‘People of the Risen King’ – Book Review

St Jude’s Carlton 1866-2016 – People of the Risen King – History 150 years by Elizabeth Willis

This history is a deft interweaving of Church and society through 150 years: St Jude’s Anglican Church in Carlton.

Carlton’s socio-economic conditions and demography, clerical and lay personalities, theological emphases, liturgical practice, the Melbourne Diocese, and national and international affairs are colourfully woven. Testing times, diverse personalities and ever-changing ministries all contribute to the life and mission of the ‘People of the Risen King’.

The irony of writing of the seemingly endless struggle to make the parish buildings ‘fit for purpose’ at the very time it lies in ruins due to fire and a multimillion dollar building project is underway, is not lost on the author: a salutary reminder of the fragility and ongoing challenge of parish life.

The colour, vitality and ethos of St Jude’s in an ever changing Carlton is brought to life in this insightful and inspiring history. The Parish’s social work encompasses the ‘free seats’ of the nineteenth century and the Debt Centre of the twenty-first century: a wide embrace of society that is at no time loosened.

Carlton ‘larrikins’ blocking the entry of worshippers, the decline in attendance following the First World War, the depression, bulldozing to ‘clear the slums’, the building of Housing Commission estates, the opportunity to welcome ‘New Australians’, university ministry, discipleship training, parish partnerships and new congregations: throughout it all we see the faithfulness of men and women to the work of God.

A stimulating read: leave time for reflection along the way for this history is a reminder that through the changing circumstances of parish life the Church is the ‘People of the Risen King’.

Thank you, Elizabeth Willis, for your fine work in bringing this parish history to us, and to the faithful saints of St Jude’s Carlton, https://stjudes.org.au/

Commissioning CEO World Vision Australia 2016

Address at the Commissioning Service for Claire Rogers, CEO World Vision Australia, Ridley College Melbourne 2016

Walking the talk, talking the walk, and living the heartbeat of Jesus Christ

I have been asked to give a ‘sermonette’. Hence I will give my three sermon points, but no poem, no joke and no stories! I trust you will bear with me! J

Jesus Christ is the heartbeat of World Vision and we are to walk the Jesus’ talk, talk the Jesus’ walk and bring the life of his heartbeat to those in need.

God’s love in Christ is extraordinary.

God entered history in the person of Jesus Christ who walked, talked and lived the heartbeat of God in the conflictive world of Palestine. Jesus walked the Kingdom journey of family, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension for us and continues in intercession for us today, indeed he is praying for us at this very moment! Precious thought.

The coming of the Holy Spirit empowers our own walk of faith in the complex and conflictive world of today.

We believe that the Holy Spirit has gathered us here today to commission our Sister in Christ, Claire Rogers for her walk, talk and life as CEO of World Vision Australia.

*Address is here: Claire Rogers -Commissioning CEO WVA Nov 2016 – ‘Walking the talk, talking the walk, and living the heartbeat of Jesus Christ’

*Photo is of Claire Rogers with George Savvides, Board Chair, World Vision Australia

*More about Claire here, https://www.worldvision.com.au/about-us/our-ceo-claire-rogers *Print article ‘Successor to Tim Costello brings digital focus to World Vision’, page 12 of November 2017, The Melbourne Anglican (TMA). More info re TMA paper, here

Dealing with Trauma? – pastoral exploration

My ‘Pearce Memorial Lecture’ delivered at the OSL Healing Ministries Triennial Conference Melbourne October 2017:

When discussing a person who is suffering from trauma, how many of you have you heard someone comment, “Get over it!” “Pray believing!” “Go for a walk, get some fresh air, smell the roses.”

But, “No!” – A flippant dismissal of trauma is a gross misunderstanding of trauma.

Tragedy strikes and trauma follows. Although the effects of the violence (emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual) may lag the tragic event by years, trauma does come.

Trauma from tragic events accumulates through life and can grow to become a toll too heavy to bear. When a person is suffering from trauma, they feel down, down, down! Crying, weeping, hopeless and alone, despairing, a failure, embarrassed, humiliated.

But neither is wallowing in trauma with the tears, sadness, brokenness and hopelessness an option.

Is it possible to deal with trauma at all? And if so, how?

