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.
Buy it now: 
From the publisher: Resource Publications From Booktopia From Amazon

What will we do with the Spirit we have received?

What does it mean to receive the Spirit? The experience might be transcendent, as this poem seeks to describe: 

with flight inspired
like singing choir
and life contained no more
lift the roof
on organ wings
with tongues
with Spirit blaze
trail behind a smoky
these fiery days
comfortable no more
alight now, soar
arise, take flight,
each one fly,
fly high, dream wide
your uncommon gifts inspired
live life uncontained
with the goose – wild and free

['chase the goose',]

But what am I going to do, having received this gift? Keep it to myself alone? Is that what this gift is for?

When the Spirit descends on the disciples in that room, they are given the ability to tell the story of God so that ALL will hear – for ALL are invited – ALL are free.

Note that each hears the story in their own language, in the language into which they were born. And one’s language, particu…

Who are we, Community of Christ?

The Stories: Acts 16:16-34 and John 17:20-26

I want to begin with the story in Acts; the first part of the story, which we often skip over for the sensational miracle in the jail cell; the story of the female character.

Nothing more is said of the servant girl after she is liberated from the malevolent spirit, her malevolent masters.

Is she left to fend for herself?

Or might we plausibly imagine her story thus:

Standing in the marketplace, forgotten, I felt a freedom I had never known. Healed of the spiteful, angry voice in my head, there was a silence inside me, a stillness about me.  I was glad my masters abandoned me, that the crowd left me to follow my masters as they dragged those men away.  Later, I was worried for those men, but in that moment, I was blissfully alone for the first time in my life, and I breathed - a long sigh out, for I think I had held my breath at first, not willing to break the spell. Then deeply, in, out, as I turned around, saw my hands, my feet, as if I’d …

Diary of a chronically exhausted vicar. Episode 27.

Public speaking, performance, oral storytelling. This is my craft. I am good enough at it that others will listen to me and learn from me in order to develop their own skills and techniques. Public speaking. It is my thing. But now, I am losing it.

For many years now, people have thanked me for my diction, voice projection, expression, when they have heard me speak in public.
Not anymore.
In the past year I have received more feedback than ever before that my voice is soft, I can’t be heard. So I must reflect and examine the cause of my diminished voice.

The message
Back in congregational ministry, preaching every week, and to a congregation that is full of intelligent, mature, inquisitive, engaged-by-justice followers of Jesus, I have found myself composing reflections on the Bible that are bold, challenging, unconventional. There are times I have worried I will push too far into new territory for my listeners. I suspect this diminishes my voice, if I give in to uncertainty and the an…

Paul and Lydia: living the story of peace

Sermon – Wesley Uniting Church – 26 May 2019 Easter 6 & Reconciliation Sunday
with prayers of intercession 
Acts 16:9–15 and John 14:23–29 

How do we encounter each other?
Humans are so very willing to judge, condemn, blame, dismiss each other.
to frown and whisper about dress not to our taste
to speak with anger that divides
to offer sharp criticism for tardiness, a lack of cleverness, not meeting our expectations
to listen only to voices that agree with our own
to act informed only by our ignorance
to fear and reject what we do not understand
to shout insults at a player or umpire of a game

Much of this might be reflection on the recent election campaign
Equally, I could be naming incidents from my everyday encounters, and sometimes actions from others than myself …

But what has this to do with the stories we hear today?

I wonder if we might hear from these stories the counter-cultural way of Christ as a call and a guide for how we encounter each other

In the story of Jesus today, he s…

Perhaps the question is answer enough?

As I sit down to edit another
sermon, what am I trying to
         What are we – sigh – what are you
trying to say? I never quite know
where I am going; am not quite sure
I am always intentional in listening
for you.
              Am I enough in the mould
of you to truly be in tune
with you?
                 Perhaps the question is

The secret pulse of our story

My friend Katie Munnik has this year published her debut novel, The Heart Beats in Secret. It is wonderful.

I had the privilege of reading early drafts, which so delighted me I'm not sure I was much critical help, to be honest.

You'll find my name, then, in the acknowledgements. Look for it early in the story itself, too, evidence of a friend on a writer's mind, stories pulsating in secret behind the story being told.

But the story itself. Three women. Three generations. Three stories.

Such stories have been told before. Watch for the way Katie transforms familiar tropes of conception dates and identity searches in unexpected directions. This is fresh, imaginative writing. 
Two countries. Landscape, distance, community. The evocative, poetic language will transport you, whether you know Scotland or Canada, or not. You will know a small coastal town and an isolated camp of refuge as if you had lived there yourself. 
The wild goose links Scotland and Canada with a gentle eas…

At one with Christ, at one with God

Reflection for Easter 4: 12 May 2019 - Canberra Central Uniting Church Parish
John 10:22–30 You do not believe. You are not one of my sheep.
Here’s a chicken and egg situation. You don’t believe, therefore you are not my sheep. You are not my sheep, therefore you don’t believe. Who is excluding the unbeliever from the sheepfold?

Exclusion is a touchy subject for the church that claims to offer a welcome for all. But welcome for all people does not mean acceptance of all behaviour.

I was reminded of this distinction when chatting with a friend this week. We were exploring the notions of boundaries, exclusion and inclusion, for groups, and agreed that delineation is important for a group, to protect the shared values of its members, and the health and wholeness of the group and its individual members.

One’s behaviour may naturally mark one as a member or not, of any particular group: Raiders fans wear Green to the matches. Behaviour contravening the group’s shared values and identity …