Tag Archive: non-violence


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.

Artwork by Rowena Fry

This is your home and you should have been safe here

by Wellington artist Ruby Jones

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

“We share communion to remember what has been dismembered.  This exhortation lies at the heart of the church’s eucharistic ritual, repeated with each element for emphasis. It reiterates and sums up the deep wisdom of biblical faith, the product of a people all too familiar with distress, displacements and near disappearance.  Whenever you ingest this memory, said Jesus on the eve of his execution, you join yourselves to our historic struggle to make the broken body whole.  It was, and is, both invitation and imperative, equally personal and political.  If we refuse to heed it, we are ourselves doomed to drift forever on or be drowned by the tides of empire, refugees all.” (Ched Myers, 2012, Our God is Undocumented)

This is one loaf of bread. One body.
It’s broken.

As Jesus’ body was broken on the cross for us.

this bit might be me…
this bit might be Andrea…
this bit might be Alex…this bit might be Sarah…

 [as we say each name of refugees on Manus and Nauru and our political leaders we place a piece of bread for each of those not here on the empty chairs]

this bit might be Abdul, or Shahriar, or Nasiri, or Shamindan or Scott Ryan, or Peter Dutton or Malcolm Turnbull

When we eat this bread it is a reminder that we are all part of one whole – we might be a different colour, we might be a different size, of a different shape – but we are all part of the same body… connected.  And we are all of us broken.  In each taking a piece, and eating it at the same time, we are invited back into wholeness with God and with each other.

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff  peaceful non-violent resistance

14 Nov:
#Manus refugee who has been catatonic & close to death for a week was taken to Port Moresby for treatment yesterday. Waited a week for treatment. Dangerous to make dying people wait. https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/375889/catatonic-refugee-evacuated-from-manus-island  @ManusAlert

15 Nov:
A critically ill refugee was sent to Lorengau Hospital by the #PIH doctor in the #Manus camp. There were no beds in LGH. And no seats in the crowded hospital, so he had to sit on the floor. Doctor sent him back to the camp because it was better than sitting on the floor in the hospital. Standing room only for man who might die.  @ManusAlert

Nasiri, Manus
I just would like to say I would like to go out of here to start new life and normal life. I don’t want to go Australia at all, just need to go somewhere else to start my life. I would like to get out of here to treat my medical problem, because I didn’t receive treatment here. 

I know that we came to Australia illegally, but being a refugee is not illegal. The Australian government kept me here as a prisoner and we can’t go out of here by our decision, even for treatment.

Leader               Hear our cries of frustration, grief, and anger, O God
As the voices of asylum seekers are silenced by fear and the pursuit of power

Hear our cries in despair at the powerlessness we feel,
To make the story turn out right
To overturn the actions done in our name
To inspire our neighbourhoods to new attitudes
To infect the public discourse with grace

 

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

(to the tune of Teddy Bears Picnic)

Every person who comes by boat is sent off across the sea
There’s lots of terrible things go on, so far from you and me
Across the seas where nobody sees
We drain the hope from refugees
Today’s the day the refugees have detention
Still 5 years on, the children have detention

 #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

Universal Children’s Day deadline: Christians praying in Senator Scott Ryan’s office to get #KidsOffNauru

  • Five Christians praying in the Senator’s Moonee Ponds office intend to remain until he joins his three Coalition colleagues in calling for Australia to free all refugee children and to stop the inhumane offshore detention of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus.
  • The action, on Universal Children’s Day, coincides with today’s national Teachers Walk Off at 2.30pm calling for #KidsOffNauru and #KidsOffAllOff

Five Christian leaders and refugee advocates are holding a prayer vigil in the Moonee Ponds electoral office of Federal Liberal Senator Scott Ryan to call for the removal of children and adults from offshore detention on Nauru and Manus Island.

The prayer action by the inter-denominational movement Love Makes A Way coincides with the United Nations Universal Children’s Day, the deadline for the Kids Off Nauru campaign. Love Makes A Way is part of the campaign, which calls on members of the Australian Parliament to work together to bring all children and their families detained on Nauru to Australia by today and to resettle them in Australia or in another suitable and welcoming country.

