SouthernCross THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR SYDNEY ANGLICANS
O little star
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HOW SOME FAMILIES ARE GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS
Fe st i v e s e a s o n g e n e r o s i t y • R e m e m b e r G o d r i g h t l y Ta k e t h e g o s p e l to t h e b e a c h • N e w Q u i z Wo r x C D
How three families are preparing to celebrate Jesus this Christmas.
’Tis the season to be jolly Cook, be merry and remember Jesus: Katrina Pritchard makes gingerbread men with her son James.
ith all the glitz and glamour of Christmas in stores
– and Michael Bublé bursting into song everywhere – it’s easy to get swept away by the magic of the season and unintentionally leave what makes Christmas truly magical behind. We spoke to three families to hear the different ways they keep Christ at the centre of the holiday season. GATHER WITH GOD’S FAMILY Caroline and Rob Freitag love the excitement of Christmas, and long for their children to understand what is truly exciting about this time of year. “We do our Christmas tree, lights and decorations, but we always make sure we say Christmas is a time for celebrating because Jesus was born, and that’s when God
SouthernCross December 2021
volume 27 number 11
came to earth to be Immanuel – God with us,” says Mrs Freitag, children’s minister at St Andrew’s, Wahroonga. Conversations about why Jesus’ birth is exciting or what it means for people come naturally as they set up decorations or go about their lives in December. “There are lots of handmade decorations on our tree, so some of those decorations will be of the Christmas story,” she says. “One is in the shape of a box and talks about the gift given to us at Christmas. We also use the ‘Names of Jesus’ advent calendar... and when my son was young he loved turning the card each day. He couldn’t read but the anticipation that we were looking forward to a day was exciting. Now he will ask, ‘What does Lord mean?’ or ‘What does Messiah mean?’.
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“Some families have lots of traditions. Our only tradition is that we meet with our church family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. When Jesus came, he saved us to be part of his family, so that’s really important for us to celebrate with our church family – whether that’s at a service or at carols.” Mrs Freitag believes Christmas is full of naturally occurring opportunities to celebrate Jesus. She encourages people to be on the lookout for these, rather than fret over organising specific crafts, events or teaching schedules for their families. “[My three year old] loves music and all the Christmas lights, so we’ve run with that. This is a time for celebration, so let’s crank up the music and fill the house with fairy lights. We’ve got the Colin [Buchanan] Christmas DVD, which we love – we watch that maybe twice a day, almost every day in the lead-up to Christmas. He’s into imaginative play, so [we have] little nativity sets as well.” Rob Freitag also uses conversations in the lead-up to Christmas to introduce concepts like contentment and generosity to his sons. “The boys can easily focus on the receiving of presents, so we try to keep reminding them that Christmas is all about Jesus and God’s generosity to us – we can be generous because God has been generous to us,” he says. PLAY THROUGH THE BIBLE TO KEEP JESUS CENTRAL For Janet Boardman, it’s about tweaking what her family already does rather than doing completely different things during Advent. “As a Christian, I understand that I provide for my children’s physical, emotional and developmental needs, but most importantly, their spiritual needs,” says the mum of five from Albion Park. “I try and reflect that in our home, and Christmas is no different.” Regular Christian kids’ books are swapped out for Christmasthemed ones that tell the Bible stories, and she sets up sensory play activities designed to get the kids engaged in a hands-on way. “They have a nativity set they play with and we do a lot of role play as well,” she says. “I have a basket of Christmas books… we have Christmas puppets out, we’ve got a donkey puppet and a lady puppet, or a doll with a doll bed, and that’s how my children understand [the stories]. No point in just reading a book and that’s it! They need to replay the book through play, so we try and encourage lots of that.” With a background in early childhood, Mrs Boardman is a big advocate for learning through play and optimising every opportunity to chat about why Christmas is so special. “Children are bombarded by secular things at Christmas, so we try and have Jesus at the centre in our home. They can do all the other things… but I wanted my home to reflect Jesus and make him a priority.” She notes that what one parent does will always be different to another, because “you know your children and their interests. We need to give ourselves grace; we don’t want to add extra pressure. I love what my children create and learn, but I’m not doing [activities] every day... We’re already sitting and talking [with our kids], so how can we guide our children’s conversations to reflect our beliefs? “My six year old loves cooking, so we do a chocolate slice [at Christmas] and we cut it up and give it to friends at church and to people in the community. My son who is eight loves clay. If I do anything with clay he is involved and will understand the parts of the story we go through. He will make his own sheep from clay. We try and do hands-on activities that go along with the Bible stories that encourage them to reflect and understand.” 4
Tree time: Reuben Freitag adds a decoration to the family Christmas tree. DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL This is an exciting time for Katrina Pritchard and her family, as their two-year-old son James has begun to grasp the concepts of Christmas throughout this year. She is keen to dive into some of the great Christmas books she has on her shelves and use baking, play and craft activities to teach him about the importance of Jesus’ birth. The family, who attend Dundas-Telopea church, are big fans of books like There’s a Lion in My Nativity by Lizzy Laferton & Kim Barnes and Beginning with God at Christmas by Jo Boddham Whetham & Alison Mitchell – and they also love Colin Buchanan’s Christmas songs. “These resources are brilliant,” Mrs Pritchard says. “They clearly teach the gospel message in creative ways. “[My son] loves reading, and we often use stories we’ve read as the basis for the activities and play we do at home... I’m hoping to use these Christmas resources as a springboard for an Adventthemed play and conversation starters.” She adds that the family aims to “have Bible conversations and incorporate Bible stories, music and play in our everyday activities throughout the year, not just at Easter and Christmas. We want this way of thinking and doing family life together to be the norm. [We pray that] through having these conversations, it’ll become a heart thing and not just a knowledge thing.” Mrs Pritchard really enjoys the great resources that are available, whether it be books or music or other people sharing their ideas and traditions. “It’s wonderful that people are happy to share their ideas through church or online,” she says. “It’s encouraging to see people supporting each other in this way. “It’s a reminder that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or have an amazing Christian program you follow as a family. It’s about supporting each other as we seek to raise our kids in a godly, Christ-centred way.” SC SouthernCross
Turn your eyes towards 2056 No building yet: What church looks like for members of Hope Anglican at Leppington. photo Gabriel Lacoba
When Bishop Peter Lin spoke wisest decisions we can, under should be completed early 18 years – and Bishop Lin says
next year. And, backed by the it is vital for Synod members Archbishop’s New Churches to see what is happening for 100 MORE PEOPLE EVERY for New Communities and the themselves. DAY, FOR 18 YEARS Anglican Growth Corporation, “I want p eople to see the The new city of Bradfield, the next project on the agenda vastness of the growth and located next to Sydney’s second is church facilities in the therefore the magnitude of airport, will be a city of 1.5 northwest at Marsden Park. gospel opportunity,” he says. million people. It is estimated that in the “I want people to see what we “There will be over 300,000 nor thwe st and southwe st have done and what we can do people moving into just the growth corridors of Sydney again as hundreds of thousands immediate area around the new more than 100 people every of people flood into the area. I’m airport,” Bishop Lin says. “We day will move in over the next sure people will be wowed!” SC currently have three churches for those people. Compare that with the fact that, for example, Join Anglicare’s team of we have three churches in Allied Health Professionals Lindfield alone, covering a population of 18,000 people.” This imbalance of church We’re looking for compassionate health professionals resources will be clear to Synod with a desire to make a difference in the lives of seniors. members next February when, • Use your clinical skills to provide personalised care that for the first day of sitting, the supports the autonomy and dignity of our residents members will meet at Oran Park • Transform lives with compassion High School. • Work with an amazing team who love what they do The op ening service and • Benefit from flexible hours and a supportive culture Archbishop Raffel’s presidential address will follow bus tours Allied Heath in Anglicare of the rapidly developing new For over 160 years, Anglicare has been serving people in need areas of Sydney. There will – providing care to seniors and services to the vulnerable. also be walking tours of Oran We are a dedicated provider of quality aged care services Park, where New Life Anglican throughout Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and Wollongong. We Church, as well as school and have a team of highly skilled physiotherapists, occupational Anglicare facilities, opened in therapists, registered nurses, nutritionists and speech 2015. pathologists working across Anglicare’s retirement villages, Stanhope Anglican Church the Castle Hill Therapy Centre and in the community. opened its own building in 2020 after the church had been meeting in a leisure centre in Find out more Stanhope Gardens for 10 years. 9421 5344 Con struction of the Hop e anglicare.org.au/jobs Anglican Church at Leppington ANG6729
to the Archbishop’s Election Synod this year, he shocked the audience with a series of big numbers. “It is no secret that the city is goin g through ma ssive infrastructural changes,” Bishop Lin said in the speech, noting the rapid population increase in the city’s west – which will see resident numbers in the Diocese grow to more than 8 million by the mid-2050s. “By 2056, it is forecast that the current Western Region alone will have a population two and half times that of the South Sydney Region or the Northern Region,” he said. The future sho ck of this speech prompted a move to bring Synod from the CBD to the so-called “greenfields” areas of southwestern Sydney. So, for the first time since 1866, the church parliament of the Diocese will not begin its meeting in the city centre. “The greenfields present one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest opportunities our generation will see for many, many years,” Bishop Lin says. “There are important decisions we will need to make as a diocesan family that will have a gospel impact on many generations after us. “ I t is c r u c i al to s e e and understand what is happening in order to make the best and
The gift of generosity Pick and click to give: Anglicare staff pack Toys ’n’ Tucker hampers.
