Thursday, September 08, 2016

10 months and Not Counting

   Conversations with people about my years of focus on working with young people vs what I'm doing now seem to come in waves and I suppose correspond with finding your self in new networks or social settings. I talk about my role at Morisset Uniting 'Church in the Trees' and I've been reflecting on how enjoyable the last 10 months have been, how a 'fresh start' isn't always great in the mid to longer term but so far this is very much the case. I've been very excited that simple ideas I've grown to value, about how you go about this thing called 'ministry' and the edge of encouraging people in their engagement in God's mission in the world, is for me built on things I've learnt working with young people and in sitting on the edges and observing [something I'm good at]!!
   Being straight with people, listening hard and acknowledging your own limitations while saying "thank you" to those who observe your strengths are building blocks. Working out the simplest ministry tasks that have the biggest value to those who belong to your community is worth the effort. Sticking to what you know intuitively, being willing to speak up about ethos and values, trying really hard to live those out and affirming what you see that's good and of value don't hurt either.
   I identified early that leading Funerals was going to be a learning curve for me, so too is polity and the nitty gritty of our organisational shape, with all the variants of local history. e.g "this is how it's been done" but checking for how long by who and how it was done before that.
   "Are you over the honeymoon period then?" is an interesting question which presupposes a few things, most commonly that people are on best behaviour when you arrive and can wear your difference for a time but eventually true character or annoyance will out. Instead for me it's involved the joy of honest feedback both positive and negative but also seeing others relate as they naturally do and beginning to work with those interrelationships for us all to be better and more true to our values. In other words, no I don't have whinges and complaints to make or I haven't found walls to bang my head on... I've received fair comment and have unearthed ways people need my help. The end of the honeymoon marks the beginning of the real work of ongoing relationship, but not from the default of me having all the problems... I did have a 29 year preparation for this last 10 months...
   I have sat with people in their last days and hours, re-assured someone who felt very uncomfortable that God had inflicted cancer on them when they had "been a good person" while seemingly in the world people do bad things and 'get away with it.' This was a person I'd met then for the first time as I stood in to help out. This lady would have since passed away and was to have a Funeral with only her son present as she had no other family. She was fine with that... it had been much the same for her husband a few years earlier.
   I have sometimes missed that 'extra question' through the usual weariness. The question that unlocks how someone really feels or what's really happening. But we get there somehow, mostly.
   Someone told me they "liked the way I spoke openly about doubt, questions, God and the wrestle to have faith." That person had life experience to challenge any notion of a God and they were saying they found this encouraging.
   I've also worked myself to a standstill getting Weekend OUT ready with a bunch of great people on a very small team. Next year will need to be done differently and it will be...
   How often do you see something horrendous on the TV and wonder, what can I do about that? Imagine being able to give people the bank a/c details for an alternative community 'Meeting Place" that would better enable people to do something positive and practical in the face of the treatment of those victims in the story. So it is with the 'Don Dale Centre' story on TV and the community development at John Flynn Memorial UCA in Alice Springs... but there's still encouragement to be offered for people to actually give!!
   It's September already and it's now time to:
- Mindmap the next missional steps
- Start Taskgroups about "Fix It Festival", "Advent Workshops","3rd Sunday","Life" event and a few other things like fundraising

Lucky I come back to life in spring and gain some new energy... apologies for the jargon filled reflection and obscure details BUT this is me processing, not a media release...
 

Monday, September 05, 2016

Where's the Love...


"The Black Eyed Peas" The World = new version of their 9/11 response in the face of the crazy world in which we live!! Can a song change the world? I doubt it... but the question it asks could...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Alphabet Musical Challenge "F" "Feet Touch the Ground" Jebediah


Over on Facebook I'm taking my own alphabet musical challenge and am up to F...
"Feet Touch the Ground" Jedediah and this acoustic version which although it ends abruptly is one of those reminders that a good catchy song sounds great in many different genres!!

