Sunday, June 25, 2017

Marking the UCA 40th year at Morisset 25th June 2017




I think we did OK today, but I left my phone/camera in my bag unfortunately so I can share a couple of other pics BUT it was tricky...

Here's what we did...

A quick "Good Morning" and Intro to the UCA Prez's Video

40th Anniversary Message from Uniting Church in Australia on Vimeo.

I modified John and Elizabeth's work...
CALL TO WORSHIP (adapted from John Squires/Elizabeth Raine)
Our land is alive with the awe of God’s creation
Desert sands, gum trees, brown grasses and rivers bring rhythm

We join our voices with all the earth
And we know God’s Spirit is with us
Our Creator surrounds and upholds us,
Christ Jesus walks beside and before us
The Spirit moves within and between us

We wonder, we celebrate,
we recognize the 40th year of the Uniting Church in Australia
We acknowledge the Awabakal people,
Who share a special relationship as first inhabitants
Of the land on which we gather today

Song #1 TiS 474 “Here in This Place” v1, 2, 4  

And modified this...
A PRAYER: 40 Years of the Uniting Church
Voice ONE:
Amazing God,
You have led your pilgrim people through centuries past
And are calling us to serve you today.
You have blessed us with gifts of the Holy Spirit.
You have given leaders to your Church
Who have guided us with courage and insight.

Voice TWO:
Despite the failings of your Church,
You continue to claim us for yourself,
To renew our faith and to send us out to a world in need.
We thank you for the inheritance into which we have entered:
16th century reformers who preached the centrality of Jesus Christ;
18th century evangelicalism reaching out in fresh ways with good news
20th century ecumenism bringing Christians together
across barriers of race, language, culture and tradition.

Voice THREE:
We give you thanks for all who prayed and worked
to bring the Uniting Church into being:
for the envisaging of it’s vision and ethos
for those in every locality who worked patiently to bring people together;
for those who for 40 years have proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
ministered to the sick and suffering, and developed new initiatives in mission.

Voice FOUR: 
We ask your blessing on your Church in the coming years:
that you will draw us closer to other communities of faith;
that you will strengthen our work for justice and peace;
that you will help us minister to the poor and distressed,
the lonely and alienated, the confused and despairing.
May your Spirit of truth and love be our guide,
both now and in the future,
that we may be a faithful servant Church,
giving of ourselves and all we have
as Jesus gave himself for us.  
Amen.

Storybook “Stuck” by Oliver Jeffers read by Allira
with images onscreen

Song #2 “The Pilgrim’s Song” Paul Chalson

Bible Reading/s non lectionary
Isaiah 42: 1-9
Matthew 28: 16-20

Intro/Reflection
+ Video Clip “An Australian Church edit” 6min 41
[Edited a little bit out of Craig Mitchell's excellent UCA DVD series]
Typed up the text for those who find it difficult to hear...

An Australian Church from Uniting Church in Australia on Vimeo.

Buzz Groups Discussion: a few minutes
What do you know/appreciate about the Uniting Church/THIS church?

Announcements
Offering
Banner intro/UCA Logo build in cardboard

Song #3 “God the Father, Son and Spirit” [Tune TiS 152 Ode to Joy]

Prayers of the People
Creator God,
We pray for a world in trouble not easily solved, for those who seek peace
And for those effected by the pursuit of power and politics
For the Middle East, Syria, Afghanistan, for the UK and ongoing tensions

We pray for this country, filled with division and skepticism
For the challenges of daily life, money, family and hard times

We pray for those we know, unwell, grieving and in recovery
[naming some names and silence for others]

God , you call us to be people who care, help us reach out in love
Give us insight and energy for our journey of serving
In Jesus name
Amen

Song #4 TiS 687 “God Gives Us a Future”

Sending Out

[then there was cake]

We also shared a Soup & Damper Lunch with Table Quiz
Table Menu Questions to promote conversation...
Four Rounds including Sound Clues + Famous Faces Page
Magnificent Soup
Good community


Monday, June 05, 2017

"One Love Manchester"


