Tag Archive: communion


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“… a subtle moment, a reversal occurs.  I know longer drink the wine. It is the wine which drinks me. I have been ‘drunk’ by it. I am drunk. Now it is not the wine which enters my body. It is the wine which holds me inside a glass and drinks me, and I enter into a totally different world, a strange world which I don’t know.  My body is possessed by ‘spirits’ which had remained outside till that moment. ‘In vino veritas’: in wine truth abides.

The eucharist: If the body and the blood were assimilated into our bodies, they would become what we are. But the eucharist is the reversal of normality: we eat and drink the bread and the wine, but it is the bread and the wine which eats us. We are to become what they are: the body and the blood of Christ.”

p.14-15, The Poet, the Warrior, the Prophet

 

He picked up some food from the table they were sitting at and said: You know what? Everybody eats. He raised a glass of what they were drinking and said: You know what? Everybody drinks. We all have these bodies.  These human bodies.  Different but elementally the same. Same blood and water runs in your veins that runs in mine.  Eat this food and drink this drink just like everyone always has and always will.  These lives are for  living and loving.

Some people might think that’s a ritual about remembering God but it’s not. It’s about remembering the Human One.  Let’s remember everyone is human – the other and yourself.  You are uniquely and specially yourself and just like everyone else at the same time. There’s a space and grace about that if you marinate in it for a while.

 

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Of communion, Jesus says I will not take this drink again until
I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

On Sunday 14 February we held a picnic lunch at the immigration detention centre in Maribyrnong. The first Sunday of Lent (and Valentines Day- let’s show the love) would often have a focus theme of a continued call to conversion the intention of the picnic was to physically create the space we would like to live in – that kingdom where Jesus might join us for a drink – even if only for an hour. How can we make that grass verge feel like space of celebration and welcome? How can we extend the expression of hospitality and welcome that we would like to see shown to refugees and asylum seekers?

With yarn bombing, banners, different flags, welcome in different languages, families and at each picnic blanket a spare place set at the table – a visual demonstration that there is room at the table for the ‘other’ and enough food to share.

In the face of the continued and indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers including children and New Zealanders now the second highest number of those held in off-shore detention – we seek to respond with an act of hospitality, an act of welcome, and act of love – witnessing there is room at THIS communion table.

***

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Wominjeka, we acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation have gathered since time immemorial to tell stories, sing songs and share food together. We are gathered here today to do a little of all these things ourselves: tell stories, sing songs and share some food together around this idea of showing welcome to refugees and asylum seekers and we have chosen a specific place, time and context in which to do that.

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We are standing here in the carpark of what is now the VicUni Student Village…this used to be the site of the Pyrotechnic Section of an Explosives Factory (1942) which was built to produce flares, tracers and smoke grenades during the Second World War… a section of this was converted to the Maribyrnong Migrant Hostel (1966). Over here behind us is the new purpose-built Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre (1983) – we are standing where refugees and migrants have been arriving for the last 50 years.

We are standing here at a particular time.  Today is Sunday 14 February, the first Sunday of Lent and Valentines Day – let’s show the love! The first Sunday of Lent would often have a focus theme of a continued call to conversion and the intention of this picnic is to physically create the kingdom space we would like to live in – demonstrating the kind of welcome and abundant hospitality we as Christians believe Jesus might extend and asking of our own discipleship how we feel called to respond.

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We are gathering during a particular context.  The Premier of our own state has come out against the federally legislated law, medical practitioners are refusing to sign off of returning patients to off-shore detention and the UN has condemned the treatment of refugees as breaching human rights… the government, media, society are all sending strong messages – in an environment that seems more focused on reacting out of fear than love, how might we respond with clarity and compassion?IMG_7334

We have folded layers of symbolism into our picnic today… you can see the crocheted heart bunting by Bron for Valentines Day, we have flags representing some of those countries and cultures making up the population of those in our detention centres, and we have empty plates – places set at the table for the ‘other’.  We live with asylum IMG_7343seekers and refugees, we invited them to write the word WELCOME in the language of their cultures on one of the plates and symbolically be represented here and we remember those stories that are still unfolding.

That is about as much story as there is from me, so let’s move on to the singing! We’re very lucky to have Sam here to be the lead liturgist today so look to her for any cues – we’re not going to sing these through a set number of times or anything, we’ll just keep going until she signals otherwise.

