Parish of Belmont, Anglican Church Newcastle, NSW Australia

Our brothers and sisters in faith from the St Francis Xavier, Belmont presented us with a contemporary icon of All Saints on our Feast of Title 2017.

The gift marks a bond between our two congregations, and as a sign of thanks for the use of our Church building during the period when they constructed their new Church building. We are truly blessed to have received this significant and precious gift.

Icons are clearly an art form, and the person who writes an icon is an iconographer - image writer - and they have a significant place in the Christian Tradition, and perhaps more so in the East, though broadly accepted as helpful in the West.

The first thing that is different from a painting is how you approach it. When you approach a photograph or a painting the thing we do is to look at the image and appreciate the beauty it depicts. That is also true of the icon, however that is only the start of the journey. The icon invites us to read the image writer has written. There will be many things in the icon, and what is relevant to read one day may be quite different from what we read another day.

One interesting variation from many traditional icons is that many were surrounded by a raised relief covering of metal (perhaps silver) and only parts of the whole icon visible. In this modern icon the raised relief is at the heart of the icon, reminding us of the dimensionality of God.

As Fr Gerard read the Icon as he blessed and presented it to us, he spoke of the brokenness of the world in which we are called to be saints, given life in the sacrament of baptism, and nurtured in the sacrifice of the saints. He spoke of how the image is not full, there is still room for your brokenness and mine in this image. In stark contrast in the centre of the icon is the raised relief of Christ himself, at the centre of the life of all the saints, and providing completion and wholeness to the brokenness of the image. The glimmering gold reminds us of the light Christ brings into this world.

The Orthodox sometimes speak of icons as windows of eternity. Whilst we may look at a window, and we may admire the craftsmanship of the window, in the end the window calls us to look beyond, to look through the window and see what lies beyond. Sometimes what we see beyond the window changes very little, and sometimes what we see beyond the window changes a great deal.

One of the joys of the icon is a link with our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic Parish in the continuity with the art that they have in their new church building.

Iconographer

The work was done by Michael Galovic, renown local artist and iconographer. It would be hard to say more of Michael - the work speaks for itself - however these words by Rod Pattenden, a graduate artist, a Co-ordinator of the Institute for Theology and Arts and the Chairman of the Blake Society for Religious Art, perhaps say it best.

“Michael Galovic offers a unique contribution to contemporary Australian Art having trained both in modern art and traditional painting in Europe. Since his arrival in Australia he has developed an impressive body of work that includes commissions for churches and private collections as well as work that seeks to bring together the Australian landscape and religious and personal identity… Michael Galovic is a careful student of tradition while exhibiting the capacity for artistic innovation and excellence. A considered craftsman and dynamic originator, his vision offers new possibilities for figuring the transcendent contemporary multicultural Australia”.

You can find more about Michael from his website: http://www.michaelgalovic.com

Oriental Orthodox - Anglican Dialogue

Last week (26 October) a new Agreed Statement between the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox was released. As agreed statements go it is relatively short and quite readable. You can open it in the button below, or the conclusion is copied to the right. This is an ongoing discussion that began in earnest in 2001. The First Statement was the Agreed Statement on Christology. The second statement is about the Procession and Work of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

  1. Holy Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit as movement in vivid imagery of water, fire, and wind. The Holy Spirit speaks in the Church and moves her from the area of internal comfort to the arena of external engagement. The Holy Spirit acts as the dynamic force within a redemptive understanding of memory as found in a historical past and leading to future responsibility in a changing world.
  2. In a world of enforced displacement and fearful arrival; in a world of accelerated movement; in a world of war-torn fragmentation and courageous martyrdom; the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, transcends time and space and yet inhabits both. The same Spirit is sent to commission and empower the weak to be strong, the humble to be courageous, and the poor to be comforted and blessed in a fallen world that is upheld by the providence and grace of God the Trinity who makes all things new in faith and hope and love.
  3. We submit this statement to the responsible authorities of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the responsible authorities of the Anglican Communion for their consideration and action.

Feast of All Saints 2017

Next Sunday, 5th November, 2017 there will be one morning service at 9.30am followed by morning tea and lunch in the hall.

Guest preacher will be The Rev’d Sarah Plummer (Senior Chaplain- Specialist Commands, NSW Police).

The Parish will supply meat for the meal at $5/head.

Please bring a salad or a sweet.

At 3.30pm there will be Afternoon Prayer with our Catholic Brothers and Sisters at All Saints. You will remember that when the new RC Church was being built they had worship in All Saints on a Sunday evening. They want to give us a gift of an icon and this will happen at the Afternoon Prayer service.

Please bring a plate.

After the plans and determination of a hardworking group the Op-Shop opened this week.

The Op-Shop is in the laneway by the Commonwealth Bank and we invite to come in and have a look around.

INTERFAITH CONVERSATIONS

INTERFAITH CONVERSATIONS ON PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE

Pax Christi Australia and the NSW Ecumenical Council invites you to participate in a four-session day to re-invigorate the practice of peace and non-violence in our lives.
When: 9.30am on Saturday 12 August 2017 (registration starts at 9.00am)
Where: Edmund Rice Centre, 15 Henley Rd, Homebush West (just one minute’s walk from Flemington Station)
Online registrationwww.trybooking.com/QVSA

Opening Plans

The planned opening date for the new Op Shop venture is 24 July 2017.

 

There will be training for volunteers 20 & 21 July 2017.

Refugee Week Photos 2017

Here are some photos from the Gregson Park event at Hamilton on Saturday 1/7/2017.

A wonderful day with hundreds of people present. 

Belmont High School Chaplain

One of the important things we do as a combined Churches group in the area is to support the work of the Oecumenical Chaplain at Belmont High. 

One of the key ways we do this is with a Sausage Sizzle at Bunnings (twice a year). Saturday the 20th of May 2017 was scheduled for rain, and we go come but not a lot, and a band of willing volunteers turned out to support the cause.

Honoring Sorry Day, the 50th anniversary of the 1967

Aboriginal Referendum and the beginning of National
Reconciliation Week - with the work of dynamic artist
Gordon Syron and an address by indigenous
theologian Dr Anne Pattel-Gray. Entry is free.

Hosted by Hunter Presbytery Social Justice Committee UCA.

5.30pm refreshments
6.30pm Opening
Adamstown Uniting Church
cnr Brunker and Glebe Rds

Sorry Day Exhibition

RSVP for catering 4957 1887 or
adamuca@bigpond.net.au
www.adamstownuca.org.au

STANDING TOGETHER WITH THE FIRST PEOPLES OF AUSTRALIA

The annual Give Us A Sign campaign emerged out of conversations within the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches in the Hunter and Central Coast as a powerful initiative to highlight social justice issues across the wider community. Previous campaigns have promoted peace and called for greater compassion for asylum seekers.

This year our country acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, which permitted the Federal Parliament to make laws for First Peoples and included them in the Census. This is an appropriate time to reflect on both what has been achieved and what still needs to be addressed in relation to the First Peoples of Australia. There are significant questions for our nation to consider including constitutional recognition, sovereignty and treaty, and social, economic and other disadvantage experienced by many First Peoples. It is important we mark National Sorry Day (26 May), Mabo Day (3 June) and National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June).

“The oldest living culture is worth listening to”

To raise awareness of this important milestone and the work that still needs to be achieved, the Give Us a Sign campaign is calling on Churches and Christian organisations to Stand Together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the First Peoples of Australia.

From 1st May to 4th June simply post a message at least one day EACH week on your church or school noticeboards to show that you Stand Together with the First Peoples of Australia. We note the signs we are suggesting have been endorsed by some of the First Australian church leaders from our communities.

39 Articles

Article 6

Article 6 tells us that all thing necessary for salvation is contained in scripture and what cannot be attested to by scripture cannot be required of anybody to believed as an article of faith. Further it lists the 39 Books of the Old Testament, and then the books referred to as the Deutero Canonical Texts (sometimes called the Apocrypha) as being good for reading and morals though not to be used to establish doctrine, and the confirms that we receive the 27 books of the New Testament.

Article 7

Article 7 tells us that the Old Testament is not to be read in opposition to the New, and that laws in the Old Testament as touching rites and ceremonies no longer are required of Christian people, however those commandment which are deemed Moral clearly do apply.

 Article 19

In article 19 we read "The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same."

Article 20

In the next article we read "it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation."

The Anglican Approach to Scripture

There are many views about Scripture, and the Anglicans hold a wide variety of them. There are a number of things we hold as the Anglican perspective on Scripture.

Sola Scriptura

The classic position of the Reformers - often called Sola Scriptura is indeed quite close to the Anglican Position where on the Foundation of Scripture and informed by the Tradition including the Creeds, The Ecumenical Councils, and the writings of the Fathers, we may deduce what we believe. The real difference in the Anglican position is the strength that we would provide to Reason, to the informed conscience, in terms of what we accept. 

Solo Scriptura

The more modern position of many new churches - often called Solo Scriptura, and often confused with Sola Scriptura, is based on the notion me and Bible and we will get it all right. There are a number of issues with this approach, including the absence of history, and the absence of learning from the witness of those who have done before us. 

Magisterium

The teaching of the Catholic Church, probably somewhat changed since Vatican II saw the Church as the arbiter of the interpretation of Scripture. In a sense this is reflected we we speak of the Church being 'keeper of holy Writ' however that is maintained in check be the requirement of her role as 'witness of Holy Writ'.

Authority

Some Anglicans will argue that the Bible is Infallible, and some Anglicans will argue that it is Inerrant, but in truth the position of the Church and it's historic documents it is Authoritative. Our understanding of the Creeds and the Tradition is understood in light of Scripture and it is to Scripture that we must return to be on solid ground, mindful of Creeds, Councils and Tradition.

Mercy Ships

There will be a documentary on one of the  Mercy Ships – Africa Mercy on 7two 6pm Sat 3 Dec

Mercy Ships is a unique hospital ship charity

We have transformed the lives of more than 2.5 million people in the least developed countries for over 38 years. Amazing surgeons, nurses and other staff volunteer their services and pay for their own expenses so we can treat more people.

The O Antiphons

The Antiphons - the sentences for the liturgy - for the last seven days of Adventhave often been collectively referred to as the O Antiphons. They are the Antiphons that express the expectation. and the looking for the dawn of the new day, in one sense the pending festival of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the birth of Jesus, but yet at a deeper level the looking for the redemption of the world as expressed in the return of Jesus at the close of the age. Advent is both Incarnational and Eschatological in the expression of the looking, which Advent calls us to.

 

In a sense much of the O Antiphons was summed up in the Advent Carol O Come O Come Emmanuel.

O come, O come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

One Service Only 10.00 am

Visiting Preacher: The Venerable Sonia Roulston, Archdeacon of Newcastle.

Please note:

One Service Only - 10.00 am

6th November 2016

A lunch will follow - cost of $6.00 to pay for nibbles and cold meats, Parishioners are asked to bring either salad or sweet to share. There is a poster and signup sheet in the Narthex of the Church. If you plan to attend could you please indicate whether you can provide a salad or a sweet. Many Thanks.

Afternoon Tea

There are around 100 new units in Belmont this year, and we want to welcome all those who come to live here. 

An afternoon tea will be held at 3 pm on Sunday 25 September 2016 in the Parish Centre.
This event is to welcome new residents who have recently moved into the units in the immediate surrounds of our Church.
This is an opportunity to make people feel welcome and respected. Also to chat with them about local opportunities, and what our Parish offers.
Do note this in your diary and come along to show those attend that we truly welcome them into our community.

The Parish Centre is in front of the Church in Church Street Belmont

 

Cosmos Sunday

Cosmos refers to the entire universe, every dimension of time and space, spiritual and material. The cosmos is both the glittering galaxies that humans have begun to explore as well as distant domains far beyond our imagination. In addition, there are unknown domains deep within each minute molecule we have yet to comprehend. All creation is one sacred cosmos, a spiritual universe filled with God’s presence.