   This was always going to be a concert for the youngsters in terms of the bands but what a great start with Marcus Mumford introducing a 'moments silence' for those effected by the recent 'terror' attacks and then singing "Timshel" which is moving song that fitted the reflection and celebration that is a concert to follow such horror!! Love drives out fear indeed... "We're still singing our songs" was great too from Robbie Williams leading the crowd...
   In Oz our media coverage today has also included the cover by Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over."
   I love music... for lots of reasons... including it's capacity to transport you in time and place and in things like this concert to assert that although people are dented, they're not broken... although there's fear, ongoing violence and a world in turmoil, people want to say that someone bringing a bomb into the foyer of a concert is 'madness'...
   At some time we will have to come to grips with the fact that US foreign policy, and the coalition of the willing, oil and military action in the middle east are yielding an extreme response that whilst never justifying terrorism, is contributing to the anger that creates it!!
   The loss of life in these attacks that will go on, needs to be rested with love in communities that pull together, with celebrations of life and also with ways of helping people work through the aftermath... the concert can't bring anyone back but it can contribute to the healing of emotional wounds!!

Postscript:
The way the artists and songs unfolded in the concert provided a pretty solid journey through grief, an array of feelings and on into love, hope and celebration, even determination to hold to something bigger and worthy of celebration!! Space to grieve, to move and to express something bigger... but also room to just be or to not be able to move...

AND here regarding money raised for the RED  CROSS

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Future for "Recognition" of First Peoples in Australia

"...in 2017 we seek to be heard"

   It was inspirational to catch 'most' of Q&A tonight on ABC TV here in Australia. The Panel were at Parliament House and held a discussion and answered audience questions following on from the gathering of community representatives that formed part of a two year long process within consultation with indigenous people about the future, about "recognition" and about genuine change.
   I have always been a supporter of the movement for 'Recognition' of Aboriginal people in the Australian Constitution. For me it's always been as another step on the path to further efforts towards reconciliation on indigenous terms. Tonight's discussion canvassed this and many other important aspects...
   For me the standout reminder was something I believe about any current issue you can name. Our politicians seem unwilling or are simply unable to imagine a vision for a better future of our country. This is what to takes to bring real change, to bring people along with you and to LEAD!!
   Indigenous issue and identity are/is bigger than the current conversation... It's also true that when you read the new Constitutions of countries who have renewed theirs in light of historical mistakes and issues, there are some outstanding ethos statements and visionary thinking. e.g Canada was mentioned tonight and it particularly describes who people see themselves as and how they hope to be seen by others in terms of their core values... not so much how territories will organise their commerce and law... 

It would be brilliant to see a new Constitution, not just an amended one...
The gathering at Uluru was always going to be a landmark and it didn't fail to deliver, it's only the vacuum of Politicians reactions since that prevent the work from being recognised for the visionary work it is, especially as a response is often that "aboriginal people themselves are not of one mind on these issues"... Here's hoping it creates a desire for people to suspend their opinions and take time to listen to indigenous voices, to hear the imagined future where incarceration, poor health and absence of opportunity are all addressed... Now is the time to know what the Statement says and to read it and sit with it for a while and to listen to Aboriginal people, their story, perspective and hopes...

ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART
We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from 'time immemorial', and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or 'mother nature', and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link Is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia's nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.


In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

Friday, May 26, 2017

"Don't Look Back in Anger" OASIS


My Facebook post this morning:
"I was thinking yesterday about the bombings in Thailand and Bangladesh that sit alongside the equally senseless act in Manchester and how that instance might even be enough to reunite two brothers for a concert some time as part of a defiant or hopeful response!!
Alongside the selfless acts of caring and offering of refuge in the wake of the terrorist bomb in Manchester I see this morning that the crowd in the city for a time of silence then also spontaneously started singing Oasis "Don't Look Back in Anger"!! In the world of social media the immediacy was palpable in both news and mobile phone versions...
The song gave way to a football chant from some, there were flowers, balloons and a 'sea of people'...
I wonder about spirit and solidarity and current day crowds in the secular west finding ways to express the grief, yearning and hopes present somewhere in such horrific happenings."

"Don't Look Back in Anger" OASIS
Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don't you know you might find
A better place to play?
You said that you'd never been
But all the things that you've seen
They slowly fade away

So I'll start a revolution from my bed
Cause you said the brains I had went to my head
Step outside, summertime's in bloom
Stand up beside the fireplace
Take that look from off your face
You ain't ever gonna burn my heart out

And so, Sally can wait
She knows it's too late as we're walking on by
Her soul slides away
But don't look back in anger
I heard you say

Take me to the place where you go
Where nobody knows if it's night or day
But please don't put your life in the hands
Of a Rock 'n' Roll band
Who'll throw it all away

