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

The Holy Book

Lilian Parker, from Boyup Brook Uniting Church, wrote this poem and shared it with her congregation during worship. It was so loved in church, that she was encouraged to send it in to Revive to share with the wider Uniting Church WA.

The Holy Book

What is this book, old yet new
This book mastered by just a few
A book of knowledge a book of love
A book of death, joy, no matter, never enough

In this book you’ll find how to live and live right
Following its directions keeping its words insight
Many stories for you to peruse and enjoy
Perfect for children, girl or boy.

There are sad yet wonderful events to be read
Some like poetry with lots to be said.
Prophecy, future told by many an interesting man
The books of Moses tell how it all began.

The history of our past is sometimes hard to bear
But read on to the Gospels and you won’t care.
History of the Church by St Paul in the book of Acts.
Many books of letters written on truth and facts.

This book tells of a man born like us to a girl
A man of purity, healing, sinless, miracles unfurl.
A teacher of life, doing marvellous things
Dying on the cross, our salvation he brings

Then we read about the future in Revelation
It is the final book from the birth of creation.
What is this book that made such impacts
A book written without error, complete with all its facts.

A collection of 66 books filled with God’s word to you and me,
Over one thousand and five hundred years and forty writers to make it be.
It is the Bible, the Good News, a message to get into our face,
It is the truth, God-breathed, unabridged, filled with God’s grace.

Lilian Parker

Insight, challenge and inspiration at the Perth Peacemaking Conference

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Over the weekend more than 60 people gathered for the Perth Peacemaking Conference to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the end of WW1.

An impressive range of speakers provided insight, challenge and inspiration as the group considered what has been learnt 100 years on. Are we moving towards a more peaceful world? What can we do to be better peacemakers?Continue Reading