2 2018 Eastwood Uniting Church →
2 2018 Eastwood Uniting Church →
CONTACT #2 2018 THE QUARTERLY MAGAZINE OF EASTWOOD AND MARSDEN ROAD UNITING CHURCHES CONTENTS Eastwood Uniting Church Marsden Road Uniting Church Reverend Nicholas Fried Rev John Candy In response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Eastwood Congregation of the Uniting Church in Australia seeks to be an open and growing community of God’s people which by its life and worship witnesses to the love, mercy, peace and justice of God among the people of Eastwood and the wider world. What’s on @ EUC 2 Time to go 18 Who to Contact? 2 Market Day 20 Duncan’s Note 3 Eastwood Barbecue 22 Church Council 4 Inaugural Chinese Service 23 Financial Report 5 500 years of Reformation 25 Reflecting on Easter 13 Pentecost Sunday 28 Photo: John Court
ENGLISH 8.00 am St Andrew’s Worship Centre 9.30 am St Andrew’s Worship Centre 10.45 (1st Sunday Only) Lakeside Chapel 2.00 pm Chinese Service 2 REGULAR SUNDAY SERVICES WHAT’S ON @ EASTWOOD UNITING CHURCH English Conversation Classes Every Monday 9.30 am - Church Hall (during school term) Every Tuesday 7.30 pm - East/West Rooms (during term) Meditation Every Monday 8.00 pm - Lakeside Chapel Table Tennis Every Thursday 8.00 pm - Church Hall The Stamp Group 4th Wednesday of each month 10.00 am Thomsons Women’s Bible Study Group Every Wednesday 10.00 am - Crèche (during school term) Bible Study Groups Please check the website for details The Minister Rev. Nicholas Fried 9874 2089 Chinese Resource Worker Tennyson Chan 陳牧師 0411 896 274 Church Office (Eastwood) Kerrie & Michelle 9858 5732 Church Council Phil L (Chair) Michelle W (Secretary) 9876 2223 Church Congregation Linda B (Chair) Myrna T (Secretary) 9980 7337 9811 0055 Letting of Halls Church Office 9858 5732 Friday Fellowship Elaine L 9868 2895 English Conversation Classes Monday - Marion G Tuesday - Malcolm G 9874 2088 9874 2088 Meditation Allan H 0408 961 486 6F Margot D 9888 2080 The Stamp Group Janice T 9874 6157 Sunday School Co-ordinator Janine J 9858 1553 Study Group Chinese Bible Study Wednesday - Janine J Friday - Tennyson C 9858 1553 0411 896 274 Open Church Graham & Barbara H 9869 8524 WHO TO CONTACT @ LAKESIDE ROAD
3 A NOTE FROM DUNCAN Twelve months ago, I had my first encounter with Eastwood Uniting Church. I tried valiantly to “push” rather than “pull” open the front door, contrary to the published instructions and to the quiet amusement of my potential Field Educator, Nicholas Fried. Despite failing this first test it was agreed that I would undertake a period of Field Education at Eastwood. A student mantra asserts that “we are not in field placement to help, we are here to learn”. So, when you have found me unhelpful that’s when I have been doing it correctly. This has been my first placement and so I had a lot to learn. I have been blessed with personal and spiritual challenges during my time with you and with opportunities (and challenges) in ministry and mission. I mentioned in one sermon that human beings learn to walk by falling over, and more generally we learn by making mistakes. It has been a privilege to fall over in the safe space you have allowed for me at Eastwood, and I pray that the process of my learning hasn’t done you any permanent damage. Having a student in your congregation is not without its trials and responsibilities for a supervisor. I take this opportunity to publicly record my gratitude to Nicholas for his commitment to my formation during the last twelve months. We have crossed several bridges together and gone over not a few hurdles. Over this twelve-month period, we have celebrated a few significant Anniversaries. Last year marked 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his theses to a church door, and forty years since the Uniting Church came into being. For some of us looking back is slightly more comfortable than looking forward. While Martin Luther was a little before my time I have relished the opportunity at college to share my experiences of actual debates prior to church union, with my fellow students (and some lecturers) for whom these are wholly matters of historical record. I have been privileged to hear the personal histories and faith journeys some of you have shared with me. Nostalgia can be a pleasant indulgence. Regardless of whether we disagree with Robbie Burns sentiment as he reflects on his past; “But Och! I backward cast my e’e*, On Prospects drear!” we must disagree with his expectations of the future expressed in the very next line; “An fo’ward tho’ I canna see, I guess an’ fear!” We are a people of hope and are called forward to the final reconciliation of all things in God. We share our faith in community so that as a community we may hold those for whom faith is challenged in the grief of the moment. The absolute certainty of the love and grace of God are held for those for whom doubt and anxiety are today’s reality. Our job is to love those who have forgotten, or not yet learnt, that they are the beloved of God. And my goodness Eastwood Uniting you do that well. You support and have made space for English lessons in your church. You are building community with your Barbeques in the Park and through participation in the Granny Smith festival. You raise funds for those in need with your Fair. Weekly (or maybe a little less often) you commit yourselves to becoming better disciples of Christ in this place. Thank you for accepting me into your home and giving me the opportunity to fall and learn with you. “Ode To A Mouse” by Robert Burns (*eye) BAPTISM Yu Ha Choe Son of (Jake) Seongmin Choe and (Chloe) Kyung-A Seo 25th March 2018
4 NOTES FROM MAY CHURCH COUNCIL MEETING Issues discussed at the meeting on 31st May 2018 included: • Chinese Speaking Umbrella Group: Chinese language worship service to commence on 17th June. Application made for a Uniting grant to fund Chinese resource worker. • Caring Umbrella Group: Programme ‘Discussing Dementia’ led by Rev Frank Van der Korput to be held at 7.30pm on 26th July. • Continuing Education Umbrella Group: Talks in April and May by UTC’s Anthony Rees and Jeff Arnie enjoyed by EUC members and others. Next events: ‘Uppity Women of the Bible’ (August) and Galatians fortnightly study (from July). Details in weekly newssheet. • Finance: Discussion of draft Budget 2018/2019 financial year, for next Congregation meeting. • Property: Denistone East Manse repairs completed, leased in May. Planning proposal for rezoning of the whole Denistone East property publicly exhibited in May/June by Ryde Council. Subdivision application for a boundary adjustment between the church and hall buildings and the manse was lodged with Ryde Council in May and is also now on public exhibition. Auld Ave manse repairs completed. Lakeside buildings painting completed. • Congregation Meeting to be held 24th June to consider 2018/2019 draft Budget and to discuss member’s views on the future of Market Day from 2019. If you have any comments/questions or issues you wish Church Council to address, please contact any member of the Council: Nicholas Fried, Phil Looby, Michelle Weatherburn, Janelle Dodd, Lesley Bradbury, Graham Horrocks, Emma Ewin, Chris Wakefield, Jason Masters, Linda Brunton.
