|Pen and Ink Reflections||
One of the strangest requests I received when I was General Secretary of the NSW Ecumenical Council was from the NSW Greens. They were trying to remove the saying of the Lord's Prayer from the opening of NSW Parliament and wanted support on the grounds that the 'Protestant' form used, with the doxology at the end, was excluding of Catholics, as well as of other faith groups. I did not have to contact the then Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, or Jewish, Muslim, or other leaders to know how ridiculous they would have found the argument. For what mattered to all of them was not so much the exact words as the setting of public life in the context of the sacred and transcendent. I was reminded of this at this time of year in more recent times in being involved in planning the annual civic Remembrance Service at St Luke's Toowoomba. Some of the older and more conservative figures would insist on the inclusion of what they called the 'traditional' English-speaking version of the Lord's Prayer whilst others would support the 'modern' form which has been used for many years in Australian churches. Do the words really matter however or is the real substance of the prayer the key?...
..The apostles said to the Lord 'increase our faith!' The Lord replied 'if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey you.'
This exchange invites a question, 'how much is enough?' How much is enough of anything - faith, love, food, work, information? We live in a culture that is dominated by the excess of many things. Yet as human animals we are driven by a seemingly insatiable appetite for more. While this may be a part of our biology, our scriptures and traditions teach us another way that may help us off the treadmill of more, more, more. God in Christ invites us into another way of seeing the world and our needs within it...
So Penny, which is it to be – traditions of gold, or possibilities untold? Which of the two parts of the theme of our 50th Carnival of Flowers Festival would you stress the most? I’m guessing the second part – possibilities untold? Whereas, I reckon you might guess that I’d go for the first part – traditions of gold? Or is the real answer something else altogether: something which transcends and completes them both – traditions of gold and possibilities untold? What do you say?
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?...
I wonder how you like the postcard our sisters and brothers at St Mark’s Buderim give out. On one side, it has this little picture of part of a little time-keeper, with sand trickling through it. The main words are from a Spanish proverb, and they say: ‘How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.’ Do you like that? At the bottom, there are then a few more words, which say: ‘Do nothing and change your life, at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Buderim.’ Not quite the usual advertisement for a Church, is it? It certainly makes us think, and it challenges many of our assumptions. Yet I think it is right on the money, especially for this season of Lent. The question is: how will you and I respond?…
On the Humanity Sunday in the Season of Creation, it seems appropriate to talk about People. In talking about People, I also want to talk today about Place and Purpose - all three of which items are central to our Carnival theme: 'to be a pilgrim'...
Just before Christmas we had a wonderful gathering in St Luke’s, of many faiths and none. It was a time of remembrance and prayer for those who had been killed and traumatised by recent events, including the Sydney siege and the massacre of children in Pakistan. It was a time of reaffirmation and deepened solidarity as we renewed our city commitment to peace and harmony. It was a time which showed we have something very special here in Toowoomba. For so many places in the world would be amazed that Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Baha’is, and so many others, can not only live together peacefully but even appreciate one another and share their distinctive gifts. That should not seem unusual. Yet it is. We should therefore celebrate and build upon it. For, in a deep sense, as we hear today’s Epiphany Gospel, we are perhaps thereby 'a Church of the Magi’…