Special Focus

The special focus for this service is not only the cosmos in all its immensity and wonder, but also the spiritual impulse or presence that permeates the universe and is connected with each of us on Earth. That impulse is also called Wisdom!

Themes

In our call to worship we invite all the domains of the cosmos, not matter how great or small, to join us in worship. In our confession we recall how we have focused on our human selves as the centre of the universe and treated planet Earth as a garbage dump. We have also seen ourselves as pilgrims en route to heaven and considered this vast physical universe transitory and disposable. We celebrate the entire universe as our sacred cosmic home.

Storm Sunday

Storm refers to the world of the weather, the gales, the lighting, the winds, the cyclones, the hurricanes, the downpours and the flash floods outback.. Storm means both nature in the raw and the weather we need to renew our planet. Storms may be events that frighten us, but they are also events that we celebrate in the weather cycle that sustains Earth as a living planet. 

Special Focus

A special focus for this service is a ‘storm experience’. We enter into God’s presence appearing in a storm as God did on Mount Sinai. Sometimes, in the Old Testament, God is depicted as riding on clouds with the winds as messengers racing ahead. At other times God’s voice is portrayed as thunder. God often seems to be present deep within a storm. For Elijah, however, God was not present in the storm or the earthquake, but in the silence.

Themes

In our call to worship we invite all the domains of the weather to worship with us. As we do we wonder at the power/passion of storms and fierce expressions of the elements. In the readings we become aware of God’s presence revealed in the weather. We also learn that God discovers the Wisdom embedded in creation especially in the wind, the rain and the lightning. Each element has its God-given way. We are aware that global warming has changed weather patterns around the world. Storms are on the increase. Yet, Jesus Christ, surrounded by many fierce forces at the last supper and on the cross, is present also in the stillness after the storm. He knows the way of the storm.

Flora and Fauna

Introduction Fauna refers to the all the living species on planet Earth—in the wild, in our lives and in our soils. In Genesis One, all living species emerge from Earth who is their common mother. In Genesis Two, the first human and all animals are created from clay and the breath of God. In Job 39, the kingdom of the wild is God’s special concern, no matter how remote or mysterious.

Special Focus

A special focus for this service is endangered and extinct species. Living plants represent the food or abode of endangered species; the names of these species may be placed on the plant or pot and represented with adoption papers. Members may adopt an endangered species. Candles placed in the sandbox can help us to focus on extinct species as we would the sages and prophets of our history.

Themes

In our call to worship we express our kinship with the animal world. We are, in fact, a family of fauna—both biologically and spiritually. The creatures of Earth are our kin. We have all emerged from Earth and return to Earth. All living things are animated by the very breath/spirit of God. The loss or survival of a given species is a family matter. It is also appropriate to incorporate traditions from Indigenous peoples, many of whom have a rich spiritual kinship with the animal world, sharing a common spirit with their totem or dreaming as well as with the land where they live.

Ocean Sunday

Ocean refers to the mass of waters that cover two thirds of Earth’s surface, the swirling seas and the watery deeps where myriads of species live, many of which are still undiscovered. The ocean is a world of mystery and beauty, of fascinating depths and spectacular life forms. The ocean is that vast domain many of our ancestors crossed to reach all parts of planet Earth. And the waters of the oceans are ultimately the waters of life for all the planet.

Special Focus

A special focus for this service is the unique nature of our oceans as vast living worlds and the many unknown domains that both surround and continually surprise us.

Themes

In our call to worship we invite all the domains of the oceans to worship with us, even those we have never seen. In our confession to recall how we have started killing our oceans by over-fishing with nets, introducing alien species, polluting with massive waste emissions and killing our coral reefs with global warming. We celebrate the ocean as the source of our waters, the precious waters of life that make this planet unique. Throughout Series C for the Season of Creation we are conscious that, according to the Scriptures, Wisdom is both and agent and impulse active in creation.

NoMoreBreakTheCycle

The Diocesan Social Justice Council will be holding a dinner to raise awareness about Domestic Violence, and assist Nova Women to continue to provide support. The dinner will be held on Friday 26th August at Victor Peters Suites from 5.30pm, cost $35.00 per head to attend.

The Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC, in her role of Chair of the Parliamentary Friend for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse will present. Along with Robyn Donnelly, CCSS and Office of Life and Faith and Suellyn Moore, Nova Women.

Please find attached a flyer with more information. I do hope that you can attend to show support in breaking the violence.

A4_Domestic Violence

Newcastle Naidoc 2016

4th July 2016

Newcastle Foreshore

Kids come and meet Lil Mike

Come One, Come All

Health Awareness and Promotions.

Prizes and Freebies.

9.00 am. Christ Church Cathedral Flag Raising

March to Newcastle Foreshore.

Official Opening at 10.15

Naidoc2016

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving

God of all blessings, source of all life, giver of all grace:
We thank you for the gift of life:
for the breath that sustains life, for the food of this earth that nurtures life,
for the love of family and friends without which there would be no life.

We thank you for the mystery of creation:
for the beauty that the eye can see, for the joy that the ear may hear,
for the unknown that we cannot behold filling the universe with wonder,
for the expanse of space that draws us beyond the definitions of our selves.

We thank you for setting us in communities:
for families who nurture our becoming, for friends who love us by choice,
for companions at work, who share our burdens and daily tasks,
for strangers who welcome us into their midst,
for people from other lands who call us to grow in understanding,
for children who lighten our moments with delight,
for the unborn, who offer us hope for the future.

We thank you for this day:
for life and one more day to love, for opportunity
and one more day to work for justice and peace,
for neighbors and one more person to love and by whom be loved,

for your grace and one more experience of your presence,
for your promise:
to be with us, to be our God, and to give salvation.
For these, and all blessings,
we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,
through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Vienna Cobb Anderson

Remembering Orlando

5.40-6.30 pm

Friday 17th June 2016

AS vigil in Newcastle expressing grief, sadness, protest, solidarity and love.

This is a welcoming space open to diverse beliefs and cultures. We come together to affirm the riches found in celebrating our diversity without fear, while naming the power of love and respect.

Adamstown Uniting Church

cnr Brunker and Glebe Roads

 

“With Courage let us all combine”
Newcastle Events Program – Sunday 19th June—26th June 2016

Friday 17th June—Tuesday 21st June

Refugee Awareness Run—Michael Eccleston is embarking on a Refugee Awareness Run from Aberdeen to Mayfield over 4 days, stopping at various schools and churches.
Others are invited to join the final leg in Mayfield from the Catholic Care Refugee Service Tues 21.

Tuesday 21st June

Zara’s House Opening—Official Opening of the Refuge Women’s Handcrafts Centre.
3.30pm—5pm at 4/45 Mordue Pde, Jesmond. Afternoon Tea will follow.

Thursday 23rd June

Syrian Refugee Settlement Information Session
9.30am—12.30pm (Registrations at 8.45am)
Riddell Theatre, Ground Floor, Block P, Newcastle Campus of TAFE, Tighes Hill
Registrations Essential – please email nop@familyinsight.org.au for details on how to register.

Thursday 23rd June

Movie Night—Freedom Stories
Callaghan College, Jesmond Senior Campus, Janet St Jesmond. Parking beside auditorium.
6.00pm for movie start at 6.30pm. Supper Included.

Saturday 25th June

Refugees and the Art of Past Experiences—Wallsend Library 1pm—3pm.
Be moved and motivated by the art of Refugees presented by a panel of speakers including Safdar Ahmed 2015 Walkley Award winning artist and academic and founding member of the Refugee Art Project .

Sunday 26th June

Mid Winter Refugee Fiesta—A Celebration of Courage
3pm—7pm at Ethnic Communities Council, 2A Platt St Waratah.
Activities include jumping castle, fire truck, soccer, volleyball, face painting, traditional games
Please bring a plate of food to share. Includes Provisions and prayers for those Breaking their Fast.

Sunday 19th June & Sunday 26th June

“Bread and Asylum Seekers: tools for a long-term campaign”
Sunday 19th June with Dr Tom Griffiths and others; Sunday 26th June with Fr Rod Bower and others
Both at 3pm Sunset Lounge, 1 Maitland Rd, Mayfield.
Please book as seating is limited. Contact Niko for details lekaniko@gmail.com or 0406296141.

For more information please contact: Northern Settlement Services on 49693399

Download PDF here Refugee Week Calendar of Events – FINAL June 2016

NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to celebrate the history, culture, achievements and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples.

Our celebration this year will particularly focus on the contributions of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders. The gathering will allow us to come together, to listen and talk with one another and share afternoon tea.

We are pleased to partner with the Samaritans and the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council to host this important celebration at our Cathedral.

Date: Sunday 3 July

Time: 3pm

Venue: Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle

NAIDOC Week 2016 Christ Church

Please write a Letter (not an email) to one or all of the following:

The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Peter Dutton MP
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

Bill Shorten MP
Leader of the Opposition

Richard Marles MP
Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Some points to include in your letter:

  • To respect the dignity of all men, women and children it is unacceptable that Asylum Seekers are physically, mentally and sexually abused.
  • All offshore detention centres must be closed immediately.
  • Grant employment opportunities to thousands of Refugees/asylum seekers in the community on temporary visas and free education for their children. Grant permanent visas immediately so they can all settle with dignity and unnecessary stress.
  • All applications for protection should be processed with fairness according UN Conventions. 
  • Redirect the billions of dollars earmarked for negative inhumane policies into positive, responsible refugee intakes from regions like Indonesia and Malaysia.

Interfaith2016

Tuesday 31 May – 6.30pm to 9.00pm
Light supper included
BISHOP TYRRELL ANGLICAN COLLEGE
256 MINMI ROAD, FLETCHER

An opportunity to join together with our Muslim and Christian communities to explore the true sense of what peace means to our religions. Each of us can learn and appreciate what
we have in common and our love for our God.

  • Bishop Bill Wright (Catholic),
  • Bishop Greg Thompson (Anglican),
  • Sheikh Mohamed Khamis (Imam: Newcastle Mosque),
  • Farooq Ahmed (Newcastle Muslim Association), and
  • Shaikh Muhammed Thalal (Mayfield Mosque)

will form a panel for a Q&A dialogue.

If you would like to present a question to the panel, please email your question to

Alyson Segrott email alyson.segrott@mn.catholic.org.au by 22nd May.

This years topic will be on “Peace”, we would like to explore what this means to us personally and religiously. Questions on other topics can be submitted also.

To RSVP or for further details please contact Brooke Robinson at the Diocesan Chancery Offices on 4979 1111 or email events@mn.catholic.org.au.

inter_faith_dialogue_2016_a4_lr1

Recognise

There’s been some good news in the media over the weekend. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders will shortly commence talks with their communities about the best model for a referendum. This is a crucial next step on the road to a referendum that both recognises the First Australians and deals with the racial discrimination in the Constitution.

As these talks take shape, it’s a good time for our movement to remember the important role of the RECOGNISE campaign and where we came from.RECOGNISE was established in 2012 after the Expert Panel (consisting of a majority of Indigenous members) called for the establishment of a

“properly resourced public education and awareness program”.

This mirrored a similar call by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in 1995 for

“a major public awareness program to create an environment for change and understanding of Indigenous Constitutional perspectives”.

This was based on the knowledge that early awareness is the best way to ensure a great change doesn’t fall victim to the usual “don’t know, vote no” scare campaigns that have sunk so many referendums. The history of failed referendums shows that while a model is being thrashed out, the public must not be forgotten. Only 8 out of 44 referendums have succeeded and some of the worst results occurred when there has been no attempt to raise public awareness of the need for a change.

That’s why RECOGNISE has driven a strong national awareness campaign for the past four years. With your support,awareness of the issue has almost doubled;

  • nearly 300,000 Australians have signed up to support a referendum and support has held steady;
  • more than 75% of the general community support a change as does 85% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
  • the Journey to Recognition has travelled more than 35,000kms across the country, engaging with 260 communities through 344 events attended by 26,560 people.
  • All this has been against a backdrop of unprecedented political upheaval; four changes in Prime Minister, shifting timelines and a stop-start process to finalise a model- all factors beyond our control.

