Tag Archive: radical discipleship


sculpture bunjil bruce armstrong moonee ponds land of the Wurundjeri Willam people

‘Every Bird’ sculpture by Bruce Armstrong, on the land of the Wurundjeri Willam people (in Moonee Ponds)

 

We weren’t able to share this spiritual reflection today as there was an urgent need to address a community response to the COVID-19 virus but it feels like the witness of radical call and holy, foolish hope is necessary too in these times. And also, here’s an Aboriginal written guide to Coronavirus preparation & care for Mob by Natalie Cromb… may the Spirit of the land protect us all and keep us safe.

 

A few years ago I went to a Bartimaeus Institute and heard Bill Wylie Kellermann share reflections on the Stations of the Cross walk they have done in Detroit for over two decades. In a public and political way, they meet and pray where people are suffering – a jail, the site of a shooting, places where decisions are made: courts, corporate offices; places where needs are met: a shelter, a soup kitchen. I felt a strong desire to do that in Footscray, Melbourne and it felt like a wonderful confluence to discover that IHH already do a walk for indigenous reconciliation based on the model created by Norm Habel.  The story I want to read together today seeks to make that link again between the faith that calls us to live our lives differently and the lens of Aboriginal spirituality.

Read the following text as one story – it has interspersed texts from Bill Wylie Kellermann’s Seasons of Faith and Conscience and Norman C. Habel’s Reconciliation: Searching for Australia’s Soul (italics).

 

Aboriginal spirituality is the belief in the feeling within yourself that allows you to become part of the whole environment – not the built environment but the natural environment… Birth, life, and death are all part of it, and you welcome each. Aboriginal spirituality is the belief that all objects are living and share the same soul or spirit that Aboriginals share. Therefore, all Aborigines have a kinship with environment. The soul or spirit is common – only the shape of it is different, but no less important.  – Eddie Kneebone

 

 

For 4 months they have gathered and prayed: a Methodist pastor, members of the Catholic Worker movement and a handful of Catholic priests. Holy Saturday 1983 they gather to act at a cabin up the road from an air force base in Michigan with first strike capability for nuclear attack:

All of us had long ago concluded that such weapons were not only illegal by international standards and immoral by ethical ones, but also theologically blasphemous, the power of death writ large.

At 2:00 a.m. we begin the liturgy of the Word… there is in Christian liturgy no finer  collection of readings from the Hebrew scriptures: the story of creation, the flood Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the Red Sea Crossing, Ezekiel’s new heart and spirit, the valley of the dry bones called to live, and the like. A feast of faithfulness, passage and hope.

There in the cabin we also made intercession, marking names and peoples upon a sheet subsequently to be used as an altar cloth: children, the poor, friends in prison, soup kitchen guests, the dead and disappeared of Central America… a communion of the living. A solidarity of the spirit, this prayer for passage, this claim upon the future. After singing a hymn, we exited into the night.

At the barbed-wire fence we paused and circled in preparation for two symbolic deeds. The first was to light the Paschal candle. Into these, our dark times, enter the light of Christ. So we prayed, flame in hand. The second, indeed one with the other, was to cut the fence. …Twang! The security of death guarding death was broken in liturgy. The wall was breached.  

 

When we talk of God – and the old fellas know – God is not the Whitefella way, up above here. God is here with me. That’s the way it is. God’s not just grounded, hiding behind the butt of that tree. The presence of the Creator is there in the tree, in the land, in each one of us. You don’t need to do a Pentecostal type service, right? You don’t need to carry out all sorts of observances. You just need to communicate with the Creator. And that Creator’s always been with the Aboriginal people. (Gilbert 1996, p.62)

 

…the seven of us began our three-and-a-half-mile trek towards the high-security area, the loaded B-52s.  It had been our intention to paint at the foot of the runway, in six-foot high letters legible from a landing plane, CHRIST IS RISEN! DISARM! We had toted along supplies sufficient: buckets of yellow paint, brushes, rollers. The wet and freezing snow, however, foreclosed that plan.

We walked on, mostly in silence, lying down periodically in a fumbling comedy, to avoid the view of patrolling security cars. As the nuclear storage bunkers came into sight, we arrived at a small building, the enclosure for some sort of electronic equipment. Here on the walls we inscribed our message, paint congealing in the freezing drizzle. And here we carried the vigil liturgy another step forward: we renewed our baptismal vows.

I had not foreseen the personal power of that moment: to look down in the runway towards the machines and their cargo, and there to “renounce Satan and all his works.” There I promised in a way not fully understood before to “persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever I fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.” A life can be called back to such moments, indeed it may turn on them.