Let me say at the outset that I make no claims to professional expertise in the area of trauma or dealing with its consequences. My aim this evening is to learn from the experience of four people in Australia who have suffered traumatic events as well as a key character in each of two novels (‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’) in order that we might better walk with sufferers of trauma. This is a pastoral and personal exploration of a complex and pain laden issue.

Dealing with Trauma? – a pastoral and personal exploration is the Pearce Memorial Lecture delivered at the OSL Healing Ministries Triennial Conference Melbourne Oct 2017.

Lecture here, Dealing with Trauma – OSL Pearce Memorial Lecture 2017 – John Harrower

A report on the Lecture, ‘Trauma is serious get help says Bishop Harrower’ by Stephen Cauchi, is in The Melbourne Anglican (monthly paper), November 2017, No. 564, p.12.

‘Les Miserables’ – a personal reflection

We’re all ‘miserables’ in need of God’s grace

As I sat down to write of the profound effect Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables had on my life, I found to my astonishment that I was writing in the voice of my 14 year old self. And so I wrote:

I borrowed Les Miserables from the mobile bus library when I was 14. I liked reading and each week with a friend I rode my bike to borrow books.

The book seemed like an adventure story, so I read it. It was about a man who had a hard life. He helped people.

He rescued a poor girl and really cared for her. There were lots of adventures. But then, when she married, it was strange because he felt he shouldn’t be with her new family. This was sad. Eventually he died, nearly alone, but the candlesticks were with him. They reminded him always of a man who many years ago saved his life and helped him to go a different way. He was given a chance and it was not easy but he made choices to go that better way. They were sometimes hard choices. Choices matter.

But some people are cruel and they don’t give you another chance, and that’s not fair. In the story there were women and children who hardly ever got any chances. People were cruel to them. I didn’t like that. It was unfair. But the man, because he had been given a second chance by the first kind man, he then himself gave people second chances. I liked that. I wanted to be like these two men. They were both kind and gave second chances to all sorts of people. Second chances matter.

Growing up I didn’t have a father. I lived with my two sisters, mother, grandmother and great uncle. They all loved me and gave me second chances – and lots more chances. But people were not kind to my mother. They wouldn’t let us into a father and son night because she wasn’t a father. But a kind man from church saw my mother crying. He asked her if he could be my father for an hour and he took my friend, his real son, and me to the meeting. He was a good man who stood up for my mum and me.

I think that God helped the two men in the story. The candlesticks showed that. Throughout the rescued man’s life he carried the Bishop’s candlesticks with him to remind him that he belonged to God.They were with that man when he died: “He lay back with his head turned to the sky, and the light from the two candlesticks fell upon his face.”

Reading this, I do indeed hear my younger voice. I have never forgotten the story Les Miserables nor the two men, the second chance, and the story of the candlesticks.

The themes of Les Miserables (‘The Poor and Wretched’) are the themes of our own lives.

The released, but brutalised, convict Jean Valjean, having received the Bishop’s hospitality, then robbed him of silver cutlery. Valjean is subsequently captured by the police and brought for condemnation before the Bishop. To Valjean’s astonishment, the Bishop insists the cutlery has been given to Valjean and even adds two silver candlesticks (“You forgot to take these”).

Privately, the Bishop challenges Valjean: “You promised me to become a good man. I am buying your soul. I am rescuing you from a spirit of perversity and giving it to God” What beauty! The joy and power of grace and grace’s agenda.

Yes, forgiveness is given. Grace is received. A second chance begun. But the very next day, the second chance is dramatically thrown into question: Valjean robs a vagrant boy of a coin. The boy protests, struggles briefly, but then flees in fright. Valjean seems to suddenly come to himself and rushes after the boy but cannot find him. Guilt-ridden and in despair, he weeps in remorse.

This turning point (while omitted in contemporary musicals) is a key to understanding the book: “Did any voice whisper to him that he was at a turning point in his life, that henceforth there could be no middle way for him, that he must become either the best of men or the worst?… What was certain, although he did not realise it, was that he was no longer the same man. Everything in him was changed.”

Jean Valjean struggled to live out the consequences of forgiveness, of the grace of the second chance. So unfolds a wonderful story of redemption, hope, sacrifice and love: of living out the Bishop’s gift of the candlesticks.

I think that’s why I treasure my own ‘candlesticks’: reminders of God’s grace and forgiveness.

