Friday, 31 January 2014

Phill's Snap Shots of Broken Hill - Part 1- On the way to Broken Hill and being there.

In Phill's blog we see in detail how the chaplain's do their work of building connections -piece by piece, person by person,organisation by organisation - until the right time comes, something needs doing, and the connections are there ready for action. This first blog shows you a little of the travelling life style of the Rural Chaplain.

December 2013
"As the year came to an end I was eager to make good catching up with the folk I met out West in Broken Hill and Cobar. It turned out that a number of events important to a number of the relationships I had been growing with some awesome folk from the Far West of our state came together over a few days at  the beginning  of December.

Street parade -Broken Hill 
Going out West meant I needed a good few days to do it as I think visiting, when possible, should not just be a quick “Hello-Goodbye”. I know some times that may be all we have time for, but in relationship building quality, I believe, is the key and that can take time.
The rest is simple- honest,open relationship- open to both of you to offer up building blocks for the relationship to grow on.

In other words - use your ears more than your mouth and respect each other; be there when you say; call if you’re going to be late. The honesty is to be yourself- do not try to be someone else.

Dry creek bed near Broken Hill

 I travelled to Cobar via Bourke. Friends- we need to keep praying for rain for those areas from Barren Junction, out Walget, Brewarrina and beyond, down to Broken Hill.
My trip was from warm to hot but a good air-con is great! As I pulled up in a parking area for the night it was 42C - at 7pm!  I found shade, opened windows and did some photography for a while till darkness fell. The night was hot but sleep was sound.
Then it was back on the road for the run down to Broken Hill.

I spent the next 4 days mixing with the workers and management of Far West Legal Services and Warra-Warra Legal Service. Their AGM, on my first night, was such an uplifting time as the services which cover court work and fair trade, as well as Domestic Violence, human rights and housing had all grown. The staff had gone through some hard times but had come out helping the people of the Far West.
The AGM was opened by a welcome to country and as part of that Danny, one of the workers, played his Didg. It was, for me, a highlight. His dance and playing reminded me of the spiritual life that has moved in this land long before we came.

Festival of Respect section of the BH parade.
Tracy, who is the CEO, and I, first met at a meeting in Bourke. I liked what her service was trying to do and she liked the fact that the Uniting Church also stood for much of what she was trying to do, so as we say ,”If you’re ever in Broken Hill, look me up.” and I did! I also attended their market stall and gave out some Beyond Blue info.
Afterwards we met for coffee and a 'save the world"chat.I listened to her journey over the past 4 months,setting up a Festival of Respect which will run for 3 months.

The Festival was part of the Broken Hill Christmas parade, then piggybacked on some other events and added a few of their own, covering Human Rights,White Ribbon day and much more.
                                         I hope to be back this year for the closing events.

Friday, 24 January 2014

640km down, only 5,400km to go!

Coen Tate

Coen Tate is a young 20 yr old Aboriginal man who is passionate about helping Close the Gap for Aboriginal Health. To do this he is walking from Sydney to Uluru and back again. He stayed with me over the weekend to get some respite from the 40+ days of heat that we had last week.

Coen is hoping that the walk raises funds to keep Close the Gap on track, as well as raising in people’s minds the situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, injustice, and other social issues.

The situation of Indigenous health is appalling, with the life expectancy an average of 17 years less than non-Indigenous Australians, infant mortality at 3 times as high, and a third of Australia’s 600,000 strong Indigenous population expected not to reach 45 years of age.

He has walked from the Sydney Opera House, over the Blue Mountains, through Bathurst, Parkes and Condobolin to Hilllston. From here he goes to Ivanhoe, Broken Hill (amongst other towns and communities), through the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, up the Oodnadatta Track to the Stuart Highway then to Uluru and back again. This amazing adventure is due to finish back at the Opera House at the end of June.

A strong personal faith underpins Coen’s commitment to the walk. “I’m amazed how God has provided for me. People have been unbelievably generous and helpful”. It is fantastic to see Coen putting his faith into action and to see how God is looking after him. If you would like to follow Coen’s adventure you can go to
Coen leaving Hillston in his walking gear

Friday, 17 January 2014

Julie's B&B and Me

        Hi Darcy here,

His Royal Cuteness
Happy New Year!

I know I haven't written for a while -Sue hogs the blog*- but I put paw to paper to console myself as Julie is away and to remind myself, in my loss, of the good times.

Currently I'm staying with Jenny and Joe.I do love them but I soooo miss Julie on her MANY trips away. If I'm not here, I'm at the Tatt's Pub in town- doing my "pub ministry". I quite like it. It IS very different from home but I get fed all sorts of yummy things. Julie says I mustn't as I'll get fat but I have to console myself somehow!

Anyway, on to the good times.

The times I like best are when Julie is in home her office, on the phone or writing a grant.Then I get to sit with her ALL day.

I also like it when she has a visitor staying. Julie likes to have visitors. They often let me up on their knee,something I never get to do if Julie's working.

So far this year Julie has had Ann from Taiwan stay 3 times. Actually she even stayed when Julie wasn't there to look after me at home and save Ann money. I quite liked her even if she did call me a 'naughty dog." I don't know why. I was only barking (at everything!)

Ann and Sue distract Julie from work.........for a while.
Tony Davies from Milton stayed with friends on their way home from a desert retreat.Why would you go there? No trees!
Julie's B&B in Hillston 

Sarah, Julie's Mum and Sam stayed for a week. Julie liked that but I didn't! Sam was a small but very active, human. I think Sue had told him I look like one of those cute pyjama dogs girls used to kept their PJ's in during the 60's. He kept trying to find out if it was true!

