Hope that got your attention. I’m going to cease using the wordpress account for my The Mendicant Mind and Body. If you want to follow me then come to mendicantsoul.info and upadate your links, subscriptions there. It still has a few kinks to iron out after the transfer but nonetheless still works. Hopefully I might even write a little more … yes, yes I know you’ve heard it all before.

Blessings

Nathan

I tell you what. I’ll leave it up to you. If a few minutes before you have to get up, and you don’t feel like you can, just go like this (nodding his head in a very particular and revernt way in my direction) and I’ll get up and do it for you.

Recently Br Joseph asked me to preach at his profession in vows. I light heartedly said to those at his service when I was offering a reflection for his profession that Joseph asked me to get back at me for the number of times I’ve stirred him up because he knows preaching is the last thing I’d offer to do.

When I first began having to preach as part of life in community I was not so keen on the idea. I found it a major chore. I remember one occassion being so worked up about it that I became almost paralysed by the thought of having to deliver a sermon. Who am I to be preaching to people whose faith journey has been more solid than mine, what do they want to hear from me, I don’t know enough about the Bible, let along theology. All these thoughts and more would go through my head; building up until I could feel nothing but stress; and a headache not too far away.

On one occasion, not long after entering the novitiate, I went on a parish ‘mission’ with Br Leo and he asked me to preach on the Sunday. I was less than keen on the idea but agreed to do it. As time got closer I got more and more concerned about having to deliver a sermon to a group of stangers who were older than me and no doubt been part of church much longer than me, and in the presence of a brother who has been in profession much longer than me.

Leo became aware of how I was feeling and his response was most comforting and quietly encouraging. First he relieved the pressure I was feeling. He said to me that if I didn’t feel like preaching I didn’t have to. He said you can pull out at any time, even a few minutes before the sermon is to be delivered.

In a way that only Leo could do he both made me laugh, relieving the pressure I felt, and he offered me some advice. He made me laugh because in a quite reverent but comical way he said to me that all it would take would be a little silent nod of the head and he’d take over for me without anyone knowing. He also offered me some advice which has always stuck with me. Start with a story, talk with people not at them, let them be drawn into your passion. If you do that you’ll never have a problem preaching.

At the right time. I got up into this pulpit which seemed to have its own post code and need for supplimentary oxygen and I began. A dramatic story about a seed is afraid that it it falls to the ground it is going to die and from then on, I never had to preach, I simply told the people a story and talked with them, not at them. Afterward people said it was one of the best sermons they’d ever heard.

As I joked about with Joseph I am still reluctant to offer to preach and see it as a big challenge to get over. But brother Leo’s assuring nature and wonderful advice has remained with me.

What I have learned about preaching is yes, one has to have some knowledge of the texts they are preaching on and that we must spend time in prayerful contemplation before preparing a sermon, however, the real key is stepping out of the way of ourselves and allowing the spirit in us to preach God’s word. To allow the spirit to converse with the people listening and be focused on what God has for them to hear and not what we have to say. If in our reading and contemplative preparation we can learn to step aside and realise that preaching is a coversation and it is God who speaks then can be set free of our insecurities and enjoy the blessings God offers us in the hearing of God’s words.

As I said, preaching is still something I don’t feel particularly skilled at, however, I think it is not a sense of skill but rather a sense confidence, or more correctly a sense of letting go and letting God.

This semester as part of my field placement formation I have asked my field supervising committee to give me feedback on my sermons. I’ve asked them if they could tell me ways in which they find my preaching helps them connect with God and what ways I could perhaps make that connection more real and present.

Thus far I’ve only preached on semon. The feedback from the committee was very positive. It seems their comments reflected a lot of what I had taken away from my experience with Br Leo. That is, that through the paricular style of preaching I’ve developed, offering a sense of story and conversation, that people indeed connect with God through what they see as my passion, but I really see as letting go and letting God.

I have had quite positive feedback from both my last parish sermon and the one I offered for Joseph’s profession. What I have realised is kind of what I said earlier, preparation is one thing, but being able to get out of God’s way so that God can speak through the spirit in us is not only what makes preaching for me less traumatic but also offers opportunity for people to hear what God is saying to them and not what we want to say. I think the best sermons I’ve offered are the ones where I haven’t, but God has.

As I hinted at in the last post being in formation and study has been somewhat of a challenging time. One can almost glimpse into the pain and emotion Jesus may have felt in the Garden of Gesthemane. At one level there is a feeling that God is calling me to ordained ministry and on another the process seems to be just too overwhelming and too difficult to manage. It begs the question then is this sense of call something worth ‘fighting’ for. The trick is finding the point by which one can say ‘let this cup pass’ or ‘not my will but yours’.