So, I will invite you to stand if you want to, in this place, at this time in this context and sing with me, this is not a new idea… we sing in the tradition of so many justice movements: civil rights, suffragettes, apartheid, slavery…in the words of Ched Myers to “Sing about it, until it can be realised”.

This first one is from the Ngatiawa River Monastry, up the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand, a contemporary contemplative community retreat centre.

 

Given for you  [link here to original version on the Ngatiawa website]

 This is my body given for you

Remember me.

This is my blood of forgiveness,

Remember me.

 

Tricia Watts is an Australian singer, composer, she’s used singing and dance for advocacy and therapy and to call people to unite in heart and voice. This next song is from her resource titled ‘Sanctuary’.   We want to offer Sanctuary, we want to link hand in hand, we want to hear the voice of justice cry.

 

Justice Cry

Hear the voice of justice cry,

Moving through our land,

Ringing out oer hills and plains,

Linking hand in hand.

 

Well, I guess the credit or the blame for this one is on me… many of you will have heard of the Love Makes A Way movement. They have undertaken a variety of actions but in particular sitting in politicians offices and praying for them has attracted media coverage. What might be less known, is that while the actions are being undertaken inside, there is a support team outside praying, singing and bearing witness to, and holding vigil with, what happens within. Samara has been one of the people playing that part and collating a Love Makes A Way song book. And as we were talking about it once we remarked the we were drawing heavily on the Freedom songs of the civil rights movement but their style and language were written for a particular context and a particular time – certainly we can borrow their songs but Samara posed the questions “Where are our songs? Where is the style or the voice arising out of our own context?” This song came out of trying to answer that… as I looked at the Freedom songs I felt like they communicated grief but called for hope, they were often short and memorable because as your walking around you need songs people can just pick up even if they don’t have the words in front of them. I wrote this trying to find words for a situation I don’t have words to explain. You might feel moved to offer your own words here in a verse … there is room for the children, there is room in our playgrounds… feel free to lead us! Speaking specifically to context, this was originally written “Let them in, let them in” but with the Sanctuary #LetThemStay initiative just this past week as we were rehearsing we changed it to read “Let them in, let them stay”

 

There is room

There is room at the table (x3)

Let them in, let them stay.

 

There is room at the border (x3)

Let them in, let them stay.

 

There is room in our hearts (x3)

Let them in, let them stay.

 

There is hope for a new tomorrow (x3)

Let them in, let them stay.

 

Flowing on from the last song and our desire to have local songs coming out of our own context, I had a look around for who might already be producing words that hold this sense of lament and hope, short and memorable… this led me to make up the melody for the round you’re about to hear to Leunigs Love Is Born.  I think Leunig is a bit of a prophet, speaking out of hope and darkness, on behalf of many voices… I think “love is born”.

 

Love is Born [link here to a recording by Nathan Brailey]

Love is born with a dark and troubled face

When hope is dead and in a most unlikely place

Love is born,

Love is always born.

Love is born,

Love is always born.

This little ‘set’ wouldn’t be complete without a rousing Hallelujah chorus from the Freedom songs of the civil rights movement – it’s hard to know who to give credit to because groups of musicians gathered for “Sing for Freedom” workshops and wrote them together.  These songs were written to be a call for integration and confrontation of the status quo.  African-Americans in the 60s in the South were singing “Were gonna sit at the welcome table”, today we have to acknowledge that we’re already sitting at the welcome table, or the welcome picnic blanket… Again, you might be moved to call out a chorus of your own making! {e.g. We’re gonna share our songs and stories} By Samara’s hand now we will sing “they’re” as we aspirationally hold space and hope that those inside will one day come outside and join us at this table.

 

They’re gonna sit at the welcome table

They’re gonna sit at the welcome table

They’re gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days (hallelujah)

They’re gonna sit at the welcome table

Sit at the welcome table one of these days (one of these days)

 

They’re gonna feast on milk and honey

They’re gonna feast on milk and honey one of these days, (hallelujah)

They’re gonna feast on milk and honey

Feast on milk and honey one of these days (one of these days)

 

A-ll God’s chil-dren gonna sit to-gether

Yes, a-ll God’s chil-dren gonna sit together one of these days (hallelujah)

A-ll God’s child-ren gonna sit to-gether

All God’s children gonna sit together, one of these days (one of these days)

 

They’re gonna sit at the welcome table

Yes, they’re gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days, (hallelujah)

They’re gonna sit at the welcome table

Sit at the welcome table one of these days (one of these days)

Sit at the welcome table one of these days, (one of these days)

Gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days (one of these days)

 

Thanks so much for making the time today to come here – to stand, to sing, in a particular place, at a particular time, in a particular context to say something.

