Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Having a scrap!

When I was on placement in Launceston, Lilydale and Queenstown during summer, I took lots of photos. I was also introduced to the art of scrap-booking, and bought an album and various bits and pieces at a Creative Memories party that was held at the house where I was staying (at times it seemed my whole placement was about partyplan... but that's another story!)

Today (yes folks, it only took 7 months!) I got together with a couple of friends (one of whom has been an avid scrap-booker for a number of years); each of us had photos we wanted to put into albums, and so we set to work scrapping. It was a very pleasant day (with mandatory breaks for coffee and lunch) and the time flew by (we started at 9am, and it was 3pm when I left).

At the end of the day's scrapping, I had made a good start on a pictorial record of my field ed placement, which I hope to be able to finish off sometime soon (but will probably need to get more pages for my album to fit in all the pictures, and complete the album properly).

I suspect this won't be the last album I do in this way.. it was fun, (and I have a whole box of stray photos in my study cupboard, so it might be good to get some of them into albums too).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I think I'm channelling the Beatles

Today is a crisp, sunny winter's day in Melbourne.

After the rather dreary, grey and slightly moist days we have had for most of this week, it is kind of refreshing and invigorating to see the sun shining...

So as I sit at my desk, looking out the window, the words of the Beatles' song Dear Prudence have been running through my head:

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence won't you come out to play
(full lyrics can be found here)

Kind of makes me want to go out and play in the sunshine... so I think I will!
(of course, after putting on a load of washing, which may well just get dry today! :-)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Something light and fluffy to take us into the weekend

This picture came in an email today from a friend in Hobart.

It just tickled my funny bone, so I thought I would share it. Enjoy! :-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Will we lose heart?

The recent, tragic shooting in Melbourne has made me think...

In our society people already seem to be fairly reluctant to get involved with anything that might be a bit risky. How often do we hear of someone in need of assistance who is just ignored? Someone being assaulted on a street, calling for help, and people peering out from behind the safety of their curtained windows, but not doing anything to assist - often not even calling the police, because there is this interesting phenomenon I heard about in a social psychology class (it seems like decades ago now!), like a perverse group mentality where everyone assumes that someone else has already called for assistance (Douglas Adams would have called it a classic case of SEP- Someone Else's Problem).

For a Melbourne lawyer and Dutch backpacker who didn't think the assault of a woman in broad daylight
on Monday morning was Someone Else's Problem, things didn't work out well for them. Were they heroes? Or did they just do what any 'decent' person would have done? I wonder what I would have done if I were there at the time; and can't honestly say I know what I'd do. It's interesting that there seemed to be lots of people who witnessed the shooting (and so presumably also witnessed the man assaulting the girl before he pulled the gun) and yet, it seems that only these two guys actually tried to help. Maybe there are other people, who like me, weren't really sure of what they should do. (Does that make us cowards?)

So does this mean that people will now be even less likely to help a fellow human being in need? I really hope not... but sometimes it's hard not to lose heart. At times like this, I can really relate to the Psalms of lament:

O Lord, God of my salvation,
when, at night, I cry out in your presence,
let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry.

For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;
I am like those who have no help,
like those forsaken among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the depths of the Pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves.
Psalm 88:1-5

Gotta love it...

... when people pay you to do something that you love.

Today I noticed that my bank balance seemed higher than I thought it should be, so thinking it was something mundane like a deposit from the real estate agent for rent on my Hobart flat (which I would need to transfer into my mortgage account), I had a closer look at my account details.

Woo-hoo- it was a deposit from Queen's College for my first semester choir honorarium.

I still think it feels a bit weird to be paid for being part of a congregation that worships God (which is effectively what the choir does), but hopefully I'll get over that before I finish my training to be a minister (where that is exactly what I'll be paid to do!)

Whilst the choir honorarium is not a huge amount (and certainly a pittance by professional standards, so it's a good thing I'm not a professional singer... for all kinds of reasons! :-), all things are relative, and as a student, this little extra bit of 'pocket money' has come at a very opportune time - to cover the cost of the books and other bits and pieces I bought during Wisdom's Feast. (and unlike income I receive from preaching and leading worship services, I have no qualms about spending this income on myself! :-)

After hearing Jana Childers speak about embodied preaching, I am very keen to get into one of her books I bought, Performing the Word: Preaching as Theatre (even signed by the author! :-).

Ahh... about to enter a brief period when I will have time to read for pleasure! :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Amazing Grace!

Tonight I saw the film Amazing Grace, the biopic story of William Wilberforce and his fight to introduce the bill abolishing slavery in England.

