Tag Archive: sing


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“We are protectors of the mountain.When I stand here it is as if I’m standing on my mauna. When I look out at all of you, it is as if you are standing on the mauna.”

 

If you don’t know what the Mauna Kea trouble is all about you can read more in the article linked here…

“Nearly ten years ago, a multibillion-dollar international collaboration led by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology planned to build the largest telescope in the Northern hemisphere on the summit of Mauna Kea, a sacred Hawaiian mountain. It is the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the ocean floor; higher than even Mount Everest. In 2015, kiaʻi, protectors of the mountain, prevented that work from starting …”[continue reading]

On Friday 2 August there was a gathering in Fed Square to stand in solidarity with the protectors at Mauna Kea. It was bigger than that. We stood also in solidarity with the protectors at Ihumātao, and the protectors across the Pacific Islands feeling the impacts of climate change.

In Maori the word whenua means both land and placenta. It is what nourishes us. To be tangata whenua  is to be indigenous, to be at home, to be naturalised. To build or develop land in ways that that does not consult with indigenous people or consider their use and value of the land  is to show yourself to be a stranger in that place. Do not think that colonisation was something that happened long ago and far away when it’s impacts are being experienced in real ways here and now… it’s happening just up the road at the Djab Wurrung Embassy.
Mauna Kea… “the firstborn child of Wākea of the sky and Papa of the earth. Mauna Kea is the piko, the center or umbilical cord, the point where all energies converge. It is a place where the akua dance in their human forms, a place to chant, pray, and remember how to be in proper relationship to creation. It is the highest temple. The mountain is an ancestor to the Kanaka Maoli people, born long ago in the ongoing song of creation. For well over a thousand years, to honor this ancestor, the Kanaka kept the summit pristine, pure, and accessible only to those who ascended with the proper conduct and ceremony.” (Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder)  and the government is approving a telescope to be built that is dug in two storeys below ground and stands 30 storeys tall.
Through language, story, dance, chants the people, the tangata whenua, sing aloha to the land. The tangata whenua are kia’i – protectors of the land. We invite you home. We invite you to be a protector of the land. We speak and sing in many languages, Aboriginal, Hawaiian, Solomon Islands, Samoan, Maori, Niuean… we speak and sing with one voice.
Please listen.
Hawaii (Mele)

Solomon Islands (great spoken word poem… “you may treat us like dirt with your lies but the very dirt that you treat us as anchors the foundations we build our lives on…

Maori/New Zealand (Haka)

Maori/New Zealand (Tiaha)

Samoa (Pese)

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Images and moments from the Christchurch vigil in Melbourne hosted by the Islamic Council of Victoria at the State Library…    #chooselovenothate

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other religious leaders led those gathered in prayer.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

K and I meet early in the vigil when she invites me to stand with her family.

K: I think New Zealanders are taking it harder actually. Muslims… we’re used to it. When I first heard, I assumed it was Muslims against Muslims. I guess we’re desensitized maybe. Things like this happen to Muslims all the time.

T: But how awful… that this should happen so often that you could become desensitized to it. Things like this rarely happen in NZ.

K: For us, they are all martyrs.

T: Is it an honour, to die this way?

K: No… It is still a pain. It means a lot that New Zealanders feel that with us… are you from Christchurch?

T: No, Wellington. But I still feel it. What you need to understand about us is that once you’ve welcomed someone onto the marae, they’re not a guest anymore – they’re family.  I don’t need to have ever met them. This week all New Zealanders grieve because we have lost members of our family.

…we hug, and stand together through the vigil.

