Archives for August 2017

Belinda Groves – 27 August 2017

Dear Friends

This week our electric kettle stopped working. It is not a big drama. We will buy another one (although Aron wants to buy it together which makes finding a time more difficult) but it has given me an opportunity to reflect on our time here in Canberra.

We bought that kettle in our first week here, and I remember Jim Barr dropping in and being fascinated with the glass see-through panel on the side enabling you to watch the water boiling and the lights changing colour once the water had boiled. There was some suggestion at the time that having come from the bright lights of Sydney we would find Canberra quiet, and that turning off our lights and watching our kettle boil might be the most excitement we would get! That has not proved to be the case!

But it has also given me the opportunity to think back – and try to calculate – all the cups of tea and coffee and hot chocolate that we have made with that kettle, all the ordinary moments as a family, all the times Aron and I have sat down for a quiet chat, all the events that have taken place, all the people we have served, all the conversations that have flowed, all the grace of and hospitality of God that has been present.

It is just a kettle, but – reflecting on Anne Mallaby’s sermon on operational theology and the symbols that speak to us of spirituality – I have realised that it more than a kettle.

It is – for me – a symbol of hospitality, of my opportunities to be guest and host, of my need for others and their need for me. It is something simple and every day and yet so sacred.

There are a few Leunig prayers in this morning’s service – as we celebrate the sacred story in the lives of three of our congregation, but I wanted to include this one for you, too, as it speaks both of teapots and to rising up to new life.

Dear God,

We rejoice and give thanks for earthworms, bees, ladybirds and broody hens; for human tending their gardens, talking to animals, cleaning their homes and singing to themselves; for the rising of the sap, the fragrance of growth, the invention of the wheelbarrow and the existence of the teapot, we give thanks. We celebrate and give thanks. Amen.

Amen!

Belinda

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Blessing of the Ps – by Felicity Volk

The following blessing for Canberra Baptist Church was prepared by Felicity Volk from blessings shared by participants in the reflection phase of the review of Canberra Baptist Church.

THE BLESSING OF THE Ps

As our days turn towards warmth and light
As we prepare for the season of growth
We bless our people, place and purpose
We bless our past, present and potential
We bless our people –

We bless the beautiful diversity of those who gather here,
the different stories that come to our table,
and the way new understandings unfold within these walls, making us soft with compassion.
We bless what we understand in each other and what baffles,
and the space that holds both common and different safe.
We bless those we have chosen to lead us, their wisdom and faith,
and the space they offer for all of us to question and test what we really believe.
We bless our youth and the flourishing of their faith.
We bless the arrival of new people, the departing of old,
those who represent generations of faithfulness here and those who are here briefly;
however long or short our time together, we bless it.

As our days turn towards warmth and light
As we prepare for the season of growth,
We bless our place –

We bless the bricks and glass, the light and colour, the shelter of our place.
We bless those who cared for this land before us,
those whose labours and sacrifice built this church,
and those who care for it now.
We bless our garden; the bringing together of people around growth, around a plump tomato, the richness of compost, the honesty of soil.
We bless our hall; the dance, exercise and cooking that takes place there to stretch and grow and nourish bodies and spirits.
We bless the way our place puts up shoots around our city:
as people share food and films, books and bible studies, caring for others,
and telling the stories of their lives.
We bless the malleability of this space, that those who come after us will not find it rigid,
but will enter it with gladness and shape it as their own.

As our days turn towards warmth and light
As we prepare for the season of growth
We bless our purpose ––

We bless our efforts to be a graceful presence in Kingston, in Canberra,
in our country and in the world, serving our neighbours at their point of need.
We bless our saltiness in the earth and the light we shed in dark places.
We bless our loud voice to our leaders and our gentle voice to each other.
We bless our anger at wrong and our compassion for the wronged.
We bless our vision and our confusion.
We bless our crawling into our Creator’s arms for comfort, nourishment and wisdom;
we bless our being sent back out to be godly in our world.

As our days turn towards warmth and light
As we prepare for the season of growth
We bless our past ––

Remembering that we can’t return to the past,
we bless the foundation it has given us for the future.
We bless our history, the stories that have been told.
We bless those who worshipped within these walls, whose work we continue.
We bless the things we would have done differently,
for the way this gives us clarity and commitment for change.
We bless what we hold on to,
for the stability and certainty it gives us as we explore the new.

As our days turn towards warmth and light
As we prepare for the season of growth
We bless our present ––

 We bless what we are now.
We bless our church and its heart for justice.
We bless our convictions and our integrity.
We bless our serving of each other in the day to day,
and the stories about God’s story we are telling.
We bless the daily restoration that renews us as we face the future.

