Monthly Archives: March 2013

Is it finished?


Is it Finished?

About 2000 years ago on a Friday morning of a holiday weekend three men were executed by the Roman authorities in Jerusalem. There was nothing unusual about the act of crucifixion, it happened an awful lot. There was something unusual about the one of the victims. Two of them were anonymous thieves who are not even really bit players on the stage of history, the other, well the other was the most influential person who has ever lived.

Born in poverty, raised a Jew, dying like a criminal, he has changed the lives of millions. Through him the world has become what it is today. Many great things have been done in his name and many atrocities have been committed too. His followers have been responsible for some of the greatest discoveries; some of the largest leaps forward in medicine and science; some of the greatest pieces of art. Many of the highest points of human achievement have been done in this man’s name. Others who claimed to follow him have tried to kill whole nations, sunk to the lowest places that humanity can go, because they believed it is what he would have them do. Enslavement, domination, persecution, murder, genocide have all been done ‘for him’.

His actions have inspired some of the greatest acts of love and kindness in recorded history and many of the worst. Whole libraries have been written as scholars have poured over this man’s life and his teachings, even though they aren’t that many of them. Debates still rage over what he would say on the topics of the day. Debates that sometimes get all too heated, debates that have lasted centuries and that still divide thousands.

Some place words of hate on his tongue, condemning entire sections of the population to damnation for not agreeing with their views of what this man said. Others interpret his sayings as a message of love and acceptance. Many of the world’s hypocrites hide behind this man, and twist his sayings to fit the evil they wish to condone. Hate crimes, racism and bigotry of all sorts are committed by his ‘committed’ followers. Many of the great social reformers look to him for guidance.

For he accepted all comers, went where the ‘nice’ folk of his day wouldn’t dream of going. Spoke to the unacceptable, touched the unloveable, ate with the unwanted and forgave the unforgivable. His life, his work was of love and care for anyone, everyone. He tells his followers to do the same.

His name was Jesus.

His last words were, “It is finished.”

Is it?


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Gandalf for Pope!


Gandalf for Pope!

Conclave meets this week so all the Cardinals can elect the new Pope; a man who will have control over a billion of the world’s Christians. That’s a massive responsibility – he will shape how many on the planet view God, not just within the church but outsiders looking in. There are a few ‘front runners’ but I don’t think they will cut the mustard so to speak. I want to put up another candidate. One who will have great popular appeal, one who will be able to get the job done…

I say elect Gandalf as Pope

Stick with me, there are reasons –

He’s old. Let’s face it here, Ewan McGregor getting elected Pope in that film (Angels and Demons) is pure fiction. There is no way the Cardinals would ever elect a young man as Pope. Well in that regard Gandalf has a head start, according to people who geek out on these things Gandalf is about 2021 years old (I love the ‘about’ in that sentence). So he fits the bill for number 1. He is old. The Gandalf for Pope campaign begins.

2) He dresses in white. Well by the end of the book (or film) he does. True, he doesn’t have those lovely red shoes but that is just a little thing that his new advisors could correct. He does have a great hat and a big sticky thing that he leans on – so there are two positives for the costume. Gandalf for Pope gathers momentum.

3) He is very wise. Everyone listens to him, kings, princes, hobbits. It is important for the leader of the Roman Catholic Church to be respected and listened to, people already listen to Gandalf. So vote #GandalfForPope.

4) He already has multiple names. When someone is elected Pope they choose a new papal name for themselves. I imagine Cardinals lying awake at night going through the possibilities. “I could be Pope Ular.” (Say it out loud, quickly). But Gandalf already has loads of different names. (Again I thank those geeks with Tolkien tattoos for the info.) He is Mithrandir (meaning Grey Pilgrim; another plus point perhaps), some call him Olórin, still others Incánus. So he would have no trouble choosing a papal name. It’s looking good for Gandalf for Pope.

5) He already has some magical powers. Okay, so he is not infallible like some people we could mention but he can still do some pretty neat tricks with fire and stuff. I’m sure he could learn the infallibility stuff standing on his head. It’s no reason not to vote Gandalf for Pope.

