Spreading kindness: Arwen’s testimony

Today at the river, bedecked by falling leaves, Sanctuary baptised Arwen into the life of Christ. Here is Arwen’s testimony:

God has always been a big part of my life. I am grateful to have two incredible loving and caring parents that follow in the footsteps of Jesus. They have been such a big influence on my journey with faith and have always allowed me to choose my own path and my own journey with God.

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39: Margins #Lent2021

Jesus was crucified outside the city gates… So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This ‘insider world’ is not our home… Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name. (Hebrews 13:12-14, MSG)

Some of my earliest memories are of family and church. As a pastor’s kid, they have always been entwined. I have fond memories of running down aisles, riding a pony as Mary in the nativity play, making clay Bible characters and of trying to sneak an extra cookie at morning tea after the service. Church often felt like a second home. I knew all the hiding spots and I loved all the people. I used to live a block from my church growing up. My brothers and I would often duck past on the way home from school. I distinctly remember running into the church building after school one time when my brother and I were running from kids who wanted to bash us. It was a place of refuge and an enjoyable place for me…

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37: Seek justice #Lent2021

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; justice and peace will kiss. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and justice will look down from the sky. God will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Justice will go before him, and make a path for his steps. (Psalm 85:10-13)

Like most Aboriginal people, I find myself in between two worlds. Belonging to the world’s oldest living culture, and a western culture termed “Australian” … The two worlds can make you sick, but most often it makes you tired.

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35: Trees, walking #Lent2021

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.

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28: God’s shining face #Lent2021

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace (shalom). (Numbers 6:24-26)

I’ve always been fascinated by the phrase “The Lord make his face to shine upon you.” God’s blessing, God’s protection, God’s peace, God’s grace—all part of that same benediction—are great goods, and if I had to choose between them and God’s shining face, I might well opt for them. But God’s shining face outdoes them all. For God’s blessing, protection, peace, and grace concern the things that we possess, do, and suffer, while God’s shining face concerns our very being. It stands for God’s sheer delight that we exist and live before him. Yet I rarely “see” God’s face shining upon me, and given that I am an inveterate sinner, it is not easy to know exactly why God’s face should shine on me.

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27: Gifts from strangers #Lent2021

But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Luke 10:33-34)

I rang for help and by 4am a party of three turned up at my door: one specialist nurse and two ambos. We chatted for a while and they confirmed my fears, so they arranged for me to go to hospital. It was a novel experience to drive through the crack of dawn where all I could see was the tops of the trees, some light poles and a few wires, and the occasional steeple or multi-story building.

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26: Plans for good #Lent2021

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for good and not for evil, to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

The scripture verse above continues to guide my journey through each day. I first happened upon this verse in 1980, during a time of depression and uncertainty. I had it ‘posted’ onto my fridge door for decades, but it got lost in the couple of house moves we had. However, I never lost the essence of those words and the way they made me feel.

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25: Do good #Lent2021

Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ (Luke 6:27-31)

There’s a story that I absolutely love about Thurman, that he tells about his grandmother — that his grandmother owned some land, and there was a white woman who was adjacent to the land and did not like the fact that this Black woman owned land. And so she decided he was gonna get back at Thurman’s grandmother and went to her chicken coop and got all the manure and dumped it on her land and upon her tomatoes and her greens and everything she was growing, to destroy it. But his grandmother, when she realized there was all this manure [that] just had destroyed everything, she would get up in the morning and take the manure and just mix it in with the soil as fertilizer. And so the woman would dump at night, and Thurman’s grandmother would get up in the morning and turn it over and mix it.

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