Linda Brunton, Congregation Chair Fare thee well, Duncan. We have so enjoyed having you as part of our congregation. Last year when we heard you were coming to spend the best part of a year with us, we wondered what we would be getting. Then when you arrived we saw a large man with a grey and tousled beard, wild and woolly hair and a cheerful smile. And now we know you. You have been part of our lives and our mission here at Eastwood for nearly a year. You have sung with the singing group, you have lunched with 6F, you have attended Church Council meetings, you have occasionally preached, you have led the Eastwood barbecue group, even cleaning the barbecues before the cooking could begin. You have been part of the congregation at all the services, 8 am, 9.30am and 10.45 am. One morning you looked different, something had changed. Ian Hunt did not even recognise you, asked who you were. This was the new Duncan, without a beard and with tidy hair but the cheerful smile was still there. Duncan, we hope you have enjoyed your time with us and that it has proved useful. We have certainly enjoyed having you with us. We wish you all success in your studies and a good life ahead in the church. Margot Doust on behalf of the Congregation FAREWELL TO DUNCAN
5 The collections in May were below budget with year to date May slightly below budget. The YTD Direct Giving and Loose collections were slightly above budget. Total net revenue is slightly ahead of budget due in part of the grant for our Community Resource Worker from Synod. Revenue for the hall was above budget due to a number of new tenants. The tenants moved out last September from the Denistone East manse and some renovations have been undertaken totalling $14,780. New tenants moved in from the end of May. YTD Expenses are above budget, due to the payment to Ryde Council of $30,000 for application to rezone the Denistone East Church and manse site.
Current year allocations to the reserve for asset replacement costs have been reversed, with the expectation of resuming these provisions for future major maintenance when the DEUC property is sold. The surplus for May is the result of reversing the asset replacement reserve allocations. Thank you for your contributions which are making it possible to finance our mission work. Janelle Dodd May YTD Actual Budget Over/(under) Actual Budget Over/(under) Collections $9,309 $13,700 ((4,391) $150,724 $151,300 (576) Total net revenue $23,175 $15,660 7,515 $222,693 $141,864 80,829 Expenses $15,638 $16,367 (729) $234,772 $189,990 44,782 Mission work $3,074 $3,183 (109) $51,697 $62,009 (10,312) Surplus/(Deficit) $4,463 ($3,890) 8,353 ($63,776) ($110,135) 46,359 FINANCIAL REPORT LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS EUCMS next production will be “Little Shop of Horrors”, a deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical which has devoured the hearts of theatre goers for over 30 years. Howard Ashman and Allan Menken (who together wrote Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin) are the creative geniuses behind what has become one of the most popular shows in the world. The story is a cross between the tragedy of Dr. Faustus and an affectionate satire on the B-grade horror movies of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Auditions for anyone interested in being involved onstage will be held at the end of June. Contact eucms.Isoh@gmail.com for more information with the word “audition” in the subject line, or ‘phone Caroline Reddel on 0401 307 088.
6 RECOMMENDATIONS TO ASSEMBLY 2018 – Same Gender Marriage. Our Uniting Church is heading into a challenging period, one if handled well could offer a significant move forward for our church and afford us an excellent opportunity for evangelism. On the other hand, if not managed well could lead to substantial harm to the church. The Assembly meets only once in every three years and is the peak body on areas of doctrine for the Uniting Church in Australia. Our church has struggled on the issue of acceptance of LGBTIQ Members, LGBTIQ Ordained people and moved forward well on these. But at least we have been willing to struggle. One of the great things in the Basis of Union of the Uniting Church is that we are willing to grapple with being followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible, and we are open to scholarly interpretation which includes the fact that we “enter(s) into the inheritance of literary, historical and scientific enquiry”1 .
The word homosexual was not introduced into an English translation of the Bible until 1946, during a complicated period around politics and sexuality. At the same time there was an incorrect understanding of the reasons behind why some people were homosexual, which wasn’t corrected in the medical sphere until the later 1970’s and globally 20 years later. A current research project of the archives of Yale University, where the people undertaking that translation met, is uncovering a lack of intellectual rigour around the translation and introduction of the word homosexual into the Biblical text2 .
In the Assembly papers for the July meeting is one entitled B23 Standing Committee Report on Marriage and Same-Gender Relationships outlines four possibilities3 : “1. Offer the rites of marriage only to opposite-gender relationships, while allowing Ministers and Uniting Church authorised celebrants to conduct, or to decline to conduct, “blessings” of same- gender relationships as long as such ceremonies “do not resemble marriage” without any officially approved rites for such services.
2. Offer the rites of marriage only to opposite-gender relationships, while allowing Ministers and Uniting Church authorised celebrants to conduct, or to decline to conduct, “blessings” of same- gender, covenantal relationships according to officially approved rites for such services. 3. Offer the rites of marriage only to opposite-gender relationships, and forbid Ministers and Uniting Church authorised celebrants to conduct blessings of same-gender covenantal relationships. 4. Offer the rites of marriage to opposite-gender and same-gender couples, while allowing Ministers and Uniting Church authorised celebrants freedom of conscience to perform marriages or not.” The Standing Committee is recommending that Assembly accept Option 4. Some people have suggested that this paper has been prepared by Uniting Network, the LGBTIQ network in the Uniting Church. It is essential to understand that I was at a conversation session two years ago led with representatives of the Standing Committee, which was not a pleasant process from my perspective. Further, if the Church were moving toward full equality for all people, then the recommendation would be to include same-gender marriage by all ministers. However, I accept that recommendation is a half-way house that may potentially be acceptable to the majority attending Assembly and the wider church, but it is not equality. I feel for LGBTIQ people in some states and presbyteries, and those in some rural locations that would like to get married in the Uniting Church but whole areas of the church under this proposal may not allow them to get married within the Uniting Church.
_ _ 1 https://assembly.uca.org.au/basis-of-union 2 http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/word-homosexual-first-introduced-bible/ 3 https://uniting.church/b23-standing-committee-report-on-marriage-and-same-g ender-relationships/
Please pray for the Assembly and its members as they prepare for the Assembly. I would ask everyone to read the report; it is very extensive, not only from an academic and theological perspective with its extensive detail and analysis but also its consideration from a cross-cultural perspective. Naturally, many of the Assembly of Confessing Churches within the Uniting Church, our conservative evangelical arm, are actively moving actions to stop this proceeding, including in our Presbytery. There are already some outrageous claims made, including at the briefing session with our Moderator at our Presbytery meeting at Turramurra Uniting Church recently that I attended. Fortunately, the Moderator handled it well. There is also a change.org petition circulating with a request to exclude all LGBTIQ people and allies of LGBTIQ people being from being allowed to attend the Assembly.
This proposal will be a topic of great interest within our church and within the media when Assembly is in session. Please read the proposal as your friends and colleagues may ask you for your thoughts and views when it is more broadly discussed in the media. I would be more than happy to discuss this issue with any members of our congregation. If you don’t know where to find the report, the following is the web link; https://uniting.church/b23- standing-committee-report-on-marriage-and-same-gender-relationships/ Jason Masters 7 Marion Gledhill received a Medal (OAM) in the General Division for services to the Uniting Church in Australia, and to social welfare. QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY HONOURS 2018 Margot Doust also received a Medal (AM) in the General Division for significant service to the community through equitable access to tertiary education.