And there’s much more to do.With a 2017 referendum getting closer, we continue to appreciate the enthusiasm and contributions from our ever-growing number of supporters and volunteers. Your positivity and support will be a crucial part of a successful referendum. Thanks for walking with us, we couldn’t do it without you.

Africa Day celebrates with live Music, Dance Performances, African Food Stalls, Arts, Crafts, Jewellery Stalls, African Fashion, Kids Workshops, Live DJ, So Much Fun and So Much More….

AfricaDay

Father, to you I raise my whole being,
a vessel emptied of self. Accept, Lord
this my emptiness, and so fill me with
yourself, your light, your love, your
life ̶ that these your precious gifts
may radiate through me and over-
flow the chalice of my heart into
the hearts of all with whom I
come in contact this day
revealing to them
the beauty of
your Joy
and
wholeness
and
the
serenity
of your peace
which nothing can destroy

Risen Jesus

Resurrection

The Feast of Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus and is fundamental to understanding the Christian Faith. St Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15.14 'and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain' and in the Nicene creed we proclaim  'For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.'

Resurrection is a mark of Christian life, not simply faith. We do not give up. 

50 Days

For close to one seventh of the year is set aside to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. In the liturgical year this is the season of Easter

One of the great challenges now is that the secular world basically started selling Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns somewhere around Boxing Day. Come Easter Monday the secular world will move onto whatever comes next and will be selling fireworks or some other thing.

The sense of anticipation which works in marketing, has the possibility of robbing us of living in the moment. Easter in the new reality. Death no longer has the ultimate victory. We have been empowered to make a difference, and to know that the difference we have been empowered to make can begin right within us. We need time to take this in. 

So the Easter Celebration is 50 days.

Alleluia!

For all of lent we did not utter the word. For all of Easter we will use the word repeatedly. Alleluia (or Hallelujah - it is the same word really spelled differently) is from the Hebrew and means Praise be to God.

The reason for not using the word in Lent, is in order to let the word stand out in the Easter Season as a mark of a community living in the celebration of the new resurrection life.

I am the Resurrection

Date

The date of Easter varies year to year. It also varies between Eastern and Western Christianity. The original method for dating Easter was according to the passage of the moon in accordance with the Jewish dating for Passover, though always taking it to the Sunday following, so that it always falls on the first day of the week. The Eastern Church still follow that, whereas the Western Church at some stage moderated the dating to follow Roman traditions, and whilst they dates can and sometimes do correspond, mostly they will be out of synch by a week or two. 

Both Eastern and Western Church leaders have spoken of the desirability of resolving the difference in dating - recognising that the important thing is what we celebrate rather than the day on which we do it. 

There have been some calls from the secular world to celebrate Easter on the same day each year. 

8

There has been a tradition of the number 8 being closely associated with Easter as the 8th day of creation. The First day of the New Covenant, making the new beginning. Most Baptismal fonts are octagonal in shape, reminding us that Baptism is a celebration of the resurrection.

Holy Oil

Exodus 30:22-33 is an example of the ancient importance of anointing. Indeed the title 'Christ' means literally 'anointed one'. The New Testament and specifically James 5:14 endorses the ancient role of the anointing with oil specifically in association with the prayers for healing of the sick.

There are three Holy Oils blessed by the Bishop in Holy Week that are used in our Diocese and in the Parish.

The basic oil that we use is Olive Oil, as was used throughout the Biblical Period. The oils from the previous year are reverently disposed of during Holy Week and replaced with the new Oils blessed by the Diocesan Bishop during Holy Week.

The Oil of Sacred Chrism.

Following the ancient custom the Oil of Chrism is mixed with Balsam, which gives the oil a frgrance or perfume. The oil of Chrism is used as part of Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination, The Blessing of Churches, Chalices, Patens, Altars, and on similar occasions. Balsam reminds us of the fragrance of salvation, as we are called to life lives in the fragrance of the new kingdom. The oil of Chrism reminds us of our belonging to Christ as members of his body and inheritors of Salvation.

The Oil of the Sick.

The anointing of the Sick (also called unction) is specifically associated with prayers for healing, in keeping with the instruction of the letter of James. The oil used is a pure olive oil with nothing added, save that it has been blessed - most normally by the Diocesan Bishop during Holy Week. This oil is also used in the anointing of the dying (extreme unction) and reminds us that our faith tells us that physical death is sometimes the healing that God has for us on the journey into the light of his presence. The Oil of the sick reminds us of our duty to pray for the sick.

The Oil of Catechumens.

The oil of Catechumens was used in ancient time for the anointing of those who were not yet baptised, to ward of evil and keep them strong and protected on their journey into baptism. The oil used is again a pure Olive Oil with Nothing Added. The oil of catechumens may also used in the Ordination of Priests and Coronation of Christian Sovereigns. The Oil of Catechumens reminds us of our duty to proclaim the gospel and prepare people for Baptism.

Harmony Day – Hamilton Community Picnic – Everyone Belongs – Celebrating the different cultures that make Hamilton a great place to be.

Harmony Day Poster

The Liturgy for Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, the start of Holy Week is in many ways complex and confusing. 

The liturgy begins with the remembrance of the triumphant entry to Jerusalem, with Jesus mounted on the donkey and the crowds with much excitement believing that the time of liberation (politically) had arrived, waving Palms, calling Hosanna, they hail him as the King. Often the liturgy of the Church will begin outside to building, to capture something of this moment of arrival.

Once inside the Church the mood seems to shift,  and the Gospel for the day will normally be the reading of one of the synoptic (Matthew, Mark or Luke) of the Passion (The section of the Gospel from the Institution of the Lord's Supper, the betrayal, before Herod, before Pilate and through to the Crucifixion). This is a long passage. It can be very moving to hear it read as a complete passage. 

This sets the tone as we turn to the altar to do the very thing that Jesus asked us to do, to break the bread of life, to share the cup, recalling him in our midst. 

We are then, sent into the world, to serve as Christ served, to love as Christ loved, and to make a difference for good as Christ makes a difference for good.

Reflection

Sometimes the most confronting thing about Palm Sunday is what it tells us about ourselves. We who call hosanna, also call crucify. None of us are as good as we would like to be. None of us is as consistent as we imagine ourselves to be. 

Sometimes the most confronting this about Palm Sunday is what it tells us about others. Those who tell us how good we are today, may well be telling us how bad we are tomorrow. Look at political history in the last 25 years in Australia, the heroes we have hailed and the demons we have cursed have often been the same person with a few months political difference. 

Sometimes the most confronting thing about Palm Sunday is what it tells us about God. The passionate love of God for both us and for justice, joins with us in the struggle, with arms outstretched in global embrace, and calls us both to join him on the journey, and be one with God and with each other in glory for ever.

The Forum met as planned and nearly 40 people attended. Most of the people who attended were regular members of our congregations.

We reflected on a number of the activities we are involved in, including Belgrandies, Pastoral Care, Community Markets, Friendship Services, and the like. The list is quite long.

We discussed needs in the area for lonely and shot in people, and also those in need of support. Some discussion happened as to the nearest Samaritans relief centre being in Adamstown, and there was a feeling that this left a large gap on the map, including some areas where there are real needs.

We discussed reasons why few people from the wider community attended noting that we are not always the best at communicating outside the Parish Community, and recognising that for some anything to do with the Church is seen as a negative. 

Part of our plan from here will be to arrange one on one meetings with numbers of groups and people in leadership roles in our community to see if we can extend our understanding of needs that we might help to meet.

You are invited, and invited to invite all to a forum. We are talking about the ways in which the Church can be better connected to the life of our Community. This is an opportunity for us all to listen to the ways in which we might better engage in our community.

CommunityForum

image

We wish all joy and peace as we gather with folk in every age, shepherds, wise folk, and all who come to the manger where acceptance, assurance, forgiveness and true peace are found.

We pray for all who work this night to keep us safe. Above all we say Peace and Joy.

Magnificat (The Song of Mary)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
he has looked with favour on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed;
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his name.

He has mercy on those who fear him,
from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm
and has scattered the proud in their conceit,

Casting down the mighty from their thrones
and lifting up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.

He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
to remember his promise of mercy,

The promise made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Luke 1.46-55

copyright © The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England.

Could this have a Political Edge?

For those who like to keep religion and politics separate, Mary's Song, the Magnificat is a bit of a challenge. Once you get past the glory of Festal Evensong and the fabulous choir and musical setting, you hear the words calling us to strive for a more just society. Mary recognises that in the face of the power and dominion exerted by the Roman Empire on its vassal states, it was God working through one, young, unmarried, girl from a town of little account, that God was working his purposes out.

And she recognises that God's Kingdom is the upside down world, where the mighty are brought low and the lowly highly exalted. And yet this is not simply an event, but method, not a ruler, but a new rule, not a new power, but a new understanding of power. And yes, this most certainly has a political edge, because in this new kingdom the politics are not the most important thing.

The challenge always for us as Christians is not that we are not political, but that our faith informs our politics, and not the other way around.

His mercy is on those who fear him from one generation to another

Advent passing

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The 4th sunday of Advent  means within the week we will light the Christ Candle.

The gospel today recounts the visit of Mary to her kinswoman, Elizabeth.

Christmas Services at All Saints Belmont

24th 6.30 pm Family Christmas
24th 11.30 pm Midnight Mass
25th 8.00 am Eucharist

Celebrate the Feast

WelbyParis climate deal: Archbishop hails ‘remarkable achievement’

Welcoming the climate deal reached in Paris this weekend, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the global church must be a key partner in tackling climate change.

I warmly welcome the agreement that almost 200 states came to in Paris on Saturday, setting a clear and ambitious path towards tackling global climate change.

Earlier this year I, alongside many other faith leaders, endorsed the Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change. The Declaration recognised the COP21 negotiations as a pivotal moment in the urgent global challenge to tackle climate change.”

As faith leaders, we urged those participating in the negotiations to apply the best of our world’s intellectual, economic and political resources to reach a legally-binding global agreement to limit the global rise in average temperatures to 2oC. The commitment made by world leaders to hold the increase in global temperatures to ‘well below’ this level is welcome and courageous progress.

Those most affected by climate change are the poor. In our prayers and actions we must demonstrate our love for them through sustainable and generous innovation.

The success of the negotiations to bring together so many different countries and groups to an agreement is a remarkable achievement.ParishClimateChange

One of the Anglican Communion’s marks of mission says that we are “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”. The global church – extraordinarily led on the issue of climate change by Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch – must be a key partner in tackling climate change. As the Body of Christ, his church is called to be incarnational. Each of us has a role to play, if we are to help achieve what has been agreed in Paris.

Article posted from Anglican Communion News Service, article posted by ArchBishop Justin Welby.

All Saints' Belmont

Christmas Eve 24th December 2015

  6.30 PM Family Christmas

 

Christmas Eve 24th December 2015

11.30 PM Midnight Mass

 

Christmas Day 25th December 2015

  8.00 AM Holy Eucharist

Advent Calls Us

Advent

The Church (liturgical) year begins four sundays before Christmas. The word Advent comes from the greek word for parousia, or the second coming of Christ. In English the word is sometimes used for the beginning or start of something. 

The sarum or old english color for Advent was the deep blue of the night sky, just before the dawn, save for the third Sunday when Rose vestments were used as the hint of the sunrise you get in the night sky before the sun rises. The western rite simplified this and we now most commonly use the penitential colour of purple as we do in Lent, for Advent which is specifcally a season of preparation.

Main Themes

The main themes of the Advent Season have to do with the return of Jesus, The Kingdom of God, the call of John the Baptist to Prepare the way of the Lord, and the emphatic yes of Mary 'I am the Lord's servant, let it be to me according to your word'.