They say from the front, if you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you, and in this moment: all Muslims are hugged, all Kiwis are hugged. I hope you feel that.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowerschristchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

A group of us sing – Muslims and Kiwis together… Te aroha, the national anthem in English and Maori “…in the bonds of love we meet“, Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home and John Lennon’s Imagine… what an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Tutira mai nga iwi, (Line up together, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Tutira mai nga iwi, (Stand in rows, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Whai-a te marama-tanga, (Seek after knowledge)
me te aroha – e nga iwi! (And love of others – everybody!)
Ki-a tapatahi, (Be really virtuous)
Ki-a ko-tahi ra (And stay united)
Tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)

 

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Today is the anniversary of the public execution of  two indigenous freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener, on the 20th January 1842. This commemoration is held annually at the monument established in their memory at the corner of Victoria and Franklin St in Melbourne. The monument was built in 2016 by Melbourne City Council after a decade long campaign by the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener Commemoration Committee – it remains the only monument in a major Australian city that recognises the frontier wars that occurred as Australia was colonised. Had Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener killed? Yes. Fighting to protect their people, their lands, their culture, their languages, their laws and their way of life.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Aunty Carolyn Briggs standing with descendants of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener and representatives of their Tasmanian tribes

Australia is a country living out many complexities – the dominant narrative and what the history classes teach is that no one was here, or very few, or that those who were here were sub-human somehow and uncivilised. To name and recognise Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener is to honour those who survived a holocaust. The blood of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children has been spilled on this land, not all were able to fight; sometimes there were diseased blankets, poisoned food, attacks as people were sleeping, overwhelming numbers and overwhelming force.  To remember the names of these two men is to symbolically remember all those who lost their lives at the colonial frontier.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Acknowledging these men, hearing this story, knowing these names goes some way to undoing the erasure of aboriginal people existing in this place which is a step toward relationship with them now.

“What hope is there for us? …it’s you.”

Hear the anger and the grief of this question, yes – but hear too the longing in the answer. In her welcome, Aunty Carolyn Briggs asks another question: “How would you honour this sacred ground if you were walking in a churchyard? Peoples blood has been spilled on the ground here, how will you show them respect?”  She tells us that the answer is to live well here, bringing: no harm to the land, no harm to the water, no harm to children. This is a challenge when we know that fish are dying in our major waterways from mismanagement, Aboriginal people are still dying, locked up and their children are still being taken away.  But someone has hung a banner here today that reads: “Homelands Heal”, and someone has asked: “What hope is there for us?” and answered: “It’s you.”

homeleands heal

Today brings to mind Jacques Ellul’s, The Meaning of the City, in which he discusses how the Hebrew word for city is ‘iyr or ‘iyr re’em and that this can have multiple meanings – “it is not only the city, but also the Watching Angel, the Vengeance and the Terror… we must admit that the city is not just a collection of houses with ramparts, but also a spiritual power. I’m not saying it is a being. But like an angel it is a power, and what seems prodigious is that its power is on a spiritual plane.”  An old Uncle stands up and shares that he has a vision that this year might be the year of revelation.  He remarks that: “White men made this place lawless. You can’t have a spiritual connection to this place except through us.” Because there was law in this place before the colonisers introduced prison and executions, and spirituality in this place before the colonisers brought the Bible.  Are we listening to the city of Naarm (Melbourne)? What does it have to say?
Melbourne’s first official public execution was apparently quite the festive spectacle and we are given to know that 3000-5000 people attended the public hanging of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener.  There were perhaps 100 people gathered to listen to songs and stories at this years commemoration… maybe next year there will be more.
“What hope is there for us?
It’s you.”
buried below Queen Vic Markets
Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

“We share communion to remember what has been dismembered.  This exhortation lies at the heart of the church’s eucharistic ritual, repeated with each element for emphasis. It reiterates and sums up the deep wisdom of biblical faith, the product of a people all too familiar with distress, displacements and near disappearance.  Whenever you ingest this memory, said Jesus on the eve of his execution, you join yourselves to our historic struggle to make the broken body whole.  It was, and is, both invitation and imperative, equally personal and political.  If we refuse to heed it, we are ourselves doomed to drift forever on or be drowned by the tides of empire, refugees all.” (Ched Myers, 2012, Our God is Undocumented)

This is one loaf of bread. One body.
It’s broken.

