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Remembrance Day

We remember those who suffer as a result of conflict,
and ask that God may grant peace:
for the service men and women
who have died in the violence of war,
each one remembered by and known to God.

‘Each one lost is everyone’s loss*’.
‘The tears in our heart make an ocean we’re all in*’
May God’s love break down the walls that separate us
and guide us along the pathway of peace.

(*words from Bruce Cockburn’s beautiful song, Each One Lost)

We remember…
We remember those who have died,
the generations who have suffered and communities ravaged because of the pride, arrogance, greed and ambition of men.
We commit to working with all our neighbours for peace, reconciliation and the common good of all people.
We disavow an unhealthy nationalism that glorifies violence
or believes your citizenship, skin colour or faith
makes you inherently more worthy
of safety, justice or prosperity than others.
We remember that war is hell.
(Source: Brad Chilcott, Facebook post 11.11.2018)

Prayer
For those whom we have asked
to bear the horror of our violence
we offer our prayers
of thanks for their willingness
to stand between us and our fears,
for forgiveness for having asked them,
of healing for the damage to their souls
by what they have done and seen,
for mercy for them who don’t know
how to carry the horror back to us,
how to shed the darkness
we have asked them to drink,
how to live among us, who are so willing
to sacrifice our children.
May we give others peace to bear, not fear,
healing to carry, not weapons,
and send them into blessing, not danger.
May we, too, have the courage to serve,
to risk, to give our lives in love
for the sake of our homeland,
which is the Kingdom of God,
the whole human family,
in the spirit of peace. Amen.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes, www.unfoldinglight.net

Reflection
Remembrance means different things to different people. For some, memories and a sense of loss are all too fresh and painful. This is something many of us can understand, though our particular traumas may be different. Sights, sounds, feelings which we long to be free of refuse to leave at our command, coming unbidden to flood us afresh with pain. Trauma we cannot escape lays in wait to bring us distress again. Reminders scratch at the scars of losses we thought we had recovered from, or at least accepted.
Remembrance is also about gratitude for sacrifice, again something we can understand even if we are fortunate enough to be decades from war. Many of us recognise what others have given up to allow us to live the lives we do.
Remembrance too holds out a hope for peace, a longing that we might learn to live together without violence, to find a way to embrace difference rather than seek to vilify or destroy it. It seems so elusive in our world, yet for those who seek to follow the Prince of Peace surely it must still be what we strive for?
Remembrance Sunday strikes a chord deep within us, because as well as whatever the traditional elements mean to us, we carry a deep seated fear of being forgotten. Perhaps it is important as we think about Remembrance Sunday, whatever it may mean to us, to hold on to the fact that God never forgets us, or those in our minds as we remember. We are never forgotten or forsaken.
(Source: Jeannie Kendall, Godspace)

Prayers for ongoing conflict and war
God, hear the cry of our hearts at the conflicts of the world. For the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, now in its ninth active month. We pray for a just resolution that prioritises peace and safety for the communities affected.

We pray for the ongoing situation in Iran, which is being felt deeply by Persian communities across the globe. May the veil of silence be lifted, and the oppressive regime be brought low. We pray for woman, life, freedom in Iran.

We pray for other places where conflict destroys lives and communities… (prayers are offered)

Hymn: “Remembrance”
Once crimson poppies bloomed
out in a foreign field,
each memory reminds
where brutal death was sealed.
The crimson petals flutter down,
still hatred forms a thorny crown.

For in this present time
we wait in vain for peace,
each generation cries,
each longing for release,
while war still plagues the human race
and families seek a hiding place.

How long will human life
suffer for human greed?
How long must race or pride,
wealth, nationhood or creed
be reasons justifying death
to suffocate a nation’s breath?

For everyone who dies
we share a quiet grief,
the pain of loss remains,
time rarely brings relief,
and so we will remember them
and heaven sound a loud amen.
(Source: Words: Andrew Pratt; Tune: ‘Little Cornard’/Hills of the North)

O God, our ruler and guide,
In whose hands are the destinies of this and every nation,
We give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in this land
And for those who laid down their lives to defend them:
We pray that we and all the people of Australia,
Gratefully remembering their courage and their sacrifice,
May have the grace to live in a spirit of justice, of generosity, and of peace;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen
Adapted from A Prayer Book for Australia page 628

(more resources here)

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Highway to climate hell

“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”  

This was how the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, opened the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday. The talks began after a series of climate disasters around the world and an extreme European heatwave this summer. 

