Saturday, March 29, 2008

Got... to... sing...

Because this is my Exit Year at Theological College, (so I have lots of things on my plate), and in the light of a few changes that have happened with the Melbourne Chorale this year (namely, that the Chorale has morphed into the MSO Chorus, and now rehearses at a different venue which is not really convenient for me to get to any more), I have decided to withdraw from singing with the Chorale this year.

So, on the upside, this means my Monday nights are now free on a regular basis, but the downside is that it means I only have one regular singing outlet: the Queen's College choir. It's ironic, that I was originally toying with the idea of dropping out of the Queen's Choir at the end of last year, but now that the changes to the Chorale, combined with my overall emotional 'hangover' from the end of last year, have made it feel just too hard to keep singing with Chorale, I will be clinging to Queen's choir quite enthusiastically.

Whilst I will miss things like singing larger works, with a good orchestra in big venues, the only serious regret I have in leaving the Chorale is missing out on singing Handel's Messiah at the end of the year under the baton of Graham Abbott, which is always a wonderfully satisfying experience. So I guess I'll have to enjoy it from the audience this time.

And whilst Queen's doesn't sing any huge works, I have found the practice of having to prepare and sing different pieces every week to be an interesting challenge; and of course the worship element is also a huge plus, as I still really enjoy the style of worship, supported by choir, that we have at Queen's chapel.

So, after the uni break, and my time away in Sydney, I look forward to getting back into the sing! :-)

I know it's still only early in the semester, but...

I'm sure that some of my colleagues can already identify with this:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures


I think I'm getting addicted to these cute kitties... makes me think I need to get a cat (and a goodly stock of antihistamines :-)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Just call me Perry...

... that would be Peripatetic..

I'm now back home in Melbourne, after my week in Hobart (which just flew by. It seemed like I had only just arrived when it was time to leave and head home again).

Having caught my breath for a week or so, I will be off again next Wed, to Sydney, but more about that in a later post.

My time in Hobart allowed me to span the Strait for Holy Week, spending Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in Hobart, with Easter Saturday Vigil and Easter Day back in Melbourne. Considering that this will be the last Easter for a very long time indeed, when I will have the lux
ury of being a pew-sitter (rather than the "minister" leading worship through Holy Week) I think it was an admirable effort. Two cities, three churches and a very serious dose of the grief of Christ's Passion served up in the worship of the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae service, and the Good Friday worship.

But my visit to Hobart wasn't all about church (only mostly :-)

I also managed to catch up with a number of friends (but not everyone that I was hoping to see... sorry Lou, didn't make it to Kingston :-(... discovered an amazing new Chinese restaurant in Sandy Bay with Katrina (gotta love an establishment that, when you order a gin & tonic, asks whether you would prefer Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray... *sigh* :-).

Of course, I did manage to do the mandatory lap of Chickenfeed; have Eggs Benedict at the Machine Cafe in Salamanca Square, and go shopping for earrings in Thumbprint in the Elizabeth Mall (which was disappointing, as their stock seemed grossly overpriced compared to the last time I shopped there).

All of these familiar activities, built on the sense of 'coming home' I experienced on arrival (gotta love that gust of Antarctic wind as you step onto the tarmac at Hobart airport!), and on the taxi ride from the airport to Battery Point where I was staying. Despite the brevity of the visit, it was good to be home, and I realised how much I have missed the place and the people.

Note to self: get back to Hobart more regularly!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Couldn't resist this seasonal cuteness

I have mentioned before my discovery of the cute website I Can Has Cheezburger?, well this is one of the latest additions to the site, a very clever (and cute) combination of a play on the title of the site, and the current liturgical season.

Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics

Friday, March 14, 2008


Yes, I know you're thinking that I've only just started back after summer holidays (such as they were, consumed for the most part by my CPE placement, and general stress about assignments hanging over my head), but tomorrow I head to Hobart for a week's holiday.

I'm looking forward to catching up with some friends there, and in particular folk from my home congregation at Sandy Bay Uniting Church.

So don't expect to hear (or should that be read?) anything from me till after Good Friday when I'll be back in sweltering Melbun (where the temp is currently 35C in my study... but starting to cool down a bit outside I think)

Hobart's climate, is of course, much more civilised than this!

Monday, March 10, 2008

We can never tell the impact we have on others

Yesterday I received a lovely phone call. It was from a former colleague, who works in the Pastoral Care Dept at Peter Mac, who I became friends with when I was doing my CPE placement there.

Whilst it was pleasant enough that he rang to say hello, see how I was going, and to tell me that I am missed in the department, the thing that really struck me was his report of an encounter he had with a patient recently.

He said this patient, an older lady, told him that on her last visit to the hospital she had met me, and had really appreciated the contact I had had with her and her husband. In singing my praises to this other pastoral carer, she said that the most impressive thing was that I got her husband to cry. Apparently her husband is a big, strong man, and prior to his meeting me, he had never cried in his life.

I was quite chuffed to hear this (and surprised, because this had obviously been a very memorable encounter for the patient and her husband, but I had no recollection of the specific event- Peter Mac is the kind of place where lots of people get a bit teary when talking about what they're going through, and I just didn't realise that for this man, his tears were so significant.)

So now I have to live with the grave responsibility of having the super power of being able to make very tough, grown men cry. Whilst I can think of many occasions when such a super power could come in very handy indeed, I promise to only use this power for good (and also for God, which almost got through as a typo just then!). So the tough males of my acquaintance can breathe a sigh of relief!