Rough out of the key lyrics...

So I thought the worst was over
When my heart stopped beating again
And the weak side of my body has come undone
Through trusting them

So we walked into the building
Took the lift to the third floor
Pain lies behind that door what am I to do now?
When what they tell me is what they sell me
When what they tell me is what they sell me

And I know to be realistic
Will save me from the shock to come
Any fool believes what you tell them
Happiness in being dumb

So we listened to the experts
Everyone needs some kind of guide to help them
See deep inside what am I to do now?
When what they tell me is what they sell me
When what they tell me is what they sell me

And it's not the truth
But I'm not calming down
'Till my feet touch the ground

Sunday, July 10, 2016

'Chewbacca Mom' has her more than 15mins of fame...



With James Corden and JJ Abrams...


And then the National Anthem at the Houston Astros...



Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Church in the Trees" as Winter Kicks In







   Last week I had the privilege of sitting in conversation with an elderly lady who has cancer. She was feeling the loss of independence and wrestling with questions around how these things happen and what the next few weeks held for her. We spoke about family and past, about belief and the end of life. I have said that I took the opportunity to share with her from my "inexperience." These are hard moments having had my own illness battles and a need to watchfully attend to check ups and blood test I am aware of the lurking nature of serious illness and the questions and the isolation. At the same time we spoke of none of those things, only attending to listening.  I was visiting as a help to a nearby congregation but I left my details with caring staff and wonder if we will speak again.
   I have visited others, those who've had an accident and are in rehab, those with chronic pain and the inconvenience it brings, others to catch up and hear more of each others stories. Two things are worth writing about. The first is the tiring privilege it is to get to know people beyond a veneer, even if that's momentary and just a beginning. The second is the smug inner smile of nearly thirty years of advocacy that youth ministry is real ministry, with real people, not half people. The things I have always held to be important around empathy, listening, conversation, being present and the vale of time invested are all equally valid and past experiences count. There's much to learn but it's from new experiences, not totally new circumstances or context. Sometimes I've been right [even when formation processes seek to remind you that this can't be true no matter how confident of it you are because it's held that 'sometimes the student actually doesn't know what's best'] 
   There's plenty happening... a new storage shed and table and benches on the edge of our Community Garden and the wonderful news the local 'Sustainability Group' or MAPS are interested in investing time and energy into our Garden!! This is a remarkable development. I have taken a personal interest in the Garden beset with problems and false starts and to see a group 'fall into place' makes me glad I chose to problem solve and invest time... especially as the MAPS group was not my doing. I look forward to Spring and some plan around art/space/spirituality/labyrinths and also [thanks for idea Lisa Wriley] glue-ing small signs to cutlery to label plants/vegetables in the garden to make our open invitation to grab stuff, an informed choice!!
   We are now into week three of a 'discernment exercise' with over 50 volunteer tasks and ideas on newsprint in our hall. There are post it notes and texts where people have spent time discerning where their gifts and talents could continue to be used or any new directions and opportunity for some to lay down a few tasks and allow space for others. The most exciting spin off is the way this process opens up and invitation to those who've joined our community in recent months... it's  low key focused process to make the invitation to get involved!! It continues... and includes some new missional efforts around frozen meals, a Movie Discussion Group and more...
   This Sunday we will reflect on and celebrate it being 39 years since the Uniting Church came into being. We will focus on: the logo; our identity drawn from the "Basis of Union;" what parts of our ethos make us UCA; things we stand for and are doing and how this local embodiment is seeking to engage in God's mission in the world as part of that story.
   Two new things are in the pipeline!! Despite a rocky start to the planning and logistics we have managed to secure 6 of the 8 Candidates for the Seat of Hunter, for an Election Forum on Wed 29th June. I'm excited that flyers and news articles got out there. I believe I did good work making sure someone else wasn't planning it and yet seeking community collaborators. I know people are glad it's on and despite 6pm end of June dark and cold I'm hopeful of a decent crowd for the first time this region votes in this seat. We are seeking to be "good neighbour" and offering this hospitality to all in the community!!
Lastly a reminder there's work yet to do!!
   I haven't had/made/found the time to personally follow up and seek to meet with the local Awabakal people and the High School Indigenous program leaders/elders. Instead I've had a number of second hand conversations with people who have sent me 'some details' and offered to send my contacts to those people should they wish to accept my overtures to meet and seek common ground. A 'known' Christian artist was suggested to follow up and I will do that because his 'Stations' art is quite famous!! So, no school art this year.
   At one point I was inspired to try to use our space as an art display space for NAIDOC Week. Some positive conversation saw an idea shared at a local network BUT there was reticence about this idea "in the church." How I wish I'd been in that room... 
I contacted the Lake Mac Council Aboriginal Community Development Officer who I've met to finally seek some of the contact details I need. I got lots of info!! We went a step further in the story of this being done before at Morisset and we are chasing Thomas or 'Turtle' who has previously had his work on display here and may now live near Gosford... 
   Check how great the pics look!! In the end we've run out of time for July BUT I'm now spurred on for September when it warms up, through personal contacts in the network and doing the work to build relationships of trust!!
   I don't know if we have space and time for anything more here BUT if we do then undies and socks for Wayside Chapel are on the agenda... never short of ways to be helpful!! 
   