It is hard to know the general consensus of others going through formation but I suspect there are varying degrees of ‘Gesthemane’ experiences going on for people. There is a sense of becoming the body broken, a complete self emptying so that God can put us back together in the way God wants us to be.

A few weeks back I thought I had a solution to part of the problem I was going through and some things began to make a little sense. But it has not turned out to be so crystal clear as it was. That in part has really thrown me and I have really reached the place of asking is it better to let the cup pass or can I get to that sense of not by my will but yours.

I’m not sure how one gets to that place.

It has been ages since I last posted here. Most people have probably given up checking here for any new updates. No matter.

I entered formation at the beginning of this year, along with commencing my B Theol degree. I am enjoying spending more time with people I have got to know through study and formation. Though I have to say the actual formation program and degree has been somewhat less …. enjoyable. I’m undertaking a full time program as well as the demands of formation and field placement.

The long and the short of it is that I seem to have ran into a snag as far as managing the load. It has meant looking into some of the reasons behind what seems to be the underpinning issue … more on that at another time. Suffice to say for now there have been some interesting revelations that have caused me to really look at how I proceed with the next step … again more on that later.

Right now I wanted to simply see if wordpress had kept my blog and whether or not I would be able to still post here, it might be come a useful outlet at the moment.

That all aside. I have been placed in a parish not too far from me and it is excellent. I’m having a really good time there so far and am looking forward to continued involvement there.

There is a fundamental difference between the three Abrahamic faiths; Jews, Christians and Muslims, that is the answer to Jesus’ question who do you say that I am. Of the three Abrahamic faiths only Christians believe that Jesus was both human and divine (setting aside various ‘heresies’ within Christianity which disagree with the divinity of Jesus). Jesus was both human and divine. What God was able to do Jesus was able to do, because Jesus was God. Why then is it difficult to accept that Jesus performed miracles; indeed that his life was in many respects ‘miraculous’ from his birth to his rising from the dead. Critics and modern ‘reformers’ of Christianity are so willing to renounce any ounce of the possibility that Jesus was anything more than simply a good guy, another prophet.

Darryl Ellwood commented in the October 2007 edition of Focus (the newspaper of the Anglican Church in Australia, Diocese of Brisbane)

I understand that Jesus was more than a good ‘man’ for us to emulate. If he didn’t miraculously come into the world. If he didn’t miraculously heal the sick, if he didn’t miraculously rise from the dead to show us that he and the Father (sic) are one, then where is the Good News of the gospel… Was the virgin birth too much for the creator God of the universe to organise? A ‘Spongified’ gospel doesn’t sound like good news to me.  

I have to admit to not reading much of Spong’s material. I do think that he, as well as other more scholarly people have challenged contemporary interpretations of scripture that are used to divide and condemn the people of God. Listening to some podcasts of his work I am left wondering the same question as Ellwood. What is the Good News of the Gospel. Spong would have use believe that many of the NT scriptures used to support a divine Jesus are somehow made up or at least misrepresentations of the reality. He would have us conclude with him that the writers – redactors, authors – of the Gospels used well known Jewish stories of miraculous prophets to paint Jesus as ‘greater than our ancestors’ (I use a phrase here from the Samaritan woman to Jesus at the well who asks if Jesus is greater than their ancestor Jacob); in other words is Jesus somehow more than a prophet, or more correctly the woman wonders whether Jesus is not indeed the great Taheb of Samaritan belief who would deliver the people and restore true worship to the people of God.

The belief that Jesus was somehow more than a failed prophet-Messiah brought the disciples out of hiding after their dispersion after Jesus’ execution and caused them to risk life and ridicule and indeed expulsion from the Temple to preach Jesus’ Good News. This outcast group of Jews and Gentiles whose ‘deviant sect’ was tormented, killed and systematically sought out for destruction survived and from it’s Good News came what we call today Christianity; a faith centred on the belief that Jesus was more than a man, whose miraculous life pointed him to be more than a prophet, but a divine being, incarnate in the world, the word made flesh, God in humanity.

OK so for arguments sake if the disciples, writers of the Gospels, redactors or whoever got it all wrong, and drawn on ancient stories to make Jesus out to be more than he was then what… do we cancel Christianity, go back to the ‘faith of our ancestor’, do we become Jews, do we return to the religion of pre Jewish-Christian schism or what about before the schism between Jews and Samaritans. Where do we find God and God’s revelation of God’s message to us.    

