Advent Voices: Ancient voices

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

The persistent call to rest on ancient promises mingles with the clamour of contemporary conversations.
We have Ethan the Ezrahite, an Advent voice from the reign of Solomon to thank for Psalm 89

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Advent Voices: a candle in the dark

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

candleAdvent draws expectant attention to an arrival of one divinely anointed to fix the mess we’re in. It’s a season that both highlights the chaos of a violent world and the pregnant promise of its resolution. Advent’s themes are in tension – no more so this week than when the siege in Sydney and the horrendous Peshawar school massacre heightened the world’s sensitivities. Can the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love really win through? Expressions of community solidarity gave life to the maxim “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

This morning’s text from Romans16:25-27 serves a similar “lighting of the candle” function. It is sometimes repeated at the conclusion of church services as worshippers prepare to leave the sanctuary to return to the chaos of everyday living.

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation…

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A call for a new multilateral refugee policy

Notwithstanding today’s welcome news of a reprieve for 31 Australian born babies and their families destined for Nauru detention, and that they will now remain in Australia for processing of claims to asylum, this church’s leaders issue the following statement:

“The Elders and Board of the Church of Christ Wembley Downs acknowledge this church’s history of welcoming and assisting asylum seekers received by Australia for resettlement under the Community Resettlement Scheme. The refugees with which this church and other community organisations have been involved have become full, contributing members of the Australian community. When the Australian government discontinued the scheme, replacing it with its own resettlement regime, including a more severe detention  system, our role began to move to advocacy for individuals and families with whom we had contact. It is with dismay that, over the years, we have seen even harsher measures employed as a deterrent to asylum seekers.  Members of our church have expressed their concerns through writing to Members of Parliament, Senators and Government Ministers. The result has been even more severe policies against those seeking asylum, affecting family cohesion, mental health, and suicide risk. Accordingly, this church aligns itself with the philosophy of the Love Makes A Way movement and endorses its actions in seeking to bring about justice for refugees, particularly in the seeking of release of children with their families from detention. We call on Parliament to adopt a multilateral approach to creating regional solutions for humane treatment of asylum seekers according to the standards of the United Nations Refugee Convention of which Australia is both a drafter and a signatory.”

Advent Voices: homeless Robbie and Dominique

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

In the UK, street living Robbie offers stranded Dominique his last three pounds for a fare. Dominique declines, but is so moved by Robbie’s gesture that she reciprocates. These are Advent voices. Read what happened from there!

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Advent Voices: the strong voice of Mary

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis, 1712. The white lily in the angel's hand is symbolic of Mary's purity [1] in Marian art.[2]. Public Domain

Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis, 1712. The white lily in the angel’s hand is symbolic of Mary’s purity [1] in Marian art.[2]. Public Domain

Today’s text, Luke 1:26-38, is illustrated throughout our world’s art galleries and museums as the “Annunciation.”  The imposing and other-worldly figure of Gabriel is depicted speaking words of life-changing import to a young woman, Mary, who seems simultaneously beatific and non-plussed. Tradition has emphasised her piety and holiness. The narrative in the text highlights her perplexity at being told that she will bear a child of divine import and the manner in which she will conceive. The personal and social impact of Gabriel’s announcement might have been most troubling.

Mary’s final response is, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

These are strong words – more than mere submission. They are alignment with revealed purpose – and…

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Advent Voices – #illridewithyou

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

#illridewithyouThe aftermath of yesterday’s siege in Sydney with this morning’s tragic loss of life occupies the airwaves. Community empathy washes on two shores. Hearts go out to the victims and their families.  They also reach out to apprehensive Muslim communities, who are also shocked and appalled by what took place in the hands of one mentally sick individual acting out under the discourse of their faith. Based on precedent, adherents of Islam brace themselves for community backlash.

The hashtag #illridewithyou has shifted what might have become an ugly undercurrent in reactions to the siege. It originated with Sydneysider Rachel Jacobs who noticed a young woman fearfully removing her hijab while riding public transport. She urged her to put it back on, saying, “I’ll ride with you.”  Shortly after, she described her experience on Twitter, using the now viral hashtag #illridewithyou.

The phenomenal power of social media was almost instantaneous. Even…

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Advent voices – where does YHWH make a home?

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

A model of Herod's Temple adjacent to the Shrine of the Book exhibit at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Public Domain

A model of Herod’s Temple adjacent to the Shrine of the Book exhibit at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Public Domain

Nowhere we design – that’s for sure! What church, temple, synagogue or mosque could hope to house the pervasive, restless nature of a presence that is simultaneously transcendent and immutable? David, newly enthroned King of Israel, self-consciously wrestled with the contrast of his cedar palace and the tent that had symbolised  YHWH’s nomadic presence with the people (2 Samuel 7:1-11). Nathan helped him to see that it was in YHWH’s intrinsic nature to choose when and how to be present.  By now David should have grasped that YHWH would always be present to his people without the benefit of a house. David eventually built a temple. We build our chapels and cathedrals.

In this season, we prepare to celebrate how YHWH deigned to be revealed in a person, Jesus…

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