Song by Molly Skaggs:
I spent some time with the God-man, Jesus
He looked like any ordinary man –
in fact, he looked a bit like me.
I didn’t spend a lot of time with him,
but long enough.
I was not there at the beginning,
like Mary his mother;
full of trust and willing vulnerability.
Sometimes, at my best, I figure
there must be a God who is in control.
I did not see Jesus grow into a child,
then into an adolescent,
and finally a man.
I was not present – nor were any others
when after his baptism,
he was led into the desert for 40 days.
Here, his companion was the devil,
and here, he was tempted as all of us are.
But he did no wrong – unlike me.
I was not Peter, or James, or Bartholamew;
chosen to be close to the God-man,
chosen to be his constant companions –
his disciples, his friends.
Neither was I the mad man
who lived amongst the tombs;
denied any dignity of being human,
ruled by a legion of demons.
I could have been him –
God knows, I’ve been harassed
and taunted by the powers of evil.
Jesus freed this mad man
and restored his humanity.
No-one was beyond the God-man’s help;
all women, and men, were considered worthy.
Then, there were the children.
His friends tried to chase them away
No, no – ‘Let the little ones come to me
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Unless you have faith like them,
you will not enter my home.’
I was not the Roman officer whose servant was dying.
He said to the God-man:
‘Just say the word and he will be healed.’
What faith had he – and his servant was healed.
Or the father whose son was in trouble,
who said to the God-man:
‘I believe, help my disbelief.’
Or the non-Jewish mother,
who insisted Jesus heal her daughter:
‘Even the dogs under the table
eat the crumbs that fall from the table.’
All these had faith …
and were given what they asked for.
I was not at the temple
the day Jesus caused a scene.
I would like to have seen that.
He was angry –
the greedy exploiting the worshipper,
the Jew excluding the Gentile;
‘turning God’s house of prayer
into a den of thieves.’
Anyway, he turned the money tables over,
and drove out the culprits – and their animals
with an idle rope.
No-one got hurt –
only their pride suffered.
I was not Judas, Jesus’ friend,
who handed him over
to those who would kill him.
But I could have been Judas;
I have betrayed friends before.
I also know the pain of being betrayed –
Judas did it for thirty pieces of silver,
then threw it away and hung himself.
He couldn’t live with the remorse –
I don’t blame him.
But maybe he should have waited
for the story to finish.
No, I wasn’t Simon of Cyrene
who was prepared to carry
Jesus’ cross for a while.
The God-man had been beat up,
he couldn’t carry his own cross.
I carried mine.
And no, I wasn’t the good thief,
who turned to Jesus on the cross
in those final moments of life:
‘Remember me, Jesus
when you come as king.’
He was accepted, and promised:
‘Today, you will be with me in paradise.’
You see, I am the other thief;
the obnoxious thief,
the angry man,
the stubborn one,
the one with no fear of God.
‘Aren’t you the Messiah?’
I spat at him.
‘Save yourself, and us!’
the anguish of certain death,
brought out my worst –
If this God-man could save me,
Why wouldn’t he?
The other man rebuked me:
‘Don’t you fear God?
You and I are punished for guilty acts.
This man is given the same sentence,
yet has done no wrong.’
He has a point.
Whose justice is this?
This innocent man.
This innocent lamb.
The Lamb of God.
(by Hannah Beattie)
What is the meaning of life?
This is one of the most well known existential questions. However, I think that many of us are perhaps more interested in knowing what is the meaning of my life. What is my purpose here on earth? What should I invest my time and energy in? I think that this question is pondered by atheists, agnostics, deists and theists alike.
The other day my boyfriend and I were reading about eternity. And I was suddenly struck by the question, what is my purpose on earth? I believe in life after death… But in the meantime…?!
As I thought about this, I was fairly certain that my purpose wasn’t the pursuit of fame and fortune. Nor was it even happiness, a house or the most meaningful and cool job. So what was my purpose here on earth?
In a drop down, light bulb moment, I felt that I understood my mission statement for life on earth. And I hazard to suggest that maybe, just maybe, it might be a mission statement for all of us.
To learn love.
Learn to love others. Learn to be loved by others.
Learn to love Creator. Learn to be loved by Creator.
And learn to love ourselves.
I couldn’t believe that my purpose on earth might be that simple!
I’m sure many of us have read wordy mission statements with their accompanying visions, values, objectives, sub-objectives, KPIs, deliverables etc etc. But this mission statement, to me, is delightfully simple. And I couldn’t help but think that in line with Creator’s grace and love of creativity, that it can be lived out as a teacher, mother, engineer, pastor, baker, grandpa, barista, volunteer, dog lover, student or nurse. Unlike many weighty, exhausting mission statements, I think that this mission statement is life-giving. Not burdensome. For me, as I’ve thought about it, it is not something that I feel I need to add to my list of things I should do. Instead I think it is a (great!) place to live my life from! To learn love.
So what does it all mean?! I think maybe our goal on earth is to learn, practice and grow in love. My understanding of eternity is that it is a place of perfect love, where we live in a perfect loving relationship with Creator and others. So, I think, that it makes sense that maybe we begin learning love here on earth…
(by Basti Meredith)
A captured soul
Strung to the world
A desolate man
Easily as broken as twine
Oh broken man
Lost in the dark
Oh weary shadow
Has your well run dry?