Christmas is the time when to emerge from the pandemic, 7500 COVID food boxes over the whom they or their church are Christians celebrate, above for many of the most vulnerable all else, the greatest gift we communities we fund... the rate could ever be given. So, while of vaccination is so low that we prepare to enjoy the festive COVID is still rampant. Giving to season – especially without these communities is incredibly lockdowns! – we should also life-giving. consider how we can imitate “All our projects are linked our Heavenly Father’s generosity with local Christian agencies, in sending his Son and be as extending God’s grace through generous as we can to those love in action.” who need it. Back at home, a consequence Not everyone is able to give in of COVID’s Delta strain is that it financial terms, and that’s okay has sent Anglicare’s annual Toys – there are other ways you can ’n’ Tucker appeal online for the be generous that will care for first time. people and support gospel work T h e fo o d a n d f i n a n c i a l around the world. assistance program manager Gift options are also available for Anglicare Sydney, Nathan for those who just want to “pick Moulds, says the team grappled and click”, so there’s really no for months with the problem excuse when you can do it of how to make Toys ’n’ Tucker without leaving your desk! safe for staff, volunteers and clients – including whether it WHAT TO CHOOSE was possible to run the program As ever, there is a range of gifts at all. to choose from at Christmas “We decided that no matter time through Compassion and what the situation... we didn’t Tearfund, but the variety might want people who are in need surprise you. And whether you of toys and fo o d and that choose a packet of seeds ($5) or encouragement and care at turn a month of coffee money Christmas time [to go without],” into a goat ($45), bibles ($20 he says. each), disability access ($30) or There were difficulties with clean water ($70), it will all go the standard model of people where it’s needed. purchasing and packing You could also band together gifts and hamper items, staff with friends or get your whole collecting these from around church involved in a bigger the Diocese and clients coming project. Household cow, anyone? in to Anglicare to pick them up. Business start-up? Maybe a new So, the decision was made to toilet block? utilise the delivery system the Tearfund Australia’s head of organisation has had in place communications, Greg Hewson, since the pandemic began. says that “while Australia begins “We’ve delivered more than 6
past 18 months to people who are in need, isolating or infected,” Mr Moulds says. “We know how to do it safely and can do it very confidently... so we’re going to get [hampers and gifts] out to people, right to their doors.” What is more, the gifts and food people donate funds for on the Toys ’n’ Tucker website will be purchased at wholesale prices, making each donation stretch further. “We know it’s not quite the same as going out and getting it yourself... but the need is still there, and it’s all been designed so we can share the joy but in a way that’s as safe as possible,” Mr Moulds says.
PRAYER AND ENCOURAGEMENT This year the Church Missionary Society is holding a “message of encouragement” challenge, asking members and friends to con sider how they can encourage missionaries with
linked. Whether it’s a short message to let them know you are praying for them, asking about points in their latest newsletter, or a verse of Scripture that’s been on your heart, your simple care can help more than you know. Jim and Tanja French, serving in Spain, note that “cross-cultural mission work is stressful. Feelings of not belonging are strong. “We draw great comfort from knowing that we belong to the family of God. where every Christian is a brother or sister walking alongside us. When we receive emails and letters from our supporters this reality is made concrete.” All these organisations crave the prayers of the saints, so while some of us might not be able to offer any financial support this year, we can be generous with our prayers for those who serve and care for others in Jesus’ name. SC
Find gift information, care or prayer points at African Enterprise: https://africanenterprise.com.au Anglican Aid: www.anglicanaid.org.au Anglicare: https://toysntucker.org.au – a range of resources are available to download CMS: cms.org.au/message-of-encouragement – this web page goes live on December 2 Christmas Bowl: https://christmasbowl.actforpeace.org.au – includes resources for Advent Compassion: www.compassion.com.au – click on “Gifts of Compassion” Tearfund: www.tearfund.org.au
Local congregation celebrates faith in their heart language.
Fellowship for Gujarati speakers in Sydney Worship the Lord: Members of the Gujarati congregation at their monthly Doonside church service.
Fo r thos e whos e he ar t language is not English, there’s something special about having the opportunity to express your faith in that language. This year, a monthly service for Gujarati Christians has been held at Do onside Anglican, where people can gather and worship God in their native tongue. This is not the first time the group has met together in Sydney – the Gujarati Christian Fellowship dates back to 2010, when it started in the house of one Gujarati family. In 2021, the fellowship resumed running the service on the last Saturday of each month, initially in person and then on Zoom when the Delta strain locked Sydney down. “The aim was to offer a time and place where Gujarati Christians can worship God in their own language,” says the Rev Alexander Purnomo, rector of Doonside. “They ran the service on Saturdays so that people can still attend their local churches on Sundays.” Many Gujarati Christians living in Sydney are migrants, coming from different denominational backgrounds in India. A leader of the fellowship says that despite these different backgrounds, members “want to grow together in faith in Christ and reach other Gujarati people who don’t yet know Christ”. SouthernCross
“Most of them are young families, with little children and often both parents working, like most migrant families… they have busy lives,” he adds. “They live in different suburbs, sometimes far from each other. They usually speak English well and are part of their local English-speaking church.” T h a t ’ s w h a t m a ke s t h e monthly Saturday gathering so important. It provides a place where Gujarati people can gather and speak their heart language. There is also the opportunity to be a Christian witness to the wider Gujarati community. According to the 2016 Census there are more than 52,000 Gujarati speakers living in greater Sydney – many from a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jain faith background. “Gujarati Christians try to stay in touch with friends from nonChristian backgrounds – they invite each other to various festivals and birthday parties,” Mr Purnomo says. “The services have been mostly attended by p eople from Christian backgrounds, but on special occasions, such as memorial services for deceased parents in India, many friends from Hindu backgrounds have come along.” The past two years have been tough on the community, as many from the fellowship
work in the health care sector. C h r i s t i a n Fe l l ow s h i p a re “[They are] therefore on the thankful to be able to worship frontline of our city’s struggle together. Adds Mr Purnomo: in the pandemic,” Mr Purnomo “ P r a y t h a t t h e G u j a r a t i says. “Please pray for strength, community and ministry might endurance and protection from grow and reach out to all Gujarati the virus.” people in Sydney and beyond. With lockdown restrictions [Pray] Christ might be glorified eased, and churches able to and that the Lord might raise up physically gather once more, Gujarati-speaking ministers and m e mb e rs o f t h e G u j a r a t i gospel workers.” SC
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The Premier leads a bipartisan commitment on Scripture in schools.
SRE shines in a difficult year
SRE celebration online: (clockwise from top left) NSW Education Minister
Sarah Mitchell, Opposition Leader Chris Minns, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Archbishop Raffel.
Special Religious Education is of positive mental health and of our state. They have come previous Labor government. “It honoured each year with a wellbeing outcomes for young to the aid of people in need celebration at Parliament House people. All these are vitally of food. Clothing and shelter but this year’s online event gave important and valuable in the are provided. Social support the new Premier and Opposition community, and all the more so [is offered] for those feeling Lea der an opp or tunit y to in the light of the challenges of isolated or suffering mental stamp their approval on it, and lockdown.” health challenges. But faith announce an online enrolment Archbishop Raffel added that communities are certainly not system. faith communities had played just important in a crisis. They Education Minister Sarah a significant part in community are a vital part of any thriving Mitchell, who was first to speak, response to the pandemic and, community and society.” said: “For more than 140 years, in turn, SRE had made a vital Representatives of the Jewish children have had this privilege contribution to the health and and Islamic faiths also took part in our schools in NSW – ever resilience of communities. in the celebration, reinforcing since special religious education “In the Christian tradition, we the partnership between faith was affirmed in the very first look to the words of Jesus, who communities and schools. Public Instruction Act in 1880. famously said, ‘let the little Mr P errottet a dde d th at “I think it’s really important for children come to me’.” “governments can do a lot parents that they can continue He both affirmed the dignity but there will always be that to choose the best option that of children and expressed that specific role, in my view, of suits them from all of the faith children were fully competent faith communities to enrich our communities in NSW.” to develop an awareness of culture and to make our society For the minister, it wa s relationship with God and to whole. That’s why I personally personal. “Can I say, as a parent, grow authentically in their faith believe that a strong and healthy my eldest daughter is school identity. society must make space for age and I think it’s wonderful faith, and that’s why I believe it’s that we as a family get to make THE IMPORTANCE OF also important to make space for those decisions. We’re certainly FAITH COMMUNITIES faith education in our schools.” very grateful for the SRE that Premier Dominic Perrottet began The Premier also described she takes part in, in her local by referring to his predecessor S R E a s e n r i c h i n g a n d public school.” Gladys Berejiklian, who he encouraging. SRE, or Scripture as it is often said was instrumental in the “Education is one asp ect. known, has had one of its most Government’s strong support of Academics is one aspect, but it difficult years and volunteers Special Religious Education. “Our [SRE] encourages students to were only allowed back into commitment as a Government go beyond the academic basics the classroom after the COVID is to ensure that SRE is stronger of education and ponder bigger restrictions were relaxed on than ever as we move forward,” questions about our place in the November 8. the Premier said. universe and what it means to Archbishop Kanishka Raffel “One of the aspects of the live the good life.” introduced the Premier at the pandemic that became very I n a s how o f bi p a r t is an event, making the point that apparent to me during this support, Labor leader Chris “SRE is proven to deliver key time is the importance of faith Minns praised SRE volunteers psychological benefits in terms communities to the p eople and harked back to the era of a 8
was the Wran Labor government in 1980 that established the principle that learning about religion should be part of the education available to children in NSW government schools,” Mr Minns said. “In fact, I’m a product of SRE instruction at Mortdale Public School in the 1990s. “Of course, NSW today is very different from the 1980s, or indeed the 1990s. It’s more diverse and more multicultural with a wider range of practised faiths.” Apar t from the strong endorsement of the SRE system, the Premier and Education Minister foreshadowed that a digital enrolment process would be deployed in time for 2022, including both the SRE participation letter and a question on religious identity. Archbishop Raffel said faith groups considered it of great importance that parents be empowered with an informed choi ce about the faith education of their children. “The Government’s commitment to digital enrolment in SRE is very welcome and crucial,” he said. “[It] deepens and strengthens the partnership between faith communities, the Government, its scho ols and parents as together we seek to raise confident, resilient children who know they are unconditionally loved by their creator God.” SC SouthernCross
2022 | *$10,990
2021 | $22,350
Scripture Union Family Missions resume this summer.
