N A TIO N A L M A G A ZIN E O F THE L U THE RA N C HU RC H O F A U STRA LIA
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The Lutheran DECEMBER 2016
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Special features EDITOR'S
Christmas is coming! I remember saying those words after my husband Nigel and I finished decorating the tree one day early in Advent last year. Arabella, our Maremma dog, must have read the excitement in my voice and immediately bounded to the lounge-room window – tail spinning like a helicopter rotor – to begin watching the front door in anticipation. Whoever ‘Christmas’ was, they were coming, undoubtedly with treats and tummy rubs!
It was an expression of innocent delight and it made me ponder the deep joy and wonder of this time of year – and how blessed I am to have family and friends to share it with. For those of us who have the gift of faith, we who personally know The Reason for the Season, Christmas is the ultimate expression of hope, peace, love and promise. The first Christmas gives us cause to celebrate. And celebrate we do, with all the trimmings: pageants and markets; catch-ups and parties; baking; shopping; decorating; singing carols with gusto; attending churches brimming with visitors; exchanging gifts with loved ones; and visiting twinkling light displays which bring a touch of magic to houses, streets and towns. But the danger of December is letting the celebration of Christmas sap the joy of Christmas right out of us. I know I’ve been guilty of it – Martha rather than Mary – too busy running around tending to the trimmings to put enough energy and emphasis on the real gift, the baby in the manger. Our God became human for us, even though he knew that just 33 years later the star would be replaced by the cross. His life was the ultimate example of sacrifice and service. We who have so much might remember that this time of year can be dreadfully unhappy for those who feel lonely, lost or left out of the celebrations. While we don’t need an excuse to serve others, the true meaning of Christ-mas can motivate us to seek them out. This edition we share stories of people in our LCA who are looking to embrace others in their broader communities, as well as information about opportunities to serve beyond our shores of Australia and New Zealand, through such agencies and departments as Australian Lutheran World Service and LCA International Mission. I pray that these inspire our thinking now and beyond this year, as we share the true wonder and excitement of the season with those who don’t yet experience it. Yes, Christmas is coming!
How love came to life in a Fanta cake
‘More that unites us than divides us’
Sharing the true Christmas spirit
Generosity brings gratitude
Go and Grow
Your voice (Letters)
PS. As this is our last edition for 2016, I would like to wish all our readers, subscribers, group collectors and other ambassadors a blessed, joy-filled and safe Christmas. I also thank you for your loyalty and support – your magazine only exists because of our subscribers and advertisers. I ask, too, for your help in expanding our subscriber family – and remember a subscription makes a great gift! Thank you, too, to the brilliant team which ensures The Lutheran gets to you each issue, including Linda Macqueen (executive editor), Elysia Weiss (graphic designer), Lyall Kupke and Kathy Gaff (proofreaders), our regular contributors for 2016 Rebecka Colldunberg, Reid Matthias and Mark Hadley; and David Sweeney and all at Openbook Howden.
A member of the Simpson Desert community Titjikala celebrates Christmas in the bush. Photo by Jane Easton. See page 15, Go and Grow for the full story.
JES U S I S G OD'S LOVE. HE G IVES U S NE W HE ARTS TO L AY AS IDE O UR OL D WAYS, TO B EL IE VE AND FOL LOW HIM, TO L IVE WI T H HIM E VERY DAY.
REV JOHN HENDERSON
Bishop Lutheran Church of Australia
‘THAT ALL OF THEM MAY BE ONE’ Two days before writing this Heartland, I was in Lund Cathedral, Sweden, for the Joint Commemoration of the Reformation. It was the first time that Lutherans and Catholics had connected at the global level like this. Pope Francis, Kurt Cardinal Koch, Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Munib Younan, and General Secretary Rev Dr Martin Junge, led the service. Some of you might have watched it online. The commemoration took years of planning. For decades Lutherans and Catholics have been in serious dialogue. Guests gathered from all over the world, representing many Christian churches: Lutherans and other Protestants, Western- and Eastern-rite Catholics, and, of course, the Orthodox.
of that. Despite our sin, despite our continuing disunity, there was hope in the air. It did not come from us, it came from the gospel that draws us together in Christ’s name.