As Jesus’ body was broken on the cross for us.

this bit might be me…
this bit might be Andrea…
this bit might be Alex…this bit might be Sarah…

 [as we say each name of refugees on Manus and Nauru and our political leaders we place a piece of bread for each of those not here on the empty chairs]

this bit might be Abdul, or Shahriar, or Nasiri, or Shamindan or Scott Ryan, or Peter Dutton or Malcolm Turnbull

When we eat this bread it is a reminder that we are all part of one whole – we might be a different colour, we might be a different size, of a different shape – but we are all part of the same body… connected.  And we are all of us broken.  In each taking a piece, and eating it at the same time, we are invited back into wholeness with God and with each other.

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff  peaceful non-violent resistance

14 Nov:
#Manus refugee who has been catatonic & close to death for a week was taken to Port Moresby for treatment yesterday. Waited a week for treatment. Dangerous to make dying people wait. https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/375889/catatonic-refugee-evacuated-from-manus-island  @ManusAlert

15 Nov:
A critically ill refugee was sent to Lorengau Hospital by the #PIH doctor in the #Manus camp. There were no beds in LGH. And no seats in the crowded hospital, so he had to sit on the floor. Doctor sent him back to the camp because it was better than sitting on the floor in the hospital. Standing room only for man who might die.  @ManusAlert

Nasiri, Manus
I just would like to say I would like to go out of here to start new life and normal life. I don’t want to go Australia at all, just need to go somewhere else to start my life. I would like to get out of here to treat my medical problem, because I didn’t receive treatment here. 

I know that we came to Australia illegally, but being a refugee is not illegal. The Australian government kept me here as a prisoner and we can’t go out of here by our decision, even for treatment.

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

Hear our cries in despair at the powerlessness we feel,
To make the story turn out right
To overturn the actions done in our name
To inspire our neighbourhoods to new attitudes
To infect the public discourse with grace

 

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

(to the tune of Teddy Bears Picnic)

Every person who comes by boat is sent off across the sea
There’s lots of terrible things go on, so far from you and me
Across the seas where nobody sees
We drain the hope from refugees
Today’s the day the refugees have detention
Still 5 years on, the children have detention

 #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

Universal Children’s Day deadline: Christians praying in Senator Scott Ryan’s office to get #KidsOffNauru

  • Five Christians praying in the Senator’s Moonee Ponds office intend to remain until he joins his three Coalition colleagues in calling for Australia to free all refugee children and to stop the inhumane offshore detention of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus.
  • The action, on Universal Children’s Day, coincides with today’s national Teachers Walk Off at 2.30pm calling for #KidsOffNauru and #KidsOffAllOff

Five Christian leaders and refugee advocates are holding a prayer vigil in the Moonee Ponds electoral office of Federal Liberal Senator Scott Ryan to call for the removal of children and adults from offshore detention on Nauru and Manus Island.

The prayer action by the inter-denominational movement Love Makes A Way coincides with the United Nations Universal Children’s Day, the deadline for the Kids Off Nauru campaign. Love Makes A Way is part of the campaign, which calls on members of the Australian Parliament to work together to bring all children and their families detained on Nauru to Australia by today and to resettle them in Australia or in another suitable and welcoming country.

Those praying inside intend to remain until Senator Ryan joins his Coalition colleagues Julia Banks, Russell Broadbent and Craig Laundy to publicly call on the Government to free refugee children and end offshore detention. Advocates outside Senator Ryan’s office will hold teddy bears and toys to symbolise the way that children in detention are being denied their basic rights.

Dozens of children and their families continue to be subjected to the effects of detention on Nauru. Recently there have been repeated incidents of suicide attempts, including children dousing themselves in petrol. Some children have given up eating, and many bang their bodies repeatedly against walls in their distress. Those that have been removed from Nauru are often confined to hotel rooms under guard, or are waiting in onshore detention centres. And even if they are released into the community, permanent protection and resettlement are not currently on the table, nor does there appear to be any discussions about resettlement happening with other safe and welcoming nations.
Andrea Alvis, a mother, social worker and Uniting Church member, is one of those praying in the Senator’s office. “I am deeply concerned that the Australian government is knowingly doing harm and causing irreparable trauma to the children, young people and adults held in indefinite detention,” she said.