I'm gonna start a revolution from my bed
Cause you said the brains I had went to my head
Step outside, 'cause summertime's in bloom
Stand up beside the fireplace
Take that look from off your face
Cause you ain't ever gonna burn my heart out

And so, Sally can wait
She knows it's too late as she's walking on by
My soul slides away
But don't look back in anger
I heard you say

So, Sally can wait
She knows it's too late as we're walking on by
Her soul slides away
But don't look back in anger
I heard you say

So, Sally can wait
She knows it's too late as she's walking on by
My soul slides away
But don't look back in anger
Don't look back in anger
I heard you say

At least not today

Make of it what you will, it was one persons spontaneous action, then another to encourage people to sing up, with words of defiance and spirit that won't have captured everyone but did seem to reflect something important if awkward!!


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

"One Country" Midnight Oil Por Sorte Brasilia


“One Country” Midnight Oil
Who'd like to change the world
Who wants to shoot the curl
Who gets to work for bread
Who wants to get ahead

Who hands out equal rights
who starts and ends that fight
And not rant and rave
Or end up a slave

Who can make hard won gains
Fall like the summer rain
Now every man must be
What his life can be
So don't call me the tune, I will walk away

Who wants to please everyone
Who says it all can be done
Still sit up on that fence
No-one I've heard of yet

Don't call me baby
Don't talk in maybes
Don't talk like has-beens
Sing it like it should be

Who laughs at their nagging doubts
Lying on a neon shroud, running around
Just got to touch someone
I want to be

So don't call me the tune, I will walk away

One country one
Country one country

Who wants to sit around
Turn it up, turn it down
Only a man can be
What his life can be

One vision
One people
One landmass
We are defenceless
We have a lifeline

One ocean
One policy
Seabed lies
One passion
One movement
One instant
One difference
One lifetime
One understanding

One country
One understanding

Transgression
Redemption
One island
One placemat
One firmament
One element
One moment
One fusion

Yes, and one time

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Trump-o-meter Update


Well, it's pretty ordinary so far by any measure!!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Problem with Pauline


Dear Pauline Hanson,
As I've observed to many friends the tricky thing about your representation in Federal Politics is not that you're a lone voice for racism, xenophobia and simplistic world views [or that you are deluded in thinking people want you to represent them]. It is that you do indeed speak for many average Australians. There are many people missing out and looking to blame, feeling unheard and seeking to speak out. The big problem with this is scapegoating.

I whole heartedly agree that our Leaders have lost their way in terms of ability to understand the concerns and issues of everyday people. You only have to see a government clamping down on our poorest people in the name of major economic reform to understand that they haven't a clue.
BUT here are a few of the problems with all this:

- You do not speak for me on any issue I can name
- I am not part of a vocal minority on this
- Blanket bans on peaceful people of faith [even different faiths] is a pathway through fear of difference into making the issues worse. It's logic is akin to me posting a hashtag #BANEVERYREDHEAD in order to have you removed from a position of power. The others have an unknown potential to be just like you so if in doubt insult all of them
- When you speak of banning sharia law, you are again generalising about extremes and don't really understand what you are talking about. Your lack of willingness to learn is lost on many of your supporters who react likewise
- Same with halal
- Nobody has truly held you accountable for your claim we are in danger of being swamped by Asians, simply allowing you to shift target onto the latest group many in our country don't understand.. so choose to get angry about
- Our country is not like a plane you can land, sort out the passengers to leave only those you know and like and then take off again. It is more akin to the EDS advert 'building a dream' in the air [while no analogy bears close examination] where we have to be a community, build relationships, be multi-cultural/global/modern/caring/just and mature along the journey
- Your perspectives and policies are as conflicted as the ABC radio program "Australia All Over" which rails against technology while inviting listeners to stream the program or interact in Facebook, SMS etc. The program celebrates much that is quintessentially Aussie but: glosses over multiculturalism; ignores development is the 2/3s world as linked to our prosperity; confuses jingoism with genuine worth and cultural value; and then runs a sublime piece on Blaze Aid, a local persons wonderful story etc etc... confusing times indeed
- Not everything in the world is better viewed through the globs of paint and fading coca cola stickers on the front window of the fish and chip shop. Neither is that true from the balcony of Cafe Sydney. Most people live somewhere in between on a spectrum of life issues, concerns and day to day dilemmas. Isolating people never helps.