That’s where Pope Francis centred his message. Quoting Luther, and grace alone, he said that the gospel shows us that God always takes the initiative, before any human response. ‘The doctrine of justification’, he said, ‘thus ‘Despite our expresses the essence of human existence before God.’ sin, despite
our continuing disunity, there was HOPE in the air. It did not come from us, it came FROM THE GOSPEL …’
The place was packed. Lund Cathedral is almost 1000 years old, but it is not a huge building. Entry was by invitation only. The presence of the Pope, the king and queen and prime minister of Sweden, and other ministers of state, meant strict security protocols. Armed police had sealed off the building the previous day. Barricades held back the crowd outside. Guests with an official pass could enter only via a security checkpoint.
None of those arrangements, however, are what really struck me. For me the event was a powerful reminder that the church is a living community, not an historical artefact. The church is not some institution we can stand apart from and criticise. The church, truly, is us, God’s people, gathered in the name of Christ, witnessing to his love. The Small Catechism tells us that the Holy Spirit ‘calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith’. Lund Cathedral was a taste
It was humbling for me, as a Lutheran Christian from so far away, to hear the Pope speak so clearly of the grace that compels us. That is the message I have taken from this event and will carry with me as the church moves on to serve the world in truth, justice and peace. Undoing centuries of deep division and doctrinal dispute takes time and determination. Many thousands died because of our arguments. Yet we believe, as we say in the Creed, that the church is God’s, and it is one. Every now and again a moment comes along that challenges our sense of what is possible. The Lund commemoration was one such moment. It was a glimpse of a reality in which Christians are united without reservation in faith, love, service and compassion for the world and for each other. Is that really so far-fetched? Isn’t it what God wants? ‘My prayer’, Jesus prays, ‘is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me’ (John 17:20–21).
John and Kiso share a vision to reach out to their community in ministry.
H O W LOVE CAME TO LI FE
I N A FA N T A C A K E by JONATHAN KRAUSE
To make a Fanta cake you need: • 1kg plain flour • yeast • sugar • cooking oil • coconut cream • a little water … • … and, of course, the secret ingredient, Fanta, for flavour. How much Fanta? That’s Kiso’s trade secret. Along with how long you bake the cake in the ‘oven’ your husband has built from an old oil drum, and half-
buried in the dirt, with space underneath for a fire to heat the oven. Kiso lives in Pamalabus Village, Mumeng, in the mountains outside Lae in Papua New Guinea. Here, through the support of the Lutheran family in Australia and New Zealand through Australian Lutheran World Service, Kiso – also a Lutheran – is bringing love to life using another secret ingredient – SALT. SALT is a special approach to talking with people in order to help them identify their strengths, and gain the skills and confidence to solve their problems and build a better life for their families. The acronym works as follows: S – stimulate A – appreciate L – listen, learn, link T – team-up, transfer The Lutheran DECEMBER 2016
Kiso bakes fundraising Fanta cakes in the drum oven built by her husband John.
can make enough money to build their parents a permanent shelter. Floods and strong winds are a constant threat to houses made out of bush materials. Kiso’s final question to people using the SALT approach in this Mat Ministry is: ‘What changes would you like to see? What would you do differently next time?’
It’s part of the Mat Ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG (ELC-PNG). Kiso is a Team Leader for the Mat Ministry in her community, and explains it’s all about following the example of Jesus from Matthew 5, where he went to the mountain and then sat down with people to talk: ‘We sit down together. There is no big man or small man. We can talk freely because there is no boss’, she says. ‘In this ministry we want to help one another as we can have a satisfying life for everyone. I visit one family each week, but if I am in an area I can sometimes visit four or five families.’
Kiso supports herself in this voluntary work by making Fanta cakes in her drum oven. Each day she is baking, she uses up to 5kg of flour in her cakes, which she and husband John sell at their roadside stall, a short walk down a perilously narrow path from the mountain. A 10cm square slab of Fanta cake sells for 1 Kina, and on a good day Kiso and John can generate a profit of around 25 Kina (around $12). This is enough to buy a kilogram of rice, a tin of fish, cooking oil, salt and flour to reinvest in the Fanta cakes, as well as the bus fare to take the goods to sell, and batteries.