See, Inner Life: Book: Bishop John Harrower reflects on reading Victor Hugo’s classic ‘Les Miserables’ http://tma.melbourneanglican.org.au/inner-life/harrower-on-les-mis-290917  September 29 2017

God’s promise, my eyes

God’s promise given decades ago – true today and true tomorrow. Praise God!

Psalm 121 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Assurance of God’s Protection

A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved,
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade
    on your right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and for evermore.

Dios es fiel – God is faithful

Praying in real time

In conversation about prayer today, Peter Adam commented on Brother Andrew and prayers for a persecuted church:

Please don’t pray for us.
Please pray with us.
If you pray for us, you will pray for the wrong things. You will pray for safety.
But if you pray with us, you will ask God to bring millions to faith in Christ.
You will pray that when the inevitable backlash comes because of our witness, we will be faithful, even if it costs us our lives.

 

Can I pray in this way for the persecuted church?

Can I pray this for our missionaries, can I pray this for myself in the evolving context of Australian life and ministry?

May God give me the strength to be real in my discipleship, in my prayer life. Amen.

Also, Archbishop Romero’s Prayer/ Poem

Prayer for Bishop’s Election Tasmania

Today and tomorrow the Synod of the Anglican Church in Tasmania is meeting in Launceston to elect the 12th Bishop of Tasmania. Gayelene and I have been praying for the Nomination Committee, the clergy nominated, the members of the Synod and Bishop Chris Jones presiding at the Synod – God’s grace in Christ and the discernment of the Holy Spirit be with you all as you prayerfully gather in the name of the Triune God that Father’s will be done and Tasmania and the nation be blessed.

Eternal God, shepherd and guide,
in your mercy give your Church in the Diocese of Tasmania
a shepherd after your own heart
who will walk in your ways,
and with loving care watch over your people.
Give us a leader of vision and a teacher of your truth.
So may your Church be built up
and your name glorified;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For more information see Anglican Church in Tasmania

A Blessing in Brokenness

A Service of Lament at Christ Church Cathedral opened the Diocese of Newcastle’s Synod last night. The Holy Spirit ministered powerfully as the tragedy of child sexual abuse touched deep within each of us. The sorrow and tears were visible signs of the deeper lament.

I thank Diocesan Bishop Greg, Bishop Peter and their leadership, for compassionately embracing both publically and profoundly, the trauma and grieving of victims, their loved ones, the Anglican family and wider community.

I was honoured to preach the sermon which concluded with the following blessing. I adapted it from an Irish Franciscan Blessing to the particular context of the Diocese of Newcastle.

A Blessing in Brokenness 

May God bless us with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial responses
So that we may seek truth boldly
And love deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with holy anger
At injustice, oppression,
And exploitation and abuse of children and adults,
So that we may tirelessly work for
Justice, integrity and peace.

May God bless us with tears,
To shed for those who suffer or suffered such abuse,
Betrayal, rejection, pain,
The loss of faith, trust, innocence, of all that they hold dear,
So that we may reach out our hands
To believe and comfort them and
To share in their pain.

And may God bless us
With enough foolishness
To believe that we can
Make a difference in the world,
So that we can do, with God’s grace,
What others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness: health,
To all our children, survivors of abuse,
Those who are grieving and ourselves.

In the name of Him whom we seek to serve:
Our Holy, Just and Loving Saviour,
The Broken Resurrected One, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Christ Church Cathedral’s Facebook with some photos from the Service of Lament.

Remembering Aunty Ida West

Unpacking brings forth hidden treasures. Here is a treasure: finding prayers and reflections about Aunty Ida West! I brought them together for Aunty Ida’s Funeral Service in St David’s Cathedral Hobart on 11th September 2003. Let me share them with you.

FUNERAL SERVICE OF AUNTY IDA WEST: Reflection and Prayers

In a book* that celebrated 52 Australian Leaders, Aunty Ida wrote:

‘There are a number of passages of Scripture that I find help me, . . . The passage in Matthew 14:22-33 about Peter (seeing Jesus and) stepping out of the boat onto the water and about his fear reminds me of the times I have been fearful, when I have had to step out of the boat. I get comfort from an old hymn ‘A Few More Years Shall Roll’. I’ve kept a copy of the hymnal for many years because it gives me hope and comfort; I even have a tape of me singing it from many years ago, and I sometimes listen to it. I am comforted when I say

A few more struggles here,
A few more partings o’er,
A few more toils, a few more tears
And we shall weep no more:
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that blest day.’