Those praying inside intend to remain until Senator Ryan joins his Coalition colleagues Julia Banks, Russell Broadbent and Craig Laundy to publicly call on the Government to free refugee children and end offshore detention. Advocates outside Senator Ryan’s office will hold teddy bears and toys to symbolise the way that children in detention are being denied their basic rights.

Dozens of children and their families continue to be subjected to the effects of detention on Nauru. Recently there have been repeated incidents of suicide attempts, including children dousing themselves in petrol. Some children have given up eating, and many bang their bodies repeatedly against walls in their distress. Those that have been removed from Nauru are often confined to hotel rooms under guard, or are waiting in onshore detention centres. And even if they are released into the community, permanent protection and resettlement are not currently on the table, nor does there appear to be any discussions about resettlement happening with other safe and welcoming nations.
Andrea Alvis, a mother, social worker and Uniting Church member, is one of those praying in the Senator’s office. “I am deeply concerned that the Australian government is knowingly doing harm and causing irreparable trauma to the children, young people and adults held in indefinite detention,” she said.

Brad Coath, from Urban Neighbours of Hope (Churches of Christ) has been visiting people in immigration detention in Melbourne for seven years. He says: “We’ve seen that our policies are destroying people.”

Most major Christians denominations have publicly opposed child detention, and have called for Australian politicians to agree on a humane solution. Love Makes A Way is calling on Senator Ryan, as a senator representing all Victorians, to speak up in the Liberal Party and to publicly insist that Australia uphold its obligations, as a signatory to United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to ensure “in all actions concerning children…the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration”. This can only be guaranteed by ensuring all refugee children are removed from Nauru today.
“We pray for a change of heart in our leaders”, says Reverend Ian Ferguson. “We ask Senator Ryan to publicly call for the removal of children from Nauru and invite him to join us to pray for these children and families that are suffering because of our Government’s policies.”

The sit in and prayer vigil will run from 12 noon at the office of Senator Scott Ryan, Suite 1, 12 Pascoe Vale Road, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LoveMakesAWayForAsylumSeekers
Twitter: @lovemakesaway #lovemakesaway
Web: http://lovemakesaway.org.au/

Participants in today’s prayer vigil:

  • Rev Alex Sangster – Uniting Church in Australia
  • Rev Ian Ferguson – Uniting Church in Australia
  • Brad Coath – Churches of Christ
  • Sarah D’Astoli – Catholic Church
  • Andrea Alvis – Uniting Church in Australia

All We Can’t See: Illustrating the Nauru Files – a powerful exhibition as part of Melbourne Art Week that invites artists to respond to the redacted case file notes from Nauru… the images giving a human face to the human cost of the experience of being on the receiving end of Australia’s policy of offshore detention.

all we don't know exhibition fortyfivedownstairs melbourne August 2018 refugees Nauru files

all we don't know exhibition fortyfivedownstairs melbourne August 2018 refugees Nauru files

 

all we don't know exhibition fortyfivedownstairs melbourne August 2018 refugees Nauru files

2018-05-20 001 321

Saturday 19 May 2018, Palestinians and solidarity activists gathered and walked together – reaching for peace – to remember The Nakba.  The Nakba is ‘the catastrophe’, the year when the Israeli state forcibly expelled three quarters of the Palestinian population from their villages and homes. This was one of the first acts in an ongoing process of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.

The catastrophe continues, 70 years on, fueled this week by the inflammatory choice of the Trump government to move the US embassy to East Jerusalem, and then the killing of dozens and injuring of 2,400+ Palestinians gathered to protest the move and what it  symbolises for their future.  The UN proposed a motion for an independent inquiry into the Gaza violence… many countries abstained. Only two vote to oppose it: the US and… Australia. Why Australia?  It seems telling that Naarm Melbourne should be at the walk in solidarity.

Occupied but unconquered.  Long live the intifada!

I have to look that one up, intifada, and Wiki tells me its “an Arabic word literally meaning, as a noun, “tremor”, “shivering”, “shuddering”. It is derived from an Arabic term nafada meaning “to shake”, “shake off”, “get rid of”, as a dog might shrug off water, or as one might shake off sleep,or dirt from one’s sandals”. This brings Matthew 10:14 to mind: If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. There is no welcome, there is no listening, there is no where else for the people of Palestine to go.  Intifada “is a key concept in contemporary Arabic usage referring to a legitimate uprising against oppression. It is often rendered into English as “uprising”, “resistance”, or “rebellion”.” Today, that resistance and strong spirit to live was carried in the hands and voices, and marching feet of Palestinians and their children. Today, hope was carried in the hands and voices, and marching feet of Palestinians and their children.

