Just spent a bit over a week in Western Australia. This post is simply a "been there, done that". I travelled across to be the keynote speaker at "Summer Spirit", an annual synod gathering which was attended by about 120 people. The theme was about growing disciples for the sake of mission. The group seemed to be engaged, interacted well and I received positive feedback. I caught up briefly with some old friends (including Ray and Aladina Foster from Grampians days). The only downside was the end of day Q&A where some folks want me to tell then what their church should do...
Thank you to the wonderfully gifted Malcolm Gordon for the gift of this song as we seek to pray and hope for a welcome for asylum seekers in this land. Malcolm has offered it freely as a gift to share.
In these wide open spaces This land needs tilling But there's rumours of war There's whispering of killing Over mountain and flood and over the plain This dark cloud reigns
Put my hand to the plough There's no turning home For this stirring within Won't leave me alone And alone is one thing that you'll never be There is no 'them', there is only 'we'
Surely there is room for one more Love make a way How many saviours, unseen and displaced here Will we leave out in the rain?
The weight of these times Is measured in tears The risk of this love Is death to our fears Give our voice for the groaning Of children in chains Forever there's hope wherever there's pain
Surely there is room for one more Love make a way How many saviours, unseen and displaced here Will we leave out in the rain? Surely there is room for one more Love make a way Picture what we could be A generous family Where welcoming arms hold open the door
In these wide open spaces The wind blows alone And the streets are just valleys that wander and roam There is room for the pilgrim to lay down their load And build a home.
Here's a new song that I wrote with my friend David MacGregor from Brisbane. The lyrics are based on the themes of Psalm 27.
Be the light that shrouds the twilight Be the might that holds our fears Be the home that yearns our dwelling Be the stone that takes our tears
Refrain Christ be our light Whom shall we fear? Deep in the night Spirit, draw near
Be the cry that whispers mercy Be the seeker when we hide Be the taker and the giver Be the pathway and the guide
Be the sacrifice that breaks us Be the shelter in the flood Be the promise that remakes us Be the parent who is good
I wrote this at Songwrite, the first Uniting Church national songwriters gathering in Canberra in February 2014. I tweaked them a bit in the months since. Then a couple of months ago I asked members of the Songwrite facebook group if they wanted to write a tune. A couple of peoploe said yes, and a really interesting period of experimentation followed.
David's melody seemed to work really well for me, so after a little fine tuning here it is. I love the reflective yet gently uplifting mood of the melody. Thanks to Dale MacGregor for providing the vocal. I've known David and Dale for about 35 years, so it is lovely to compose a song together. Maybe there'll be more.
OK it's a tough call every year, and Brad and Tim have very different lists. So I'm going out on a limb here for the older generation, who still love the 60's, 70's 80's and 90's and that other decade. Of course, I am always 'problematised' by music that I discovered this year and found that it was actually from last year...
"Lost in the Dream" - The War on Drugs - really great, takes me back to to The Silencers. Go for a late night drive and turn it up loud.
"The Merri Soul Sessions" - Paul Kelly - no surprise that his songs can be bluegrass or R'n'B... Turn it up loud and dance with your sweetheart in the lounge.
"Built on Glass" - Chet Faker - Aussie James Blake. excellent. play it when you need to chill or more importantly need other people who have never heard of him to think you're cool and ask, "Is that James Blake?"
"Whispers" - Tina Dico - I love a mournful woman with a guitar. Light the fire. Pour some red wine. Get out your guitar, because you'll be writing sad songs.
"Bad Self Portraits" - Lake Street Drive - young people playing R'n'B. Put in your earbuds. Go to work on the train and see the other people looking at you boogie.
"Invisible Hour" - Joe Henry - I've been a fan for a couple of decades. Possibly his best yet. Sit on the porch. Get out the banjo. Look at the sky.
"The Ambassador" - Gabriel Kahane - I love his music. This is Paul Simon plus Jeff Buckley plus I don't know who. THIS GUY! He's a proper composer. Like Sting, but someone who learned about music properly.
"Eagle Rock Fire" - Joe Purdy - Full moon. Go for a long drive out beyond the city lights. Sit under the stars. Light a campfire. Sip some bourbon.
"Good Light" - Drew Holcomb and the Neighbours - Gosh, he's Harry Nillson married to Ryan Adams. He just gets better and better.
"Migrations of Glass" - Desertshore - Mark Kozelek (aka Sun Kil Moon)'s current band does an instrumental album...
Yes this seems very rootsy. I could have listed other stuff, but this is what I liked...
On Christmas Eve, four of us went carol singing at the Repatriation Hospital on Daws Rd with a number of other folk from our church. It's been a while since we've done sometthing like this as a family and it felt good to bring a bit of joy to the patients.
Yesterday morning we worshipped at an overflowing Rosefield, with four of us in the band and choir. Very enjoyable playing in the band with Ellen and Grace. Some different takes on traditional carols and some new tunes. We got to hear the Moderator's Christmas message delivered in person by Deidre Palmer - an excellent, challenging reflection on making peace in our world.
Then home to gather around the tree and open pressies from one another and the family interstate.
Jesus wasn’t born so he could die. That would make his birth into a death sentence - incarnation as a kind of incarceration, his life merely an envelope for a message from God, rather than the presence of the messenger in person.
Jesus was born to live! God with us, Emmanuel! Christmas is about the miracle and mystery of incarnation. Let Easter wait. God is with us here and now! Let Jesus’ life be seen and heard, and perhaps even followed. His untimely death comes from his God-life-with-us but is not its simple purpose.
Wait for an Epiphany. Walk and hunger through Lent. Without his life we will sentimentalise his birth, sympathise his death, and spiritualise his resurrection.