Monthly Archives: December 2014

Advent Voices: Titus tantalises

Wondering Pilgrim

Святой Апостол Тит Критский Косово, XIV век. Печь Патриаршия. Церковь св. Николая Public Domain Святой Апостол Тит Критский Косово, XIV век. Печь Патриаршия. Церковь св. Николая Public Domain

Two days before Christmas, a minor voice from the New Testament speaks out. Squeezed obscurely between Timothy and Philemon, not large players themselves, Titus has a voice worth listening to:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation [health, integrity, wholeness] to all… 

Two days out from Christmas, Titus reminds us that, ultimately, a gift has been revealed, the implications of which are still not fully grasped by the human race, even those who are the bearers of the good news, the custodians of its narratives and the living witnesses to its effects. Titus goes on to spell out some practical implications of receiving this grace, thus sharpening our focus. It seems that the Advent task of preparation and the Christmas task of celebrating and spreading the news come together when we hear the voice…

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Advent Voices: Expectant prophet

Wondering Pilgrim

Christmas Pilgrims, Bethlehem. Public Domain Christmas Pilgrims, Bethlehem. Public Domain

Incarnation looms near. An expectant mother is amongst others as they make their way along the crowded track to their ancestral town, by order of the census officials. The words of an old oracle from an expectant prophet ring in her ears as the throng plods its weary way. Expectant mother; expectant prophet – their musings transcend the cold and insistent demands of bureaucracy:

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined…

…For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.

He will establish and uphold it

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Fourth Sunday in Advent – Love

Wondering Pilgrim

Advent 4And so the set of four Advent candles have been lit.

Candles of anticipation – hope, peace, joy and, finally, love.

The Australian community has been galvanised in the aftermath of three unspeakable acts of violence – the Martin Place siege, the Peshawar school massacre, and a family tragedy in Cairns.

Amidst crowd reactions of grief, sorrow and miscomprehension, we have seen love arising. Words of comfort and focus have emerged as closest relatives addressed the population. An inevitable backlash against scapegoats has been tempered by the spontaneous and viral #illridewithyou campaign. Someone noted that riding public transport is no longer anonymous as people, sharing a common sense of loss, no longer lose themselves in phone and tablet screens but become more willing to engage one another.

The popular Gosford Anglican “wayside pulpit” sums it all up: “SYDNEY, PESHAWAR, CAIRNS: #LETTHEREBELIGHT”.  The Advent gift of love is never really far…

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Advent Voices: Ancient voices

Wondering Pilgrim

The persistent call to rest on ancient promises mingles with the clamour of contemporary conversations.
We have Ethan the Ezrahite, an Advent voice from the reign of Solomon to thank for Psalm 89

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Advent Voices: a candle in the dark

Wondering Pilgrim

candleAdvent draws expectant attention to an arrival of one divinely anointed to fix the mess we’re in. It’s a season that both highlights the chaos of a violent world and the pregnant promise of its resolution. Advent’s themes are in tension – no more so this week than when the siege in Sydney and the horrendous Peshawar school massacre heightened the world’s sensitivities. Can the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love really win through? Expressions of community solidarity gave life to the maxim “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

This morning’s text from Romans16:25-27 serves a similar “lighting of the candle” function. It is sometimes repeated at the conclusion of church services as worshippers prepare to leave the sanctuary to return to the chaos of everyday living.

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation…

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A call for a new multilateral refugee policy

Notwithstanding today’s welcome news of a reprieve for 31 Australian born babies and their families destined for Nauru detention, and that they will now remain in Australia for processing of claims to asylum, this church’s leaders issue the following statement:

“The Elders and Board of the Church of Christ Wembley Downs acknowledge this church’s history of welcoming and assisting asylum seekers received by Australia for resettlement under the Community Resettlement Scheme. The refugees with which this church and other community organisations have been involved have become full, contributing members of the Australian community. When the Australian government discontinued the scheme, replacing it with its own resettlement regime, including a more severe detention  system, our role began to move to advocacy for individuals and families with whom we had contact. It is with dismay that, over the years, we have seen even harsher measures employed as a deterrent to asylum seekers.  Members of our church have expressed their concerns through writing to Members of Parliament, Senators and Government Ministers. The result has been even more severe policies against those seeking asylum, affecting family cohesion, mental health, and suicide risk. Accordingly, this church aligns itself with the philosophy of the Love Makes A Way movement and endorses its actions in seeking to bring about justice for refugees, particularly in the seeking of release of children with their families from detention. We call on Parliament to adopt a multilateral approach to creating regional solutions for humane treatment of asylum seekers according to the standards of the United Nations Refugee Convention of which Australia is both a drafter and a signatory.”

Advent Voices: homeless Robbie and Dominique

Wondering Pilgrim

In the UK, street living Robbie offers stranded Dominique his last three pounds for a fare. Dominique declines, but is so moved by Robbie’s gesture that she reciprocates. These are Advent voices. Read what happened from there!

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