A friend of mine recently referred to life being a bit like Noah on the ark! So I read the Noah account in the Bible today in Genesis 6-9 to see if I could pick up any clues to help us in this season of our temporary isolation.
It doesn’t tell you much about life on the ark – more the before and after. Beforehand – lots and lots of preparation – including building this gigantic boat to specific specifications. There have been reconstructions of the ark and analysis as to whether it could actually work. Apparently, it did have double the capacity needed for the animals and its ratio of length to width (6 to 1) is the most stable known and used for modern tankers and freight hauling ships! It would have been able to carry 20,000 tons of cargo. I’m not going to debate whether this is a real story or a myth which aims to teach us principles for life, but it is interesting that it was a potentially functional design.
In reading the account, Noah with just his family and all those animals and supplies, were on that huge boat together for about a year! And they survived – and were very thankful. The first thing they did was thank God for sparing them when they were again on dry land.
I wonder what life was like on the ark together? Noah’s family would have had to adjust to a whole new routine of caring for lots of animals – plenty of hard, physical labour and dirty work involved – very quickly. It would have taken heaps of cooperation and good grace and flexibility. And an ongoing thankfulness to be the ones who were still alive.
These principles apply to us today too. Yes, the changes can be hard to take for many of us. We would prefer to do other things, be in other circumstances. But this is our lot at present, so let’s do the best we can. Let’s cooperate with others and the restrictions put upon us, be gracious with each other – realising others are stressed and anxious. We need to acknowledge our own grief at the changes thrust upon us, so we can move on to being adaptable to our current circumstances. Being grateful always helps our own mental health – and makes us more pleasant to be around. What are you grateful for?
It’s not only certain supermarket shelves which have been empty lately. A couple from Lane Cove Uniting Church, who regularly drop off supplies to the Asylum Seeker Centre in Newton, report that they have never seen the free grocery shelves so empty before! This is particularly sad, as these donated groceries are a life support for asylum seekers living in our community on very little. Australia has had its share of pressing issues of late – and the Australian public have been very generous in their support of those most affected by bushfires and drought. However, the needs of Asylum Seekers continue every day, as their living allowance is so low. The maximum support available to a single asylum seeker is $227/week and the Poverty line is set at $412/week. Many don’t even qualify for this level of support. (Statistics from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre).
If you can assist, the Asylum Seekers Centre web page lists suitable and urgently needed food and toiletries: https://asylumseekerscentre.org.au/food-and-toiletry-donations/ .
Lane Cove Uniting Church usually provides a depot to receive donations, at the corner of Figtree Street and Centennial Avenue, below street level. However, as it's currently closed, a direct financial donation is probably the best way to at the moment. Contact us here once physical distancing measures are lifted to contribute this way.
This activity is known as ‘Simple Love’. This perfectly describes our motivation to contribute. It’s a non-political, simple, loving response to people in real need. This is so pertinent at Easter time as love lies at the heart of the Christian message. This story of great compassion towards humanity makes minimal demands upon us – rather it’s a winsome invitation to respond. True faith evokes a loving response to God’s gracious gift to us of Jesus: God in a man’s body, fully experiencing and identifying with humanity in order to reconcile us with God and creation.
Whatever it is that motivates you to show you care for those in need, please begin to donate specified items this Easter to those who will truly appreciate them.
Green eucalyptus shoots emerging from blackened tree trunks, herald signs of life returning. Red skies have been replaced by blue. Much has been lost, but the miracle of regeneration delights the soul. While times are very tough indeed for those in bushfire, drought and flood affected communities, there remains hope for a fresh start. Lessons will be learned and the regeneration process will contain new wisdom to surpass old models.
Hope is a key tenet of Christianity and an important one for us all. Faith in something beyond ourselves is an important factor leading to resilience and regeneration. Hope sustains us through all manner of trials. Sometimes misplaced, I suspect some hope is better than none at all. Without hope, life resembles a dark tunnel, where we wait and watch for a glimmer to emerge.
Hugh van Cuylenburg researched keys to resilience amongst impoverished children in India. Their joyful attitude starkly contrasted with that of his Aussie students. Hugh proposed the acronym GEM from identifying habits of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness as keys to their wellbeing. The children were immediately and explicitly grateful for basic necessities, cared for each other in an ongoing way and chose to meditate each morning. A summary of his book, The Resilience Project , can be found in the Weekend Australian magazine 23-24 Nov 2019.