Mission is on! Tara Sing After a tough few years for tough decision to cancel physical Scripture Union Family Missions, there is cause for celebration. The mission is on, in person, once again! This year more than 1000 volunteers across 25 teams will be packing their bags, hoping to engage 30,000-plus holiday makers with the message of Christ. S U F M r u n s co a s t a l a n d inland evangelistic missions, sending teams to popular tourist destinations throughout NSW to take the gospel to caravan parks, coastal towns and regional communities. However, many teams were affected in the summer of 20192020 by bushfires, and last summer’s COVID restrictions meant that no teams could venture out at all.
missions last summer, so many teams are excited to be heading off this year. “The movement exists to do mission, so to say we couldn’t travel was really hard,” he says. Although teams and programs will look different to previous years, that hasn’t dampened spirits. “We go out to make God’s good news known,” Mr Milham says, “We’re not just going out to run a kids’ club or a coffee cart... “Capacity limits or masks might affect [programs] but they won’t prevent us from meeting our purpose. We might change our programs and modify our missions, but we can do that because we are committed to a purpose, not a program.”
We’re here! The Lennox Head team makes its presence felt.
people, building relationships and having that refreshment that we enjoy so much.” The Kioloa team has had close to 60 members in the past, but this year looks like it will be half that size. Usually they run a 10-day program from December 27 to January 6, with multiple kids’ and family activities each day for the 400 or so families who stay at the park. “This time, we’ve shortened our organised program,” says Mr Luy, a student minister at Park Road Anglican. “Most people FIRST MISSION SINCE 2019 haven’t had the easiest two HOLIDAY MAKERS READY For the team at Kioloa Beach years, so coming off the back This year is looking promising. H o l i d a y P a r k , h a v i n g t o of that and having a short prep Many Sydney residents are implement a different format time, we wanted to try and make desperate to get away after for mission this summer is a tiny mission as easy as possible. “ O u r o rganis e d p ro g ra m months of lo ckdowns and inconvenience compared to the cancelled holiday plans, which joy of finally being able to return finishes on the 31st, but we will be at the campsite until means free spots at caravan in person. parks and holiday rentals are “The joy is going [on mission] January 3. We are hoping many hard to come by. and seeing the p eople and can stay... sharing the love of These people may also be ripe talking to friends in the caravan Christ between each other, and for spiritual conversations, with park from years gone by,” says also seeking to love and care for McCrindle Research revealing Hosea Luy, co-director of the the park around us without our organised program.” almost a third of Australians are Kioloa SUFM team. praying more since the start of “We have spent two years away the pandemic. from mission. This year we are PRAY FOR TEAMS N at h an M il h a m , S U F M ’ s keen and looking forward to Although many teams are missions chairman, says it was a being on mission, talking to preparing with excitement, Mr
Milham acknowledges there is still fatigue and anxiety to manage. “We’ve got really thoughtful and passionate directors and leaders,” he says. “Pray for them as they lead their teams and care for their communities. It’s a tough role for volunteers to lead a mission when there are still questions in the air about what the Government roadmap or COVID cases will look like. “Pray for our leaders – they need encouragement, wisdom and support.” As his team gets ready to go, Mr Luy prays they would be truly captivated by the gospel. “It’s the foundation of our faith, really, believing in the good news of Jesus and having that sink into your heart,” he says. “Pray this will sink into our hearts so that we are thankful to God for his grace towards us and that we desire to share it with others. “Also, pray for our relationships with the people who we’ve known for a long time [at the caravan park], the people who we meet, and the caravan park management and staff.” SC
Full-on fun with time to chat: Urunga SUFM.
Full steam ahead for summer camps
Jump right in: Teens join their friends in the water at a Youthworks site.
This summer, Youthworks S t M i c k ’ s Yo u t h f ro m S t campsites will once again be bursting with young people as the easing of restrictions allows camps to return. COVID limitations delivered a big blow to the sector. Rules around school excursions and activities meant many camps were shut down, and most visitors who would usually stay at Youthworks centres were prevented from doing so. Andy Stevenson, the head of ministry support at Youthworks, has seen an eagerness in youth ministers across Sydney to get camps happening once again after such a long period of altering or postponing plans. “They’re all pumped to get camps back on track and help young people who have been in lockdown for a third of the year, who may have disconnected with youth ministry in some way – or connected for the first time,” he says. “[The] camping world is often the first door that is opened for many children and young people to hear about Jesus.”
MAKING IT HAPPEN Youth groups across Sydney are full-steam ahead co-ordinating annual camps – with only weeks before they head away. Mr Stevenson’s own group, SouthernCross
Michael’s, Wollongong, took part in the first camp held at a Youthworks site after restrictions eased. There were only three weeks between their return to in-person youth group and the mid-November camp. Mr Stevenson says the day the NSW Government announced camps were on, “I spent two hours that night getting the rego form going, and our teams kicked into gear!” Over the 12 years the parish’s weekend camp has run, attendance has doubled to almost 80 young people. “It’s a short space of time but quite powerful,” he says. “You get to know people really well, you do life together and kids don’t take long to become good mates with one another. Off the back of that, we’ve seen a bunch of people become Christian.”
TIME TO DISCOVER JESUS The team leading SYC (Summer Youth Camp) is thrilled to be able to run the event as close to normal as possible. The evangelistic camp for high school students has run every summer for more than 15 years. In that time, the camp has grown into two events, one co-ordinated by Cabramatta Anglican and the other by St Barnabas’, Fairfield.
The Rev Vincent Chan, assistant minister at Fairfield, sees great value in SYC. “There are Christian camps run by churches, and evangelistic camps run by organisations, but few evangelistic camps run by churches,” he says. “The unique things it brings are follow-up [opportunities] and relationships. Connecting people into church is part of the DNA.” This summer the Fairfield branch of SYC is capping registration numbers at 50. “People are excited to go along this year,” he says. “Last year we reduced the number [of registrations] to 30 but this year we are back to normal size and youth are excited about that. Most people I’ve spoken to have indicated they’re coming.” SYC has been run at many Youthworks campsites over the years. Says Mr Chan: “One of the reasons we love Youthworks is they’re so ministry oriented. That’s one of the highlights for us... they’re not in it to be a campsite but they ask what’s the goal of the campsite: for people to know Jesus.”
second half of January. “LiT sold out quicker than ever before,” Mr Stevenson says. “It tells you that young people are just keen. They’re keen for community and camps. They’re ready to go.” Given the high demand for tickets, he says the team decided to open registrations for a second summer camp, running the two back to back. “Last time we were under restrictions for size, so we held a parallel one [in Nowra], but this year we’re going for a second one straight after. We finish the first one at 2pm on Sunday and start the second at 4pm!” With so much happening over summer, Mr Stevenson says there is plenty to pray for. “Pray that the camping industry can get back on track and can run camps without restrictions at full steam so that many young people can hear the gospel. “Even though weekend and holiday camps are back on, school camps are not and this has put that arm of Youthworks C a m p i n g i n re a l t ro u b l e financially and with staffing. “Many youth ministries are running summer camps, and YOUTH TRAINING many people become Christians CONFERENCE DOUBLES on these camps, so pray that Another camp that is back with many would become Christians bells on is Leaders in Training and [sharing the gospel] would (LiT), run by Youthworks in the be the focus for everyone.” SC 11
New program aims to prevent suicide for seniors
High rates of suicide for older men: It’s okay to ask the “S” question.
Tara Sing There’s a worrying statistic was 36.2 deaths per 100,000 keep them alive until a medical and helpful conversations to give that many people aren’t aware of, and it’s affecting the lives of Australian senior citizens. Ann Gaffney knows this all too well. An elderly gentleman she visited one day seemed unusually distressed. His ears had a buzzing that doctors had diagnosed as tinnitus. However, the sounds were constant and rather frightening, and he felt as though he was under attack. During her visit, the gentleman confessed that his distress was making him consider harming himself. “He was having suicidal thoughts,” says Ms Gaffney, a senior mental health clinician a n d p ro g ra m m a n a ge r at Anglicare. “He’s so distressed, and he thinks these sounds are real, and he’s thinking of harming himself.” According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, men over 85 have the highest suicide rate in the country. In 2020, the suicide rate among men over 85 12
people – significantly more than the next highest figure of 27.1 deaths per 100,000 for men aged 40-44 and 50-54. By contrast, women aged over 85 had a suicide rate of 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people. To respond to these h e a r t b re a k i n g s t a t i s t i c s , Anglicare has rolled out the Suicide Prevention for Seniors Program. It’s designed to equip those working closely with senior citizens so they can recognise the risk signs and step in to offer hope, as well as connect people to services and resources that can help them.
professional comes along, so, too, it is with people in psychological distress.” Supp orted by the NSW Government’s Suicide Prevention Fund 2020-2024, the program will use an online course, webinars and resources to educate key supporters of older people such as aged care workers, pastoral carers, doctors and pharmacists. Yet the program is not limited to these groups and the training would benefit anyone who regularly interacts with the elderly. Mr Sheedy says younger people are generally more open to having conversations about YOU CAN MAKE A mental wellbeing, but older DIFFERENCE people may be less likely to seek “You don’t need to be an expert,” support. “At Anglicare, we want says Mike Sheedy, the head of to recognise that and build the mental health at Anglicare. “Our capacity of those who already program will give people the have the trust of older people,” skills and confidence [to assist]. he says. “We want to build their Just like if someone falls over, capacity to see risks of suicide, you can give them CPR and help and be able to have meaningful
people hope. “If you can give people hope, and if people feel heard and safe to open up, you can usually avert suicide and save lives.” Suicide risks for seniors can include such things as functional impairment, retirement, perceiving themselves as a burden, the grief of losing a life partner and chronic pain. “It’s not so much that their bodies are deteriorating, it’s how they feel about it,” Mr Sheedy says. “If they’ve got a positive attitude they’re often fine, but others might look at [their circumstances] in a really unhopeful way.”
