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Friday, April 20, 2007

Faces - and feet - in the desert

This video, 111 days in the Sahara, comes from Antony Hanson over at Coming to the Quiet.

...in the wilderness

The Art Gallery of Western Australia, in 1983, acquired the entire collection with drawings of Stanley Spencer's series Christ in the Wilderness. The series celebrates the unity of all living things with the material world and with God.

Stanley Spencer has painted his 'Christ in the wilderness' in such a way as to bring out, in an unexpected key, the tone of Mark's 'and the wild beasts were with him'. Jesus sits on his heels in a desert empty of all life except a scorpion, which he holds in his hands and looks upon, meditatively. Isn't it a marvellous way of bringing to us both the value of solitude, of reflection, and the need for companionship in pilgrimage?

Yes, there is a sense of shame that is favourable to the Good, woe to the man who casts it off. This sense of shame is a saving companion through life. Woe to the man who breaks with it. It is in the service of sanctification and true freedom... Each one who is not more ashamed before himself than all others, if he is placed in difficulty and much tried in life, will in one way or another end by becoming the slave of men. For to be more ashamed in the presence of others than when alone, what else is this than to be more ashamed of seeming than being?
from Still Waters Deep Waters

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reclaiming the desert: and its Spirit

Miss Eagle jaunted to-day from Upper Gully to the wilds of East Brunswick in inner suburban Melbourne to meet the energy behind the Koora Retreat Centre in Western Australia - the Rev Peter Harrison and the Rev Anna Killigrew.

Peter was busy being practical and artistic constructing a puppet theatre. Anna was being precise in calling out the exact measurements for integral parts of the theatre.

Surrounding the re-called measurements, was the conversation of Anna and Miss Eagle (Peter had previously made the conversation a threesome) about the Koora Retreat Centre and the the official launch of the Australian Research Institute for Desert Spirituality (ARIDS) which will happen in May.

The discovery of the site of the retreat centre and its purchase was truly God-incidence. Anna and Peter have been beavering away since 2005 and the Centre is taking shape. People are coming and will come. But Anna is certain that they won't be tourists. The people who come to Koora will be people who need to be there: people who are seekers; people who have deep spiritual needs; people like botanists who can help to enliven knowledge of the Centre's environment and the surrounding national park. Knowledge is growing of the Aboriginal history of the site. Relationship is building with Aboriginal people and Anna and Peter hope for increased Aboriginal connection with the site.

Koora Retreat Centre will be a place of retreat, of connection with people and with land, a place of cleansing, healing and growth.

May God always go before you, Anna and Peter, and bring you and others into a fuller relationship with the person who is our Creator and the creation in which we have been placed.

Scenes from Koora:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Contemplative action

Miss Eagle stands in a long, long line of those who commend the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer stands commended for two reasons:
  1. The instruction of Paul to pray unceasingly

  2. The contemplative nature of this prayer of the heart when repeated and repeated throughout one's days and nights.

Miss Eagle commends this post to you, dear Reader.

This post makes the connection, which so many lovers of Jesus have found, between the contemplative activity surrounding the Jesus Prayer and the working out of the love of Christ in service to humanity.

Contemplative prayer is neither quietism nor pietism. It is not for sissies nor for wimps. It is worked through in action, through a return to the market-place, through human intercourse. In this way, both prayer and activity become a contemplative activity for the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Readings in the mystical way

As you will have noted, dear Reader, Miss Eagle waxes lyrical on the treasures of the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. The beauty and joy of the Library's collection is that it is free. You can read it on-line. Most - but not quite all - is copyright free. To encourage you, dear Reader, the list below is under CCEL's subject heading of Mysticism.