Brian and Helen stayed over Easter. People kept calling him the Moderator and he did seem quite moderate to me.
Maree and Trevor were nice.They did have their own van but stayed with Julie for a while when they were working as Salvation Army Chaplains in the area.
Then it was the Rebolledo family during the Sesqui-centenary when Jorge came up to do the Ecumenical Service.Another baby!
Most recently, 4 ministry students visiting the Riverina, stayed overnight. Julie was away too that time but said, eat whatever's in the fridge -and they did!
I have also heard stories from the past of 6 Irish backpackers,who got to Hillston, couldn't get work and were stranded there, penniless, and ended up at Julie's but that was before my time.

Julie does take seriously that bit Jesus said about 'whenever you did as much  to one of these you did it to Me."(ie -gave someone food,a place to stay etc)

My Important Cleaning Ministry
As for me, one of my favourite ministries you can see on the left -cleaning the floor after morning tea on a Sunday.If Julie doesn't see, I get biscuits sometimes!
I feel so strongly about doing that ministry I just bark until someone gets me and lets me in.

 Aahhh... good times.

All that reminiscing has made me fell better but I wish Julie would hurry back!

                     - Darcy

* I actually wrote this in early December while Julie was really away but as I said "Sue hogs the blog" with all these stories about things the Chaplains are doing.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Part 2 - We can do Haiku.Can you?

One idea tried in one of our recent services which worked surprisingly well was the writing of Haiku poetry.

In the lead up to Christmas, Julie was to preach on Joseph,which she did.

It probably did not feel like this at the time!
She also made the point that all the people in the Christmas story probably did not feel at the time that they were in some lovely sentimental nativity but probably found it all rather heavy going. Mary would have found it difficult when she had to tell Joseph she was pregnant and face the stares of the village for several months. Joseph could have felt angry and a bit of an idiot as he walked around beside his pregnant wife. He would have hoped he really DID see that angel!
And leaving Bethlehem to flee for your life to Egypt would not have been a picnic either!

What stands out though is that they did trust God and they played their part in His story.

During the "sermon" as part of our reflection on how the characters in the Christmas story would have felt we were asked to divide into groups and choose a character.
We were then told "the rules" of Haiku and asked to write a Haiku poem as a group.

The "recipe" is outlined below if you want to try it some time, maybe on different topics, just alter the directions slightly. The idea can be found on The Mustard Seed site. You can use this idea for any bible story.It really helps people to think about the story deeply and in a fresh way.

On line 1 -Name the person you chose from the Christmas story in one word.
on 2 - Two words for how they felt
on 3 -Three words describing who they were
on 4 - Four words or more describing their reaction
on 5 - One word which sums up their character

These are the poems we came up with!

Fear, Surprise.
Young, honourable, strong in character.
The dignity to carry out God's wishes.

                               Surprised, joyful,
                              Looked to God.

Sheep at Hillston in the dawn light.

   Wonder and Awe.
Didn't hesitate to follow God.

Amazed, Afraid.
These ordinary men.
They, heard, they believed and they acted.

John the Baptist  
    Faithful, Good, a Preacher.
     Baptised everyone in the name of the Father.

                                         Easy , Fun.
                                  Give it a go yourself.
                     Be surprised at what you discover.

Friday, 3 January 2014

What did you do for Christmas? - Part 1

                Before Christmas we often hear the question,"What are you doing for Christmas?"

The enquirer is usually asking about whether you are travelling to family or them to you, or about what you will eat and how you will spend the day.

As we are still in the Christmas period I thought it appropriate to share,"what we did for Christmas."
In  Hillston we asked the question in our church worship team and came up with the ideas below for our Christmas celebrations together over the Advent season.
You can hear the excitement in Julie's note from her email after the meeting.

"Great discussion today on the Advent stuff – I just get such a thrill when everyone’s ideas come together."

It was a satisfying experience to share in this way with each other as part of our preparation for Christmas

                         We would love it if other people shared their ideas with us too!

Our Theme for Advent- People’s responses to the Message of Christmas.
We did this in two ways-
 We listed the people in the story and preached on one of them each week. -John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph,The Shepherds and Herod.
We asked someone each week to answer the question -What does Christmas mean to you?- We tried to ask people who are not always up the front and enjoyed listening as people shared about their Christmas experiences.

We used the water liturgy from New England North West Presbytery written by Rev'd Dr Anita Monro, rather than candles usually used to mark each week leading up to Christmas Day. The water liturgy reflects the need in a dry land like Australia for the new, refreshing life of God.

Music -
Our common musical theme would be one of the Messiah choruses for each week. 

For -John the Baptist – Hearing the word -  Messiah Chorus : He shall purify
      -Mary - Response to God’s magnificence based on the Luke passage -Messiah:Hallelujah chorus
      -Joseph – Trust -Messiah: For unto us a child is born
      -Shepherds – Excitement -Messiah: Glory to God
      - Herod – Selfishness and Arrogance -Messiah: Why do the nations?

 Also each week we sang Stuart Townend's "From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable." -The familiarity of singing it each week added to our understanding of the Christmas story and how it fits in with Jesus' whole story and our own lives.

We also talked about trying to get people to hear the message in new and more compassionate ways. 

                                 We'd love you to share "what you did for Christmas"

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!

The Christmas period is nearly over as we welcome in the new year- 2014.

We have heard about shepherds,angels, wise men and the fulfillment of God's promise to send a Saviour, Christ the Lord. By today everyone has gone home, just as our Christmas visitors have, all but the baby who is still there -now 7 days old. 
The shepherds have hurried off to tell the good news......... "but Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." *

It is good to tell the news and praise God. It is also good to ponder, to think about what it all means and enjoy it;blessing God as you do and getting to know Him better.

                            May 2014 be a year when you "ponder all these things in your heart."

                                                            Happy New Year!

* The Gospel reading today is Luke 2: 15-21.


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