Well done to our resilient, local community in the wake of flood and fire damage recently. Empathic offerings of hot showers, power outlets, free refrigeration and a sharing of meals with affected neighbours were frequent. Alternative venues, (including other churches), were offered to the resilient C3 Church, who didn’t miss a Sunday in the wake of the Lane Cove Public School fire.
Being grateful for what is in front of us, being kind to others and cultivating stillness of being are simple practices. (Try our free meditation group weekly 11.30am on Thursdays). However, they require our intentionality until they become habitual. Resilience and regeneration are some of the prizes. Be a GEM for your own sake and for those around you.
Hugh van Cuylenburg 研究印度兒童在惡劣環境中適應的關鍵。他把他們對事物的樂觀態度比對澳洲的學生的。由此他提議GEM這縮略詞來鑒別印度兒童的幸福狀況，其習慣如gratitude感恩、empathy同感和mindfulness關心。那些兒童即時表達得到基本需要物的謝意，持續互相關懷及選擇每天早上作冥想。他的著作《The Resilience Project恢復力計劃》可以在2019年11月的Weekend Australian雜誌裏的第23至24頁讀到。
在最近的水災和火災裏，我們本地的社區群眾表現得好。同感地他們無數次供給受災者熱水浴、電沿、免費冰凍食物和共享三餐。Lane Cove Public School火災後，那C3教堂堅持主日聚會，得借用其他地點（包括其他教堂）而能舉行。
适应力和恢复力 （译自Karen牧师的‘Resilience & Regeneration')
Hugh van Cuylenburg 研究印度儿童在恶劣环境中适应的关键。他把他们对事物的乐观态度比对澳洲的学生的。由此他提议GEM这缩略词来鉴别印度儿童的幸福状况，其习惯如gratitude感恩丶empathy同感和mindfulness关心。那些儿童即时表达得到基本需要物的谢意，持续互相关怀及选择每天早上作冥想。他的着作《The Resilience Project恢复力计划》可以在2019年11月的Weekend Australian杂志裏的第23至24页读到。
在最近的水灾和火灾裏，我们本地的社区群众表现得好。同感地他们无数次供给受灾者热水浴丶电沿丶免费冰冻食物和共享三餐。Lane Cove Public School火灾后，那C3教堂坚持主日聚会，得借用其他地点（包括其他教堂）而能举行。
Who amongst us has not been affected by the drought and fires? As we continue with our ‘normal’ lives, we are conscious of the deep suffering of others – including our land and it’s unique and precious creatures. Reminders are in the air we breathe, the ash on our cars and all over the media.
Our positive response is key to remaining resilient to all this bad news. Like many Disaster Recovery Chaplains, I find the heroic response of those affected amazing. Far from ‘woe is me’, many are so courageous, looking to the future with hope and determination. Their purpose is clear and they see life with new clarity. It is less clear for those on the margins however, looking helplessly at terrifying images. What do we do?
I love the response of my Physiotherapist! She held a raffle for a free massage raising funds to rehabilitate wildlife. She is offering her talent to specifically help a cause that touches her heart deeply. This response aids her emotional health, that of others who contribute, the wildlife and the winner! Making a constructive, personal investment helps overcome our feelings of helplessness. Donated goods are not needed, but what else can you offer?
And where is God in all of this? How can a loving Creator bear to witness such devastation? I believe God is still there in the midst of the suffering as always, deeply anguished by the losses, and available to those who will reach out to ‘Him’ in any sincere way. This is clearly not the fault of the Creator. We are aware now of the devastating effects of climate change, and our culpability as people who use too many resources. We need to make changes to our lifestyle, not just blame politicians, God, whoever.
The good news is when we are willing to change, God comes through! Let me know if you want some guidance in doing so.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (The Bible, Psalm 46:1, ESV)
於災後灰末中找上神 （翻譯自Karen牧師的‘Finding God in the Ashes')
于灾后灰末中找上神 （翻译自Karen牧师的‘Finding God in the Ashes')
Creativity comes alive at Christmas-time! The season births new songs, decorations, foods, crafts and events. This year, for the first time, Lane Cove Community Chaplaincy offers its own creative Christmas event. We will combine the ancient, aboriginal practice of Dadirri with our love of the environment, food, family craft, carols, sensory engagement, remembrance of others and the real Christmas story. I hope you are as excited as we are!
