Sunday, January 28, 2007


On Australia Day (26th Jan, 2007) my parents celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. That's 50 years of wedded bliss (or, as my father would say, "you get less time than that for murder!"... and in fact he has been saying that ever since their 20th anniversary! :-)

I arrived in Sydney the day before this auspicious occasion, and to celebrate the day, we went out for dinner to the Noble Terrace Chinese Restaurant, which is the local place where we always go to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other such occasion. Joining us for the evening were Kay and John (next door neighbours for over 40 years, and my Godparents) and Doug and Doreen (other long term friends who always join us for these celebrations).
The picture above shows us all at the restaurant (with Mum and Dad in the middle, next to me)... a good time was had by all.
But the celebrations didn't end there. The next day, we were expecting my father's cousin and her husband for afternoon tea... but it seems that she had conspired with various elements of the family to organise a surprise lunch... Mum and I had been out to the supermarket, and when we got home, the house was full of various cousins, and my parents were both delightfully surprised.

Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad! :-)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Home, sweet.... OH MY GOODNESS!

Well, I am now home in Melbourne (albeit only for a few days), and must say that the trip over on the Spirit of Tasmania last night was a doozy. Not exactly what I would call "smooth"; in fact rather rollicking really.

Because of the added daytime sailings during peak period, my evening crossing left at 9pm, which meant that after settling into my cabin and having a quick G&T in the lounge bar, I decided that I should retire early, in the hope of getting a decent night's sleep before we berthed at 7am in Melbourne.

As I made my way to my cabin, I was sure it wasn't just the G&T that was preventing me from being able to walk a straight line... and at times felt a real need to hold onto the railings along the passageway, just to keep steady. During the night there was quite a lot of rolling and pitching, and
the boat groaned and made all kinds of banging and shuddering noises that made me wonder if all the cars on the vehicle deck might be playing dodgems. At one stage I was almost pitched out of bed with a particularly vigorous bump.

Anyway, after being very thankful that I was horizontal and tucked up (rather than trying to make do in one of the seats, which I foolishly booked when I moved over to Melb last February- now that was definitely a lesson learnt!), I eventually arrived in Melbourne, and even managed to find my way home to Brunswick without getting lost.

When I walked into my flat, I wasn't quite sure what would greet me after being away for 8 weeks. It seems the cockroaches haven't quite taken over the place (although there is substantial evidence that they have been around in the kitchen!), but everywhere I walk, I seem to wander through fine cobwebs. It seems the resident arachnids have been very creative in their choices of anchor points for their uninterrupted spinning.

One thing that did somewhat startle (and then greatly amuse) me, was the sight of the candles on my stereo. These were given to me as a farewell gift from the Sandy Bay congregation when I left Hobart, and all through last summer, I was very careful about laying the long, heavy candles horizontal to prevent them bending in the heat of summer. Of course, when I left for my placement, I had them in place in the candle holders, and completely forgot to lay them flat, and so the pic you see here is what greeted me when I walked into the lounge room.

I will allow you to draw your own conclusions about the imagery they represent to you.

Friday, January 12, 2007

One person can make such a difference!

Today I led a brief worship service for residents of the aged care wing of the Queenstown Hospital.

I started out with three residents, two women and a man, all of whom claimed they couldn't sing, so I needn't bother giving them a song book (but I told them that they might like to follow the words along in the book even if they didn't sing- I had recorded music, so we had a full orchestra and choir to accompany us!). The man told me that he hoped it wouldn't take too long, as he wanted to get back to watching the cricket. (I promised him it would only be half an hour).

So, I started the service, and when I was giving the devotional story/homily after the Gospel reading, things were pretty unresponsive (although I did notice the man at least trying to rumble along a bit with the first hymn).

Then everything changed. A nurse brought another lady into the room, who apologised for being late.* This lady was quite bright and responsive, and giggled at a little joke I made in the homily... and it was as if her spirit had infected the others, who all suddenly seemed much more attentive and present to what was happening.

It was a lovely moment, and I thank God for the gift of that lady and her enthusiasm.

* she told me later that she'd had a shandy at lunchtime, and had needed to go to the toilet afterwards, which was what made her late ("I don't have them often, but gee it was nice" she said with a twinkle in her eye)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Time flies, even faster...

I have been in Queenstown for almost a week now, and feel that I have settled in and well and been getting a good feel for the place.

I have had good feedback from the service I led on Sunday (see the picture of the church, right). However, I will probably opt for using the recorded music next week, as it will help people to feel less self-conscious when they sing.

I have done some pastoral visiting around the town, and am planning an evening event for the young people of the congregation for Saturday night.

Queenstown is actually quite a lovely place, and it's interesting that most of the people I have met here so far have lived here for most of their lives, and seem to have quite a fondness for the place.

The Uniting Church here is struggling a bit, with declining numbers (and a young family that has been very involved in the church leaving for Hobart later this month), and they have also been without a permanent minister here for quite some time. Fortunately, that will change soon, as a new minister, Gaye Loftus, will be inducted for the West Coast Patrol (incorporating Queenstown, Smithton and associated congregations) in late February.

Above is the manse where I am staying whilst here in Queenstown.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Making history

Today, for the first time ever, I led worship in a congregation containing more children than adults!

This morning's congregation at Queenstown had 5 children (all boys) and 4 adults. How's that for skewing the usual church stats? :-)

... and the rain keeps falling. I remember many years ago, being told that Queenstown has the highest annual rainfall in the country. It's looking like I may gain some up close and personal experience of that whilst I'm here. (but considering how dry things have been in recent times, I can't really complain, but rather just smile and enjoy the feel of the rain gently caressing me as I go about my business in town :-)

Friday, January 05, 2007

The mountains are nude on the west coast!

One of the awesome things about driving to Queenstown, is the scenery en route.

As I approached my destination, the lush greenery of the Murchison forest started to give way to a very stark landscape, with mountains completely devoid of trees.

I took the picture here about 20km or so out of Queenstown, and the light parts on the mountain are not snow, as one might expect, but rather bare rock, and the darker parts are a combination of dirt and low growing shrubs and grass- there are no trees at all. It was a pretty weird experience to be surrounded by these stark mountains.

Ministry in the Wild West

Well, here I am, finally, on the West Coast of Tasmania.

I think it's somewhat ironic that after living in Tasmania for 17 years, I never visited the West Coast, and finally get here now that I am living in Melbourne... It really is a case of:

Work for the church and see the world!

I am here in Queenstown for just under a fortnight; 2 Sundays, to lead worship in the local Uniting Church, and a service in the local hospital, and possibly some pastoral visiting and run an activity for the young people of the small congregation here.

It's currently Friday night, and I am feeling somewhat uninspired about Sunday's sermon hasn't quite come together yet (you know how sometimes one or more of the week's lectionary readings will just jump out at you and the 'good news' to form the basis of a sermon will be so blatantly obvious? Well, this isn't one of those times)

I think that holidays should be outlawed- before I took a break between Christmas and New Year, I was definitely on a roll, and my motivation and inspiration levels were high. Since returning from my break, I have been struggling a bit with both of these, and so suspect that this Sunday's worship, at least will be largely perspiration from me (and hopefully some intervention from the Holy Spirit)

I suppose this is one of the realities of being in full time ministry- pushing through the times when things get hard and inspiration is elusive. ... another learning experience from my placement in the pragmatics of ministry.