You may not have known him, but last week Sanctuary lost one of its ‘people of peace’: Jon Yaakov Gorr, known to many as Elephant. He was killed while riding his beloved bicycle in Allansford, and perhaps you have driven past him on his regular ride down Hopkins Point Road into Warrnambool. Continue reading “Farewell, Elephant: A Jewish man whose friendship was a gift to this Baptist pastor”
Jesus said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ (John 21:17; Simon is also known as Peter (‘Rock’))
I once was in desperate need of making a decision and, almost without control, found myself marching to a small chapel. Inside, possessed with an agency I still marvel at, I asked myself what story of the Gospels most sounded like what I needed to hear. It was a question of pure intuition. One the whim of some kind of autopilot, I turned to the last chapter in John, the chapter where Peter has decided that he is returning to fishing and he goes, together with six others who follow him even if he may have wished they weren’t.
Friends love through thick and thin, and kinfolk are born to share in hard times. (Proverbs 17:17)
The last couple of months have been a flurry of unknown, disagreement and trying to hope for the best. Those months felt sad and lonely though we all tried to make the best of it. I felt as if we’d been deserted, nothing left but each other and hope. One of the hardest things was being a big sister. It’s hard to comfort someone while you’re upset.
Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had put spit on his eyes and laid hands on them, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” The man said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” (Mark 8:23-24)
I feel I am living in the land of the walking trees. By this I mean experiencing an incomplete healing like the man from Mark chapter 8, with limited capacity. It is a land familiar to me. I lived there prior to 16 years ago, only receiving a complete healing when my first child was a baby.
In this, our final Sanctuary email for the year, I invited one of our recent high school graduates, Ellen, to reflect. She writes:
As a (younger) kid I remember waiting eagerly all year for the Christmas Eve service at my church, as it meant I had a chance to stay up late and gorge myself on Christmas treats, getting home after midnight and barely sleeping until I remembered it was Christmas and thus obviously time for presents! This year is similar except instead of staying up late, I’m looking forward to the chance to sleep in, spend a relatively quiet Christmas with family I haven’t seen enough and celebrate an end of sorts to a crazy year.
I’m finding it difficult to climb out of bed in the morning. A global pandemic, the monotony of shutdown, the changes to family, work and congregational life, climate catastrophe: unsurprisingly, I find the state of the world overwhelming. I just want to lie in bed and do nothing; to ignore kids, work, climate and let the world hurtle its way to destruction. There are days when I feel nearly paralyzed by grief and fear. Continue reading “Slow reading: Paralysis”
Emerging from shutdown is an opportunity to create space and time in our lives: but for whom? (Listen.)
So here’s old Abraham, dozing in the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. Sarah’s inside, having a nap. The air is heavy; the afternoon is still. Somewhere, a fly buzzes. And the Lord appears to Abraham and he looks up, and sees three strangers down the road, emerging out of the shimmering haze. Continue reading “Welcoming the stranger, encountering the divine”
A testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit in my own life, and a promise to all who have been judged and found wanting. (Listen.)
I grew up in a hypercritical atmosphere. I know my mother loved me deeply; nevertheless, I was told every day that nothing I did was good enough. I’d wipe the kitchen bench, and be screamed at for holding the sponge carelessly or for knocking a few crumbs on the floor. I’d sweep, and she’d shout that I was doing it all wrong; when I changed how I held the broom, things only got worse. Once, I dropped a drinking glass; amid sobs and shrieks I was accused of destroying something precious and irreplaceable. Of course, I became a timid, anxious, furtive kind of child; and a cripplingly self-conscious adolescent who was so defensive and so filled with rage that there were times when I could barely breathe. Continue reading “Holy Spirit: Defence lawyer, healer, friend”
And after getting into a boat he crossed the water and came to his own town. And just then some people were carrying a paralysed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ Then some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he then said to the paralytic—‘Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.’ And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. (Matthew 9:1-8) Continue reading “#24: The faith of friends”
He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost. (Luke 19:1-10) Continue reading “#21: Don’t change!”