On Saturday, the day before COP27 began, a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “As global leaders gather at COP27, the world holds its breath. A world which has this year suffered further catastrophic flooding, drought, heatwaves and storms. A world already in crisis. A world which knows that we are perilously near the point of no return.” 

“I’ve seen this myself just recently in Australia, whose great wealth is no protection against the flooding in New South Wales. And if it can happen in one of the most prosperous parts of the world, how much more devastating in one of the poorest, like South Sudan, where more flooding has led to food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition.”

He continued: “God calls us to embrace justice. Christian scripture describes how we share in the ‘renewed creation of heaven and earth with justice’ (2 Peter 3.13). Let justice flow so that we see human lives and hope restored, and the life of the earth itself protected and renewed.”

Frances Namoumou, of the Pacific Conference of Churches, said: “Pacific Islanders face a climate emergency which is an existential threat. We must stop what threatens us and protect those who are most vulnerable. It is the only decent thing to do.”

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COP27 – Sharm El Sheikh

COP 27 starts this Sunday in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. You can follow proceedings on the website, https://unfccc.int/cop27

With an upcoming election, Victorians are being encouraged to write to candidates to ask them to support the letter endorsed by faith leaders (including the VCC) – see below. Letter writing resources available here.

Dear Prime Minister Albanese

We are grateful for your Government’s efforts to take the climate crisis seriously. 

Yet Australia is a wealthy country that profits from exports that are causing the crisis. We hear the cries of anguish from those most vulnerable in the human family who are losing their lives, livelihoods and homes through climate-fuelled disasters. 

We humbly and respectfully request that Australia:

  • Stops approving new coal and gas projects
  • Ends public subsidies for coal and gas projects
  • Fully respects First Nations peoples’ rights to protect Country
  • Re-starts contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund
  • Assists extractive industry workers to prosper through jobs in sustainable industries
  • Actively participates in creating and endorses a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The current level of warming is not safe. This moment in history calls for an urgent, courageous, visionary response, especially from those in power. Australia’s leadership in this response, as part of its First Nations Foreign Policy, is vital for the vulnerable communities and ecosystems who depend on it. 

Yours faithfully, 

First Nations and Australian and Pacific faith leaders

The Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith, Archbishop of Adelaide and Primate, Anglican Church in Australia

The Most Reverend Philip Richardson, Bishop, Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki; Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

His Eminence, Cardinal Sir John Ribat, KBE MSC, Cardinal, Archbishop of Port Moresby

The Most Reverend Leonard Dawea, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Melanesia, Solomon Islands

Reverend James Bhagwan, General Secretary, Pacific Conference of Churches 

Reverend Father Soane Fotutata msc, General Secretary, Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (CEPAC)

Reverend John Gilmore, President, National Council of Churches in Australia

His Eminence, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, Grand Mufti of Australia

Imam Shadi Alsuleiman, President, Australian National Imams Council

Reverend Sharon Hollis, President, Uniting Church in Australia, Assembly

Reverend Mark Kickett, Chair, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress Australia

Uncle John Lochowiak, Chairperson, National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council

Reverend Dr (Hon.) Raymond Minniecon, Co-Chair, Indigenous Peoples Organisation; Scarred Tree Ministries, Glebe, NSW

Mr Prakash Mehta, President, Hindu Council of Australia

The Most Reverend Peter Loy Chong, Archbishop of Suva Catholic Diocese

The Most Reverend Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane Catholic Diocese

The Most Reverend  Patrick O’Regan, Archbishop of Adelaide Catholic Diocese

The Most Reverend Kay Goldsworthy, Archbishop of Perth Anglican Diocese

Bruce Henry, Presiding Clerk, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia

Charlie Hogg, Coordinator, Brahma Kumaris Australia

Professor Anne Poelina (Nyikina Warawa), First Nations Guardian and Custodian Martuwarra Fitzroy River 

Aunty Togiab McRose Elu, Torres Strait Islander Elder, recipient of the 2021 Queensland Senior Australian of the Year Award

Ms Rikki Dank (Lhudi Noralima), Director, Gudanji For Country, Gudanji Nation

Reverend Dr Benny Giay, Moderator, West Papua Council of Churches

The Right Reverend Dr Jack Urame, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea 

