Monday, March 09, 2015

The Wayside Chapel 8.3.15

   Yesterday I went to 10am Worship at 'The Wayside Chapel' in Kings Cross. It's been on my 'to do' list for some years after sending young people there for a half day 'exposure trip' as part of our Synod Camps and after meeting, interviewing and hearing the story of founder Ted Noffs grandson, Matt Noffs [who started the 'Street University' and projects like Gideon Shoes]. I know 10am Sundays is perhaps the most low key part of the whole place but it's at the heart of it also...
   Our Synod 'ACOMP' which is a consultative team from across the state who try to match up placements and 'Ministers' with the gifts to serve in and lead them. I was on that when we explored the name of Graham Long to go to 'The Wayside Chapel' and I think Graham has been amazing as one who oversaw the $7 million redevelopment of an old run down building that today is a hive of activity [literally, in the rooftop garden] and who connects so well with people... those who access the services and help, those who want to support it and those needed to run it!!
   When Graham and I had exchanged some emails about the Camp 'exposure visits' which sent others also to Redfern/South Sydney, to hear from Big Issue sellers, on a city walk, to U-Care Lodges etc we emailed about whether I'd like to lead worship sometime at 'The Chapel' but I was a few months from heading back to focus on Newcastle/The Hunter and felt I'd need to spend some time with the Wayside's community to be able to offer something meaningful of a Sunday... at the very least to drop in once or twice. That invitation and the nagging feeling that [although a local youth program should engage with local community services and spaces] more group visits would be a great part of any leadership and social justice action program in future.
   It is a great little Chapel space with purple walls, graffiti decor, simple timber and plastic chairs, a table, data projector, CD player and a few simple symbols on the table. The glass doors slide back and include the cafe foyer but that also opens onto the sun deck outisde so locals can be connected and 'in the vicinity of' what's happening, but have their space. The regulars are in with an infant and an adult baptism in today's worship. I assume Communion might be shared every week as well as the older words of the Lord's Prayer. I also went because I just wanted to go somewhere I would learn something and that wasn't in my own work 'patch.' I make it sound like a project... it was actually a gnawing feeling in my Spirit that I wanted to respond to. I just said hello to Graham, made the connection with when we had emailed and let him get on with what he does!!
   It was a simple worship with deep symbolism spoken of in plain terms, the music reminded me of the Upper Hunter with recorded CD music to sing along... you know I feel at home when we don't need to stand up!!! The symbols of sand/the earth, oil and water were all used and each received a thoughtful message just for that family or person. What's in a name indeed?
   Graham spoke and wrestled with the Scripture story for the day of Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple and asked "can love get angry?" and shared some important illustrations for today! It reminded me of the simplicity that comes with genuine care, relationship and openness!! I was glad to have been there and valued my coffee and chat with a volunteer who leads a time with computers every Thursday as a space for people to 'just be' and it was all good!! I didn't stay for lunch but thought what a great idea that was [a $4 roast meal, most likely]

   I had maybe 2 hours in the city after 'Chur Burger' at Surry Hills wasn't open for lunch [knew I should have just walked to the top of the Cross and the US themed burger place or the Tropicana near Govinda's or gone to Bills in Crown St for breakfast fritters and the King Island Cream omelette]. A quick lager and some shopping in favourite haunts and I was on the road back home with other stuff to do... maybe MCA next time...
   It's great to have Sydney CBD back as a 'time off' hangout and not just the place I rush down to for lunch or to avoid hack work after 12 years based at 222 Pitt St... this was my regular train/car trip for years before Darling Harbour was all duty free or tourist shops, before the internet and before Mick Simmons Sports downsized... next stop, a visit to Nic and the mob at Balmain UC!!

This speaks about the rest of Graham Long's morning on Sunday!! here

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