Let’s enjoy the picnic!

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Further rough notes for those interested in the background of how this picnic came about:

Last year, Mayra and I went to a conference called the Kinsler Institute and heard an amazing activist and speaker Bill Wylie-Kellerman doing a session on ‘Liturgy as Activism’.  He is the Minister of an Episcopal Church in Detroit where they’re experiencing some severe water cut offs and he described a Good Friday Stations of the Cross walk where they stood outside the water company, at the river, at block where there is only one house with people still living in it… there was something about singing or praying or standing in a particular place, at a particular time, in a particular context to say something that made it more powerful.

We came back from that conference inspired to imagine what a Stations of the Cross walk  might look like for our own context here in Footscray – we went to the Palms Motel where they provide crisis accommodation for people experiencing homelessness, we went to the river and reflected on the impacts of climate change, we came here to the Maribyrnong detention centre … most of you will know of the Christian tradition of communion, sharing bread and wine together, this is done symbolically because Jesus says ‘I won’t eat this again with you until I see you in my Father’s kingdom’. In a church we have communion and we eat it as a reminder of that promise… well, we came here and compared what it must feel like for refugees who take a long and dangerous journey to get here, who expect to find shelter, and safety and hospitality and instead…  we passed around an empty cup and an empty plate as a symbol of the kind of hospitality people have experienced arriving here.

Of communion, Jesus says I will not take this drink again until
I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

We decided on Sunday 14 February we would hold a picnic lunch at the immigration dentention centre in Maribyrnong.

The first Sunday of Lent (and Valentines Day- let’s show the love) would often have a focus theme of a continued call to conversion the intention of the picnic was to physically create the space we would like to live in – that kingdom where Jesus might join us for a drink – even if only for an hour. How can we make that grass verge feel like space of celebration and welcome? How can we extend the expression of hospitality and welcome that we would like to see shown to refugees and asylum seekers?

With yarn bombing, banners, different flags, welcome in different languages, families and at each picnic blanket a spare place set at the table – a visual demonstration that there is room at the table for the ‘other’ and enough food to share.

In the face of the continued and indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers including children and New Zealanders now the second highest number of those held in off-shore detention – we seek to respond with an act of hospitality, an act of welcome, and act of love – witnessing there is room at THIS communion table.

Why here? A conversion of the New Pyrotechnic Section of the Explosives Factory Maribyrnong established in 1942 to produce flares, tracers and smoke grenades – the Maribyrnong Migrant Hostel first opened in 1966. Part of an ambitious assisted migration scheme that was implemented by the Commonwealth government in the late 1940s in order to increase Australia’s population. Until it was discontinued in 1981, this program saw thousands of British, European and Asian migrants start a new life in this country, temporarily accommodated in government hostels until they were able to buy or rent a house of their own. The Hostel has accommodated migrants from almost every national group that has arrived in Australia since World War II. Initially these were people from Britain and Europe but the later migrants arrived from Asia and South America and people escaping political upheavals in places such as Hungary, Chile and Vietnam. The hostel at various times also accommodated naval personnel, apprentices and evacuees from Darwin after Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Attempts by migrants to personalise their surrounding are apparent in a mural of windmills and tulips by Dutch migrants painted on the side of one of the surviving concrete bunker structures and a mural of an Asian scene that appears to have been painted by Vietnamese migrants on a section of wall of one of the ammunition stores located next to the Phillip Centre. This building also includes a number of paintings by children on its walls. Staff of the migrant centre also erected a large aviary attached to the former electrical substation that was part of the pyrotechnic works. (onmydoorstep.com.au/heritage-listing/35583/former-maribyrnong-migrant-hostel).  These site spaces are now occupied by Victoria University and in the last few years used predominantly for student accommodation.

The current, purpose-built, Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) was opened in 1983, set up for people who have over-stayed their visas, had their visa cancelled, or who have been denied entry into the country through international airports and seaports.  Unlike the Broadmeadows IDC which has been home to families and children, Maribyrnong IDC has been home for mostly adult single male detainees identified as medium/high risk and therefore it is a site that has had higher security.

