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Stay Strong

in the bonds of love we meet

Kia Kaha Otautahi, Stay Strong Christchurch, is a recurring theme in the outpouring of grief and love happening in New Zealand in response to the attacks of 15 March 2019 at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre that killed 50 and injured 50 more.

In the Christian tradition this is the season of Lent, a time to remember Jesus’ 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. The word “Lent” comes from the old English, “lencten,” which means “spring.” What struggle takes place in this desert? What are the questions we wrestle with? What are the demons we wrestle with? What spring might arise in this desert?

The saying “Kia Kaha Christchurch” came into use after the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 that decimated the city centre and in which many lives were lost. It was used by committed friends and family to affirm and encourage each other in rebuilding their lives and their city. We say ‘stay strong’ because the people of Christchurch are not strangers to death or loss, nor resiliency.

We say ‘stay strong’ because members of our Muslim community and all people of colour face experiences of racism, hate speech, violence and vilification every day, those of Muslim faith are not strangers to death or loss, nor resiliency.

We say ‘stay strong’ calling everyone impacted into the best truth of ourselves and our beliefs because we all know that it is easier in these times to hate, and be angry, than to love. And we rise.

 

love beats fear melbourne vigil for christchurch

 

Rallies against racism, vigils and tributes of flowers outside mosques are happening across New Zealand and around the world. Faith leaders of different religions, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu, lead these gatherings in prayer in many different languages.

islamic council of victoria open day 2019 A mere two days after the shooting, the Islamic Council of Victoria go ahead with their annual mosque open day – opening their doors and sharing with guests their faith and culture. Opening their hearts to those grieving and with questions to which no one knows an answer, like: ‘Why did this happen?

Their own hearts must be sore and grieving, and their actions speak yet to welcome, hospitality and courage. Choosing this, is spring.

Australian social commentator Waleed Aly in a poignant statement shares that the gunman was greeted “Welcome, brother” upon arriving at the mosque, those within were gathered kneeling, in silent communal prayer. They would be facing Mecca and have their backs to the door, unaware of any danger. And they will do this next Friday, and the Friday after that, and every Friday.   Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has announced that today’s Muslim call to prayer will be broadcast nationally on TV and radio and a two minute silence will be held as, nationally, we want to reclaim and hold that space as safe and sacred.  We say ‘stay strong’ but this doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. We know we are stronger together.

Choosing this, is spring.

te aroha kiwis and muslim sing togetherIn the bonds of love we meet” (cover image) is a line from New Zealand’s national anthem and is on the banner I carry to a vigil. It is a signal to other New Zealanders where I am from and many give that head tilt of acknowledgement or stop to say “kia ora”.

The vigil leaders say from the front: “If you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you” and, in this moment, in hugging one Muslim ,I feel I am hugging all Muslims; to hug one Kiwi, it feels I am hugging all Kiwis. Choosing this, is spring.

The vigil is over and people are drifting away to make their way home. A remnant of us gather to sing: people of different faiths, different cultures, speaking different languages. We sing for over an hour… Te Aroha (see image above for lyrics), the NZ national anthem in English and Maori,  John Lennon’s Imagine, and  Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home. (written in response to seeing anti-racism protests in Christchurch back in 2005). His words and melody are just as now poignant as they were then. What an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful. Choosing this, is spring.

Meet in the bonds of love. Stay strong.

Choosing this, is spring.

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Images and moments from the Christchurch vigil in Melbourne hosted by the Islamic Council of Victoria at the State Library…    #chooselovenothate

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other religious leaders led those gathered in prayer.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

K and I meet early in the vigil when she invites me to stand with her family.

K: I think New Zealanders are taking it harder actually. Muslims… we’re used to it. When I first heard, I assumed it was Muslims against Muslims. I guess we’re desensitized maybe. Things like this happen to Muslims all the time.

T: But how awful… that this should happen so often that you could become desensitized to it. Things like this rarely happen in NZ.

K: For us, they are all martyrs.

T: Is it an honour, to die this way?

