Occupy Faith

Occupy Faith
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

The broken wheel of life

Photo by Ted Szukalski

Man is born broken.
He lives by mending.
The grace of God is the glue.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Choice: the Kingdom of God or Tyranny

This picture came from here

We can move in the direction of justice,
but if our personal relationships don’t become more human,
we haven’t moved in the direction of the reign of God
and, in the long run,
we will discover that our point of arrival is just another form of tyranny.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Great Spirit,
Give us hearts to understand
Never to take from creation's beauty more than we give,
Never to destroy want only for the furtherance of greed,
Never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth's beauty,
Never to take from her what we cannot use.
Give us hearts to understand
That to destroy earth's music is to create confusion,
That to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty,
That to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench,
That as we care for her she will care for us.
Give us hearts to understand We have forgotten who we are.
We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.
Great Spirit,
Whose dry lands thirst,
Help us to find the way to refresh your lands.
Great Spirit,
Whose waters are choked with debris and pollution,
Help us to find the way to cleanse your waters.
Great Spirit,
Whose beautiful earth grows ugly with misuse,
Help us to find the way to restore beauty to your handiwork.
Great Spirit,
Whose creatures are being destroyed,
Help us to find a way to replenish them
Great Spirit,
whose gifts to us are being lost in selfishness and corruption,
Help us to find the way to restore our humanity.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The ancient Christian tradition of hospitality

I'm seeking to start a conversation on ancient Christian hospitality.

A couple of things have stimulated this.

1. My local parish (St Thomas) runs an Open Church program. It is quite simple. Its purpose is to keep our parish church doors open from 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday irrespective of whether there is anything on at the church. It is run by volunteers who staff the program with 2 volunteers operating in pairs and each pair doing two hours each - so that is four people every day Mon to Fri. This means our chapel is open for prayer/quiet times. In winter a back pew is made comfortable with cushion, blanket and heater! The volunteers are happy to give a coffee to any one who drops in and have a chat with them as well. Emergency food parcels are available for those who need them - although like any organisation who provides such a service, there are some boundaries.

2. Anti-Poverty Week is coming up in Australia from 12-18 October. I am on the Christian sub-committee here in Victoria. I have been trying to think how I might be able to stimulate involvement and interest in this. What I would like to do is to have St Thom's through the Open Church ministry host a multi-faith day for our area with an emphasis on Hospitality within the different faith traditions. I believe it would give a profile to our Open Church program so that others might imitate it and so we might have fewer locked up churches in Melbourne. There might be other faith communities who have their buildings closed during the week who might consider how they could keep their buildings open to the community. And, of course, hospitality spins off into meeting with those at the margins, getting to know them, serving them and thus serving Christ.

In focussing on Hospitality I also have a hidden agenda and that is that our program at St Thom's might come to a deeper understanding of the role and function of hospitality within our tradition and how that tradition impacts us in our Christian walk and how, through hospitality, we might impact the lives of others.

I am aware that, for instance, the Benedictines have an ancient tradition re hospitality which I would like to hear more about. I have heard that locking doors goes against the ancient Christian tradition. Does anyone know about this? I am sure there is more that can be said - so I wonder if you could help me to learn more about hospitality in our tradition so that I can get a clear and deep focus on it to the extent that I am able to articulate this clearly to others. Documents that I could pass on to others to read might be a help as well.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Justice is always associated with the desert experience

Photo: The Sydney Morning Herald

Jarrod McKenna, our energetic peace-loving peace-making Aussie, has written over here of a great Olympic story. It is the story of a prophetic and public moment in the lives of three Christian men. Two of these men were black Americans. The third, a white Australian. The white Australian was Peter Norman.

What Jarrod didn't mention was that when Peter died in 2006, the solidarity of the three men that was so publicly and irrevocably evident at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 was evident once again. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were here in Melbourne for Peter's funeral and they helped to carry his coffin.

Dear Reader, you have no idea how much this meant to us in Australia. That such athletic comrades from almost forty years ago should do such honour by coming half-way around the world will not be easily forgotten by Aussies.

To-night, I will watch the opening ceremony of the historic Beijing Olympics. I am a great admirer - in spite of things that get in the road sometimes - of the Chinese, their history, their culture and above all the Tao Te Ching. I am conscious of Australian's long involvement with the Chinese people. But if, like our Prime Minister, I could be a forthright friend: there are issues of justice in China and some of its relationships which can be difficult to overlook. Some people, perhaps, at these Olympics will feel strongly enough to make a public - and possibly prophetic - stand.

I pray that if this is the case that such people will remember the time forty years ago when three men decided to make their stand: representing two very different cultures these men really stood for something. The speedy and gentle Australian did not raise a fist. He wore a badge and, with Christ in his heart and his motivation, stood beside his black brothers. After all, Jesus said, where two or three are gathered in my name: there I am in the midst of them.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


To-day is the Feast of the Transfiguration. Three years ago, the fruit tree beside my home office window was covered in blossom (the picture is from 2005) but my fruit trees have very few blossoms at this time and my magnolia seems to have blossom as a permanent condition since they have been there so long without flowering.

In the Northern Hemisphere, Easter coincides with new life in nature. In the Southern Hemisphere, Easter happens in Autumn when the leaves are falling and nature prepares for Winter.

I love the Feasts but, on those occasions when we observe those that are not Easter and Christmas, I think we talk about them in a way which does not give any depth to the experience. I think that, in the main, this is how the Transfiguration is treated.

The Transfiguration was a supernatural event intervening in the natural order of things. It was transforming and predictive of the new life to come. Just like the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing at this time. How wonderful then if people in the south of the globe could take this great season of the soul and transform it to mirror the wonder of regeneration that is happening in the environment. We could then experience both the transfiguration of our environment and of our spirits.

The Transfiguration Lyrics

When you can do nothing else: bear witness.