IT’S OKAY TO ASK THE “S” QUESTION He adds that it is not harmful to ask someone if they’ve been feeling suicidal. “Some people might back off from that conversation because they worry about putting that idea in SouthernCross
One Marrickville parishioner is writing a sequel in faith.
The story of her life Judy Adamson It’s one thing to say God loves you. It’s another to know it in the depths of your soul. For Patricia Barton, God’s personal, all-encompassing love was something she really didn’t know for many, many years. So much so that when she published a memoir about her early life in 2013 it was called Why God Hates Me. The book’s title had been the idea of her friend and writing mentor Bryce Courtenay, but Mrs Barton truly felt that she had done the wrong thing by God as a young girl – when, as a devout Catholic growing up in small-town Canada, she spat out the host during her first Communion because the size and texture of it made her gag. “I thought God would never forgive me because that was the body of Christ, so I had rejected God,” she recalls. “I felt that guilt for many years and it really influenced my life.” Mrs Barton ended up becoming what she calls “a submarine Catholic – I would surface for weddings and funerals, Easter and Christmas, but I wasn’t going every Sunday. I did believe
in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord, but I wasn’t practising it.” Fast forward to 2020. Mrs Barton, now in her 80s, had known many joys, sorrows and some extraordinary experiences in her long life, but was now living by herself in Marrickville. She got a card in the mailbox with an offer of pastoral care, so she rang the number and began having regular contact with Anglicare community chaplain Pip Russell. “Pip gave me a few books... one was a Bible, and one was Nearing Home by Billy Graham,” she says. “So, I read and I read and I read... and then I met Ross [Ciano]
from the church and he started coming here once a week to read the Bible with me.” On July 3 last year, Mrs Barton was reading A Fresh Start by John Chapman and recalls a passage that said, “‘read this and if you believe it, you can become a Christian and dedicate yourself to God’... I read that and burst into tears,” she says. Mrs Barton is now a member of Marrickville Road Church, caring and being cared for – and in regular, joyful prayer throughout the day: when she wakes, when she’s on the way to church, during one-to-one Bible time in person or over the phone, and when she sits with her cat Johnny and a cuppa.
[someone’s] head. If people feel like that, you won’t be putting that idea in their head. Quite the opposite. Often the very act of asking someone frankly – saying, ‘I’m noticing that you’re not your old self, are you feeling like you might want to harm yourself?’ – that could be the first time someone has asked.” W hen the elderly man confessed his suicidal thoughts to Ms Gaffney she remained
calm, validated the man’s feelings and showed empathy. “They [the elderly clients] want us to be calm, to accept, to encourage directness – and by being direct, [the gentleman] can voice his innermost thoughts,” she says. T he re wa s re li e f o n t he gentleman’s face a s Ms Gaffney finished her visit. He was relieved of the emotional tension he was feeling by airing
his thoughts, and she was able to connect him with services that could help him. After a few months, the gentleman reflected that he was feeling more relaxed, and now has more hope for the future. Says Mr Sheedy: “The general experience is that, for most people who are asked, it comes as a blessing and a relief. Often asking the question can reduce psychological distress.” SC
“I just count my blessings”: Patricia Barton and Johnny. “I just count my blessings,” she says. “I don’t worry any more. I’m not fearful – as you get older there are things that can frighten you, and I’m no longer fearful. I have joy and I feel that God is caring for me and I don’t have to think or try to make things happen... I just let it flow. “People have noticed the difference in me... I had lunch with a close girlfriend, and she said, ‘You know what, Patricia? You’re not growing old; you’re just growing’. And I thought that was a lovely thing to say to someone.” Mrs Barton is now working on a second volume of her memoir. The title? You may have guessed it already: Why God Loves Me. SC
If you are interested in participating in the new program (or are making inquiries for someone else) please email suicideprevention@ anglicare.org.au Those who are at immediate risk or know someone who is can contact Lifeline 13 11 14, Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467. 13
Centenary joy amid lockdown Lockdown celebration: Bishop Chris Edwards preaches at the 100th anniversary service for St John’s, Asquith.
Judy Adamson It was a centenary service so in one way we had more great to have them both there which are written, and God’s unlike any other – no overflowing church (thanks, lockdown), masks on and no singing in the pews. But the joy and thanksgiving of members from St John’s, Asquith for God’s work in their midst over the past 100 years were as great as any packed house could provide. “It wasn’t how we wanted it to be in one sense, but we got lots of positive feedback from people who watched and were encouraged by the occasion – and people tuned in from far and wide,” says rector the Rev Brian Heath. “We also had video recordings from a former rector, and from a former bishop in Paul Barnett,
involvement than if we’d just been onsite.” The 100th anniversary of the parish’s ministry to Asquith, M t C ol a h , M t K u r i n g - G a i and su rroundin g subu rbs wa s o ff i c i all y re a che d i n July, but lockdown and its attendant restrictions pushed the celebration servi ce to mid-October. “We were originally going to have a dinner where Glenn D av i e s wo u l d l au nch t he [centenary] book, and then a service with Chris Edwards, so we combined it into one,” Mr Heath says. “It’s not too often you get two bishops at the one time, so it was
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– although it was a bit surreal [because of restrictions] in that when the musos were singing, everyone had to get out of the room... including Chris and Glenn! “We showed a number of video recordings of stories from the book on the day, such as a mother and her eight-yearold son... so that was great for parishioners. We also had the story of a previous assistant minister, Tim Co cks, who went out from here and has reinvigorated the church at St Philip’s, Auburn – and took some of our members with him, with our blessing.” As the title suggests, the book launched about the history of St John’s, 100 Stories… And More To God’s Glory, contains tales of faith from past and present parishioners (aged eight to 99), as well as a number of rectors and staff. Reflecting on the contents of the book, Sydney’s previous Archbishop, Glenn Davies, says that what stood out to him was how people had come through great tragedy by holding on to the truth of God’s word. “They’re very real stories
grace chimes through,” he says. “God’s grace triumphs – and that’s the message of the gospel.” Bishop Davies’ successor as Bishop of North Sydney, Chris Edwards, says something about the parish for which he is very thankful is that “St John’s is a church which has showed a willingness to pray through hard things”. “When I first became bishop... the thing that struck me was that rather than dwell on the differences or the difficulties, I found people who wanted to pray about them and bring them before the Lord so that they would be guided through them – and that in all of that he would be honoured by the response. “That’s really striking, so much so that I used St John’s as an example in other places of how they might approach [any] difficulties and differences... I just thought they showed great discipline in going to prayer first and being happy in what God will bring them to as an outcome. It’s a great example.” SC For those interested in obtaining a copy of 100 Stories… And More To Go d’s Glory, go to www. stjohnsasquith.org SouthernCross
Welcome, Premier – now act!
Push for a crackdown on modern slavery
Even the little ones work: A family stands, mallets in hand, in their workplace – a rock quarry.
Archbishop Kanishka Raffel know is present within our include “the removal of hard- their operations within the Asiais a key signatory to a letter urging new Premier Dominic Perrottet to endorse the stalled Modern Slavery Act. The act was passed by Parliament three years ago, but still has not been proclaimed. It’s understood the Government has legal and constitutional concerns with the bill. Archbishop Raffel signed the letter as Archbishop of Sydney and president of the NSW Council of Churches. The letter welcomes Mr Perrottet as Premier and notes that his predecessor, Gladys Berejiklian, was a co-sponsor of the Modern Slavery Act. “We appreciate the strong moral stance the Government took against the scourge of modern slavery, which we SouthernCross
state borders and throughout the Asia-Pacific region,” the letter says. “We wish to impress upon you the importance of maintaining your commitment to the people of NSW by urgently proclaiming and commencing the act.” One of the act’s provisions was to require large companies (with a turnover above $50 million) to take steps to investigate and eliminate modern slavery from their supply lines. There have since been Government amendments in the Upper House that include removing the $50 million cap. The church leaders say minor amendments are necessary to ensure the act functions as intended, but they are concerned that future amendments might
fought key provisions that ensure the act is effective in combatting modern slavery”. They are urging the act be pro claimed with its major provisions intact, such as the appointment of an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, a $50 million revenue threshold for companies to comply, penalties for non-compliance and support for modern slavery victims. “The Asia-Pacific region is home to approximately twothirds of the world’s slaves, many of them children and women,” the letter states. “NSW has the seventh-largest economy within this region. And, as NSW G o ve r n me nt dep a r t me nt s and businesses continue to procure goods, have links in their supply chains and conduct
Pacific region, it is vital that we have well-functioning antislavery legislation in NSW.” The letter is an initiative of International Justice Mission, which says the pandemic has increased the urgency of dealing with modern slavery. “I fear some sectors of society are working hard to ensure this law doesn’t come into effect,” says Steve Baird, the CEO of International Justice Mission Australia. “Every day that governments stand idle, more than 10 million children around the globe are being exploited and suffering. Given the global reach of their supply chains, the government and business sectors have both an opportunity and an obligation to take action.” SC 15
A home for “all types of archbishops”
New Bishopscourt takes shape
Going up: the latest photo of the Bishopscourt build from the site’s “builder cam”.