K: No… It is still a pain. It means a lot that New Zealanders feel that with us… are you from Christchurch?

T: No, Wellington. But I still feel it. What you need to understand about us is that once you’ve welcomed someone onto the marae, they’re not a guest anymore – they’re family.  I don’t need to have ever met them. This week all New Zealanders grieve because we have lost members of our family.

…we hug, and stand together through the vigil.

They say from the front, if you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you, and in this moment: all Muslims are hugged, all Kiwis are hugged. I hope you feel that.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowerschristchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

A group of us sing – Muslims and Kiwis together… Te aroha, the national anthem in English and Maori “…in the bonds of love we meet“, Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home and John Lennon’s Imagine… what an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Tutira mai nga iwi, (Line up together, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Tutira mai nga iwi, (Stand in rows, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Whai-a te marama-tanga, (Seek after knowledge)
me te aroha – e nga iwi! (And love of others – everybody!)
Ki-a tapatahi, (Be really virtuous)
Ki-a ko-tahi ra (And stay united)
Tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)

 

Third Helpings

Sometimes community is a few households sharing life together. This brownie recipe feels symbolic of that as the plate I regularly bring to share at special occasions – birthdays, Christmas, dedications… double it and give some away… x

Radical Discipleship

talitha3By Talitha Fraser

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

Sometimes community is a few households sharing life together. This brownie recipe feels symbolic of that as the plate I regularly bring to share at special occasions – birthdays, Christmas, dedications… When I was interning with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (BCM) in 2012, my community back in Melbourne sent me their smiling, summer faces into my crisply cold California day so that I might feel ‘at the table’.  I made brownies for the Institute that year and we started up an Institute cookbook and I like to think they’re still being made.  Taking our recipes with us means we can feel at home wherever we are and share that…

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“To whoever sees this…”

Someone called Grace has been leaving notes on a lamp post I walk past. And I came to wonder whether there is a person called ‘Grace’ or whether the grace is the space being offered, a gentle invitation to live into all you have it in you to be…

What grace-space would you invite others into? What counsel, what love letter would you leave on a lamp post?

Second Helpings

credo meal table hospitality.jpg

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

For over 20 years Credo, in Melbourne, Australia, was a community gathering around food, recreation and creative art to foster a sense of home – especially for those of us experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental illness and isolation.  The Credo community believed good community development is possible when people from all economic and cultural backgrounds get together and support one another…

Read the rest of this article on RadicalDiscipleship.net and find Credo’s Spaghetti Bolognese here…

anthing here to eat tomato plant know grow go seeds ched myers good questions anything here to eat new year discipleship

It was back in 2008 that I first came to know of a radical discipleship community known as “Seeds” (www.seeds.org.au). This was a network of small communities engaged in their local neighbourhoods bound together by a shared charism, written by Mark Pierson and Marcus Curnow, drawn from Baptist and Quaker influences as well as the writings of Ched Myers “Who Will Roll The Stone Away?: Discipleship Queries for First World Christians”.   Refreshingly to me, this charism was based not in having ‘right’ answers, but in having ‘good questions’.  I heard the invitation of Rainer Maria Rilke to:

“…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”


…you can read the full article on Godspace’s blog here.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Today is the anniversary of the public execution of  two indigenous freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener, on the 20th January 1842. This commemoration is held annually at the monument established in their memory at the corner of Victoria and Franklin St in Melbourne. The monument was built in 2016 by Melbourne City Council after a decade long campaign by the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener Commemoration Committee – it remains the only monument in a major Australian city that recognises the frontier wars that occurred as Australia was colonised. Had Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener killed? Yes. Fighting to protect their people, their lands, their culture, their languages, their laws and their way of life.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Aunty Carolyn Briggs standing with descendants of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener and representatives of their Tasmanian tribes

Australia is a country living out many complexities – the dominant narrative and what the history classes teach is that no one was here, or very few, or that those who were here were sub-human somehow and uncivilised. To name and recognise Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener is to honour those who survived a holocaust. The blood of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children has been spilled on this land, not all were able to fight; sometimes there were diseased blankets, poisoned food, attacks as people were sleeping, overwhelming numbers and overwhelming force.  To remember the names of these two men is to symbolically remember all those who lost their lives at the colonial frontier.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Acknowledging these men, hearing this story, knowing these names goes some way to undoing the erasure of aboriginal people existing in this place which is a step toward relationship with them now.

