Date: Sunday 26th November
Location: All Saints, East St Kilda - 2 Chapel Street, East St Kilda
Cost: $25 Concession - $15 Students - Free
Holy Trinity, 175-177 Chapel St, Balaclava VIC 3183
email: email@example.com tel: (03) 9531 1562
The Ariel Ensemble will be performing at All Saints, East St Kilda on Sunday 26th November.
Date: Sunday 26th November
Location: All Saints, East St Kilda - 2 Chapel Street, East St Kilda
Cost: $25 Concession - $15 Students - Free
You are all invited to a special service at St Pauls Cathedral to celebrate our communal cultural unity and fellowship between the Melbourne Parishes.
The service starts at 5pm on Saturday 9th December. Please all come and join in with our prayers and service.
The 2018 Australian Anglican Calendar is now available for order at $12 each. Please see attached form. Please note, although the Year on the form reads 2017, this is still the correct form for the 2018 Australian Anglican Church Calendar.
Please print and complete the attached form and either mail, fax or email to:
Post: PO Box 1105, Elwood, Vic 3185
Fax: 03 9525 7623
If you have any queries about the 2017 Annual Anglican Calendar, please contact the office on (03) 9531 1562.
I trust you will forgive me for a little indulgence this morning for I have decided to share some reflections of my life in ministry. I’ll endeavour to keep it modestly timed, but no guarantees.
For myself it’s hard to keep it separate from my personal life journey.
I see the roots of ministry reaching back into my earlier childhood. Like many baby boomers I grew up in a large and vibrant local parish community church, around which much of peoples’ life centred.
My parish church was St. Matthews Ashburton, last Thursday having been that Saint’s day 21st September each year.
Three experiences emerged in that early life that I believe have shaped my life and ministry.
Like most children at that time our parents taught us to pray by saying prayers with us as we got into bed. Probably, as many found that need diminishing in their teenage years, for me it didn’t but continued in earnest to the point of being fascinated by the experience of meditation and contemplation. I was drawn to the experience that many of life’s great mystics devoted their life to.
As a young altar boy I can recall a moment during one Sunday service kneeling at the steps before the altar, and as the priest consecrated the bread and the wine, thinking if I was ever to come to know truth, it would ultimately be found here in the eucharist.
The third experience is best described a few years after ordination. I recall visiting a friend’s place and telling them I had decided to travel to Canada to do some Chaplaincy training in a Psychiatric hospital. They had a neighbour with them who, while being very committed in her own faith, questioned me on why I would want to do that in a psychiatric hospital. From an early age, I had always tried to understand what made people tick. Although I had been trained in college for ministry. I had come to realise that theological theory was hardly adequate for engaging pastorally with people.
Travelling to Canada for that intensive chaplaincy training was one of the greatest decisions I made. The training was invaluable, but I also met Jane and quickly married her. I have regarded ministry as a partnership. She has shared, supported encouraged and very patiently listened to my many theories before I have thrust them upon you people.
Our first parish was a pleasant rural community in Canada, followed by our suburban ministry at St. Augustine’s Mentone .Finally we came here for what I call this inner suburban parish. Three different experiences but each rich in potential ministry.
A DIMINISHING CHURCH
There is so much I could say about each of these but I want to highlight one major point.
From the boom years of the post war years, where many parishes enjoyed an abundance of people and activity, there has been a steady decline.
I have often spoken of the great exodus from the church that broke open through the late sixties, then really gathering momentum in the seventies and the rest is history. Here in Australia, the census tells us that those who called themselves Anglicans diminished from the high forties as a percentage of population at the turn of the last century, 33% in 1966, to the 13 in the recent census. These numbers were even less when referring to those who attended.
Decade after decade our leaders have regularly reminded us that if the trend continued the church would ultimately become non-viable.
Needless to say, the last half century has been a challenging time for the church.
Constantly we have faced challenges, questioned many things, tried new approaches. Each succeeding Archbishop has presented his new mission program, but the trend has not been arrested.
The gap between the church and general society has widened to the point whereby the church sits on the edge of society.
A simple explanation is easy to identify. The emergence of a secular lifestyle. Education and affluence, both of which developed significantly after the war, has had a profound influence on our lives.
Education opportunity developed greatly and informed most people of far more comprehensive understanding of life. Affluence enabled us to utilise the new knowledge to develop a whole new world.
You may think I am being negative, but in fact I am not intending that. I would want to emphasise that this trend fits clearly within the context of the world going through changes to a degree unknown of before.
As a result, only some people are finding nurture in the church, and I do know this nurture is genuine for I still find it myself. So many are now seeking other pursuits for fulfilment as they find their questions and needs not being meet.
