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“You should share communion together,
it has a unique power to unite beyond words”
Peter (Chappo) Chapman

Very pleased to present this little number…

This resource is the result of a collaboration between Elizabeth Taylor, myself and the many vibrant alternative discipleship communities sharing hospitality and, indeed, grace around Victoria. Such as: Common Rule, Cornerstone, Footscray Salvos, GraceTree, Indigenous Hospitality House,  MannaGum, Missio Dei,  Newmarket Baptist Church, Seeds, The Cave & Transfiguration Community, UCA, Urban Seed and the many more who serve, share and speak grace spontaneously, silently or scarcely – you know who are.  We acknowledge that we do so on the land of the peoples of the Kulin Nations.

We decided to make this as a kind of snapshot in time of radical discipleship expression in and around Melbourne and to encourage one another – we don’t often get to get around the table together but we do go back to our separate spaces and share meals in community.

Elizabeth’s beautiful and colourful visual images were inspired by the language of the prayers, varied and lovely. Done in a loose watercolour style we are offered a birdseye view of a table full of food, with hands around the edges sharing and eating, different types of food, the hands that prepare and acknowledgement of the earth that produces.

We share this abundance, from our table to yours,
in acknowledgement and celebration of the bigger Grace extended to us all.

Free PDF (or LMS accessibility supported copy) available by request.






ssh… ssh… ssh…
the sea soothes
ssh… ssh… ssh…
the sea moves
ssh… ssh… ssh…
the moving sea soothes
ssh… ssh… ssh…
the soothing sea moves








I walk to the end of the pier
lie on my stomach
dip my hand in the brine of Creation
I touch my hand to my forehead
my lips, tasting it
can you hear the singing?

I am Made.

Talitha Fraser

i believe love wins


Today feels like a day for bright colours.  Uncharacteristically I am wearing one of the skirts I have made – full and colourful, no one around today to comment on it and I love that – what would we wear any given day if we thought no one would ever say anything?

I feel nervous carrying my homemade 009signs to the marriage equality march – do I  carry them facing inwards until I get there?  Am I going to draw negative attention from people that are anti-gay or anti-Christian? You are making a choice, to set yourself out, apart, from ‘normal’ people going about their ‘normal’ day, doing ‘normal’things.

To be contrary, I line them up beside me on the seat at the bus stop while I wait – people idling in the weekend traffic read them but no one says 005anything and I am almost disappointed… let’s do it, let’s talk about how we’re treating one another.  People see the signs – rainbow broadcasting
makes the topic clear – no one says anything… aah, I have found a new way to be invisible.

Now at the train station, I put in my headphones as I step into the train carriage, block out an uncaring world and I am tapped on the shoulder…

“Hey, you want to join us here in the marriage equality corner?”

…I am welcomed in, a place, a space made for me and my signs.  they look me over assessingly, am I like them?

“I haven’t ever been to a rally before, But I have been to the Sydney Mardi Gras – I hope it’s like that – there’s a power in people coming together from all over, no matter what their age, race, religion, gender orientation is… there’s something really powerful about that, ay?”

Yes.  Yes there is.

How much riskier must it be if your clothes or mannerisms or something “give you away” and make you feel like you’re carrying a rainbow coloured banner with you everywhere you go… I’m embarrassed of the fear I felt of some kind of retaliation for sticking my neck out… is this a fear people live with going out their door every day?

The act of solidarity isn’t just showing up at the parade but being willing to put yourself in a position to share the experience of the person being marginalised – so what if someone did yell something out of a car on the way past or defaced the sign or comes into my personal space with aggression.  Is this something gay people ask of themselves every day? “Do I wave the banner today or mute something of who I am so I don’t attract attention?” As with all movements perhaps it requires some to be be ‘extreme’ with it to broaden the range of what’s ‘normal’… maybe that’s literally carrying a rainbow banner – drawing some of the attention away from you over there to me right here.

It’s not the same, hating me when it’s not my lifestyle choice.  You have to have a conversation with me to  find out why I’m doing it – and I’ll have a conversation with you about why you aren’t.