In June, the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 was passed.  The Citizenship Act has always said that if a foreign citizen or foreign national fights for a foreign country at war with Australia, they automatically cease to be an Australian citizen. Fair enough. The Bill adds three new categories of circumstances which will bring about the same result.

  1. Fighting for a terrorist organisation – still with you…
  2. Convictions for certain offences – if you’re a foreign citizen or national and you are convicted of any of a long list of criminal offences, your citizenship will automatically cease.
  3. Acting inconsistently with your allegiance to Australia – what does that even mean?

The protocol is that ASIO notices you’ve done a particular thing and tells the Immigration Minister who deports you. To do that, he has to accept that the factual allegations are correct. You have no right to be heard before he does so. You can contest it later but by this time you’re already on a plane.

(you can read more about this here if you’re interested: abc.net.au/news/2015-06-25/bradley-how-you-could-lose-your-citizenship/6572382)

At 30 December 2015, there were 1,792 people in held immigration detention facilities. Of these 1,792 people, around 18.6 per cent were from Iran, 10.2 per cent were from New Zealand, 8.0 per cent were from Sri Lanka, 6.5 per cent were from China and 6.3 per cent were from Vietnam. (Department of Immigration and Border Protection).

New immigration laws brought into effect back in December 2014 mean that anyone who has served a jail sentence of 12 months or more in Australia could be deported.  “We don’t want people who get into trouble, who have a criminal record, and those who fit into that category will have their visas cancelled and sent back to where they came from,” Australian senator Ian Macdonald said, saying that New Zealanders can’t expect special treatment.
“We love our cousins across the ditch but they must be subject to the same laws as everyone else.” [ The Australian, 29 Sept 2015]

It may be that New Zealanders thought they were being treated by the same laws as everyone else when they were convicted, served time and released just as an Australian might be.  That once they had observed due process and due punishment they were free to resume normal life, 5000 New Zealanders have done time in the last 10 years and these changes mean they can retrospectively be sent home.  I’m not trying to be permissive or whitewash anything these people have done. Clearly they are convicted criminals all. But surely we must ask whether it is fair to punish them now, again, a new law applied to an old crime?  These who might have family here, work here, barrack for an AFL team here… is it justifiable?  Is it justice?

With all these legislative changes, the population of the Maribyrnong IDC has housed both of these groups – convicted criminals whose visas are cancelled and are being sent back to where they came from side by side with refugees seeking asylum and safety.  I can’t find a number for 2015 but between 2010-2014 the number of “boat people” identified as legitimate refugees is over 90% in each year.  The treatment of the asylum seekers and the treatment of the criminals is the same. “Hard-line” centre managers from the prison system have been brought in – ex-prison guards who have a very different culture and mentality to officers who have been trained to guard asylum seekers amidst outbreaks of racial violence and hunger strikes .

People come to Australia with the hope of a better life but they are kept in the same place, and in many ways treated similarly, as criminals.  A friend of ours who has visited here – a refugee herself – has shared stories of the intimidation to herself of the conditions of entry; the boredom, the frustration, the fear, the hopelessness, the despair of those she met inside. She had her own complex needs but returned again and again not only to meet the hunger for Arabic home cooking, but for stories and news of life outside.

The latest development is this: all refugees in Maribyrnong are due to be moved to Broadmeadows which has recently had a high security upgrade. They were due to be moved already but it hasn’t happened yet – we have no way of knowing if this will occur prior to 14th of February.  This comes at a high cost to those at Broadmeadows IDC because along with the higher fence, more guards and greater security screening, comes heavier dehumanisation.

And, you know, some of the symbolism of our picnic is lost.

Or is it?

What a contrast over fifty years between a hostel and a prison, between encouraging people to move to Australia and border control to keep them out… but this place, this space, is where weapons were made that were used during World War II then offered a new start to some of the refugees of that conflict.  What has been used for building harm in this place has been transformed for building hope before… maybe we can build it again.

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[p.28-29]

COMMUNION

If the Fire has come down into the heart of the world it is, in the last resort, to lay hold on me and to absorb me.  Henceforth I cannot be content simply to contemplate it or, by my steadfast faith, to intensify its ardency more and more in the world around me. What I must do, when I have taken part with all my energies in the consecration which causes its flames to leap forth, is to consent to the communion which will enable it to find in me the food it has come in the last resort to seek.