The new global world has altered the playing field, to use another metaphor for life, so that new and bigger questions lay before the church us awaiting a boulder response
The globalising world is calling for a new vision of unity, and co-operation.
If God is truly cosmic and Christ is the full revelation of the divine, then this same universal spirit, we call the Holy Spirit must have been working out its purposes in all traditions.
The future will require all humanity to respect one another while noting our differences. We are not enemies but fellow pilgrims, seeking the spiritual truth. This is perhaps the biggest lesson I have learnt and will shape the next stage of my life.
A NEW MISSION
I am planning a good sabbatical year to clear the mind and refresh my energies to prepare for this next state of life. I want to find a meaningful way of contributing to the building of a better world. Heaven on Earth as we say in the Lord’s prayer.
Have I learnt much over the years. I hope so.
You must build trust
Two very early examples taught me this.
In a parish, I had been assisting for a few months while training in Canada, I had just finished with the youth group and realised I hadn’t bought anything for Jane for our wedding Anniversary when I spotted the beautiful yellow roses on the Altar. I figured that now Sunday was over no one would be needing them. Even though I carefully took just half a dozen from each vase the eagle eyes of the ladies quickly picked up a thief had been around. It took some time to rebuild any semblance of trust they may have had fin me
The second followed a the first vestry meeting in my fir. I was asked if we were happy with everything in the vicarage. I commented, yes, its great. But I had expected a swimming pool.
On the Sunday morning, a warden who hadn’t been at the meeting, approached me with a rather stern looking face to express his concern that I was expecting a pool. I had to reassure him it must have been my Aussie humor. It took twice as long to earn the men’s trust.
I soon learnt I had to be far more decisive:
In this same small rural parish there were three churches with no more than 300 in each village. The houses were well spread out. Sadly, in one village a family had suffered the tragic suicide of a teenager. They were a big family with many aunts and cousins etc. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy visit. I wondered If I should wait until I thought it would just be the immediate family present.
I set out on the night time drive.
When I was almost there I talked myself into believing it would not be profitable visiting that night and turned around on the highway to head home. I had gone only a few klms. when I realised I was being silly. So I turned around and resumed my journey to the family.
You’ve guessed what I did. I resumed my self argument to put it off until the next day, so did another u-turn. As I now recommenced the journey to the vicarage, I realised I could at least visit another parishioner who lived just where I had been doing my series of u-turns . Two ageing sisters lived along this country highway where I had been doing my series of u-turns and drove up their laneway.
As I pulled up at the front of the house and opened my car door two great headlights turned on at the back of my car. It was the police.
They wanted to know what I was up to, trolling up and down the highway. I tried to suggest I was the priest come to visit two parishioners. They pointed out that there were no lights on in the house. As honest as it was my explanation that the two ladies were blind and didn’t need any lights on in the house.
They took all my details etc, checked that my car wasn’t on the stolen list, said they would be in touch with me and insisted I move on. As I drove home with my tail between my legs I did wonder was I cut out for this role.
Get your Diary right
The years went by and there were always more lessons to learn. I do recall coming home from a meeting in the city and stopping at Southland for a few minutes to wonder around, clear my mind and buy a few incidental things I needed. Just as well we had mobile phones. The office called me to say there were people at the Cheltenham cemetery waiting for me. Fortunately, they were very forgiving when I finally arrived.
Work on names
Diary and Names are very important, get them right. I was approached by one of daughter Heathers school friends from to marry her and her fiance. I took the details. I knew him from the school. We all called him Dougie, I didn’t even know his name was Mark.
A few weeks before the wedding she called to ask could she and Dougie catch up with me to discuss the details of the wedding. We arranged the time. Shortly after I checked the folder and saw I had Jess and Mark. Panic hit, I thought I had double booked and it was only a few weeks to go. I called Jess to see if should had any flexibility with time. Why Panic, I knew once Heather found out I had messed up her friend’s wedding with all her other friends going to be present, I was going to be in real trouble for a very long time. Imagine my relief. It was as great as at any time in my life when I realised, Dougie was Mark. Even to this day I still shudder when I think of that one.
Yes, it would have been 45 years next February since I started out on this ministry journey. I have have had a lot to learnt. These were a few that came to mind.
Despite the church dwindling in numbers over those years, It has not minimised the rich experience I’ve had, for I’ve often said, you can really only deeply engage with one person at a time. That has been the heart of my approach, every person is sacred. I have been privileged to share life in a unique way with many, many wonderful, faithful and inspirational people.
I trust I have ministered faithfully within the restrictions of my competencies.