Hard to miss that the main characters of Advent are John the Baptist and Mary the Mother, and both of them are directing our attention, not to themselves but to Jesus.

The thing that is most important about Advent is to remember not that Christmas is near, though that for all that happens in retail Australia you might be forgiven for thinking this is the Christmas Season, but rather that Christ is near. Advent offers us a chance to reflect on what it means for us to remember the nearness of Christ, and no doubt we will be making ready for the celebrations of Christmas with family and friends, with feasting and celebration, yet for us it is not simply what we celebrate, but who.

Signs

There are signs all over the place. The Star on the Tree reminds of the the long and arduous journey some must make to the truth, the Angel on the Tree reminds us of the absolute acceptance of the task that Mary makes, and the rabbit I saw on the tree reminds us that some people do not get it - yet.

Advent can be a good time to set aside a few moments each day to reflect on the coming Kingdom, the already and the not yet. 

A printable Bible Reading Plan can be downloaded here, and Canon Janet has another one available.  printable-advent-reading-plan

Eschatology

Eschatology may well seem like a big word, and certainly the weight of meaning encourages us to explore and go beyond our comfort zone. 

The Origin of the Word

The word is a composite of two Greek words.

Eschatos meaning last things or the end time or the end

Logos meaning word or words about. This was also the word used in John's Gospel Prologue to refer to Jesus.

Effectively together it means words about the last things, or a theology of the end time.

But wait, there is more

There are several schools of thinking in eschatology, and much of it is very helpful for us in understanding our own experience of life, now. Eschatology clearly has to forward or future dimension, however it also has a real place in our thinking now. Throughout the life of the Church there have been many who have overplayed the dramatic understanding of eschatology, and the artists have had a field day with the four horsemen of the apocalypse. There is a clear validity to the notion that this world has not always been here, and neither is it reasonable to assume that it always will be here. In this dimension science and theology are in agreement.

Time Meets Eternity

The first thing in thinking about what eschatology has to do with, in that sense is the point where time and eternity meet. The end of time, that point where there is no more time, but only eternity is surely such a point.

Thinking a bit further about that we might ask what about creation. Surely that was a point at that time came into existence, as Genesis says, eloquently, And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. This too is a point where time and eternity meet.

In the birth of Jesus we recount that God from before the beginning was born in human flesh, this tiny child is in himself an eschatological person. For in the person of Jesus, time and eternity met again.

Celtic Insights

The Celtic tradition of English Christianity that predates the Augustinian Mission had many nuances in theological understanding that survive to this the day. We sometimes hear tell of the gloaming, or the be-witching hour, and indeed of the wonder of the dawn. These are the moments when day meets night, or night meets day, and as any photographer will tell you these are moments when the light is amazing and many exciting photos owe something of their quality to this light. The Celts understood these meetings to be moments when eternity broke through.

They had a sense of sacred space, and these were places where there was a feeling of something intensely spiritual, and they spoke of them as thin places, where eternity broke through the earth's surface. It is interesting that in another world, in another hemisphere we are beginning to find out that aboriginal people had some similar understandings and a real sense of space and place which was clearly connecting to the realm of the dreamtime.

Sacraments

Of course for us as Christians the sacraments are encounters with the divine. In the breaking of bread we share the body of the Lord. In the waters of baptism we are united in the death and resurrection of the Lord. These sacraments, which are bound in humble, ordinary parts of the everyday life, are opportunities for the eternal to break through, and allow us to encounter the source of all life.

In a very real sense sacraments too are moments with deep eschatological meaning. They are moments of encounter. 

They point us to the reality that all of life has moments of encounter. As people we are called to live life in both a spiritual and a physical way. 

Christian Life

We celebrate the Saints. In many Churches Stained glass windows are filled with Saints. Through the windows light filters through with colours and hues to enrich the building. Just as the Saints themselves allowed the light of Christ to shine through them that other saw something of the Glory of God in the light of truth that they shed.

At baptism we are given a candle with the words 'shine as a light in the world to the Glory of God the Father'. We do not create the light; we are called to let the light shine through us. We are called both to see some of the image and likeness God in the lives of those around us, and to allow that light to be see in the way we live. We are called to be an eschatological people.

Grace

To live life eschatologically, is not to live in the sense of awe and dread that some suggest, but with expectation of meeting the one who loves us more than we can love.

The Return of Christ

It is clear that Jesus spoke of a return, and of an end of the age. Some along the way have spoken so loud about these things that other parts of the message are diminished. It is clear that the waiting has been far more extensive than the early Christians thought. Initially some thought the destruction of the temple would mark to conclusion of the world, and the return of Christ. Some thought that Christ would return before the last of the Apostles or early believers died. The reality is we are called to live each day as if this may be the day.

In reality we are called to live each day as a day when we might meet Jesus, in the sacrament, in the reading of the word, and in the face of friend and stranger.

An Advent Theme

There is no doubt that the Kingdom of God is a major theme in eschatology. The end of the liturgical year, and the feast of Christ the King means that something of Eschatology is apparent in the reading and teaching.  The beginning of the liturgical year with the season of Advent, which calls us to be prepared not simply of the celebration of the Nativity (Christmas) but also for the return of Christ t the end of the age, and to meet him day by day in the face of friend and stranger. 

BishopGregThompsonAtBelmontIt was a great honour to have the Bishop of our Diocese, Bishop Greg Thompson visit us on the 22nd of November, the Feast of Christ the King.

The service started with a procession of banners, and the solemn entry of the clergy.

Bishop Greg preached a very relevant sermon asking us to reflect on what it might mean to have Christ as King, not simply a new ruler, but a new way of exercising authority, not simply a new kingdom, but a very different type of Kingdom. He urged us to rethink our ’empire-mindedness’ of the old paradigm, and think of a new servant king as we seek to serve in an increasingly pluralistic world. He also reminded us that God was here in this ancient land, with the peoples of this ancient land long before European settlement and the coming of the Church.

Bishop Greg was also the principal celebrant of the liturgy, and our Rector, Canon Janet Killen was the deacon of the Eucharist. As both of them hail from Muswellbrook, there was another level of synergy.

The service was followed by lunch in the hall.

We are truly fortunate as a Diocese to have such a great Teacher, Pastor, and outward looking Bishop.

Irene0BirthdayAs a community of faith it was a great joy to celebrate with Irene the milestone of another ‘O’ Birthday.

Irene is a great part of our faith community, always held with a great deal of dignity and respect and dearly loved by all of us.

Happy Birthday.

Christmas Lunch

Christmas lunch will be held in the Church Hall
12.00 noon to 2.30 pm on 25th December.
All are welcome.
Please invite friends or neighbours who may wish for company
and a delicious meal to celebrate the birthday of our Lord.
Registration is essential by 10th December.
Call 49713083 or 49459993, leave a message with your name & number.

Paris Climate Summit

At the end of November, delegations from nearly 200 countries will meet in Paris for a most important climate meeting.  Officially the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the 1992 treaty that designated that phenomenon a threat to planetary health and human survival), the Paris summit will be focused on the adoption of measures that would limit global warming to less than catastrophic levels. If it fails, world temperatures in the coming decades are likely to exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit), the maximum amount most scientists believe the Earth can endure without experiencing irreversible climate shocks, including soaring temperatures and a substantial rise in global sea levels.

Pray

Holy God,
earth and air and water are your creation,
and every living thing belongs to you:
have mercy on us as climate change confronts us.

Give us the will and the courage
     to simplify the way we live,
to reduce the energy we use,
to share the resources you provide,
and to bear the cost of change.

Forgive our past mistakes and send us your Spirit,
with wisdom in present controversies
and vision for the future to which you call us
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  

© Anglican Church of Australia Trust Corporation. Used by permission.
This text may be reproduced for use in worship in the Anglican Church of Australia

Be Informed

Climate Change impacts our world, and its people in many ways. It is linked to rising sea levels, extreme weather events and prolonged and more extreme weather events, both drought and storm.

Climate Change reduces available resources, like water for agriculture and drinking. Such reductions sees a rise in conflict between people for access and control.

There have been times in the history of earth where shifts in climate happened, such as the ice age which destroyed entire species. Since the industrial revolution the rise of human civilisation has led to more carbon based emissions in the atmosphere. These include rising pollution, reduction of the the forests, increased population densities, and greater energy needs.

It is clear that humans contribute to the problem. We understand our responsibility as stewards of creation, and look to improve the outcomes for all people.

Brother Bruce Paul SSF

Guest Preacher

We were privileged to have Brother Bruce Paul of the Society of St Francis worship with us a preach on the Feast of All Saints, our Feast of Title, on the 1st of November 2015.

His sermon addressed the readings of the day and reminded us that we are All Saints not because of how wonderful we are, or who we are, but because of whose we are. 

We also word name tags for the day that declared that each of us is a saint, in that each of us as a follower of Jesus on the way is part of the new kingdom.

It is good to be reminded of the important role the community plays as part of our Diocese.

BountyBlessed are you, Lord God our Father,
You nourish us all our days
and give food to all the earth.
Fill our hearts with joy and gladness,
that having all we need,
we may abound in every good work,
In Christ Jesus our Lord,
through whom be glory and honour
and power to you for ever and ever. Amen.

Apostolic Constitutions 49 (C400 AD)

Some Hard Questions

There has been a great deal of media emphasis of late placed on the Syrian Refugee Crisis. There has been some volatile response on the part of some, both those in favour and those against. And one may ask why it is in a world gone quiet on the plight of over 50 million refugees do we now see this as the crisis. Is this because it has finally tipped the balance, or is it because it is impacting Europe?

Governments clearly have some responsibility to maintain peace and stability for their citizens, and to keep the nation safe. Taking that responsibility away from them does not seem to be a sensible solution. Yet we are called to live as people with heart and compassion. There are many reasons why people may choose to leave their homeland, and we must acknowledge that not everyone's homeland enjoys the safety and security that we do. 

Who is a Refugee?

A dictionary definition is likely to read:

a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

The 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees reads like this

owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country;

or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

Success

Since 1951 under the provisions of the Refugee Convention somewhere around 50 million people have been resettled and establish new lives in different countries. The is no doubt a great success in many ways and we should acknowledge and celebrate that reality.

Sadly also we acknowledge that there are around the same number who are yet to be resettled.

Economic Refugees?

The world today is very different. The gap between the the poor and the rich is extenuated, and the gap between poor and rich nations is also widening. There is a growing call to recognise poverty as another oppressor and the recognise those who flee poverty to improve their economic circumstances as refugees as well. Formally making such a change happen in the accepted documents of the UN is likely to be a very long way away. 

Justice and Speed

Australians have been dealing with refugees from various areas arriving by boat and recognising that this proves challenging to assess the status of  those who claim asylum who have not yet been assessed by the UN as refugees. There is no doubt that delay in processing is bad for everyone, expensive politically and financially, and in some sense confirms the maxim that justice delayed is justice denied.

Deuteronomy 26:4-9

When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

We are all on a journey

The passage from Deuteronomy reminds us that we are all the people the people of the journey. Time stands still for no person. One way or another life is a tapestry of summer and winter, abundance and need, and none of us has the right to have it all one way. We are also here to help others on their journey. 

In the comic movie 'Oh God' where George Burns play God and John Denver was chosen to deliver the message, on being told the message 'you can make it', John Denver replied 'But we need help', and God says 'That is why I gave you each other'.

One Thing we Lose

There is no doubt that there has been a rise in the impact of violence in the west, and reported in the media, where that violence has something of an apparently religious motivation, and clearly as reported often Islamic. The clearly have been times in history (and some quite recent) where such violence has been perpetrated under a Christian banner as well. One of things we tend to lose in times like these is the ability to recognise brother and sisters in humanity when we mask it with the name of enemy.

God as Creator

Pierre de Chardin reminds us that God is the Alpha Point of all existence and remains also the Omega Point of all that is. The planet is our temporary home, and whilst here we all must find home upon it, and make room for all that all may find home upon it to. 