So, my God, I prostrate myself before your presence in the universe which has now become living flame: beneath the lineaments of all that I shall encounter this day, all that happens to me, all that I achieve, it is you I desire, you I await.

It is a terrifying thing to have been born: I mean, to find oneself, without having willed it, swept irrevocably along on a torrent of fearful energy which seems as though it wished to destroy everything it carries with it.

What I want, my God, is that by a reversal of forces which you alone can bring about, my terror in the face of the nameless changes destined to renew my being may be turned into an overflowing joy at being transformed into you.

First of all I shall stretch out my hand unhesitatingly towards the fiery bread which you set before me.  This bread, in which you have planted the seed of all that is to develop in the future,I recognise as containing the source and the secret of the destiny you have chosen for me. To take is, I know, to surrender myself to forces which will tear me painfully away from myself in order to drive me into danger, into laborious undertakings, into a constant renewal of idea, into an austere detachment where my affections are concerned. To eat is to acquire a taste and an affinity for that which in everything is above everything – a taste and an affinity which will henceforth make possible for me all the joys by which my life has been warmed.  Lord Jesus, I am willing to be possessed by you, to be bound to your body and led by its inexpressible power towards those solitary heights which by myself I should never dare to climb.  Instinctively, like all mankind, I would rather set up my tent here below on some hill-top of my own choosing.  I am afraid, too, like my fellow-men, of the future too heavy with mystery and too wholly new, towards which time is driving me. Then like these men I wonder anxiously where life is leading me… May this communion bread with the Christ clothed in powers dilate the world free me from my timidities and heedlessness! In the whirlpool of conflicts and energies out of which must develop my power to apprehend and experience your holy presence, I throw myself, my God, on your word. The man who is filled with an impassioned love of Jesus hidden in the forces which bring increase to the earth, him the earth will lift up, like a mother, in the immensity of her arms, and will enable him to contemplate the face of God.

 

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[n.b. this is communion and collection at the same time]

What’s this I’ve got here? (holding basket/kete)

What’s it made of? (grass/flax)
I’ve got a piece of grass here, is it strong? Pull it with me.  (it breaks)
What about this? (indicating the basket – pull, doesn’t break)
One strand of grass by itself isn’t very strong but the basket is lots of pieces woven together. So it’s strong. I can hold a lot.

Is there anything inside it? (let the kids come around and have a look, no it’s empty)

Let’s put some things inside.  What have we got to give to God today? (nothing?)
How are you feeling today? (invite children to reach into the basket with their hand and let go as they say how they’re feeling)
What news have we learned this week? (put in the basket)
What have you got to give? (include talking to adults) time? energy? money?  (put in my tithe) Maybe what we have is that we don’t have enough of these things, we can put that in the bag too. Everyone has something they can put in the basket, even if our something is our nothing.

Is it too heavy? (test it/pass it around children, not heavy)

Is it full?  (Children look inside, not full)

Room for more? (yes) Let’s pass it around the grown ups and see if the grown have anything they want to put in.  Grown ups you can say aloud what you’re putting in if you want but you don’t have to. Whether you have something in your hands or your hand is empty, everyone can hold, and reach into the basket.

Once it’s done the rounds, take it to the table where the communion is set up below the cross.  Rest the basket below the cross.

Jesus wants you to have this so you remember how much God loves you.  

We take everything we are, everything we have and bring it here to God.  Then we take the bread and the juice and we share them around – everybody gets some… Does [Molly] get all the bread while everyone is hungry? (No! We share it!)  Does [Simeon] get all the juice while everyone else is thirsty? (No! We share it!)

Does one of us get all the sad things that went in the basket? Or one of us all of the happy things? No.  We share it.

We bring it together then we share it out so I can taste your joy and share your burdens.

Jesus wants you to have this so you remember how much God loves you.

We can take that inside us and then when we take the bread and juice inside us, we have God’s love inside us and that way if my little brother gets hurt and I give him a hug, it’s like Jesus giving him a hug.

