|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Three things immediately struck me in recently moving back to work again in the centre of Sydney. Firstly, so many of the high buildings had either grown even higher or had multiplied in number. Secondly, particularly in the adjacent areas north and west of Pitt Street Uniting Church, different Asian shops and cultures continue to grow in number. An official Koreatown now sits close to Chinatown, and other presences, including Malaysian, and particularly Thai, are not far behind. Thirdly, in the suburb where I live, each park has an acknowledgement of country, including the prominent words Budyeri gamarruwa – ‘welcome’ in Gadigal language. Each of these things are redolent to me of both the challenges, and the promise, of Pentecost today. For if we are to receive the Spirit of God more fully - replacing hearts of stone with hearts of flesh, and becoming one body in this land - these are part of the journey we make…
Come as you are; that’s how I love you;
Come as you are, trust me again.
Nothing can change the love that I bear you;
all will be well, just come as you are.
- the words of our opening song today express the heart of our God and our Faith: that love is what truly matters, for this is the heart of God, and true Faith; not law, or conventional morality, nor who we are, or what we have, nor who or what we know, nor what we have done, or not done, nor what race, face, space, colour, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, politics, taste in music, ability to sing and dance, food allergies, beauty, quirks, height, width, shoe size, dress size, hat size, nor anything else we may have. Honestly! It really does not matter to God: the God of Jesus, the God of inexhaustible and unconditional love. Just ‘Come as you are; that’s how I love you.’ Do we believe that? Do we really believe that? For it makes all the difference, to us and to others, whether we really do. In fact, I would go so far as to say, that the very future of our church and our world depends on whether we do. Will we shape our lives, our church and world on this amazing grace of God’s hospitality? Or will we settle for loving ourselves and others in ways which do not reflect God’s love for us and for all of God’s Creation?...
The traditional patterns of the Christian season of Advent are difficult to maintain in our contemporary Australian culture. Yet its themes of hope, peace, joy and love are as essential as they have ever been. They bring us back to the heart of biblical faith and its meaning for us all. In a real sense they are the true gifts of what we receive at Christmas. This is certainly true of today’s gift – that of hope – so vital for our times. For when we look at our world it can be easy to feel despair. There are also plenty of people ready to play on our fears and anxieties: cynics and doomsayers who suggest that the conflicts we see are only going to get worse and that there is little cause for hope. Yet there is nothing new in this. Our gospel reading today was written in just such a time of fear and anxiety and it invites us above all to wake up and to pay attention to the things of God, when we find ourselves in times that promote fear…