Brad Coath, from Urban Neighbours of Hope (Churches of Christ) has been visiting people in immigration detention in Melbourne for seven years. He says: “We’ve seen that our policies are destroying people.”

Most major Christians denominations have publicly opposed child detention, and have called for Australian politicians to agree on a humane solution. Love Makes A Way is calling on Senator Ryan, as a senator representing all Victorians, to speak up in the Liberal Party and to publicly insist that Australia uphold its obligations, as a signatory to United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to ensure “in all actions concerning children…the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration”. This can only be guaranteed by ensuring all refugee children are removed from Nauru today.
“We pray for a change of heart in our leaders”, says Reverend Ian Ferguson. “We ask Senator Ryan to publicly call for the removal of children from Nauru and invite him to join us to pray for these children and families that are suffering because of our Government’s policies.”

The sit in and prayer vigil will run from 12 noon at the office of Senator Scott Ryan, Suite 1, 12 Pascoe Vale Road, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LoveMakesAWayForAsylumSeekers
Twitter: @lovemakesaway #lovemakesaway
Web: http://lovemakesaway.org.au/

Participants in today’s prayer vigil:

  • Rev Alex Sangster – Uniting Church in Australia
  • Rev Ian Ferguson – Uniting Church in Australia
  • Brad Coath – Churches of Christ
  • Sarah D’Astoli – Catholic Church
  • Andrea Alvis – Uniting Church in Australia

The Children’s March is organised by a group of parents, children, artists and activists working together for a better future for refugees and asylum seekers. It will be at 11am Sunday October 21 and will begin at Birrarung Marr (by the river, behind Federation Square), Melbourne Australia.

The Children’s March for Children on Nauru is an all ages, family friendly protest to say to our government – enough! It will be a peaceful, safe and inclusive event to bring children and young people together to call for the release of the almost a hundred children still left in indefinite detention on Nauru.

 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that that all children have the right to live a full life. We call on the Australian government to end mandatory detention and offshore processing of all refugees and asylum seekers.

Solidarity is extended to all communities that are persecuted because of where they come from or the colour of their skin. We acknowledge the founding racism that connects Indigenous incarceration and the incarceration of refugees.

 

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
And the dreams that you dare to
Oh why, then oh why can’t I?

 

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“Consider what has been lost, grieve it and acknowledge the ache.Grow in your own strength. Know you are loved, wanted and needed… tell us how best to do this through the assertion of your will. The way you let, and encourage, us to be us… this is a gift. when you connect with your essence, you show us how too. Have your solitude. Find all you have to offer – don’t cheat yourself… don’t cheat us either.”

 

Just in case, by some miracle, you have gotten this far in life without hearing of the Enneagram it’s a personality test based on 9 interconnected types.  You can do a basic test and find out more about the types here if you’re interested.   The quote above relates to Type 2: The Helper.

Ryan O’Neal, Sleeping at Last (you may be familiar with his music anyway from shows like Bones, Grey’s Anatomy or movies like Twilight and The Fault In Our Stars…) is writing a song for each of the Enneagram types that is designed to speak to the heart of what that type longs to hear.  His music and words are soulful and melodic anyway… now they make you cry from the acceptance and affirmation.  He’s including “fingerprints” (little sound bites) in each track submitted by friends and family that are of that personality type – definitely worth a listen to better understand yourself and others. #layers

westword lmaw vigil 287

An act of public witness and liturgical protest in a response to the current crisis on Manus Island following the government’s closure of the island’s immigration detention centre.  Sunday 19 November 2017, Tim Watts, Labor MP Office, 97 Geelong Rd, Footscray

We are here today to stand in solidarity with men who the Australian Government have held on Manus Island in limbo for over four years. We are here today on the unceded land of the people of the Kulin Nation because on October 31 the Manus camp was officially “closed.”

We are here today because water, food and power have been cut off. Over 600 men have been abandoned. They are collecting water in rubbish bins. They are digging wells to survive. They are showering in the rain. And left starving and without medical care. Because they can no longer tolerate political games and human rights abuses.