Today when we give out the bread and juice – don’t wait, don’t hold on to them – gobble them right up and take that in.  (pass around the bread and juice)

Let’s pray…

God, we bring this stuff to you, all mixed up together. Thanks that we can bring you the good stuff and the bad stuff, those things where we have lots or not enough.  We are grateful to share life with You and with each other.  Please use all these things  we give You to make the world a better place for everyone who lives in it. Amen

 

 

 

 

Communion @ FCOC

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This song was written reflecting on the Love Makes A Way movement which seeks to see children freed from detention. But even as I wrote it I felt a sort of grief – not just that of refugees heartsick for a safe refuge, a place at the table, but imagining God talking about a kingdom where this is not the way things were supposed to be.  It felt like God was saying “There is room here, let Me move…” whatever boundaries or limits or problems you are carrying today… maybe there’s a pattern of behaviour you’d like to see change, of your own or someone else.  A situation of your own or some else where you feel bound or stuck or like you don’t have any choices – whether you’re feeling that personally, for loved friends or family… for strangers on a boat… As we sing together – hear God saying “There is room here, let me move….”

Sing LMAW song:

There is room at the table,
there is room at the table
There is room at the table,
let me in, let me in…

In Luke, Jesus looks at his friends and says “I’m so glad we get to share this last Passover meal together ‘cos I’m not going to get to do this again with you until the kingdom of God comes.

The kingdom of God hasn’t come.

But part of why we do this ritual is to remember… to remember that resurrection is ours, God’s kingdom will come if we participate in building it and love makes a way.  Let’s eat and drink together… and take that promise in.

Communion @ FCOC

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I took myself to NGV International this week for quiet time to prep for communion – this is a photo from their 16th and 17th Century Art section.  All the images in the gallery to the left of the frame were images of the crucifixion of Jesus and all those to my right the birth… we’ve just had Easter (crucifixion) and now we’ve got the months before Christmas (birth).  It’s easy to think of Jesus at these times – the time he was born and the time he died (then rose) – those were miraculous events and out of my reach. I know there are people out there who just connect with church at the high holidays but this is what they miss… I can’t ‘be like Jesus’ in the sense of how he was born or died, this can make Jesus seem far away, but the life in between these events… telling stories, listening to others, going for walks, praying, holding kids, going fishing – these things are in our reach… Life we can live between these special sacred high holidays in ‘ordinary time’, this is when it’s easier to be near and be like Jesus.

Jesus is sitting eating the Passover meal with his friends – people who worked for the Roman Empire and rebels who worked to overthrow it… JB Were and the Occupy Movement, the rich with inherited investments and property portfolios and those of inter-generational poverty on Centrelink, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples with colonisers… took the food they were eating in front of them and made it sacred. He took ‘ordinary time’ and made it sacred, imbuing it with ritual and meaning.

…something to think about next time you go fishing.

Mayra & I attended the Kinsler Institute earlier this year, and were impacted by Bill Wylie-Kellerman’s workshop on Resistance and Public Liturgy and felt inspired by the Detroit walk to imagine what this might look like for our own context – what are the significant places in our neighbourhood? what are the stories that we need to hear? that we need to tell? These questions were somehow infectious and representatives of different faith communities and social justice projects came together collaboratively in our neighbourhood in a really beautiful, special and significant way around the issues of forced closure of aboriginal land, treatment of detainees in detention centres; multi-faith and multi-cultural engagement, climate change, permaculture, homelessness, and asylum seekers.

We wanted something specific to our cultural context and the resource  we based our walk on (7 Healing Rites for 7 Sites) draws on an indigenous reconciliation resource created by Dr Norman Habel – thank you Indigenous Hospitality House for pointing this out to us – and stories from our indigenous elders, Aunty Doreen Wandin on the Southern Cross constellation being a symbol of home and for navigation and Uncle Wanta Jampijimpa on the 5 stars correlating to the wounds of Jesus on the Cross.

This is a bit of a photo essay (we did an action at each stop as part of our response to the stories).

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Creator Spirit
Help us to uncover our hidden stories
Suffering God
Help our tears to flow for the pain
Reconciling Spirit
Heal our shame and our wounds, and call us into action.
Remember that justice is coming; God’s reign is coming

Communion at FCOC

[Hand out both bread and wine so that they are in our hands]

Yesterday I was in my car and had a little Christmas tantrum “I HATE Christmas!” thumped the steering wheel… “I can’t wait for it to be over…”

Every day I feel like I’m running from thing to thing and doing them all badly, traffic’s terrible – don’t get me started on Highpoint and there’s so many social things to do, I’m barely overlapping with my housemates… I’m stressed out. Yesterday in my car I asked myself the question, “Where is God in this?” How can I engage with the deeper meaning of Christmas when I get swept up in the commercialness and busyness of it?