Albert, the Great, Saint (1193?-1280): On Cleaving to God
Anonymous: Theologia Germanica
Anonymous (14th c. English): Cloud of Unknowing
Baker, Augustine: Holy Wisdom: or, Directions for the prayer of contemplation: extracted out of more than forty treatises by the Ven. F. Augustine Baker
Boehme, Jakob (1575-1624): Way to Christ
Cassian, John (360-435): Conferences of John Cassian
Catherine of Genoa, St.: Life and Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa
Catherine of Siena, St. (1347-1380): Dialog of Catherine of Siena
de Caussade, Jean-Pierre, S.J. (d. 1751): Abandonment to Divine Providence
Dionysius, the Pseudo-Areopagite (b. c. 500): Celestial Hierarchy
Dionysius the Areopagite, Works (1897): Mystical Theology; Works [Latin]
Eckhart, Johannes (c. 1260-1327): Meister Eckhart's Sermons / first time translated into English by Claud Field
Emmerich, Anne Catherine (1774-1824): Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fenelon, François de Salignac de la Mothe (1651-1715): Spiritual Progress
Gardner, Edmund Garratt (1869-1935); Cell of Self-Knowledge: Seven Early English Mystical Treatises
Guyon, Madame Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Mothe (1647-1717): Short and Easy Method of Prayer; Song of Songs of Solomon / Explanations and Reflections having Reference to the Interior Life
Herbert, George (1593-1633): Priest to the Temple, or, The Country Parson his Character and Rule of Holy Life
Hilton, Walter (d. 1396): Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection; Song of Angels
Inge, William Ralph (1860-1954): Light, Life, and Love
John of the Cross, St. (1542-1591): Ascent of Mount Carmel; Dark Night of the Soul; Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ
Julian of Norwich (c. 1342-c. 1413): Revelations of Divine Love
Lawrence, Brother (Nicholas Herman, c. 1605-1691): Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life
Molinos, Miguel de (1628-1696): Spiritual guide which disentangles the soul / by Michael de Molinos ; edited with an introduction by Kathleen Lyttelton and a note by H. Scott Holland
Rolle of Hampole, Richard (c. 1290-c. 1349): Fire of Love; Incendium Amoris [Latin]
Rolt, Clarence Edwin: Dionysius the Areopagite: On the Divine Names and the Mystical Theology.
Ruysbroeck, John of, St. (1293-1381): Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage
Singh, Sadhu Sundar: Wisdom of the Sadhu
Suso, Henry (c. 1296-1366): Little Book of Eternal Wisdom
Tauler, John (c. 1300-1361): Inner Way
Teresa of Avila, St. (Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, 1515-1582): Interior Castle or The Mansions; Life of St. Teresa of Jesus, of The Order of Our Lady of Carmel; Way of Perfection
Therese, of Lisieux, St. (1873-1897): Poems of St. Teresa, Carmelite of Lisieux, known as the 'Little Flower of Jesus'
Thomas a Kempis (c. 1380-1471): Imitation of Christ
Underhill, Evelyn (1875-1941): Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
Winkworth, Catherine (1827-1878): History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler with Twenty-Five of his Sermons

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Season of the Soul: Love (III)

The Supper at Emmaus - Rembrandt - 1648
Luke 24:13-35
Love (III)
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.

"A guest," I answered, "worthy to be here:"
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth Lord, but I have marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it does deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat:"

So I did sit
and eat.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Season of the Soul: Easter-wings

Noli me tangere - Lavinia Fontana - 1581
Jesus said to her:
"Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father;
but go to my brethren and say to them,
I am ascending to my Father and your Father;
to my God and your God."
John 20:17 (RSV)
Lord, who created man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poor:
With thee
Oh let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day your victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did begin:
And still with sicknesses and shame
You did so punish sin,
That I became
Most thin.
With thee
Let me combine
And feel this day your victory:
For, if I imp my wing on thine ,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Season of the Soul: Easter 2007

St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Easter Service
Rise heart; your Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delays,
Who takes you by the hand, that you likewise
With him may rise:
That, as his death fire burnt you to dust,
His life may make you gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for they part
With all your art.
The cross taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all music is but three parts vied
And multiplied,
O let your blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

I got me flowers to strew your way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But you were up by break of day,
And brought your sweets along with thee.

The Sun arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th' East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With your arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavor?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Season of the Soul: Burial of Jesus

Burial of Our Lord from the Syro-Maronite tradition
O Blessed body! Whither art you thrown?
No lodging for you, but a cold hard stone?
So many hearts on earth, and yet not one
Receive thee?
Sure there is room within our heart's good store;
For they can lodge transgressions by the score:
Thousands of toys dwell there, yet out of door
They leave thee.

