The Assembly Resourcing Unit is inviting people who are inspired to talk about what it looks like to live faith and life cross-culturally to come together on Thursday 29 July for an online conversation.
What does it look like to embrace unity-in-diversity in our Church?
What deeper forms or models of shared life might God be calling us to?
Where might new opportunities lie for collaboration?
Where can you see intercultural creativity and imagination?
Intercultural is one of four pillars in the most recent Strategic Plan of the Assembly describing centres of future work and development needed to enable the Church to move boldly and confidently into the future. In our life and worship we seek to be a community of faith sharing faith across boundaries, in which the rich diversity of God’s people is seen and celebrated.
We would love to hear what our intercultural church looks like from where you stand, and yarn some more about the possibilities to come.
You can join Let’s Yarn About Our Intercultural Church on Thursday 29 July, 7.30pm AEST via Zoom with the following link or by putting in the meeting I.D. and passcode below.
Welcome to this Sunday’s worship time. I’m Lloyd Walker, one of the Lay Preachers at St Luke’s Uniting Church here in Highton. Paul, St Luke’s Highton Ordained Minister, will be back next week.
Today I’m continuing the theme Paul started a couple of weeks ago – Remaining Afloat in Challenging times. My focus is going to be supporting each other – particularly those with little experience of faith and the younger members of our family and community.
Out of my depth in your love – by Noel Richards & Horley (SCE255)
Acknowledgement of Country and welcome
This land is God’s land and God’s Spirit dwells here. We acknowledge the Wadawurrung people, traditional custodians of this land under God. We recognise that they have walked and cared for this land, respecting the Creator Spirit’s tender care for all around us. May we draw together in our humanity and kinship as children of God in this great South Land
God, like David before us, we find our comfort and our hope in you. We celebrate your generosity to us – a land of contrasts, with space, clean air and such diversity of climate, plants and animals. In recent centuries our human diversity has added to this colour and community.
And over these years you have continued to speak into our community and our lives – calling us to care and protect:
each other, and particularly the vulnerable
this land in which we live – and the natural world that we share it with
truth and justice, looking always to you for guidance.
Forgive us God that we are stiff necked people.
That we do not embrace the generosity and self-sacrifice that your Son modelled – we focus too often on ourselves
That we are stubborn and turn deaf ears to your still small voice, or even the clanging alarm, when you call us to repent of destructive and evil ways
When we claim we are too busy or avoid going out of our way, to pick up after ourselves, lend a hand to others in need, or even to listen to our sisters and brothers, even our children, crying out for help and care.
Today open our ears and our hearts to listen and learn from you, the lessons from your Son Jesus, and the guidance and courage offered by your Holy Spirit. Inspire and challenge us to join with your saints as your hands and feet, your physical presence to those who feel alone, lost and struggling to stay afloat.
Family of God, God is always present, even in the darkest of times and when our actions (or inaction) shake us to our core. There is enough mercy to cover all your sins, and not yours only, but those of the whole world. Therefore put the past and its errors behind you, vowing to live as Christ called you to serve in the world.
Live as forgiven people, for in Christ, such you truly are!
Thanks be to God! Amen.
Today I want to draw from a podcast that provoked me to rethink about a song (or a couple of songs) that played over and over in our house around 2013.
The Podcast was from the Yale Centre for Faith and Culture called “You do You”
One of the speakers leads a 7 week course called “Life Worth Living”. https://gracefarms.org/life-worth-living/
And as part of that course, they reflect on some of the Movies and other popular culture that we connect with. As promised the two movies I want to look at today are Disney’s Frozen and Moana. They both struck a cord with my tweenage daughters; and each had heroine characters.
Frozen is a rewriting of Hans Christian Andersons ‘The Snow Queen’ story, like a number of recent movies and musicals it upends the simplistic good vs evil character (think for example “Wicked” the musical – a different take on Wizard of Oz).
The hit song from Frozen is ‘Let it Go’ by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Here the teenage young Queen Elsa – cursed that everything she touches turns to ice – runs away, in her mind to protect her sister Anna. These young women have been orphaned for several years after their parents were lost at sea. Elsa has high expectations on her shoulders.
The song starts in a minor key to match Elsa’s mood. And her words are a reflection, not just of her feelings, but the pain of years trying to live up to expectations:
Clip 1 – Wind is howling…
Many in our world today, and particularly our young people, are struggling with expectations. Play fair, work hard, study to get a good qualification and job…. And so it goes. “Be the good girl/boy to make us proud” whether said or unsaid is there. And for some it doesn’t stop as they look for a partner, have children, seek job, a house….
In our mostly capitalist society, jumping off or going feral is rarely an option for most except the well off.
Now Elsa decides to cut herself off, and ‘break free’ – but listen to her new expectations… now in a Major key so full of hope.