Construction of the new Bishopscourt in Darling Point Sydney, construction began on E n d o w m e n t o f t h e S e e home for the Archbishop of in 2015, planning has been Sydney is proceeding well, after u n d e r w a y fo r a m o d e r n an initial hold-up in planning replacement. Sited on a northapproval and rain delays. facing block in Forest Lodge Since the sale of the previous not far from the University of
For Such a
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the new building in December 2020. Based on the standard for a clergy rectory, the plan has been expanded with a largerthan-normal living room and dining room, and a substantial Archbishop’s study. Two suites with a private sitting room will cater for guests. For official functions there is a ministry facility adjacent to the house that can be used for meetings or functions of up to 80 people, and has a separate street entrance. Former diocesan Registrar, Doug Marr, who is co-ordinating the build on behalf of the
Corporation, describes it as “a modern residence, which is designed to suit all types of archbishops’ [families] – whether they are single, an older married couple, a family with teenage children, or even have aged parents living with them”. The building includes an 8 kilowatt solar electricity system with roof panels and an electric vehicle charging bay in the underground car park, which accommodates nine vehicles. With the house frame soon to take shape, the build will be much less affected by rain delays and is expected to be ready by September 2022. SC
Jenny Brown ( Author of Growing Yourself Up)
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The advent that changed the world Kanishka Raffel
he four weeks before Christmas are traditionally
known as Advent in the Church calendar. The word Advent means “arrival” or “coming”. At this time of year, we prepare to celebrate the first “coming” of Jesus as a babe in his mother’s arms – yet at the same time, Advent anticipates the next coming of Jesus in glory and power at the end of time to judge the world with justice and truth. So while the weeks before Christmas are mostly spent celebrating, feasting, spending and relaxing, Advent is actually a time for prayer, for repentance and for turning to the Lord. I suppose this year we have more reason than usual for eagerly looking forward to Christmas – and to the return of Jesus. This has been a year when we have longed, I think, for news of great joy that is for all the people. That is the news the angels announce: “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you... You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”. In this second year of pandemic we’ve been reminded that, despite geography and language and culture, we are one human race. We have the same frailties and weaknesses on the one hand, and the same hopes and joys on the other. We are all subject to death and disease, and around the world in every town and village and apartment complex we treasure loved ones, we crave the opportunity to spend time together and enjoy company, and we all shed the same salty tears in the face of sorrow and death. We have faced a global threat and we’ve been reminded that in the most fundamental ways we are just the same. Christmas announces a “Saviour of the world”, who took on human flesh so that he shares our nature; and yet who triumphed over death, so that he may offer us eternal life. Perhaps a little surprisingly the Book of Common Prayer’s gospel reading for the First Sunday in Advent is Matthew 21:1-13 – Jesus’ entry, or advent, into Jerusalem. The same reading is typically used on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, because it records the events at the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life. Matthew tells us that as Jesus rode into Jerusalem the “whole city was stirred” and asked, “who is this?” The arrival of Jesus SouthernCross
into Jerusalem is accompanied by symbolic actions that point to an answer to that question, for those who have eyes to see. As the shepherds believed the angels’ announcement that the child wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger was the promised Messiah of God, so Jesus is welcomed by jubilant crowds as he comes into Jerusalem “meek and riding a donkey”. The crowds sing out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Jesus is welcomed as King. Yet Jesus rides a donkey, not a war horse. He is gentle and meek, not bearing the sword. His kingship will not take up arms. The people praise their rescuer, yet he will not rescue them in a military battle but as a suffering servant who will give his life as a ransom for many. What would it mean today for someone to call Jesus, “King”? Before I became a Christian I asked a school friend what it meant to him to be a Christian. He said being a Christian meant he had lost control of his life to Jesus Christ. An Australian footballer says, “The greatest challenge I face is laying down my own desires, goals and dreams and placing them in God’s hands”. A specialist in addiction medicine says this: “I’m conscious that God is the source of my work… it is his power that transforms [recovering addicts]. By accepting my own need of forgiveness from God, I can point them to the one who died for them and paid the penalty so they can be forgiven and forgive others”. The King made his advent into Jerusalem and changed the world. This year, perhaps more than in recent years past, we are so glad to hear of the Saviour who was sent into the world for our sakes. And this year, too, perhaps, we are gripped by the reality and solemnity of his universal authority in judgement and the global reach of his mercy. “Come Lord Jesus,” we want to pray, “and put the world to rights.” But we would not dare to do so were it not for the first coming of Jesus in meekness to be our suffering Saviour, the babe born in a manger, the King riding a donkey, the man nailed to the cross and risen from the dead – who knows the frailty of our nature, who bears the penalty of our sin and who reigns for the good of those who are his. SC 17
How do you remember your life?
emory is the deep well from which our
sense of self bubbles up and is sustained. A well of happy memories breeds a deep contentment and fills our world with green pastures of happiness. But bad memories can poison the well. Our inner life can be debilitated by recollections of trauma, embittered by historical injustices, filled with recrimination over past sins or grief over loss. To be sure, there are some evils it would be wrong to forget, because justice demands that they be remembered. But poisoned memory can cast a grey pall over everything. Like Jim Carrey’s character in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind we may wish to be rid of our negative memories but, in the real world, repression can be as damaging as remembrance. Worst of all, to be cut off from memory altogether – which is the tragedy of dementia – is to be cast adrift from both self and the world. REMEMBERING RIGHTLY So, are we tossed helplessly on the tides of memory? Thankfully the answer is no. In an insightful account of his own memories of abuse and trauma in the book The End of Memory, theologian Miroslav Volf puts it this way: “the central question for me was not whether to remember. I most assuredly would remember and 18
most incontestably should remember. Instead, the central question was how to remember rightly.” The book of Psalms offers us a masterclass in remembering evils rightly. In a variety of ways and situations, the psalmists hand over memories of trauma and loss to God. And with God’s help they find a place for those memories within their remembrance of God. Memories of injustice and trauma in the psalms are often raw and fresh. In Psalm 74, for example, the people stand among the wreckage of the sanctuary, devastated by violence and feeling abandoned by God. They beg God to remember what the enemies have done and destroy them. But then the people stop and take time to remember God’s presence and power in creation, and the promises he made in the past. They place their experience of God’s absence within these memories and find strength to keep asking for justice. The psalmists entrust both vengeance and justice to God. He is the one who repays evil (Psalm 94), and the one who brings justice, whether alone (Psalm 97) or through the Messiah’s rule (Psalm 101). Fighting for justice is not wrong, but the realisation that I, too, am capable of evil makes outrage hard to sustain. In Psalm 31 David is being unjustly persecuted, but his consciousness of sin knocks the wind out of his sails. He has no energy to fight: “My life is brought to an end by grief and my years by groaning; my SouthernCross
The Lord helps us reframe our memories through his word in the psalms.
strength folds under my guilt, and my bones wear away” (v10, my translation). What he can do is trust God to deal with the cause of his trauma: “the proud he pays back in full” (v23). David can trust God because he knows God’s love, a love that is no less real for being temporarily hidden: “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you” (v19). The poet of Lamentations does the same after the fall of Jerusalem, carefully setting the memory of trauma within the memory of God’s character: I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lam 3:19-22) As with trauma, so it is with memories of loss. Psalm 77 is a model for the reframing of memory. Asaph is in acute distress. His prayers bring no comfort from God, and the memory of God’s presence, now lost, is intensely painful: When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. SouthernCross
I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. (Ps 77:2-3) The happiness he once felt wrings from him an anguished series of questions that come to an ironic climax in verse 9: I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: … Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” (vv5-6, 9) But at this point Asaph makes a conscious decision to remember God, slowly and carefully. Then I thought… “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago”. (vv10-11) The rest of the psalm is a meditation on God’s miraculous deliverance of Israel through the Red Sea. As the poet builds a new frame for his memories of loss, he finds strength to endure and even hope. In the end he receives a key insight: Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. (v19) Memories of lost happiness have not been driven away, but with the insight that God saved Israel without leaving footprints in the sand comes the hope that God is there with the poet now, invisible 19
in the dark, filled with compassion, ready to restore. It is no accident that Psalm 77 remembers the exodus. This was the event that defined who God was to Israel. For Christians it is the cross of Christ. Why are memories that reveal God’s character important? Not so much because they balance out bad memories, but because memories of God shape us into the people God made us to be. In the “memory” stanza of Psalm 119 we read, “In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law” (v55). From an intimate knowledge of God’s character a glad obedience flows, and in the next stanza it spills joy across the poet’s life: “You are my portion, Lord… At midnight I rise to give you thanks… The earth is filled with your love” (vv57-64). By choosing to remember what God has done for us we can begin to be liberated into a new sense of self and the world. As Volf recognised, the gospel provides us with a way to reframe memories and suck the poison out of them. The self that emerges when memories of God surround memories of trauma and loss is a self that is filled with gratitude, freed to live again. To remember God is to live. To forget him is to drift towards death. As David says, “Among the dead no one remembers you. In the underworld, who praises you?” (Ps 6:5, my translation). Forgetfulness is always a tragedy, whether it is wilful or unwitting. The only thing worse than forgetting is being forgotten. It is the ultimate judgment: “the face of the Lord is against evildoers, to wipe all memory of them from the earth” (Ps 34:16, my translation). BEING REMEMBERED Being forgotten is a primal human fear – a fear that pushes humans, whether in Japan, India, Nigeria or Mexico, towards the veneration of their ancestors. In the once-Christian West the fear