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

"The Children Came Back" feat Gurrumul & Dwayne Everettsmith


This is the soundtrack to the NRL Rugby League "Indigenous Round" this weekend here in Oz, reworking Archie Roach's song... "They Took the Children Away"

It's part of the NRL being onboard with the 'Recognise' movement seeking recognition of indigenous culture, people and history in the Australian Constitution...


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"One Country" Midnight Oil



This would be great 'somewhere' on Sunday though it doesn't quite fit my current context!1
I dedicate this playing to Duncan Storrar #QandA questioner who nailed it yesterday with his question about Budget Tax Cuts for those on $80K a year vs raising his tax threshold etc...

Saturday, May 07, 2016

"Daydreaming" Radiohead + new album in 2 days



Don't always love this band, but usually find something to like a lot!!

Friday, May 06, 2016

"The Truth Walks Slowly [Through the Countryside]"



"Here's a new clip for a song co-written and performed by Rob and O'Shea with daughter Jay on vocals" This is a sad, difficult but important and sobering story. 'Walk a mile in these shoes' and understand what's at stake!!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

A quiet Facebook Post on a Thursday morning...

   Yesterday on Facebook I did see the Midnight Oil Facebook page notifications that they had changed their profile and background picture to familiar plain and powerful images... but that happens semi regularly, especially with MOMO touring still... little did I know that over my porridge this morning I'd read...

"We wanted you to be the first to know that the five of us are planning to do some gigs in Australia and overseas during 2017. It will probably be at least the end of this year before we know exactly where or when - but if you want to be first to hear about any dates, head over to bit.ly/MidnightOilMailingList and sign up to the mailing list. You can grab your free download of ‘Forgotten Years’ live from Canberra while you’re there and catch up on some other big news too. Hope to see you soon … from Bones, Jim, Martin, Peter and Rob."



   This is unexpected and great news for the rusted on fan, the obsessed, the inspired and those who've missed the opportunity to hear that unique combination of acoustic/rock rhythms and drums of my favourite and unique "Oils"!! I reckon regular fans of "Bluesfest" will be lucky, I think "Beyond" Festival should get straight on "the blower" and try to lock it in... Venues will be interesting BUT imagine Newcastle Workers Club instead of the Ent Cent or outdoors at No2 Sportsground.

I never thought I'd be back at Selina's at Coogee again... who knows... Homebush maybe...

"Holy moly. That is all."