OPEN DOOR 8 James lives in the Somerset County Town of Taunton in the UK (which happens to be where my wife Philippa was born and raised). James owned and operated a successful building business and he specialised in roofing. Roofers often say they need a 'third hand' when working on the slate roofs and with some ingenuity, whilst in his 30's, he designed and patented a tool that enabled roofers to effectively have this 'third hand'. The tool was manufactured and distributed to appropriate suppliers and his business was running efficiently. Life was comfortable for his wife and four children.
The challenges and vagaries of business saw him move into difficult times - he was now into his 40's. The tough times proved too overwhelming and his business went into liquidation with disastrous consequences on his personal life. James was unable to resolve the situation, his wife divorced him and she retained the family home and custody of the children. He was forced to move out and find accommodation elsewhere. He used B & B's for a time as he sought employment which had become extremely difficult. He was suffering with depression and low self esteem and his financial situation was now becoming desperate. He could no longer afford accommodation and was forced to live on the streets, finding shelter where he could, struggling with the cold, suffering with the wet weather, becoming even more dejected. Daily living was now a challenge and it was becoming impossible to find open doors. As he mixed with other homeless people, often called 'rough sleepers', he heard about a charity in Taunton called “Open Door”.
Open Door is a Taunton Charity for people who are homeless, most of whom are rough sleepers. It began 17 years ago when local churches saw this critical need amongst the growing number of homeless. Since then it has continued providing emergency support to 300 vulnerable adults a year, roughly 15 a day, with one new person each day. Each morning, Open Door provides clients with hot meals, shower facilities, a laundry service, and a clothes exchange. Clients are referred to other services, particularly Taunton Association For The Homeless where they see the Outreach team for emergency accommodation. Open Door has 7 Trustees and 4 paid members of staff. Over 50 volunteers, mainly Christians, provide the backbone of the day centre. The centre also accepts students on college placements or people from the job centre wanting to gain experience.
Funding for the charity is a continual struggle and Open Door is fortunate enough to continue being supported by many of the local churches, and further support is also provided by schools, community groups, individuals and businesses. James was now clearly desperate and he tentatively made his way to the Open Door centre. Here he found the support he needed and apart from his physical needs being supported he began to find referrals to job opportunities. One of these referrals provided James with the opportunity for work on a trial basis. The employer also became aware that James was a rough sleeper and offered him accommodation in a garage during the trial period of work.
James was a man of good character and work ethic who had fallen on hard times. This was the opportunity he needed and he now began the journey to regain some independence and respect. He didn't take long to prove himself to his new employer and his journey was well underway – a success story for Open Door. A great many of the rough sleepers are people of good character. Open Door says about its mission, “At Open Door we believe that people can do better and recover. Our clients are homeless not hopeless”.
Unfortunately it is the experience of most of the rough sleepers that so many of the public do not seem to have a great deal of compassion for them or their circumstances. Fortunately, Open Door is principally made up of Christian people with great compassion and empathy. So, the next time you see someone selling copies of the Big Issue magazine, please know that these people are working to get back on their feet. This is a self help process of buying and selling the Big Issue magazine to deliver financial and social inclusion.
Open Door is in partnership with the Big Issue Foundation, it provides clients with five free magazines initially and they can then buy magazines to sell at a profit. This gives them independence, increasing self esteem and confidence and in some cases total financial self sufficiency. This is an example of one of the ways Open Door clients are encouraged to become involved in a self-help programme. When did I see you Lord and you needed . ? I have been visiting Taunton and had the opportunity of visiting Open Door. It was a great opportunity to share this Christian work with the readers of our Contact magazine. Allan Harrington, from Taunton, May 2018.
9 THE UNITING CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA - A Truly Australian Church A back to basics people seeking to live by the actual word of Jesus of Nazareth (as judged by scholars of the Gospels) 1 Love for God and all people we meet regardless of ethnicity, religious affiliations or affliction 2 Compassion for all people we meet regardless of status, wealth or powerlessness 3 Mercy for all who offend us regardless of circumstances 4 Justice for all regardless of status or power 5 Hope that we have used our time to help others and that our journey has not been wasted. 6 To exercise power for the benefit of others and not to benefit us alone. Ian Hunt
In May 2018 I was privileged to travel to Hong Kong to attend the Asia Pacific Rainbow Families Forum, and in addition to attending, I was a speaker on the session, “Faith, Families and the Workplace.” There were representatives from some 30 countries, from the South Pacific, through to Iran and Russia. Significantly for us, the conferen ce was co-sponsored by GIN, the Global Interfaith Network supporting LGBTIQ people of faith. Consequently, the meeting did have a reasonable level of discussion across many religions and their impact on LGBTIQ people in the region. There were some delegates we couldn’t name or photograph in our social media because of threats to their and their families welfare if local authorities, notably Pakistan identified them. Earlier in the week, delegates who could attend earlier sessions (I was not able to), worked with a university in Hong Kong analysing data from recent data collections on Rainbow Families and the broader LGBTIQ community. From this analysis, some disturbing facts were identified. Some LGBTIQ people felt they weren’t being discriminated on the grounds that they hadn’t been beaten up. When they were asked if there were differences in their job roles compared to their heterosexual peers, they realised there were, did they start to understand the subtleties of discrimination.
A brave group in Iran has established a counselling centre for LGBTIQ people, and in the last year had contact from over 800 people with over 3000 counselling sessions, in a country where conversion therapy is allowed and perhaps even encouraged to great harm. Iran is a country where homosexual acts can lead to flogging and the death penalty. Due to censorship, it is difficult to get resources into Iran to help bring about change. In an overview of Samoa, where heard how Fa’afafine (transgender people) can adopt children, in a culture that recognises that it takes a village to raise a child. Sadly we heard in another of the forums around American Evangelical Churches funding the development of conservative evangelical churches through the South Pacific who are very anti Fa’afafine people (and their equivalents across the Pacific) and the broader LGBTIQ community. There was a panel discussion on businesses in Hong Kong opening up Pride Networks (for people who are LGBTIQ and their allies in the workplace). Panellists were from Hong Kong’s leading band, a major international facilities management company, and investment company and a legal firm discussing how this is slowly opening up, in some cases driven by expats in Hong Kong expecting this level of inclusiveness. Other local firms are observing this evolution, creating awareness and some discussion on how this may allow other firms to move in this direction to support their LGBTIQ employees and to use their corporate connections to influence governments to end discrimination. The Russian delegation spoke of the increase in homophobia in their country under President Putin, and the increasing anti-LGBTIQ legislation put in place, such as legislation that bans countries suitable for outward adoption based on whether they permit same-gender marriage. In Cambodia, some key statistics are that 92% of Rainbow Families have experienced verbal abuse, 43% physical abuse and 31% experience sexual assault.