Reverend Rusiate Tuidrakulu, General Secretary, South Pacific Association of Theological Schools 

The Very Reverend Quyen Vu SJ, Congregational Leader, The Society of Jesus in Australia (Australian Jesuits) 

Dr Gawaine Powell Davies, President, Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils; Chair, Buddhist Council of NSW

Rabbi Nicole Roberts, Chair, Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors of Australia, New Zealand and Asia

Venerable Thich Quang Ba, Founding President, United Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation of Canberra; Co-President, International Buddhist Confederation; Former President, Australian Sangha Association

Venerable Ajahn Brahmavamso, Abbott, Bodhinyana Monastery, WA

Sister Anne Lane pbvm, President, Society of Presentation Sisters of Australia and Papua New Guinea 

Sister Eveline Crotty rsm, Institute Leader, Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea 

Sister Monica Cavanagh sosj, Congregational Leader, Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart

Reverend Dr Bruce Yeates, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Fiji

Reverend Taualo Penivao, General Secretary, Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu

Reverend Dr Tevita Havea, President, Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga 

Reverend Dr Eteuati S. L. Tuioti, General Secretary, Methodist Church in Samoa

Reverend Vavatau Taufao, General Secretary, Congregational Christian Church Samoa

Very Rev Fr Dr Shenouda Mansour, General Secretary, New South Wales Ecumenical Council, Parish Priest, St Antonius & St Paul Coptic Orthodox Church, Guildford, NSW

Dr Rateb Jneid, President, Australian Federation of Islamic Councils

Abbas Raza Alvi, President, Indian Crescent Society of Australia

The Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen ofm conv, Bishop of Parramatta Catholic Diocese

The Most Reverend Timothy Harris, Bishop of Townsville Catholic Diocese

The Right Reverend Dr Keith Joseph, Bishop, Anglican Church North Queensland

Mr Mahanbir Grewal, Founder and President, Guru Nanak Society of Australia

Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Environmental Advisor, Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors, Australia and New Zealand

Pastor Rob Buckingham, Senior Minister, Bayside Church (Pentecostal)

Dr Shailesh Kumar Diwedi, Hindu priest Canberra

The Most Reverend Paul Bird CScR, Bishop of Ballarat Catholic Diocese

The Most Reverend Charles Gauci, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Darwin and the NT

The Right Reverend Kate Prowd, Assistant Bishop, Oodthenong Episcopate, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

The Right Reverend Paul Barker, Assistant Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

The Right Reverend Genieve Blackwell, Assistant Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

Ms Anne Walker, National Executive Director, Catholic Religious Australia

Mrs Philippa Rowland, Chair, Religions for Peace Australia

Br Christopher John SSF, Minister General, Society of St Francis 

The Right Reverend Cam Venables, Archbishop’s Commissary; Bishop, Anglican Church Southern Queensland

The Right Reverend Jeremy Greaves, Bishop, Anglican Church Southern Queensland

The Right Reverend John Roundhill, Bishop, Anglican Church Southern Queensland

Bishop Philip Huggins, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture; Anglican Church, Diocese of Melbourne

The Most Reverend Shane Mackinlay, Bishop of Sandhurst Catholic Diocese

Pastor Collin Keleb, Chairman, Vanuatu Christian Council

Reverend Roger Mwareow, Chairman, Nauru Congregational Church

Reverend Nafatali Falealii, General Secretary, Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa 

Pastor Jeledrick Binejal, General Secretary, United Church of Christ Congregations, Marshall Islands 

Pastor Var Kaemo, President, Eglise Protestante du Kanaky, Nouvelle Caledonie  

Mr Nga Mataio, General Secretary, Cook Islands Christian Church

Mrs Céline Hoiore, General Secretary,  Etaretia Poritetani Maohi, Maohi Nui 

Jessiee Kaur Singh, President, WIN Foundation (Women’s Interfaith Network); President, COMMON Australia

Mr Adel Salman, President, Islamic Council of Victoria

Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky, Beit Shalom Synagogue, Adelaide

Venerable Bhante Sujato, SuttaCentral, Theravada tradition

Sister Margaret Guy rsc, Vicar, Congregation of the Sisters of Charity

Reverend Trevor Trotter, Regional Director, St Columban’s Mission Society, Melbourne