But that which shows them large, shows them unfit.
Whatever sin did this pure rock commit,
Which holds you now? Who has indited it
Of murder?
Where our hard hearts have took up stones to brain thee,
And missing this, most falsely did arraign thee;
Only these stones in quiet entertain thee,
And order.

And as of old the Law by heav'nly art
Was writ in stone; so you, which also art
The letter of the word, find'st no fit heart
To hold thee.
Yet do we still persist as we began,
And so should perish, but that nothing can,
Though it be cold, hard, foul, from loving man
Withhold thee.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A crucial meditation

St. Brigid's Cross

...Misner walked away from the pulpit, to the rear wall of the church. There he stretched, reaching up until he was able to unhook the cross that hung there. He carried it then, past the empty choir stall, past the organ where Kate sat, the chair where Pulliam was, on to the podium and held it before him for all to see – if only they would. See what was certainly the first sign any human anywhere had made: the vertical line; the horizontal one. Even as children, they drew it with their fingers in snow, sand or mud; they laid it down as sticks in dirt; arranged it from bones on frozen tundra and broad savannas; as pebbles on riverbanks; scratched it on cave walls and outcroppings from Nome to South Africa. Algonquin and Laplanders, Zulu and Druids – all had a finger memory of this original mark. The circle was not first, nor was the parallel or the triangle. It was this mark, this, that lay underneath every other. This mark, rendered in the placement of facial features. This mark of a standing human figure poised to embrace. Remove it, as Pulliam had done, and Christianity was like any and every religion in the world: a population of supplicants begging respite from begrudging authority; harried believers ducking fate or dodging everyday evil; the weak negotiating a doomed trek through the wilderness; the sighted ripped of light and thrown into the perpetual dark of choicelessness. Without this sign, the believer’s life was confined to praising God and taking the hits. The praise was credit, the hits were interest due on a debt that could never be paid. Or, as Pulliam put it, no one knew when he had “graduated”. But with it, in the religion in which this sign was paramount and foundational, well life was a whole other matter.
Paradise by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Alfred A Knopf, NY, 1998, pp 145-147

Season of the Soul: Good Friday

Stations of the Cross - 4
Jesus meets his mother on the way by Australian Aboriginal artist Miriam Rose Ungunmerr
O my chief good,
How shall I measure out your blood?
How shall I count what you befell,
And each grief tell?

Shall I your woes
Number according to your foes?
Or, since one star showed your first breath,
Shall all your death?

Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or can not leaves, but fruit, be sign
Of the true vine?

Then let each hour
Of my whole life one grief devour;
That your distress through all may run,
And be my sun.

Or rather let
My several sins their sorrows get;
That as each beast his cure does know,
Each sin may so.

Since blood is fittest, Lord, to write
Your sorrows in, and bloody fight;
My heart has store, write there, where in
One box does lie both ink and sin:

That when sin spies so many foes,
Your whips, your nails, your wounds, your woes,
All come to lodge there, sin may say,
No room for me, and fly away.

Sin being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with your grace;
Lest sin take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.
George Herbert

Season of the Soul: A sacred remembrance

Agony in the garden 1450 - Fra Angelico.
It is 9pm on the night of Holy Thursday. The altar is stripped bare at St Thom's at Upper Ferntree Gully. The church is bare of almost all furniture and furnishings. The Community of Faith that gathers at St Thom's has shared a Passover meal at 6.30pm. Not the Jewish Seder but truly in the Passover spirit - a small hasty meal of roast lamb, boiled vegetables. On the table herbs in the form of sprigs of rosemary and bowls of mint sauce and carafes of wine. Simple, hasty sustenance. Michael Cohen and his daughter, Davina, of Bialik College spoke - and sang - to us of their Jewish heritage and traditions. Most enriching.
At 7.30pm we moved into the Christian liturgy with the Washing of Feet. The Community of Faith at St Thom's has a long history of association with the Angliss Hospital in Upper Gully. Our priest, Susanne Chambers, is the co-ordinating chaplain there. Many in our community are involved in pastoral care and various elements of service to the Angliss. So, to emphasise the serving relationship which is manifest in the Washing of Feet, the bowls and jugs and towels and soap all came from the Angliss Hospital. A sacrament of service centered in a place of service.