The hymn (by Horatio Bonar) continues:

‘Tis but a little while
And He (Jesus) shall come again,
Who died that we might live. Who lives
That we with Him might reign:
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that glad day.

In this Cathedral today, let us pray with confidence to God, who raised Jesus Christ from the dead for the salvation of all, the God in whom Aunty Ida found hope and comfort and who has received her into His glorious presence on ‘that blest day’, the day of her earthly death.

A Prayer of Thanks for Aunty Ida’s life

Thanks be to God for the gift of life.
God of life, you have made us in your image,
you called us to reflect your truth and light.
We thank you for the life of Aunty Ida.
We thank you that her life did reflect your truth and light.
We give thanks for her love for you that nurtured her love
for her aboriginal people and for all people.

A Prayer for the community; for we who mourn Aunty Ida’s death

God of all mercy, giver of all comfort:
Look graciously we pray, on those who mourn,
especially Ida’s sisters, Girlie and Bernice, and her children,
Lennah, Darrell and Michael and their families.
Also for her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchild.

Casting all their troubles and concerns on you,
may they know the comfort of your love;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord. Amen.

A Prayer that Aunty Ida’s work will continue

Dear Peace making God,
we thank you that Aunty Ida worked for reconciliation and justice,
because in her words, ‘that is what the Lord would want me to do’*.
Help us to maintain that commitment
so that our community might be reconciled and just. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer-Traditional

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
for ever and ever.     Amen.

Bishop John Harrower

*NOTE 1: Aunty Ida is featured in the book: Living Faith in Public Life: Fifty-Two Australian Voices, Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, 2000, pages 108-109.

NOTE 2: A Favourite Hymn of Aunty Ida West: THE TIME IS SHORT” (by Horatio Bonar)

A few more years shall roll,
A few more seasons come
And we shall be with those that rest
Asleep with in the tomb:
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that great day:
O wash me in Thy precious Blood,
And take my sins away.

A few more suns shall set
O’er these dark hills of time,
And we shall be where suns are not,
A far serener clime:
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that bright day:
O wash me in Thy precious Blood,
And take my sins away.

A few more storms shall beat
On this wild rocky shore,
And we shall be where tempests cease,
And surges swell no more:
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that calm day:
O wash me in Thy precious Blood,
And take my sins away.

A few more struggles here,
A few more partings o’er,
A few more toils, a few more tears,
And we shall weep no more:
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that blest day:
O wash me in Thy precious Blood,
And take my sins away.

‘Tis but a little while
And He shall come again,
Who died that we might live. Who lives
That we with Him might reign:
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that glad day:
O wash me in Thy precious Blood,
And take my sins away.

NOTE 3: The Media Release: ANGLICAN MEDIA TASMANIA
Media Officer: Rev. Stephen Carnaby
Tel: 0417 343710   Email: bishop@anglicantas.org.au   PO Box 405, Sandy Bay, 7006
_________________________________________________________________

Tuesday 9th September 2003   MEDIA RELEASE: TRIBUTE TO AUNTY IDA

The Bishop of Tasmania, the Right Reverend John Harrower, today paid tribute to Aboriginal leader, the late Aunty Ida West, who, he said, had lived a life of wonderful service both to her people and to Tasmania.

Bishop Harrower described Aunty Ida’s life as “one of great inspiration, flowing from a deep commitment to Jesus Christ, which in turn nurtured her love for her people and for Tasmania.”

He said that he would long remember the part she played in his welcome as Bishop of Tasmania: “Aunty Ida and two other Aboriginal elders placed my hands into some Tasmanian soil as both a welcome and a reminder of who had been the original custodians of the land. It was a very moving moment.”

Bishop Harrower said he would long remember the time he spent with Aunty Ida recently at her farewell celebration at Glenorchy: “I took with me to the celebration a plaque she gave me a year ago, inscribed with the words ‘Jesus is my Rock’. On that very special day she reminded me never to forget in whom I have put my trust.”

The Bishop said that the most striking thing about Ida West was her selfless giving: “She was always thinking of, and giving to, others. Her willingness to put others first was the most striking thing about her and a wonderful example to us all.”

See also: NAIDOC Week 2015  – Celebration of Reconciliation  – The Water Ceremony