Sister Louise Cleary, Congregational Leader, Brigidine Sisters

Reverend Peter O’Neill, Leader, St Columbans Mission Society, Melbourne

Father Tom McDonough CP, Provincial Superior, The Passionists of Holy Spirit Province 

Reverend Dr Peter Catt, Dean, St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane

Mrs Balbir Grewal, Treasurer, Guru Nanak Society of Australia

Professor Anthony Maher, Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University

Professor Neil Ormerod, Sydney College of Divinity

Professor Mohamad Abdalla, Centre for Islamic Thought and Education, University of South Australia

Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, Director, Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation, Charles Sturt University

Reverend Dr Patrick McInerney, Director, Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations

Reverend Dr Josephine Inkpin, Anglican priest and Minister of Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney

Sister Jan Barnett sosj, Josephite Justice Coordinator

Sister Elizabeth Rogerson ibvm, Leadership Team, Loreto Sisters Australia and South East Asia

Subhana Barzaghi,  Zen Buddhist Roshi, Spiritual Director Sydney Zen Centre, Annandale

Gillian Coote, Zen Buddhist Roshi, Sydney Zen Centre, Annandale

Dr Susan Murphy, Zen Buddhist Roshi, Spiritual Director Zen Open Circle (Aust), and Hobart Zen

Kynan Sutherland, Zen Sensei, Spiritual Director Castlemaine Zen, Vic

Reverend Dr David Millikan, Minister Nowra Uniting Church, NSW

Maggie Gluek, Zen Buddhist Roshi, Sydney Zen Centre, Annandale

Reverend Meredith Williams, Minister of the Word, Uniting Church in Australia

Ms Anna Markey, lead teacher, Coast and City Sangha Buddhist Community (SA)

Rabbi Sheryl Nosan, Jewish Spirituality Australia

Rev Dr Linda Chapman OAM

Father Neil Forgie, Anglican Priest, Cairns

Doug Hewitt AM, Leader, Christians for Peace Newcastle NSW, Retired Associate Professor Australian Catholic University

Very Reverend Robert Riedling, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

Rev Sandy Boyce, Executive Officer, Victorian Council of Churches

Dharmachari Tejopala Rawls, Triratna Buddhist Order, Melbourne

Rev. Simon Hansford, Moderator, Synod of NSW & the ACT, Uniting Church in Australia

Thea Ormerod, President, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)

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Climate of the Nation report

(Summary by Audrey Quicke and Sumithri Venketasubramanian.
Full report here).

On 3rd November 2022, former PM Malcolm Turnbull launched the Australia Institute’s annual Climate of the Nation report, which tracks:Australia’s attitudes towards climate change and energy

It provides a comprehensive account of changing Australian beliefs and attitudes towards climate change, including its causes, impacts and solutions. For the first time, Climate of the Nation 2022 includes a chapter on Australians’ views on transport solutions, including quantitative polling and qualitative focus group studies.

Climate of the Nation 2022 shows that concern about climate change remains at an all-time high and there is broad support for a range of decarbonisation policies and climate actions.

Concern about climate change remains at record high

Three-quarters (75%) of Australians are concerned about climate change, the same level of concern seen in 2021 and the highest since Climate of the Nation began. The intensity of concern has increased as well, with record high levels of those who are ‘very concerned’ about climate change (42%).

The top three climate impacts of concern are more droughts and flooding affecting crop production and food supply (83%), more bushfires (83%), and the extinction of animal and plant species (80%).

Four-fifths (79%) of Australians believe that Australia’s coal- fired power stations should be phased out, including half (49%) who think they should be phased out gradually and 31% who think they should be phased out as soon as possible. Across all political affiliations, respondents are more likely to think coal- fired power stations should be phased out than be kept running for as long as possible or never replaced by other power sources. Almost two-thirds (65%) of Australians want coal-fired power generation completely ended within the next 20 years, including 38% who want it ended within the next decade.

The rising cost of electricity and gas was in the spotlight for much of 2022. Most Australians blame increasing electricity prices on the privatisation of electricity generation and supply (48%), excessive profit margins of electricity companies (46%), or excessive gas exports making domestic gas really expensive (42%). Almost two-thirds (64%) agree that failure by the market to prepare for a transition away from fossil fuels has led to electricity price increases, including 31% that strongly agree.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) pathway says that no new fossil fuel projects should be approved in order to avoid ‘the worst effects of climate change’ by limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. A majority of Australians (57%) support Australia following the IEA pathway, to not approve any new gas, coal or oil projects.