There has been no plan. There has been no justice. Their lives are on the line. Men have stated: We can’t blame the sea for drowning people but we blame Australia for killing us. People need a genuine solution. Not to be shifted from one prison to another where their lives remain at risk.

We echo their calls for freedom and safety and call on the Australian government to bring people back to Australia immediately and provide safe resettlement. We want the government to know that we are watching this humanitarian emergency unfold and we do not accept the violence, the abuse, and the ongoing persecution of refugees.

westword lmaw vigil 313



 

We hear stories of the men on Manus in their own voice. Raise our arms as they do in non-violent protest. We spell out SOS in cups in solidarity and symbolically of life-giving water denied. We make decorations together with our children and tell them stories… we want to teach our children justice. We make chains of the names of those we know on Manus and symbolically tear those chains. Felt and red lights denote the blood on the hands of our democratically elected Government who are treating people this way in our name.  We have barbed wire on our tree instead of tinsel – neither the welcome you thought you’d be given nor the home you hoped to find. We sing, to remember and be re-membered.  We make decorations, we recite, we pray, we sing… it feels like something. Wherever two or three are gathered… there is our hope.

 

Hold on (Love Makes A Way)

(tune: Keep your hand to the plough/Keep your eyes on the prize)

They are coming across the sea,
From their homes they have had to flee,
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We are here to sing and shout,
Why you keeping God’s children out?
We say love makes a way, hold on.

Chorus
Hold on, hold on,

We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We say welcome the refugee
We say set all the people free
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We have room in our hearts to care
We have plenty enough to share
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

 

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Lectionary Reading

Romans 12:1-8

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual[b] worship. Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

 

I know nothing

(to the tune of Frere Jacques, Kinsler Institute)

I know nothing
I know nothing
Not a thing
Not a thing
Nothing about anything
Nothing about anything
This is good
This is good

 

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Begin, Begin

(words Talitha Fraser, melody Samara Pitt)

begin
begin
begin anywhere
set out
step out
that is where to start
one day you do it
different than yesterday
ever so slightly
and it changes the world

 

Let it go

Leunig

Let it go,
Let it out,
Let it all unravel,
Let it free
And it will be
A path on which to travel.

 

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This week The Carmelite Centre has hosted a Symposium called: The Once and Future Reformation: The Way of the Spirit.  The Symposium, 500 years on from Luther event, offers an opportunity to talk about the current need for renewal and reformation today, in the churches and in the world. The Symposium was diverse, ecumenical, and imaginative. Three days of lectures, reflections and discussion on ways of learning from the past, of living in the present and of looking to the future.

I was invited to present a paper, it was titled: Streets, Seminary and Sacred: Expressions of Theological Animation and Activism in Victoria –  Thirty years on from the publication of Ched Myers’ Mark-as-manifesto text ‘Binding The Strongman’ this session will introduce some local current and legacy-influenced expressions of alternative radical discipleship and explore what this model has already and could yet offer for personal discipleship and broader church renewal through photos, stories, liturgy and lectionary.


 

 

I’d like to start by acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the Wurundjeri people have been custodians since immemorial – sharing and hearing stories of the Creator Spirit in this place.  We acknowledge our elders past, present and future.

Thank you for inviting me to share today out of the radical discipleship expression.  Swiss New Testament scholar Eduard Schweizer said: “discipleship is the only form in which faith in Jesus can exist.” Schweizers Australian student, Athol Gill’s, praxis-linked theological teaching, including Mark as a Manifesto for discipleship, animated church renewal movements across Australia in the 1970-80s – many here may have heard of the House of Freedom and the House of the Gentle Bunyip.