I’m going to read a poem by Peter Rollins called “In the name…” in an attempt to answer that – invite you to hold the elements and reflect on where you yourself are at at this point of the season… and where God is in the mix. Some of the language may be a bit confronting but it captures some of the missed feelings I have around this time of year and I trust that while we won’t identify with all of it, we will all identify with some of it.

The Lord be with you… and also with you.

In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

In the name of goodness and love and broken community.

In the name of meaning and feeling and I hope you don’t screw me…

In the name of darkness and light and ungraspable twilight

In the name of meal times and sharing and caring by firelight

In the name of action and peace and human redemption

In the name of eating, and drinking and table confession

In the name of sadness, regret, and holy obsession, the holy name of anger, the spirit of aggression…

In the name of forgive and forget and I hope I get over this…

In the name of the Father, and Son and the Holy Spirit

In the name of beauty and beaten and broken down daily.

In the name of seeing our creeds and believing in maybe, we gather here, a table of strangers, and speak of our hopeland and talk of our danger…

to make sense of our thinking to authenticate lives to humanise feeling and stop telling lies.

In the name of philosophy, theology and who gives a damn?

In the name of employment and study and finding new family.

In the name of our passion, our loving and indecent obsessions

In the name of prayer and of worship and of demon possession.

In the name of solitude, and quiet and holy reflection.

In the name of the lost, and the lonely and the withered direction

In the name of efficiency, stupidity and the wholly ineffectual

In the name of the straight, the queer, transgender and bisexual

In the name of boot clogs, and boob jobs and erectile dysfunction. Schizophrenia, hysteria and obsessive compulsion.

In the name of Mary and Jesus and the mostly silent Joseph.

In the name of speaking to ourselves, saying this is more than I can cope with…

In the name of touch up and break up, and break down and weeping

In the name of therapy, and prozac and full-hearted breathing.

In the name of sadness and madness and years since I’ve smiled.

In the name of the unknown, alien and the holy in exile

In the name of goodness and kindness and intentionality. 

In the name of harbor and shelter and family.

(like telling an exciting secret…)

Christ is coming!

Christ is coming!

Christ is coming!

The Lord be with you… and also with you.

Let’s eat and drink.

This week, the second of advent, we light the candle of peace. We light it knowing full well that peace is elusive, and in some parts of the world almost completely absent – but God is never absent from us. God is always preparing something new. And even where there is war and discord, whether between countries, within families or within our own hearts, God is present, leading us to new possibilities. Loving God, in this time of preparation and planning, we thank you for the hope and peace you unfailingly offer us. Show us the creative power of hope. The us the peace that comes from justice. Prepare our hearts to be transformed by You – that we might walk in Your light. Amen.

Communion at FCOC

I have been away in NZ recently for my foster sisters wedding, most of my family are non-Christian but this sister converted to Catholicism to be with her partner and accepted by his family. I read 12 Corinthians 13 in the ceremony – “love is patient, love is kind…” Weddings have a way of bringing lots of different people together and we all need to put aside our individual preferences in favour of these two getting married. She is Maori and he is Samoan so there were different parts of the reception in different languages and around the speeches we’re all trying to follow the correct cultural protocols. We arrive at the reception and realise that our Mum’s speech as Mother of the Bride requires a waiata following her words – we realise there’s one song we basically all know from primary school which echoes the reading – Mum leads off from the front and we have to stand and join in from where we’re sitting and move to stand behind her – it’s only as we get there that we realise other women, family and friends are standing and moving to sing with us also.

Te aroha – loveNZ_Mons wedding 112bw
Te whakapono – faith
Te rangimarie – peace
Tatou tatou e – all of these

This was profoundly significant… I thought attending the wedding was a bit like sharing communion: sometimes we need to speak a new language/learn a new culture to show love; participating in a covenant can mean putting aside our individual preferences – going out of our comfort zone – in order to achieve something bigger together.

In sharing this celebration cup together, we are reminded of the bigger call on our lives to walk a different way, of putting aside our individual needs to further the greater good we believe in – the kingdom of God. Let’s take a moment to sit in silence as the elements are passed around and reflect on where God is calling us into communion.

(silence)

When we toast a couple – linking their names, blessing their shared life together, wishing all good things… let us invoke God’s blessing on the life we share together and all the things we wish for for our world and for each other… to the kingdom of God!