All the arms we need

IMG_5808 sml


Apologies for my bitsy notes my hand wasn’t keeping up very well! Premise is this: What if our experience of the declining position and viability of the Western Church were good news?  What if the confusion, failure, and ‘lost-ness’ of this ecclesial ‘dark night’ could be inhabited as a space where new ways of being church and of engaging the needs of the world might be revealed and lived into?  This lecture will explore how the practice of contemplation might enable us to embrace rather than resist this experience, reconnect with the gospel dynamic of death and resurrection, and also be renewed for participation in divine liturgy, mission and justice.

photo source:

Late 20th century saw a resurgence of contemplative practice, Merton, Keating, John Main – disciplined practice of silent prayer – waiting on God in deepening receptivity.

Not our own thoughts, even spiritual ones.  Contemplative practice is healing for our culture – slowness, connectedness, way/method of prayer – grow into a personal relationship with God. Mystic = personal experience of God.  Not a passing emotional state or passed down from leaders.  In meditation we verify the truths of our own faith.  What can mediation offer to the whole church body?  Reconnects to gospel death and resurrection – engaging the decline and disorientation.  “Emptiness” in he life of faith.  Meditation – laying aside thought and waiting on God – demanding practice.  Planning, worrying, daydreaming… need to lay aside self-consciousness itself.  Thoughts carry egoic identification with it.  Deep subversion of the self.  It takes nerve to become quiet.  Radical self-forgetting.  Described by Cassian – “complete simplicity that demands not less than everything”;  Buddhist – “eye that sees everything but not itself”;  Main – “hand yourself over and hold nothing back, become self-dispossessed so as to receive our life back as a gift”.  Experienced differently as individuals, how will it be experienced as a church?  Jesus gives self to God.  We claim vocation to be like Christ.  Church won’t give it’s life/identity over – seeks to secure its identity – doesn’t like questions or change.  Fails to realise the transformation it proclaims.  What does ecclesial emptying look like?


In ‘Writing the Icon of the Heart’, Ross describes being on a boat surrounded by icebergs and glaciers “stupefied by glory” – went to do communion.  Inadequate to where they were. Cup and wine were an intrusion.  Would have been okay if reached for our hands in silence or to pass elements but no, pulled out the book and started to read the words I usually loved. Words that shrank rather than grew…Distraction.  Not illuminating.  Need to get in touch with alienation…  playacting.  Not in touch with God, or my sin, or grace – went home frustrated.

Liturgy needs to point beyond itself, not be – or try to make itself – at the centre.  Needs to emerge from deep listening and pre-packaged agenda is IN the way not OPENING up a way.  our lives are already sacred and liturgy tries to remind us of that (doesn’t give us/make us sacred).

Words affect who we are and our becoming – affect our formation.  Liturgy can’t be an end to itself.  Must be willing to talk about self-dispossession and be willing to be dispossessed… not more relevant or ‘contemporary’ – a liturgy will be effective only insofar as it effaces itself.  Every true sign must be self-effacing.  Must start in silence and be listening and responding to what is given.


does your church have meetings about getting new people to come and how to make them stay?  do we extend good hospitality?  is our community growing?  sustaining? are we seen as welcoming? are we living up to our own idea of how welcoming we are?  Genuine desire to do justice and be justified (confirmed we’re doing the right thing). Self-referencing and self-conscious… self-centred instead of “just”.

Genuine desire to welcome, but also desire to be ‘seen’ as “most inclusive parish” >> this is death dealing.  Reassured not to see identity as “good”,  give ourselves wholly, handing over ecclesial consciousness instead of wondering how we’re doing it >> get on with it.

Other experiences of Benedictus:

Community made up of secondary teachers (high needs students: drugs), climate change scientists, paediatrician, counsellors, lawyers, healthcare workers… don’t want to take energy from their vocation.  Encourage and resource them to do the good work they are already called to… church might not “socially engaged”.  Freedom, integrity and passion to love.

