New Release: Hold Them Close

Hold Them Close 
New poetry collection from Sarah Agnew 
Available now! 

The poems in Hold Them Close express the joys and hardships of life in its breadth, from the sacred story of Christian spirituality, to the profanity of injustice; through the isolation of the poet and PhD student’s life and the deep connections to family, friends, community, and creation.  In her third collection of poetry, Sarah Agnew continues to give voice to vulnerability, and thereby seek strength.
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Midweek Musing: let's not defend ourselves against the poor

Reflecting on Mark 10:17-31, and Hebrews 4:12-16 : Canberra Central Parish, 14 October 2018

A response of confession feels appropriate, hearing these readings. This poem is by John van de Laar: ‘Biographers of the Least’

Our world overflows with stories, Jesus,
so many lives,
so many ways of being human.
So why are we satisfied with so few?
Why do we keep telling the same stories over and over,
of the wealthy and powerful and beautiful?

Why do we so carelessly pass by the rich and unpredictable stories
of the unseen
who in a million magical ways,
make a life out of nothing?

God, forgive our narrow interests,
and our lazy entertainments;
Make us biographers of the least,
who listen to the untold stories of the shadow people,
and bring them into the light.

Give us the curiosity and the restlessness
to search out the forgotten,
the neglected,
the unwanted,
the discarded,
and the worn out,
to learn their legends,
and to acknowledge their place
in the epic story of humanity.
Saint Martin – the image on the pew she…

Midweek Musing. On law, love, and embrace for the vulnerable.

Sermon for Wesley Uniting Church – 7 October 2018 Mark 10:2–16
So here we are again. A difficult passage, one we might want to quickly skip over because it’s too hard and incomprehensible; one we might want to tear out, throw away all together because it’s been presented to us in the past as a hardline narrowing perspective on human relationships, and marriage in particular. I wonder, though. To hear Jesus speak thus would put his words in contrast to his actions. If Jesus actions are consistently opening up relationship, not closing it down, we might use that to help us discern meaning in his words here.

To hear Jesus speak of the Law without question or challenge to the way it is being applied in Jewish community in his time is to bring an inconsistency into his approach to the Law. Do we think Jesus is inconsistent, untrustworthy? I don’t think so.
As usual in these stories, the people questioning Jesus are testing him. Some scholars have seen Jesus here pointing through a particula…

Midweek Musing: Ode to Woman, Wisdom, Humanity

Reflection for worship at Wesley Uniting Church. 23 September 2018

Proverbs 31:10-31 and James 3:13-18 

In a drawing room in Regency England, in the house known as Netherfield, Mr Bingley observes:
‘It is amazing to me how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished, as they all are.’

Mr Darcy was ‘very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen … that are really accomplished.’
‘Nor I, I am sure,’ added Miss Bingley.
‘Then,’ observed Elizabeth, ‘you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished woman.’
‘I do.’
But it was Miss Bingley who provided the details of their idea of ‘accomplished’: ‘A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half…

Midweek Musing. More than the moments

As July began, four weeks away in the UK and USA loomed as a potential disaster for one recovering from glandular fever and very low iron. The infusion of iron held purpose for lifting energy levels, but it was far from living up to its promise by the time I came to pack and check in for the flights to Edinburgh. I spent the day before I left snoozing through TV shows in between short bursts of just enough energy to tidy up, pack, lock the garage – I didn’t do so much of what I had planned to do before I left. But what I did would have to be enough. And as there would be no turning back from the planned adventures to Edinburgh, Cardiff, Oxford, Stratford, Washington, and Dayton, I would have to plan to be diligent with time for rest, if my fears for a post-trip energy melt down were not to be realised.

The first half of 2018 has been like living in an intensely focussed bubble of ‘new’. Even without health concerns it would have been exhausting. I realise I have probably been processi…

Diary of a chronically exhausted vicar. Episode 13.

In which I get moving on my house furnishing project, think about how to get me moving again, and then take it a little bit too far.

I decided it was time to plot the next stages of project house furnishing, which was put on hold for the world tour interlude.

The next room I’ve been wanting to furnish is the family room, but I was also stalled with progress on this one because I couldn’t decide what exactly I wanted to do with it. I have been intentional with each room, giving it a colour scheme, and specific purpose. I had started off with the idea that the dining / lounge area would be more formal, for entertaining, more poised, for reading and quiet, with the family room for the tv and every day living. Off the family room is a multi purpose room with an entry way but no doors. This is the music room, and apart from a lamp and a fancy music stand, it’s pretty much finished (the only other one I can say that about is the library; yes, I insist on calling the ‘study’ my library, beca…

Midweek Musing. On being 'Sister Sarah'.

Trying to explain why I prefer to be single is hard. To admit that sex is not part of one's life can make one seem flawed, somehow almost leprous in the eyes of others, or at least, society. Our society is so hyper-sexualised, it makes talking about the breadth of human relationships really difficult sometimes. But as a minister, we talk human relationships a lot, and when travelling to visit many friends and catch up on stories, as I recently did, human relationships are integral to the stories we share with each other.

How do I talk about intimacy without a listener immediately assuming sex? Or about the demonstrative affection I find quite natural, but which is inherently sister-like towards my fellow human whom I love as a sister-friend? Can I avoid labels such as 'a-sexual' or 'a-romantic' (people are so keen to label).

My younger sister's friends took took to calling me 'sister Sarah' in their university days, when I was allowed to hang out with t…

Father's Day: Telling.

a day for fathers,
for dads and daddies,
pas and papas, so we are told;

buy up big, this is best,
show him just how much
you care, so we are told;

dads like power tools and football,
cricket, fishing, boating, camping,
red meat, whisky, beer, so we are told;

they wear nice shirts and neck ties,
smart watches, blue jumpers and
rugby jerseys, so we are told;

have wives and happy children,
friends around a barbecue or
in a pub, so we are told;

and one day each year we
can buy a card, a gift,
to show them love – or

can we tell another story,
of dads in comic book t-shirts,
fathers in kitchens and classrooms,

pas who knit, who dance,
who drink tea or champagne,
cook tofu burgers on their barbecues;

can we tell the story of dads
who have husbands, or no partner
at all, who nurse, who play

violin or clarinet, paint
portraits, write poetry, and do
not care for costly gifts at all?

can we tell of offspring
who tell daddies every day
in words and hugs and taking out

the rubbish: I love you,
I n…