 

From here, in Melbourne Australia, it is difficult to comprehend what is happening in Gaza. It’s not a war of the military and armies (bad enough) – but non-combatant ordinary people trying to go to school and work and live life behind fences.  It’s likened to apartheid in South Africa and comparisons drawn to the Berlin Wall, but we have not learned from these atrocities.  What will be the story of how history remembers the Palestine-Israel conflict?  Who will be seen as the oppressors and the oppressed? What might reconciliation and restorative justice look like in this land because I know my freedom is bound to yours. In this way Israel need to understand that their freedom is tied to Palestines’ and the freedom of Palestine to that of Israel.

From the front, a speaker says:

Palestinians are fighting for their lives, Palestinians are humans, we are humans, we are Palestine.

And I wonder whether maybe the solution is there somewhere… in the call to our common humanity.

westword lmaw vigil 287

An act of public witness and liturgical protest in a response to the current crisis on Manus Island following the government’s closure of the island’s immigration detention centre.  Sunday 19 November 2017, Tim Watts, Labor MP Office, 97 Geelong Rd, Footscray

We are here today to stand in solidarity with men who the Australian Government have held on Manus Island in limbo for over four years. We are here today on the unceded land of the people of the Kulin Nation because on October 31 the Manus camp was officially “closed.”

We are here today because water, food and power have been cut off. Over 600 men have been abandoned. They are collecting water in rubbish bins. They are digging wells to survive. They are showering in the rain. And left starving and without medical care. Because they can no longer tolerate political games and human rights abuses.

There has been no plan. There has been no justice. Their lives are on the line. Men have stated: We can’t blame the sea for drowning people but we blame Australia for killing us. People need a genuine solution. Not to be shifted from one prison to another where their lives remain at risk.

We echo their calls for freedom and safety and call on the Australian government to bring people back to Australia immediately and provide safe resettlement. We want the government to know that we are watching this humanitarian emergency unfold and we do not accept the violence, the abuse, and the ongoing persecution of refugees.

westword lmaw vigil 313



 

We hear stories of the men on Manus in their own voice. Raise our arms as they do in non-violent protest. We spell out SOS in cups in solidarity and symbolically of life-giving water denied. We make decorations together with our children and tell them stories… we want to teach our children justice. We make chains of the names of those we know on Manus and symbolically tear those chains. Felt and red lights denote the blood on the hands of our democratically elected Government who are treating people this way in our name.  We have barbed wire on our tree instead of tinsel – neither the welcome you thought you’d be given nor the home you hoped to find. We sing, to remember and be re-membered.  We make decorations, we recite, we pray, we sing… it feels like something. Wherever two or three are gathered… there is our hope.

 

Hold on (Love Makes A Way)

(tune: Keep your hand to the plough/Keep your eyes on the prize)

They are coming across the sea,
From their homes they have had to flee,
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We are here to sing and shout,
Why you keeping God’s children out?
We say love makes a way, hold on.

Chorus
Hold on, hold on,

We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We say welcome the refugee
We say set all the people free
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We have room in our hearts to care
We have plenty enough to share
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I watch The Holy Outlaw, 1970 documentary about Father Daniel Berrigan and as he’s moved between the courthouse and prison. The following is a quote of his exchange with a reporter.

daniel berrigan the holy outlaw you are not enough you will never be enough we are not prey sculpture of three people gertrude st

Q: What are your future plans?

     A: Resistance.

Poison tendrils grip
whispering:
“You are not enough.
You will never be enough.”
There is no qualification,
no job, no title, no recognition,
that could silence the voice.
Entwined within, around and through you
it is part of you,
it is part of who you are.
A cerebral cortex override
is required to live into the truth:
You don’t have to be small,
You don’t have to be still,
You don’t have to be silent anymore.
We are not prey.