Encourage formation in contemplative ways – engage the world in different ways.  Reflective peer groups.  Signs of life and new ways of being.  Relate to unhelpful patterns with awareness.  “Why do I have this conversation with my mother every time…” , complaints about work but not making change… structured formation, how can you be liberated?  Church calls us to this.   Formation… in God’s work in the world, lay formation/lay ministry… not calling people into church building but equipping and sending out.  Take these vocations as seriously as it takes its own.  Can the church serve people as they serve the world?  Not a church trying to preserve its own place and identity.  But one that consents to its own self-effacement – we might not know if this group makes a different in individuals visiting once or regulars going back to their work… we might never know.  Faithful communities point away from themselves.  Well-meaning/patronising/complacent when needing the accolade of knowing the difference its making.  Church needs to be faithful to its own vocation, as it discerns.

There is still gender related injustice.  Anglican delegation of women in ministry “keep agitating”, lots of energy but little progress.  Agitating a sign of false spirit.  Agitating is a block to healing – avoiding what was necessary.  Stop.  Risk being fully present to the worlds pain and our response to it… discern your response out of that.  Social action… not saying ‘do nothing’ but Rowan Williams ‘internal contemplation, makes space for truth, for Gods’s reality to come through.’

Depth, broken openness required of us as individuals and communities.  Transformation of imagination and relationships – climate change, reconciliation with indigenous, gender… need to become aware of what we resist and fear.  Let our hearts break open to receive larger vision.  UN: St George slaying the dragon/Isaiah weapons to ploughshares… Leunig does this through prophetic invitation that inspires a bigger imagination.

what can we do?

Prayer of the heart: poverty/listening.  Formation/contemplative action.  Gift of our present ecclesial circumstances (moments of unintentional contemplation – moment of truth/revelation, stripped of illusion) inner alien and unsettling truth.  Discovering ourselves to be less than we thought.  Inadequacies.  Deprived of familiar comforts – social status, political power… running on empty.  Stave off descent into emptiness.  What if rather than resisting we embrace the empty space?  Disciples – didn’t know what they were hoping for.  Poverty o spirit – reaching of our boundaries of being (can’t go on by ourselves) – made bigger.  Be with broken-heartedness and poverty… live into the gift of new and expanded life.  Not all at once… but little bits.

Need to be adequate to depths of worlds need, let go of limiting identity – let ourselves go – fall empty-handed into the hands of the living God.  Follow Jesus into depth of death and chaos.

 Become uncreated to be created.  Broken to be a blessing to all.

Anabaptist/Quaker traditions haven’t had the identity/power in the same ways – what can these traditions offer us?  Still need to be accountable to self.  Still ways to manipulate e.g. silence can be wielded to mean something.  Is the leader and the liturgy connected to deep ground?  Not about individual preference/styles or arguing against communal worship.  Sign is the vehicle that takes us to the encounter.

The church has no place of its own to secure and no need to be defensive.


Yesterday I attended the book launch of “The Jihad of Jesus” by Dave Andrews… that’s a title that’ll get your attention…

I feel it takes a little explanation so I’m going to take the liberty of including Dave’s Preface here so that he is introducing the material in his own words…

“I do not write this an an expert. I am not.

I do not write this as a specialist. I am not.

I simply write this as a Christian, in conversation with Muslim friends, seeking to find a way we can struggle for love and justice that is true to the best of our traditions.

I am writing this for Christians who are concerned about the way Jesus has been (mis)represented by well-known crusading combative pastors, like Mark Driscoll.

I am writing this for Muslims who are concerned about the way jihad has been (mis)represented by well known militant extremist preachers, like Abubakar Shekau.

And I am writing this for people who subscribe to neither religion, but watch with horror, as Christians and Muslims slaughter one another in the name of God.

For many people jihad and Jesus are totally contradictory, mutually exclusive options.  You must choose the one or the other.  You cannot have both.  Given our present situation, Muslims would tend to choose jihad, Christians would tend to choose Jesus.

