Mt Noorat, the eagle, and me

Those who trust in the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall soar on wings like eagles… (Isaiah 40:31)

Kirrae Wirrung country. I took myself up Mt Noorat, one of the many sleeping volcanoes dotted around the landscape. Most of you know this walk: the stroll past eucalyptus trees; the short stiff climb to the first lookout for a quick breather. Then the scramble up the next slope and over the stile, and a longer pause at the top to catch your breath and look to Terang, Mt Leura, the plains stretched out like a vast undulating blanket. Then the rolling walk around the rim, as peeping birds flit around the grassy slopes and the wind whistles and sings. Continue reading “Mt Noorat, the eagle, and me”

Prayer | 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 “Prayer | Consider creation”

Matthew | Who’s listening?

This poem was written by Di Shearer, who has been worshipping with Sanctuary recently. It picks up themes of Sunday’s text with the expectancy of Advent. I encourage you to find a quiet space, and read it slowly and prayerfully.

For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Human One … Therefore, be ready! (Matthew 24:37, 44) 

There’s an old story about a man
who built a boat
in the middle of a waterless plain. Continue reading “Matthew | Who’s listening?”

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 | Slow reading | The oil of gladness

Last night we marked All Saints with a quiet gathering in the hall. We remembered some special folk, lit a few candles, said a few prayers, and savoured a sweet supper together. Why? Because many of us are grieving the loss of loved ones this year, and God promises comfort to those who grieve. This does not mean that the grief is negated or vanishes, simply that we have companions in our sadness, that there are moments of gladness, and that we can be assured that death does not have the last word. Continue reading “Isaiah | Slow reading | The oil of gladness”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Prayer | The earth is filled with God’s presence

 

Let us pray.
We are the people:
the people of earth.
Let us care for each other:
let us care for the earth.
Let us worship the creator:
let us attend to the earth.
For the earth is filled with God’s presence.
Our ancestor Jacob woke from his sleep and said,
“Surely the Lord is in this place—and I didn’t know it!”
And he was afraid, and said,
“How awesome is this place!
This is none other than the house of God,
and this, the gate of heaven.”
Let us acknowledge this place’s traditional custodians,
the Peek Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Maar nation,
and pay our respects to elders past and present.
May we wake up to this place and its peoples.
May we wake up to God’s holy presence.
Let us attend to the earth: the very dwelling place of God. Amen. Continue reading “Prayer | The earth is filled with God’s presence”

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