As a person who seeks to participate in God's activity of reconciliation and renewal in the world, taking Jesus of Nazareth's values and ethos as an example, I find all the conflict, false pathways and troubles we are living through in Scripture [at the heart of it's story indeed]. I find none of your proposed solutions amongst the parables, stories and values [including from many OT heroes with feet of clay]. Instead I see invitations to 'welcome the stranger', the golden rule, care for widows, orphans, the poor and ill... stories promoting cohesion and flourishing. I see an image of God siding with those who are pushed to the very edge of our society. AND yes I see a 'church' that fails in its own attempts to live all this out... those shortcomings don't invalidate the invitation or the possibilities. There's much more to be written but even more to be lived by an alternative narrative to your fear and oversimplification...

Friday, March 10, 2017

"Joshua Tree" Album 30th Anniversary



They've gone on so long they are a parody of themselves and they have always polarised music fans But this song is timeless through the rare gift the band have to reinvent the key themes and images to reflect the current day context. This song, 'Bullet the Blue Sky', 'One Tree Hill', Pride etc have all had that role over time...

"Where the Streets Have No Name" U2
Live with Zoo TV 'Zoomerang' Tour 1993 Sydney Football Stadium

Perhaps it doesn't matter whether the song was inspired by a trip to Ethiopia or the way you judged someone just by their street address in Dublin... it's a special track from what even those who've gone off the band agree is a landmark creative album!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

"Supermarket Flowers"



A wonderful song from a wonderful story and a deeply significant time in life...
For Ed Sheeran's Grandma!!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Australia Day PART TWO Paul Keating REDFERN

   Australia Day ALWAYS reminds me of this Speech! I still remember watching it on the TV News that night and even with less passion for and experience of the deep issues it addresses I knew it was something so important. It evokes similarly strong feelings I held when we did hear Shane Blackman and others in Belmore Park in 1988.
   When Geoff Smith and I recalled this speech recently the anecdote was shared of Uncle Ray Minniecon talking about what it was like to be there...
   At the beginning [and you can hear it if you know] the crowd had a palpable anger and unrest, thinking blah, blah, blah... yep, here we go, the usual superficial stuff from our politicians. Only the raw honesty and plain speaking changes that...



Transcript
Redfern Speech (Year for the World's Indigenous People)
Delivered in Redfern Park by Prime Minister Paul Keating, 10 December 1992

Ladies and gentlemen
I am very pleased to be here today at the launch of Australia's celebration of the 1993 International Year of the World's Indigenous People. It will be a year of great significance for Australia. 
It comes at a time when we have committed ourselves to succeeding in the test which so far we have always failed.

Because, in truth, we cannot confidently say that we have succeeded as we would like to have succeeded if we have not managed to extend opportunity and care, dignity and hope to the indigenous people of Australia - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.

This is a fundamental test of our social goals and our national will: our ability to say to ourselves and the rest of the world that Australia is a first rate social democracy, that we are what we should be - truly the land of the fair go and the better chance.

There is no more basic test of how seriously we mean these things.
It is a test of our self-knowledge.
Of how well we know the land we live in. How well we know our history.
How well we recognise the fact that, complex as our contemporary identity is, it cannot be separated from Aboriginal Australia.
How well we know what Aboriginal Australians know about Australia. 

Redfern is a good place to contemplate these things.
Just a mile or two from the place where the first European settlers landed, in too many ways it tells us that their failure to bring much more than devastation and demoralisation to Aboriginal Australia continues to be our failure.

More I think than most Australians recognise, the plight of Aboriginal Australians affects us all.
In Redfern it might be tempting to think that the reality Aboriginal Australians face is somehow contained here, and that the rest of us are insulated from it.
But of course, while all the dilemmas may exist here, they are far from contained. We know the same dilemmas and more are faced all over Australia.

That is perhaps the point of this Year of the World's Indigenous People: to bring the dispossessed out of the shadows, to recognise that they are part of us, and that we cannot give indigenous Australians up without giving up many of our own most deeply held values, much of our own identity - and our own humanity.

Nowhere in the world, I would venture, is the message more stark than it is in Australia.
We simply cannot sweep injustice aside. Even if our own conscience allowed us to, I am sure, that in due course, the world and the people of our region would not.
There should be no mistake about this - our success in resolving these issues will have a significant bearing on our standing in the world.

However intractable the problems seem, we cannot resign ourselves to failure - any more than we can hide behind the contemporary version of Social Darwinism which says that to reach back for the poor and dispossessed is to risk being dragged down.
That seems to me not only morally indefensible, but bad history. We non-Aboriginal Australians should perhaps remind ourselves that Australia once reached out for us.