Talitha Fraser

IMG_5147 - Copy.JPG

We come together today to walk the way of the Southern Cross, and visit seven sites from our shared history.  There is suffering in these events, and there are questions for us to grapple with.  We will hear the words of Christ on the cross, what might his words spoken in pain tell us?  We seek to participate in a process of learning, repentance and healing in our land.

We acknowledge that we gather today on the land of the Marabalak people of the Wurundjeri tribe of the Kulin Nations – people who have known the Creator Spirit, shared stories, and walked in this place since time immemorial – our elders past, present and future.

With the Creator Spirit
We walk the way of the Southern Cross
Under the Southern Cross
We hear again the words of Christ on the cross
With God deep among us
We seek healing and justice in our land

 

Site 1: A thirst for justice

IMG_5064

We are standing outside a house.  As every person has a story, so does every house.

This house was a house of comfort.
It belonged to a woman called Sally Russell Cooper. In the 1930s’s she opened its front door as a low-income boarding house and welcomed Aboriginal people to come and live with her. There were three bedrooms inside and a spare room out the back. Sally kept her front door open to her people until the 1970’s. For many Indigenous Australians, this house was, as Elders Larry Walsh and Reg Bow once said, “a refuge from loneliness and homelessness for more than 40 years.”

This house was a house of protest.
The 1930’s onwards were a time of momentum for Aboriginal people. During the Depression and the Second World War many Aboriginal people came to Melbourne seeking work. The growing political movement for Aboriginal rights also attracted people to Melbourne’s west. Sally’s father, William Cooper, was a significant local figure in the Aboriginal political movement fighting for basic civil rights. For many of the Aboriginal people who stayed in this house, there was hope of work at Kinnears Rope Factory and other factories nearby.  But the stronger hope was the hope of justice.

This house was a house of light.
Sally held lots of beautiful parties in this house. This was an important opportunity for Aboriginal people to socialise and support one another as society made it very difficult for Aboriginal people to gather together in groups.  This house was well loved as a safe gathering place.

Consider this house. The door. The windows.  The memory. Remember its story.

IMG_5118 IMG_5168 - Copy

Action
Choose a bushflower tube-stock from the basket, as an Indigenous version of the Hyssop plant, and take it home to a place of earth of your choice. Remember the story of the Aboriginal people in this country as you watch it grow.

 

Site 2: With and with each other

IMG_5070

328 family violence incidents were reported in Maribyrnong in 2013 rising to 974 in 2016 – that increase in incidents, nearly tripling, is largely due to more people speaking out.  We know that a woman is killed in Australia by her male partner or ex-partner nearly every week.  The most common myths are that violence against women is caused by alcohol and drugs, a man’s violent upbringing, living in poverty, anger management problems or mental health problems but for violence against women to become a thing of the past we need to change the causes: gender inequality and rigid gender stereotypes.

This sculpture is called With and With Each Other by artist Tom Bills and it feels like a fitting place to stand to think about equality.

IMG_5150 - Copy IMG_5148 - Copy

Action
Let’s take hands and Pass the Peace – exchanging these words:

Say: Peace be with you…
Answer: And also with you.

How can we be doing this amongst our family, friends and neighbours? We need to know what safe touch looks and feels like through education and role modelling.

In making a circle with our arms we are symbolically acknowledging the widening ripples of the impacts of family violence on individuals self esteem, self-worth, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing… The impacts on individuals, families, neighbours and communities… As we release our hands the circle opens, representing our commitment to breaking the cycles of violence.

Let’s walk with someone new, someone you don’t know or someone you don’t see as often as we move to the next station.

 

Site 3: Finding a place to call home

IMG_5074

We are standing outside Foley House. This is a facility run by the Salvation Army that provides accommodation and support for 46 residents – all of whom have been homeless, and all of whom are living with a disability.

Finding a place to call home is one of our most basic needs. For our Aboriginal friends the trauma of being removed from their homes is still very real and present. For asylum seekers dislocation comes at great cost and much grief.

But homelessness does not discriminate – our social dysfunction makes it a real possibility for anyone. The loss or casualisation of a job, the breakdown of a family, the rent increase from a landlord, the need to flee violence in the home, the disintegration of health, the history of abuse or neglect that is relived on a daily basis, the self-medication through drugs or alcohol: these are all social realities that can thrust any of us into homelessness.

