Thursday, 27 November 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
We’ll have a wonderful Christmas when we know that its all about presence not presents. When I was a young father, I used to return home with a lolly or toy of some kind just to make sure my kids would be excited to see me. This policy was a bit hard on Robyn but it was an effective way of turning, “Dad’s home” into an occasion. One day I walked in after a day so busy that I’d not found time to buy my bribe. My son excitedly riffled through all my pockets looking for his treat. I had to say to him, “Dad has been so busy today there are no treats, just love.” My dear boy thought love was the booby prize and made his disappointment abundantly clear. It’s laughable now but so often we spend all our energy in the pursuit of lollies when love is on offer.
The older I get the harder it is to catch the Christmas spirit. The easiest way to miss the present moment is simply by taking care of business. I really see why there was no room in the inn for the child born so long ago. Who had time to see the awesome in that heavily pregnant little girl? So the finest human being that ever lived was born out with the animals and laid to rest in a feed box. I bet you any money there was nothing silent about that night. I’m sure wise men would have watched where they stepped. The smell, the noise, the shabby circumstances became the birthplace of the holy.
I saw history move this week. I was present when the Premier of New South Wales declared the support of his government for the move to recognise Aboriginal people in our Constitutional document. In some ways this was a small step but an important step on our way to a better, fairer Australia. There is no dispute the cultural bedrock of Australia used to be in Britain. When I was a kid, lots of people who’d never been to England, referred to it as, “home”. This attitude has shifted dramatically since the Second World War when it was made clear that Britain was in no shape to shield Australia from external threats. Since then there isn’t much doubt that America exerts more influence in culture and over our foreign policy than England ever did. I have a longing that one day, Australians might find their cultural bedrock in this amazing land. I’m certain that when we love the people, we’ll love the land and find our home, our security and our cultural bedrock, no where else.
It was this week 12 months ago we buried Gazza and I still look for him when I’m up the street. Something of Gazz stays with me. His presence remains with me as he gave me so much. As the hearse carrying his body moved down our street, I’ll never forget the hundreds of people whose applause and cheering drowned all the other city noises. There was no room in the inn for Gazz. He lived his life by the Wayside and we saw the incomparable beauty that few had time to ponder.
We’re reeling a bit this week too at the loss of a dear lady in her forties whose laughter and sense of fun animated us. I always thought she looked pretty healthy and that adds to the shock of today’s news. We are yet to learn the cause of death. In the cafe once, I saw this lady with a face that had been brutally battered. She asked me to pray for her that day and cupped my hands over her eye socket as I said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” When I’d finished praying she pulled back her shirt to show me the deepest stab wound I’ve ever seen. The sight of it caused me some panic and I insisted we get an ambulance. She told me to calm down and assured me she was on her way to hospital but she just wanted to check she had a soul before she went to get her body treated. What a woman! What an inspiration! Many times I was humbled in her presence.
I’ll keep writing to you our inner circle through December and January but I was in the mood to give something of a Christmas message today. I hope you don’t mind.
As we head into this season, I wish for you presence not presents, love not lollies.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
CEO & Pastor
The Wayside Chapel
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Previous Inner Circles
27 November 2014: It's not about feeling better
20 November 2014: Gathering Moss
13 November 2014: Love the land, love the people
6 November 2014: The power of presence
30 October 2014: Paralysed by presence
23 October 2014: The joy of sight
16 October 2014: The best medicine
9 October 2014: Who would have guessed?
2 October 2014: There's no such thing as a terrorist
21 August: Saving souls
14 August: Squeaking out
7 August: A time for turning
31 July: You're okay
24 July: Happy tears
17 July: Let's aim higher
10 July: Gristle and good
3 July: The joy of not knowing
26 June: If not now, when? If not me, who?
12 June: Longing for riches
5 June: When you least expect it
22 May: Finding home
15 May: Flying
8 May: Tests, triumps and tissues
1 May: Skuse the French
24 April: Lifting the curtain
17 April: Collective love
10 April: Cardiac arrest
3 April: Awe struck
27 March: You're invited to something special
20 March: Rather a prohet than a loss
13 March: It's all happening at the wayside
6 March: Love makes all the difference
27 February: What goes around
20 February: The joy of being empty handed
13 February: Loving the growth spurts
6 February: Mighty glad to be back by the wayside
23 January: Some criminals have class
16 January: Wonderful surprises
9 January: Ready, set
19 December: Thanks for an awesome year
12 December: Mission and wishin'
5 December: The ups and downs and all is well
28 November: Kissed by the community
21 November: Our cup runneth over
14 November: A revelation from wayside
7 November: When excrement happens
31 October: I am therefore I think
24 October: We are surrounded by heroes
17 October: When you least suspect
26 September: A wayside wobbly
19 September: Knowing a gift
12 September: Advancing at the retreat
5 September: A little dose of good
29 August: Fighting with a feather
22 August: The boom is just beginning
15 August: True riches
8 August: Small is beautiful
1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views
25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside
18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage
27 June: Holy ground