This was as part of the program for Wisdom's Feast, and we were told that we were the first paying audience in Australia to see the film, as it won't be released in Australia officially for another fortnight (originally scheduled for earlier, but apparently delayed).

It was a great film... I cried (of course) and drooled (well, Ioan Gruffudd was in it!), but it was a very uplifting story about how perseverance for what's right, even in the face of long-term opposition, will eventually bear fruit.

The organisers of Wisdom's Feast booked out one of the cinemas at the Nova in Carlton, (and the house was pretty full) and we were helped in our theological reflection on the film by Richard Lennard SJ, who is the director of the Catholic Film office (I think that's right) and lectures in cinema and theology for the UFT. The evening was capped off by John Bell leading us all in a rousing rendition of the hymn, Amazing Grace.

A good night was had by all! :-)

Wisdom has built her house...

We are currently in the middle of Wisdom's Feast, the official opening of the CTM (the facility where I study) The celebrations commenced on Friday night with a time of worship titled Bless this House.

More info, and videos, podcasts and transcripts of speakers' lectures can be found on the Wisdom's Feast website, and below is the press release describing the opening worship of Wisdom's Feast:

Friday night's launch of the new Centre for Theology and Ministry (CTM) brings to life a vision of the CTM Board to network learning across Victoria and Tasmania.

A three-phase Processional Blessing marked the opening of the centre in Melbourne, with over 200 people joining in the celebrations.

‘You make the path by walking it’ was the message espoused at the beginning of the processional blessing.

During the blessing, three groups were led separately in a prayer walk. The groups were led to three nominated spaces, each embodying the wisdom, hospitality and worship of the work of the Centre.

In the first space, worshippers were asked to dip their finger in a water bowl and trace a symbol or blessing on any part of the room.

The second group were led to the chapel. There they were asked to pray in three different ways, in three different directions, using three different gestures. The first gesture was a movement of confession, the second was a movement into intercession, and the third was a movement of thanksgiving.

The third space represented the hospitality of the CTM. Bread, a gift from a Syrian Orthodox congregation in suburban Melbourne was placed on the table for all. Worshipppers were encouraged to break the bread and share it with their neighbour.

Many noted the unique nature of the opening, which featured traditional drumming, chanting and singing by worshippers, and lengths of green, red and yellow ribbons.

The end of the processional blessing was marked by a weaving ceremony. The weaving of the ribbons symbolised the different strands of the people involved in CTM.

In closing, Uniting Church moderator, the Rev Jason Kioa declared that the CTM will allow for the weaving of wisdom, the weaving of hospitality, and the weaving of worship.

Let us bless this house…

Because it doesn't pay to take oneself too seriously

... and I am glad to have a friend like Louise who can find all these quiz thingies so I can steal them from her blog! :-)

What kind of wine am I?

You Are Merlot

Smooth, confident, and popular - you're the type most likely to order wine for the whole group.
You seem to breeze through life on your intuition and wit. And no one seems to mind!
You're comfortable in any social situation you find yourself in, and you never feel outclassed.
And while you live a charmed life, you never let it go to your head. You are truly down to earth and a great friend.

Deep down you are: Balanced and mature

Your partying style: Surprisingly wild... when you let loose, you really let loose

Your company is enjoyed best with: Some greasy pizza

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Which Theologian am I?

Thanks to Louise (I think :-) for having this quiz on her blog... just had to do it (as you do :-)
(unfortunately, for some reason the code wouldn't work properly, so I had to do some manual cut and pasting)

You scored as Anselm, Anselm is the
outstanding theologian of the medieval
period.He sees humankind's primary problem
as having failed to render unto God what we
owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and
gives God what he is due. You should read
'Cur Deus Homo?'

Anselm 60%
Jürgen Moltmann 60%
Friedrich Schleiermacher 53%
Martin Luther 53%
Karl Barth 53%
John Calvin 47%
Charles Finney 27%
Paul Tillich 27%
Augustine 27%
Jonathan Edwards 20%

Which theologian are you?
created with

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

So simple, yet so GOOD!

This morning, in an attempt to gird my loins for an afternoon and evening of solid work, (and also to fill my stomach in a quick and easy and warm way) I made a pot of soup. This last couple of weeks, as I have been working away at home most days on assignments etc (and because the weather has been a tad nippy), I have gotten into a bit of a soup-groove for lunch.

Some days I have had a mug of instant cuppa soup, and other days home made. A week or so ago I made a big pot of pea and ham soup, and froze a number of portions, and then last week a friend gave me some pumpkin from her parents' garden, so that became a very zesty pumpkin soup, also with some serves into the freezer. Today I made a pot of what must be one of the easiest (and cheapest!) soups I have ever made... from a monastic recipe passed on by a lecturer (as she made a pot for our class for lunch last Sat, when we had an all day meeting).