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A young Ched Myers carries this teaching back to the US and it influences his own community at Berkeley and presumably the study that produces the book “Binding the Strong Man” in 1988.  Although I have now read it myself I was fortunate enough to first be exposed to this idea of Mark as Manifesto by Marcus Curnow who managed, with Dave Fagg and drawing on the tradition of Quaker queries and advices to synthesise Myers 560-paged book into a single A4 page (there’s a copy here if anyone wants to have a look)

slide 3

I moved to Melbourne from Wellington, NZ in 2006 and started to attend an evening church service called Seeds based on this charism.  We met in a space called The Den on Little Collins St – which was and is still where the Youth & Schools team of Urban Seed operate from.

slide 4Urban Seed is an organisation that works with those who are homeless in Melbourne’s CBD –an outcome of discernment and response to Collins Street Baptist Church finding homeless people sleeping on their steps and seeking to ask, and answer, the question: “Who is my neighbour?”.

They invited young interns to move into the bslide 5uilding behind the church called Central House to engage these neighbours relationally. Jim Barr, Peter Chapman of Common Rule, Gordon Wild and Tim Costello ran various bible studies and seminar series reflecting on the work.

 

This radical model of hospitality and engagement is still practised now with Geoff and Sherry Maddock with their son Isaac who are currently living in.

 

 

Finding Seeds and Urban Seed slide 6was my first exposure to this lived expression of radical discipleship and the practice of the ideas of Street, Seminary and Sacred – that’s Ched’s language for the spheres of Christian expression: activism, education and church.

 

In Seeds we referred to these slide 7areas as Know, Grow and Go, they correlated to Urban Seeds areas of work: Street & Hospitality, Youth & Schools, Advocacy & Engagement

Jesus’ call to preach, heal and cast out…

and if I may presume perhaps the three threads of the Carmelites: stillness and silence, express and explore, embrace and act.

slide 8The bringing together of these ideas, or the power of what can happen in the space where these areas overlap is where I think radical discipleship happens.

 

 

 

The etymology of the word radical is from the Latin word radix meaning root. Ched refers to radical discipleship as an invitation to join the

“messianic movement of rebellion and restoration, of repentance and renewal, a “way out of no way”

In his book “Does God need the Church?” Gerhard Lohfink suggests:

slide 9

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I’ve been fortunate enough to visit LA twice – living with Ched and his lovely wife Elaine Enns for a three month internship in 2012 and returning again for the Kinsler Institute in 2015 for two weeks and I found myself fascinated.

Ched believes there is a deepening gulf between these areas of Street, Seminary and Sacred as a result of a few factors:

  • Credentialing systems for theology students are set by the accrediting institution not the church
  • Professionalization means students need paid work to pay off student loans etc. and don’t always have the time or get given encouragement to engage in practical service to the poor or social movements
  • Regular church goers can be insulated from the insights of academics and the challenges and causes of activists
  • Faith-based activists can neglect disciplines of critical reflection – theological and political – of why they’re trying to change the world.

Ched believes these spheres are impoverished for being insulated from one another and says theological animation is key “to re-integrating the competencies of these alienated worlds of Christian witness”, believing that our focus instead should be in community formation, conscientization and capacity building in order to rehabilitate the church as a faith based movement of personal and social transformation. To provide some examples of what a re-integrated model might look like, I’m going to do an overlay now of a bible study series Ched did each morning of the Institute with some praxis examples from here in Melbourne and across Victoria.

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“Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan”

With this action Jesus was apprenticing himself to the peripheral, radical edge of his own tradition. The Jewish temple used water immersion for ritual purification after contact with the dead but this idea of baptism went beyond that.  Jesus could have walked three steps behind a rabbi, gone to a good school but instead he choose the camel hair and honey guy.

slide 12While integration might have been Collins Street Baptist Church’s original vision (I don’t know) by the time I arrived at Urban Seed both the evening Seeds church and Tuesday morning Credo Gathering spaces were operating as distinct faith-expression spaces for staff, volunteers and community members or “punters” to gather.

This work needed its own faith expression, it’s own language, it’s own liturgy… many songs, stories and prayers have come out of these spaces… the Seeds Sacred song, the Gospel of Vic (a version of Mark contextualised for the Australian context based on a work by Athol Gill and his students called “Fair Dinkum Mark”), the Credo Lord’s Prayer… which I invite you to say with me now: “as we were taught”.