There were 762 people who were homeless in the electorate of Footscray on Census night in 2011. Things are getting worse: this figure is 29 per cent more than in 2006. Across Victoria, there are 22,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.

Even this is just the tip of the iceberg. A skewed housing market benefits some greatly but places unbearable pressure on those at the bottom end. The injustice is often felt most strongly for those enduring the uncertainty of the private rental market. We live in a community where houses are seen as investments, rather than homes in which to live and thrive.

Action
Walk with a stone in your shoe as we move to our next location; as a reminder of the constant pain and anxiety faced by those who are struggling to find a place to call home. Are you facing this anxiety yourself? Give your stone to a friend to hold.

IMG_5086

Site 4: Room for all

Sometimes coming to Centrelink can feel like our own crucifixion; Our dependence on a system for which we detest; An experience of isolation and abandonment, judgements from ourselves and others about how we do and don’t fit in; About whether we are enough. A painful waiting that only allows you to survive – and gives no kind word, no compassion, and no understanding of who you really are.

Inequality and poverty in Australia are growing. There are now about 2.9 million people living in poverty, including 731,300 kids.  Centrelink will never be enough (not that that is new to anyone). It is like a well from which we draw water, and in Australia, it seems to be an increasing drought not only of money, but of healthy soil, and healthy people; people whose lives are rich in compassion, joy, generosity and the types of kindness that sows grace amongst the powers.

Today we remember that Christ became that spring when he called us into his family as he called John into his both spiritually and literally. He seeded in us the knowledge that we are duty bound to honour our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters in faith. To know that our own growth and ability to live is intrinsically caught up in family; a family that transcends bloodlines, a family that invites us to make bigger our sense of home, that calls us to dig our own wells.

Action
Place a dollar (provided) on the note at the foot of Centrelink:

For our debts and for their debts, we cannot pay.
Christ is enough.
Power remember Mercy;
Remember where we grow.
Remember those who hold us.
Remember those who raise us.
Remember those who crush us.
Woman here lives your son. Son here lives your mother.
Remember your way home. Remember Me.

 

Site 5: Seeking refuge and finding welcome

IMG_5094

Footscray is a community that generation after generation of migrant has made home. These days it is a multicultural hub with service providers such as the ASRC and community groups such as the Welcome West Wagon working alongside smaller community groups and individuals as well as movements such as Love Makes a Way to create welcome for people seeking asylum & refugees. People come to Australia with the hope of a better life but they are often left in limbo for many years.

A friend of ours, Maria, is an East Timorese woman who through a combination of civil war in her homeland, loss of family members and marriage breakdown has found herself stateless and alone with her young son in a foreign country. Under the terms of her temporary protection visa, she has limited work rights and little way to support herself and her son. She is reliant on friends and community agencies such as the Red Cross and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre for accommodation, legal advocacy and food. At the present time she’s been in limbo for over five years, with little idea of when a decision may be handed down by the minister for immigration. She may be granted permanent residency and begin the process of building a life here, or she may be forced to leave. She prays every day for a permanent home in Australia. She lives generously in our community household, lovingly raising her son and extending friendship and help to others.

We acknowledge the perseverance of those seeking asylum and the commitment of all those who go out of their way to create a sense of welcome to refugees and those seeking asylum.

Action
With this chalk we leave our mark and remember that in this multicultural neighbourhood, we are mixed together: rich and poor; Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Italian, Scottish, indigenous; students, workers and non-workers; believers, agnostics and atheists; children and adults of all ages. We acknowledge the tensions and divisions that often exist between us.

We celebrate the diversity we see around us, and how it reflects the beauty of God. We leave our symbol of welcome to be reminded that we are created for connection; for family, for friendship, for shared work, for love. We leave our mark to remember that we need each other and that we are stronger.

 

Site 6: There is a place for you

IMG_5096On a Friday night in November of 2016, three LGBT+ people were assaulted in Footscray after being chased by three men. Security did not step in to stop the attack, and the three LGBT+ had to wait for 25 minutes before deciding to walk to the police station because no patrol car showed up. When the victims reported that the assault was a hate-crime against transgender and queer people, those details were not included by police officers. Like so many others in history, the hatred against these people for their diversity was ignored. The identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people has been ignored and persecuted in Australia.