Didn't Australia provide opportunity and care for the dispossessed Irish? The poor of Britain? The refugees from war and famine and persecution in the countries of Europe and Asia?

Isn't it reasonable to say that if we can build a prosperous and remarkably harmonious multicultural society in Australia, surely we can find just solutions to the problems which beset the first Australians - the people to whom the most injustice has been done.
And, as I say, the starting point might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians.

It begins, I think, with that act of recognition.
Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing.
We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. 
We brought the diseases. The alcohol.
We committed the murders.
We took the children from their mothers.
We practised discrimination and exclusion.
It was our ignorance and our prejudice.
And our failure to imagine these things being done to us.

With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds.

We failed to ask - how would I feel if this were done to me?
As a consequence, we failed to see that what we were doing degraded all of us.
If we needed a reminder of this, we received it this year.
The Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody showed with devastating clarity that the past lives on in inequality, racism and injustice.

In the prejudice and ignorance of non-Aboriginal Australians, and in the demoralisation and desperation, the fractured identity, of so many Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
For all this, I do not believe that the Report should fill us with guilt.
Down the years, there has been no shortage of guilt, but it has not produced the responses we need.
Guilt is not a very constructive emotion.
I think what we need to do is open our hearts a bit.
All of us.

Perhaps when we recognise what we have in common we will see the things which must be done - the practical things.
There is something of this in the creation of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
The Council's mission is to forge a new partnership built on justice and equity and an appreciation of the heritage of Australia's indigenous people.

In the abstract those terms are meaningless.

We have to give meaning to "justice" and "equity" - and, as I have said several times this year, we will only give them meaning when we commit ourselves to achieving concrete results.

If we improve the living conditions in one town, they will improve in another. And another.
If we raise the standard of health by twenty per cent one year, it will be raised more the next.
If we open one door others will follow.
When we see improvement, when we see more dignity, more confidence, more happiness - we will know we are going to win.
We need these practical building blocks of change. The Mabo Judgement should be seen as one of these.

By doing away with the bizarre conceit that this continent had no owners prior to the settlement of Europeans, Mabo establishes a fundamental truth and lays the basis for justice.
It will be much easier to work from that basis than has ever been the case in the past.
For that reason alone we should ignore the isolated outbreaks of hysteria and hostility of the past few months.
Mabo is an historic decision - we can make it an historic turning point, the basis of a new relationship between indigenous and non-Aboriginal Australians.
The message should be that there is nothing to fear or to lose in the recognition of historical truth, or the extension of social justice, or the deepening of Australian social democracy to include indigenous Australians.

There is everything to gain.
Even the unhappy past speaks for this.

Where Aboriginal Australians have been included in the life of Australia they have made remarkable contributions.
Economic contributions, particularly in the pastoral and agricultural industry. They are there in the frontier and exploration history of Australia.
They are there in the wars.
In sport to an extraordinary degree.
In literature and art and music.

In all these things they have shaped our knowledge of this continent and of ourselves. They have shaped our identity.
They are there in the Australian legend.
We should never forget - they have helped build this nation.

And if we have a sense of justice, as well as common sense, we will forge a new partnership.
As I said, it might help us if we non-Aboriginal Australians imagined ourselves dispossessed of land we had lived on for fifty thousand years - and then imagined ourselves told that it had never been ours.

Imagine if ours was the oldest culture in the world and we were told that it was worthless.
Imagine if we had resisted this settlement, suffered and died in the defence of our land, and then were told in history books that we had given up without a fight.

Imagine if non-Aboriginal Australians had served their country in peace and war and were then ignored in history books.
Imagine if our feats on sporting fields had inspired admiration and patriotism and yet did nothing to diminish prejudice.
Imagine if our spiritual life was denied and ridiculed.
Imagine if we had suffered the injustice and then were blamed for it.
It seems to me that if we can imagine the injustice we can imagine its opposite.
And we can have justice.

I say that for two reasons:
I say it because I believe that the great things about Australian social democracy reflect a fundamental belief in justice.
And I say it because in so many other areas we have proved our capacity over the years to go on extending the realms of participation, opportunity and care.

