Slow reading: The prophet Amos and 26 January

Today is 26 January. It’s a day of formal ceremonies and concerts; festivities and fireworks; citizenship oaths and wattle seedlings; parades and parties; lamb on the barbie—and even WA is invited! Workplaces will be closed, pubs will be full, and our favourite swimming hole will be a sea of flags printed on towels, bikinis and stubbie holders, as people celebrate the construct we call Australia. Continue reading “Slow reading: The prophet Amos and 26 January”

When you pray, move your feet!

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 praying while out for a walk.

Prayer is a way of deep listening. Yet when our minds are busy and distracted, we cannot listen well; and so we need methods to still our minds. One of these is to go for a walk. The repetitive rhythmic movement, and the regular intake and exhalation of breath, can help us find that still centre: the space where we notice the spirit bubbling up and gently prompting us. Continue reading “When you pray, move your feet!”

Consider the sky: Lectio divina in 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 the sky in dialogue with scripture.

In Christian understanding, God is immanent. This means that, while God cannot be contained by anything, yet God is present in all things. In other words, creation is a sacrament: a sign of God’s presence which has an effect. Continue reading “Consider the sky: Lectio divina in creation”

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 “Consider creation”

Slow reading: Consider the birds

A few weeks ago, after a hot afternoon gardening, I turned on the sprinkler then collapsed in the shade. Within minutes six New Holland honeyeaters came to drink and bathe. They flitted in and out between the sprinkler spray and the Tree everlasting we planted just over a year ago, and which is now thriving. I considered that these birds neither strive nor toil, yet all their needs are being met, right down to the punk feather haircut which always makes me grin. Continue reading “Slow reading: Consider the birds”

A hard time to handle

I don’t know about you, but I find Christmas hard time to handle. Every year, I am confronted by the clash between fantasy and reality: the fantasy, in which the community of faith gathers to hear the story and celebrate, and the reality, where most people will be away, attending family functions in other places. The fantasy, where I am surrounded by a big family and am nurtured by older women, and the reality, in which I have a tiny family, and have been the oldest woman for nearly two decades. The fantasy, that in lieu of a big family I could invite a host of “widows and orphans” to the table, and the reality, that my children want a closed table on this one special day. Continue reading “A hard time to handle”

Need a New Year’s resolution? Read the Bible in a year!

Some of you call me a Bible nerd, and I’m totally fine with that. I love the Bible with all its poetry and promises, stories and visions, frustrations, contradictions and deep weirdness; and I love how, when I read, I so often experience comfort or challenge, guidance or encouragement. This shouldn’t be surprising. We believe that God speaks through scripture, and that, in the words of an old hymn, ‘The Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from the Word.’ This love and this faith is why I read the Bible cover to cover every year: the good bits, the boring bits, and the bits I’d really rather avoid. In 2022, I invite you to join me! Continue reading “Need a New Year’s resolution? Read the Bible in a year!”

A prayer for miscarried and stillborn children

Today we marked an early All Saints/All Souls, giving thanks for those who have gone before us, sharing stories about them, and naming some losses almost too painful to bear – including miscarried and stillborn children.

Loving God, we bring to you those
truly unacclaimed by earthly powers,
yet whose lives have indeed hallowed ours:
those who died in the womb;
those who died during birth. Continue reading “A prayer for miscarried and stillborn children”

Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder

In response to human suffering, God offers presence and a broader perspective. (Listen.)

God, why was Elephant killed? What about J and K and all our other friends this year? Why is there a plague galloping across the earth, and so many people suffering or dead? How long must we live in fear? When can we see friends and family again? We’re good people, Lord, faithful and committed and true. We try to live ethically; we pray: why is this all happening? Continue reading “Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder”

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