Two-thirds (64%) of Australians support stopping new coal mines. One-quarter (26%) want new coal mines to be allowed, including 6% who support using taxpayer funds to subsidise them. Three-quarters (73%) think Australian governments should plan to phase out coal mining and transition into other industries.

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Cassius Turvey

Cassius Turvey, a 15 year old Noongar boy from WA, was beaten by a man wielding a metal pole, when he was walking home from school with friends. He died later in hospital. An innocent victim of a violent attack.

The PM has condemned his murder as racially motivated.

His tragic death has sparked a global call for justice. Rallies demanding justice are being held across Australia, New Zealand and even in the US.

4 vigils are being in Victoria at 6pm on Wednesday 2nd November.

A reflection by NSW/ACT Moderator Rev Simon Hansford:

More than two and half thousand years ago, an Old Testament prophet wrote:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrongdoing
and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law becomes slack
and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous—
therefore judgment comes forth perverted.

A child was assaulted on the streets in Australia in this last fortnight. As a result of the brutal beating he received, by an older man with an iron bar we are told, this child died.

The language we might use for this unjustified act of appalling violence, if we were so inclined, is that a child was lynched on the streets of Perth.

Where is the outcry? Where are the nation’s leaders – social, political and religious – crying out for justice? Are we so accustomed to violence like this that it slides from our screens and our memories as we swipe to a less confronting story?

Suddenly we remember the discomfort we feel when that Melbourne footy club remains accused of deep-rooted racism. We turn the channel to avoid listening (certainly talking) about offering a voice to our First People in a referendum.

Some will say that these are not associated, that one has no relevance to the other. Ask the ones whose voice is silenced. Ask the ones who received the violence of language, of social exclusion, of stereotype or worse.

And a child lies dead, and another family is paralysed in grief and despair.

Some will claim this child had caused harm to property. So, let me ask you, what crime can a child commit that justifies him being beaten with an iron bar? What community, what society, can use slippery language, or bastardised ethics, to justify the violent death of a child?

We grieve today, but only as a dim echo of this family’s grief. We pray, and act in support, because no-one can survive this trauma alone.

We speak because someone needs to do so. More than one – person, church, community – needs to cry out for justice, because a child lies dead at a man’s hand.

This child’s death cannot fade from our sight because we are afraid to discover what hides in the shadows of our lives and communities.

My faith in Jesus Christ talks of mercy, which is always hand in hand with justice. Our church speaks of the need to forgive each other and to be reconciled, but they come with the cost of humility and seeking forgiveness from the person we have harmed.

This is more urgent than any other story in our lives.

It is not enough to be sad, to offer thoughts and prayers.

What shall we ask, what shall we do, to find justice? What shall we require of our leaders? What shall we require of ourselves?

____________________________________________________

A statement by Australian Human Rights Commission

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All Saints’ Day

Accompanied by a communion of ordinary saints

All Saints’ Day is a reminder of the faithful departed who made room for God, pastor Isaac Villegas writes on his blog site.

When we confess the Apostles’ Creed, our words echo with the voices of the dead – the saints, believers from throughout history.

Marked on Nov. 1, All Saints’ Day is a time for us to remember the people who’ve made possible our faith – to recognize that we speak with their tongues, that we’re indebted to their faithfulness. On All Saints’ Day, we remember that we are not alone, that they accompany us.

In the book of Revelation, we glimpse a heavenly vision of the communion of saints, of believers in solidarity with us — a multitude “from every nation, tribe, people and language” around the throne of God (Revelation 7:9 NIV). When we say, toward the end of the creed, that we believe in “the communion of saints,” we’re calling upon that scene in Revelation 7 – the reassurance of a people on our side, the knowledge that their God is our God.

“The communion of saints” isn’t a select club of very special people. Instead, the phrase is a name for the church through the ages, the people who’ve made possible our communion with God. They welcome us into a community that reaches out to us from the grave.

This year for All Saints’ Day, I remember my great-aunt. She would scold me for this attempt at her hagiography, which is certainly a quintessential mark of saints — that they don’t think they should be called saints.

“The saints never know their own sanctity,” Nicholas Lash writes in “Seeing in the Dark.”

