Showing posts from May, 2019

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 …

Diary of a chronically exhausted vicar. Episode 26

Living with chronic illness seems to me, today, to be like having automatic additives mixed in with every experience.

By my calculations, I have three additives that compound the normal tiredness that comes from being involved in life, or the viruses, colds, and flu like illnesses to which we all succumb from time to time.

And each of those additives is itself a complex cocktail of symptoms:

Chonic Fatigue 

Extreme tiredness
Poor sleep
Flu-like sickness
muscle & joint pain
Impeded cognition & concentration

Glandular Fever / post viral fatigue 

Swollen glands
Extremely sore throat & temperature (aka flu-like sickness)
Extreme tiredness


Continuous low mood & sadness
Irritability & disinterestedness
Impeded cognition & concentration
muscle & joint pain
Slowness & low energy
Poor sleep

So, in Holy Week ministers expend a lot of energy and naturally feel tired at the end of it all. Usually that's a good, satisfying kind of tired at having given o…

Diary of a chronically exhausted vicar. Episode 25

When last I wrote of the chronic exhaustion, I was reflecting on the care one needs to take in order to preserve energy and ease, when at last it finds you.

That was on the eve of Holy Week, and I anticipated that the ensuing week would pose significant challenges to said energy and ease. It did.

The energy and ease lasted pretty well through a wonderful Palm Sunday interactive worship with the early Wesley gathering, and three contemplative Holy Week spaces in which my colleague presented art works, musicians played, and I read story and poetry.

By Maundy Thursday, with a bigger load of reading the whole passion story aloud, I was beginning to tire. Good Friday, I was fatigued and feeling some discomfort in muscles likely starting to inflame, but delivered the sermon effectively, from the responses of the people gathered.
Holy Saturday brought much more pain, and movement was uncomfortable, uneasy, and slow, as I went to the church and dismantled the prayer stations we had left in th…