Inner Circle

 

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,

Graham

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

www.revgrahamlong.com

Want to receive the Inner Circle directly into your inbox every Thursday? Sign up here.

 

Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor

Previous Inner Circles

2014

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

2013

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

20 June: You cannot take what can only be given

 

 

Get Involved