We experienced a fantastic presentation by West Island International School in Hong Kong providing an overview of their Inclusion Week. Their display was provided by two transgender boys, and two female students identifying as bi-sexual and a lesbian. They raised HKD14000 and donated it to this conference to assist funding some speakers to attend the conference. 10 ASIA PACIFIC RAINBOW FAMILIES FORUM
11 There was a special session on Rainbow Families led by Dad’s in Hong Kong. This is an emerging area in the Rainbow Families in the Asia Pacific. Again, for protection of one Dad and his journey, we weren’t told his name nor able to photograph him. We heard of LGBTIQ Muslim leaders in Fiji and Indonesia and the struggles they are having. In Indonesia, some lesbians are forced to marry, and in Fiji, the Muslim Leader has started a Mosque as a safe space for all people. We joined in with the Hong Kong International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Bi-phobia (IDAHOT Day) celebrations in a major square in Central Hong Kong, and had two evenings of films, which included the Tongan Film "Leitis in Waiting”, which has won awards at a number of international film festivals, and I would like to see shown here in Sydney. Joey Mataele who is the central character of the film was at the conference. The film is the story of Joey Mataele and the Tonga Leitis, an intrepid group of transgender women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and intolerance in the South Pacific Kingdom.
I was honoured to be a participant in creating the Official Statement of the Conference, the summary of which is below: “On May 3rd 2018 at the official launch of International Equality Day in Geneva, Bess Hepworth affirmed that, “indisputable to anyone, is the undeniable fact that the family is the most important system within human society for children. We know that children don’t fear diversity, variation or difference, in fact they celebrate it, until they are taught not to.” We as Rainbow Families representing the Asia-Pacific region, wish to highlight the importance of visibility, engagement, full inclusion, safety and health of our families, and all the individuals who make up these families, within communities and jurisdictions of the Asia-Pacific. We believe that Rainbow Families are formed in a myriad of ways, and above all seek to support the positive development of children to become thriving and contributing citizens by providing loving environments that are safe, developmentally appropriate, and provide for all the children’s basic needs. We seek the recognition of all families, not just those formed through biological or short -sighted legal means, but inclusive of those formed through adoption, kinship, foster care, surrogacy, and out of emergency need focused on the needs of children.
We call on governments, UN bodies, public and private institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs), community and individual leaders globally to: 1) Proactively work on legislative frameworks that: Protect Rainbow Families and their members from discrimination, violence (physical, emotional, economic), and violations of human rights; Recognise all members of Rainbow Families legally, inclusive of all the associated government documentation connected to this recognition (e.g. immigration status, welfare benefits, birth certificates, etc.); Recognise and fully integrate Rainbow Families as an established family unit in all our communities.
2) Provide timely and cost effective services included by not limited to: Reproductive services; Mental health services; Educational and child-care services; Training and support for social service professionals to be able to effectively work with Rainbow Families; Other specific social and health supports needed by Rainbow Families within the SOGIESC community context.
12 Don’t Let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right. Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer, 1920-1992 3) Provide assistance and support to civil society organisations, including faith and secular groups, to: Ensure the voice of Rainbow Families, including children, be heard as a crucial part of thedialogue about families; Encourage peer support for Rainbow Families by providing safe meeting spaces and fostering knowledge-sharing; Create safe spaces for Rainbow Families and peer lead support programs; Strengthen relationships across community and indigenous groups locally, regionally and globally; Highlight the need to access, participate in, contribute to and benefit from social, political and economic systems to ensure the development of equity and equality for all Rainbow Families. Develop policies that ensure adequate representation for Rainbow families and vulnerable groups in governance and leadership roles, to foster peaceful and inclusive societies, in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) n°16 We support the idea that as the center of humanity’s social life, families are the bedrock of any functioning society. The family unit acts to protect, nurture and support children, help children to avoid poverty and hunger, promote the health and well-being of all members, and reciprocally supports strong communities and society.
In conclusion, our entreaties contained in this statement are not requests for new rights or additional privileges, but are simply to equalise laws and policies to ensure that all families are recognized, can thrive and contribute to the greater good of society. “It's about all families – single-parent, indigenous, multi-generational, families of choice – and the values that are expressed through relationships of kinship, parenting, brotherhood, sisterhood, friendship, partnership, community and so many more!. We need to open the door wide, not try to close it.” Finally, we are thrilled to officially announce that the next Asia-Pacific Rainbow Families Forum will be in the Kingdom of Tonga in July, 2020 and hosted by the Tonga Leitis “ The question I have are there requests in the statement that could be a call for action for you? Jason Masters
13 REFLECTING ON EASTER 2018 Reflecting on Easter and being curious as to how Easter was being portrayed in 2018 in the mainstream media, three items caught my attention. The Easter homily of Anthony Fisher, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, received prominent coverage. Archbishop Fisher said that powerful forces are now attacking religious believers and beliefs, especially Christian ones, and are trying to exclude them from public life. Given that Christianity is specially under attack and is no longer the religion of Australia, but one of many competing for a role in the religious life and foundation of our country, one wonders what the future holds. For many years the broadcaster Alan Jones has presented an Easter message on Good Friday. This year Alan’s theme was that the Easter story symbolises the struggle between evil and good. As an example of present day evil he noted that while we hear much about pollution, there is little said about the pollution of the minds of children in schools and universities with teaching denying the biological reality of different sexes, with teaching of identity politics (race and colour of skin matter more than the quality of the individual), and climate alarm.
Over at the ABC, Easter thinking trended to identity politics, and to saving the earth. Worthy of comment was that Jesus was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew and depicting him in European art as of a lighter colour caused us to be less sympathetic to asylum seekers. His teaching and its subsequent impact on history hardly rated a mention. Then there is the ecological downside of Easter: Easter eggs and Easter bunnies are made of chocolate and producing chocolate uses more water than producing any other. food.
Writing in the tabloid The Weekend Australian, the cultural commentator Peter Craven recognised Good Friday as the darkest day in the Christian calendar. He ranked Christianity’s Easter story as “the fundamental myth of our civilisation, the triumph of hope”. It will be interesting to see how Christianity is viewed when Easter comes around in 2019. Rod McLeod. PALM SUNDAY Palm Sunday, 25th March had the usual procession of palm leaf bearers led by Bob Springett on Jack, the donkey.
14 TECHNOLOGY AND THE BIBLE In the last issue of Contact we thought about how the books we have in our Bible were selected. We looked especially at the New Testament selection, the ‘canon’ as it is called by scholars. This time we will look at the technology that brought us and still brings us the Bible. We will take a very broad view of technology, starting with writing itself and ending with the ‘digital revolution’. A few questions to ponder: How did technology affect the bringing or ‘transmission’ of the Bible down through the ages and across the world? How does it affect what we think about it? Does it actually change the Bible itself? Again, our focus will be mainly the New Testament (NT).1 WRITING In the last two centuries archaeologists have unearthed much ancient writing. From Mesopotamia come thousands of clay tablets with a cuneiform script (made with a wedge-shaped stylus). While most remain unpublished, great poems, loosely paralleling Biblical accounts, have emerged, such as the Creation and Flood stories, and the epic of Gilgamesh in his search of immortality2 . The Egyptians developed hieroglyphs, a form of pictorial writing, with abundant examples painted on the walls of royal tombs and written on papyri. Clay tablets found in Crete and southern Greece from the second millennium BCE were brilliantly deciphered in 1952 as primitive Greek in syllabic characters (Linear B)3 , predating alphabetic writing by several hundred years.
