year, I was visiting Brisbane’s South Bank cultural precinct and stumbled into the end of year concert of the School of Hard Knocks. It was a wonderful occasion. Full of joy and humour, resounding song and moving poetry, it shared the lives and love of many of Brisbane’s homeless and disadvantaged people. This year’s concert is again at the State Library, at 2 pm on 16 December. Check it out if you are down that way. It will lift your spirits and encourage you. For in some ways it could be said to be an embodiment of the hope of the season of Advent which we begin today. In the face of the pain and struggle of our lives and world, all of us are encouraged by the promise of God’s coming salvation to start again. The invitation is there, in the closing words of our reading from Isaiah: ‘come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!’…
There are two titles for this Sunday in the lectionary, namely Christ the King or the Reign of Christ. Which do you prefer? Think about it for a moment. Have a look too at today’s two New Testament readings (Colossians 1.11-20 and Luke 23.33-43). They also have different emphases. Which of these would you choose for preference? The answer of course is that both of these are valuable and balance one another. Yet, as with the title of this Sunday, there is a genuine tension between them and, in wrestling with this tension, we are led into a deeper understanding of God and our relationship with God and one another…
Today's passages invite us to use our imagination. To imagine what it would be like to have had everything we thought was important reduced to rubble. To imagine what God might do to transform our world. To imagine the temple that Jesus and his friends saw, and what it was like for that temple also to be destroyed. For these passages teach us that life is always being rebuilt, and that God is always doing something new. Our job is to be alert to what God is doing, and to make choices that help God transform the world...
Have you heard the tale of the barefoot man, the migrant woman and the taxi driver? It is a true story that Pope Francis recently told to more than 25 000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square…
My older sister was born in 1944 when my father was fighting in Egypt in the royal signals corps of the British army. He caught diphtheria in Egypt, foolishly swimming in the Nile in the company of a dead donkey or two, and consequently did not make it home from the war till late in 1946, to face a child he had never met, a wife whose hopes for their life together had dwindled and a struggle to find employment. He had a nervous breakdown soon afterwards and would never speak of his experiences. So my knowledge of war came through my mother, who lived through the blitz in Liverpool, and told tales of rationing and lucky escapes from bombed out air raid shelters, of knitting fine wool socks and of hours of work in the munitions factory in the bitter cold of winters with no fuel. She spoke of painful partings at railway stations when Dad had come home on leave, and for the rest of her life she could not bear to wave anyone off at a train. Such were the symptoms of trauma that stretched into my childhood many years later.
War is an evil and we are not here to celebrate it in any form. Wars open up opportunities for more evil, for anger, hatred, theft and human rights abuses of all kinds. Wars can shatter the human capacity for love and gentleness. Wars do not end in peace. They end in victory or defeat or dangerous stalemate. Peace, or shalom, wholeness, healing, takes a very long time afterwards to achieve and should never be let go lightly.
So why are we here today? We are here to remember the sinfulness of war; to acknowledge our human tendency to make a dreadful mess of things and to pray that we may do better. Today and every Remembrance Day our veterans remember their friends who never came home. We remember those who died too young and we also remember those like my parents who did not die, but whose lives and relationships were irrevocably changed in destructive ways. We give thanks for what our veterans did on our account, and what our serving forces continue to do, and we mourn the waste of human life and love...