Sharing God’s love through the Christmas Bowl

“The love of Christ can be made more vivid through Australian Christian concern, on Christmas day, the one great day of sharing.”   Rev Frank Byatt, founder of the Christmas Bowl c. 1956

As Christians, we are called respond to, and faithfully live out, the Gospel call to be generous in our love, and to participate in God’s mission to bring healing, wholeness and hope to those facing hardship and injustice. It sounds like an overwhelming task, but in fact we can reach people in need with the humblest of actions.           Continue Reading

A Light on Every Street

Rev Alison Gilchrist, Presbytery Minister Mission at the Uniting Church WA, is inviting Uniting Churches in WA to turn on a Light in Every Street. LED lights and postcards are available for churches to gift to members of their communities this Christmas. Alison shares her thoughts around what this campaign can offer.

‘Tradition’ has become somewhat of a dirty word in church circles. The last thing most churches want to be recognised as is ‘traditional’.

This understanding, or misunderstanding, has been a thorn in my side as both a church minister and as a missioner, so I have read extensive research and engaged in provocative missional discourse in this area to good avail in terms of church vitality and growth, and seen its beneficial results in many congregations.

What actually comes to mind when folk refer to ‘traditional’ is their particular version of what they like or are accustomed to, and not necessarily the broader or larger Christian tradition, where the neverchanging Gospel has always found a voice in ever-changing cultures. It’s a conversation I’m always up for, but that’s for another day. Suffice to say ‘tradition’ fares far better in other arenas.

Of the many who are investigating the benefits of traditions to promote better emotional adjustment, Dr Steven Wolin, a psychiatrist at the George Washington University, says, “If you grow up in a family with strong rituals, you’re more likely to be resilient as an adult.”

Traditions play an important role in shaping personal identity.

Another researcher, psychologist, Dr Marshal Duke, found those who have an intimate knowledge of their family’s history are typically more well-adjusted and self-confident than children who don’t. There’s something about understanding your past and knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself that instills confidence.

Traditions also have the ability to offer comfort and security providing the
antidote to the harried feeling that comes from our fast-paced and everchanging world. There’s comfort in having some constants in your life.

Traditions impart and reinforce values, as well as adding to the rhythm and seasonality of life, which is composed of cycles big and small. Sunrise and sunset; winter, spring, summer, autumn; Christmas, Easter, Pentecost; and traditions tap into the desire to follow this natural rhythm that is embedded deep within us, but which has been flattened out by a contemporary society that creates its own unremitting 24-hour timetable, concentrating only on the now.

Traditions provide a unique way to connect generations especially in the area of lasting memories. Positive childhood memories help make happier and more generous adults.

Psychologists used to consider nostalgia a sign of depression. Fresh research, however, has shown that reflecting fondly on those things in our ‘nostalgia repository’ actually provides a myriad of positive benefits including counteracting loneliness, boosting generosity towards strangers, and staving off anxiety.

As I said at the outset, tradition has fared well, and proven itself valuable, despite our church based misgivings.

The Church’s DNA includes being a catalyst for positive family and community values, we see it modelled in the New Testament and in our history through the ages.

A Light on Every Street has been developed for us to continue in that great tradition in a small, but not insignificant way, and to share something of the Good News of the hope of our faith, by offering a Christmas gift that has the potential to keep giving as those receiving it frame their own new tradition.

More information and resources for A Light on Every Street are available from
Alison by emailing Alison.gilchrist@wa.uca.org.au or call 9260 9800. To read
more visit revivemagazine.org.au/2018/10/31/a-light-on-every-street.

Creating a sense of belonging

Sarah* is a single mother of two children aged six and three. She lives below the poverty line on a government allowance and often doesn’t have enough money left at the end of each fortnight to buy medicine, pay bills, or put a proper meal on the table.

 While many of us are planning holidays, shopping for gifts, or deciding what size turkey we need for Christmas Day, all Sarah wants are the basics – to know the rent will be paid and her kids won’t go hungry. Anything else is a bonus.Continue Reading

We entered the bubble for people in poverty

Canberra is a bit of a strange place. Beautiful surrounds with an abundance of wealthier-than-most public servants, along with a somewhat Truman Show-like perfect design and apparently an invisible semi-permeable dome over the entire place (aka the Canberra bubble).

But if Canberra is peculiar, then Parliament House is another universe altogether. Like a self-sufficient satellite orbiting afar, once inside, lost in endless corridors and its mirrored layout, I wondered at times if we were still on planet Earth.Continue Reading

Moderator’s column: You will have trouble

The Nobel Peace prize winner Alexandr Solzhenitsyn knew first-hand the harsh realities of suffering.

He spent over ten years imprisoned in a Soviet gulag. It seems that the daily deprivations of prison life were somehow able to stimulate a creative genius in him. His books are now literary classics.  His novel, One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich, the book Solzhenitsyn considered his best, focuses on a prisoner, Shukov. This remarkable man accepted horror, pain and suffering as normative. A  typical day would consist of forced labour, tiny rations and brutal guards, with disease and death never far away. Continue Reading