Friday, April 22, 2016

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Rock n Roll Hall of Fame



You'll see this everywhere today on the news of the death of 'Prince' the superlative musician who's stuff I didn't particularly get into but who's creativity was undeniable. The 'Symbol' era became a parody of himself but the point was not letting leeches and money grabbers get their hands on your music.

The best stories are those of regular post gig jams at local hangouts where music continued all night amongst the locals!! This clip shows a band doing a great job of a faithful rendition and out steps the master. Favourite story is a the rock journo asking Eric Clapton what not was like to be the world's best rock guitarist to which he replied "I don't know, why don't you ask Prince?"

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sunday 17th April 'Shepherd and Sheep'

   I said on Sunday that I'd probably get myself into trouble somehow that despite the theme for the day I reckoned there are way better metaphors for us and God, Jesus and us and well, models of leadership, power and mission. At the same time, Paul Ricoeur as usual offers the framework for understanding how the idea made sense in it's listening audience context and then gave us a starting point for ours. I also took the invitation of the commentator who suggested "if you ever preach on Psalm 23, do it today." The reason being it's too easy to leave the Psalm to Funerals as the "go to" for so many people. The invitation revolves around the NRSV words "my whole life long" and I think I heard the collective gulp when I invited us all not to leave our deliberations, faith or response to our Funeral but to understand God's hopes and love for us "our whole lives long".... something like that anyhow...

It was hard for some to hear and had a sense of heaviness in parts...

We sang, we used percussion for "God Has Spoken to His People, hallelujah!"
It's everyone's go but I keep reminding people we are all different and I contend it helps you focus on the words as you try to get the tune and keep banging away in time...

We watched a combined effort video to use an already creative combo and overcome a corrupted file

video

Thanks David McGregor and Chris MacNaught and 'The Work of the People'

We sang this song too...
Regulars know how little I relate to in singing... 
love hearing others sing meaningful contemporary stuff mind you 
and to this end, what fine words...


"Holy Spirit, go before us" TIS 420

1. Holy Spirit, go before us,
every mind and heart prepare
for good news of life in Jesus,
for the joyful hope we share.
gently lead the lost to safety,
gently teach them Wisdom's way,
till they come to seek you gladly,
till we find the words to say.

2. Holy Spirit, come and help us,
give us words to speak of Christ.
teach us how to tell all people:
deepest darkness can be light!
help us tell how faithful God is,
and how Jesus sets us free;
take our words, and make them gospel,
so that many may believe.

3. Holy Spirit, stay to show us
how to serve as Christ served us.
May our words of love be grounded
in love's actions, first and last.
Your good news is news of justice,
and the strong befriend the weak
in your service, till compassion
builds the peace the nations seek

Elizabeth J. Smith 1956 –

Kids in for the holidays were good value and I hope found something in the freedom and permission of the space, to make it OK to come along again!!

I had a great clip about 'power' that didn't end up being the focus...

video

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday Playlist #02 "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" Florence + the Machine


Celebration, reflection, big sound...

Easter Sunday [in case you missed it]












Welcome + Acknowledgement
Introit TiS 381 “This Joyful Eastertide” v1 and chorus
Call to Worship
He is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!

What a joy it is to celebrate the love of God
We are called to be Easter people
Darkness cannot claim us
Fear cannot bind us
Christ is risen
Christ is risen, indeed 
Amen

Jesus is alive again.... 
And we join with all those down the centuries who place their hope in this story of life
Today across the world thousands of people recommit themselves to putting faith into action
To live out God’s grace, compassion and love
Refusing to believe that what can be seen is all there is
Like the sun hitting you in the face, we are warmed into wondering what it all means

Song #01 TiS 370 “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”
Opening Prayer
Storybook “Hunwick’s Egg” by Mem Fox onscreen and shared at the front
[also crayons etc in the space and cardboard 'bricks' to draw/write on]
Song #02 TiS 380 “Yours Be the Glory
Bible Reading/s Isaiah 65: 17-25 Luke 24: 1-12
Video “Rev.” 3min 14
Reflection
Song #03 TiS 390 “Alleluia Give Thanks to the Risen Lord” v1,2,3,5
Announcements/Concerns [only essentials]
Offering
Prayers for the World
‘The Mystery Gift’ explored 'cardboard box at Christmas now opened by the kids]
Song #04 TiS 242 “Lord of the Dance” v1,2,3,5
Sending OUT
Recessional TiS 779  “May the Feet of God Walk with You”