I am ever so grateful for the many treasured relationships Jane and I will carry memories for the rest of our life. I began speaking of the roots of ministry, worship, prayer and care early in my life. I have been fortunate to have been able to build a life around these core spiritual gifts.
As I have given so have I received in greater abundance from you people. Thank you for joining with me today as I take this opportunity to give thanks to God for daring to call me to walk in faith with all of you.
Try and try again, is a motto that is applied to many fields of endeavour. No doubt parents are constantly passing this message onto their little one. Sports achievers are imbued with this mentality. We could think of numerous other examples. If we apply it to behaviour and relationships do we find it as regularly practiced. According to the gospel today, probably not.
Peter asks the Lord how many times must one forgive another if he has sinned against you. He proposes, seven times as a reasonable approach. Jesus views it differently, in my word he says try and try again, other words, seventy times seven.
LAW AND ORDER
Law is fundamental to an orderly society. It is black and white. Step over the legal limit and you pay the consequences. Have you ever received a parking ticket even though you came back just a few minutes late to find a parking officer writing a ticket, and unbending toward you pleas for mercy. From parking tickets to ………… the law rarely displays forgiveness.
What a contrast to the call to forgiveness proposed by Jesus. From where does the difference arise?
Laws of behaviour are set with little personal knowledge. They are established for societal general purpose. To implement them you merely need a relatively restricted vision of life. Crossing the line of the acceptable is relatively easy to detect. Being detected is a problem as the axiom, yes do what you want, but don’t get caught.
Yet law is so important to society that from an early age our preoccupation with them is ingrained in our mind. So ingrained is this mentality that for most of us we are ready to judge the behaviour of others. People can easily slip into a critical, judgemental mentality.
From a different perspective we might develop a different approach. Psychology understands the make-up of the human mind in a far more comprehensive way. It doesn’t have as obvious means of assessment. It requires more subtle perception, self-knowledge and imagination.
It requires an openness of mind to see the less obvious. The mind is often spoken of as conscious and unconscious. The conscious is merely the tip of the iceberg, while the unconscious is so expansive with less known realms of our experience, yet a depth of life that has far more impact upon what we do of feel.
When a psychologist counsels a person, their view of that person is broad and deep, couched in an attitude of overall acceptance so that they can therapeutically work with the darker, problematic areas of pain, fear and anxiety, experiences that would easily or regularly result in unacceptable social behaviour.
Jesus would have been alert to these sociological -cum-legal and psychological perspectives, but even further his vision was of a spiritual nature that held all of life as one and without limits. He saw with the purposeful eyes of the divine. He encouraged the growth and development of all people, by way of the renewal of our mind.
The building of society is by encouraging people to love their neighbour as themselves. The good and the bad or the wheat and the weeds were all necessary to be considered in the context of the overall purpose of establishing his Kingdom. To fulfil his mission all failure needs to be forgiven and worked with as we discover the potential for good within the problematic.
It requires, patience and a broad vision as part of a compassionate heart.
It requires the willingness to forgive 70 times 7 x 7 x 7
Last week we recalled Jesus prophecy that he would soon suffer and be crucified and rise again. He challenged his disciples to take up their cross and follow him. This all sounds morbid, but when viewing this through the divine eyes typical of Jesus, it is actually a doorway to the fulness of life. The brokenness of life, is transcended and the pathway for all things to be reconciled is opened.
If Jesus eyes are piercing our created reality to the divine, it is usually through the greatest challenges of our life. And it reveals the deepest of truths. Our reading addresses one of life’s greatest challenges. The experience of being lost: It consists of three different perspectives.
We often reflect upon the issue of homelessness in our day. Sadly, the homeless stand as an image of the person who has lost everything and ends up being isolated in, living in their own little world. The stereotypical label is that they are devoid of all the required skills to have coped productively in our society; work, relationships, and family, finances etc.
To have the opportunity to spend time talking with such a person, it’s not uncommon to learn that they are merely the victim of life, where certain things have gone against them, maybe with no fault of their own. There are other examples where the challenges of life leave people desolate, alone and lost, broken marriages, laid off, natural disaster, war
One of the lost out of the other 99 that are doing quite well enough.
Life has many examples, and Jesus had a special heart for the victims of life and saw it always as an opportunity to reach out to such a fellow human to offer a helping and reassuring hand. An author, David Augsburger talking about relationships, used the term of ‘heart to heart’ union to speak of the Jesus like call. It’s the quality of such union with others which has the power to energise one another to begin the journey to recovery. Jesus mission was very centred upon the lost.
The passage we have just read proceeds to highlight an alternate example of the lost. Society usually regards imprisonment as a means of dealing with a different type of societal lost. People who have broken the law. Ultimately the worst are often subjected to the most severe isolation. Solitary confinement. We would also regard these people as lost.