But it is my contention that – rightly understood -you can’t have one without the other.  in spite of the fact this may seem heresy to Muslims and/or Christians, I contend you cannot rightly pursue jihad without Jesus, or rightly pursue Jesus without jihad.

Reza Aslan’s book Zealot sets forth the case that Jesus was not simply a pious spiritual teacher, but actually a radical messianic activist. Of this there is no doubt.  Both Muslims and Christians believe Jesus was the Masih or the Messiah.  The debate is about what his radical messianic activism meant in the context of his time and what his radical messianic activism means in the context of the violence and counter-violence in our time.

If, as some would argue, Reza Aslan is right, Jesus could be a model for violent jihad.  But if, as I argue, Ahmad Shawqi is right, Jesus would be a model of nonviolent jihad: as

Kindness, chivalry an humilty were born on the day Jesus was born.  No threat, no tyranny, no revenge, no sword, no raids, no bloodshed did he use to call to the new faith.

The Jihad of Jesus is the sacred nonviolent struggle for justice.”

Dave Andrews, Bribane 2015

Nora (short, coloured, Muslim, woman) speaks first which is an important signal I think – the medium is the message.  She and her family build their home in a new development and meet with the neighbours regarding fence options and collectively decide not to have them but have the children stay, play, eat together… different religions, different cultures… five months later 9/11 happened.  She said “The fences will go up now” and they didn’t. Not until many years later when the family was to move.  They were known and, known, they were accepted.  Muslims make up 2.2% of the population in Australia (2011 census) – not likely to meet one but the culture of fear is being fed.  Nora felt called to speak out but Christians wouldn’t listen – “You won’t be accepted if you don’t remove your scarf”, serving her pork and giving her copies of the bible… someone suggested she meet Dave and she didn’t want to, this books captures 7+ years of the shared conversations that followed.

Dave (yes… tall, white, Christian, male) speaks second.  We believe in the same Abrahamic God- need to start where we agree and then explore other areas.  When 9/11 happened, Dave went to his local mosque and said “I’m sorry, they’re going to try and make it them and us (set us against each other) may I come in and join you in prayer as an act of solidarity?”

He gave Nora a copy of this books manuscript and has included her comments in footnotes where she has disagreed with him – minority/dissenting voice included.

Steps forward:

(Buy and read this book I reckon’!)

  • talk about it
  • live it out yourself
  • tell stories
  • invite others in
  • celebrate the wins



Sacred solitude


the river
invites you
not to be
but here


yellow pollen blossoms
seeds and pods
spring blooming
all along the riverbank
and blooming


quack says the duck
quack at once mournful
and warning
a calling or a sending
quack says the duck
quack at once guarding
and guiding
a calling or a sending


Talitha Fraser


My blog posts almost feel like signposts, pointing out the way to You that I have followed but it would look like this… The thing with You being everywhere, the centre and the edges, maker of all things… Your fingerprints are all over everything and everyone who has ever been. It really isn’t all that hard to find You if people are truly willing to “look”.  I don’t want people to focus on reading the signposts.  I want them to commit to “looking.”






Dr Bronwyn Hughes, stained glass artist and historian

Being creative can be difficult if I approach a project intellectually, but then let go of the idea and let the art speak to me, become a conduit, become reflective and contemplative.  This also happens when I write, I can get stuck but trust that something meaningful will come. I watched the stained glass windows while at church when I was a child. I assumed the windows were ‘old’ but they were in fact ‘new’.  Eyes were known as the window of the soul so craftsmen made the eyes of stained glass images larger. The windows live in the light, illuminate, narrates and alters the light that comes into the church – this art dies in the dark.  Trinity chapel was built at the same time as the war broke out so it memorialises some students and staff who fought.  Plans changed to incorporate imagery of “warrior” saints over the next twenty years. The last panel, the crucifixion, went up once the second war had started.  These windows became memorials of prayer to visit where there was no body and no grave of loved ones lost.  Good, one hundred years on, to still gather here.


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