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of being forgotten expresses itself non-religiously but is just as deep. The finale of the musical Hamilton asks, “When you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who tells your story?” The psalms know a wonderful answer to this question: God remembers your name. Naturally the Lord who knows all things does not remember and forget in the way humans do. “Remembering” describes God’s free decision to direct his attention towards a person. Being remembered by God is what makes humans human in the first place: “What are human beings that you remember them?… You have crowned them with glory and honour” (Ps 8:4, 5, my translation). And when affliction – be it abuse or illness, sin or sorrow – places a human being in the realm of death, their remembrance by God “lifts [them] up from the gates of death” (Ps 9:13; see Exodus 2:24). How does God choose to remember us? Another wonderful answer: he remembers selectively. Just as we are to remember the hurts of our past and think of God, so God remembers the unworthiness of our past and thinks of himself. David prays, Remember Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. (Ps 25:6-7) When God says that he does not “remember” our sins (Jer 31:34), he means that he directs his attention away from them and towards his love and faithfulness (Ps 98:3). That divine love and faithfulness comes to its highest expression in Jesus’s death for us. And so, God never remembers us without remembering Jesus. When your memory fades and you sleep in death, “who tells your story?” It will not be your children or your grandchildren but Jesus who will tell your story – who will remember you to God as he remembered the criminal who was crucified next to him – and by that act of remembrance raise you up to share in his immortality. In the meantime, our sense of who we are and what the world is like should be shaped not by the memories that flood over us unbidden, but by the memories we choose to call to mind of the one who died for us, and who “always lives to intercede for us” – memories that we carefully place around the troubles of the past. Memory and identity are intimately connected, and much that is good about us was forged in the flames of adversity. What might it be like to carry all that goodness within us, but without the scarring left on our souls by the experiences that put it there? It may be that in the world to come our sins and the sins of others will no longer come to mind, not because we could not remember them if we really wanted to, but because God’s people will remember all goodness just as God remembers it. We will finally be able to be our truest selves – who are, as Miroslav Volf puts it, “fully immersed in the love that God is and that God will create among them”. At the same time, it is precisely the memory of what Jesus endured to free us from evil that will perfect our joy and fill us with songs of praise for the Lamb who was slain. SC
The Rev Dr Andrew Shead is the head of Old Testament and Hebrew Old Testament at Moore College. SouthernCross
It’s (really) starting to feel a lot like Christmas
his Christmas looks to be one of the most anticipated
we have ever had. Household visitor caps lifted, enabling family celebrations to go ahead. Changes to incoming international arrival caps so more people can return home for the festive season. Unrestricted regional travel. Allowing people to get together for Christmas has been a powerful motivation for communities to reach the double vaccination “freedom” mark! It means that Christmas will indeed SouthernCross
be a time of great joy and celebration – perhaps more than ever after such a time of disruption and upheaval. There does seem to be a sense of real hope and expectation in the air. How much more is this true as we remember the words on that first Christmas, recorded for us in Luke’s gospel, of the angel to the startled shepherds. Do you remember? “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” 21
Luke goes on to tell us how, having heard this extraordinary announcement, the shepherds travelled to Bethlehem to check it out and found it was just as the angel had said it would be. So, “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them”. Even when he was a newborn baby, the news about Jesus captured people’s attention. As an adult, people were gripped by who Jesus was, what he said and what he did. You could not keep the people quiet. A familiar phrase in all the gospels was “the news about him spread everywhere”. The easing of COVID restrictions is indeed wonderful news. But how much more wonderful is the news that the coming of Jesus brings! Just as with the shepherds, there is so much to talk about. Sure hope. Real joy. Everlasting peace. The removal of fear. A confident future. Someone we can trust and look to, who we can rely on. Someone who is consistent. Loving. Real. Full of compassion and kindness. Who lifts the lowly and protects the weak and vulnerable. Jesus is someone who is always working for our good, and never for our harm. Who forgives all our faults. Who calls us his sons and daughters. Who listens and who understands. Someone who transforms our life. Who stands by us even in our toughest times. Who takes away our darkness. Who can give us a fresh start with God. Who gives a real reason to say, “Happy Christmas!” At this stage, even though we’re not 100 per cent sure what our Christmas services and outreach events might look like, we have a privileged opportunity to engage with our non-believing friends, family and neighbours about the good news that is for all people. Therefore, in the coming weeks, will you prayerfully look for opportunities to speak of this great joy and hope that Jesus brings? Will you invite people to come to Christmas services with you, and to outreach events your church is working hard to put in place? You could also give people a small booklet that explains the significance of Christmas. For example, I’ve recently read Rebecca McLaughlin’s Is Christmas Unbelievable? Four Questions Everyone Should Ask About the World’s Most Famous Story. Rebecca answers four important questions that so many of our friends and family are asking: “Was Jesus even a real person? Can we take the gospels seriously? How can you believe in a virgin birth? Why does it matter?” On that first Christmas, after meeting Jesus, the shepherds returned to their flocks, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told”. We rejoice at the lifting of COVID restrictions. We rejoice at being able to meet face to face once again with friends and family. But how much more should we rejoice and celebrate and share the good news of great joy that is for all people! SC
The Rev John Lavender is assistant director of Evangelism and New Churches. 22
Oops! I made a mistake
he Archbishop’s team meets each Monday morning
to study the Bible together. We recently looked at Galatians 2 and the clash of the titans at Antioch – where Paul opposed Peter to his face (Galatians 2:11). One lesson from Antioch that stood out for me is that even great ones make mistakes. Peter was a great one. He was one of the first disciples Jesus called and was his constant companion. He heard Jesus preach, witnessed his miracles and enjoyed the benefit of private one-on-one lessons from him. He was numbered among the Lord’s most intimate friends. Peter was the Apostle who would receive the keys of the kingdom. He used the keys to open the door of faith to the Jews at Pentecost and then he opened the door of faith to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. And yet here in Antioch this very same Peter makes a great mistake. It wasn’t the first time Peter made a mistake, of course. When Jesus explained that he must suffer, be rejected, killed and raised, it was Peter who rebuked him. A little later Peter denied the Lord – three times! Two monumental errors. But it was in Antioch, where Peter chose to separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of the “circumcision group”, that his error led others into the same hypocrisy. Galatians 2 says that even Barnabas was led astray (v13). See? Even the greatest leaders are weak and fallible. Unless the grace of God holds them up any one of them may go astray. While no doubt converted, justified and sanctified as members of Christ, SouthernCross
heirs of eternal life and showing all the signs they have the Spirit, they are not infallible. The example of Peter at Antioch is not unique. Remember Abraham following Sarah’s advice to take Hagar as a wife? Or Aaron, the first high priest, who gave in to the whims of the Hebrews and made a golden calf? Or Solomon, who allowed his wives to worship false gods? Remember James and John wanting the seats beside Jesus? These things deserve to be remembered. They were not written for nothing. Leaders make mistakes. The Reformers were mighty instruments in God’s hand. Yet hardly any of them did not make some great mistake. Martin Luther held on to the doctrine of consubstantiation. Calvin permitted Servetus to be burned. Cranmer recanted and fell away from his first faith. Wesley and Toplady, who penned some of the most glorious lyrics for hymns we still sing, also used their way with words to abuse each other. Leaders make mistakes and need to be forgiven. However, let us learn from this episode that to keep gospel truth in the Church is of even greater importance than to keep the peace. I suppose no one knew the value of peace and unity more than the Apostle Paul. He was the apostle who wrote the definition of love. He was the apostle who said, “Be of the same mind one toward another”; “Be at peace among yourselves”; “Have the same mind”. Yet see how he acts here! He opposes Peter to his face. He publicly rebukes him. He willingly runs the risk of all the consequences that might follow. Above all, he writes it down, creating a perpetual memorial so it SouthernCross
might never be forgotten. Why did he do this? Because he dreaded false doctrine, and feared the loss of truth more than the loss of peace. Paul’s example is one we should heed and copy because too many people put up with anything in religion so long as they can have a quiet life. The Anglican diocesan system is an admirable thing in theory. But it must be well administered and led by truly spiritual people. It is useless when the leaders of dioceses and synods deliberately forsake the Scriptures for the ways of the world. If the leaders of churches do not preach the gospel and live the gospel, their claim to be heard must be at an end. Divisions and separations are most objectionable. They weaken the cause of true Christianity. But false doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism. Controversy is a painful thing. It is hard enough to fight the world, the flesh and the devil without differences in our own camp. But there is one thing that is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed and permitted without protest. So be prepared for leaders to make mistakes. During COVID we all have. But such administrative mistakes should be forgiven. Mistakes about truth must never be tolerated. SC
The Rt Rev Chris Edwards is Bishop of North Sydney. 23
Summer is here: how do we take the gospel to the beach? Rich Wenden
n one level, the challenges for churches in a
suburban coastal context aren’t that different from other parts of Sydney. We are in an increasingly post-Christian secular age, described by Melbourne pastor Mark Sayers as people searching for meaning, building their own versions of a kingdom without a king – which means they generally look for purpose, fulfillment and meaning in what captures their attention: the things they love. I have served in ministry for nearly 12 years as rector of two coastal, suburban Anglican churches in Sydney, and during my decade at Cronulla I pursued a Doctor of Ministry, exploring the 24
challenges for churches seeking to minister to those in suburban coastal areas. As summer arrives and people increasingly head to our beaches and coastal cafes, I want to suggest two particular challenges and areas on which our parishes can focus as we think about reconnecting with our culture in a post-lockdown, or postpandemic, context. First, as we reconnect with our communities, it is worth taking a moment to consider what was driving people before COVID-19 struck. Author James K.A. Smith has written a couple of books that outline how we as humans “are what we love”. As we seek to point people to Jesus and show them what the good life really is SouthernCross
Challenges for coastal churches.
