All Saints | Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls: Footballer, organizer, preacher, saint

Next week is All Saints, when we particularly remember the people both before us and beside us, the living and the dead, with whom we are gathered in the body of Christ. This week, then, I’d like to introduce you to one of the saints, Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls.

Charismatic and confident, Yorta Yorta man Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls (1906-1988) grew up at the Cummeragunja Aboriginal Reserve on the banks of the Murray River. He was the fifth child of Herbert and Florence. As an Aboriginal person born in the colony, he lacked land, rights and recognition; and so much of his life was devoted to caring for others also suffering the consequences of dispossession, and campaigning for these basic human rights. Continue reading “All Saints | Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls: Footballer, organizer, preacher, saint”

All Saints | Grief and hope

The prophetic task of the church is to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society which expresses despair. (Walter Brueggemann. The Prophetic Imagination.)

Jesus wept. His beloved friend Lazarus had died, Mary was sobbing, and so were her companions. And Jesus himself, who had just said that all those who trust in him would never die but live and that Lazarus would rise again, was nevertheless “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply troubled”; and he wept. Continue reading “All Saints | Grief and hope”

Ministry | Questions for the end of life

November 1 is All Saints, a day to remember those who have died and gone before us. But before each person dies, of course, they must face the end of life. It is a common misperception that people in life’s final stages are constantly cared for by professionals. In reality, whether at home or in a facility, the vast majority of care and companionship will come from family and friends; and indeed many of us at Sanctuary have already found ourselves in the caring role. Continue reading “Ministry | Questions for the end of life”

Prayer | When a pet dies

This St Francis Day, we named, celebrated and blessed our animal companions using other people’s prayers. But to remember the animals we love who have died this year, we used our own:

Creator God, when you made the mammals,
the birds, the fish, and even the creepy-crawlies,
you saw that they were good.
Loving God, we pray for the animals
who are no longer with us.
Thank you for their lives.
Thank you for their goodness.
Thank you for the times that we shared,
the gifts we received,
the things we learned,
the affection we knew,
the events and habits which made us laugh,
and even for all the messes.
God, we commit our creaturely kin
back to the earth from which they came
and into the fullness of your loving presence,
and we ask for your comfort in our sadness.
In the name of the one who taught us to pay attention
even to birds: Jesus Christ, our Lord: Amen.
Continue reading “Prayer | When a pet dies”

Prayer | The earth is filled with God’s presence

 

Let us pray.
We are the people:
the people of earth.
Let us care for each other:
let us care for the earth.
Let us worship the creator:
let us attend to the earth.
For the earth is filled with God’s presence.
Our ancestor Jacob woke from his sleep and said,
“Surely the Lord is in this place—and I didn’t know it!”
And he was afraid, and said,
“How awesome is this place!
This is none other than the house of God,
and this, the gate of heaven.”
Let us acknowledge this place’s traditional custodians,
the Peek Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Maar nation,
and pay our respects to elders past and present.
May we wake up to this place and its peoples.
May we wake up to God’s holy presence.
Let us attend to the earth: the very dwelling place of God. Amen. Continue reading “Prayer | The earth is filled with God’s presence”

Slow reading: The prophet Amos and 26 January

Today is 26 January. It’s a day of formal ceremonies and concerts; festivities and fireworks; citizenship oaths and wattle seedlings; parades and parties; lamb on the barbie—and even WA is invited! Workplaces will be closed, pubs will be full, and our favourite swimming hole will be a sea of flags printed on towels, bikinis and stubbie holders, as people celebrate the construct we call Australia. Continue reading “Slow reading: The prophet Amos and 26 January”

Consider creation

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break. This month, many of us are on leave and outside every day, so here’s a little something from the archives on prayerfully considering creation: a practice some call ‘sensio divina’.

‘Do I not fill the earth?’ says God (Jer. 23:24b).
Our ancestor Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely God is in this place, and I didn’t know it!’ (Gen. 28:16). Like Jacob, people have sensed God’s presence in creation for millennia, and perhaps this is why Jesus so often prayed outdoors. What follows is a simple grounding exercise to help you observe God’s presence in the place where you are. Move through the steps in order, or float between them: they are just a tool. And remember, like all spiritual exercises, it gets easier with practice. Continue reading “Consider creation”

Slow reading: Consider the birds

A few weeks ago, after a hot afternoon gardening, I turned on the sprinkler then collapsed in the shade. Within minutes six New Holland honeyeaters came to drink and bathe. They flitted in and out between the sprinkler spray and the Tree everlasting we planted just over a year ago, and which is now thriving. I considered that these birds neither strive nor toil, yet all their needs are being met, right down to the punk feather haircut which always makes me grin. Continue reading “Slow reading: Consider the birds”

A hard time to handle

I don’t know about you, but I find Christmas hard time to handle. Every year, I am confronted by the clash between fantasy and reality: the fantasy, in which the community of faith gathers to hear the story and celebrate, and the reality, where most people will be away, attending family functions in other places. The fantasy, where I am surrounded by a big family and am nurtured by older women, and the reality, in which I have a tiny family, and have been the oldest woman for nearly two decades. The fantasy, that in lieu of a big family I could invite a host of “widows and orphans” to the table, and the reality, that my children want a closed table on this one special day. Continue reading “A hard time to handle”

A prayer for miscarried and stillborn children

Today we marked an early All Saints/All Souls, giving thanks for those who have gone before us, sharing stories about them, and naming some losses almost too painful to bear – including miscarried and stillborn children.

Loving God, we bring to you those
truly unacclaimed by earthly powers,
yet whose lives have indeed hallowed ours:
those who died in the womb;
those who died during birth. Continue reading “A prayer for miscarried and stillborn children”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