‘In this ministry we want to HELP ONE ANOTHER as we can have a satisfying life for everyone.’
Kiso does this work as a volunteer for her church, as an outworking of her faith. She says the SALT approach is having a real impact in helping the Lutheran church effectively support people in their daily lives.
In practical terms, sitting on a mat in someone’s house, Kiso says she first asks people, ‘What makes you happy?’ They tell Kiso that while they may be very poor in the world’s eyes, they have a house, food, children, and a husband or wife. ‘We take this approach because if you start first with talking about problems then it only makes people feel worse’, Kiso says. ‘If you focus on the positive, you don’t support the bad.’
People tell Kiso that, although their situation may not be a very good one, when Kiso visits they can see they are blessed. They realise that they have food to eat and sell, and that there are ways they can make good use of the little money they have – for example, regularly saving a small amount so they can buy a roof for their house, one sheet of corrugated iron at a time.
It’s amazing to think all this comes out of the drum oven John built. What’s more amazing is John built the oven – and their small house on stilts, and a rainwater tank system – even though he has aipas (Pidgin for ‘closed eyes’). John uses skills he learnt in prison, where he says God miraculously led him to meet Kiso and begin to transform his life. ‘God brought us together, not men’, he says. ‘I was in jail for many years, but I had a godmother who visited me. She was a white woman, and when I was in jail she told me that there would be a new number in my phone, and if I call it there will be a lady working for the Lutheran(s), and she will become my wife. When I could, I called the new number in my phone.
She then asks them, ‘What is your concern?’ People tell her they struggle to make a living and want to make their living better. They want to send their children to school. They want to find a place to sell their products and get money for a better life.
‘It was Kiso. But at first she was angry. She said, ”Who are you?” I stayed calm. After a time when I called her, she was no longer arguing. I asked her if she was working for the church. When (she) said yes, I said to her then you are my wife.’
When Kiso asks, ’What is your dream?’, she says people have many different responses. One common dream is for their children to go to school, so they
After these tricky beginnings to the courtship, Kiso eventually agreed to meet John face-to-face for the first time at the Lutheran compound in Lae.
The Lutheran DECEMBER 2016
Kiso's Fanta cake which she sells to raise money to support her ministry work.
She says she did not know John had a problem with his eyes until then. They have now been together for five years and, working together with him, Kiso is a powerhouse of love and faith in her community. Together they have two visions. The first, Kiso says: ‘We would like to have a permanent home. This is our dream. We have a lot of visitors, so it is important we have a nice house when visitors come. The way we will get such a house is not yet clear, but we are working our way towards that.’ John adds: ‘Because of my disability, I cannot build the house on my own, so I rely on my wife to direct me where to put things. We have a vision to bring this change in five years, but because of my eyes, this may slow us down.’ The second – bigger – vision the couple share is for their community. ‘To have a home is a good thing, but I don’t care what kind of house it is. I am just happy to have a house’, Kiso says. ‘My big vision is to visit all the homes in this community in my Mat Ministry, using the SALT approach. I think if I visit all the houses in this community, then in five years the whole community can change.’ The Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand has long reached out to the people of PNG. Today, LCA International Mission supports the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG (ELC-PNG) in evangelism and ministry, just as it has for 130 years. Meanwhile, ALWS – with the extremely generous support of the Australian Federal Government through the Church Partnerships Program – supports ELCPNG and its congregations in aid and development, to help communities build better lives. Meeting Kiso and John, and the people Kiso serves, you can see very clearly how God is using us all working together to bring love to life. And how does the Fanta cake taste? You guessed it – Fantastic! Jonathan Krause is ALWS Community Action Manager.
Through ALWS Christ mas Act ion this year, you can support the Lu theran church in PNG grow the Mat Minist ry and SALT approach, support adul t li teracy and t rain young women to be communi ty workers. Your donat ion is matched wi th the generous support of the Aust ralian Government, and complements the evangelism work of LCA Internat ional Mission. Working together, this is how God can use us to bring love to live. Use the pack you receive at church this Christmas to donate or contact ALWS at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 1300 763 407.