The Phoenicians developed an alphabet about the beginning of the first millennium BCE4 , that became with many variations the basis of the Hebrew, Greek and Latin alphabets and by derivation most of today’s Middle Eastern and European alphabets, including English. An outstanding example of an early alphabetic script in Hebrew was found on the wall of the water tunnel King Hezekiah had cut under ancient Jerusalem in anticipation of an Assyrian siege in 701 BCE5 . It described the amazing engineering experience of the workmen as they met underground tunnelling from opposite ends. Writing in ancient and medieval times was mostly the preserve of a specialised caste of scribes and priests, who alone could read and write, along with the ruling class and their skilled staff. Through most of history until printing, the great majority of people were illiterate, a fact we too casually overlook. But their memories were better trained than ours6 . They had to be, there was no mobile phone or internet to fall back on! _ _ HOW THE NEW TESTAMENT CAME TO US – II The Technology 1 An excellent summary of the technology behind the Bible was presented by Prof Pamela Eisenbaum (Iliff School of Theology, Denver, Colorado) in her keynote address to the 4th Common Dreams Conference, Brisbane, September 2016, “The End of the Word as we know it? The Future of Scripture Past”, http://www.commondreams.org.au/index.php/brisbane-info?id=ARTICLE_61, 2 Pritchard JB (ed.) 2011 The Ancient Near East: an anthology of texts & pictures (Princeton Univ. Press), Ch 2. 3 Robinson A 2002 The Man Who Deciphered Linear B: the story of Michael Ventris (Thames & Hudson). 4 The Gezer Calendar on a limestone tablet is an early example, Prichard p287 & Fig 65. 5 Pritchard p290 & Fig73. The date is disputed by some. The photo above was taken in the tunnel by the author in June 2015 – standing in running water! It is of a replica of the inscription which is now in the Museum of the Ancient Orient, Istanbul. References: 2 Kings 2020 ; 2 Chronicles 323-4,30 ; Isaiah 2211 .
6 Botha PJJ 2012 Orality and Literacy in Early Christianity (Cascade Books), Introduction and Ch 5.
15 WRITING MATERIALS So what did they write on? Carving on stone and using baked clay tablets is great for longevity of preservation, but not very practical for personal use. Papyrus (from the Nile valley reed, 2 John v12) and vellum or parchment (dried and treated animal skin, 2 Timothy 413 ) were the main media for ancient books in the West7 , until the technology of paper making spread from China in the 13th century CE. Personal notes were made on wax, wooden or soft-metal tablets or on ostraca (pieces of broken pottery or sherds)8 . The letters were formed by carving, scratching or impression or with quill and ink. A little reflection shows how limiting and expensive this technology was for the accurate spread of written materials (scriptures), let alone for personal ownership. BOOK PRODUCTION Written sheets were produced by an individual scribe copying from another manuscript or by a group of scribes writing in response to a reader following a ‘master’ text. Book factories, or scriptoria, were not commonly used by the early Church9 . Scribes wrote, not at desks, but sitting with the writing material on their legs - the reason the typical width of a manuscript column is 8 to 10 cm. The posture would have been uncomfortable, indoor lighting poor, spectacles and hearing aids unknown and the hours long. Although the general diligence of scribes is acknowledged10 , the opportunities for variations and errors to enter texts transmitted in this way were manifold. In the 1st century CE, finished sheets were traditionally glued together to form a scroll or book (biblion, Rev 51 ) about 10 m long. But Christians had moved early (by 200CE) to adopt the new technology of the codex book with leaves sewn on one side11 . This no doubt facilitated looking up passages of scripture, an incredibly difficult task using a set of long, rolled scrolls. But the expense was great; 50 to 60 sheep or goat skins would have been needed for a bound parchment manuscript of the whole Bible, like the famous Codex Sinaiticus, before allowing for the enormous scribal labour of copying, checking and illuminating the text12 . The small fortune required would have been beyond the reach of an average Christian household, for whom memory of Scripture would have continued to be the default method of reference.
Until the 9th century, Christian manuscripts were written in capital letters, UNCIALS. The words were not separated and punctuation was minimal. Private as well as public reading was therefore commonly done aloud to aid in the identification of the individual words. Philip heard the Ethiopian eunuch reading Isaiah (Acts 827-30 ) and 300 years later Augustine showed his surprise on finding Bishop Ambrose of Milan reading silently in private, when he visited him (Confessions 4.3). The text of the Lord’s Prayer (Mt 69-11a ) as it appears in the Codex Sinaiticus manuscript (4th century CE) is shown opposite, with the word divisions imposed on the original in red.
_ _ 7 Aland K and Aland B (trans. Rhodes EF) 1989 The Text of the New Testament; an Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 2nd ed. (Eerdmans), pp75-77. 8 Lightfoot, NR 2003 How We Got the Bible, 3rd ed.(Baker), Ch1. 9 Aland & Aland, p70. 10 Lightfoot, pp30-31. 11 Aland & Aland, pp75 & 102; this was a human technological advance as important as the wheel! 12 Lightfoot, p51 and Aland & Aland, p77.
16 In the 9th century CURSIVE manuscripts, written in lower case “running” writing began to appear. They allowed faster production. But by then so many variations had entered the uncial template manuscripts, that the plethora of these subsequent cursives (5-6,000) contribute little to the task of establishing the original text, the role of textual criticism, which we will consider below. REVIEW What were the implications of this technology of the Christian Bible in the first millennium and a half of its existence till the advent of printing? (In the final part of this series we will consider the issue of translation into other languages, including Latin, using both the same and newer technology.) • Bibles became precious, because Christians believed they contained God’s words, because they were individually crafted and because they were expensive beyond ordinary Christians’ means. Consequently, they were mostly known by memory. And there would have been much variation in the details of wording because of the heavy reliance on memory and the means of transmission. Any idea of ‘inspiration’ precisely at the verbal level would have been problematic. • Christians were early adopters of new technology, notably the codex book, which has been a major contributor to the advancement of Western civilisation generally. Because the codex book allows non-linear access to a text, in contrast to a scroll or a long inscription carved on a wall, scholarship was unshackled. An early example was the development in the 3rd century of the Eusebian canons or tables, which compared materials in the four canonical gospels. They are still used in today’s printed Greek texts.
• There was enormous ‘fluidity’ in the text arising not only from the technology of transmission, but also because of editing by its religious custodians. This was not the Bible as we have known it in our lifetimes! MASS PRODUCTION The advent in the West of Johannes Gutenberg’s moveable-type printing press in 1439 and the publication of the printed Gutenberg Bible (in Latin) in 1455 heralded a momentous technological advance for civilisation. One uniform publication could now be distributed in vast numbers at relatively low cost. Copyist errors became a thing of the past, unless they were accidentally (or deliberately) incorporated into the printed text, as with the Wicked Bible of 1631, which omitted the negative from the seventh commandment.
