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Encouragement for the Journey 25 May 2014

Encouragement for the Journey 

Pentecost (resized)

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Last year in my Pentecost reflection I spoke about Holy Spirit Holes. I remind you: Pentecost was one of the great festivals celebrated in the great church buildings of mediaeval Europe. Their doomed and vaulted ceilings often beautifully painted with ornate scenes and designs, also had disguised a number of trap doors, which were used for Pentecost celebrations, these are called ‘Holy Spirit Holes.’

During worship some poor parishioners would be drafted to climb up on the roof. At the appropriate moment in worship they would release live doves through the trap doors of the painted skies and clouds of the ceiling. These doves would come swooping down on the congregation as living symbols of the presence of the Holy Spirit. At the same moment, the choir boys were encouraged to make whooshing and drumming sounds, like a holy windstorm.

Then, finally, as the doves swooped, the trap doors were again opened, and rose petals were showered upon the congregation, symbolising tongues of flame falling upon the faithful below.

Imagine the people standing below, for seating was only a recent addition in cathedrals after the reformation in 16th Century. The whole experience brought the power, wonder, mystery and the experience of Pentecost to the gathered people. Far from Pentecost being a cerebral experience, it was holistic, felt, smelt and touched experience, as the people were dramatically involved in the drama. Imagine doves flying around the high domes and arches of those majestic gothic cathedrals and churches, demonstrating utter freedom, the petals gently falling freedom to land where they will. No wonder the early Celtic Christians described the Holy Spirit like ‘A wild Goose.’ Theimagery is powerful, utter freedom, doing its own thing, without human constraints or influence.

I leave you with this reflection from The St Hilda Community:

Flame dancing Spirit, come Sweep us off our feet and Dance us through our days. Surprise us with your rhythms; Dare us to try new steps, explore New patterns and new partnerships; Release us from old routines To swing in abandoned joy and Fearful adventure. And in the intervals Rest us In your still centre

Meanwhile peace in the beauty of the wild goose

Alf

 

May 31, 2014 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 18 May 2014

Encouragement for the Journey

Happiness Hands

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Welcome to another Cafe Church, our theme today is:

HAPPINESS

I first thought when our Team chose this theme for today, that it would be quite easy to create a cafe service around happiness. However, I quickly discovered happiness is a complex mental and emotional state of well – being. In one sense it appears quite illusive yet in another, it is present within us, waiting to be experienced moment by moment.

Happiness is always a choice, it is not the result of something happening external to us. Nothing will make us happy, until we choose to be happy.   Also, no person can make us happy, until we decide personally to be happy. Happiness will never come to us; it can only come from within us.

In our world, we are experiencing rapid change, nothing lasts, everything changes, and we are living in a melting pot of changing values. A common mantra of modern Western culture is “success breeds happiness.” The research I have done this week turns this on its head, rather “happiness breeds success.”

Happiness is more than having the right kind of coffee so our day will start OK. We think we need something and if we get that something we will be happy, alas, the euphoria in the brain lasts a little while, and we are off once more searching for another achievement, possession, product or person, once found we will then be happy. Wrong. Alas, we are experiencing cultural brain washing of pandemic proportions.

 

There is another way of living, another way of being, when we learn to accept our very human feelings of loss, pain and along with acceptance of those things we cannot change. When we seek to live with a peaceful heart, practice acts of loving kindness, practice forgiveness instead of anger, practice being compassionate instead of being critical and judgmental, practice gratitude for what we have, rather than complaining what we don’t have. We will create within us a softer more porous open heart.

Michael Leunig the Australian Cartoonist who is speaking at the Auckland Writers Festival offers this response to the question: What, in your opinion, is the best of human emotions? Michael replied: “I value these qualities in people: kindness, forgiveness, warmth, humour, eagerness, generosity, humility patience, flexibility, openness, authenticity, magnanimity, equanimity and dexterity.”

These healthy spiritual qualities and practices along with love enable the well springs of happiness to freely bubble up from within our open porous heart. When they do, we will experience happiness with the most surprising people in the most unexpected places in the most astonishing ways. For happiness bubbles will rise to delight us ….….

Meanwhile peace and happiness to you

Alf

May 31, 2014 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 11 May 2014

Encouragement for the Journey

Happy Mothers' Day

Greetings fellow traveller, 

This Sunday is traditionally celebrated as ‘Mother’s Day. Mention the word Mother and all kinds of images may enter into our awareness.  Sometimes our memories of our mother are evoked with actual physical objects these remind us of her presence in our life.  But mostly I think we rely upon our memories and imagination. Whereby, we may catch glimpses of our mother’s continued presence in our life.

For some, they never knew their birth mother, maybe they were adopted or their mother died when they were just a baby.  We can only imagine what that is like for them.  While others, for various reasons, don’t wish to even think about or remember their mother.

We each had a different child mother relationship experience.  I recall a conversation I had with my brother a few years ago; we were comparing our childhood memories of our mother. It soon became very evident our experiences were very different. Someone listening to our conversation may have thought we came from different families.  My family experience was extremely strict, rigid and judgemental, while his was far more relaxed and easy going.  When I reflect on this it reminds me; that we are all walking a different journey, each in our own shoes.

Mother’s Day will bring different memories and stories into our awareness. Because we have been held within our mother’s womb until our birth, we may see this as a metaphor of being held within the cosmic womb of divine love.   For non are excluded from such an embrace of love.  For in the mystery of the One who is love, we live, move and have our being. Some may give the name God to such a mystery, however, the name is not important, what is, is that this love is the foundation and motivation for life and thus our spirituality. Now that is worth celebrating also.

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

May 31, 2014 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 4 May 2014

Encouragement for the Journey

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Greetings fellow Traveller, 

I know that next Sunday is officially Mother’s Day, but our a kids Friendly Team thought it was a great opportunity to celebrate Mothers on this our usual kids N All Sunday. I will use my EFJ next week to focus primarily on Mother’s Day.

Today, I want to share with you some thoughts that have been buzzing around within me since I participated in the Northcote Community ANZAC Service and also after I took another Ecumenical Church Service at Northbridge this week. It was a privilege to represent you the Community of St Aidans at both these community gatherings. Once the Church and with it the ministers played a central role in community life.  Now the Church and its ministers play a very different role. It’s a role of being available to make a contribution when and where there is a need. You could say we are waiting on the fringes of society while building bridges into its heart.

Our team of helpers at Northcote Primary is one example of being available and responding to an educational need of involvement within a classroom setting to support teachers and encourage the children.

Another example is the Drop Inn which has been there for nearly twenty years offering a place of friendship, fun, fellowship and fun for those who live at the Regency and Shoal Bay Villas.

Each of these acts of kindness is making a difference in the lives of young and old. Consequently, it is very important to appreciate that as our community changes so too the church must change, if not, it will die. Our Community of St Aidans must continue to monitor how it responds to meet the increasing needs and challenges in our ever changing community of Northcote.

This requires continual evaluation of how and what we do with our limited holistic resources.  Is what we do the best use of our resources? Are there more effective ways of being both a faith community and serving in the wider Community? These and other like questions are essential to ask, if we are to remain both effective and continue to make a positive difference in the Northcote community.

Be encouraged we are making a difference for good in the lives of others, long may it continue……..

Meanwhile Peace

 

Alf

May 31, 2014 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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