My ‘blog conscience’ has been on me to post more; she knows who she is. There have been two major decisions I have been wrestling with for quite some time of late. The first is in relation to taking life vows in our community (SSF) and the second in relation to exploration of a vocation to the priesthood. Part of my recent trip to England and Assisi was in part a time to get away from everything here to be able to ask those kinds of questions in a new ‘space’ as well as to remind me of part of the journey that led to these questions being asked. Did I come up with any answers people seem to be asking me; what heavenly insights resulted from my trip. I’m not sure I can fully articulate what these insights are; except for being a little too simplistic and say in the end you have to follow Nike and just do it. Well this was certainly the advice of one person who I spoke with on my trip.

I was also reminded of a short anecdote told to me a friend when I was pondering over joining religious life in the first place. He told me the story of a person waiting to be saved from a flood by God; a row boat, speed boat, and helicopter later and the person was dead. In heaven the annoyed person asks why God did not save him. God says well I sent you a row boat, speed boat, and a helicopter what else did you want. In other words Andrew was telling me that we can spend so much time sitting around waiting for God’s telegram and not enough time reading the ones God has already sent. While in Assisi I went to the church looked after there by one of our brothers, Tom. During the service while reflecting on the Gospel a man recalled this story, I had to have a quiet laugh to myself.

I have often said it before, I don’t necessarily want to be brother or a priest, but I think it is what I am called to be. I look around at my friends who are in loving committed relationships, who have children, or who have others aspects of their lives that appeal to me. I think we are all called to a certain way of life, or better yet – vocation; whether this is married life, single life, professional life or whatever, there is something that is important for us to do.

The idea of being in a committed relationship is very romantic. Whilst it appeals to me, and at the late hours of the night I sometimes long for one I know that this will never be a reality. The feelings pass and I move on and in reality these thoughts only occupy a small amount of my thoughts and feelings. The idea of having a child too is also a romantic one. The thought of being a parent of a child, watching that child grow and develop and mature and take on their own life is appealing too. Watching my friends with their son, or hearing of the birth of my great nephew, or seeing students in their final year of school and talking with them about their plans for after school all stir a part of me that wonders what it would be like to parent a child. Though these feelings too pass and also in reality do not occupy my mind at length and I move on.

I hear of the struggles of my friends and family who do have these things. Particularly those who find trying to juggle relationships, families, jobs, study etc with their spiritual life. Then, if it were a revelation I don’t know, I realised I have a gift to offer them. As a brother I have the opportunity to spend perhaps more time reflecting on our journey with God. I have the opportunity to have more time to pray, to think about some of those spiritual struggles we all have, and I have the time to share the ‘juggle’ with others who do not have that luxury. Non attachment to relationships and possessions which are supposedly the hallmarks of religious life mean that I can be there for those whose lives are given over to other callings of family, professions etc.

As a priest I would be able to offer another set of gifts be way of sacramental ministry. It is clear I’m not called to a committed relationship or the life of a parent but I would be able to bring the gift of baptism, eucharist, reconciliation, marriage as well as the ministry of the word to those whose lives are called to an equally gifted vocation of single and committed relationships and professions.

As I said, this is very hard to articulate. I think what I am trying to say is that I can share the spiritual journey with others when that journey becomes too overwhelmed by relatiopnships and professions. I can share the ‘spiritual parenting’ of young people who find it hard to share that journey with their parents. Perhaps what I can offer is to ‘hold’ people through the pot holes of spiritual life – not because I have got that sorted myself (let me be the first to say I am far from it) but because it is the gift that God calls me to. Through the Grace of God my gift to others could be to just be, to lighten their load sometimes so that they can do what God calls them to do.

I’m not suggesting the answers to my questions have been answered but I at least feel as though I now have a direction to look for the answers in.  

Last night, while avoiding doing the things I should be doing, I was flicking around youtube and came upon a US television drama based on the life and death of Matthew Shepard; the Matthew Shepard Story (warning this is a pretty disturbing movie). In 1998 Matthew was 21 when he was lured into a remote part of Wyoming, tied to a cattle fence, beaten unconscious, and left to die. He died a few days later in hospital. The movie portrays the events leading up-to the death of Matthew and his parent’s anguish as they have to face the sentancing hearing of one of the boys who killed their son. A boy who showed no mercy to Matthew begged Matthew’s parents to show him mercy and not request the death penalty. The movie, as I pre-warned is disturbing, not only for it’s immediate content but also because it reveals the dark side of humanity which enables such a crime to occur.

Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, attitudes, religious affiliation, you have to ask how can humanity be so cruel to one of it’s own kind. The movie shows how powerful hate and prejudice can be, but it also shows how true compassion can be learnt, even amidst great heartache and loss.

I find myself still processing this movie. I remember hearing of the death of Matthew back in 98. Though I don’t think I took much to heart about it. Though seeing this movie the senseless violence that exists in the world, all too iconic in events like the killing of Matthew, the killings of Port Arthur, the shootings at Columbine, the tragedy of 9/11 (the list could go on), seems to have snuck in my cynical exterior and left me wondering – will we survive ourselves. 

I know some call it a crutch, irrelevant, or antiquated, but I have to say my faith perhaps is the one thing that gets me through these kinds of senseless acts of violence and terror. My faith offers a way of hope. Christ stood, even at the door of death, for tolerance, peace, compassion, mercy, and justice for all. I believe that if we can open our ears, hearts, and minds to really take in the message of Christ that there is hope for the world. The challenge for us all I guess is to discover how we can take in that message and how we can live it out.

Matthew Shepard Foundation          

The Age, Sept 28 07 

The Anglican Church in Australia’s Appellate Tribunal has handed down it’s decision regarding the constitutional legality of the consecration of woman Bishops. In a 4-3 vote it was held that those who had adopted a 1992 Church law allowing the ordination of woman priests were able to constitutionally admit women to the office of Bishop. Though this did not apply to the position of (regional) assistant Bishops.

This decision will surely be welcomed by some and not others. It is going to be interesting to see this is played out for both sides. I can almost hear the cogs turning in the minds of some as to how they will take up this battle, how it may be used to fuel already raging fires of talk of fracturing of the Communion (or more bleakly – schism).

Will this decision be the proverbial ‘straw’ needed by some when the Communion has had little chance to heal from the current fractures over the ordination of an openly gay Bishop in the Episcopal Church (USA). Or is it so bleak, the optimist in me sees an opportunity to finally lay to rest an argument and pave the way for a Church that will moved into the future as a more open and welcoming Church, one more closer in the Spirit Christ’s desire for all to come to God in faith, love, hope, acceptance and tolerance.

Of course another part of me looks outside the Communion and wonders the impact this will have on already strained relationships with other members of ‘the one holy catholic and apostolic church’ which already sees Anglicanism as a schismatic church at best and nothing more than an ‘ecclesial community’ at worst.

Coming from a previous church background where these questions are simply not relevant (the head of the church has been both a woman and a man, it’s ministers are both men and women) I find it had to comprehend the expansive energy which has been (is being) poured into the long standing debate and the wounds it seems to mark and leave to fester. This aspect of me wonders what could be achieved if we used the same amount of energy to begin tackling more important issues such as spreading the good news and making a reality the Kingdom of God in the hear and now.

Imagine, what the ‘the universal’, the ‘one holy catholic and apostolic church’ could achieve if we all united and faced the issues of poverty, war, environment together. If we stopped bickering for long enough to see that we are united by one God whose message was so simple a poor misguided rich man could understand… love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind… and if we did that we’d also love our neighbours as ourselves. If we did that wouldn’t there be less war, less poverty, and couldn’t we save ourselves from destruction? Does it really matter who leads us, a woman or a man.   

I just discovered I can import posts from my previous blog on blogspot – so there are a few articles from blogger in the 2006 early 2007 archives… if you are that excited. Oh, and as I get moments of boredom I check youtube for video clips of my favourite (classic) songs. You can view them on the tab “Favourite Songs” (duh!). Most of them soppy ones, but meaningful nonetheless – one day, might tell you why! Enjoy.

Nurse training plan to address shortage

Howard’s plan is short sighted and a bandaid solution to a long term problem. He fails to address the real issues of the decline in the nursing profession which will not be fixed by his plans. He fails to appreciate how the 170 000 000 could better used to support existing training of nurses which could both improve nursing training and be part of a long term solution to the nursing shortage. He fails to appreciate the potential for creating a two tiered nursing profession, the likes of which society and the profession are only now beginning to put behind them.

And on a personal note I am outraged at the implication in his statement about the poor quality of nursing training in it’s present form. I have been apologising for being a uni trained nurses since I graduated… I have cared for people when all that was between them and death was me… and I have held the hands of people whose life was at its end. I have done it well and I owe it all the quality of training I received at uni. Fix the problem Howard, don’t fish for votes.

My Photos

DSC01417

DSC01418

DSC01414

DSC01413

DSC01412

More Photos

Blog Stats

  • 45,591 hits

Diary Dates

9/5 - 11/5 Formation Intensive, SFC

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.