There are two parts and you can come to one or both. First is a sensory, guided bush walk where we will collect some items to make into Christmas decorations during our celebration. The pace will be slow and the terrain mostly flat, suitable for most able-bodied people, young and older. From the walk we transition into our Bush Christmas Celebration with some refreshments. It’s intended for all-ages, with no church background necessary.
Christmas marks an amazing creative act of God! It celebrates the birth of Jesus – the gift of God’s own being taking our human shape and experience.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. From: The Bible, John 3:16 (NIV)
Jesus gave us an example of how to live well, which has brought hope and transformation to many people across most cultures and places. It’s a hope for many things: for abiding, internal peace; for transformed relationships with other people; for resilience; for a community that prefers to give than receive; for a restored cosmos; for an eternity reconciled with God.
But hope on its own is not enough. God calls for our creative participation in order to make it happen. What contribution can you make to care for the people and environment around you? Make this Christmas a time to lovingly participate afresh.
Come and join our creative Christmas walk and/or celebration on Sunday 15 December, 4-6pm at Central Park, Kenneth Street, Longueville. Full details and registration are here. Looking forward to celebrating with you.
創作性會跟著聖誕節來臨了！ 這時節會有新歌曲、裝飾和事項出現的。今年Lane Cove Community Chaplaincy 首次獻給你們獨特的創新事項。我們會結合古代的土著冥想Dadirri法，會同愛自然環境、享受食物、作家庭工藝、唱聖誕歌、作觀感接觸及懷念去者一起紀念那聖誕故事。
聖誕節突出上神的創作奇跡！它慶祝耶穌的誕生 － 上神的禮物，那化身為人。
但是單靠希望是不足的，上神呼喚我們展出創作性參與才能實現。你們能為環境和人群供獻些什麼？請於這聖誕節從新愛心參與社會。請在12月15日星期日下午4點至6點蒞臨Longueville Road Central Park。詳情及報名在這裏。敬請蒞臨。
具创作性的圣诞庆祝 （译自Karen牧师的‘ Creative Christmas')
创作性会跟着圣诞节来临了！ 这时节会有新歌曲丶装饰和事项出现的。今年Lane Cove Community Chaplaincy 首次献给你们独特的创新事项。我们会结合古代的土着冥想Dadirri法，会同爱自然环境丶享受食物丶作家庭工艺丶唱圣诞歌丶作观感接触及怀念去者一起纪念那圣诞故事。
圣诞节突出上神的创作奇迹！它庆祝耶稣的诞生 － 上神的礼物，那化身为人。
但是单靠希望是不足的，上神呼唤我们展出创作性参与才能实现。你们能为环境和人群供献些什麽？请于这圣诞节从新爱心参与社会。请在12月15日星期日下午4点至6点莅临Longueville Road Central Park。详情及报名在这裏。敬请莅临。
‘A leopard never changes its spots’ is a false and limiting philosophy. Maxims like these constrain us to old ways and attitudes. People fail to realise their (and others’) capacity to change, beyond their maturing physical appearance. We see this playing out in the media, particularly in politics, when a person’s immaturity is rolled out decades later, implying they have not changed. Yes, they are the same person, but many of their values will have altered significantly. We continue to be presented with opportunities to see the world differently and choose whether or not to be influenced by them.
I favour a life image of a clay pot being moulded by a master potter. The clay is the same, but is in a process of refinement. Likewise, our core values tend to remain, but everything else is capable of change as learning and life experience increase. As we age, we acquire more ability to weigh perspectives from the vast array of influences accumulated over time. References to older people being ‘set in their ways’ are sweeping generalisations which undermine mature wisdom. Consider those doing further study, those actively contributing in their workplace and community for longer and others continually extending their learning and skills via online sources.
Embrace the diversity life brings your way and add it to your experience bank. Listen and discuss with others, who see from different perspectives, to further enlarge your vision. Lane Cove Community Chaplaincy’s latest community activity, Intergen Cafe , seeks to link people inter-generationally, by exchanging wisdom and kindness weekly over coffee. Knowing someone from a different background frequently results in us seeing a whole group of people more compassionately. Let us continually welcome challenge, integrate new information and refine our thinking. Contact me for more information or to enlarge my understanding with your perspective.
Hi! I'm Karen, the Lane Cove Community Chaplain. I am pondering life here and in general. Some of my blog articles are originally found in our local paper, The Village Observer, and are repeated here because I would love to hear your response too.