 

The Creator Spirit is crying because the deep spiritual bonds with the land and its people have been broken. The land that is crying because it is slowly dying without this bond of spiritual life. The people are crying because they long for restoration of that deep spiritual bond with the Creator Spirit and the land. – Rainbow Spirit Elders

 

The sky had begun to lighten. Birds were rousing. Shivering, we conferred and decided we had had enough of the dodging and weaving. We would proceed upright with dignity, in the manner of right worship. Here an astonishing phenomenon occurred, one reportedly not uncommon in such undertakings. We passed unseen! On one side were the bunkers, encircled with barbed- wire, lit like perpetual noon-day, driven roundabout by a constant patrol of vehicles, and observed from above by watchtowers, beneath which we processed. On the other side, parked for maintenance and refuelling, huge bombers stood in a line equally well-lit. It was as though the waters had parted. We walked unhindered to the open entrance of the high security area where the planes on alert stood ready to fly.

There, measured by a sudden flurry of activity within, we were finally noticed. Armoured vehicles and pickup trucks rushed to surround us. We spread our altar cloth of intercessions on the runway. About it we scattered blood, brought in small bottles, to signify the blood of the innocents, the blood of the Lamb. Producing the elements of the eucharist, we completed the service at gunpoint, surrounded by young airmen armed with automatic weapons.

We were a dishevelled band. Bedraggled, dressed in plastic garbage bags as makeshift protection against the unexpected weather, we were soaked nonetheless and cold to the bone. In witness and exhaustion, we suffered a sense of our own foolishness.

 

[The] land is a living place made up of sky, cloud, river, trees, the sand; and the Spirit has planted by own spirit there in my country. It is something – and yet it is not a thing – it is a living entity. It belongs to me, I belong to it. I rest in it. I come from there – Pat Dodson

 

The airmen held us in their sight but did not approach. Extending the service, we sang plaintive gospel songs and hymns of resurrection.  At long last an officer approached us.

“Are you,” he asked tentatively, “base personnel?”
“No.”
“Do you work on the base?”
“No.”
Then surveying the scene yet again, “Well, would you pick up your trash and leave?”

It was clear almost immediately that our breach of security was so severe an embarrassment that should we simply depart quietly, no record or mention need come to the attention of community public or even military higher-ups. We consulted among ourselves and declined.  The liturgy was complete in its own right, but it had momentum and direction we did not intend to abandon. Herded into a bus, strip-searched, interrogated by various agencies military and civil, we were in the end dumped unceremoniously at the front gate without charges.

Our friends awaited us with leaflets in hand. At the gate to the base and the doors to the churches in town we distributed the news. Leaflets described the cruise and it’s meaning for policy. They described our pilgrimage. And they offered this simple confession of faith:

We believe that God has already intervened in this dark history of ours.

We believe there is hope. Many people have yielded to despair. They can already hear the terrible sound of the door slamming shut on human history. But we are here to say otherwise. Someone is hidden at the heart of things, breaking in to break out, on behalf of human life.

We believe that God rules our common history. Not the Soviet Union. Not the United States. Not the NATO or Warsaw Pact forces. Despite their big and competing claims.

We believe that human beings (so says Easter) are free from the power of death in all its forms and delivery systems. We are not stuck with the balance of terror arrangements. We’re not in bondage to these weapons. We are truly and fully free to unmake them. Now. Not tomorrow or next week or next year. But this very morning.

We believe that God who raised Christ from the dead will also quicken our imaginations, and thereby our bodies and lives.

We believe this is the meaning of the resurrection. And we’ve come to say so. 

 

Individual Australians are not guilty for what happened to our families. But if you fail to respond to what you know that will be another thing. If you do not help to ease the pain, that will be your act for which you are responsible. – Pat Dodson and others at the 1997 Australian Reconciliation Convention

 

What arises for you/r community with these readings?

What is the significance of doing the 7 Healing Rites for 7 Sites walk as a community?

Have you ever had an experience of connection to or with the Spirit of the land? What was that like? How did that impact your faith?

Where are you feeling called to break into and break out of?

What might public and political liturgical action look like in a time of social distancing, when Easter services and walks might not be on?

Leaf prints in Carlton, Melbourne from ochre coloured dust swept off
Latji Latji Country, 540 kilometres away

Read these brief stories about Jesus and William Barak. How can stories of others’ formation, knowing the lives they went on to live, inform how we might live out our own discipleship or radical discipleship within community?