From this time pressure began to grow for Bibles to be authorised by both church and civil authorities, examples being the King James Bible (KJV) of 1611 in English and the Luther Bible in German. The Latin Vulgate had long been the underlying standard for Roman Catholics. The tide seems to have turned from increasing ‘fluidity’ towards ‘standardisation’. The other major consequence was the rapid rise of literacy among the populace. William Tyndale’s wish to put an English Bible in the hands of every ploughboy, echoes the spirit of the times. The use of the Bible among lay people was beginning to move towards the 19th and 20th century experience of every household having and reading a Bible. ESTABLISHING THE NEW TESTAMENT TEXT Printing also enhanced the application of scholarship to the Biblical texts in the original languages. Translations of the New Testament into English, German and other European languages were made from a printed Greek text which had been primarily established by Desiderius Erasmus, an esteemed Renaissance scholar. It was published in 1633 as the ‘Received Text´, or Textus Receptus, by the Elzevir publishing house in the Netherlands, with the division into verses, as we now have it, done for the first time by Robert Estienne (Stephanus)13 . It was effectively the text on which the KJV translation relies. _ _ 13 Aland & Aland, pp3-6; Lightfoot, pp106-108.
17 As impressive as was Erasmus’ scholarship, his text relied on only a handful of ancient manuscripts. Textual criticism since the Enlightenment has been prodigious, especially in recent years. The ‘Received Text’ contrasts with the latest, scholarly ‘received edition’ of the Greek New Testament (Nestle 28)14 , in which over 120 papyri and 280 uncial manuscripts are cited in evidence for the resultant text, most of them many hundreds of years earlier than the manuscripts used by Erasmus. In its 28 editions across 115 years and building on the inputs of many great researchers15 , the reconstructed Nestle text of the original Greek New Testament represents layer upon layer of research and refinement, leading to the most reliable reconstruction of the originals of any collection of ancient literature in existence. Be clear, however, that we do not possess any of the actual original documents, from the hands of their authors!. The earliest piece discovered to date is a tiny fragment of papyrus copied from John 18, dated about 125 CE, perhaps 30 years after John was written16 .
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? The nature of the New Testament documents as Christians have received them, moved over 1400 years towards increasing fluidity as thousands of variations entered the text, partly because of deficiencies of the manual technology and partly as the currents of interpretation influenced their transmission. Since printing, that trend has been reversed, towards ever greater certainty in the reconstruction of the original text. Another trend has been the huge increase in literacy and the ready availability of written material, including the Bible, in both paper and electronic forms across the world. Now ploughboys/girls in tropical rice paddies can read the New Testament on their mobile phones. Technology has also seen an explosion of biblical scholarship. More research is now being done on the Bible than in all of previous scholarly history, be it in archaeology, history, culture, linguistics or interpretation. Modern software17 allows instant access to the analysis of grammar, syntax and interpretation for any passage of the New Testament in the original or translated languages. Contrast this to the handful of literate first Christians who laboriously unrolled a scroll as they read it out aloud to themselves and their illiterate friends, wrestling all the while in their memories to relate it to some other passages of ‘scripture’.
Are these really the same New Testament documents as we receive them? Yes, there were disputes back then (2 Peter 315-16 ), but over the same minutiae of interpretation which entangle us? And ironically, as we shall see in the next part of this series on translation, with multiple versions of any passage instantly available to us through digital media, it is now possible to effectively ‘tailor’ or ‘cherry pick’ the translation of a passage to suit our individual tastes. The slow cycle we have seen in the New Testament as we receive it, from fluidity to certainty, may now be swinging back again to greater fluidity. In all of this, where is the Spirit of Truth, who Jesus promised would guide us into all truth (John 1613 )?
John Court _ _ 14 Aland K & B, Karavidopoulos J, Martini CM and Metzger BM (edd.) 2013 Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece 28th ed. (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft). 15 K Lachmann, C von Tischendorf, BF Westcott & JA Hort, SP Tregelles, HF von Soden and E Nestle, to name but a few of the prominent forerunners in the discipline. 16 Aland & Aland, p 85; Lightfoot, pp 122f. 17 Logos Bible Software, Bibleworks, etc.
18 TIME TO GO I have been largely responsible for Contact for the last eight and a half years but now it is time to hand over to someone else. My connection with Contact goes back to June 1977 and Church Union. Church Union brought together the previous churches, St Andrew’s Presbyterian, Eastwood Methodist, Denistone East Methodist and Marsden Road Methodist into the Eastwood Parish. The name Contact had been the title of the news sheet distributed for a number of years by the Stewardship Committee of Eastwood Methodist Church, led by Keith Barnwell. With Church Union, the Parish Council recognised the need for a publication covering all four churches and it was decided that Contact would become that publication to be issued quarterly and to be directly responsible to the Parish Council. I had already indicated a willingness to help with any new publication which resulted in me becoming, by default, editor of the four issues of the new Contact’s first year with a Communication Committee representing the four churches as support. The following year Bruce Graham from St Andrew’s became editor and served until 1984, followed by Col Kennedy from Denistone East until March 1988. After that there was no official editor and the Communication Committee acted in that capacity. From 1990, Noelene Price, as secretary in the Parish Office, took over the typing of Contact and as time passed, became editor with the Communication Committee as support. This continued until August 1999 when she resigned to join the Synod Office and Michelle Loxton became editor. Michelle continued as editor through the break-up of the Parish with Margaret Harris and myself continuing as Committee. Michelle passed the editor’s role to Kate Prowse in 2003 and Kate held it until 2009. As time went on, Kate found that her job as teacher at Ravenswood was more demanding, leaving less time for Contact. In 2009 there was only one issue and Kate resigned as editor due to pressure of work. 2010 began with no editor and no committee, but the Church Council was unwilling to allow Contact to disappear. Andrew Williams suggested that I call a meeting of anyone interested in helping with Contact. This I did and Lauris Harper, Chris Cooper, Nancye Alderton and Nathan Jenkins responded. Lauris and Chris were interested in layout, Nancye was happy to collect items and Nathan would be editor. However nothing happened. So I placed an advertisement in the Church Notices calling for items for Contact and from then, found myself again by default as editor and so it has continued. Lauris arranged the layout, Chris has contributed articles from time to time, Nancye wrote articles and Nathan finished his University course and went teaching in Glen Innes. In September 2013 Kathryn Dodd took over the layout of Contact but when the Church invested in a more advanced photocopier, the printing of the magazine was carried out in-house and the Church Office assumed responsibility for the layout. In due course Barbara Horrocks indicated that she would like to help and since that time she has taken the responsibility of choosing the cover and providing a number of the photographs as well as writing the occasional article. Following the break-up of the Eastwood Parish, Marsden Road indicated that they would like to continue their association with Contact. Warwick Roden and Margaret Johnston have been the contacts for the Marsden Road congregation and have contributed a number of articles over the years. The ministers at Marsden Road have made their contributions. We remember the Rev. Helen Edgerton, the Rev. Jan Reeve and now, the Rev. John Candy. With each printing of Contact, 15 copies find their way to Marsden Road Church where they are shared among the congregation.