all about from the Bible’s perspective, we (in Smith’s words) want to show people how the gospel reorders their disordered loves. THE “BLUE-GREEN CATHEDRAL” For example, in the microculture of the beaches, the lifestyle offered is one of the larger factors in the shift of people’s focus and desires. The pull of the beach shapes people’s actions, decisions and habits: it has become a way of life and has been described to me on a number of occasions as the “blue-green cathedral”. It is, for many, their religion – their way of describing the good life in almost spiritual terms. We could think of it like this. The beach, like many other things people “go to” because they “love” it, has a connected ritual. We go to the beach in summer because that’s what we do and there’s almost a liturgy attached to it. For Smith, the use of the term “liturgy” is important because it raises the stakes of what is taking place in a practice or ritual like going to the beach. So, while we tend to think of liturgies in terms of religious practice, Smith says that “some so-called secular rituals actually constitute liturgies” that are “formative for identity”, “inculcate particular visions of the good life” and “do so in a way that means to trump other ritual formations”. That is, as our churches attempt to understand certain suburban microcultures and what drives them, this will better place us to pursue the common good and seek the wellbeing of the suburb by becoming a faithful presence. This, according to American sociologist James Davison Hunter, “is in keeping with the instruction that the people of God are to be committed to the welfare of the cities in which they reside in exile, even when the city is indifferent, hostile or ungrateful”. So, the challenge – especially as we seek to reconnect with our communities and paint a picture of what the good life looks like according to Jesus – is to consider the various touchpoints that make up the tapestry of suburban coastal areas. They might be ones that we were already seeking to connect with. Since emerging from lockdown maybe new ones have come to light. BE A FAITHFUL PRESENCE IN YOUR AREA My research showed me that churches seeking to embrace a faithful presence are seen by their example of being good neighbours or guests of local community hubs – whether it be fostering a faithful presence in the school community through working bees and the provision of other services, or church members joining the local Surf Life Saving Club and even being trained as chaplains for the purpose of embracing those in various beach communities. The medium-term presence of a chaplain from one church at the local Surf Life Saving Club meant those in the club felt a connection with that church to the point where some surf club members came to church-run events like a Fathers’ Day breakfast and the church’s Christmas carols. Piggybacking on community mental health initiatives, as some parishes have done, can have a profound effect – or just seeking to provide meals and/or clothes (one church I interviewed runs an amazing soup kitchen) to those who live on the fringes. Recognising, identifying and using these societal touchpoints can have a deep and lasting impact upon such coastal contexts, as the church becomes a gospel community with a missional focus – serving its neighbourhood together. SouthernCross
Connecting with these requires embracing what one missiologist describes as an “urban spirituality”, as we seek to be that faithful presence. While this isn’t necessarily a new notion, as we live out these truths we are embodying real community because of where the mission takes place: in the neighbourhood, on the beach, in the school – not in the meetings of the church. REACH OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE We can reach our suburbs whether they’re near the beach or elsewhere by living good lives, showing people the real difference Jesus makes in the context of everyday mission. And in doing so we work with God to bring the message of the salvation, peace, justice, mercy and love that come through him into the community. By the way, even if you don’t live near the beach – or it’s not your “thing” – God’s people can still be a faithful presence in whatever circles they mix. In the end we want to build those deeper relationships with people in our local sports and Probus clubs and schools, and get to know local shop owners well, as a way of supporting them all post-pandemic. We need to know what makes people tick in our local area and pray for opportunities to speak the gospel into those situations. As we seek to reconnect it is important to grasp the longings, loves and hopes people in our suburbs have, whether they’re in Bondi or Seaforth or Stanhope Gardens. As our churches work hard at understanding these, we are then better equipped to show how the gospel of the risen Lord Jesus speaks powerfully into that. SC The Rev Dr Rich Wenden is rector of Seaforth and chaplain to the Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club.
Kanishka Raffel Archbishop
“There is no place whatsoever for sexual abuse or other misconduct in the life of our churches. I am committed to ensuring the S Sydney Anglican Church has a consistent culture of safe ministry through regular and up-to-date training and resourcing cle of clergy and lay church workers.”
The Professional Standards Unit promotes the practise of Christian ministry in accordance with the highest Biblical standards of respect and care. A Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme is available to provide counselling and other support to victims of misconduct or abuse.
Abuse Report Line 1800 774 945 Abuse Report Form safeministry.org.au/report 25
The wife of an Archbishop The Archbishop’s wife is a key person in our Diocese, providing her own leadership and gifts in the service of the Lord Jesus, church members, her family and her husband. In Sydney we have been blessed by a succession of godly and able women, whose contribution has been sometimes underappreciated but always invaluable. Simon Manchester asked Pam Goodhew, Christine Jensen, Di Davies and Cailey Raffel to reflect on the role.
When the possibility of becoming “Archbishop and wife” arose, what thoughts did you both have as you approached it?
As you look back (or ahead), do you think the privileges outweigh the challenges? In what way?
PG: We had already had 11 years of episcopal experience in Wollongong so we were not totally ignorant of some of the challenges, but there really is no handbook and we looked to see what we might do to advance the cause of Christ.
PG: Certainly they do. The privileges are immense. Extending hospitality and friendship to leaders in the armed forces, church schools, universities, heads of government and Christian organisations were privileges. We didn’t have quite the same contact with individual parishes but did visit many – and other dioceses as well.
CJ We loved being at Moore, so when Peter was approached about putting his name forward we felt apprehensive about the huge challenge. It drove us to pray for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance. DD: The idea seemed remote in the early stages but when Glenn agreed to his name going forward, I think panic and anxiety started to set in for me! However, during the process we were both very aware of the prayer for the nominees and felt at peace knowing God would sustain us and direct our paths. CR: I was reluctant because I could see that Kanishka was such a good fit as Dean and we had only been at the Cathedral for a few years. We both felt inadequate for the roles of “Archbishop and wife” but prayerfully we came to the conclusion that we needed to trust God with the process and for his equipping.
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CJ: I think the privileges and challenges balance each other out. The greatest privilege is seeing people come to the Lord and meeting them in the churches. There are opportunities to meet Christian leaders here and overseas. And there are those times of making hard decisions and facing criticisms, which are incredibly painful. DD: Yes absolutely, though when you are in the middle of some of the challenges you might not be thinking of the privileges! However, meeting people from all walks of life – here and overseas – was a great privilege, especially hearing their Christian journeys. A special joy was being alongside a dedicated group of ministry wives and bishops’ wives as we worked and prayed together. CR: That’s a hard question to answer but I think perhaps the greatest privilege is having the prayers of so many faithful people wanting to uphold their Archbishop and be partners in the work. But with that come opportunities in speaking with media, political leaders and both national and international leaders. Kanishka has also entered the role at a particularly challenging time with COVID-19 and critical church issues. What doors opened (or open) for you personally and what gifts of your own are you glad to use in the Lord’s service? PG: I oversaw the refurbishment of Bishopscourt, and Harry and I were able to entertain so many from the Diocese and beyond. It was a privilege to have bishops and archbishops (including the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, and his wife SouthernCross
Backstory with Simon Manchester.
A privilege and a challenge: Sydney’s past four archbishop’s wives (from left) – Pam Goodhew, Christine Jensen, Di Davies and Cailey Raffel.
Eileen) and to learn more of the wider Anglican Church. We had ordinands and conferences and garden parties. CJ: Our time at Moore meant that we knew many ministry families and this new role gave me the opportunity to reconnect with ministry wives. The Network groups began and biennial conferences were great times of fellowship and encouragement. Being president of the Mothers’ Union also gave me the opportunity to minister among some remarkable women. DD: I love having people to our home but we were only in Bishopscourt for 13 months (and actually lived in four homes during our term, which was challenging!) and this limited our hospitality. Yet we could still host small group gatherings, which we found to be very personal. Meeting up one-to-one with ministry wives was as much an encouragement to me as it was to them. CR: I’m continuing serving as a cross-cultural advisor with Anglicare, helping churches reach and serve culturally and linguistically diverse people. It’s a privilege to serve as patron to the Mothers’ Union and as chairwoman of the Ministry Wives Committee. Helping others to persevere in sharing the love of Jesus wherever God has placed them is something I want to do. How did (do) you support your (very unique) husband on difficult days and what kept you going? PG: I prayed for him and looked to the Lord for myself. I knew there were some difficult times for Harry but when he came home, he would write up his day book, include a prayer in it and say “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” and sleep well. I was happy with that. CJ: Peter and I have always ministered together and supported each other. We’ve always prayed together each night and brought our concerns to our Heavenly Father. The gift of good friends to share our burdens with was precious. SouthernCross
DD: It is difficult seeing your husband overwhelmed by certain issues but I was thankful that Glenn managed stressful times pretty well, and I was grateful to God for sustaining him. Glenn would often need his own time to think and process but we would always pray together each night and have been very grateful for supportive and prayerful friends. CR: Thankfully, there haven’t been any really difficult days yet but I think the principle will be the same as before. I want to be available to Kanishka, to be his helper whether that’s relaxing or laughing together or being the one who prays with him or for him. Knowing others are praying is a great encouragement to persevere – and keeping my eyes on Jesus. With so much change for your family and church and timetable and even circles of friends, what would you want people to know and remember in their prayer and support? PG: We were blessed in that friends prayed and came to see us and shared time with us. Lots of fun times were shared as a family. CJ: I was humbled by the many who prayed and encouraged us. The Lord sustained us in standing for Jesus. The assistant bishops and staff at St Andrew’s House are great supporters. But there are aspects of the role where decisions need to be taken alone. DD: The responsibilities and duties do mean that often family and friends miss out on having you with them for special occasions. Do pray for good communication within the Archbishop’s family and times of refreshment for them when opportunities arise. CR: Please pray for our own geographically distanced family and that we keep our eyes on Jesus. Lockdown has prevented us meeting with many people, so please pray for us building relationships with ministry partners. Pray for wisdom for the best use of our time and the many decisions an Archbishop makes every day. SC 27
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parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at November 12, 2021: • Ashbury* • Berowra • Camden • Cherrybrook • Cronulla** • Eagle Vale • Greenacre* • Guildford* • Keiraville • Kellyville • Kingswood • Lidcombe • Liverpool
South • Menangle • Mona Vale • Panania • PeakhurstMortdale • Pymble • Rosemeadow* • Ulladulla • Wahroonga, St Paul’s** • Wilberforce • Wollongong
* denotes provisional parishes or Archbishop’s appointments ** right of nomination suspended/on hold
prayed about how God could use him – he was approached to join the board of Mission Australia. “You read those lists of gifts in Romans chapter 12 and you think, ‘This is what it looks like’... the leadership and governance and sh apin g of Christian organisations like Mission Australia can have a tremendous impact in terms of reaching people with the love of Jesus in a way that local churches often can’t,” he says. “Anglicare has such a profound impact on the lives of so many people in Sydney in terms of reaching them with grace and mercy, [from] a retirement community where there are chaplains – a community with a Christian focus – right through to people who are in the darkest, most desperate need. [Anglicare] reaches into the community and extends that hand of love... I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be involved.”
