Author Archives: wonderingpilgrim

Inasmuch…

Jesus separating people at the Last Judgement, by Fra Angelico, 1432-1435.

Jesus separating people at the Last Judgement, by Fra Angelico, 1432-1435.

This one word stands out at the peak and culmination of this year’s journey with Matthew’s Gospel. Over the course of the year, beginning last Advent, we have climbed Matthew’s mountain, celebrated with Matthew’s traumatised and exiled Jewish community the invitation to see Jesus as the new Moses who completes the Torah, all that is in the Law and the Prophets. More than that, Jesus calls out a community to live courageously serving, defiantly loving, calling for a world to be built on the principles of chesed (mercy) and shalom (a just peace).

Alexander Shaia (who will be visiting Perth in March) invites us to consider Matthew’s Gospel, as a first path of awareness, particularly when confronted with change that may well hide a divine summons to fuller living. We move through shock, unease and unsettledness to pronounce a final “Yes!”

The Gospel of Matthew provided the fledgling church with a handbook drawn on Hebrew heritage but recasting old and wise ways for a newly expanded world opened by the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, who says “Lo, I am with you… to the end of the age.” 

Where is he to be found? Today’s climactic parable of the separation of sheep and goats tells us in one word – “Inasmuch!”   Inasmuch as you regarded and served with dignity the most humble person, you did the same for Jesus.  This is the summit of the mountain.

A parish of 2000 students

Our local high school has access to two school chaplains throughout the week. YouthCARE chaplains Andrew Winton and Susan Sydney-Smith are in high demand by students, parents and staff as they provide, first, a listening ear and then, if needed, care by provision of information, referral or practical help. Local churches come together to raise financial support for this service. Susan Sydney-Smith is guest speaker at the Church of Christ Wembley Downs this Sunday, November 23, at 9.30 am.

YouthCARE chaplains Andrew Winton and Susan Sydney-Smith at Churchlands Senior High School

YouthCARE chaplains Andrew Winton and Susan Sydney-Smith at Churchlands Senior High School

Melons, chickens & goats

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

WP_001849Thinking today of a young lady I met in the back blocks of Zimbabwe. She’s 17 years old, orphaned and living with her grandmother. Her industry is inspiring – she grows melons and tends her flock of six goats (started with one). The two chickens given her two years ago have grown to a flock of many. Attending to all this takes place in her leisure hours after a school week of walking 20 kilometers twice a day over rough bush tracks. A church backed sponsorship helps ease the strain on this small farming family, but the spirited determination of this young lady spells hope and possibility for the rural communities of this area.

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Wilderness Community Garden

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

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Whilst bashing about the parched back-blocks of rural Zimbabwe, we came across a large fenced off area above a slow flowing river – the district community garden supplementing hamlets and farmsteads for many kilometers around. Known locally as a “garden of Eden,” the plots of a variety of vegetables, including spinach and kale, were surprisingly healthy and robust. Water is carted by bucket from the river to irrigate and water each plot. Our guides tended their plots while we were there, gathering what was needed for their next few day’s meals.

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Going to Church in Zimbabwe

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

We got to do it five days in a row – each service lasting around three hours and part of our mutual exchange as we encouraged and taught amongst the very hospitable people.
We were never bored – Shona worship is exciting and exhilarating.
Here, in Muuyu, the musical Mr Bunda motivates the congregation. Who would have thought that the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah followed this?
(Please excuse the 10 seconds of side-flip – I got carried away!)

There were more-or-less sedate but still exuberant songs mostly carried by the women, wearing a denominationally defining red and white ensemble worn on special occasions and the first Sunday of the month. I’ve attempted to learn the Shona words to this one (“Jesus keep me near the cross”).

Each day has particular memories of conversations and events that emerged as part of our mutual ministry together. The sounds of worship in…

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Drinking from a fire hydrant…

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

… that’s how someone described a first time encounter with Africa.Bulawayo street

I recall my first day in Bulawayo standing on the pavement outside a courier’s office where my colleagues were spending considerable time. They were hopefully negotiating the reduction of storage fees for a box of solar lights that had been mailed over to assist students in night time studies. I found the sights, sounds, smells and sights of the street rich and varied – a surprise for every time I blinked. Such was my fascination I had a hard time looking bored and nonchalant, trying not to stand out as I leaned against a verandah post. The shop facades across the road were grand and faded and with impossible names. A kaleidoscope crossed time and took me back into the fifties of my childhood when shops were called emporiums and mothers dressed up with hat, gloves and handbag for their buying…

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Out of Zimbabwe

Originally posted on Wondering Pilgrim:

It’s now a few days since completing a three week stint working with Churches of Christ in Zimbabwe as part of a volunteer team from Australia and New Zealand. The dust has started to settle, the Africa in our veins is distilling to something quieter and more reflective. The next few posts will describe some experiences and tell some stories from the perspective of one who has only roamed from these safe Australian shores once or twice before. I’m not a born traveller and tend to be somewhat cautious and overly vigilant. The up-side is that I then observe and catch nuances, sounds and sights that a more casual sojourner might miss.

The team with host B J Mpofu

The team with host B J Mpofu


There were nine of us altogether, including a family of four. We were to be split into two groups, one team to be based at Khayelihle Children’s Village, a facility for…

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