A lament for Australia
Summer 2020 

Where do we begin
with this great wall of fire
or that fire storm
or the hungry angry monster?
Where do we begin?

How do we enfold them all
into our love, the dozens
of humans dead, the hundreds
of homes razed, the thousands
of folk displaced, the millions
of acres burned, the billions
of creatures dead - how can
our embrace include them all?

What is the starting point
for our care, now, this task
now to rebuild: which lives
to prop up, which towns to
reconstruct, which roads to open,
what first? what next? what do we do ?

We need You.
We need You here with us,
and with us all. We need
courage and wisdom, love
and compassion; we need
safety, we need care, we
need healing, we need hope -
O, Holy One, we need You.
Draw us in, fill us up,
send us and go with us as we reach
out from where we are, one step, one
act, help us remember we are 
one, and to find that somehow, thus,
we have begun.

(c) Sarah Agnew

Love is all we need

Reflection for Wesley Uniting Advent 4 – 22 December 2019

(sing) All you need is love – do da do do doo – all you need is love – do da do do doo – all you need is love, love, love is all you need.

All you need is love.

God insists again and again through time and story and prophets and Jesus – all you need is love.

but the world is still mucky and messy and anything but ‘love’ so much of the time, isn’t it? We might ask God, are you sure love is all we need?

For we look around and people are defrauded and abused, they are grieving and lonely, we are twisted into the systems of corporate greed, manipulated by advertisers into selfish hoarding of more , more, more, frightened by media outlets wanting to sell their product - and politicians seeking to retain their seats - into rejecting the different, the science, our humanity – where is the love? how can love be all we need in the face of all this?

surely anger would be more helpful? or money? or borders? or war?

Do we trust God? The s…

Christmas Essentials

At a dinner recently, we were invited to consider what three things we would say are essential to a full appreciation of Christmas.

The consensus seemed to be:

The story
The community of the story
Our response to the story

Now, I’m not talking about the story of Santa Claus and the elves however much our traditions centre on the characters of the North Pole; not the little drummer boy, A Christmas Carol, or The Grinch, though their stories do point to some of the truths of the Christmas story; nor movies such as Home Alone, Die Hard, or The Holiday, without which we might not feel we’ve truly celebrated the season.

If you had never experienced Christmas before, I would encourage you to do these three things for your fullest encounter with the essence of Christmas.

Engage with the story. The story of Jesus, God being born on earth in a strange and wonderful way. The story of new birth; of an unwed teenager finding herself pregnant, her fiancĂ©e finding the courage to withstand scorn an…

The love into which we are baptised

Wesley Uniting Church – 8 December 2019 – Advent 2
Reflection on Matthew 3:1–12 and Romans 15:4–13

With the air around Australians just now full of flame and smoke and hundreds of square kilometres of land charred and smouldering, it is easier than is comfortable for us to conjure the picture of incineration John casts. Perhaps it’s hyperbole, rhetoric, the use of such fierce and confronting language. The stakes are high. This is about whether we live, or do not live. When I perform the letters of Paul, I feel his use of rhetoric point to his belief in the high stakes – the question of living, or not, as a vital, vital question for people he loves and knows that God loves.

Back to John the Baptiser, though: Bill Loader, Australian Biblical scholar, ponders whether John may actually have expected Jesus would bring such devastating consequences to those who did not genuinely and radically turn around, did not become immersed in the life-changing Way of God. Later in the story – chapter 1…

Diary of a Chronically Exhausted Vicar. Episode 41.

It's been a while between diary entries. I haven't had many words, or haven't been able to put shape to them for any helpful contribution to our conversation here. 
I have been tired. I have been doing what needs doing and no more. 
Finally, though, today what needs doing is some deeper thinking by writing about how I am. 

I am tired. So nothing changes there. 
I am sad. 
I was briefly rejuvenated by five days with family to celebrate my nephew's baptism into the family of God, and my middle sister's special birthday.  We surprised her, which is no mean feat with someone who prefers to know what is happening or will be happening. I think she found joy in a day she might have been forgiven for only seeing for its sorrows: the empty chairs, the unfulfilled dreams ... I hope she felt loved. For she is. So. Loved.  We baptised him with our tears as much as the water from the font, and that was my fault. Breakfasts are the moment the tears flow for me, for some reason.…

grief upon grief

the tears came today,
of course, interrupting
breakfast, of course -
not yesterday
                      with its space
its solitude its freedom;
but today as I prepare
for the office, for
the weekly chat in his
or my office to share
the load the joy the
            not yesterday's
two month anniversary
of the other loss
the bigger loss the deeper
loss but today
when grief cannot have
my attention, must not
pull me away from the life
I must keep living the work
I will be doing now alone