My great-aunt was my dad’s aunt. She dreamed of becoming a nun. However, at the age of 18, before she took her vows, her older sister’s husband – my grandfather – died, leaving my grandmother a widow in her late 20s to raise their 11 children.

My great-aunt vowed her life in service to God and moved into her sister’s house instead of a convent. She lived in an isolated room in the back of the house, at the top of a long staircase – far enough away to pray undisturbed, yet close enough to share in the child rearing.

In that room, and in that household, she spent her life, secluded from the world, except for Mass at their parish each morning. Her life consisted of housework, Eucharist, caregiving and prayer. She was an ordinary saint, someone who gave her life for the lives of others. She surrendered her years to God’s self-giving love.

Saints are people who offer their lives as a home for God, to make room in the world for God’s life to grow. They bear witness to what it looks like to let God live in this world through them. In other words, saints show us how to be disciples. They reveal that discipleship is about hospitality to God: welcoming God’s love into our lives so that new life may be born for others.

That’s why Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the first saint — the person, writes the Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, who “brought God’s salvation to the world.” She is the first one in the Christian story to show hospitality to Jesus – God with us, God of her flesh.

Other than Jesus, there are two people named in the Apostles’ Creed: Pontius Pilate and Mary, “the one who says ‘no’ to him,” the Anglican theologian Rowan Williams remarks, and “the one who says ‘yes’ to him.” Pilate the sinner, Mary the saint. Their lives outline the possible responses to God.

As sinner and saint – each of us as both at the same time – we wobble from one figure to the other. From day to day, moment to moment, we teeter between resistance and reception of Jesus.

We’re usually like Pilate in our rejection of God’s work in the world and in our lives. But we’re called to be like Mary, to echo her yes, to emulate her posture of welcome to God’s life, the labor of hospitality, to make room for God.

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord,” Mary responds to God’s plan for her life. “Be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

Saints – like Mary, the mother of our faith, and my great-aunt – guide our discipleship. They testify to the miracle of grace. They bear witness to the movement of God, the labour of the Spirit who transfigures our lives with the Word when we say yes to the gospel. They share the life of God with the world. Their witness beckons us into the gospel, into Christ’s love, for God’s love to become flesh with us.

The lives of ordinary saints not only provide models for discipleship; they proclaim a truth about God – that the Spirit dwells with people, that Christ welcomes us into his body. Like Mary, Christ has said yes to each of us. He has opened his life to receive our lives; he draws us into communion with the saints.

We are here, as members of God’s people, because the Holy Spirit has baptized us with grace, joining our flesh to the faithful who’ve come before us, all of us as members of one another.

All Saints’ Day is an announcement of the hospitality of God – that we are being welcomed into a communion that reaches from Mary to us, through people of every generation, all as a declaration of God’s love for the world. Saints surround us with the Spirit’s embrace.

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Reformation Day

October 31 is celebrated as Reformation Day. The Protestant Reformation was a movement intended to reform ecclesial authority from within the Roman Catholic Church. It is celebrated alongside All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) in remembrance of the onset of the Reformation.

31 October 1517 was the day German pastor Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

Exactly 500 years ago, in 1522, Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German. On the occasion of the anniversary, the Lutheran World Federation is celebrating 2022 as a Year of the Bible. For Lutherans, the Word is Jesus Christ, God made flesh. Christ comes to us today, in the words of Scripture, in the celebration of the sacraments, and in service to the neighbour. These actions constitute worship – worship centered on three central things: water (baptismal font), a book (Scripture), and a table (communion with God and neighbour).

Hymn: “A Sturdy Shelter Is Our God”
Shalom Rendering of “A Mighty Fortress”

A sturdy shelter is our God,
Whose refuge holds securely.
God restrains the rising tide
In which our world is swirling.
With dangers all around
We fear that we shall drown.
From harm God would protect
Each child from neglect.
We praise God’s loving nurture.

If we depend upon ourselves,
Our strength is insufficient.
We need the One who knows us well,
Who’s with God coefficient.
In every age the same
Christ Jesus is his name,
Prince of Peace, Emmanuel
Chooses with us to dwell
And we may trust this mercy.

And though this world with violence spins
Poised to harm the victim,
We need not fear for Christ undoes
Our scapegoat blaming system.
Who bends to wash our feet,
With love all hate defeats,
To still the rage and mend,
Turns stranger into friend,
Commanding us do likewise.