Just as Australians living in the relatively narrow and insular Australia of the 1960s imagined a culturally diverse, worldly and open Australia, and in a generation turned the idea into reality, so we can turn the goals of reconciliation into reality.
There are very good signs that the process has begun.
The creation of the Reconciliation Council is evidence itself.
The establishment of the ATSIC - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission - is also evidence.
The Council is the product of imagination and good will.
ATSIC emerges from the vision of indigenous self-determination and self- management.
The vision has already become the reality of almost 800 elected Aboriginal Regional Councillors and Commissioners determining priorities and developing their own programs.
All over Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are taking charge of their own lives. And assistance with the problems which chronically beset them is at last being made available in ways developed by the communities themselves.

If these things offer hope, so does the fact that this generation of Australians is better informed about Aboriginal culture and achievement, and about the injustice that has been done, than any generation before.

We are beginning to more generally appreciate the depth and the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
From their music and art and dance we are beginning to recognise how much richer our national life and identity will be for the participation of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

We are beginning to learn what the indigenous people have known for many thousands of years - how to live with our physical environment.
Ever so gradually we are learning how to see Australia through Aboriginal eyes, beginning to recognise the wisdom contained in their epic story.

I think we are beginning to see how much we owe the indigenous Australians and how much we have lost by living so apart.
I said we non-indigenous Australians should try to imagine the Aboriginal view.
It can't be too hard. Someone imagined this event today, and it is now a marvellous reality and a great reason for hope.
There is one thing today we cannot imagine.
We cannot imagine that the descendants of people whose genius and resilience maintained a culture here through fifty thousand years or more, through cataclysmic changes to the climate and environment, and who then survived two centuries of disposession and abuse, will be denied their place in the modern Australian nation.
We cannot imagine that.
We cannot imagine that we will fail.
And with the spirit that is here today I am confident that we won't. I am confident that we will succeed in this decade.
Thank you

"Australia Day" 2017 Part ONE

I acknowledge the Awabakal People who share a unique relationship with the land on which I live and work. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and being formed for the future.

I could tell Australia Day was coming in the week that's just passed by:
- The crappy merchandise and [made in Bangladesh] swimwear is in the shops
- Reindeer antlers have given way to car window flags often accompanied by xenophobic stickers
- Fear of difference brings unhelpful perspectives on the burqa and the hijab
- Social media includes people's mixed feelings about indigenous history and the 26th January

There will be some diverse celebrations in places like Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and indigenous culture will be included but it could be so much more. Not enough people have the empathy to even consider the issues. Is our sense of identity so fragile?

I believe we are 'the lucky country' and any travel I've been fortunate enough to undertake reinforces our climate, landscape, opportunities, broader values, blue sky, urban and rural settings and how great a place we live in. Being Australian to me is bigger than jingoism and more important than stereotypes. I choose to prioritise the values I hold that flow from my faith and where that and patriotism or nationalism are in conflict, being Australian comes second. It's far from a thoughtless or ungrateful attitude, quite the opposite. Even in sport it's great to have a team or competitor that "punches above our weight" but that's no reason to celebrate poor behaviour...

The Triple J Hottest 100 and Festivals like the 'Big Day Out,' the ODI cricket in Adelaide and the Australian of the Year Awards celebrate some aspects of our creativity. I for one will be buying some lamb for the BBQ this year [inspired by some of the the nonsensical responses to the clever TV advert].

One SBS TV and NITV contribution to the conversation here
Listen to inspired music "Under the Motherland's Flag" from Jim Moginie here

Here's a small re-write of my 2011 poem the stanzas of which may sound familiar:

My Country 2017 [inspired by Dorothea Mackeller]
The love of field and pruning
Of green tree shaded lanes
Of pommie woods and gardens
Is the backpackers domain
Putting up with grey-blue distance
Brown streams and that low sky
Is nice to sometimes visit
But we could pass it by

I love a sunburnt country
Across the great western plains
Of bushwalkers mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains
I love our far horizons
I love the Bar Beach sea
The beauty and the terror
The wide brown land for me

A stark white ring-barked forest
The loggers lop in tune
Three Sisters and Blue Mountains
The midday sun breaks through
Annoying spikey shrubs
Lantana and pesky weeds
A bunch of 50 dollar natives
With a protea is all you need

Core of our soul, our country
Land of storylines told
For flood and fire and famine
Our payback comes threefold
Farms and backyards dampen
Rain thunders on the tin roof
And green tinges reappear
The steady soaking rain

Core of their soul, their country
Land of the Rainbow snake
Flood and fire and famine
The dreaming stories make
Sand through the hand is poured
Lingiari was his name
The greenness will return
When they the land can claim

An opal-hearted country
A willful, lavish land
It isn't love or leave us
fear of difference holds us back
Our diversity is richness
first or second to arrive
We owe it to this brown country
To at least give hope a try

Friday, January 20, 2017

Row K Seat 17 "Lion" rated PG 118mins SPOILER ALERT

"A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometres from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family."


