Monthly Archives: April 2010

Fourth Sunday of Easter (Easter 4) / Anzac Day

The Lamb who was slaughtered

Revelation 7.9-17
John 10.22-30

Every few years, this happens. Anzac Day falls on a Sunday. And I have a task that I sometimes think is pretty well beyond me—that task is to say a word about Jesus Christ and his resurrection life, whilst remembering those who have died in our nation’s wars.

Let me confess. I turned twenty in 1973; some of you will immediately realise what this means. The young men of my generation were being chosen by ballot to be conscripted into the Armed Forces and fight in an unpopular war in Vietnam.

I have rarely been so relieved than when Gough Whitlam came to power on 2 December 1972 and abolished conscription the very next day.

Those who returned from Vietnam often returned to find people didn’t want to know. They were not honoured for being part of our nation’s wars. There may have been all sorts of reasons, including massive popular opposition to sending troops to Vietnam. Many returning soldiers developed post-traumatic stress disorders as a result of the treatment they received on returning to Australia. They were let down by our society.

During the week, I read of a man none of us will have heard of. A man called Harry Hogan. His story is in Eureka St, an online magazine produced by a members of a Jesuit community—in fact, I stay with this community when I’m in Melbourne. Read it! But for now, listen to Harry Hogan’s story:

Harry was 18, a knockabout bush larrikin ready to give just about anything a try. He joined the Second Machine Gun Battalion on 10 February 1915, trained for four months…and set foot on the beach at Gallipoli on 16 August, a few days after the start of the doomed August offensive that was the Allies’ last throw of the dice before their retreat from the peninsula.

For the next four months Harry Hogan, like so many of his fellow soldiers, had an undistinguished, brutalising time, memories of which would stay with him forever. If, in his happy-go-lucky, thoughtless way, he had imagined performing daring, perhaps dramatic deeds, it took no time at all for such notions to founder amid the chaos, the blood, the wounds, the deaths.

Never shirking but always scared stiff, Harry staggered through the months until serious head wounds were added to his more or less constant and worsening state of shock, and he was taken to hospital in Alexandria on 23 December…

Harry recovered after treatment but, still not 19 years of age, he had seen gruesome sights, experienced indescribable horrors and confronted his own crippling fears. He was scarred beyond any treatment that the hospital in Alexandria could give him or even knew about. And this was only the beginning.

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Friday fragments—23.04.10

Anzac Day…

…is on Sunday. Eureka St has some interesting reading.


When you’re being criticised

Brian McLaren has some good stuff on responding to criticism. And a great prayer to meditate on at such times.


Work FOR the people

The word ‘liturgy’ is often misunderstood as ‘the work of the people’. Makes as much sense as a butterfly being a fly that hangs around butter.

This new blog gives a better understanding—of liturgy as work for the people—and more besides. I’ll be interested to see how it develops.


Feria de Abril

Or April Fair. But this one’s in Seville! My daughter lives there, and sounds like it was fun!

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French letter

No, not that kind! It’s a letter in France:

A letter took 220 years to be delivered because of a tiny error in its address.

In 1790 the white envelope containing two sheets of writing paper was sent from Paris to the south west France town of Seix, near Toulouse.

Instead it arrived at the village of Saix, some 150 miles away, where it remained in a local sorting office because the addressee could not be found.

At the time there was a lot happening in the area, not least the French Revolution, which meant the letter was largely forgotten about for the next two centuries.

It remained at the bottom of a drawer throughout the Napoleonic period, through two world wars including a Nazi occupation, right up until the present day.

In 1999 a Saix archivist logged the letter while sorting out local council records and now—a decade later—a motion has finally been passed to get the letter to Seix.

It was opened and found to be an official note from the authorities in Paris informing Seix officials that their request to make their town the capital of their municipality had been refused.

Henri Blanc, the mayor of Saix, took the decision to finally deliver the letter, saying: ‘It was about time.’

Taking no chances with another failed delivery, Mr Blanc said his colleagues would make the two hour drive to Seix to hand over the envelope in person on June 5.

Story from the Daily Mail.

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Third Sunday of Easter (Easter 3)

Called and re-called

Let us pray:
Living God,
Christ is indeed worthy of all praise;
he died, and is risen from the dead.
Feed us with your grace,
that in times of success or failure
we may find life
in following you
for the sake of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

John 21.1-19

Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!

The sun came up one day and shone on Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, the fishermen. It was an ordinary day. They set out in their boats and had fished all night. They caught nothing and came back to shore disappointed.

A teacher came and sat in Simon’s boat, and taught the people. Then he said to Simon,

Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.

Despite his better judgement, that’s just what Simon Peter did with his brother Andrew. There were so many fish that their nets threatened to break, so they called James and John, their partners, to come and help. And they brought the fish to shore.

The name of the teacher was Jesus; Simon wanted him to leave, because in the presence of Jesus he was made more aware of his shortcomings. But Jesus told Simon,

Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.

Their lives were never the same again.

