Prayer | Into the garden

Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43) 

It’s hard to read the Bible and not become a gardener: because gardens are central to our story. We begin in Genesis, in a beautiful place of innocence, life, creativity and newness. God walks the garden in the cool of the evening, crushing thyme between her fingertips and enjoying the heightened scent. Birds are settling into their roosts for the night; small sounds travel on the evening air; silvery leaves and white flowers seem to glow. Continue reading “Prayer | Into the garden”

Isaiah | The city of joy

Good health, good work, and good relationships come together to form a city of joy, and a people of delight. (Listen.)

A city of joy, its people a delight: this is what God promises through the prophet Isaiah. Sounds wonderful! So, what are the elements of this joyful city? First, says Isaiah, health and wellbeing. No child will die young; no senior die prematurely (Isa. 65:20). And we can imagine it. There are no coal-fired power stations; no rampaging wildfires; no unprecedented floods. There are no smouldering rainforests; no record-breaking heatwaves. No children or elders are struggling for breath through air thick with particulate matter; no one is sick from herbicides or forever chemicals because these are strictly banned; nobody is collapsing from extreme heat. Continue reading “Isaiah | The city of joy”

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”

Luke | In the face of climate catastrophe, seek signs of the kingdom

Jesus says, ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom-culture of God is near.’ (Luke 21:29-31)

What are ‘these things’ of which Jesus speaks? Well, he has just detailed them in the previous verses: earthquakes, famines, plagues, invading armies, the roaring of the ocean, terrible suffering, and people ‘fainting from fear and foreboding’. Once, these words referred to the brutal repression by the Romans of the Jewish Revolts, using cosmic imagery to allude to forces of violence and empire; now, as the living Word continues to speak into our lives, we might hear them as also referring to climate catastrophe and all that comes with it. Continue reading “Luke | In the face of climate catastrophe, seek signs of the kingdom”

Deuteronomy | In the face of climate catastrophe, choose life

The news is devastating, but we still have choices: so choose life. (Listen.)

This week, as cataclysmic floods pour across Pakistan, destroying farms, roads, towns and infrastructure and displacing over 30 million people; as unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires continue to threaten much of Europe; as long-term drought impacts water security for millions of people in the southwest United States; as we brace ourselves for the likelihood of another La Niña cycle and further devastating floods; as we learn that the catastrophic bushfires along the Great Dividing Range burned six metres deep in places, rendering regrowth impossible, the most famous words of Moses’ most famous sermon should ring loud and clear. Continue reading “Deuteronomy | In the face of climate catastrophe, choose life”

Isaiah | Cudgee dreaming

Today I’m in Ballarat at the Intergenerate Conference, where I’m giving a workshop on a practice we developed during lockdown: telling stories in the landscape. As you might remember, for a while we could meet outside in groups of 20, so I drove around to various places for outdoor communion served from our family van (temporarily christened the Manna-Mobile). This story, which I am sharing at the workshop, describes one such event. I hope you enjoy it! 

Imagine: Kirrae Wurrung country. A large paddock fringed by manna gums. Continue reading “Isaiah | Cudgee dreaming”

Pentecost | God’s holy breath

The breath poured into the early disciples fills the earth even now. (Listen.)

Take a deep breath. The thing is this: The atmosphere which blankets our beloved wounded blue-green planet is a closed system. Nothing goes in; nothing goes out. For millions of years, the exhalations of swamp gas and the inhalations of dinosaurs and the exhalations of leafy plants and the inhalations of Neanderthals and the exhalations of soft mosses and the inhalations of swallowtails have been going around and around and around. Continue reading “Pentecost | God’s holy breath”

Revelation | A liturgical reading (My little finches)

A bleak day, a cosmic conversation, a liturgical identity – and consolation. (Listen.)

I was feeling despondent so I went for a walk when I came across a flock of red-browed finches. They were darting back and forth across the path, cheeping merrily at each other. And they said to me, ‘Learn from us! Look how happy we are in our little flock, flitting between sun and shade.’ And I said, ‘But where is my little flock? I don’t know anymore. And I seem to be stuck in the shadows.’ Continue reading “Revelation | A liturgical reading (My little finches)”

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