Filled with new wine

Are we open to the intoxicating power of the Holy Spirit, or are we dispiritingly sober? (Listen.)

One of my happy places is Little Creatures brewery in Geelong – or any big barnlike place which serves hot chips, a decent pint, and a place to hang out with family and friends. I also love being around a dinner table with simple food and backyard flowers, hosting people in the process of getting to know each other. I love chatting in a coffee shop, latte in hand and the hiss of an espresso machine in the background. I love sitting at my desk having Zoom drinks with friends; I love making coffees at Anglicare and swapping tall stories with clients and volunteers; I love lazing around the garden with a glass of wine or mineral water, and a cheese board, and guests. Basically, it doesn’t take much to make me happy: good food, good drink, and good conversation.

Continue reading “Filled with new wine”

When God seems absent

When God seems absent, we need each other. (Listen.)

Did you hear it? The disciples have been sent into shutdown. For the Risen Jesus orders them not to leave Jerusalem. Instead, they must wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which will fill them with power. Then he moves into the cloud which signifies God’s presence, and disappears from their sight. And so the disciples—men and women both—go back to the room where they’re staying, and devote themselves to prayer. They don’t know what the future holds; they don’t know how long they must wait. But in faith they bunker down to watch and wait, pray and wonder: in all these things, together.

Continue reading “When God seems absent”

23: Ways of knowing #Lent2021

The sky tells the glory of God; the firmament proclaims God’s work … God’s teaching is whole, restoring to life; God’s pact is steadfast, making the fool wise. (Psalm 19:1, 7)

The Creeks (or Muscogees) already had a spiritual path laid down in the very beginning, given by the same Creator who inspired the Bible. We have our stories, our songs, rituals and ceremonies that celebrate and praise God as well as instill within us an awe of the mystery of life.

Continue reading “23: Ways of knowing #Lent2021”

Group reflection: Listen to him!

A group of people meet in a carpark (thanks, COVID), and hear an ancient story in which Jesus’ followers see their teacher, Jesus, standing with Moses, who represents the law, and Elijah, who represents the prophets, on a mountaintop. And a cloud, aka the presence of God, envelops them, and they hear a voice saying, ‘This is my son, the Beloved; listen to him.” Suddenly when they look around, they see nobody with them anymore, but only Jesus. So, what do the people in a carpark notice? Continue reading “Group reflection: Listen to him!”

Mailbox communion ~ Christ among the couch cushions

SHELLEY WRITES: We did the communion tonight and it was great. We weren’t sure if it was going to happen for a while there because one member of our family, who is very fond of fruit boxes, hid the Blood of Christ underneath some cushions. She denied it three times on Saturday night but confessed in the bright sunshine of Sunday morning.

But how did it get there? Well, one constant of COVID-19 for me has been thinking about communion. Way back in March, when we were first shutdown, I explained why we wouldn’t be sharing communion via Zoom; you can read it here. Then shutdown eased, and we were permitted to meet in groups of twenty. Being a small enough church, we dreamed up Carboot Communion: that is, multiple outdoor gatherings by RSVP for prayer and the eucharist. So we met in groups on the first weekend of June, July and August. It was wonderful, if rather chilly at times … but then we went back into shutdown. And I wondered, Must we cancel communion again?

Quite honestly, I couldn’t face it. At our carboot communions, with the people of Israel we had asked, ‘Can God set a table in the desert?‘: the answer was a resounding ‘Yes!’ Now we were faced with another shutdown wilderness. The people continued to be hungry for physical signs of God’s presence; yet communion via Zoom feels artificial to me. And some of our people cannot access Zoom. For this pastor, if communion is to be a meaningful gathering of the body of Christ, it has to include everyone.

I put on my thinking cap, and realised that, if we take seriously the mystical communion of saints, which unites us across time and space, then, as a congregation, we can take communion in our homes at any time in a way which affirms our connection with the wider body of Christ.

I realised then that food delivery drivers are permitted to go to people’s doorsteps: and that’s when Mailbox Communion was born. It’s a liturgy, a juice box, and a pack of crackers, home delivered by a highly sanitized facemasked pastor who knocks, steps back, and asks, ‘RUOK?’ when you open up.

So that’s how the Blood of Christ found itself tucked among the couch cushions. And when I think about how much Jesus loves little children, I have no doubt that he would have laughed wholeheartedly at the sight, and given that young juice box lover an enormous all-encompassing hug.

Peace,
Alison

PS – If you’re interested, you can find the various liturgies here.

Emailed to Sanctuary, 16 September 2020 © Alison Sampson, 2020. Image credit: Mathyas Kurmann on Unsplash.

Coffee

If this post stimulated your thinking or restored your equilibrium, why not share it on social media? And why not flick a double shot coffee our way, to support our ongoing thinking, writing and praying. We are a small young faith community seeking to revitalize tired faith. Your contribution helps keep us awake.

A$5.00

Letter to a church facing change

We are in limbo. The old has passed away, and the new has not yet arrived. For those of us foolish enough to remain in the church, these are terribly uncomfortable times. We don’t necessarily want change; and yet we also know that things can’t stay the same. Christendom is long gone, COVID-19 is real, the world keeps moving online, and these realities are powerfully shaping the future church. Continue reading “Letter to a church facing change”

Reaching beyond the gathered church

During shutdown, many of us long to gather like the first disciples “all together in one place”; but the Spirit of Pentecost pushed them, and pushes us, to reach far beyond the bounds of the gathering. (Listen.)

Did you feel the poignancy of that first line? ‘When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.’ How I long for us to be all together in one place, gathered into one body, singing, praying, and sharing bread and wine, food and drink, hugs and handshakes. But we cannot. Instead, we remain separate, compelled by the pandemic to huddle in our houses and maintain physical distance. The reality of being gathered all together in one place feels a long way away. Continue reading “Reaching beyond the gathered church”

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