Kiso lives in Pamalabus Village in the mountains outside Lae in PNG.
Right: One of the five ecumenical imperatives symbolically affirmed by the lighting of candles at Malmö Arena. Photo: Alex & Martin
‘More that than divides us’
by LISA MCINTOSH
After 500 years of division, Catholic and Lutheran church leaders have come together in a historic show of unity, leading a joint prayer service in Sweden on Reformation Day, 31 October. In addition to the Service of Common Prayer in Lund (Lutheran) Cathedral attended by 500 guests, the Joint Catholic – Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation featured a public event at Malmö Arena attended by around 10,000 people. Proceedings were followed by people around the world via broadcasts and livestreams.
Pope Francis said: ‘Now, in the context of the commemoration of the Reformation of 1517, we have a new opportunity to accept a common path, one that has taken shape over the past 50 years in the ecumenical dialogue. We have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another.’
It was the first joint commemoration of a Reformation anniversary on a global scale. Bishop John Henderson represented the LCA, while Australian Lutheran World Service Executive Secretary Chey Mattner attended on behalf of the LCA’s overseas aid agency.
Bishop Henderson, who spoke on ABC radio from Lund after the proceedings, described the prayer service as a ‘very significant event’ and an ‘extraordinary’ occasion.
His Holiness Pope Francis joined Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A Younan and LWF General Secretary Rev Dr Martin Junge in committing the churches they lead to move away from conflict, to journey towards communion and to strengthen their common witness. Pope Francis and Bishop Younan signed the joint statement which also gives thanks to God for ‘sustained and fruitful’ ecumenical dialogue and for ‘spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation’.
‘Although we deal with it locally and parochially, it’s a global community and it’s a very ancient community … to see the Pope come to a Lutheran cathedral and share in a prayer service in the way he did is very profound for us.
Pope Francis and Dr Junge each preached on John 15:1-5, testifying to the unity Lutherans and Catholics enjoy through Christ and the opportunities for joint witness in a world in need of the gospel. Dr Junge focused on the Joint Statement theme that what unites Lutherans and Catholics is far greater than what divides them. ‘As we see Jesus among us, we have also started to see each other anew. We acknowledge that there is much more that unites us than that which separates us. We are branches of the same vine. We are one in baptism. This is why we are here at
this joint commemoration: to rediscover who we are in Christ’, he said.
The Lutheran DECEMBER 2016
‘People forget that the church is essentially a global community’, he said on the Sunday Nights program.
‘The Reformation for us has always been a mixed sort of celebration. In one sense we celebrate that the gospel was reclaimed or rediscovered in the church, but we also mourn it, because it represents the fracturing of the body of Christ on earth. ‘It’s always for us a very bad thing when the body of Christ is divided, especially when there’s antipathy or animosity between the branches of Christianity, and so we saw this as a major step forward.’ At the Malmö Arena activities held under the theme ‘Together in Hope’, LWF Lutheran World Service Director Maria Immonen and Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Michel Roy signed a Declaration of Intent committing the global Christian aid organisations to closer cooperation in their work towards humanitarian responses and sustainable development.
World religious leaders gathered in Lund (Lutheran) Cathedral Sweden for the Common Prayer service. Photo: Mikael Ringlander
Pope Francis greets the Archbishop of Uppsala Antje Jackelén, during the Common Prayer service. Photo: Mikael Ringlander
Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Munib Younan and Pope Francis sign the joint statement during the Common Prayer service. Photo: Mikael Ringlander
Pope Francis and other church leaders at the Joint Catholic – Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation 'Together in Hope' event at Malmö Arena Photo: Marie Renaux/LWF
President Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Kurt Cardinal Koch, LWF President Bishop Munib Younan, Pope Francis and LWF General Secretary Rev Dr Martin Junge lead the Common Prayer service. Photo: Marie Renaux/LWF
G o t o t he L CA webpage
w w w .l c a .o rg . a u
and cl i ck o n t hi s pi ct u re t o access link s to: •
read the joint sermon by Pope Francis and LWF General Secretary Rev Dr Martin Junge
watch the Joint Catholic - Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation on the LCA YouTube channel, and
listen to the ABC interview with Bishop John Henderson about this event.