The Word of God hides in the poor,
Invites us there to find him.
Jesus is begging at our door,
Awaiting us to feed him.
With bread and wine the means
Through which Christ would be seen
Among the very least;
We are the kingdom’s yeast.
These are the things that make for peace.
© Craig L. Nessan, 2017

Hymn: Our God, We Are a Church Reformed

AZMON 8.6.8.6 (“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”)

Our God, we are a church reformed,
A church reforming still:
We long to grow in your true Word,
And follow more your will.

How awesome is your sovereign rule;
You reign from heav’n above.
Yet you knelt down in Jesus Christ,
In sacrificial love.

In love, you bring your people here
And call your church to you,
That we may know salvation’s joy
And serve in all we do.

You call us to community;
By faith our hearts are stirred.
In church, we seek an ordered life,
According to your Word.

As faithful stewards we find joy;
We need no rich display.
Lord, teach us all to use with care
The gifts you give each day.

The world makes gods of lesser things,
And wrongly uses power;
So by your Spirit may we work
For justice every hour.

This hymn is based on “Faith of the Reformed Tradition,” Book of Order, F-2.05.
Text: © 1998 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.
carolynshymns@gmail.com     www.carolynshymns.com/

Carolyn also has another suitable hymn, By Grace We Have Been Saved Through Faith. It is on her website.

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Clothing Sustainability

30 October. Rev Philip Liebelt led the Warrnambool Uniting Church Op Shop Annual Service, telling Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus stories, and talking to the children about trash and treasure. The Op Shop has contributed $1,000,000 to the church’s work in the community over the six and a quarter year history of the shop. A great reason to support Op Shops!

As more and more people are waking up to the serious environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry, people around the world are searching for more sustainable ways to shop. This has led to a huge (and very well deserved!) surge in popularity for second-hand clothes.

Australia’s re-use charities are the biggest network diverting clothing from landfill and currently extend the life of $527m worth of preloved clothes.

Jan Donkersloot and Anthea Meadows in the Anglican All Saints op shop

Buying second-hand clothes helps to keep them in circulation for much longer. This is good for you, and it’s also better for the planet.

The fashion industry is extremely wasteful. Australians buy almost 15kg of clothes every year (or 56 new items) every year and most of it ends up in landfill, according to a recent report, making Australia one of the highest consumers of textiles per capita in the world. At the other end of the fashion cycle, roughly 260,000 tonnes, or 10kg a person, reaches landfill each year.

Only 7,000 tonnes of textiles are recycled in Australia, a very small percentage of clothing purchased.

On top of the huge amount of landfill, the textile industry also relies heavily on fossil fuels and other chemicals. Globally, 98m tonnes of nonrenewable resources are used in the fashion industry, including oil to produce synthetic fibres, fertilisers to grow cotton, and chemicals to produce dye.

In Australia, two-thirds of clothing is made up of synthetic fibres, which are often derived from petroleum.

One of the best ways to keep clothes out of landfill and reduce their impact is to keep them in circulation for longer. Keeping clothes in use for just an extra 9 months can reduce their carbon, water and waste footprint by 20-30%.

Buying second-hand clothes is a super simple and effective way to extend their active lifespan, keep them in circulation and out of landfill.

And, as we approach Christmas, it might impact on what we purchase, and where we purchase from.

Give thanks for the daily opportunities to serve customers, to pray and give witness to God’s love. Give thanks too for the volunteers who work in op-shops, and for all who donate items.

Sources
The Guardian

Anglican Focus

National Clothing Product Stewardship Scheme

Fashion Journal

How Australia’s op shops are caught up in the cost of living crisis

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Ohi/Oxi Day

Melbourne has a large Greek population. The Greek Orthodox Church is a member of the Victorian Council of Churches.

October 28th is celebrated by Greek communities around the world as Ohi Day or Oxi Day (Greek: Επέτειος του Όχι, romanized: Epéteios tou Óchi, lit. ’Anniversary of the No’; Greek pronunciation: [eˈpetios tu ˈoçi]).

In 1940 the Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas told Italian dictator Benito Mussolini that Axis Forces were not welcome in Greece. He allegedly answered Mussolini’s request to occupy certain territories with a single laconic word: όχι (No!). However, his actual reply was, “Alors, c’est la guerre!” (Then it is war!).