For many of us there was a time when we, our parents or forbears, had no place to be at home, even if they had a place to call home. We are always at home in God, but still we need a temporal home, and we would wish that for all our sisters and brothers in humanity regardless.

Our Father

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive
those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.

The Syrian Refugees

Like all Refugees, the Syrian Refugees in Europe, each has a name. Each has a story. Each has immeasurable wealth in the sight of God. At the moment we must conclude that we may need better answers, maybe even better questions, and maybe it can work, because God has given us each other.

It is a little older now, however this statement from a meeting of Orthodox Patriarchs is worth reading and calls to mind some of how we should address some of the problems that beset the Church today. Much of this is fairly timeless and certainly still apposite, if not more so. 

Phanar, March 6-9, 2014

Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches
(Phanar, March 6-9, 2014)

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

Through the grace of God, the Primates of the Most Holy Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, to the Orthodox faithful throughout the world, all of our Christian brothers and sisters as well as every person of goodwill: we extend God’s blessing and our greeting of love and peace.

“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 1.2-3)

  1. Having convened by the grace of our compassionate God, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, at the Phanar, from March 6-9, 2014; having deliberated in fraternal love on matters concerning our Holy Church today; and concelebrating in the Patriarchal Church of St. George on the glorious occasion of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, we address you with these words of love, peace and consolation.

    Inasmuch as our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Orthodox Church dwells in the world, it also experiences the challenges of every age. Faithful to Holy Tradition, the Church of Christ is in constant dialogue with every period of time, suffering with human beings and sharing their anguish. For “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and to the ages” (Heb. 13.8).

    The trials and challenges of history are especially acute in our days, and Orthodox Christians cannot remain uninvolved or indifferent to them. This is why we have assembled “together in one place” (Acts 2.1) in order to reflect on the problems and temptations facing humanity today. “There is fighting without and fear within.” (2 Cor. 7.5) These Apostolic words are also valid for the Church today.
     

  2. In reflecting upon people’s suffering throughout the world, we express our support for the martyrdom and our admiration for the witness of Christians in the Middle East, Africa, and other parts of the world. We call to mind their dual martyrdom: for their faith as well as for the safeguarding of their historical relationship with people of other religious conviction. We denounce the lack of peace and stability, which is prompting Christians to abandon the land where our Lord Jesus Christ was born and whence the Good News spread to the entire world.

    Our sympathy extends to all victims of the tragedy in Syria. We condemn every form of terrorism and defamation of religion. The kidnapping of Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna, other clergymen as well as the nuns of St. Thecla Convent in Maaloula remains an open wound, and we demand their immediate liberation.

    We appeal to all involved for the immediate cessation of military action, liberation of captives, and establishment of peace in the region through dialogue. Christians in the Middle East are a leaven of peace. Peace for all people also means peace for Christians. We support the Patriarchate of Antioch in its spiritual and humanitarian ministry, as well as its efforts for reconstruction and the resettlement of all refugees.
     

  3. We fervently pray for peaceful negotiation and prayerful reconciliation in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. We denounce the threats of violent occupation of sacred monasteries and churches, and pray for the return of our brothers presently outside of ecclesiastical communion into the Holy Church.
     
  4. A fundamental threat to justice and peace – both locally and globally – is the global economic crisis. The ramifications of this are evident on all layers in society, where such values as personal integrity, fraternal solidarity and justice are often wanting. The origins of this crisis are not merely financial. They are moral and spiritual in character. Instead of conforming to the worldly idols of power, greed and hedonism, we emphasize our vocation to transform the world by embracing the principles of justice, peace, and love.

    As a result of self-centeredness and abuse of power, many people undermine the sacredness of the human person, neglecting to see the face of God in the least of our brothers and sisters (cf. Matt. 25.40,45). Many remain indifferent to the poverty, suffering and violence that plague humanity.
     

  5. The Church is called to articulate its prophetic word. We express our genuine concern about local and global trends that undermine and erode the principles of faith, the dignity of the human person, the institution of marriage, and the gift of creation.

    We stress the undisputed sanctity of human life from inception until natural death. We recognize marriage as the union of man and woman that reflects the union between Christ and His Church. Our vocation is to preserve the natural environment as stewards and not proprietors of creation. In this period of Great Lent, we exhort our clergy and laity to observe a spirit of repentance, to experience purity of heart, humility and forgiveness, bearing witness to the timeless teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ in society.
     

  6. This Synaxis of Primates is a blessed occasion for us to reinforce our unity through communion and cooperation. We affirm our commitment to the paramount importance of synodality for the unity of the Church. We affirm the words of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, that “the name of the Church signifies unity and concord, not division.” Our heart is set on the long-awaited Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church in order to witness to its unity as well as to its responsibility and care for the contemporary world.

    The Synaxis agreed that the preparatory work to the Synod should be intensified. A special Inter-Orthodox Committee will work from September 2014 until Holy Easter of 2015, followed by a Pre-Synodal Pan-Orthodox Conference to be convened in the first half of 2015. All decisions at the Synod and in the preparatory stages are made by consensus. The Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church will be convened by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople in 2016, unless something unexpected occurs. The Synod will be presided by the Ecumenical Patriarch. His brother Primates of the other Orthodox Autocephalous Churches will be seated at his right and at his left.
     

  7. Inseparably interconnected with unity is mission. The Church does not live for itself but is obliged to witness to and share God’s gifts with those near and afar. Participating in the Divine Eucharist and praying for the oikoumene, we are called to continue this liturgy after the liturgy, sharing the gifts of truth and love with all humankind, in accordance with the Lord’s last commandment and assurance: “Go ye, and make disciples of all nations . . . And lo, I shall be with you until the end of the ages” (Matt. 28.19-20).
     
  8. We live in a world where multiculturalism and pluralism are inevitable realities, which are constantly changing. We are conscious of the fact that no issue in our time can be considered or resolved without reference to the global, that any polarization between the local and the ecumenical only leads to distortion of the Orthodox way of thinking.

    Therefore, even in the face of voices of dissension, segregation, and division, we are determined to proclaim the message of Orthodoxy. We acknowledge that dialogue is always better than conflict. Withdrawal and isolationism are never options. We reaffirm our obligation at all times to be open in our contact with “the other”: with other people and other cultures, as well as with other Christians and people of other faiths.
     

  9. Above and beyond all challenges, we proclaim the good news of a God, who “so loved the world” that He “dwelt among us.” Thus, we Orthodox remain full of hope. Despite all tensions, we nevertheless dare to hope in the “almighty God, who is and who was and who is to come” (Rev. 1.8) For we remember that the last word – the word of joy, love, and life – belongs to Him, to whom is due all glory, honor and worship to the ages of ages. Amen.
     
    At the Phanar, the 9th of March, 2014

+ Bartholomew of Constantinople

+ Theodoros of Alexandria
+ Theophilos of Jerusalem
+ Kirill of Moscow
+ Irinej of Serbia
+ Daniel of Romania
+ Neophyte of Bulgaria
+ Ilia of Georgia
+ Chrysostomos of Cyprus
+ Ieronymos of Athens
+ Sawa of Warsaw
+ Anastasios of Tirana

Winter - Refugees in Europe

19 October 2015

Representatives of the World Council of Churches (WCC) visited Greece from 14 to 18 October to strengthen efforts in support of refugees in Europe and the Middle East.

Although windy autumn weather has affected sea crossings from Turkey over the past few weeks, refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece continue to climb. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new arrivals in the Mediterranean.

The total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year now stands close to the 530,000 mark. In September, 168,000 people crossed the Mediterranean, the highest monthly figure ever recorded and almost five times the number in September 2014.

In a visit on Friday to a refugee camp in Idomeni near Polykastron Idomeni at the border of Greece with Serbia, the delegation joined with Metropolitan Dimitrios of Gomenissa to listen to the experiences and expectations of the people there.

The head of the WCC delegation, general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, stated, “It was good to see how the residents and volunteers there met people, affirming their human dignity in such a situation. I was even more struck by how the refugees keep their human qualities of care, dignity, and hope. This is a lesson for us all, including the churches in Europe.”

He added: “This is a critical moment for the churches and their societies. I see a strong witness of Christians in Greece. We are proud to see how churches have responded with love and solidarity. We must continue to be faithful to our mission and values. Let’s stay together, as one fellowship.“

The WCC solidarity visit was hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece. The delegation also included H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima, vice moderator of the WCC central committee; and Marianne Ejdersten, director of WCC Communication. Prof. Dr Dimitra Koukoura, member of the WCC central committee, joined the delegation in Thessaloniki.

In Greece, the delegates met Archbishop Hieronymos of Athens and All Greece and Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia.

The Church of Greece was represented in discussions by Metropolitan Klimis of Methana
Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Athinagoras of Ilion, Acharnon and Petroupoli, President of the Integration Centre for Migrant Workers – Ecumenical Refugee Program, Archim. Chrysostom Simeonides, director the Integration Centre for Migrant Workers – Ecumenical Refugee Program, Archim.Ignatius Soteriades, secretary of the Synodal Commission on Inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian Relations; Archim. Maximos Pafilis of the Synodical Committee on Inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian Relations; and Mrs. Evelina Douris, Secretary for Refugees, Ecumenical Refugee Programme The delegation also met the leadership of Apostoli Mission and the UNHCR representative in Greece, Alessandra Morelli, senior operations coordinator.

On Thursday morning, the delegation met Church of Greece representatives, and they had the opportunity to exchange views and find ways of further cooperation between the WCC and the Church of Greece.

At the meeting extensive reports detailed the difficulties that the country is facing due to the refugee situation in Europe and the humanitarian crisis caused by the massive population movements, mainly from the regions of Syria and through Turkey and Greece to the rest of Europe.

Metropolitan Klimis of Methana referred to the work done by the Ecumenical Refugee Program in Greece in collaboration with local churches and many volunteers. Archimandrite Chrysostomos Simeonides mentioned the specific and individual actions of the Centre and the partnerships it has developed with the UNHCR, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Health and other agencies in Greece and abroad.

Archimandrite Ignatius Soteriades spoke about the activity of the Committee on Inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian relations, while Mrs. Evelina Douris stressed the need to find immediate safe passage for migrants to Europe, so that they are not further exploited by traffickers, and the need for rapid provision for immigration documents.

In the afternoon of the same day, the delegation visited Archbishop Hieronymus. At the meeting, also attended by Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia, participants discussed the political dimension of the migration, the positions of primates of the churches in Europe and humanitarian impacts from further worsening the problem.

Archbishop Hieronymos, expressing his gratitude to the WCC for its visit to Greece, underlined the need for an international solution to help the refugees and respect the international laws. Having returned that same day from one of his weekly visits to the affected areas in the country, the archbishop said, “This is only the beginning. We do not know what is waiting the next months. The winter is coming soon, and it will be a very critical situation for the refugees.”

UNHCR representative Alessandra Morelli stressed, “The pace and scale of the movement into Greece continue to put enormous pressure on the government and many communities. While authorities have worked to improve reception and registration facilities and operations in the islands, bottlenecks still occur.”

UNHCR is concerned that the lack of reception capacity in Greece could seriously jeopardize the relocation programme agreed upon by the European Council, as eligible refugees have nowhere to stay while awaiting relocation. If this is not immediately addressed, secondary movements to neighboring countries are likely to continue.

Morelli said also “Our efforts are focused on supporting and working with local authorities, NGOs, churches and the central government to improve the response; supporting the registration process; providing information to refugees; identifying and referring people with specific needs; and providing support to help improve reception conditions. UNHCR is also delivering basic humanitarian assistance.”