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Illustration by Chris Booth https://ordinarytime.com.au

As residents moved out of Central House, some asked of themselves again:

“Who is my neighbour?”

People consciously decided to move into areas identified as among the lowest socio-economic/ disadvantaged: Norlane in Geelong, Long Gully in Bendigo and Footscray in the inner-west of the city.

Each of these areas had their own Seeds church community – usually having 10-12  members – and these separate communities came together a few times a year to covenant and retreat forming the Seeds network.

For many years, Urban Seed only started projects and had paid staff beyond the CBD in areas where Seeds Network groups were established.

 

Each of these groups elected to exist in marginalised areas. While each group discerned the expression of Know, Grow, Go in their area, responsive to the particular needs and context of their community and locality, all of them shared in common projects of neighbourhood hospitality whether community dinners, craft or breakfast clubs, wood fired pizzas…  all spaces like Urban Seed’s Credo cafe where people from all walks of life: lawyers and homeless, financial traders and addicts, Richmond and Collingwood supporters… preparing and sharing a meal around a common table… people of all faiths and none but for many of those “discipling” this eating and drinking together is their expression and practice of communion and church.

 

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slide 20Jesus isn’t just baptised in the Jordan but into the watershed.  We understand the Holy Spirit not to exist only in people but in creation and the land… the Holy Spirit descends like a dove into Jesus.  The Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness. Jesus uses the water as a pulpit forming a natural amphitheatre, he uses farming parables, living vine and living water metaphors and calls us to ‘consider’ (learn from) the lilies. What does the land and creation have to teach us?

What are the stories specific to the places we live and what are the justice issues affecting our neighbours that the good news can offer hope for? Last month in Footscray we ran a Stations of the Cross walk for Easter – we call it the way of the Southern Cross because Aunty Doreen Wandin re-named Spencer St station this, as an intersection for bus, train, tram lines it’s where many paths connect that lead us home much as people navigated by constellations. Uncle Wanta Jampijinpa has preached on the correlation of the stars of the Southern Cross to the wounds on Jesus’ body.  At the Kinsler Institute, Bill Wylie Kellerman, United Methodist pastor and member of the Detroit Catholic Worker, ran a session saying that liturgy implicates. Undertaking activism on high holidays gives layers of meaning to the action. He said:

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What does it mean for us as Christians or people of any faith – in this time, this place, this context – to be mindful of and respond well to matters of justice from a position of this belief? Myers says:

“We need to reclaim scripture as
our most powerful weapon of resistance.
Stories are the best weapon we have”.

We wanted to localise this idea  here in Australia, the Indigenous Hospitality House (IHH) community shared their resource with us based on the work of Dr Norman Habel, the author of “Reconciliation: Searching for Australia’s Soul” which outlines the model for combining storytelling to action as a means for working towards right relationship between people and with the land…

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slide 23This year’s walk visited seven sites from our shared history looking at issues we all grapple with:

What does it mean for us to stand outside the home of Sally Russell Cooper and talk about recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty – a thirst that has not been quenched we are given natives to take bear home with us and plant symbolic of the hyssop branch and our commitment to work for recognition and relationship in this land.

We stand outside Centrelink – “Woman, here is your son” who are we called to care for? As a parent to a child however could you count some cost of the the debt of raising up that is our privilege.

slide 24Standing under the Welcome Arch built by the grateful Vietnamese business community, we think of next-coming waves of refugees and asylum seekers setting out praying: Into your hands I commit my spirit…

There is suffering in these events, and there are questions for us to grapple with.

As we hear the words of Christ on the cross, we ask what insight might his words spoken in pain tell us?

 

Continuing this idea of bible in one hand and newspaper in the other, Jon and Kim Cornfords work developing the Household Covenant bible study series, arising out of Ched’s book on Sabbath Economics and Matt Colwell’s followup Sabbath Economics: Household Practices, inspires minute incremental changes in the ways we consume that are based on biblical practices of stewardship and Sabbath and jubilee economics… from the way we see credit and debt, to growing, eating and preserving, seasonally and sustainably.