But seriously folks, I really was quite delighted to receive this feedback, as it was very gratifying to learn that my ministry had been so helpful to these people, even though I didn't realise it at the time. But in addition to this, it was also quite sobering and encouraging to realise that although so much of the work we do for the Kingdom doesn't bear fruit that we can see... this doesn't mean it doesn't bear fruit at all.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Vale Larry Norman

I was quite shocked to learn, as I surfed around the web tonight, that Larry Norman died last Sunday (Feb 24). He died of heart failure at the age of 60, after a long period of illness related to a heart condition.

I grew up on Larry Norman's edgy music in the 70s and remember treasuring my copy (on cassette) of his album Only Visiting This Planet... and when I sat down to think about it just now, it was scary how many of the songs from that album I can remember, almost word perfect.

Of course, Why should the Devil have all the Good Music was an anthem of our generation of young Christians struggling to find some Christian popular culture, the lyrics of The Outlaw were used as a resource in many a teen Bible study, looking at "Who is Jesus?", and of course, the popularity of I Wish We'd all been Ready made it almost a cliche as an anthem for the generation with an obsession with the second coming of Jesus.

Many of his songs contained very raw social commentary and thinly veiled references to various famous people and world political situations.

In the many obituaries that have flooded the electronic media, comments have been made about how Larry Norman was the father of Christian rock, and the founder of what would later morph into Contemporary Christian music (something which I do my best to avoid these days, because it is so lame), I do still have quite a soft spot for the hard-hitting music of Larry Norman. Here is a clip of one of his songs from Only Visiting this Planet - Why don't you look into Jesus.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A pleasant Sunday afternoon...

I've been sitting here at my computer for the past hour or two, catching up on my email and other computery things from the weekend, after leaving home at 9am yesterday, and only returning home around 3pm today.

The 'pleasant' aspect of the afternoon, is not so much sitting at the computer, but rather the sense of satisfaction and bliss I have after the other things I have been doing this weekend.

Firstly, yesterday the Church Council from my congregation at Brunswick had a retreat at a priory near Diggers Rest (about a half hour drive north of Brunswick). During the course of the day we were encouraged and led in the practice of reflecting on our role of spiritual leadership in our congregation; what it means for us as individuals, and as a whole council.

It was great to get away and think about these things together, as I certainly learned a lot about the other members of the church council during the course of the discussion; the kinds of things that bumping into each other on Sundays at church, or the busy agendas of our church council meetings just don't allow us to explore usually. So it was good, and I came away with a renewed energy to be more present to the rest of my fellow church councillors at our meetings, and in other ways.

But even better than that, was my time in Romsey and Lancefield this morning (and last night). I went straight from Diggers Rest to Romsey to stay with my friend Avril, who is the minister of the Uniting Church congregations in Romsey, Lancefield, Riddells Creek and Mt Macedon. This week Avril was leading worship at Riddells Creek and Mt Macedon, and I was the 'guest preacher' at Romsey and Lancefield.

We had a 'big night on the town' in Romsey, which meant that after a very pleasant dinner at a local restaurant, we were home by about 8pm, with Avril studying the UCA Manual for Meetings, and me putting some finishing touches on my sermon. (... all the while conscious that there were people we both knew in Sydney partying into the night at Mardi Gras... I think we both need to get a life! :-)

I visited Romsey and Lancefield congregations last July, and some of the people today welcomed me as if I were a long lost friend, and commented that they remembered me from last time, and were glad that I was back.

I had a very busy week this last week, and hadn't devoted as much time to preparation for worship as I would normally have liked to, but still things came together in a way that was very humbling. I was lamenting yesterday that I still had some work to do on my sermon, and that I had found the lectionary readings this week very hard to get that spark of inspiration.

(I think the problem was that the Gospel reading, John 9:1-41, was so rich with so many layers of meaning and symbolism, that there were just too many different angles, and no one thing jumped out at me as the thing to run with this week).

In the end, it all came together, and I had a late spark of homiletic inspiration last night that rounded things off rather nicely, and slotted in well with the overall theme of the service that I had planned to create with prayers and hymns. It was a real buzz as I led the faithful folk at Romsey and Lancefield in their services this morning, and noticed the ways that God was present to us all in the worship.

Having just commenced my last year at Theological College, the concept of ordination (and what exactly that means) is currently high on my list of things to think about. Today I was overwhelmed with the sense of "gee, I love my job!" and it made me think that there is something exciting about the prospect of being set apart by dint of ordination to do this kind of work on behalf of the church on a permanent basis.

And yes, I know that there are lots of lay people who lead crackingly great and godly worship on a regular basis too, but for me, personally, I think this ordination thing is finally starting to make some sense (especially the "whatever were you thinking, God, in calling me to this?!?!" kind of questions).

This year, because it's my final year, and there are lots of things (in addition to the academic study stuff) that I need to attend to, I have made a deliberate choice to cut back, and only preach and lead worship on one Sunday a month (which may sometimes mean more than one service per day, but usually only one lot of preparation for all the services of the day).

So last month (Feb) it was at Mount Martha, this month (hmmm... it's only March, and already I have broken my own rule!) I had Romsey and Lancefield today, and next Sunday will be Hastings (in the morning), and Queens College chapel (in the evening)... but then back to normal, 'one-a-month with Riddells Creek, Mt Macedon and Queens again on April 27, and Mt Martha again on May 18.

So, before the academic year even began, my whole first semester was already fully booked with preaching gigs (and I have even managed to say no to a couple of gig I have been offered because I'm booked up)

But, as much as I enjoy visiting the lovely congregations where I have been conducting casual services during the past two years or so, I am really looking forward to the time when I will be able to lead worship every week in the same place (or places- as most colleagues who have gone out into ministry intern placements in the past few years have had more than one congregation or preaching place in their patch), with the same group/s each week, and the chance to build up long term relationships with these folks.... *sigh* only another 11 months or so till that happens.

(I can't believe I'm starting to count down to exit already! - someone please smack me! :-)