THESE WERE THE NOTES I STARTED WITH BUT DID EXPAND [BRIEFLY]
Easter Sunday Reflection 
[1] Jesus is alive again?  You must be crazy, you’re talking nonsense!!
At least that’s what Jesus disciples thought when Mary, Joanna, Mary
and the other women returned
At v11, “the words seemed to them an idle tale” [literally meaning delirious]

[2] And let’s face it,
If it’s not hard to believe, maybe we’re not really trying…
And as Christian communities I think we sometimes miss a huge opportunity
to say to each other… You know what, if it’s a bit hard to believe,
come on in, you’re amongst friends

Let’s be part of a movement, gathered, trying to work out what it means…
Working to play our part in God’s mission in the world…

[3] 24But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb,
taking the spices that they had prepared…

Nobody expected it to be otherwise BUT

2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3but when they went in, they did not find the body.
THEY DID NOT FIND THE BODY

[4] We can speak in metaphors,
we can define how we speak about God differently,
OR we can claim a ‘simple faith’…

BUT the only way I know how to respond to the RESURRECTION,
To God beating death and showing again the strength of unfathomable love IS...

What happens to people and communities when they live it as a reality
And as defining and shaping and sustaining…
 [EXAMPLES GIVEN...]

KIND OF LIKE “HUNWICK’S EGG… HE WORKS OUT IT’S NOT AN EGG,
IT WON’T HATCH, BUT IT’S BECOME THAT CONNECTION IN HIS LIFE
WITH SOMETHING BIGGER BEYOND HIMSELF AND IT BRINGS COMFORT,
LIFE AND PURPOSE… it's not in the expected form but it's real...

[5] When God’s spirit turns up,
whole communities are transformed by HOPE,

[explain] ETERNITY [National Museum]
“To hope is to dream. Of what might or will be. Of the possible and the mere possible — hope against hope. To hope is to strive for the best.
To build on glimmers of new beginnings. To hope is to never give up.
To remain expectant, against hopes dashed, disappointments, falsities.
To hope is to believe there is a way.”

4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes
stood beside them.

These women are grieving, numb, they would be in the ‘in between space’ regardless
In the middle of that struggle come the words of hope…
[expand]

Remember what he said,
“Why are you looking for the living mong the dead?”
He is not here, but has risen. 6Remember how he told you
8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, 
they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.

[6] Rev Adam Smallbone BBC TV Series 3
St Saviours in the Marshes...A struggling suburban East London congregation
All episode Adam is reminded he volunteered to lend the timber cross
He finally carries it through town and up to the small hill
He is struggling with his mission, questioning, he’s made some mistakes
AND he is wondering what to do, he’s given up…

HE IS MET IN HIS SINGING BY THE MYSTERIOUS CHARACTER
IN A terrible lime tracksuit [beautifully cast as Liam Neeson]

[7] GOD meets Adam in his worst moments/ reminding him it’s in ALL moments
For me this scene is a telling one about faith in a resurrected JESUS
That GOD meets us in all moments of our life
In this scene Adam is reminded “It’s OK” “I’m with you”

OUR TRUTH TO SHARE IS HOW GOD MEETS US,
When we tell our story, when we live it together,
Others might rush back to the tomb, see the folded linen clothes
And go home amazed at what had happened…


and yes, I forgot the Lord's Prayer... on Easter Sunday [says all you need to know about my drive to make room for context and inspiration] BUT we include it 'most weeks' just not all...

Luke 24:1-12
24But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.

5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.

6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.
11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.