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Second Sunday of Easter (Easter 2)

Show your resurrection

Let us pray:
You come into our midst, Lord Jesus;
you hold out your scarred hands
and surprise us with hope.
Help us to receive your word and your Spirit,
that in our woundedness
we may know you as our Life,
now and for ever. Amen.

John 20.19-31

Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!

It’s the Sunday after Easter, and we’re getting reacquainted with the Apostle Thomas. ‘Doubting’ Thomas to his friends. Jesus has appeared to the frightened huddle of disciples on the evening of the first Easter Day, but Tom wasn’t there.

We don’t know why he wasn’t there. We only get a few tantalising glimpses of Thomas, but he seems to me like an all-or-nothing kind of bloke. When Jesus says he’s going to Jerusalem, Tom says Let’s go with him and die. Now, Jesus is dead and everything has gone. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were down the Jerusalem Arms or the King David pub drowning his sorrows and crying into his thirteenth beer.

Of course, Thomas didn’t believe what the others told him. How could it be true? Thomas would have known his Bible, and he would know that Deuteronomy 21.23 says

anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse.

And a ‘tree’ included a cross. Jesus was under a curse from God. The dream turned out to be a nightmare. It was all over.
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Friday fragments — 9 April 2010

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today, 9 April, is the day the Uniting Church remembers the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran pastor, theologian and martyr under the Nazis; this was the day of his birth into eternal life. Read about his life here and be inspired.


Assembly Update

April Assembly Update is out — read it here to see the latest from the Uniting Church Assembly.


‘Something Wondrous is Afoot’

Easter has fifty days, so here is an Easter reflection from the wonderful Kathleen Norris.


A common date for Easter

Eastern and Western churches calculate Easter in basically the same way, yet the dates are often different. This is because the West uses the Gregorian calendar, while the East sticks to the older (and less accurate) Julian Calendar to date Easter.

Thirteen years ago, a consultation at Aleppo, Syria proposed a basis for a common date which would use the most accurate astronomical timing. Their hope was the the year 2000 would see it happen. We’re still waiting! This year and next, Easter falls on the same day for both East and West. Let’s pray for a common dates from now on!


Dear Pope: Call me!

Not me, no, but Rev Dr Marie Fortune who has written perceptively on the change of heart needed in the light of the child abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church.

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You know you look old when…

…the bus driver refuses to leave the stop until a student passenger gives up their seat for you.

On my day off, I decided to go into town. I got on the bus, and a young man offered me his seat. I thanked him and declined. (I’m not that old! I thought.)

The bus driver started calling something out. I thought she meant for standing passengers to go to the back of the bus, so I made my way past other people who were just standing there.

Then it became clear. I was to be given a seat. Or the bus stayed put.

A young woman obliged.

I should have dyed my hair when it started going grey. Too late now!


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Christ is risen! Hristos voskrese! ХРИСТОС ВОСКРЕСЕ!

Hristos voskrese, Christ is risen!

An Orthodox Easter song from Serbia, and a lovely video.

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Easter Day

The former things shall not be remembered


Let us pray:
God ever-new,
you brought life out of death,
and hope from despair
when you raised our Lord from the grave.
May we always proclaim the victory of Jesus
in the world,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Isaiah 65.17-25
Luke 24.1-12

  • Killer blasts in Moscow Metro
  • Decomposed body found at shops
  • Bank boss admits he took cash
  • Digger, Afghan wounded in explosion
  • 3 dead, 6 injured in DC shooting
  • Daylight bashing in city gardens

These were all news headlines in the last week. When we look at the world, it’s pretty much of a mess. The human race isn’t doing a great job.

  • We make technological advances, but we use this knowledge to build weapons.
  • We have an ever-increasing amount of information, but precious little wisdom.
  • We extend our influence over the earth, and put other living things at risk.

The world is in a state. Yet in our Old Testament reading today, the prophet Isaiah writes that God says this:

For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice for ever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.

‘For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.’

This doesn’t gel with the headlines, does it? Is Jerusalem a joy these days? It’s been the focus of huge difficulties lately, with Israel building new housing for Jews in the Arab district of East Jerusalem.

And all the indications are that Jerusalem will continue be a focus of deep hostilities for the foreseeable future.

Mind you, Jerusalem didn’t look too good back then either. These words about a ‘new heavens and a new earth’ were written about 500 BC. Jerusalem looked like a war zone. No wonder—that’s just what it had been just fifty or so years earlier.

The city walls had been torn down, the great temple of King Solomon was still in ruins. Yet Isaiah says, ‘I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.’

It appears that we’re still waiting for Isaiah’s words to be fulfilled. Continue reading

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Nada te turbe: for Holy Saturday

Music for Holy Saturday

A chant from Taizé, in Spanish; from the pen of St Teresa of Ávila:

Let nothing trouble you,
nothing frighten you;
those who have God,
want for nothing else.
Let nothing trouble you,
nothing frighten you;
alone God is enough.

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