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”

Luke | Not even #humble

Competitive faithfulness has no place in God’s kingdom; instead, it’s all about love. (Listen.)

So the minister and the deacon are standing at the front of the church, praying. In a big, resonant voice the minister says, ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ In a clear, ringing voice the deacon says, ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ Then they hear a muffled sound coming from the back of the building. They turn to see the cleaner, head bowed, kneeling, beating his breast and saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ The minister turns to the deacon and says, ‘Look who’s calling himself a sinner!’ Continue reading “Luke | Not even #humble”

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”

Jeremiah | Our fickleness, God’s faithfulness

In our fickleness and faithlessness, God insists on renewing the relationship. (Listen.)

Who among us has never broken covenant? Who among us has been always and entirely faithful in thought, word and deed to family, to friend, to spouse, and to God? Who among us has kept every single aspect of our marriage vows, our baptismal vows, or our other significant promises? Who among us has meticulously observed all Ten Commandments? Who has always honoured the Sabbath, setting aside a whole day every week for neither working nor shopping, but only for worship, rest and play? Who among us has not once been jealous of our neighbour’s house or garden or car or life? Anyone? Continue reading “Jeremiah | Our fickleness, God’s faithfulness”

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”

Jeremiah | Suffering from solastalgia? This is what to do

In the face of climate catastrophe, seek the welfare of your place. (Listen.)

Ten years ago, the scientist Glenn Albrecht coined a new word. He was studying the impact of open-cut coal mining on the people of the Upper Hunter region of NSW. The mines were creating new and horrific scars in the landscape; the power station was polluting water, air and soil; there was persistent drought. As the earth groaned, Albrecht realised that the people who lived there were experiencing a form of chronic distress for which English has no word; he came up with the term ‘solastalgia.’ Continue reading “Jeremiah | Suffering from solastalgia? This is what to do”

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”

Psalms | Jesus Christ, the apple tree, and me

This week I (Alison) am on leave. So here’s a little something from the archives on how we might relate to country. Perhaps it will inspire you to reflect and write something for our 2023 Lent Book, which will be a collection of prayers and readings rooted in the land.

While we were away with our sister church a couple years ago, Phil went for a walk. When he came back, Uncle Den wandered up for a chat: “I saw you come back from a bit of a walkabout just now.” “Yep,” said Phil, and he told Uncle Den how much he loves being outside by himself, and how he finds peace and rejuvenation there. Uncle Den asked him, “So do you talk to the birds that you see? Do you stop to listen to what they might wanna say to you? How ‘bout the trees? They’re always talking; do you listen to them, too?” Continue reading “Psalms | Jesus Christ, the apple tree, and me”

Isaiah | Peace and plenty for everyone

This week I (Alison) am on leave. So heres a little something from the archives relating to the local landscape. Perhaps it will inspire you to reflect and write something for our 2023 Lent Book, which will be a collection of prayers and readings rooted in the land.

Twenty years ago, Cudgee was a depleted paddock. Now, it’s an oasis. Families have built sustainable homes and are raising their children there. People have planted countless Indigenous trees, grasses, and shrubs. The creek is overhung by eucalypts; blocks are lined with wildlife corridors; koalas grunt and roam. There are organic gardens and orchards; happy chooks; contented ducks; an Indigenous plant nursery; and the best garlic in Victoria. Continue reading “Isaiah | Peace and plenty for everyone”

Hebrews | Slow reading | Drinking the rain

It’s been a week: of working, studying, cooking, cleaning, laundering, parenting, medical appointments, and family business requiring an 8-hour return trip to Melbourne. My husband and I have passed like ships in the night as he, too, had to be in Melbourne but on different days. Now a kid has Covid; it’s their third week of sickness this term. The cat is overdue its annual vaccinations; I’m getting rude notes from the library; the garden’s knee high in weeds; and I’m conscious of all the things I haven’t done. Continue reading “Hebrews | Slow reading | Drinking the rain”

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