Mark 1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan

This is our introduction to Jesus in Mark. Nazareth is so small and insignificant that it’s not mentioned anywhere other than the New Testament – a marginal village of maybe 400 people at the margins of the country Israel. Nazareth was based on the outreaches of Sepharus (the admin base of Rome and capital of Galilee)… other that being the birth place of Jesus this is mainly known for the Sepharus uprising, a rebellion of the Jews against Roman occupation. The Romans crushed Sepharus and enslaved everyone. Nazareth is only 4 miles from Sepharus and Jesus would have been 10 years old when this happened and he would have been able to see the city burn. Jesus and his Dad were techtons (labourers, construction workers) hired to help rebuild Sepharus for the colonial occupiers.

[Ched Myers, Bible studies series at the BCM Kinsler Institute 2015]

William Barak was born into the Wurundjeri clan of the Woi wurung people in 1823, in the area now known as Croydon, in Melbourne. His father Bebejan was a ngurunggaeta (clan head) and his Uncle Billibellary, a signatory to John Batman’s 1835 “treaty”, became the Narrm (Melbourne) region’s most senior elder. As a boy, Barak witnessed the signing of this document, which was to have grave and profound consequences for his people. (Culture Victoria)

Note: This Treaty was overruled by NSW within months.

And the second paragraph here, “I was born…”

william barak my story

What arises for your community with these readings?
Who are your community apprenticed to?
(traditions, elders, movements… tell these stories)
In either our personal stories, if people want to share them, or in the history of the community – what are the significant events of our formation?  What powers shaped us?
What powers might be shaping us/influencing our formation now?

Fifth Helpings

veg fresh vegetables cauliflower carrots celery silverbeet

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

I’ve heard someone in the community is sick. It’s cancer. It’s advanced. Chemo starts immediately and all their plans, all their future seems a question mark.  This is something the community does well, responding when someone is sick, when someone has died, when someone has had a baby… There is a sense of helplessness when people we know are struggling but we want to do what we can.  I add more vegies, I add more garlic, I pay for the leanest/highest grade mince and take care cutting everything nicely because I want to somehow imbue the food with wholesomeness and nurture, I want it to be restorative and healing. I pray as I cut and wash and I pray as I drain and brown and stir… I wish that Shepherd’s Pie were a cure for cancer but it isn’t. For some people, church is most meaningful at the high holidays of Christmas and Easter or as a venue for life celebrations like weddings and baptisms but for me often its most profound acts are in moments like these – when you’re scared, tired, sick… you actually can’t make it to church and your family come around and feed you the daily bread that nourishes, the water that quenches every thirst, the casserole that fits in the freezer.

Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 24 (fills three large tin foil casserole trays)

Ingredients

Shepherd’s Pie

Extra virgin olive oil
3 onions diced
2kg mince/ground lamb or beef
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
140g tomato paste
6 carrots (grated or chopped)
½ bunch chard chopped
250g frozen spinach (or fresh)
420g can corn kernels (drained) or 1.5 cups corn

Cauliflower Mash Topping

3 large cauliflower cut into florets (use potato if you want!)
150 g butter
Salt/pepper to taste
Grated cheese

Method

Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until soft.
  2. Add mince and stir until it is all cooked and browned.

[here I transferred to the slow cooker but you can cook at the stove]

  1. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chopped tomatoes and vegetables. Mix.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered while making the cauliflower topping. Let liquid evaporate so the mince thickens.

Cauliflower Topping

  1. Boil/steam the cauliflower until soft, this takes 8-10 minutes.
  2. Drain and allow ALL the steam to escape. Too much water left in the saucepan will make a ‘sloppy’ mash.
  3. Add the butter, salt, pepper. Using a stick blender puree until smooth.

To Assemble

  1. Place the shepherd’s pie mince/ground meat mix in the bottom of casserole dishes. Top with the cauliflower mash then sprinkle on the cheese.

Wrap for delivery/freezer storage OR

  1. Bake at 180C/350F for 20 mins and until the cheese is browned.

 

Published on Radical Discipleship.net

Second Helpings

credo meal table hospitality.jpg

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

For over 20 years Credo, in Melbourne, Australia, was a community gathering around food, recreation and creative art to foster a sense of home – especially for those of us experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental illness and isolation.  The Credo community believed good community development is possible when people from all economic and cultural backgrounds get together and support one another…

Read the rest of this article on RadicalDiscipleship.net and find Credo’s Spaghetti Bolognese here…

Helpings (1)

christop table of hospitality

Illustrator – Chris Booth

 

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

Our practices of radical hospitality and community have something to offer we know the world is hungry for and to that end we are going to share some recipes over the coming weeks that are for community meals. Don’t think: How can I reduce the scale of this to feed my family? Instead think: Who shall I invite to share food at my table?