Clip 2 – It’s time to see what I can do
You can see why she’s excited, so much potential, she can do anything.
And some get away with living their lives this way, ‘test the limits of what I can do’
But in the same breath are the compromises – “no right, no wrong, no rules for me.”
In recent years we’ve seen corporate giants, politicians, world leaders all with the same view point – the rules don’t apply to me – I don’t accept there is ‘right or wrong’…. It’s my way or the highway!
And you’ll find this conundrum in the boy’s movies too – Captain America and Thor (the good guys) seem to operate on their own rules at times as if things like torture is OK if you are a good guy.
Frozen unpacks what this all leads to: a bit winter, pain and suffering for all (including Elsa), and eventually a willingness to seek forgiveness.
Spoiler alert – And ‘true love’ that breaks the spell – isn’t in a lover’s kiss – it is a gift of self-sacrifice her younger sister offers to save her beloved Elsa.
I’m sure you can see plenty of parallels in the reading from 1 John today – v16 & 17: We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That’s why we must give our lives for each other. If we have all we need and see one of our own people in need, we must have pity on that person, or else we cannot say we love God.
Let’s look at Moana – set in our Pacific Region, drawing on First People mythology.
Moana is the daughter of the Chief of the island Tribe and this enlightened community recognises the authority of women and men to lead, so Moana is in line to become Chief after her father.
It is a generally happy community, everyone seems to know their place and all is well. Except that Moana can’t understand why she is drawn to the ocean – something strictly out of bounds to go beyond the protected bay. In this story though is a grandparent figure – the wise and somewhat mischievous Gramma Tala.
When their food supplies start to go bad, Moana follows her heart and the stories of the past from her Gramma to seek the solution – to right an ancient wrong. Here though there is uncertainty. And the presence of her beloved Gramma comes to her.
Moana – Clip 1.
You can see similar pains to Elsa’s being reflected in the words of Gramma Tala as she supports Moana. But the solution isn’t cutting yourself off.
To give her courage to keep going, a further reflection of what growing up, learning but also something else…
Moana – Clip 2.
Wise counsel indeed. That ‘voice inside you’ for those of us who follow Christ (and even those who don’t yet) is often the ‘still small voice of God.’ This is the counsel needed for those who stand with Christ against oppression, injustice or evil – yes learn from family, friends, and history, but don’t ignore that voice calling you to be true to who you are!
Here is a story of someone who is supported by wise elders, a person who truly believes in them and wants to take up their God given role true to their calling – not constrained by the accepted norms of the world. We should remember that Jesus family came to ‘take him home’ because the crowds were saying he was mad because he spoke out against the Pharisees and Saducees. It was only because Jesus remained in conversation with his Father God – through at least daily prayer – that he stayed the course.
This is the love that has seen Greta Thunberg’s parents support her to speak out about climate change, Archbishop Desmond Tutu to follow a calling not to power and control, but to transformation of a whole society through a deep love and sense of the love of God for all.
Moana – Clip 3
May we too know the way for our lives as we follow Jesus’ lead, and support others – young and old – and they try to understand God’s voice to them and that ‘you do you’ authentically.
Sung by Auli’i Cravalho and Rachel House; Composer: Mark Mancina Lyrics: Lin-manuel Miranda, Opetaia Tavita Foa’i
Christ Jesus, source of my healing and joy of my desiring,
I believe in you.
I believe in you more than the boasts of the arrogant,
more than the duplicity of the cunning,
more than the cynicism of the embittered.
Holy Spirit, breath of my hoping and fire of my loving,
I believe in you.
I believe in you more than the myopia of the clever,
more than the evasions of the cowardly,
more than the apathy of the negligent.
Holy God, you are far too big for our minds yet humble enough
to reside with the meek and the poor
and to craft beauty out of disasters.
I believe in you! Live and guide me – today and forever.
Prayers of the People (from Dr Diedre Palmer – past President of the UCA )
Gracious and loving God,
You call us to love you with our whole being, and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
At this time of upheaval and distress for nations and people across our world, may your love hold us together.
May your love be the lens through which we see each other and your world.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are present with us, as one who knows our suffering, bring comfort and peace to all those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, work, connection and hope for the future.
May we embody your compassion – responding to the suffering of our neighbours, our families, our friends, and strangers with generosity.
Life-giving Spirit, you weave us together as the Body of Christ, strengthen our life together, even though we are physically separated. Nurture us in faith and discipleship, that we may bear witness through our living, to your abundant grace and liberating hope for all people, and the whole creation.
Through Christ our Life and Hope, we pray. Amen..
Our Father who is in heaven
Hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory
Now and forever
Will you take the time to listen for the cry of one seeking answers in this complex world?
Will you always seek to discover the humanity and child of God in all you meet – and help them find God’s words for them.