When I was attending church, I was also asked not to raise my own questions, my doubts, my insecurities and my suffering as a gay person of faith. I was told, in person, that I was broken, and that my capacity for love was corrupted. After an act of honesty, the leadership of the church wanted me to silently accept that I would only be embraced in that faith community if I lived by standards which violated my own conscience and divine design.

We reflect on Jesus’ words to remember that ignorance, fear, and pride often stand in the way of our choice to extend Godly hospitality to our LGBT+ neighbour. In our own lack of love we fail to love our neighbour as we would ourselves. We reflect on the ways that we have excluded and silenced our LGBT+ neighbours, like the authorities attempted to silence the gospel. We reflect on the way that LGBT+ have been forsaken, like Jesus himself was on the cross.

IMG_5264 - Copy IMG_5283

Action
We now stand in silent prayer for 30 seconds to honour the suffering of LGBT+ people who were forsaken.

Together we pray aloud, ‘Help us, Lord of all, to no longer forsake our LGBT+ neighbour’.

Place the rainbow crucifix with a prayer on the wall of the police station as a sign of the visibility of LGBT+ suffering.

 

Site 7: Earth out of Balance

IMG_5291

We all rely on the earth and its natural systems for life itself.

Its resources sustain us and grow us, yet our actions and failure to be good custodians continues to push things out of balance.  Taking more than we need, prioritising short term gain over long term sustainable thinking – we are seeing mountains and rivers be given legal identity so that they can be given a voice to speak in their own best interests.

Human activity is altering the climate, changing rainfall patterns, reducing water availability, and increasing the frequency of severe weather events such as bushfires and storms such as cyclone Debbie and Cook, we acknowledge those yet rebuilding and recovering in the wake of these storms.

To emphasise this imbalance, sea levels are predicted to rise by at least 600mm by 2070… that’s within most of our lifetimes.  At projected levels, this change in sea level will widen the Maribyrnong River, flood lower lying areas, and begin to change the face of our locality. A sea level rise of just 1m would threaten the surrounding homes and businesses and displace thousands. It would flood all of the city’s major cargo shipping docks and surrounding cargo storage areas, many of which are in our neighbourhood.

The call to be “custodians of creation” is a critical one, which drags us from the crushing weight of a global disaster to a place of restoration, respect and gratitude.

Action
Look around for something that doesn’t belong in this place; perhaps some rubbish or some weeds. Carry it with you as we start to travel to the next site, until you find a spot better suited for your rubbish to be placed.

Reflect on the ways your actions may keep creation out of balance.

Consider your role as a custodian.

Plan some simple steps to begin the healing process.

  Healing rites walk_Mayra
Photo credit: Maya Stark

Closure

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

IMG_5213

Acknowledgements and Story

Aunty Doreen Wandin renamed Spencer St station to Southern Cross because they were able to see stars at the homestead in Coranderrk. Aunty Joy Wandin named Wurundjeri Way… We identify this constellation with “home”, and commit to the journey of finding and following the way home under these stars.

Uncle Wanta Jampijimpa has preached on the correlation of the stars of the Southern Cross to the wounds on Jesus’ body… We acknowledge the terrible and complex legacy of the church as colonisers in this place and give deep thanks for elders wisdom and grace in leading us to deeper truth and understanding the Creator Spirit who has always been here in this place.

Bill Wylie Kellerman, co-author of “Resistance and Public Liturgy”, role models and teaches us that liturgy implicates. Undertaking activism on high holidays gives layers of meaning to the action. He said: “We believe God has already intervened, breaking in to break out on behalf of human kind.  We recognise the authority of God [as bigger/beyond figureheads of power], we believe this is the meaning of the resurrection and we have come to say so”…  What does it mean for us – in this time, this place, this context – to be mindful of and respond well to matters of justice from a framework of hope as people of all faiths and none?

The Indigenous Hospitality House (IHH) community who shared their resource with us based on the work of Dr Norman Habel, the author of “Reconciliation: Searching for Australia’s Soul” which outlines the model for combining storytelling to action as a means for right relationship between people and with the land… We seek to participate in a process of learning, repentance and healing in our land.