Still thinking Seasons, Symbols and the Australian Flag
Many if not all of the celebrations in our Christian calendar are adopted and adapted from the cultural soil our faith was grown in. It is also true that most of those celebrations come from a culture other than our own Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter are no exception. Take Lent for example. The word "Lent" is an Anglo Saxon word that simply means "spring." It is a symbolic reference to the celebration of Easter in springtime and the symbolism of new life emerging from the cold earth fits well with the theology of the resurrection of Jesus. But I dont need to remind anyone that we live in the southern hemisphere and that during Lent we are leaving the warmth of summer and moving into the cold of winter. A more significant designation for this season of "Lent" is the Latin term quadragesima carême in French; quaresima in Italian and cuaresma in Spanish. It means the "forty days." No I dont think we should adopt this word either.
Sometimes in conversation people will think they have discovered a revelation when they say, "Easter and Christmas were originally Pagan festival associated with the seasons and the length of the days." My reply is, "Yes of course, where else do you think our celebrations come from? Christianity is a recycling religion; nothing is thrown away, everything is both restored and reused." However, there is a bit of a problem when our symbols and celebrations are tied to where we came from. The problem is that we have to do a two-step in our minds. "Ah! I see, that means this and this means that." What happens in the process is that we lose the unconscious response to symbol and celebration. Strangely, the more we think about our responses the less impact it has in our lives. That doesnt mean we shouldnt think about our faith and our beliefs; our course we should. Its rather that the very nature of religious experience is that it comes to us in a "wordless" form that does not require cognition. We just feel it.
Which brings me to the contentious issue of the Australia flag. As I watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games I was impressed by the colours and design of the athletes uniforms as the marched into the stadium. The Australia team was no exception. They looked great! And then I noticed the flag. Perhaps for the first time in my life the Australian flag "felt" wrong. It wasnt an argument that came into my mind, it was something more visceral. It was an awareness that the symbol of Australia under which these athletes would compete wasnt ours, it come from somewhere else. I know there are many who wont share this view and I am aware of the many arguments for and against us changing our flag, but for me this was an experience that transcended the arguments and it just "felt" to be true.
The Canadian flag was adopted as a national symbol in Canada in 1965. Until then the Union Jack was the Canadian flag. Canada like Australia is a constitutional monarchy but the Canadians have the "indigenous" symbol of the maple leaf. When will we have the confidence to change "Lent" to autumn and the Union Jack to the kangaroo?
The Toorak Ecumenical Op Shop
Thanks all the donors who kindly contributed this year and the volunteers who helped us reach another record. This year the three churches will have $210,000 to distribute. Thanks to Carrlo Jack, Margaret Jones and Wendy Ritchie, TUCs representatives on the committee.
Toorak Op Shop still needs clothing donations. 143 Canterbury Rd, Toorak. Ph: 9827 3172.
Letter from UCA Moderator
We have received the following letter from Dan Wootton, UCA Moderator:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Many of you will have heard about the devastating floods in Sri Lanka. Torrential rains have caused severe damage mainly to the Eastern, Northern and North Central provinces of Sri Lanka.
We have been deeply saddened by the reports of the extent of the destruction. The flash floods and mudslides have killed at least 39 people and forced more than one million people to flee their homes as incessant rains inundated the country over the Christmas period. Reports also indicate thousands of hectares of crops, mainly rice, have been destroyed in the North Central and Eastern provinces, which could lead to severe food shortages.
UnitingWorld has set up a Sri Lanka Flood Emergency Relief Appeal. Funds raised will go to their partner, the Methodist Church Sri Lanka, who is involved in the relief and recovery operations. Donations will be used to provide food and non-food items (including school books, clothing, and kitchen utensils) to families displaced or affected by the floods. Building materials will also be provided to families whose homes were damaged by the floods to assist with repairs.
You can support this appeal through Share by sending a cheque/money order to:
Share Sri Lanka Flood Appeal
PO Box 24154,
MELBOURNE VIC 3001
Alternatively, you can ring this toll free number 1800 668 426 or donate online at www.shareappeal.org.au
Please pray for the people affected, and for the churches and other relief and aid organisations. Please also consider contributing what you can, to stand beside our friends and to offer them the practical support they desperately need right now.
Music for David The Gallant Gondoliers
Marco and Giuseppe, two jolly gondoliers, are lost along the Yarra as they search for their missing brides-to-be, Mabel and Yum-Yum. Captured by feisty fairies - who can hardly be described as dainty - they are convinced that their loved ones have been spellbound and indoctrinated into the local underground fairy slave trade. Can they find their beloved ones before it is too late?
Mayhem, Mozart and madness ensue as the Gallant Gondoliers battle more than just mosquitoes on their journey to discover the cause of their betrotheds' disappearance.
Planned Giving Envelopes for 2015
are now available! Please pick up your set at the back of the Church after this mornings service. If you would like to join the Planned Giving Stewardship Programme of TUC, please contact Stan Laugher - Envelope Secretary - on 9813 5242 or email: email@example.com.
Yoga is back at TUC!
2015 classes begin Friday 30th January 10:30 11:30am.
Bookings Essential. Call Ro Hancock on 0418 145 164 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
First class free! 5-class pass (valid all term) $75 or pay casual rates of $20 per class.
News from Kinross Arts & Spirituality Centre
The Water's Rim A solo exhibition of paintings by Jane Oehr
Thursday 5th February; 6pm 8pm Refreshments will be served; All welcome
Dr Vincent O'Donnell Presenter of the Community Radio Network's national arts and culture current affairs program Arts Alive.
Thursday, 5 February Sunday, 8th March 2015;
Open 8.30am - 3.30pm Monday to Friday. Weekends by appointment.
About the Exhibition:
Jane is joining with Kinross for her second solo exhibition at the Kinross Gallery. Jane is a visual artist and film maker. Her new work is inspired by the coasts of New South Wales and Victoria and Australia's famous beaches, rock pools and shoreline. The paintings evoke associations with water, moving currents, turbulence and calm and the mysteries beneath.
For all exhibition enquiries and bookings please telephone Lyndel Wischer on: 9829 0340 or email: email@example.com or visit the Kinross House page on the TUC website. You are also welcome to call in to the Kinross House Office which is normally attended 10 am 3 pm, Tuesday Friday or by appointment.
Lectionary Readings for 1 February 2015, Epiphany 4
Deuteronomy 18: 15 20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8: 1 13; Mark 1: 21 28.
The liturgical colour for Epiphany is green.