When others try to shut down or supress your prophets and servants, call out to hear more of God’s message, even if it hurts and is uncomfortable.
And rest assured, that nothing can separate you from the love of God – NOTHING, not even your own self-doubt!
Unfortunately once again we are changing steps in the COVID dance and cannot meet in person this Sunday. Fortunately though, the Rev. Kevin Yelverton who is covering for Paul this Sunday will be able to be beamed to your computer or device via YouTube with the help of our multi-talented Council Chairperson and brother in Christ, Lloyd Walker and his technical crew.
The buildings are now closed in accordance with COVID restrictions and we pray that this early intervention will mean that this is only a short lockdown. With exposure sites in our local area it is a good thing for us all to stay home as we can and hopefully allow this outbreak to fizzle out.
A quick update also from me, Robyn – many thanks to Shaghek, Barbara, Linda, Paul and everyone else helping to cover the office while I am away on placement. Some family illness delayed the beginning of my placement and so I am due to return to the office in August – COVID willing. I am still keeping an eye on email and will respond to anything urgent.
A reminder that Rev. Paul Stephens will be on leave from this Saturday the 17th of July to Tuesday 27th of July.
Our congregation annual meeting has been rescheduled to the 1st of August after Sunday worship, so please save the date.
In the meantime let us hold each other and our community in prayer, especially the helpers who are so weary by now. We offer this collect from Julie Perrin:
God who knows no forgetting,
who companions those who suffer.
Be present to people alone in lockdown,
and to those forced to share crowded spaces.
As fault-lines reveal our divided community,
may contrition form new mercy in us.
Blessings to you and let’s continue to care for one another as we journey through these strange and challenging times,
The Presbytery of Port Phillip West is pleased to offer training in how to deal pastorally with our current “Covid/Semi Post-Covid/Back into Lockdown” on-going experiences. How and why do people drop out of church and activities?
What practical things can we do to help people as they consider returning to church?
We are running two three-hour seminars:
Pastoral Care as we ride the waves of a Pandemic – Part 1 and Part 2 –
These seminars will contain the following material and is based on the study and training developed by Rev Dr John Savage, a United Methodist Minister from the USA.
Part 1 Seminar:
Identifying inclusion and exclusion experiences
Understanding the track that leads to on-going attendance or no further attendance (relevant to church and any other group life)
Identifying the implications for our own setting
Coming back after Covid
How to care for people who have stopped attending
Part 2 Seminar:
Enabling tracks to return to church/group life.
Entry/Re-entry process and the readiness grid
Visiting inactive members and closure in a visit
What keeps active members active?
“Why are you still a Christian?” a module from Makes you Wonder.
There will be two time slots for each seminar to cater for as many people as possible.
Pastoral Care as we ride the waves of a Pandemic – Part 1.
Aug 12, Thursday 6.00 pm – 9.00 pm Zoom only
Aug 20, Friday 9.30 am – 12.30 pm Zoom or in person at Hoppers Crossing UC.
Pastoral Care as we ride the waves of a Pandemic – Part 2.
Aug 26, Thursday 6.00 pm – 9.00 pm Zoom only
Sept 3, Friday 9.30 am – 12.30 pm Zoom or in person at Hoppers Crossing UC.
This training is offered free as a gift from the Presbytery of Port Phillip West.
It is open and would be of benefit to ministers, pastors, chaplains, people involved in pastoral care, welcomers and church councillors.
You need to register through the following link https://www.trybooking.com/BSEGF
Pastoral Care Seminars
We have had over 200 people attend our previous pastoral care seminars with very positive feedback. The interactive nature and the ability to become more aware of how and why we listen have been common threads from the participants.
July 16 Friday 9.30 – 12.30pm Zoom and in person at Hoppers Crossing
July 21 Wednesday 6.00pm – 9.00pm Zoom only
Sept 14 Tuesday 6.00pm – 9.00pm Zoom only
This seminar teaches you about active listening, communication, and the specific listening skills of paraphrase and perception checks. This session is a pre-requisite for other sessions of the Pastoral Care Seminars being run later in the year.
Seminar 7 “Dealing with Criticism, fogging and listening conversation”
September 16 or Sept 24
Seminar 8 “Neuro Linguistic Programming and listening conversations”
Oct 7 or Oct 22
You can register for these seminars here https://www.trybooking.com/BSFZS
Are you interested in exploring different ways of prayer? If you would like to connect with others who are interested in carving out some intentional time and space to connect more deeply with God and reflect with others, I am looking to join with fellow travellers focusing around prayer and using the Lacuna resources from the Uniting Church to guide our exploration. We would likely gather on Zoom but also sometimes in person as restrictions allow. Have a read of this article from Rev Sally Douglas, and if this interests you, let me know – firstname.lastname@example.org