 As our days turn towards warmth and light
As we prepare for the season of growth
We bless our potential ––

We bless our imagination and creativity for the future,
our openness to change,
our willingness to take risks,
our forgiveness of failure,
our confidence to start again.
We bless the stories we are preparing to write, that they will be filled with love and tolerance, with fairness and compassion, with warmth and humour.
We bless those stories knowing they flow from our Creator God,
The author of the story to which we all belong.

As our days turn towards warmth and light
As we prepare for the season of growth
We bless our people, place and purpose
We bless our past, present and potential.

Amen.

 

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Belinda Groves – 13 August 2017

Dear Friends      

During this year we are undertaking a review of our church. Not because we are unhappy with our current ministries or ethos, but because, from time to time, it is important to think – and invite the Spirit of God to illuminate our thinking -about the kind of community that God calls us to be. The deacons have also recommended this review to increase ownership of the church’s strategy and to tackle questions of what it means to be the church in a changing and challenging society.

The first stage of the review has been ‘input’ from a variety of sources:

Firstly, Keith Blackburn and John Clark led several workshops, here at church and in small groups, helping people to understand the profile of our church provided by the National Church Life Survey.

Secondly, we have heard ‘stories’ from people who are part of our church, specifically stories about what it was that drew them to this community, has enriched their faith during their time here and what they hope to see happen in our future.

And there have been the workshops. Unfortunately, one of these has had to be delayed for early in September, but the two that we have had have been very stimulating. Anne and Richard Mallaby took us back to the 10 signposts from Diana Butler Bass’s book, Christianity for the Rest of Us that we explored in our sermons at the beginning of year, and encouraged us to ask the question: which of these ‘signposts’ or spiritual disciplines will best guide us, best match our identity and best meet our needs? And, last Sunday, Scott Higgins came and talked about three models for being faithful Christians in a changing and a challenging society, how we affirm diversity in our community, while freeing our members to speak and act for justice, and how we might preserve authentic faith in the future.

And all of us bring our own life experiences and reflections and reading and thinking. These, too, are part of our gathered reflections.

This weekend ‘Ears to Hear’ marks the end of the input phase and the beginning of the ‘reflection’ phase; where we consider our identity as a community of faith and how that shapes our mission, and we have been delighted to have the skills of Ann Lock helping us bring our reflections together this weekend.

The reflection phase is not over! During the next week, I will be preparing a summary of thinking and reflections to date, and on Sunday, 10th September (‘Signpost Sunday’ I’m calling it!) you are all invited to help ‘draft’ – from our reflections this weekend and our ongoing prayers – a set of goals that affirms who we are as a church and where God is calling us to go in the future.

Guide us, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrims through this barren and blessed land.

Belinda

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John Morrison – 6 August 2017

Last Sunday afternoon we had the first workshop of the input phase of our Church Review. Richard & Anne Mallaby led us in a creative exploration of the theme Deepening our Spirituality as a Church. The session included input from them, personal reflection on various items of art and symbolism, and group work. The 10 signposts of renewal in Christianity for the Rest of Us, which we recently studied, provided a useful framework.

During the report-back from groups, there was an emphasis on the significance for our church of hospitality, justice and discernment. Copies of the comments are available from Belinda.

The artwork that grabbed my attention and on which I mainly reflected was this one. My first thought was that it looked like a church, but one raised on a pedestal. It symbolised for me a church that had got it wrong by not being grounded in the way a Christian community ought to be.

However, someone else in my group thought that the pillars were actually like legs and that there were feet at the base. As such, the much more positive symbolism is of a going church, one on the move.

The item also reminded me of structures I had seen in rural parts of Galicia, Spain. When I first saw them, I thought they were some sort of religious buildings. Though usually adorned with Christian symbols, they are actually granaries, called horreos, mainly for storing corn. The sculpture prompted reflection for me about the church as a storehouse of blessings to be shared with others in times of need.

After our session, Anne told me about the artist’s concept. It represents a reliquary, which is a container for some venerated relic such as a bone or some other item supposedly connected with a particular saint. We saw many of these as well in churches and museums in Spain and other parts of Europe, some of which were quite gruesome and bizarre.

Whereas such reliquaries often have a small window through which to view the relic, the work Anne displayed had a mirror instead. Looking into the mirror, one doesn’t see a relic of a dead saint but is prompted to reflect on the living person outside the structure. Am I a saint? Scripture applies the term to all Christians, who are holy ones in the sense of being set apart for God and God’s service.

That sculpture certainly made me think, and it provides a metaphor of the church for me in a number of ways. How about you? Is there some photograph, poem, painting or sculpture which symbolises for you where our church is at or where it ought to be going? If so, please pass it onto Belinda for possible inclusion in our “Ears to Hear” reflection weekend on 11-13th August.

John

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