Then we gathered in a large circle making sacred space around the sacred table as we were obedient to the request of Jesus made nearly two milennia ago. We served each other with the consecrated matzo and the consecrated wine. Then we were done. He was gone from our presence symbolised as we all joined in taking everything we could move from the church - save the bare cross.

Homeless people in a service at the Credo Cafe.Photo: Jason South. The Age.

The vigil began - can you not watch one hour with me?

"Jesus asked his mates to stay with him,
but they got pissed and fell asleep,
the bloody bastards."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Season of the Soul: Peace

Jerusalem - City of Peace
Sweet Peace, where do you dwell? I humbly crave,
Let me once know.
I sought you in a secret cave,
And asked, if Peace were there.
A hollow winds did seem to answer, "No;
Go seek elsewhere."

I did; and going did a rainbow note:
Surely, thought I,
This is the lace of Peace’s coat:
I will search out the matter.
But while I looked, the clouds immediately
Did break and scatter.

Then went I to a garden, and did spy
A gallant flower,
The Crown Imperial: "Sure," said I,
"Peace at the root must dwell."
But when I dug, I saw a worm devour
What showed so well.

At length I met a rev'rend good old man,
Whom when for Peace
I did demand, he thus began:
"There was a Prince of old
At Salem dwelt, who lived with good increase
Of flock and fold.

"He sweetly lived; yet sweetness did not save
His life from foes.
But after death out of his grave
There sprang twelve stalks of wheat:
Which many wond'ring at, got some of those
To plant and set.

"It prospered strangely, and did soon disperse
Through all the earth:
For they that taste it do rehearse,
That virtue lies therein,
A secret virtue bringing peace and mirth
By flight of sin.

"Take of this grain, which in my garden grows,
And grows for you;
Make bread of it: and that repose
And peace, which ev'ry where
With so much earnestness you do pursue,
Is only there.”

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Season of the Soul: Sighs and Groans

Albrecht Durer c 1493
Sighs and Groans
O do not use me
After my sins! look not on my dessert,
But on your glory! Then you will reform
And not refuse me: for you only art
The mighty God, but I a silly worm;
O do not bruise me!

O do not urge me!
For what account can your ill steward make?
I have abused your stock, destroyed your woods,
Sucked all your storehouses: my head did ache,
Till it found out how to consume your goods:
O do not scourge me!

O do not blind me!
I have deserved that an Egyptian night
Should thicken all my powers; because my lust
Has still sewed fig-leaves to exclude your light:
But I am frailty, and already dust;
O do not grind me!

O do not fill me
With the turned vial of your bitter wrath!
For you have other vessels full of blood,
A part whereof my Savior emptied hath,
Even unto death: since he died for my good,
O do not kill me!

But O reprieve me!
For you have life and death at your command;
You are both Judge and Savior, feast and rod,
Cordial and Corrosive: put not your hand
Into the bitter box; but O my God,
My God, relieve me!
George Herbert

Season of the Soul: The Bag

The Bag
Away despair! my gracious Lord does hear.
Though winds and waves assault my keel,
He does preserve it: he does steer,
Ev'n when the boat seems most to reel.
Storms are the triumph of his art:
Well may he close his eyes, but not his heart.

Have you not heard, that my Lord Jesus died?
Then let me tell you a strange story.
The God of power, as He did ride
In His majestic robes of glory,
Reserved to light; and so one day
He did descend, undressing all the way.

The stars His tire2 of light and rings obtained,
The cloud His bow, the fire His spear,
The sky His azure mantle gained.
And when they asked, what He would wear;
He smiled and said as He did go,
He had new clothes a making here below.

When he was come, as travelers are wont,
He did repair unto an inn.
Both then, and after, many a brunt
He did endure to cancel sin:
And having given the rest before,
Here he gave up his life to pay our score.

But as he was returning, there came one
That ran upon him with a spear.
He, who came to us all alone,
Bringing nor man, nor arms, nor fear,
Received the blow upon his side,
And straight he turned, and to his brethren cried,

“If you have any thing to send or write,
I have no bag, but here is room:
Unto my Father’s hands and sight,
Believe me, it shall safely come.
That I shall mind, what you impart,
Look, you may put it very near my heart.