In response to Metaxas’s refusal, Italian troops stationed in Albania, then an Italian protectorate, attacked the Greek border at 05:30 am.

On the morning of 28 October, the Greek population took to the streets, irrespective of political affiliation, shouting ‘ohi’. From 1942, it has been celebrated as Ohi Day.

It is a celebration of resistance, even though it ultimately led to the beginning of Greece’s participation in World War 2.

Reflecting on this, Archbishop Demetrios (U.S.A) wrote:

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Our commemoration of OXI Day each year leads us to reflect on a very challenging time in our world and for the people of Greece.  As war was spreading throughout Europe, the Axis forces demanded the surrender of Greece on October 28, 1940.  Bravely and honorably, the Greek people replied, “NO.”   Today, we honor the bravery and sacrifice of our fathers and mothers who stood valiantly against the armies of the fascist powers.  They proclaimed a resolute “NO” to occupation.  The people of Greece affirmed their love of liberty and their right of self-determination.  They saw the evil and unchecked power of fascist regimes, and in their response they committed their lives to protecting their country.  In faith they knew that no matter the outcome they were willing to stand courageously in the face of this threat knowing that ultimately nothing could separate them from the nobility of their heritage and the love of God.

Today, we are inspired by our forbearers as we celebrate their courage and honor their memory.  They said “NO” to those who advanced power and control at any cost.  They stood firm against an ideology and its forces that would only separate them from their freedom, their rights, and their way of life.  We find courage in their example and hope and strength in the promise that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).

The experience of God’s love and the promise that His love is always with us helped the people of Greece in hope and faith to endure all things (I Corinthians 13:7).  They knew that the power of God’s love was greater than the power of fascist regimes.  They knew that the love of God was essential to their freedom, and to their love for their families and communities, and for their country.

With the assurance and truth of God’s love, we are able to stand firm against any evil use of power or false ideology.  As the people of Greece in 1940 and as many witnesses of our faith have done, we can boldly proclaim “NO” in the face of those who seek to destroy life and liberty, those who use power to abuse and manipulate others, and those who try to separate us from our faith and the love of God.

As we commemorate the valiant people of Greece on OXI Day, and we laud their courage before the world, may we give thanks to God for the witness offered to us and to generations to come. 

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God’s Squad: 50 years

Sincere condolences to members of God’s Squad who were celebrating 50 years with a ride that ended in tragedy with a fatal accident involving Barry ‘Baz’ Porter. May our God hold him in loving embrace, and comfort those who mourn his passing.

The book launch of ‘The First 50 years’ culminates a project to gather the history of the God’s Squad, from its origins in Sydney in 1971 to the beginning of God’s Squad in 1972 under the leadership of John Smith, with the blessing and guidance of the original Sydney chapter. From that base in Melbourne, God’s Squad spread from Australia, where it has had multiple chapters for many years, throughout Europe, into New Zealand and also the USA.

Since its birth, out of the counterculture Jesus movement days of the late 60s and early 70s God’s Squad has continued, for nearly five decades, to devote its efforts amongst those on the fringes of society. The Club continues to primarily exist to minister among motorcycle clubs and associated groups, where it is an accepted and relevant expression of the Christian Church.

God’s Squad has also maintained a long commitment of service among the poor, advocacy for the rights of first nation people, active ministry in prisons, schools and the public space. All of this is built on a foundation that takes the call of radical discipleship in Christ seriously, which finds its roots in his teaching.

On the occasion of Melbourne Chapter’s 25th anniversary back in 1997, John Smith offered the following reflection on our behalf. This still holds true.

“… our faith and commitment remain stronger than ever. You need a faith to live by and a friend to stand by. Like Jesus, who we follow, we are committed friends of the outcasts of this world. We are friends, not to manipulate our mates to faith – but because we talk and live a faith that is free for all. True love is no weak sentiment – for Christ it led to crucifixion.
To all our mates on the bike scene, we want to say on our Anniversary, we are a club that exists not for ourselves, but for non-members. If you ever need an honest believing friend, we are here for you and so is Christ.
Cheers and God be with you.”

As part of the 50 years celebrations, a Thanksgiving Church service was held on Sunday October 2, hosted at TLC Church, 265 Canterbury Rd, Bayswater North. Tim Costello was the guest preacher. https://www.youtube.com/c/TlcchurchOrgAu

Sources: God’s Squad website and Facebook page