Small ghosts, and how we remember them

Small ghosts trail behind so many families, invisible to the naked eye or the quick hello.

Rena bustles around her son’s birthday party, passing food and welcoming guests. During a lull, we chat. ‘Did you ever think of having another child?’ I ask. ‘Oh, we did,’ she says, voice suddenly rough, ‘but he died. He was eight weeks old. He got an infection, it entered his heart, and he died.’ I place my hand on her shoulder; there are no words. Continue reading “Small ghosts, and how we remember them”

Benjamin Lay: Quaker vegan revolutionary abolitionist

A Quaker vegan revolutionary abolitionist shows us how to live. A story for All Saints … thanks, Lucy.

Benjamin Lay was an early 18th century Quaker, and ‘a class-conscious, race-conscious, environmentally conscious ultraradical.’* If that’s not a big enough mouthful, he was more specifically a revolutionary abolitionist vegan with a disability (dwarfism) who boycotted all slave-produced commodities and lived in a cave.

Continue reading “Benjamin Lay: Quaker vegan revolutionary abolitionist”

Every church needs a saint like Lindsay

Lindsay was a pillar of the church. He had been there for over fifty years, and was the longest-serving member. And he was a good and faithful servant. Every week, hours before anyone else arrived, he unlocked the building. He set out the chairs higgledy-piggledy, drew the curtains, and otherwise prepared for worship. Then someone else turned up and rearranged things just so.

Continue reading “Every church needs a saint like Lindsay”

Remembering the cloud of witnesses

The night Great-Aunty Pete died, she came to my mother on the other side of the country and said goodbye in a dream. After Lindsay died, he came to my kitchen while I was cooking dinner. In his life, he had intellectual and emotional disabilities; when he appeared in my kitchen, he was wise and mature and laughing. He told me not to worry about him anymore: everything was just fine. And I’m sure many of you have similar stories, where the dead have presented themselves to the living, and provided words of love and reassurance. Continue reading “Remembering the cloud of witnesses”

#Intro: Ordinary saints: #40ways40days

Jesus said to the crowd: ‘My mother and my brothers and my sisters are those who hear the word of God and do it.’ (Luke 8:21)

 Lives of the saints abound. Bookshelves groan with biography, hagiography, memoir, and other tales about extraordinary people living extraordinary lives, whose faith is played out in lights; or stories of people living heroically in incredible adversity in contexts we can barely imagine. Continue reading “#Intro: Ordinary saints: #40ways40days”

A Revolutionary Abolitionist and our Cloud of Witnesses

Last Thursday, we gathered for All Saints’ Day. We ate, sang and spoke of people in our ‘Cloud of Witnesses’ – those who have passed on and who have inspired us and our faith. Their names were added to the blackboard that stands over us year round, and those of us who wished to told a story about the soul whose name they had added. I had not attended this service before, and had not really understood what Alison had meant when she said it was a way for us to be reminded of and acquainted with death, and brought in community with our cloud of witnesses (that’s how I remember her explaining it anyway).  I had thought that meant it was a kind of memorial, anniversary-like, and was okay with that. But sitting there, saying the prayers, singing the names, reading the people on the board and hearing the stories about them – it created an awareness for me that those who have died and we who are living are not ‘us’ and ‘them’: we are collectively the Body of Christ, and His Spirit is with us. Continue reading “A Revolutionary Abolitionist and our Cloud of Witnesses”

The Honours List

Last week, the annual Australia Day Honours List was announced: a list of people recognised for their contribution to our nation. So it is timely that in tonight’s reading, Jesus gives us his own honours list: the people honoured for the way they embody and contribute to God’s culture. The Australia Day Honours List usually includes politicians, military officers, scientists, sports stars, charity workers, artists, businesspeople, and others. Who do we find on Jesus’ honours list? Well, as you can imagine, it’s a bit different. Continue reading “The Honours List”

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