6)He’s got a proven track record at making tough decisions. Now this is the nub of the matter for me. Here is where the idea of Gandalf as Pope will stand or fall. Can he make the tough decisions than are needed? Yes he can send a hobbit or two into almost certain death but could he be brave enough to make the Roman Catholic Church face up, properly, to the scandal of child abuse in the priesthood? He can decide when to start the war of the Ring but is he strong enough to see the Catholic Church needs women priests or at the very least married male ones? Gandalf may face down powerful wizards but could he stand up to the hierarchy of Rome to drag them into the 21st century (or at least the late 19th) with the ideas of contraception, women’s rights, sexuality, ecumenism etc. If he can do these things then I say Gandalf for Pope!

Gandalf would call for Vatican 3 and then reform the R.C. Church, but if he doesn’t get in then I hope and pray that whoever does will have the vision and strength to lead the Church of Rome into a new future – where needed change is embraced and useful traditions kept, where abusers of all sorts (of people and of power) are accountable for their actions and where the great work that is done throughout the world by the Roman Catholic Church continues and grows.

Whoever leads the world’s billion or so Catholics has a huge task ahead of him and will need our prayers as he begins his papacy. Even though Gandalf is the only sensible choice in my eyes he probably won’t get the nod, but whoever does will have my prayers for I do not envy him his task.

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The Pope’s gone, Ted’s gone but God stays the same

The Pope’s gone,

Ted’s gone.

But God stays the same.

Oh me, oh my what are we to do? Victoria’s whole world has been turned upside down. Ted Baillieu has resigned as premier AND the Pope has resigned. I feel a conspiracy theory coming on…

Seriously though – one thing to say – Hebrews 13 v 8

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Even when the rest of the world is in turmoil, God stays the same… His love, his grace never change. So as you weep that Ted is gone or celebrate the ascension of Denis remember that all things change except the love of God.


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Will preach for food

Will preach for food

Did you know the world produces enough food to feed it’s entire population? Yes there is enough food to feed everyone in the world, if only we could get it to where it is needed.

“This year, many of the world’s most powerful leaders will meet in the UK. They must change the future for millions of people who live with the day to day struggle against hunger. But that will only happen IF we get together and make them act.”

This week our sign will hopefully make a small difference.

There is a campaign called Enough Food If ( (@enoughfoodif on twitter). It is trying to get the leaders of the world to act on world hunger.

Check out their website, it tells you far more, far better than I could. But as our sign says

“Will preach for food” for others @ Enoughfoodif

Join the campaign, change the world!


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We’re Welsh, we sing!

We’re Welsh, we sing!

We at the Melbourne Welsh Church don’t bang the patriotic gong very often. The reason why is a simple, we’re a church first and foremost. We are here to spread the love of Jesus Christ in our community, and most of the people around us ain’t Welsh. The fact the Church grew out of a Welsh heritage, the fact we still hold Welsh language services is great but more important is the fact that we welcome anyone, it doesn’t matter if you are Welsh or not.

But once in a while we dust off the gong of Welshieness, find a big stick of patriotism and make a huge noise! And this week is one of those times. It’s Saint David’s Day on Friday March 1st and just as the Irish celebrate Saint Patricks Day by drinking green beer and the English Saint George’s day by ummm doing what ever it is they do, we celebrate our Patron Saint.

I won’t bore you with details of who St. David was or what he did, if you want to know google “Saint David” and you’ll find more than enough to keep you going.

So in a few days time the Irish communities of the world will celebrate St. Patrick’s day. (Ironic as Patrick was Welsh, but I suppose no more ironic than the fact St. David was Irish.) Stereotypically these celebrations involve beer, actually lots of beer. In the same vein the Welsh celebrate St. David’s day and it usually involve singing, lots of singing.

Scholars suggest that the survival of the Welsh language over the past 200 years or so can be attributed, in a major way, to the Welsh love of singing and poetry. Hymns fed (and continue to feed) both those passions. So over the St. David’s Day weekend we will have lots of singing culminating in the very Welsh activity of a Gymanfa Ganu. It’s a singing festival where people get together and, ummm, sing. We will have all the traditional Welsh hymn favourites (with English verses as well, we are in Australia after all), four Welsh choirs, a world renowned harpist, timpani, trumpets, a brilliant conductor and all this will take place in St. Michael’s church, in Collins Street at 3pm on Sunday March 3rd.

For more information see our Facebook page or website.

We look forward to seeing and hearing you there.


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