“What hope is there for us? …it’s you.”

Hear the anger and the grief of this question, yes – but hear too the longing in the answer. In her welcome, Aunty Carolyn Briggs asks another question: “How would you honour this sacred ground if you were walking in a churchyard? Peoples blood has been spilled on the ground here, how will you show them respect?”  She tells us that the answer is to live well here, bringing: no harm to the land, no harm to the water, no harm to children. This is a challenge when we know that fish are dying in our major waterways from mismanagement, Aboriginal people are still dying, locked up and their children are still being taken away.  But someone has hung a banner here today that reads: “Homelands Heal”, and someone has asked: “What hope is there for us?” and answered: “It’s you.”

homeleands heal

Today brings to mind Jacques Ellul’s, The Meaning of the City, in which he discusses how the Hebrew word for city is ‘iyr or ‘iyr re’em and that this can have multiple meanings – “it is not only the city, but also the Watching Angel, the Vengeance and the Terror… we must admit that the city is not just a collection of houses with ramparts, but also a spiritual power. I’m not saying it is a being. But like an angel it is a power, and what seems prodigious is that its power is on a spiritual plane.”  An old Uncle stands up and shares that he has a vision that this year might be the year of revelation.  He remarks that: “White men made this place lawless. You can’t have a spiritual connection to this place except through us.” Because there was law in this place before the colonisers introduced prison and executions, and spirituality in this place before the colonisers brought the Bible.  Are we listening to the city of Naarm (Melbourne)? What does it have to say?
Melbourne’s first official public execution was apparently quite the festive spectacle and we are given to know that 3000-5000 people attended the public hanging of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener.  There were perhaps 100 people gathered to listen to songs and stories at this years commemoration… maybe next year there will be more.
“What hope is there for us?
It’s you.”
buried below Queen Vic Markets
Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Helpings (1)

christop table of hospitality

Illustrator – Chris Booth

 

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

Our practices of radical hospitality and community have something to offer we know the world is hungry for and to that end we are going to share some recipes over the coming weeks that are for community meals. Don’t think: How can I reduce the scale of this to feed my family? Instead think: Who shall I invite to share food at my table?

This is the first of a series of reflections I’ve written on community meals with each one including a recipe…Enjoy Credo’s Carbonara recipe at RadicalDiscipleship.

 

Beautiful and thought provoking words from Chris Goan this Advent

this fragile tent

A

From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.
But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plough.

And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.

Yehuda Amichai

A few weeks ago, I had one of those
conversations with one of my oldest friends. He had made a comment using Christian
language that I no longer hear often, and I rather flippantly challenged it.
This led to a two hour skype conversation that ranged far and wide over faith,
doubt, the origins of the Bible and the meaning of faith and doubt. Unlike most
of these discussions, my friend kept this one respectful and listened carefully
to what I said, but I honestly think he was shocked be some of…

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Radical Discipleship

IMG_0231Homily by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann at Day House Catholic Worker
Second Sunday of Advent

Baruch 5:1-9
Psalm 126

My Advent has started out differently than I planned.

As I think most of you know, my dad was taken into custody for a 12-day sentence when he refused to pay a fine for an action he was part of (along with Tom Lumpkin) with the Poor People’s Campaign on May 21. They blockaded the doors of the Department of Health and Human Services in Lansing calling out the systemic racism and abuse of the poor by the very department that is supposed to support the needs of the poor. The director of DHHS is currently facing charges of manslaughter for his role in the Flint Water Crisis. And we recently learned that Child Protective Services has started following the Homrich trucks in certain neighborhoods in order to immediately remove children from their…

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