Based on a true story...
   Saroo Brierley is delivered to an adoptive family as arranged in Tasmania. Restless and determined to understand his own story he really does try to use Google Earth to find his mother and family. It's a story beautifully and movingly told in both India and Tasmania [and Melbourne].
   It's about identity, choices, finding yourself and your path in life. It reflects on real circumstances and consequences in a world of such disparity where we have recently been reminded the world's eight most wealthy people have as much as 50% of the world's poorest. But go further, most of us in Australia would make the top 1-4%.



   Sue Brierley and her husband adopted two Indian boys and that was not without it's costs and challenges but their story is real and inspired. In the same way the film's production company have launched a charity to assist 'lost' children in India.
   It's easily the most I've teared up in a film for some time, it's not sad, it's moving and real and taps anyone's story about their identity and the experiences that shape a life, including mine. 
   The specifics of India are ever present but drop away to reveal the personal stories that happen in that place. The Australian connection, accents and time in history give the film a texture unlike big budget American films. We are fortunate the Weinsten's didn't transplant the story as a generic US story but stayed true to Saroo's life and journey as celebrated by him in the local media and premiered here in recent weeks around Christmas!!
   Visions, ever present people in our stories, faith and one's place in the world offer a rich spirituality within this story of place and people. I would happily watch it again, soon!!







30 Reflections #01 Context



  What a time to begin to exercise gifts for ministry with young people!! Generations of young people disappeared from the mainstream church denominations as I was finishing High School. Massive social change and a new kind of questioning fitted to the times meant 'all bets were off'. People discovered the sky didn't fall if they opted out and doubt, skepticism about hypocrisy and the changing values across society exposed a fragility or social convention of church participation.
   Curricula struggled, people began to write books about ministry with small numbers and divides opened up around focus, purpose and core message or what the 'good news' actually is.
   Suddenly models of ministry with youth which were built on a steady stream of participants began to struggle. Mark Senter was writing about "The Coming Revolution in Youth Ministry" and "Four Views of Youth Ministry." David Bosch was writing "Transforming Mission." The wider church was just being confronted by the idea that our 'mission field' came home and it was no longer OK for the "preparatory" model to predominate. As I lived in two worlds [both anglo middle class ones mind you] I tried to bring empathy, non judgement, questions, creativity and what I knew to be of value in any context, with me!! Movies, music and other conventional stories could come from any sources and most that were not 1980s culture of 'copying' e.g. terrible Christian music and films could be part of 'culture-making' in a new way of 'announcing the existence of the rule and reign of God' if only we could be communities as visible signs of this reality [sorry my post is getting nerdy and jargon filled which I used to pride myself at being neither of]...

I'm jumping ahead a bit BUT some inherent and some learnt values:
- Young people are people and 'adolescence' can look like but is not a mental illness
- Goals need to be shared and have ownership amongst the young people, not just my agendas
- Young people have an ability to make meaning, find significance and have great 'bullcrap' detectors
- In every group of young people some will warm to a more black and white story of the Christian faith and then some will embrace the grey questions. This often includes being more immersed in 'the world where they live' and the rich challenge of helping them do so. That's diversity.
- Place sharing, un-shockability, suspending judgement, being yourself and listening are vital
- Just as I and my life story deconstructed and helped reconstruct 'the way I speak of God' and what it means to me to seek to 'follow' Jesus life, example and relationship with God... I can share stories, space and life in ways that help others
- I hate making mistakes but I do try to learn from them...
- I avoid conflict if I can, but am much better than ever at it when I can't
- As a 'big picture person' I have learnt to overcommit less so as to not appear like I can't organise
- I care much less whether everybody likes me or values my contribution or me

There's many more things to write and one thing I'm learning and being affirmed in these days is that so much of this translates to people of all ages. People have occasionally commented to the effect "I guess that may be relevant in a youth context OR I know your experience is with young people BUT..." OK, better post this or I'll never put the full stop and write Post #02

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Celebrating Thirty Years


   It occurred to me late last year that January 2017 represents thirty years of 'putting one foot after the other' pursuing what I perceived to be the 'right' choice for my work. As in, doing something I've loved as what the average person knows as their job. Part time University was a job, Accountancy Trainee or Manager in Training and even doing a Diploma in Education were a job. This is more the sometimes overblown, over complicated, pursued or misunderstood sense of call.
 
