Monthly Archives: October 2008

How do we witness?

Sermon for 26 October 2008

1 Thessalonians 2.1-8
Matthew 22.34-46

Rev Michelle Cook is a deacon and the minister of St Luke’s Weipa, a cooperative congregation of the Uniting and Anglican Churches. She is also the patrol padre of the Cape York Patrol of Frontier Services, and it is this she spoke to us about:

As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals whether from you or from others…

No, we never did and we never do – why, because people in the bush have a very good bs detectors. They can see right through you. 

My name is Michelle Cook – and I am a patrol minister up in Cape York.

To confuse people I usually say that I live on the West Coast of Queensland. Most people just look at me funny and say ‘wha?’. 

That’s right, there is a west coast of Queensland – and I live near the top of it. 

I live in Weipa – a mining town of about 3000 people – 10 hours drive from Cairns across Cape York.

You may notice that on the screen there will be some photos – this is just to give you a taste for the area that I travel around and the people that I meet.

So while you look at some photos you might be asking yourselves – what is a patrol minister? And how can I get a job that involves driving around some of the most beautiful country in the whole world.

Well I think I have been asking myself that since I was about 10 when I stuck a Frontier Services sticker on my bookcase at home. I don’t think I really knew what Frontier Services was then – but I liked the idea of travelling around the back of beyond helping people who lived without electricity, running water and television – of course I had a romantic view of these things imagining life was like “We of the never, never”. But in my three years in the Cape York Patrol I have found out what a patrol minister is…

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I often agree with atheists…

…though not necessarily in a way they seem to expect.

In a campaign started by the British Humanist Association, London’s buses will soon carry a slogan proclaiming There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

I agree.

They are right—there’s no God whose very presence sets us to worrying and stops us enjoying life. But the god they are protesting against doesn’t exist. The God and Father of Jesus sets people free, and brings new life into being. This God welcomes prodigals home and throws a party. There is a God who saves us from worrying and frees us to enjoy life.

Why do atheists protest against such a dreary god? What a sorry waste of time!

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Liturgical thought of the day (6)

I googled <“pearly gates joke” liturgist> and got this response:

Your search – “pearly gates joke” liturgist – did not match any documents.

Is this a warning to us liturgists?

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In whose image?



Sermon for 19 October ’08

Matthew 22.15-22


Image is everything! 

Ever heard that? Remember last week, we talked about hyperreality? We have to think image is everything if we’re going to fall for the message that we have to envy and emulate air-brushed models and sports stars on cocaine.

Image is everything! Some years ago, there was a whole series of ads for Canon cameras featuring the former tennis great Andre Agassi with that as the theme. You can see them on YouTube, a virtual graveyard for such things.

On the internet, I found an ‘Image is Everything’ workshop. This is the advertising blurb:

This powerful workshop will teach participants how to master the art of image! Sessions include: Personal Presentation, Building Rapport, Image Quadrants, Non-Verbal Power and more! This workshop is designed to help individuals discover the power of image and their ability to control it! [italics mine]

Image is important these days so that we can have power and control. So: what’s your image? 

If you want to improve your image, you could also go to the web page of a company called Your Image Solutions (perhaps you didn’t know you had a problem?)—Putting Your Image In Focus! Look great, sound assured & create a positive first impression!

Or you could go to another website called 10 Ways to Upgrade Your Look—Do you dress like a boss-to-be or a permanent underling?

Or you could find a plastic surgeon.

Or you could look at this:

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Bread and circuses

14 October: Delta Goodrem rings the bell for the New York Stock Exchange.

Is it a case of Mistaken Identity? It just happened Out Of The Blue! Is it A Little Too Late? Or can we Believe Again?


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Liturgical thought of the day (5)

Seen on a T-shirt:


Never seen on a T-shirt (yet!):


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Thinkers Anonymous

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone—”to relax,” I told myself—but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, “What is it exactly we are doing here?”

Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, “Skippy, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, you’ll have to find another job.” This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking…”

“I know you’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I want a divorce!”

“But honey, surely it’s not that serious.”

“It is serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver. “You think as much as college professors, and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money!”

“That’s a faulty syllogism,” I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I’d had enough. “I’m going to the library,” I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche, with a PBS station on the radio. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors…they didn’t open. The library was closed!

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. “Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker’s Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was “Dumb and Dumber”. Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed…easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

From Mikey’s Funnies

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