Apostoli in Greece http://lists.wcc-coe.org/ct.html?ufl=c&rtr=on&s=jazjt,1h477,usx,41v6,m09a,i60p,kjba
IOCC in Greece  http://lists.wcc-coe.org/ct.html?ufl=c&rtr=on&s=jazjt,1h477,usx,m1xp,ftqc,i60p,kjba
ACT Alliance in Greece http://lists.wcc-coe.org/ct.html?ufl=c&rtr=on&s=jazjt,1h477,usx,bjuj,glc3,i60p,kjba

Local press release (In Greek)  http://lists.wcc-coe.org/ct.html?ufl=c&rtr=on&s=jazjt,1h477,usx,8t6c,dfrm,i60p,kjba
The Church of Greece report on the Solidarity Visit (In Greek) http://lists.wcc-coe.org/ct.html?ufl=c&rtr=on&s=jazjt,1h477,usx,4jbp,fmy,i60p,kjba

Statement on refugees, ExCom June 2015 http://lists.wcc-coe.org/ct.html?ufl=c&rtr=on&s=jazjt,1h477,usx,35qv,ezdw,i60p,kjba

Safe passage, ccme
http://lists.wcc-coe.org/ct.html?ufl=c&rtr=on&s=jazjt,1h477,usx,hq41,8mb4,i60p,kjba

***
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 345 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 550 million Christians in over 120 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

Do Christians Believe in Evolution?

There is a straw argument that to believe in God as a creator is to deny evolution. This is then used to mount the case that as evolution is true, Christianity (and belief in God generally) must be false.

On closer examination this argument has many flaws at many levels. Many thinking Christians accept a theory of Evolution as a reasonable scientific claim and find that it does not challenge their faith position.

Charles Darwin posited a theory of natural selection, which was to suggest that only the strongest of the species survived. He collected more evidence and the theory developed. It had to include the ability to adapt to the environment, and especially changes in the environment. Ultimately, following the Voyage of the Beagle, he put forward a Theory of Evolution in 1836, and his work continued, and in 1856 his work 'The Origin of the Species' extended this work.

There is no doubt that the theory of evolution has gained much acceptance in science and in the world generally, so much so that it is taught these days in schools as 'fact', when it is really a theory we accept as true. 

The Biblical Accounts

The Biblical accounts of creation are not per se science, nor are they intended to be. They are the ancient stories of origin, almost certainly having been inherited from the stories of the Epic of Gilgamesh (from around Ur of the Chaldees). Stories of Origin are almost always intended to explain why things are the way they are. They are stories born amongst people for whom the question of the existence of God was settled and self evident. They are stories that do not try and explain God, but rather assume and determine that the world is this way, because this is the way God has willed it to be.

The Theology of The Creator

The Theology of the Creator, and our understanding of God as Creator, is important. Perhaps the question here we need to ask ourselves is if we believe that God is Creator, Creative and Creating, or is it the sense of a past tense Creator, perhaps a belief in God as a retired creator. That of course has to do with whether you believe that the creation is finished, or in progress. Once one accepts the notion that God has not finished with the world yet, and definitely not retired, then the idea of God as an evolutionary creator makes wonderful sense.

Evolution as a Law

One of the problems with Evolution at a scientific level is that it is optimistic. The law of natural degradation suggests that everything runs down hill, slows down, goes rusty, and gets old. The theory of evolution posits a proposition that things are getting better, improving, and in fact going up-hill. 

One reasonable understanding for such a reversal of the natural order, has to be the introduction of something additional, and Christians and Deists who accept a theory of evolution would clearly see that There is a God answer here. Indeed many Christians would accept that it is hard to assert a belief in evolution if you are not prepared to accept the probability of God, scientifically. 

We also accept that there are some Christians who find the Theory of Evolution does not make sense to them. The Church is big enough to accept many points of view.

There is no doubt that the Syrian Refugee Crisis is enormous. With something like 54 million Refugees we can really deal with another 4 million. One of the key differences here is that they have reasonable access to Europe from Syria, so they have become a group who impact of the life of Europe. The sad thing about giving priority to Syrian Refugees is that it draws attention away from the other refugees, many of whom are in Africa and the Middle East. The video posted here explains some of the background in a fairly balanced way.

There is no doubt this is a very complex issue, which calls for hard heads and tender hearts. 

The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained

There are two sets of images here, one showing the Killens trip to Israel, and the second showing their trip to Ireland.

Israel

Ireland

CombinedChurchesSREBBQThe Belmont High School SRE is supported as an ecumenical (Combined Churches) endeavour. As part of our effort together we  run a Sausage sizzle at Bunnings a couple of time a year.

The 16th of September, was the day of the venture, though the weather was very Melbourne, rain – shine – rain -shine.

The effort was a great success and it is a great activity we can undertake together.

SocialJusticeTrainingDay

Social Justice Training Day

Faith in Action

Saturday 26 September 2015
9.30 am to 12.30 pm

Jesmond Park Uniting Church
15 Robert St, Jesmond

Cafe Conversations:
Indigenous Matters
Refugees/Asylum Seekers
Environment Issues
Other Issues
Morning Tea Provided
No RSVP required

An Activity of the Newcastle and Hunter Ecumenical Social Justice Network 
Enquiries to: justice@hunter.uca.org.au, 0437 879 442 or Teresa Brierley 49791157

Pilgrim’s approach

It starts at the very beginning

Pilgrim assumes very little understanding or knowledge of the Christian faith.

It focuses on Jesus Christ

Pilgrim aims to equip people to follow Jesus Christ as disciples in the whole of their lives.

It flows from the Scriptures

The primary focus of each session is a group of people engaging with the Bible together.

 

Pilgrim’s approach

It draws deeply from the Christian tradition

In the Early Church, the Christian faith was taught by the transmission of key texts which summed up the heart of the Christian message. Pilgrim restores this approach for the twenty-first century.

It honours the Anglican way and its many streams

Pilgrim has been developed as a specifically Anglican resource which aims to cater for every tradition in the Church of England.

Pilgrim Promo

Why Attend a Pilgrim Course

A Course for the Christian Journey

Pilgrim is a major new teaching and discipleship resource from the Church of England that explores what it means to travel through life with Jesus Christ.

A course for the twenty-first century, Pilgrim offers an approach of participation, not persuasion. Enquirers are encouraged to practice the ancient disciplines of biblical reflection and prayer, exploring key texts that have helped people since the early Church.

Pilgrim is made up of two parts: Follow and Grow. Follow introduces the Christian faith, while Grow aims to develop a deeper level of discipleship.

Assuming little or no knowledge of the Christian faith, Pilgrim can be used at any point on the journey of discipleship and by every tradition in the Church of England.

The Pilgrim course is a journey to the heart of God and to a living, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.                            
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York

A pilgrim is a person on a journey. The Bible is full of journeys. Pilgrim invites you to join the journey of faith.

Who is it for?

Adult and youth, enquirers and beginning Christians as well as for those seeking refreshment in their faith.

What do I need to know?

The course assumes the participants have little prior knowledge of the Christian faith or the Bible.

What is the format?

In small groups participants are encouraged to practice the ancient discipline of biblical reflection and prayer, exploring key texts that have helped people since the earliest days of the Christian faith. Believing that the Christian faith is primarily about relationship, Pilgrim aims to lay a foundation for a lifetime of learning more about God's love revealed in Jesus Christ.

What is the Commitment?

To attend the six sessions of stage 1. 

What's the cost?

$15 for the softcover participants book containing the six lessons. (Electronic editions available from Amazon for approx $13) Concessions available.

Where?

All Saints Parish Hall, 24 Church Street Belmont.

When?

Afternoon Sessions:

Tuesdays 1.00pm - 2.30 pm on October 6th, 20th, 27th, November 10th, 17th, and 24th.

Evening sessions

Thursdays 7.30pm - 9.00 pm on October 15th, 22nd, 29th, November 5th, 12th, and 19th.

Pilgrim Stage 1 - Turning to Christ

The first stage in Pilgrim, Turning to Christ, explores the heart of Christian belief through the six questions candidates are asked at baptism.

The Sessions

Session 1: Do you turn to Christ?

Explores the attraction of Jesus Christ. What happened when people met him? What would happen if your did?

Session 2: Do you believe and trust in God the Father?

What do Christians believe about God? The session uses the Old Testament to look at how God is like a Father.

Session 3: Do you believe in his Son Jesus Christ?

Looking in more detail at who Christians believe Jesus is, this session looks as what Jesus' baptism reveals about his identity.

Session 4: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?

Uses the story of Pentecost to show how Christians believe the Holy Spirit makes Jesus present today.

Session 5: Do you repent of your sins?

Looks at what Christians call sis: that inbuilt tendency to get things wrong and God's desire to put things right.

Session 6: Do you renounce evil?

Explores the reality of evil, and how the Christian faith invites us to set the moral compass in our lives.

 

Stages 2, 3 and 4 will be offered in the future for those wishing to continue studying.

For more information

To Register

Phone: 02 4945 9993

Email: priest@belmontanglican.org.au

Or use the form on this page

Please Register My Interest

Tea LightCircle us, Lord.

Keep darkness out, keep light within.

Keep fear without, keep peace within.

Keep hated out, keep love within.

 

from Celtic Worship through the Year.

ALightInTheDarkBy now, you’ve probably seen the heartbreaking photo of Aylan Kurdi, a young Syrian boy found drowned on a beach in Turkey. His family’s search for safety in Europe ended in tragedy, and the image has brought the world to its knees. Yet all that Tony Abbott’s had to say – all he ever seems to say – is: “stop the boats.”1

It was a response as disgusting as it was predictable – but for once, Tony Abbott seems to be out of step with his own party. Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce, Liberal MP Craig Laundy and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have all spoken publicly about the need for Australia to ‘play its part’ in the worst refugee crisis since World War II.2,3,4

It looks like it might be possible to push the Abbott Government into doing the right thing and commit to increasing our intake of refugees. So GetUp members are organising to make it happen.

Hosting a vigil is easy. You can choose to invite as few or as many people as you’d like, and you can bring them together in your lounge room, at the pub or in a local park. All you have to do is light a candle and spend some time reflecting on what is happening to people seeking asylum around the world, and how Australia should be responding. It doesn’t need to be a formal event, just people coming together in a show of compassion. You or someone else might like to say a few words.

Don’t forget to take some photos to capture the event, and post them to social media using the #lightthedark hashtag.

Can you bring the message to your town, Dr Niko? Click here to find out more about hosting a vigil: www.getup.org.au/aust-welcomes-refugees

Aylan’s brother was named Galip, and his mother was called Rehan – their lives also ended in the waves. When Aylan’s father spoke publicly for the first time of his loss, this is what he said:

“We want the world’s attention on us, so that they can prevent the same from happening to others. Let this be the last.”5

All around the world, people have rallied around his call and governments are responding. Overnight in the UK, public pressure forced Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to give into demands that Britain take in more Syrian refugees.6

But Australia was in the headlines for another reason. The New York Times took on Tony Abbott, decrying his refugee policies as “inhumane, of dubious legality and strikingly at odds with the country’s tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and war.”7 We agree, and we are demanding change.

So on Monday night, we will light a candle. We will shine a light in the dark to remember Aylan Kurdi. We will stand in solidarity with people across the world who are forced to flee across borders to safety, and in protest of Australia’s abandonment of the world’s most vulnerable.

On Monday night, we will say with one voice: refugees are welcome here. www.getup.org.au/aust-welcomes-refugees

In hope,

Aurora and Sally for the GetUp team

PS: All across Australia, GetUp members will be lighting the dark for Aylan with the help of our amazing friends at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Love Makes A Way, Chilout, the Refugee Council of Australia, Save the Children and Welcome to Australia. Click here to be a part of it: www.getup.org.au/aust-welcomes-refugees

PPS: Don’t want to host a vigil, but still want to get involved? Chip in to help us run the major city vigils here – we’re expecting thousands, and we need to cover the cost of candles, PA systems, and printing. Click here to help fund Light The Dark.