Looking back over the years, a number of men have been willing contributors to Contact. George Congreve and Jon Dixon come to mind from the past, along with Ian Hunt. John Court is a contributor on a variety of subjects as is Allan Harrington. Jason
Masters is another and Rod McLeod whose articles raise questions for some of us and there have been others including OneHeart. All contributions have been most welcome. While men have provided articles covering many topics, women members of the congregation have taken us travelling in Contact. Barbara Horrocks wrote of her travels with Graham across the interior of Australia, Val Bird wrote of her time cycling in Cambodia and Sue Howes wrote with Phil of their times in Cuba and Romania. Marion Gledhill has written on travels in Australia and in England as well as articles on English conversation classes and other matters, Helen Ramsay has written on Eastwood church history and there have been others.
Quotes have been a continuing part of the issues of Contact and they have come from many places. Google is a great help. Some are quotes from notable people such as Nelson Mandela, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King. Others come from a useful computer program called Wordsmith. One or two came from the noticeboard of a kindergarten in Turramurra and one came from the noticeboard of St Kevin’s up the hill. I really enjoyed finding quotes from wherever which found their way into Contact. One of the most interesting pieces I have ever written for Contact was back in 1992. Barbara Horrocks, working at the Centre for Ministry at the time, alerted me that there was a feeling among some that too many women were candidating for the ministry. She suggested that I should write the story of one of the women, Jill Ison, who had been a candidate from Lakeside Road Church and who was ordained as a minister of the word in Lakeside Road Church in December 1992. I did not know Jill, but it seemed a good idea, so I contacted her. Over a number of meetings she told me her story which was published in Contact as “Jill Ison is continuing her faith journey”, a journey beginning with her birth in Auckland, her marriage, its dissolution, her membership of Lakeside Road Church in Grahame Ellis’ time, her decision to become a candidate with Doug Purnell’s full support, her studies and finally her ordination and call as an exit student to the Forest Parish, Wesley Gardens. It was wonderful to walk with Jill as she spoke of her life and to commit that life to paper to her satisfaction. I have enjoyed my time with Contact over the years and I shall probably miss its challenge but still, I believe, now is the time to go. Margot Doust 19 THANK YOU TO VOLUNTEERS Saturday 17th March
20 MARKET DAY 2018 MARKET DAY RESULTS BOOKS 1131.40 HABERDASH 172.45 CLOTHES 579.30 DEV TEA 383.00 NEW TOYS 2448.10 BBQ 301.10 TRASH & TREASURE1104.75 JEWELERY 333.00 SUNDRIES 689.30 (Which includes donations of $590) TOTAL 7142.40
21 1. Pause Stop your activity. Be still and quiet 2. Presence Acknowledge God’s presence. “Lord, you are here” 3. Picture Focus on an image of God – From the Bible, Hymns or your experience 4. Ponder What is God saying to me? 5. Praise Rejoice, give thanks. Sing or dance a little. Author unknown A POD OF Ps: A Panacea for Panic
Duncan was the first one there at the barbecue. I saw him around 9.10 am cleaning the barbecue and warmly dressed against a chilly morning with a fine knitted cap on his head. When I returned after the morning service the group around the barbecues had grown to include Malcolm Gledhill, Steve Kemp and Phil Howes and later Robert Dive. Our church has a very effective group of barbecue sausage cooks. Pat Davey was early on the scene bringing boxes of bread rolls already buttered and John Court arrived with folding chairs which he arranged around the tables but still we had no customers and there were very few people kicking balls on the oval. We just hoped we would have someone to feed. We need not have worried. Our first arrival was Mr Bob Foggin who lives in Wingate Avenue. He was dressed in appropriate Pentecost red and had brought his violin with him. He was a cheerful man and happy to play any Australian tunes we requested. Before long Tennyson Chan arrived with a group of Chinese worshippers from our morning service including Sister Wong, a ninety- one year old. Soon we had a good group, mostly Asian, waiting for the sausages.
Just before 12 noon we started serving and people came from far and near with lots of children/ The cooks at the barbecues were kept busy serving sausages and onions while other church members, Chris and Elizabeth Cooper. Nancye Alderton and Duncan talked to our visitors. Marion Gledhill had brought flasks of hot water which provided hot drinks to some of our visitors. And as usual there were Anzac biscuits, all of which were eaten. We had some interesting visitors. Apart from Bob Foggin and his violin, another visitor stopped to draw our barbecue cooks, Malcolm, Steve and Phil, at work and gave Duncan the drawing. One disappointment about this church barbecue was how few other church members supported the occasion. We were very glad to have the company of those who came and especially glad of the support of Tennyson and his Chinese community but we would have liked more. Margot Doust 22 OUR EASTWOOD BARBECUE IN MAY Dany Liu’s sketch of Malcolm, Stephen and Phil
23 INAUGURAL CHINESE SERVICE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE Gracious and generous God, we bring to you our prayers for others. We pray for those who are feeling disconnected from their families, their communities, their God. May their loneliness be replaced with a sense for belonging and relationship. We pray for those weighed down with the responsibilities of daily commitments. May you bless them in their labours with hope and encouragement. We pray for those experiencing the burden of ill health. May your healing arms encircle them with strength and renewal.
We pray for those burdened with the darkness of depression. May your light of love penetrate their barriers and their pain, and grant them relief We pray for families and communities devastated by the scourge of suicide. May your peace encircle and strengthen them and bring them consolation. We pray for those suffering the impact of our unpredictable climate May your creation blossom as you intended. Gracious Creator, hear our prayers, and show us where we might be a part of your answer. Through Christ your son, our saviour. Amen. With the People, order of service 2017 Frontier Services Sunday 17th June 2.00pm
24 DESERVING POOR ???? Generosity is a funny thing. As Christians, generosity should be our policy but something has happened. Along the way we have been tamed so that the Christian message has been watered down. We have been convinced of the need to be sensible and have been made wary of being too easy with the less fortunate. Shouldn't they make a better effort? We wouldn't want our generosity to breed a class of dependent people, would we? The result has been that Christians are standing by, being sensible and reasonable, while many others suffer.
We are fully aware of those who are poor financially and that some people work hard and are not paid much for their work. But how aware are we of those who are poor because life defeats them at every turn and so they are poor in confidence. What can we do to build up confidence in such people? What of those who have not been blessed with high intelligence and so find it impossible to solve the smallest problem. What can we do to make their way smoother and life more comfortable? Think of some skill others have but you cannot cope with at all. Mine is dealing with electronic devices that work by having buttons pushed.
I cannot make them work. And we all have something like that in our lives. Something that makes us turn to someone else to get a result. Now think about a life where almost everything is like that. There are whole families of people who need help with every aspect of their lives. They are not lazy but need to be taught even minor skills to get through life. And there are those in between who need some help with the more difficult matters of living. Give thanks for the people and agencies that step up to give help but there are some needs that are only met by family and friends. Affirmation isn't funded by the government. That is only available from people with generous hearts.