Archbishop Kanishka Raffel welcomed the appointment, saying, “The leadership of this organisation is one of the key positions of responsibility and trust in the Diocese, and I’m just so thankful to God for the way he has led the board through this selection process, and the wonderful news of the appointment of Simon”. Mr Miller, who will take up the role on February 7, is looking forward to the challenges that await him.“Anglicare is an organisation that has such a wonderful history – 160plus years of serving the city for Christ…that history, that richness, is deeply attractive to me,” he says. “But I also think that it’s the future. The way that we can continue to deepen and extend the way we love the city in the name of Christ is really exciting, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge and opportunity of doing that.” He observes that Jesus thinks about the concept of loving God with one’s heart, soul, mind and strength as “an integrated whole”, adding: “I think part of what I bring to Anglicare is wanting to live that out, and really love the Lord my God and love neighbour as self. And I think Anglicare is a wonderful place to do that.” Mr Miller and his family attend St John’s, Ashfield.
MOVES The senior assistant minister of the parish of Northmead and Winston Hills, the Rev Joshua Johnston, will become rector of Minto on January 10. The Rev Mike Hastie moves from his assistant minister role at Newtown Erskineville Anglican Church to become
re c to r o f To o n ga b bi e o n January 12. Folllowing seven years serving as chaplain to the Church of England on Norfolk Island, the Rev David Fell’s commencement service as rector of Gymea will be held on January 15. After 24 years in charge of the
parish of Lidcombe (with the addition of Berala for the first six years) the Rev Joseph Thiem becomes rector of Cabramatta on January 17. The rector of St John’s, Camden, the Rev Anthony Galea, will retire on January 23 after 20 years in the parish. SouthernCross
VALE The Rev Canon John Livingstone died on October 30. Born John Robert Livingstone on January 31, 1941, he grew up in a clergy household, firstly in the Flinders Ranges parish of Willochra – where his father David worked with Bush Church Aid – followed by Auburn and, in 1954, Kingsford, when David Livingstone became rector of the parish. It was here that John met his future wife Jan. Mrs Livingstone said in her husband’s eulogy that young John Livingstone “earned a name for himself as always being up to something”. He attended nearby Sydney Boys’ High School, while Mrs Livingstone attended the girls’ school next door, and she recalled “John marching through the Sydney Girls’ High School playground, which was forbidden to boys, playing his bugle at the end of school muck-up day. My friends and I were horrified – because John was disregarding the rules,
and especially because it was the minister’s son!” Having said that, Canon Livingstone also took his faith seriously. A p ost-Graham Crusade teaching mission at Kingsford, led by Leon Morris, helped cement the conviction that God was calling him into the ministry. He began his studies at Moore College at the now unheard-of age of 19 and was ordained in 1964, prior to spending four years as curate at All Saints’, Hunters Hill. In 1969, the family moved to the provisional parish of Rooty
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Hill, and in 1973 to the then new 1987-1993. After this he became housing district of Green Valley/ rector of Bowral, where he Sadleir. It was around this time served until his retirement in that Canon Livingstone took up 2006. an additional role as director of However, as the Rev Richard the New Areas Committee in Mills, who led the funeral the Diocese, which he held until service, noted, “John never he was called to the parish of really grasped the concept of Normanhurst in 1978. retirement”. The Livingstones During the 12 happy years “retired” to Mittagong, where Mr a t N o r m a n h u r s t , C a n o n Mills was rector at the time, and Livingstone met Indian pastor when Mr Mills invited Canon the Rev Vinay Samuel, who had Livingstone to join the church’s established a ministry in one of ministry staff part-time, he the poorest areas of Bangalore. happily accepted. The two churches entered into a Said Mrs Livingstone: “I’m sure “sister” parish partnership, with that invitation made retirement members learning from and bearable for him... John loved supporting each other in their every moment of what he was work for the gospel. called to do. I know he wasn’t Canon Livingstone was a the perfect clergyman, but he strong supporter of Mothers’ loved people and wanted them to Union and, through it, the know who Jesus is – that we are leadership roles Mrs Livingstone saved by grace, through faith, undertook with both MU Sydney and this not from ourselves it is and MU Australia. He was also the gift of God. the director of Care Force “I know he trusted God with – part of the Home Mission every part of his being and that Society (now Anglicare) – from heaven is his true home.”
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A great addition to the kids’ bookshelf Tara Sing Bible Stories Every Child Should Know Written by Kenneth N. Taylor; illustrated by Jenny Brake 10Publishing
his is the latest offering in the “A Child Should Know”
series, and brings more than 120 key Bible events to life with clever retelling by Kenneth N. Taylor and beautiful illustrations by Jenny Brake. Our family has appreciated Everything A Child Should Know About God (an earlier book in the series), so when I saw this had been released I immediately bought copies as gifts for the young people I know. It slots into the series well, helping primary school-aged children access and engage with the purple passages of Scripture at a deeper level than their earlier children’s Bible story books may have done. Each Bible story is retold over two pages and ends with a few questions designed to promote comprehension and discussion. It’s 30
easily the kind of book you could read each evening with your children without it dragging on too long and delaying bedtime. As the chapters occasionally summarise several Bible passages into one story – such as when events are told in different books of the Bible – clear Bible references allow readers to easily jump back into Scripture. The Old Testament stories not only celebrate the great achievements of God through his people but often foreshadow the greater work to come when Jesus steps on to the scene. Throughout the book, anticipation for the coming of the Messiah builds with each Old Testament story, I was surprised to come across some Old Testament passages retold that aren’t included in many kids’ Bibles. Although containing some confronting details of war, sin and death, their SouthernCross
Quiz Worx’s new album makes a very joyful noise unto the Lord.
A new way to rock around the Christmas tree Tara Sing A (Not So) Silent Night Quiz Worx As a lover of all things Christmas, I’m precious about my traditions and want to safeguard the things I know and hold dear. I approach new Christmas songs and versions of classic carols with trepidation. Will classics be ruined? Are the new songs cheesy – or worse, just trying too hard? The new Quiz Worx album had a lot to prove if it was going to make it onto any of our family Christmas playlists. Would their latest offering of kids’ music have songs that I could listen to twice? What about twice a day, for the whole of December? Would the lyrics be easy to remember? Would they be catchy? Most importantly, would they help our family to fix our eyes on Jesus in a season so crowded with consumerism? Thankfully track one (“A Very Real Christmas”) wasn’t shy about pointing me straight to Jesus, and the rest of the album continued to do so as well. It’s very obvious to anyone listening to these songs that Christmas is all about Jesus! “Christmas Is Bigger” reminds us that there’s more to Christmas than the tables buckling under the weight of feasts, piles of boxes wrapped under the tree or the hordes of distant relatives knocking at your door. Christmas is bigger than all of these things because of a baby “born to bring the world great joy / But that’s not where it ends / The Bible says people can be God’s friends”. While theologically the album is better suited to primary school children, my two-year-old daughter got very excited every time angels, shepherds and Christmas were mentioned. We’ve been reading the nativity story in her children’s Bible, so I appreciated how easy it was to make links from the songs we were listening to back to the stories about Jesus’ birth that she is beginning to understand. I thought “Mary Had A Little Boy” (a Christmassy twist on “Mary Had A Little Lamb”) was catchy and would be great to
retelling is a soft entry into facing these concepts without scaring young ones. For example, the retelling of “Jerusalem Burns” (2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 37-39) doesn’t shy away from describing what happened to King Zedekiah when he was caught by the Babylonian army – blinding him and jailing him until death. Instead, it helpfully focuses on the root of the problem, which was the king’s disobedience to God. There’s always been discussion about the place of children’s books like these, with some families arguing that our time is better spent jumping straight into Scripture and skipping books that offer Bible retellings rather than considered translations of the original text. There’s a push from some Christians to reach for a SouthernCross
teach to the crèche-aged kids at our church. The one possibly contentious song is “Jesus vs Santa”. Christians come to all sorts of conclusions about what to do with Mr Claus – some families choose to reject him altogether, while others embrace all there is to embrace about the Santa story. Although this song aims to lightheartedly demonstrate how Santa is good but Jesus is best, for families who are fond of Santa it has the potential to sit uncomfortably. With the difficulties facing families around the world over the past few years, pandemics separating people and affecting every event in our lives, I’m thankful that Quiz Worx takes the time to help children process some of the big feelings they might have. Explaining to kids that Christmas is God’s way of showing the world he sees our pain and is doing something about it helps us go deeper than the twinkle of lights and fun of party poppers. It reminds us that “God hears, God speaks, God acts in Jesus”. The album is also interspersed with skits featuring popular Quiz Worx puppets, which will be a delight for long-term fans familiar with these characters. As someone not so familiar with the antics of Scruff and his team, I skipped over those tracks. For children who do have that link, the tracks provide helpful points of re-engagement. Finishing on a bang, Quiz Worx ends the album just as it started – by reminding us that Christmas is all about the son of God. “Christmas is Merry (Because of Jesus)” adds a helpful clarification to the popular catchphrase of the season, one that will hopefully spring to the minds of kids and adults alike whenever someone is wished a “Merry Christmas”.
child-friendly Bible, such as the Contemporary English Version, the Good News Bible or the New International Reader’s Version, as these allow kids to engage with God’s word directly. However, Bible Stories Every Child Should Know doesn’t set itself up in competition with Scripture, but is designed to be complementary. The author, Kenneth N. Taylor, had a big role in the creation of the New Living Translation of the Bible, and his desire has always been to make God’s word accessible and understandable to all, regardless of age or academic ability. This collection of stories is aimed at early primary-aged children, from four to seven years of age. For families seeking to engage their kids with classic Bible stories and encourage discussion, this is a great addition to the bookshelf. SC 31