- I knew it would be a mistake to be an Accountant and I struggled at University part time
- I loved my voluntary youth leadership role/s
- The Uniting Church existence and ethos are crucial to my story
- I put my hand up locally but needed to go further afield
- Normanhurst took a chance after they'd had some less effective experiences
- I started as Parish Assistant Youth & Retirement Village Pastoral Carer for two years
- I finished a Bachelor of Economics and started a patchwork of formation/education/training
- I participated in networks, had mentors, listened, learnt from mistakes
- Dip. Ed and SRE teaching
- Order of St Stephen Hunter Regional Youth Worker
- NSW/ACTStatewide Youth Unit
- Hunter Youth Ministry Development & Resource Minister Upper Hunter
- Congregational Minister at Morisset Uniting

There are learnings, key relationships, anecdotes, how we speak of God and models/ideas to share
[in coming weeks as I'm on holidays]

Anyhow I'll have a fittingly quiet celebration of fav. food and beverage this coming week sometime with more reflections to follow!! It's a bit like this audio only youtube song



"The Calling" Mary Chapin Carpenter
Deep in your blood or a voice in your head
On a dark lonesome highway
It finds you instead
So certain it knows you, you can't turn away
Something or someone has found you today

Genius or Jesus, maybe he's seen us
But who would believe us
I can't really say
Whatever the calling, the stumbling or falling
You follow it knowing
There's no other way, there's no other way

There are zealots and preachers
And readers of dreams
The righteous yell loudest
And the saved rise to sing
The lonely and lost are just waiting to hear
Any moment their purpose
Will be perfectly clear

And then life would mean more
Than their name on their door
And that far distant shore that's so near
They'd hear the calling
And stumbling and falling
They'd follow it knowing
There's nothing to fear
Nothing to fear

I don't remember a voice
On a dark, lonesome road
When I started this journey so long ago
I was only just trying to outrun the noise
There was never a question of having a choice
Jesus or genie, maybe they've seen me
But who would believe me
I can't really say
Whatever the calling, the stumbling and falling
I followed it knowing there's no other way

Jesus or genie, maybe he's seen me
But who would believe me
I can't really say
Whatever the calling, stumbling and falling
I got through it knowing there's no other way
There's no other way

Movies I'm Looking Forward to in 2017

It's obviously easier to find advance reference to blockbusters BUT here goes in no particular order:
[click on most of the film titles to see a trailer]

Lion
Looks a great yarn with a terrific cast, should have more awards as a Weinstein project
Manchester by the Sea
Critical acclaim
Fences
Some stories are worth the admission price [none are worth the cost of snacks/drinks]
Hidden Figures
A great story and I reckon it'll be my pick of the year by the end!!
Elle
A thriller
Jasper Jones
Based on the aussie novel
The Zookeepers Wife
A tough but important story
Star Wars Episode VIII
Looking forward to the unfolding story
Justice League
Ramping up the Affleck
Dunkirk
Hoping Chris Nolan doesn't stuff it up
No fan of war/violence these films tell our anglo founding stories one way or another
Spiderman Homecoming
Don't be confused, this is 'young' Peter Parker
Logan
I know, but they're action packed escapist stories
Wonder Woman
Who is UN empowerment symbol of the year
Kingsman The Golden Circle 
A quirky 'sleeper' if they get it right
The internet is full of fan made trailers
Jumanji 2
Where the kids get trapped in the game world
Oscar nomination for Dwayne Johnson?
Captain Underpants The First Epic Movie great storybook/s
John Wick Chapter 2
Because it will be completely ridiculous and he will kill whoever
Cars 3 Lightning Strikes
Really, but it could be OK

Yeah, not so worried about...
Thor, Transformers, War on Planet of the Apes, Beauty & the Beast, Pitch Perfect 3, World War Z 2 [the irony],  The God Particle, Flatliners, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Smurfs, TRainspotting 2, Bladerunner 2049, etc

Sadly the number of TV shows remade as films, sequels and bad ideas is only increasing
I would hope 'Baywatch' with Zac Efron is somewhere near the bottom of the curve