“Or if hereafter any of my friends
Will use me in this kind, the door
Shall still be open; what he sends
I will present, and somewhat more,
Not to his hurt. Sighs will convey
Any thing to me.” Hark, Despair away.

Christian, Classic, Ethereal and Angelic

This is an unasham-ed plug, commercial, advertisement, call-it-what-you-will.
Miss Eagle wants to extend the warmest of thank yous to Harry Plantinga, Director of the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, and his wonderful team. Miss Eagle also wants to single out the person who put together the George Herbert poems in a Lenten format. Not only has CCEL enriched Miss Eagle's life over the years (not to mention saving money, saving research time), CCEL has enriched greatly the Lenten component of this blog. The daily download of George Herbert's beautiful work with which we are familiar from beautiful hymn settings has been a joy and a delight.
Here are some facts and figures from Harry which should encourage you to frequently visit CCEL if you do not already do so.
Recently we analyzed old CCEL access logs. Some interesting statistics: since May 1994, when the CCEL became available on the web, we have had about 70 million visits, 271 million page views, and 1.3 billion hits. We have served about 5.1 million PDF files and 8.1 million mp3 files. We have transferred about 65,900 GB of data. (That is about 66 million books’ worth of data.) These statistics give some evidence that by God’s grace we are succeeding in pursing our mission, which is to make classic Christian books available and promote their use.
This newsletter is a part of our plan for promoting classic Christian books.
Last month we highlighted The Practice of the Presence of God as a book that is very helpful in showing what it is like to live a life dedicated to Christ. Reading good books such as this one, along with prayer and actually "practicing the presence of God" can help to counteract the distractions of the world that divert us from the one thing needful. Thus, we worked out a special deal with Christianaudio.com to include an audio recording of The Practice of the Presence of God with every order at the CCEL store, while supplies last. For details, keep reading.

A penny and God: a memory for life

Your correspondent, dear Reader, awoke early this morning thinking of the Penny Catechism. The Penny Catechism (so-called because it originally cost a penny and its price used to go up by one penny) is famous in the English speaking world as the little book which taught generations of Catholic children, in rote question and answer form, the rudiments of their faith. Miss Eagle was raised in the pre-Vatican II Australian Irish-Catholic tradition by the Sisters of Mercy, mostly Irish, in a parish staffed by Capuchin priests, mostly Italian-Americans. From a search of the net it appears that the Penny Catechism was not exactly the same everywhere. There were variations. Miss E is unable to find a text of the Australian version on the net - only reference to it.

Miss E often thinks on the first and second question in the Catechism:
1. Q. Who made you?
A. God made me.
2. Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him on this earth, and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

The way children were taught their catechism in those days, some would call it indoctrination. Perhaps. But while there has been much to doubt, challenge, and reject about Catholicism itself, there has never, in Miss Eagle's mind and spirit, been any doubt about these two fundamental issues. She started school at four and half years of age and is seven weeks away from the old-age pension but these two simple questions with their only slightly less simple answers have guided her life. They are pole stars, a blessed assurance.

But it was not this portion of the Penny Catechism that came to mind when Miss E's eyelids sprung open this morning. It was this:
Why do we call that day good on which Jesus Christ died?
We call that day good on which Jesus Christ died because, by his death on the Cross, he did redeem the world.

If anyone thinks that Miss E's memory is not correct (remember this is the Australian version not the U.S. or English version), could you please advise your correction. If you have a copy of the Australian version of the Penny Catechism ( for U.S. versions see here), would you mind scanning it and sending a digital copy to Miss Eagle at the email address on the sidebar, please? It would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Season of the Soul: The bunch of grapes

Joy, I did lock you up: but some bad man
Has let you out again:
And now, I think, I am where I began
Sev'n years ago: one vogue and vein,
One air of thoughts usurps my brain
I did towards Canaan draw; but now I am
Brought back to the Red Sea, the sea of shame.

For as the Jews of old by God's command
Traveled, and saw no town;
So now each Christian has his journeys spanned:
Their story pens and sets us down.
A single deed is small renown.
God's works are wide, and let in future times;
His ancient justice overflows our crimes.