This is the first of a series of reflections I’ve written on community meals with each one including a recipe…Enjoy Credo’s Carbonara recipe at RadicalDiscipleship.

 

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Leviticus 19:33-34 New International Version (NIV)

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

 

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Leader          Hear our cries of frustration, guilt, and anger, O God
                        As the voices of refugees are silenced by fear and the pursuit of power

Voices of lament

1 Hear our cries in despair – we cannot find our way home from here!
2 We seek a way to solve this
3 We seek a way to speak truthfully
4 We seek a way to bring change
1 Hear our cries in confusion as the issue is complex, the solutions are slow and the answers are never simple
2 The debate is loud and vicious as people seek to score points for power while detaining and compounding damage on vulnerable people
3 Why can we not see the public leaders who have compassion?
4 Why can we not find the public dreamers of justice?
1 Why can we not hear the public proclaimers of hope?
2 Hear our cries in despair at the powerlessness we feel,
3 To make the story turn out right
4 To overturn the actions done in our name
1 To inspire our neighbourhoods to renewed minds
2 To infect the public discourse with grace

 

…to infect the public discourse with grace.

Fools for love

059

This Lent with Easter Sunday falling on April Fools day Godspace are running a series on For love of the world God did foolish things… it’s bringing out/together all sorts of foolish ideas that are worth checking out. Below are a couple of links to contributions I’ve made to that blog on that theme.

Foolish Love: What words do we ever have to express our love well?

This piece is a story of the time I stuck up bad poetry all of the woods like Orlando from As You Like It…. you can read more here

Come, Be a Holy Fool

This piece is an invitation to follow the example to do foolish things for love too… you can read more here

May you encounter something Holy and foolish this Lent.

Taurikura, Talitha
have peace

 

westword lmaw vigil 068

I push the miscellany of moving to one side of the table. Housing applications, to-do lists, measuring tape, a stray key… the tissues can stay.  I light a candle.  I have to.  Nothing else makes sense. Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart.  It didn’t make much sense to take this on – planning a vigil, to add in an extra thing. What time or strength or capacity did I imagine I had? It’s a conceit for people to imagine the idea is mine or its execution.

I light a candle, teal, it transitions in colour from light to dark and I think of the waves. The overloaded boat you give up everything to catch – all that remains is you – skin, flesh, person, a life… alive. Unless the sea takes you.  You are rescued, you think saved, you are taken to a waiting place but it isn’t liminal or moving. It’s not a threshold to a new door.  It’s not a threshold to anything.  The door you knock on, pleading, cold, hungry, desperate, skin, flesh, person, alive… remains closed.

 

 

It’s hard to know how to respond when circumstances seem beyond understanding (such as Australia’s inhumane and fear-driven approach to asylum seekers and refugees).  It’s tempting to think ‘there’s nothing I can do’ or ‘nothing I do will make any difference’ and feel absolved of taking any action.  Both personal and political power are at play here.  The person I need to answer to is me.  Just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do something because I believe people are using their agency where they can – doctors, teachers, church and community leaders, yes even some politicians…  in speaking out you aren’t raising your voice alone but joining in a bigger chorus that are asking for the world to be different. Do you want the world to be different? Say so.  Even if it’s with only the cat watching and some “Radical Paint”.

 


What are Australian politicians saying about refugees?

“And so what I say to people when they are a little bit apprehensive about Australia taking more refugees, it’s really about what are the services we are going to provide, what communities are we going to put in and how are we going to integrate people into our community.

“These are beautiful people.

“I am so proud of humble country folk who are being part of the solution. We can do this, we can replicate this in many towns across Australia and it will bring so much good.”

Andrew Broad, National MP

 

… the current refugee crisis [is] the defining humanitarian issue of our time “and a challenge Australia has all too often failed to rise to”.  While Australia’s refugee debate was toxic, there were points of potential consensus between political parties. “I believe we can build out from these areas of consensus to increase the positive impact Australia can have on the international refugee crisis.”

TimWatts, Labor MP

 

“We have been taken for a ride, I believe, by a lot of the advocates and people within Labor and the Greens who want you to believe this is a terrible existence. These photos demonstrate otherwise. People have seen other photos in recent weeks of those up on Manus out enjoying themselves outside this centre, by the beach and all the rest of it.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90 per cent of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken — I have been very open about it — is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down — the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities.”