 

Introducing yourself as Jesus of Nazareth from Galilee is not dissimilar from saying “he’s a Yorta Yorta man from up Cummeragunja way”,  I’m living in Footscray by the Maribyrnong what does it mean for our discipleship to be placed within our locality and in relationship with the land?

 

 

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Urban Seed Credo Pain in the Arts program

“As it is written…” the land we live on is filled with stories – do you know them?

On the healing rites walk we told the story of deadly Aboriginal woman Sally Russell Cooper, of the transphobic attack on Starlady and her friends in Footscray, the tragic stories of Kirsty and Joan aliases used by a community lawyer talking about user-experiences at Centrelink for struggling families, the story of the Maria an asylum seeker from East Timor…

these stories aren’t ‘just’ political, they’re personal.  To be an active participant in restorative justice we need to know the problems of, and people directly experiencing, injustice.

What we know about Jesus birthplace is that it was a small village, about 4 miles (6.5kms) from Sepharus.   There was an uprising against the colonising occupation there and the Romans crushed Sepharus and enslaved everyone… Jesus would have been 10 years old when this happened.   Jesus and his Dad were tektons (labourers/carpenters/ construction workers) hired to help rebuild Sepharus… labouring under the bitterness of colonial occupation, this would shape your consciousness, this would have a huge impact… this is why context is so important. This is why story is so important. Jesus knows and quotes and draws on the history and experience of his people as relevant to speak into their current context and we need to do the same. The stories of Jordan, Israel and Egypt… for us might be the stories of a handful of dirt at Wave Hill, or the Franklin Dam that was never built…

slide 30People may well have heard of the Love Makes A Way movement of Christians engaging prayerfully and politically for the release, in particular of refugee and asylum seeking children, from detention.

What might be less known is that while some are participating in the action inside, others are participating outside: Keeping prayerful vigil, bearing witness, supplying snacks and singing.  There is a Love Makes a Way songbook – as this group was looking for inspiration they turned to the Freedom Songs of the civil rights movement.  Ched calls us to “sing about it until it can realised” and these songs call us into a place a freedom and hope that we will all “sit at the welcome table one of these days”  together.

This is a story we identified with and apprenticed ourselves to and “As I go down to the river to pray…” becomes “As I go down to Bill’s [Shortens] office to pray, welcome the refugee, let them stay” or “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” becomes “Were you there when they turned the boats away?”

Drawing on the style we progressed to writing our own  songs, and also asking ourselves whose are the local prophetic voices calling for change and Leunigs writing came to mind “Love is born… in the most unlikely place” (round), these are words we want to believe in these times.  Will you stand and sing them with me?

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Who are the writers in our context who are crying out for justice?  Whose stories do we make time to listen to? What stories and traditions will you apprentice yourself to?

-ooOoo-

Jesus was an apprentice, a disciple of kingdom, land and story… scripture study informed his political and theological practice. Our scripture study should inform our political and theological practice.

The Kinsler Institute in 2015 was called “40/60/100”: A celebration of radical discipleship – closely echoing the numbers of the surprising yield of seed in good soil in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (Mk 4:8). But for this particular Institute, they alluded to two milestones that we were celebrating: Ched Myers’ 60th birthday, and his 40 years in the radical discipleship movement, those two numbers add up to 100—which is how many folks they were hoping would show up to join the festivities…. there were more than that: activists, academics and preachers – yes – but artists, liturgists, poets, practitioners, organic farmers, the undocumented, money lenders, elders and babies, from across America and across a breadth of faith expressions… I can’t idealise these models of community  – The House of the Gentle Bunyip didn’t last, Ched’s community at Berkeley didn’t last, the Seeds Network has not lasted what can’t be denied is that some expressions of the radical discipleship model continue to spring up – and, I think, are producing a surprising yield of seed.

Jokingly referring to the Institute as a clusterfest in his closing remarks on the last day Ched noted that when the people are gathered it should always feel part birthday party, part conference, part church, part action planning meeting… I hope I’ve been able to give you some small sense of this today. I want to close by saying to all of you the benediction we used in my Seeds community:

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