Why, in the depths,
Of the darkest night
Do you choose to dwell
Void of the light?
Oh don’t you see
The sea flowing blue
You blew your final wick
And the wicked fell to you
If a shadow I am
A shadow I’ll be
Blinded to light
Cursed to never see
Never to see
The sea of which you speak
It can’t be for me
I’m lost I’m cold
I’m scarred I’m numb
My well is dried
My waters wrung
If only I could see
This sea you bring
The brink of my undoing
Would flee within
Oh mighty shadow
Oh great one
You are barely broken
You’re just unstrung
I’ve planted a seed
That grows only by night
Soon it will blossom
And bring forth light
For what good is the sun
Without the moon
Plant your feet
You’ll see light soon
The moon is needed
To guide the sea
The waves they flow
By night indeed
I have no sight
For there is no light
This sea you speak
I’ll never reach
There is no light
In the depths of the deep
But you’ve seen the sea
It surrounds your feet
And what of my well?
Dried as it is
Without any water
I can not live
Oh weary shadow
How can that be?
No well can run dry
In the bottom of my sea
For the seed that I planted
Is your well in the dark
Let it fire your eyes
And light up your path
(by David Tuke)
Glory be to Eloihym our Creator;
Eagle powerful and knowing
Glory be to Eloihym the Christ;
Speaking to us at dawn and at dusk
Glory be to Eloihym the Spirit;
The land ever present beneath our feet
As it was in the Dreaming,
You are now in our songs as we travel
and ever will be
until we shall dream again …
There is a bronze sculpture of a nude hammer thrower in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens that has always fascinated me. It was created by John Edward Robin in 1974. The hammer held by the figure has been stolen several times and duly returned or replaced by another. Recently, I discovered that this sculpture is called ‘The Pathfinder’.
Intrigued by its unexpected title, I tried to find out why it was known by this name. Maybe it harks back to Thor, the Nordic god of thunder but I found no evidence of this. I had assumed it was called ‘The Hammer Thrower’. This ‘why’ question remains unanswered … as do so many of my ‘why’ questions. However, the concept of a character who is known to be The Pathfinder grew in my mind.
2020 was a year that created so much change for all of us. For me personally, it also acted as a catalyst for a number of inevitable shifts. My youngest child moved out heralding the end of an intensive mothering season. At the same time, I moved from living in a rural environment to the centre of Melbourne City. Because I am a writer, my work life is unstructured and self-determined, and I now have no idea what to write about … or even what to think about. I envisage myself sitting on the ground surrounded by green grass and a convergence of possible paths. Immobilized by the chaos of 2020, I am not even sure I want to find a path … or my path.
Many of the projects that I have committed time and energy to in the past no longer entice me; I am not motivated or drawn by the same things. But, I still feel the need to be productive and contribute to the world around me. My question is ‘What is most deserving of my (our) attention and effort … What activities, or conversations, do I (we) need to be involved in now?’
I would like to speak with The Pathfinder. Or, perhaps a hammer thrower would do!
The muscles of the mountains;
the sinews of the hills
with scars across the ridgeline
… my heart and spirit fills.
Shaded shadows of the clouds
shrouding mysteries untold
Ancient omens from the mountains
tales of long-gone times of old.
Tethered to the earth …
yet reaching for the sky
Dressed with moods of the Creator
‘justice’ … is their cry.
It started with a jolt … then creaking as the pace expanded … then came a quiet rumbling when the speed increased … and finally, ease and rhythm with a gentle rocking motion.
This describes the beginning of a long train journey we took recently. But, equally well, it could describe the germination of a seed as it cracks open the seed-coat that has held it in dormancy and begins to expand into cotyledons and the first root. With time, the buried plantlet rumbles it’s way through the dark earth and emerges into the light and air above the ground. Once there, the miracle of photosynthesis begins and the rhythm of plant growth and development is set in motion.
Perhaps this sequence of sounds and movement also describes aptly our experience of major changes or shifts in our human lives. As we begin 2021, while still living in the covid shadow of 2020, I believe we will be able to embrace a new normal that will enable us to make many bold changes that need to be made. Changes in the way we care for the earth. Changes in the way we share food, water, land and resources. Changes in how we relate to time, the ocean, other species, the wild places on earth. Changes in the way we regard money, work, progress, sustainability and waste. Maybe even changes in the way we view ourselves, our neighbours and our deity.
Whatever this year holds for you, we hope there is more kindness and that you get to take a long train ride!
Maybe it’s the gentleness
of a God who cares
Maybe it’s the compassion
of a God who wants things to be better …
Maybe it’s the humility
of God as a baby
Maybe it’s the vulnerability
of God entering humanity.
Maybe it’s the justice
of telling poor shepherds first.
Maybe it’s the miracle
of the unsuspecting virgin giving birth
… her husband confused
… and both misunderstood,
yet bold enough to trust
to trust in an unpredictable
and totally trustworthy God.
The God of Love
The God of Comfort
The God of Grace.
Maybe it’s the inclusion
of rich foreigners,
who do not know the Jewish God
who have not heard of Jehovah
have not read the Book
are not expecting the new king to be God.
Maybe it’s the peace
of a sleeping newborn,
who promises to save us from our selves.
Maybe it’s the joy
of knowing the friendship of God,
a friendship that can’t be earnt
… only received.
Maybe that’s the good in Christmas!
(by Lyn Beattie)