Hope breaks through

The last few days have been massive as we continue to see the impact of bush fire tragedy around us.

Today we went to a meeting with all the local ministers, pastors, school chaplains, Anglicare reps, and others from different community support networks. Over 40 people turned up to a meeting that usually only 8 people would attend. It was very encouraging and demonstrated such a strong heart for our affected communities.

We were filled in on how the Displan is operating as a result of the fires. We heard stories from Chaplains who are on the ground working in relief centres. We heard what’s going on in schools and the difficulty that chaplains are facing as they not only deal with loss but also fear and secondary trauma that comes from all the media images kids are dealing with. We also heard from the pastors whose churches are responding in so many ways already. Highways are still blocked and communities in lockdown. Opportunity will overtake us once this all changes.

It was a strong,unified expression of what is going to be needed to bring hope back to our communities. It was the first meeting of many to come to bring a coordinated, long-term response to those affected by this tragedy.

Our own local church staff met afterwards to start to prepare, plan, inform and sort through some more details….and again, to pray.

 

We moved onto our weekly evening meal which feeds those in who are need in our community. We had no idea how many people would come today. But after the fires, we knew those who came would want to talk, share their stories, and we wanted to listen and care and pray. It was great that there were more people from YVV who came and sat, listened and moved among the 100 or so people. One girl, who is quite broken in life, was telling me that she is a writer. She hasn’t written for years. She timidly says, through the catastrophe of these fires, she is seeing humanity differently and said “God is giving me poetry again to express it.” She turns away, wiping tears.

 

My heart was really heavy. I was tired. I was a bit emotional. As I was leaving in the car park, I heard someone yell my name. So I wandered over to find one of our homeless friends who we have known for 10 years. He has used our showers here, slept in different places near our building and drank lots of coffee! If you have ever been to YVV, you would know him and remember the times he’d wash his socks and hang them out to dry on our church wood heaters, filling the place with an unforgettable aroma.

He was sitting in a car, in the drivers seat, with a big grin. “Di, I got a car!”

I glanced over this car as he excitedly pointed out the work he’d done on it. I saw his familiar mattress laid out neatly in the back. His home on wheels. It was a good car!

I have never seen him smile like this. I barely recognised his face. His eyes gleamed. He looked years younger.

He told me the story and we talked for well over half an hour. That in itself was another beautiful surprise. 

We talked about his mates whom he used to live on the streets with all these years. He filled me in on how they are.  

Then he tells me he is also on the list to get a house with the housing commission and is receiving a regular payment on the pension. Such a wave of good news!

He said everyone he knows is celebrating with him. He talked about how excited his mum was that he had a car. He has never mentioned his mum in the ten years I’ve known him.

He said, “I feel like I’m a totally different person.” I could see the evidence obviously oozing out of his words, his smile, his posture.

I asked him what the best part was, and he waved his car key in my face and grinned…”I only have to carry this around. No more carting bags everywhere.”

He is 36 years old and has been on the streets for 15 years. He now has a car. He sees a home is next.

I walked away with tears in my eyes. All that was happening with people devestated by loss with these bush fires, and one of our homeless friends could not stop smiling because he had a car which he could sleep in.

 

This conversation was filled and fuelled by hope. God is always at work in the most unexpected ways.

Times are a’changing…indeed!

I haven’t had the luxury of extended times of reflection in recent months…I’m aware what I’m about to write have already been beautifully articulated, expressed and in the thick of many conversations for a long time…but the bottom line is…there’s a wave of change upon us. We’ve been in it for awhile. It seems that there’s an openness to change, and that much of what has been defensiveness is melting away. For some, the outworking of this seems to be extended to very courageous decisions in response to what the Lord is doing.

 

All year, I have returned to this passage, and the Lord keeps speaking to me through it… More

Freedom Blog

I have been reading through entries on Frank Emanuel’s blog (a Vineyard Church planter in Canada). He has been doing a series on Worship (See latest)

 I am enjoying the different aspects he’s been focussing on and the way he reminds us of the different aspects, elements and magnitude of living responsive, obedient, worshipfilled lives.

Learning and Growth

It’s been relatively quiet here as I’ve been away doing a course all of last week. It was centred on learning which celebrates diversity. The course was called 4MAT and gives a framework for learning and growth which encourages all learning styles and not simply the traditional linear way to learn. I really enjoyed it.

Here’s some random, unconnected thoughts (so far):

“Every person born into this world represents something new, something that never existed before. It is the duty of every person…to know that there has never been anyone like her/him in the world, for if there had been there would be no need to be. Every single person is a new thing in the world” (Martin Buber)

  • We all have preferred comfort zones of learning and yet need to have courage to learn in ways that are beyond our current comfort zones, as we miss out hugely if we are restricted to only one style. This relates so much to our discipleship as well. Are we incorporating such risk, courage and wholeness in our discipling/apprenticing? 
  • Learning is about doing.
  • “We all try to create worlds in which is comfortable for us to live in. If I don’t hear what you are saying in the language I grew up with, I don’t hear anything.” (A quote during one of our lectures.) How many of us have experienced that slow deterioration as you simply aren’t fitting into the world around you, and the language you are using seems to be foreign for those around you? Or perhaps we have seen it in others around us as they become passive or disconnected or loss of inspiration.
  • “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured and far away.”  (Thoreau)
  • Did you know that women have a larger corpus callosum (in their brain) so they can more easily multi-task than men? It’s true!
  • Jesus continually made connections to the world around Him.
  • Who doesn’t have a voice (in our own communities of faith or beyond) and why is that? By that, I mean, who is not given the chance to be themselves? Who have not been able to speak in their own voices around us because they are still ‘in a box’? If we don’t speak up, we deny who we are. It causes us to stop knowing ourselves and God, and others.

Enthusiast or mad?

In our current climate, we are in a robust and dynamic conversation which includes lots of questioning, reviewing, laying things down, picking things up and so on.  

In addition to hearing the voices of today, I find myself listening for the heart expressions behind some of the ‘heroes’ in history and the way they expressed their life of faith.  More

Humility

I have been reading from the Worship Series by Matt Redman  called Inside Out Worship. One of the chapters is on the Irreplaceable Quality of Humility. It seems that it’s a word we don’t hear much in our vocabularly these days. I think we have an incomplete picture in our minds of what a humble person is. More

Let my words be few

I was reading one of the comments that Christina wrote here today:

“We are experimenting with different expressions at the moment, as I don’t want to be locked in to music as the beginning and end of worship expression.(editor’s note: italics added) This Sunday we incorporated personal reflection and prayer (as well as just a few songs). It was all mixed up and despite the lack of rehearsing (how the bits interacted) it went really well. One young person said that she really appreciated having an opportunity for silence, time to reflect on scripture etc in a corporate setting. She said that she found that hard to do privately, but was encouraged by the space for it in a larger context….”

I love her heart expressed in not wanting to limit worship expression to music.  More

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