So I will share it with you-

Monastic Lentil Soup
6 cups of water or stock
(lecturer used "Vegeta" Gourmet stock powder, I used 3 Maggi chicken stock cubes)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup red lentils
zest of one lemon - plus juice, to taste
(I just added all the juice from the lemon, but it was a little strong, perhaps next time will either use a smaller lemon, or make double quantity for a larger lemon)

Chuck it all into a big pot, bring to boil and simmer until the lentils disintegrate (about half an hour).

I know, I hear you say, it sounds a bit bland... but let me tell you that it is incredibly tasty... without the need to add any extra seasoning or even salt or pepper.

Total cost- about $2-3, for a hearty pot that will serve 3-4 people (or more, depending on the serving size)

I usually serve my lunchtime soups with cheese on toast (but that's only because I finally got around to opening the gorgeous Ashgrove Farm Bush Pepper cheese that's been in my fridge for months, and I just couldn't resist it :-)

Monday, June 11, 2007


I just needed to vent.

I feel better now.

Thankyou for listening.

We now return you to your regular transmission.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

More bliss

On a similar vein, this afternoon, I had another escape to Sparkly Bear, this time for a brief perambulation around K-Mart, where I bought a nice novel - as a further incentive to finish all my assignments- and look forward to reading it once all my work is done and dusted.

After that, I indulged in coffee and cake at one of the
cafés, and spent some time working on the composition of some prayers that are part of my assignment for Worship class. It was actually quite relaxing to be in a different space and working on prayers of intercession with themes for particular times in the church year.

In total, there are three pieces of work: 2 sets of prayers- a prayer of confession (including assurance of forgiveness) and prayer of intercession - for 2 different occasions in the church calendar. From the options we were given, I selected the first Sunday of Lent and the 7th Sunday after Pentecost. In addition to these two pairs of prayers (hey, I'm a poet! :-) we also need to write a brief blurb suitable for a weekly pew sheet on one of a list of topics, of which I chose the significance of Lent (with particular attention to
matters of liturgy).

It's been an interesting discipline to write these prayers from scratch, with a certain degree of creativity and expression of my own personality, but also within the appropriate liturgical
framework. One of the nice things about the Uniting Church is that we don't have a "Book of Common Prayer" that ministers must follow slavishly, word-for-word, but rather we have an approach of "ordered liberty" where we have a directory of worship (called Uniting in Worship, and the more recent edition is Uniting in Worship 2 - very creative nomenclature, eh? :-), which contains orders of worship, examples of prayers, collects, scripture sentences etc that may be used as is, but also may be adapted, edited, added to etc, as there is no compulsion on the minister to use any of these, and it is quite acceptable to compose one's own prayers or liturgy for most occasions.

However, there is still an acceptable framework, based on the theological understandings of the Uniting Church, (so that people don't do or say totally outrageous things- this is where the "ordered" part comes in), but within this framework, there is much scope for flexibility (the "liberty"). So for me, it has been an interesting exercise to bring my past experience of (and penchant for) the extemporaneous style of prayer into a partnership with the discipline of the appropriate form, content, theology etc... and also to 'road test' to ensure that whatever I have written actually flows off the tongue in a fairly graceful (and hopefully even poetic) manner, and doesn't sound outrageously pretentious when I say it out loud.

A little inspiration and leading from the Spirit is also an essential part of the mix, as I am intending for these prayers to be 'real', and to actually use them in worship some time in the future.

In my 'past life', I had a fairly major aversion to pre-written prayers and liturgies as not allowing any space for the leading of the Spirit (hence my preference for extemporaneous everything!) One of the things I have come to really appreciate in recent years is that it is actually possible for the Holy Spirit to provide inspiration and leadership to people who prayerfully sit down to craft prayers and liturgies in advance (and not just at the moment when they stand up to pray the prayer)!

(But I bet you knew that already, didn't you? :-)

And just to give you an example of what I'm talking about, this is the beginning of my favourite Great Prayer of Thanksgiving (which appears in Uniting in Worship 2). I don't think I've ever heard an extemporaneous prayer that was so poetic and beautiful, but yet no matter how many times I have heard it ministered, it never ceases to be real, and bring me into God's presence in a special way.

Thanks and praise, glory and honour are rightly yours,
our Lord and God,
for you alone are worthy.
In time beyond our dreaming
you brought forth life out of darkness,
and in the love of Christ your Son
you set man and woman at the heart of your creation.

And so we praise you
with the faithful of every time and place,
joining with choirs of angels
and the whole creation
in the eternal hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

We thank you that you called a covenant people
to be a light to the nations.
Through Moses you taught us to love your law,
and in the prophets you cried out for justice.