References:
[1] ‘Tony Abbott defends asylum seeker policies amid European crisis, New York Times criticism’, ABC News, 4 September 2015
[2] ‘Barnaby Joyce calls for more Syrian refugees to be resettled in Australia’, Guardian Australia, 4 September 2015
[3] ‘Liberal MP’s impassioned plea for refugees’, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 September 2015
[4] ‘Govt faces pressure on Syria refugee help’, SBS News, 4 September 2015
[5] ‘European migrant crisis: ‘Let this be the last’: Father of drowned Syrian toddlers calls for action, prepares to take bodies home’, ABC News, 4 September 2015
[6] ‘Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 200,000 back our campaign’, The Independent, 3 September 2015
[7] ‘Australia’s Brutal Treatment of Migrants’, New York Times, 3 September 2015

Re CLOSURE of BELMONT OFFICE of the RMS (previously the Motor Registry or the RTA, as we knew it).

Robin Gordon writing to you as a matter of urgency for our Belmont Community.

I am the President of the Belmont & District Residents’ Action Group Inc. (We are a modern name for what could be called a Progress Association)

We are quickly circulating, to as many groups as possible, this notice, below,  of the meeting we have called as a matter of urgency to attempt to have the NSW Government reverse their decision to close our Roads & Maritime Services office (RMS) in Belmont. (our R.T.A or Motor Registry Office, as we have known it.)

Would you please circulate this notice of meeting to all you are able to tell. We need to have huge support from our entire community to show we do NOT wish this office to close and it is only with numbers, huge numbers that we could stand a chance that we may be heard.

With this message, you have my email address.

My phone number, should you wish to speak to me is  :49 454 382

Looking forward to seeing you on Monday 7th September 2015 at 5.45pm at  the 16Ft. Sailing Club.

Further message and  Notice of Public Meeting, below…and below!!!

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Meeting to protest the  closure of Belmont RMS.

Hello Residents of Belmont and surrounding areas – everyone  from north south east and west of the RMS office who use and need this facility.

Below is a notice about the  meeting we hope will reach all the residents of Belmont and the surrounding suburbs who use the Belmont RMS office.

This is an extremely well used and very busy office. The services provided in this office are far more than we are able to access online.

There are many in the districts that are served by this office  who do NOT have the use of a computer and rely on our Belmont office to service their needs for essential services.

For these services  to be relocated  at Warners Bay from the areas presently served by the Belmont office is  a transport nightmare if not, close to impossible to be reached by public transport.

May I ask please that you attend this meeting & help us to publicise it, far and wide.

Thank you in anticipation.

Robin Gordon

President.    Belmont & District Residents’ Action Group

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

PUBLIC MEETING at BELMONT

The Belmont & District Residents’ Action Group Inc. (B&DRAG)

Invites all residents of Belmont and surrounding suburbs to join us to discuss and protest against the closure, by the NSW State Government,  of the ROADS AND  MARITIME  SERVICE  office (Motor Registry Office)  at Belmont.

Meeting will be held on Monday 7th September  2015 commencing at 5.45pm.

at the Belmont 16 Ft. Sailing Club, Ross St. Belmont. NSW.

Bible Reading

bird

The Love Song

The love song, rich and gorgeous here is a reminder that faith is not simply lofty and removed, but grounded in the everyday. Most of us know something of this being in love, the presence of the other that makes the whole of life come into being, that we might hear the voice of the turtledove, the eternal spring, and flowers appearing on earth. The absolute joy of love which cause us to act like children, to want to run away together as if there was nothing else.

Why is this love song here? and what does it have to teach us, we might wonder. The lover, the young wild thing, leaping like a gazelle, gazing in through the windows, sneaking a peek through the lattice, the absolute madness of this is beyond logic, and we are left here to wonder, who is this lover, and who the object of his affection.

Some might see this passage as a little flippant, and perhaps it is, and perhaps that is the point.

The Lover

One way to understand this passage is  that this great amazing love, is the love of God for his creation. He stands waiting behind the wall, so as to give us our freedom, but he cares, he wants to know, he delights to see us happy. Ultimately God is the great lover, and we are the object of his affection. 

Love is never all serious, sure it has a serious side, and it is here for the long haul, and to weather all manner of storms, endure all manner of sacrifices, yet it also has this absolute celebration, this joy and fun, that is part of the experience of all true love.

Prayer

Send upon us the gift of love
that puts no limit to its faith and forbearance.

Sow in our lives the joy that comes from sharing
and grows with giving.
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

Think About

  • What are the things that you have created, that you care about, that you want to ensure their protection and well being?
  • In what way does this passage ask you to expand your understanding of God?
  • What kind of response does this passage ask from us?

BelgrandiesLunchBelgrandies met in the hall for a great lunch.

This active group project in conjunction with the Samaritans makes a great contribution help to resource people in our own community.

We do still need volunteers to help with this great work. Belgrandies meets once a month from Midday till around Two on every monday of the Month in term time.

If you would like to help, or need help, please let us know.

SocialJusticeTrainingDayFaith in Action

Saturday 26 September 2015
9.30am to 12.30pm

Jesmond Park Uniting Church
15 Robert St, Jesmond

Cafe Conversations:

Indigenous Matters
Refugees/Asylum Seekers
Environment Issues
Other Issues

Morning Tea Provided

No RSVP required

An Activity of the Newcastle and Hunter Ecumenical Social Justice Network

Enquiries to: justice@hunter.uca.org.au, 0437 879 442 or Teresa Brierley 49791157

PopeFrancis_ARCICAuthor: George Conger

Christian unity does not mean Christian conformity, Pope Francis told a gathering of 50,000 Catholic Charismatics held at St Peter’s Square on 3 July 2015.  The Pope stated the Anglican Martyrs of Uganda — 23 young Anglicans killed by King Mwanga of Buganda in 1886, along with 22 Roman Catholic young men — should be venerated as Catholic martyrs to the faith too. The pope’s remarks came at the close of the 38th National Convocation of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Movement held in Rome from 3-4 July 2015. In his impromptu address to the conference, which included “Orthodox and Catholic oriental Patriarchs, Anglican and Lutheran bishops, and Pentecostal pastors,” reported Vatican Radio, Pope Francis said unity does not mean uniformity. It is not a “spherical” unity in which “every point is equidistant from the centre and there is no difference between one point and another. The model is the polyhedron, which reflects the confluence of all the parts that nonetheless maintain their originality, and these are the charisms, in unity but also diversity,” he said. Francis also spoke of the “unity of the blood of martyrs, that makes us one. There is the ecumenism of blood. We know that those who kill Christians in hatred of Jesus Christ, before killing, do not ask: ‘But are you a Lutheran, Orthodox, Evangelical, Baptist, Methodist?’ They say, ‘You are Christian’, and behead them. … Fifty years ago, Blessed Paul VI, during the canonisation of the young martyrs of Uganda, referred to the fact that for the same reason the blood of their Anglican companion catechists had been shed. They were Christians, they were martyrs. Forgive me, and do not be scandalised, but they are our martyrs! Because they gave their lives for Christ, and this is ecumenism of blood. We must pray in memory of our common martyrs.”

ShareThePathThe Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. The scribe said, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”‘
Mark 12:28-32

We pray for all our brothers and sisters in humanity, and we give you thanks for their dignity, and for all they have to show us about you.

We pray for those who follow the Prophet Muhammad, that they may hear the call to prayer, and in that call hear your call for true peace. May they know your eternal merciful forgiveness, which we celebrate in Jesus Christ our Lord. Give to us all, ears to hear and hearts to listen, that as your Spirit moves on the face of the waters, so may we all be alive to you.

We pray also for our sisters and brothers in the faith of Jesus who live their lives in the face of extremism and persecution done in the name of Allah. Give them strength, give them hope, and help them be sure that it is not God who reeks such carnage, but only mortals who have not turned their hearts to God.

Blessed be God, and Blessed be God’s Kingdom.

ShareThePathO God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name forever.
We know it is you who turns our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of crisis.
Your power changes hearts.

Muslims, Christians, and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God,
Children of Abraham, brothers and sisters;
enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.

Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these
truths by the way we live.
Give to us:
Understanding that puts an end to strife;
Mercy that quenches hatred, and
Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love
Amen.

Tree_FacingThePastFacing the Past: Shaping a Healthy Future

Apology

To you who have experienced abuse I want you to know as a Diocese we feel shame and profound regret that people within the Church harmed you and harmed you again when you came forward to speak of what had happened.

Bishop Greg Thompson

17 June 2015

 

The Bishop has had a website set up to help those who would like to know more about the Church response. If you click on the image of the Tree, it will take you to the site.

Facing the past: shaping a healthy future

 

PopeFrancisThe Encyclical may be downloaded here.  Laudate-Si

Pope Francis’ second encyclical “Laudato Si”  Praise be to you is on ecology, the environment, creation, and much, much more!

Whilst the conventional media hype will be all over the clime change aspects, and his reflection that we are treating the planet like a rubbish tip. There is indeed a great deal more covered in the encyclical. You can read the whole text on the link above, and here are a few points covered in the encyclical that may not be covered in the secular media.

Relativism

In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted?” (123)

Consumerism

Many people know that our current progress and the mere amassing of things and pleasures are not enough to give meaning and joy to the human heart, yet they feel unable to give up what the market sets before them. In those countries which should be making the greatest changes in consumer habits, young people have a new ecological sensitivity and a generous spirit, and some of them are making admirable efforts to protect the environment. At the same time, they have grown up in a milieu of extreme consumerism and affluence which makes it difficult to develop other habits.” (209)

Gadgets

Since the market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. Compulsive consumerism is one example of how the techno-economic paradigm affects individuals. Romano Guardini had already foreseen this: “The gadgets and technics forced upon him by the patterns of machine production and of abstract planning mass man accepts quite simply; they are the forms of life itself. To either a greater or lesser degree mass man is convinced that his conformity is both reasonable and just”. This paradigm leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume. But those really free are the minority who wield economic and financial power. Amid this confusion, postmodern humanity has not yet achieved a new self-awareness capable of offering guidance and direction, and this lack of identity is a source of anxiety. We have too many means and only a few insubstantial ends. (203)

Scientism

…many problems of today’s world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life.” (107)

Family

Underlying the principle of the common good is respect for the human person as such, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered to his or her integral development. It has also to do with the overall welfare of society and the development of a variety of intermediate groups, applying the principle of subsidiarity. Outstanding among those groups is the family, as the basic cell of society.” (157)

Here, though, I would stress the great importance of the family, which is “the place in which life – the gift of God – can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed, and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth. In the face of the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life”.[149] In the family we first learn how to show love and respect for life; we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures. In the family we receive an integral education, which enables us to grow harmoniously in personal maturity. In the family we learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given, to control our aggressivity and greed, and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm. These simple gestures of heartfelt courtesy help to create a culture of shared life and respect for our surroundings. (213)

Throwing Food Away

Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”. (50)

Population

Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”.  To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. (50)

The Eucharist

It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”. The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration…” (236)

There are a number of things of note in this encyclical and we will no doubt read a reflect on what the Pope says. There is no doubt that he is addressing the whole inhabited earth, and it is very interesting/important that he refers to the Patriarch Bartholomew and builds on some of what the Patriarch has said. This seems to be a beautiful reaching out across 1000 years of schism.

Laudate Si

PeaceGod of the nations,
whose sovereign rule brings justice and peace,
have mercy on our broken and divided world.
Shed abroad your peace in the hearts of all
and banish from them the spirit that makes for war,
that all races and peoples may learn to live
as members of one family
and in obedience to your law,
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

A prayer for peace (APBA p 202)

ClimateChangeHoly God,
earth and air and water are your creation,
and every living thing belongs to you:
have mercy on us as climate change confronts us.

Give us the will and the courage to simplify the way we live,
to reduce the energy we use,
to share the resources you provide,
and to bear the cost of change.