Then have we too our guardian fires and clouds;
Our Scripture-dew drops fast:
We have our sands and serpents, tents and shrouds;
Alas! our murmurings come not last.
But where's the
cluster? where's the taste
Of mine inheritance? Lord, if I must borrow,
Let me as well take up their joy, as sorrow.

But can he want the grape, who hath the wine?
I have their fruit and more.
Blessed be God, who prosper’d Noahs vine,
And made it bring forth grapes good store.
But much more him I must adore,
Who of the Laws sowre juice sweet wine did make,
Ev’n God himself being pressed for my sake.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Season of the Soul: The Son

Son of Man
Let foreign nations of their language boast,
What fine variety each tongue affords:
I like our language, as our men and coast:
Who cannot dress it well, want wit, not words.
How neatly do we give one only name
To parents’ issue and the sun’s bright star!
A son is light and fruit; a fruitful flame
Chasing the father’s dimness, carried far
From the first man in th’ East, to fresh and new
Western discov’ries of posterity.
So in one word our Lord’s humility
We turn upon him in a sense most true:
For what Christ once in humbleness began,
We him in glory call, The Son of Man.

Season of the Soul: The call


Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joys in love.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Holy Week: His passion for our salvation

In Australia, this holy time has seen us living in the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit receive the welcome news of the forthcoming release of David Hicks. Justice for David has been to the forefront in recent times within the Anglican Archdiocese of Melbourne. Above is David's counsel, Major Michael Mori, at a recent press conference with the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freiere.

Meanwhile, over at Journey with Jesus, Daniel B. Clendenin is once again giving food for thought and a recipe for reflection with He's Subverting Our Nation!

And, speaking of reflection, enter into the spirit of Holy Week this week with the Community of Faith at St Thom's, Upper Ferntree Gully in the outer south-east of Melbourne in the foothills of the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.

Monday: Tuesday: Wednesday: 7.30pm - 8pm
Lectio Divina

Maundy Thursday:
Token Meal. Special Guest: Michael Cohen, Vice President, Bialik College

Footwashing: Eucharist: Stripping of the Altar: followed by Vigil until Midnight

Good Friday
Meet at St John the Baptist's, Forest Road, Ferntree Gully
to process to St Thom's, Mount View Road, Upper Ferntree Gully

Combined service with Catholic and Uniting Churches at St. Thom's.
St Thom's is providing the Hot Cross Buns.

Easter Day
Lighting of the New Fire

Breakfast between Services

Easter Eucharist


Season of the Soul: Palm Sunday - Holy Week begins

Palm Sunday
1 April 2007
April Fool's Day
Anglican Church of St Thomas
Upper Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia

Was Christ A Fool For Us?

God of Power,

May the boldenss of your Spirit transform us,

May the gentleness of your Spirit equip us,

May the gifts of your spirit worship you

Now and always.


Readings - Palm Sunday - Year C

Isaiah 50.4-9A ;Psalm 31:9-18 ;Philippians 2.5-11; Luke 22.14-23.56


Sermon delivered by Rev Susanne Chambers, Vicar of St Thom's,

Palm Sunday, 2007

When we began our Lenten time together on Ash Wednesday, I spoke about the recent fires out at Mansfield, Jamieson and Merrijig. From there, a giant cross carved from wood - burnt in the fires - was taken to the cathedral.

The vicar of Mansfield said “I can see the direct parallels with the Easter story. The high country has been crucified by the fires. There has been devastation for the people and the environment. The cross made from suffering wood stands in the middle of this and it speaks to me of Jesus being in the midst of our community.”
I guess for a non- Christian; this may sound strange! Even foolish!
Jesus, a piece of burnt tree in the middle of the country, in the middle of the city?

Today is April Fool’s day.

Many people around the world will be processing, waving palms, re-enacting the story of Jesus coming into Jerusalem, praising him! It is often seen as a children’s thing…but on reflection, the opposite is true.

Here is a man heading to his execution: his death. We have just heard the Passion Story. Jesus is dead – this Jesus, hailed king of the Jews! A fool?

I would say I am a fool because I have faith in this man who gave his life for many…for all, that we all may have life!! Not just be the ‘living dead’ but really know about living!!
And living wholeheartedly/giving our all, can be such a foolish thing to do.