An interesting point to consider is that “the survival of the fittest” has often been cited as the best way to breed the strongest population. Even if we completely ignore God’s call to live to a higher standard, what is little discussed is the co-operation between members of a species and between species to ensure the best life for all in the non- human world. This is not the place for an ecology lesson but be assured that without co-operation between living things the living world would simply wind down to a stop. We are Christians because God loves us and it is our responsibility to see God’s love is spread to others. Even if we don't like them.
And if there's even the beginning of a thought that someone doesn't deserve our love or generosity, check out the standard for those who deserve our open hearts. You will find that standard in the Gospels in what Jesus said, but mostly in what he did. Margaret Johnston.
500 YEARS OF REFORMATION 25 Last year the world marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, an event that began on October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in the German town of Wittenberg. A simple act, but it triggered an epic era of political and religious convulsions that changed the shape of Europe. Luther fixed his 95 theses, points for discussion and debate, to the heavy timber church doors, never imagining that they would spark a revolution. Nevertheless, his theses, written in Latin, fundamentally challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic church. They raised the issue of increasing corruption and, in particular, the highly profitable sale of indulgences, promoted as tickets to heaven, to fund the building of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Luther declared that when it came to “justification”, avoiding hell and gaining admission to heaven, there could be no mediation, no brokering by the church. Salvation was a matter between an individual and God. This was indeed revolutionary. Swiftly translated into German and other European languages, Luther’s ideas were the talk of Europe within weeks, spread by the development of the printing press, triggering religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval. The papacy condemned the monk as a heretic, removed him from the priesthood and banned his writings. In response, Luther publicly burned the papal bull, or edict. The sale of indulgences plummeted and his ideas started to take hold, resulting in the greatest schism in western Christianity and a string of religious wars. Luther’s challenge to the once impregnable Catholic Church was taken up by others, including John Calvin, whose ideas spread from Geneva to Scotland, France and the Low Countries. In Germany, the new ideas inspired the Peasants’ War of 1524-5. In England, Henry VIII embarked on his own separation from the Catholic Church. Rome launched a counter-reformation, but by the end of the 16th century almost all of northern Europe was Protestant, albeit fractured into warring groups. As well as bloodshed, the Reformation unleashed terrible destruction of religious heritage and art. In England, more than 800 monasteries, abbeys, nunneries and friaries were seized, libraries destroyed, manuscripts lost, treasures stripped and works of art appropriated. But the Reformation also gave rise to new forms of art, music and literature.
The dream of Frederick the Wise, where he sees Martin Luther’s pen reaching to Rome and dislodging the Pope’s crown
At the centre of this movement stands Luther’s rediscovery of the Gospel message: human beings do not earn their salvation by doing good works, but rather God freely offers salvation to all who believe. For Luther, this message liberated humanity to engage in all kinds of new undertakings and activities, chief among them, lives of service to others. Meanwhile, across Europe the impulses coming out of Wittenberg inspired others to interpret the Bible in new ways, thereby calling into being many of the Protestant denominations that exist to this day.
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum, The Word of the Lord Endures Forever, is the motto of the Reformation, a confident expression of the enduring power and authority of God’s Word. The Catholic Church responded too, introducing its own reforms that would change the face of that institution. This watershed event in Western history also bequeathed to the world a variety of concepts that are still deeply relevant today: plurality in society, freedom of conscience, toleration, individualism, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, the idea of the equality of all humans, institutionalised poor relief, literacy and universal education, and the importance of public discussion. Certainly the Reformation had a dark side, one that fostered suspicion and conflict between confessions, but out of this crucible, the modern Western world was born. Luther himself was a man of his time, and as such, he often made statements expressing a negative and hostile attitude toward the Jews. In fact, high up on an outer wall of his modest parish church in Lutherstadt- Wittenberg is a carving of Jews “in intimate positions” with a pig, and the name of God carved above the scene, both of which would have been grossly offensive to Jewish people. However, inside the church is a transcription of a gracious letter of reconciliation, recently written by the Rabbi of the local Synagogue. On 31 October 2016 an ecumenical service led by Pope Francis at Lund cathedral in southern Sweden signalled a year of events leading up to the 500th anniversary of the reforming movement. Christian leaders and congregations spent that year consolidating moves towards greater cooperation and dialogue, after centuries of division. In the first papal visit to Sweden in more than 25 years, Francis led prayers asking, “forgiveness for divisions perpetuated by Christians from the two traditions”.
“Luther started by wanting reform. He never planned to split away from the Latin church; that wasn’t where it began,” said Bishop William Kenney, the Catholic co-chair of the international dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics, who accompanied the pope to Sweden. In Germany, leaders of the Catholic and main Protestant churches called for a “healing of memories” of past divisions. An ecumenical pilgrimage to the Holy Land, aimed at highlighting common roots despite separation, has just concluded.
But there are big questions that need to be resolved,” Bishop Kenney added. Among those is the issue of women. Despite his warmth towards women members of the Catholic church and his frequent acknowledgement of the role they play in lay leadership, Pope Francis has insisted that “the door is closed” to women priests, although he has floated the possibility of female deacons. The Lutheran Church of Sweden has had women pastors for more than half a century, the Danes for almost 70 years. And the gulf between the two churches on this issue was underscored when Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic church, came face to face with the head of the Church of Sweden, Archbishop Antje Jackelén – a woman. The Reformation continues. Warwick Roden (with thanks to The Guardian U.K and Luther College, Iowa, U.S.A.) 26 Martin Luther
27 a free community mini book exchange As a simple piece of community involvement, the Marsden Road congregation has created a Street Library at the front of the church grounds, under the jacaranda tree. The aim of the project is to make books available to everyone and to encourage people to enjoy reading. Passers-by may open the glass door, browse through the books on display and take one, which they can return later or keep. They might choose to leave one of their own books in the space. Last year a Sydney Morning Herald article enthused, “Tiny libraries are popping up outside houses, in parks, and on beaches all over Australia. These humble boxes of books are getting communities reading, fostering friendships and even sparking romances.” Though we have not experienced many romances, the library is being used, with a steady stream of pre-loved books being exchanged. There is an inviting cross section of titles mostly in good condition: children’s books, popular fiction, classics, crime novels and non- fiction. You might find a religious book, maybe a current “Insights” or our church’s information brochure. The library cupboard itself was constructed and brilliantly decorated by the local Men’s Shed. Facing Marsden Road in clear view of the passing traffic, it is brightly coloured, glass fronted, and weather resistant.
Our little library was off to a great start. At the conclusion of the Morning Service on Sunday 11th March this year, the congregation gathered outside under the jacaranda tree. Rev John unveiled and blessed our library, and children and adults enthusiastically filled its shelves. The library is in constant use, so, if you are looking for a good read, or wish to deposit some good quality books, our church Street Library is one of many springing up in the Eastwood-Epping-Carlingford area. Park in the church grounds, or stroll along the path and relax with a book on the inviting seat beside the book collection.
Anyone or group can set up a Street Library, outside your house, church, shop, a suitable public space (with permission), and contribute to the enjoyment of reading in the community. Information: Street Library Australia. www.streetlibrary.org.au Jan Roden WHAT IS A STREET LIBRARY? It always seems impossible until it’s done. Nelson Mandela -2013
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