Forgive our past mistakes and send us your Spirit,
with wisdom in present controversies
and vision for the future to which you call us
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

© Anglican Church of Australia Trust Corporation. Used by permission. This text may be reproduced for use in worship in the Anglican Church of Australia

Last day

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Kilkenny Castle garden and castle

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Kilkenny Castle garden and castle

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Famine ship “Dunbrody”

From Killarney to Kilkenny

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Blarney Castle

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Waterford Crystal

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Janet trying her hand at Hurling

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Group shot at the pub

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Grant at the pub

Killarney Catholic cathedral – St Mary’s 8.00am service, no hymns.

Killarney Catholic cathedral - St Mary's 8.00am service, no hymns.

Killarney Catholic cathedral – St Mary’s 8.00am service, no hymns.

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Ring of Kerry – weather excellent!

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Ring of Kerry – weather excellent!

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Ring of Kerry – weather excellent!

From Galway to Killarney

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Cliffs of Moher 10 C 45 kph wind, freezing rain.

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Cliffs of Moher 10 C 45 kph wind, freezing rain.

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Ross Castle at Killarney

Medieval Church at Galway St Nicholas – don’t think the Rector agrees with the last paragraph…

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Medieval Church at Galway St Nicholas

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Kylemore Abbey

 

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Walled gardens at the Abbey

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Connemara Marble shop

Medieval Church at Galway St Nicholas - don't think the Rector agrees with the last paragraph...

Medieval Church at Galway St Nicholas – don’t think the Rector agrees with the last paragraph…

The cross the priest used was not a pectoral cross but a short arm Jesus on a cross similar to this depiction and placed on a sleeve under a jacket to hide that the person was a priest.

The cross the priest used was not a pectoral cross but a short arm Jesus on a cross similar to this depiction and placed on a sleeve under a jacket to hide that the person was a priest.

The cross the priest used was not a pectoral cross but a short arm Jesus on a cross similar to this depiction and placed on a sleeve under a jacket to hide that the person was a priest.

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Castle near Galway Bay where we were entertained by two singers and harpist and fed.

Clay is mixed with gum Arabic and extruded like string and hand woven before firing, all little flowers are hand made.

Clay is mixed with gum Arabic and extruded like string and hand woven before firing, all little flowers are hand made.

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Mass rock. Used in penal times when catholic priests were banned and could be killed for celebrating the mass. It would be out of the village in a wood.

Inishowen peninsula almost the most Northern tip of Ireland

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Inishowen peninsula almost the most Northern tip of Ireland

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View of Derry Waterside

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Peace Bridge Derry

The Albert clock…….. Yes it has a lean.

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The Albert clock…….. Yes it has a lean.

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Part of one of the 48 walls still in use ……… i.e. Still with gates locked of a night

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Caught this fish at the river…. But before I measured and weighed had to throw it back.. No license.

The Homeless Jesus statue on a bench at Christ Church Dublin

The Homeless Jesus statue on a bench at Christ Church Dublin

Dublin Temple Bar area cobbled streets.

Dublin Temple Bar area cobbled streets.

Dublin I think going to museums is important………..

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Lookout tower on corner of the Dublin cemetery – to keep watch for the body snatchers.

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I think going to museums is important………..

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Dublin

TELL

Proclamation may be in words – effective communication of the Gospel – but also in actions, by living the Good News we preach.

TEACH

Christian discipleship is about lifelong learning, so we all need formal and informal resources for growing in faith, so that the Church is a learning environment for all ages.

TEND

Churches have a long tradition of care through pastoral ministry. Christians are called to respond to the needs of people locally and in the wider human community.

TRANSFORM

Jesus and the Old Testament prophets before him challenged oppressive structures in God’s name. Christians should not only press for change, but also demonstrate justice within Church structures.

TREASURE

The Bible’s vision of salvation is universal in its scope. We are called to promote the well being of the human community and its environment, so that Creation may live in harmony.

The Five Marks of Mission are:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

SendUsOut

Background

The Five Marks of Mission were developed by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1984 and affirmed by Archbishops of the Anglican Communion at the Lambeth Conferences in 1988 and 1998. The Church of England’s General Synod adopted them in 1996 and Churches of other denominations have also adopted them. The fourth mark was amended at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in 2012.

The Marks enable Christians of different countries and cultures, dioceses, deaneries, denominations and churches to have a common focus as they share in God’s mission in the world.

The Next Ten Years

The Video here produced by the Post Carbon Institute is a quick overview of human development and asks us to think about the future we want to create.

As Christians we celebrate the many gifts we have from God in this Blue Planet, and recognise as part of a Christian stewardship we honour the giver when the treasure the gift. In the Anglican Communion the fifth mark of mission we acknowledge and celebrate is:

To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

 

We began with an Interfaith Prayer for Peace

O God, you are the source of life and peace. Praised be you name forever. We know it is you who turns our thoughts to peace. Hear our prayer in this time of crisis. Your power changes hearts.

Muslims, Christians, and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm that they are followers of the one God, Children of Abraham, brothers and sisters; enemies begin to speak to one another; those who were estranged join hands in friendship; nations seek to way of peace together.

Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these truths by the way we live. Give to us: Understanding that puts an end to strife; mercy that quenches hatred, and Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance. Empower all people to live in your law of love. Amen.

This was followed by an incantation of some verses from the Glorious Quran in Arabic.

About 120 people met together at St Pius X in the Factory for this gathering. There was a good representation from all three traditions of faith represented – Roman Catholic, Anglican and Islam. There were 5 people from All Saints in the gathering. The question that were addressed were for the most part pre-lodged so the respondents had had time to reflect upon their answers. They covered areas from who are God’s people, the place of Abraham (peace be upon him) in our traditions, matters of respect and some thought as to how to approach the question of radical fundamentalism.

It very quickly became apparent how important Augustine’s ‘City of God’ is in the construct of Christian thinking, and both Bishop Bill Wright and Farook Ahmed made quite a bit of the writing. It also became clear that much of the perceived notions of the Catholic Church had been reshaped to a significant extent on the basis of Vatican II. Sheik Mohamed Khamis read quite a bit to us in his responses quoting the Quran from his iPad. Bishop Greg reflected on the sign he had seen driving to the venue urging cyclist and pedestrians to be mindful of each other on the path, and also nearly quoted Fr Mel’s Sunday Sermon is discussing Andre Rublev’s icon of the Old Testament prefiguring of the Trinity with the Angelic visitation to Abraham.

ShareThePath

Some of the things that came out in speaking was the common thirst for Truth and Goodness, a strong understanding of the Mercy of God. Ideas of belief in God, belief in a Day of Judgement and the importance of right action where all underlined. Hospitality as a spiritual discipline seemed to become a repeated theme in the discussion. The task of religion is to help us align our will to be one with the will of God.

The evening was marked with a great deal of respect.

_  _  _  _  _  _

I preparing for the evening I found the in the 1st pastoral letter of his Beatitude John X the Patriarch of Antioch whose region and responsibility includes much of the Levant, and in that setting his words stand in stark relief to violence of which we read so often.

We should stress here the fact that our Muslim brothers, our co-citizens, have a special place in our heart and mind. Our relations with them go beyond the mere living together in peace. With them we share all the concerns which face the development of our countries, and the peace of our people. With them we build the common future of our children, with them we face all dangers. We shall work on rejecting every negative spirit that could negate our presence on this land of ours or could limit our role in serving our country. We will work faithfully to get rid of ignorance through strengthening the ways of dialogue and communion, asking God to shed on us His grace in the spirit of togetherness for the best of the people in this region of the world.

Source: First Pastoral Letter from Patriarch John X of Antioch

RohingyaAt this stage, around 7,000 Rohingya asylum seekers are still stranded on the same boats they have been on for over two weeks, with countries in the area continuing to refuse to accommodate them.

As you probably are aware, our own government is also still refusing to help.2 It is a devastating situation for those of us who believe that all people are created in the image of God.

The reality is that, as Christians, we know a Saviour whose response is one of inclusion and acceptance. Who says ‘Yes, yes, yes’ to the ‘whosoever’ that would come, and extends unconditional love to all. Yet we can find our earthly leaders’ response is the opposite, as rigid policies and political slogans take precedence over compassion and common sense.

Yet even in these times, we can hold on to the hope we have in Jesus, and bring our concerns to him in prayer.

Let’s all join together this weekend and pray specifically that:

  • The Rohingyas are helped off the boats and given shelter.
  • A search and rescue operation is launched to find other boats from Myanmar.
  • Governments work together to end the persecution of the Rohingyas.
  • Governments provide a clear ‘front door’ for refugees to seek asylum in our region so that they aren’t forced to come on boats.
  • Australia takes a lead in the region by giving the Rohingyas and other refugees a permanent home.
  • The people of Australia will be generous and offer welcome to those in need.

At the moment there seems little hope, yet we believe in a God who raises the dead and for whom nothing is impossible. Together, let’s believe God will work miraculously to bring a solution to this crisis.

 

IslamChristianityAn opportunity is coming to join together with our Muslim and Christian communities to explore the common good that each of our religions share.

Bishop Bill Wright [Catholic], Bishop Greg Thompson [Anglican],

Sheikh Mohamed Kharmis  [Iman: Newcastle Mosque] and Farooq Ahmed [Newcastle Muslim Association]

will form a Q and A dialogue at this event.

When:             6:00pm, Tues 2 June 15

Where:           St Pius X High School Adamstown

RSVP:             Brooke Robinson  4979 1111.

TheHoleInTheBoatThere is no doubt that we are assaulted in our living rooms day after day with news of carnage from all the corners of the planet. Of late of course much of this has come from the various conflicts in Syria, Iraq, The Levant in General and also Kenya, Egypt, and Libya.

Much of the horror of which we read focusses on Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda. The people undertaking these attacks and brutalities understand that they are waging a holy war or in their terms jihad. As 21st Century Western Christians we have long since concluded that there is nothing holy about any war.

Our understanding of God, as a God of Love, a God of forgiveness, a God of Peace, Life, and Wholeness. Muslims in our own communities stand and tell us that this is not Islam, for Islam is for Peace. As a community we have stood determined not to allow a sense of Islamaphobia take hold and divide our community.

One of our inherent problems is that we know little about Islam. We have some information provided by a media interested in selling advertising and offering news takes that are often too short to me helpful, one sided to be informative, and opinions introduced as fact.

We are living in the largely secular west where the media are largely secular and have very little comprehension of what any faith is about. We all suffer the insults of commentators whose view is so secular the best description they have of faith is ‘talking to your imaginary friend’. Jews, Christians and Muslims are all offended by this kind of remark, and perhaps some part of that is our failing to communicate, and part of it may be a fundamentalist atheism which is being presented by some as science.

Another of our problems is as Western Christians that we do not always take seriously that we share this one body-in-Christ with Eastern Christians of various of the Orthodox Churches. The quiet of the western church as so many eastern Christians are slaughtered because of their faith is to be lamented. Our divisions are chronic and to our detriment, and though fabulous work has been done to repair this, with the Moscow Agreement and more recently the Cyprus Statement, most of our lay people have not even heard of these documents.

It is easy to feel that the matter is beyond us, over there, and not our problem. Some see the optimal solution to raise a fence around the Arabian Peninsular, let no-one in our out and let them get on with it. These kinds of solutions are trivial and are never going to work.

It is likely that we will never respond appropriately to the challenge posed by Islamic State Al Qaeda and Boko Haram if we do not understand what they are on about. Dismissing religious motivation when it seems that they claim a religious imperative seems destined to fail. We must at least evaluate the claim to understand the issues.

Christians are called to have hard heads and tender hearts. We need to understand our own faith more solidly. We need to find better expressions of unity across the Christian Churches – and especially Eastern Christians. And we need to do a little work on understanding Islam a little. We need to pray:

Pray strength and protection for Christians, Jews, and all people being persecuted

Pray that the perpetrators might turn their hearts to peace

Pray that those who hold council in the world might have wisdom and courage

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord – heaven and earth are full of your glory

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Bringing Humanity Back is An Initiative by Actor Varun Pruthi to bring Happiness and Difference in the Lives of Underprivileged. They produce a number of videos and have embarked on a social media campaign to make a difference,