Throughout Lent we have had various fools for Christ’s sake come and share with us some of their story.
Lent One was us really. Ross Ingram got up and spoke about our Parish Vision Morning and what we are visioning for the future here as a Christian community in Upper Gully:
Lent Two, we had Jonathan Chambers who spoke about prison ministry and particularly about caring for lepers - I mean sex offenders when they are released from prison.
Lent Three, David Spitteler shared how he gave up his work with Telstra to run the Asylum Seeker Centre in Dandenong for no pay.
Lent Four, we heard from Marlene McGrath, a spiritual director who encouraged us to look at our spiritual life and reflected on the forgiving father/prodigal son.
Lent Five, Andrew McGowan spoke to us about the foolishness of Paul who said ‘yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.’ and the outrageous anointing of Mary and, in the end, the ultimate foolishness of God…the ultimate outpouring of love.

And here I am standing in front of you…another fool for Christ’s sake.
Twenty years ago, last Thursday, the 29th March in 1987 I was ordained in the church of God. Let me tell you a little of my past. I realise many of you will have heard some of this before.

I grew up in Sydney with my parents, twin sister and older brother. I entered Nursing when I was 17 and did General, Midwifery and Paediatric Certificates. My Nursing allowed me to travel and to train in different states and also to nurse for a short time in Switzerland!

I loved Nursing, and saw it as a vocation and yet there was a tug from God to explore, be adventurous! [to be a fool?] Thus, I was challenged about going into the church as a Priest.
After a wrestle with God the load was lifted - when I said ‘yes’ to God.

The journey has not been easy, far from it! As one of the pioneer women ordained in Australia, we have had much flack from those who opposed the ordination of women. There continues to be obstacles and sometimes I just occasionally wonder if Nursing looks greener? But no.

There is a deep, strong conviction that this is where I can ‘sing my song’ where I can learn more about God known in and through the life of Jesus and to help others grow in their faith. To live fully.
So for twenty years thus far, I am a fool for Christ’s sake. Yes, I could have been a fool for Christ’s sake and still be a nurse, but I couldn’t ignore the tug of God.

There is a saying that I have thought about for some time, because it reminds me of the times when I have been afraid to try something different, or to take up being ‘fully alive’ - I guess, in the sense of using my God-given gifts and been held back by a lack of confidence in my abilities.
This is the saying changed to the singular:
Go to the edge, the voice said.
No! I said. I will fall.
Go to the edge, the voice said.
No! I said. I will be pushed over.
Go to the edge, the voice said.
So I went
And I was pushed
And I flew……

It is a wonderful picture of trust and faith, of being fully alive!

We are entering together Holy Week as we journey towards the Cross and beyond. Do we stop at the Cross? Stop with a dead man?
Or are you willing with me, to step off the edge and take up the challenge of Jesus?
What’s the challenge? He wants us to fly!!
Jesus wants us to fly with him.

To soar above the things that hold us back from loving, being compassionate.

He wants us to embrace life so that others may see beauty, peace, justice.

Not just see but experience it..live it themselves.

The crowd may have been small, it may have been big, as Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey..the people there appeared to recognise in him something that they wanted…yet they were not prepared to risk as he did - his very life.

Yes, it’s April Fool’s day.
The root of the word ‘fool’ is from the Latin follies, which means ‘bag of wind’ or that which contains air or breath.
Maybe I am just a bag of wind??? But I would rather be seen with others who contain breath than those that have no breath.
And the breath may be the breath of the Holy Spirit.

A Franciscan Blessing
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers,
half truths and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those
who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and want,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them,
and to turn their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of the God of Abraham and Sarah,
and of Jesus, born of our sister Mary,
and of the Holy Spirit,
who broods over the world as a mother over her children,
be upon you and remain with you always.
From Montreal Anglican Lay paper

Season of the Soul: The Elixir


Teach me, my God and King,
In all things you to see,
And what I do in any thing,
To do it as for thee:
Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into an action;
But still to make you prepossess'd,
And give it his perfection.
A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleases, through it pass,
And then the heaven espy.
All may of you partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture (for your sake)
Will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room, as for your laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.
This is the famous stone
That changes all to gold:
For that which God does touch and own
Cannot for less be told.
George Herbert