But the example Jesus presents is different from that of the first type I have spoken about. He is addressing the problem of the person who is in their isolated predicament because of their own behaviour, then searching out these lost is different.
Jesus presents a common societal practice of his day, where one approaches the person, engages in conversation, seeks other witnesses, to draw them back into the ways of the community. But while he is concerned about such lost people, he is realistic enough to know that sometimes people are lost because of their own behaviour and remain such because of their stubbornness.
Not everyone is open to reconciliation. In these cases one must step back and let the person remain the master of their own ways. It doesn’t mean you lose your heart for them
The passage finishes with a specific saying.
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
My reading of this passage in this context, is that Jesus is granting us the responsibility to work through these very complex relational issues. They are not easy
But there is a basic guiding principle when we are dealing with any relationship and particularly the lost. All people are equal. To be in tune with the Christ like approach then our attitude must regard others as equal and sacred. It is so easy to regard ourselves as superior when we are seeking to help and support others. Paul knew this when he declared, there but for the grace of God go I.
Our passage grasps the importance of Jesus vision in the final word..
‘Again truly I tell you if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am among them.’
There is great spiritually grounded power when two hearts and minds come together in union, there is Christ in their midst.
New life flows, even for the formally lost.
To celebrate Reverend Geoff's retirement as Vicar of Holy Trinity Balaclava and Elwood, we are hosting a Special Service on Sunday 24th September at our usual time of 10.30am.
For our singing we will be accompanied by our occasional choir. If you would like to add your voice, rehearsals are Wednesday 20th September at 7.30pm and Sunday 24th September at 9.30am.
If you'd like to contribute to Geoff's farewell gift, please contact Jenny Allen, Warden of the Church.
I have one month more of work, plus one month of holidays, then retire. The dreaded number of 70 has arrived. As I adjust to the new life ahead I have wondered what I might do. One thought that came to my mind was to think of where I might find a Coral evensong that I could occasionally attend.
My mind took me back to my teenage and early 20’s when my Church regularly held Sunday evensong. Then I received Derek’s phone call, so here I am for at least one valued experience. I have been ordained for 44 years now having been raised in the boom years of the 50’s and 60’s.
What has been highly characteristic of this period of Church life has been the steady and consistent decline in church membership. It has been challenging and stimulated many questions, not only for myself but across the Church. Many suggestions have not arrested the decline.
On reflection, I do not regret that, for ministry - lay and ordained is about faithfully walking in whatever the circumstance.
A NEW WORLD
On the other-hand, throughout these same years the change across world has been as enormous as any change. The world is now stiflingly global. I am not unhappy, for these years have moulded and refined the human outlook. I have taken seriously the challenge of globalisation.
It cannot be stopped, but it can be shaped. I look forward to making my contribution in the years to come. (I’m planning for 20 good years with my fingers crossed.) Over the years of ministry my once conservative approach to faith has changed. I now refer to myself as progressive for Christianity in the globalised world, must be addressed for the sake of the Church and the human race.
In case you wonder where I am heading, let me return to my initial dream of finding the opportunity to worship occasionally in the reflective mood of Sunday Coral Evensong. How do we hold both very traditional practices of worship together with some of the most contemporary?
KEIREN JUPP AND PETER FLANAGAN
I have found in my search to understand the emerging shape of the world over the last decade one helpful book. It is a sociological survey by Flanagan and Jupp, called Sociology and Spirituality. In tracing the broad range of spiritual experiences in which they identified people participating in.
They summarised five categories.
Three outside the church...
Then two inside the church...
4. The Innovators (Meaning the newer contemporary versions), and last but not least,
5. The Reclaimers (They were people who continued to feed upon the traditional practices.
I’m sharing this picture because with the globalising world we are living in a time of great confusion. There is a great deal of conflict between differing approaches. This fragmenting world is placing the world in a precarious state of affairs.
I have personally gained, learning of the vision of numerous writers who believe the global community requires, not necessarily uniformity, but respectful dialogue between the many jig-saw like parts for an expansive understanding.
Raimon Panikkar is one such contemporary mystic theologian, who has written significantly on the Christian vision of this one world of God. Living in such unity is the planets future hope. On the other hand, the gospel encourages us to see the such unity in diversity, is the path to the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
I return to the Jupp Flanagan sociological survey. There may be many other movements of the spirit, whereas many no longer find a place for the traditional. Panikkar’s integral vision affirms not only new movements, but the importance of some continuing the traditional practices, such as Coral BCP Evensong.
It has something rich to be moulded into the future call of the spirit.