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”

Esther | Esther, empire and the hiddenness of God

Esther shows that when insecure fools are in charge, even the most disempowered person may trigger a radical policy reversal. (Listen.)

Esther is not a love story; it’s a story about powerful men. Esther is not a love story; it’s a story of faithfulness and courage. Esther is not a love story; it’s a story about the hiddenness of God. And yet ‘love story’, even ‘beauty pageant’, is the interpretation of Esther that many of us were taught. So today, we’re going to blow that reading out of the water: then we’ll look more closely at what it’s really about. Continue reading “Esther | Esther, empire and the hiddenness of God”

Proverbs | Consider the insects

When we moved from inner city Melbourne to regional Victoria, we really noticed the absence of insects. Our garden in Brunswick was dancing with butterflies most of the year, and every shovelful of dirt brought up a mass of worms. Here, there are almost no butterflies and worms are a scarcity. So I’ve planted butterfly-attractors and caterpillar foods, and slowly improved the soil: and I am gradually seeing life return. Still, the absence is striking. Continue reading “Proverbs | Consider the insects”

Jeremiah | Lament in a time of climate emergency

According to Jeremiah 12, injustice leads to land degradation and species loss. In an era of anthropogenic climate change, these words have new resonance and show us how to lament. (Listen.)

How long, O Lord, will the land mourn? How long will degraded topsoil blow away and riverbeds crack for lack of water? How many millions of frogs must die? How many fish? How many bees? How long will the evangelical industrial complex wield your name like a weapon, while passing laws and investing in industries which destroy ecosystems? How many bushfires, how many floods? How many environmental defenders must be murdered? Where is your justice, O Lord? How long must we wait? Continue reading “Jeremiah | Lament in a time of climate emergency”

Listening for God in creation

On Tuesday evening, some of us gathered for a time of guided prayer and silent listening to what God might be saying to us about climate. We are deeply concerned; yet we do not want to run around frantically doing a hundred futile things, nor do we want to be so overwhelmed that we bury our heads in the sand and do nothing. There many things which are good to do, but we must discern what is good for us to do: and we can only discern that when we are grounded in prayer. Therefore, we prayed, and between now and our next meeting on 5th October, we ask you to continue to pray daily, laying before God the issue of climate and asking God to reveal what God would have us do. Continue reading “Listening for God in creation”

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