In the fullness of your mercy
you became one with us in Jesus Christ,
who gave himself up for us on the cross.
You make us alive together with him,
that we may rejoice in his presence
and share his peace.

By water and the Spirit
you open the kingdom to all who believe,
and welcome us to your table:
for by grace we are saved, through faith.

(the prayer then goes on to outline the institution of the Eucharist, and ultimately leads to the liturgy of the sharing of Holy Communion)

Ahhhh... bliss!

I'm sure there must be a special place in heaven for massage therapists and others who minister to sore bodies.

My back has been rather sore for the past few weeks; possibly due to a combination of the stress of study load, the fact that I spend lots of time slumped over a computer (in a rather non-ergonomic position- in fact, it just occurred to me that my monitor is too low, so I should stick a box under it or something so I'm not looking down all the time) and I'm not getting any exercise at the moment, so my muscles have all gone to seed and tend to scream in agony if even the slightest demands are made on them.

So, the other day, I decided to take a break from reading and writing, and ventured forth to my local, Barkly Square (or "Sparkly Bear" as it is known to a certain professor of New Testament), to do some restocking of my fridge, and generally just get out of the flat.

Whilst I was there, it just so happened that I found myself in the Chinese massage place, begging them to do something with my back... so about an hour and $30 later, I emerged, feeling sore as ... well... as a very sore thing (because the woman who massaged me did indeed find every single knot and point of tension, and gave them all a damned hard going over). However, I did (and still do) feel much less tense, and a lot
looser in all my back muscles (yes, ok... call me a "Loose Woman" why don't you? :-)

I think it has also helped me sleep better, and my back hasn't been as sore when I wake up in the mornings these past few days.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Another one bites the dust

Well, it's now officially the very pointy end of semester.

That is, classes finished last week, so this week is officially 'reading week' or 'swotvac' as it was known at Tas Uni. Next week is exam week, and at the end of that week, first semester is officially over.

Fortunately, I don't have any formal exams to sit this semester, but before the end of next week, I do have to submit:

** 1x 2500 word essay (bit the dust this morning)
** 1 x 3000 word paper (currently writhing in the dust, hopefully will bite later today)
** 1 x 2000 word essay
** 2x "take home exams" (approx 2500 words each)
** and a portfolio of bits and pieces (including self-critiques for both of my in-class sermons) for my Worship and Preaching course for Friday Program

The good news is that the reality is not quite as bad as this list implies, as this morning I submitted the 2500 word essay (for my Christology class) and am hoping to finalise and submit the 3000 word paper this afternoon.

I think I may have mentioned before that this semester I have been experiencing a rather savage case of writers' block. I'm sure any of you who have been students will know the feeling. You think, "yeah, 2000 words on applying 2 different ethical frameworks to a particular situation.... piece of cake!", and then when the time comes to actually sit down and DO IT, you just want to run screaming from the computer. (I personally tend to end up curled up in a corner in foetal position, rocking, in utter denial). So this has resulted in being rather behind in my workload (eg 3 of the items on the above list are currently 'overdue', but hopefully by the end of today that will be reduced to only one overdue piece of work.)

One of my dear friends and fellow-students, has been quite concerned about my state, and has gone to a lot of trouble to help me motivate myself to get over this block. Not sure whether she was drawing on her experience and training as a teacher, or as a Mum, but either way, her strategy seems to be bearing fruit.

A couple of weeks ago she presented me with a box, full of envelopes and little packages, each with a message on it, along the lines of "open this when..." She said that she was hoping my curiosity to find out what was inside each envelope would drive me to fulfil the conditions required to open the various envelopes (eg: "1 hour of fruitful work done!", or "essay halfway", or "essay completed!" etc)

Two of my favourite envelopes so far have been:

Christology essay halfway- open when you've done 1000 words- this contained a little wrist band with "WWJD" on it, and an accompanying note which said: "WWJD- What Would Jesus Do?"- if you knew that you would have finished your bloody Christology essay before now!

and (I think the ultimate fave so far)

Please make me smile - this contained a folded sheet of paper, with the label "Liturgical Centrefold" written on the outside. When I opened it up, it turned out to be a photocopy of a picture from a text book, featuring our own Professor of Worship presiding at a Eucharist service, circa 1980-something (and he had the haircut- and colour- to prove it!) This not only made me smile, but it made me roll around on the floor laughing my head off for quite some time... my only query being, "if this is a centrefold, where do the staples go?" :-)

So, a big thankyou to Linley, who has helped so much in getting me over this hump (and even having some fun on the way! :-)