Malcolm Turnbull

 

“They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them …

They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here… They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them.”

Malcolm Turnbull

 

“They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English,”… “These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.

“For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“The difficulty of course on Manus is that this Government never put anybody on Manus. We inherited a situation where 50,000 people had come on 800 boats and it was a terrible, terrible situation. The deal that was struck between Prime Ministers O’Neil and Rudd at the time provided for no arrangement for what would happen to the people the end. It was open-ended and we have the mess to clean-up.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“You’re talking about those that have been found not to be genuine refugees. What should they do? They should go back home. Because if we allow people who are not refugees to come here, we then displace people who have a legitimate claim to make of persecution like the Yazidis we brought in most recently under the 12,000 Syrian and Iraq program. So if you want to displace genuine refugees you allow those in that are here simply for an economic claim.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

 “The loss of one life is one too many, and I’m determined to get people off Manus, [and] to do it in such a way that we don’t restart boats.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

 “To start off, you open up the camps. You bring transparency, you actually process these people, and you start actually finding a place for these people to go. I think that is a huge change from what we’re doing at the moment.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration

 

“Well we’re the Opposition, so we’re calling on the Government. Australia has a moral obligation to ensure that these refugees have access to essential services- including security, health services, medical services- and we want the Government to be upfront. The Turnbull Government must work with PNG to guarantee the safety and security of these people and these men should immediately relocate to alternative accommodation in East Lorengau and the other facilities so they can access water, food, shelter, and receive the appropriate medical attention.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration

ladder of inference stephanie crowley

As someone who lives in community I love getting my hands on “new” resources that help navigate that tricky territory of communication and expectations. I can frequently assume I know what’s going on from data, interpretation, assumptions, generalisations, conclusions… I’m a pro ladder climber – often this is fine as long as its sensitive, empathetic, preferably based out of relationship and knowing… as a personal assistant it’s great for anticipating what my team will need and preparing for it but sometimes I’m in a hurry, I skip some rungs or climb them quickly and am taking action based on decisions I’ve made that haven’t necessarily been consultative or correct.

Rehabilitative Pro tips:

  • cultivate curiosity and ask questions – is there data available I could access that I haven’t?
  • we like stories. We like stories to have a beginning a middle and an end. Sometimes a ladder climb can be the result of trying resolve or control a situation, for yourself or someone else, that is still in progress. Take a breath and consider whether your current circumstances as they are have something to teach you. There are no shortcuts. Sit with the tension of the breadth of possibility and DON’T DO OR DECIDE ANYTHING.
  • listen carefully and reflectively – check in whether what you think you understand is the message the other person is trying to deliver
  • be self-aware – sit with the initial gut/emotional response. Where does it comes from? Does what you are thinking and feeling lead you to want to “fill in the gaps” of what you don’t know?
  • good data = good information, good information = good decisions
  • there is no substitute for attaining clarity like good communication – use morning pages or catch ups more than you think you need

061

Sung beautifully at a L’Arche Black Rock community gathering… I come thinking: “what might I have to give this community?” and instead receive abundantly. What do the sights, smells and touch of the flowers and leaves have to tell us? It could have been a Credo gathering and I’m heart-glad there’s this and other shade tree places yet to discover… do you need a shade tree place? Do you need a place to go? You are welcome here.

I need a place, a shade tree place
I need a place a new cool waterhole
I need a place, a shade tree place
A sanctuary for my very soul
I need a place where I can go

I need a place, a shade tree place
I need a place where the swallows swoop low
I need a place, a shade tree place
Today is seems such a long way,
Way down the road
I need a place where I can go

Something there, inside of me,
is trying to wake me up
Something there, is shaking my shoulders to see
The rocks and the tree and the centipede

Land, O  land, you keep calling to me,
Come and sit with me a while
Land, O land, you keep calling to me,
To rest in the grace with the lorikeet

I need a place, a shade tree place
I need a place a new cool waterhole
I need a place, a shade tree place
I need a place where the swallows swoop low
I need a place where I can go
I need a place where I can go
I need a place where I can go

 

From “A Sanctuary of Soul” – A writing collaboration between two Australian artists – songwriter John Coleman and poet Noel Davis. They met in Alice Springs in 2013 where many of the works were written. It explores themes of the Australian bush/desert, silence and the vulnerability and surprising fruits of meditation.