This July and August, my teenage son and I – along with millions of other people online – spent a lot of time watching the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. My son himself competes in summer athletics, so we were pretty eager to see who would take out the 100m sprint in the first games since Usain Bolt’s retirement.
One of the great pleasures I have enjoyed in my first year as Moderator has been the opportunity to travel outside the metropolitan area into the wide expanses of this great state, and being able to meet with so many community leaders andcongregations. Often, I have been overwhelmed by the tenacity and improvisation evident in people’s lives. Even in the midst of flood, fire or cyclone, fatalism and defeat take a back seat to picking up the pieces and starting all over again.
The future of common prayer, Edited by Stephen Burns, and Robert Gribben, Coventry Press, 2020
The keyword in the title of this book is ‘we’. What is going on when we gather together and pray in unison?
Inspired by COVID and Inspired by Seniors By Phil Ridden, Edwest Publishing, 2020
I recently read two of the volumes from Dr Phil Ridden’s ‘Reflections on Faith’ series: Inspired by Covid and Inspired by Seniors. Phil is a retired Head Teacher and now works as a consultant and writer, based in Joondalup, Perth WA.
It is often said the two highlights of the Christian calendar are Christmas and Easter, that in many ways could be described as ‘bookends’, coming at the beginning and end of the Jesus story.
However, as we all know, it is what came afterwards that is critically important, not only for the life of the church, but for our individual lives as well. Personally, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which we now celebrate, is at the core of my understanding of the Christian faith.
This recently published book was written by William (Bill) Loader, a well-known and respected New Testament scholar. The book is subtitled ‘Questions for Faith Seeking Understanding’, hoping to address how the New Testament should be interpreted.
The book is dedicated to people “who love their faith and want to take it seriously and engage their minds to embrace it.” It comprises of three major sections about faith, hope and love, looking at it from the perspective of love, with Jesus being the main focus throughout.
Faith – what can love believe? Hope – what can love hope for? Love – what can love do?
At the end of the book is an afterword, which gives the reader a look into William’s journey of faith and scholarship with a link to an earlier published book called ‘Dear Kim, this is what I believe: explaining the Christian faith today’.
Any Ordinary Day, written by ABC’s 7.30 news and current affairs host, Leigh Sales, explores blindsides, resilience and what happens after the ‘worst’ day of your life.
Sales gives an honest account of what Juliet Darling, Stuart Diver, Louisa Hope, Walter Mikac, Hannah Richell, James Scott and Michael Spence went through and tries to honour their experiences and the lives of those who were loved and lost.
In Any Ordinary Day, Sales explores with in-depth interviews and extensive research the effect of life-changing events and the strength, hope and humour which assisted ordinary people, on ordinary days, to navigate their way through an extraordinary event. She asks the questions we’re often too afraid to ask, but we all think about.
Some of those interviewed are people of faith and they share how their faith played a role in working through the event. Whether they’re people of faith or not, it’s the resilience and optimism of human nature, as well as those around them, that shines through.
As a child growing up in India, I was fascinated with trains because India’s railway network is one of the most intricate and extensive in the world, covering more than 120 000 kilometres of track, predominantly on what is commonly known as ‘broad gauge’ of 5 feet 6 inches. It has a long history, with the first service commencing in 1853.
Two great positives from the British colonial era have been the railways and the use of the English language. Each, in its own way, has become the ‘glue’ uniting one of the most populous, religious and culturally diverse nations on God’s Earth.
Kevin Treston, based in Brisbane, has written many books to assist adult faith formation within the Australian Catholic church. This is a short, readable book that is ideal for any Christian discussion group or for individual reflection.
The eleven ‘doors’ are different aspects of Christian living. Each chapter opens with a key question, such as “how does your faith life touch your everyday happenings?” “How might our Christian faith be fully integrated within the whole web of life in the universe?” “What are key issues in Christian moral teachings today?” “How is your membership of the church significant or not significant in your faith life now?” And “How do you see the role of a Christian in the world today?”
Each chapter ends with group conversation starters and is well written and bound to provoke discussion. Indeed, it is amazing how much content is packed into each short chapter.
Nelson Varcoe remembers his Uncles singing old gospel songs around the camp fires at Point Pearce Mission, Yorke Peninsula, the music echoing across the plains on hot summer nights. As a 12-year-old, he salvaged choke wires from an old Model T-Ford to cobble together his first guitar. “It sounded pretty good,” he says.
Now, after a lifetime of ministry and service, Nelson has published his first collection of 25 original ‘Godinspired’ songs in country-gospel style, dedicated to his mentors: “Aboriginal Christian Pioneers who travelled all across this country on the smell of an oily rag, to bring the gospel to our people.”
Melody lines, guitar chords and full lyrics are included in the book, but the CD brings the songs to life and makes the music accessible to all people, regardless of their musical skills. Nelson’s lyrics arise from a range of faith experiences: a retelling of the story of Nehemiah, or the disciples in a storm, a longing for ‘a Moses-moment’ on the mountain, the reassurance of the ‘Shield [of the] Most High’ for someone running ‘like a rabbit in the field’ or the call to stop and meditate in the quiet beauty of ‘Meroo’.
The title song: ‘Gift of Music’ – a catchy tune like so many of the others – expresses Nelson’s personal joy and gratitude for the gifts God has given. These songs have grown out of Nelson’s ministry as a pastor and chaplain, educator and artist. In the Foreword, his colleague writes, “Nelson has the capacity to tune into what is going on in the atmosphere of a certain event, confrontation or encounter, and to find music and words which somehow embody, enunciate or express the deep things of that moment.”