Inner Circle


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Dear Inner Circle,

Miss four-year-old asked me last week, “So what did you do when you were four?” How lovely to be asked such an unexpected question. “I don’t know,” I said, trying to look for a satisfactory answer, “I think I ate my dinner.” “But did you eat all of it?” she asked in a flash. “I think I did,” I said, beginning now to sound unconvincing. “Well,” she said, “I only like b’skettie”. I treasure such precious conversations.

Rarely have I been accused of being religious and perhaps to protect my reputation, stories from our congregations appear rarely in this note. Last week in the Bondi congregation, there was no sermon but Rev Graham Anson, Wayside’s Executive Minister in Bondi, interviewed a bloke who had spent a third of his life in institutions. All of his jail time was related to addictions to various substances. This healthy-looking fellow hit rock bottom when his addiction lost him his job and his partner. Born outside of Australia, there was no social support available to this fellow and he was reduced literally to begging in order to stay alive. With the help of AA and our staff at Bondi, he is on his road to recovery. He’s working again and keen as mustard to offer help to others through our facility at Bondi.

At Kings Cross last Sunday, a fellow stood to share proudly with the congregation his new walking stick. The significance of this story was that he could now live without his walking frame which has been a real pain especially on public transport. A young man told of how so many of his friends had died in recent months. He said he’d come to church because he had a strong hunch that in his grief, he was asking the wrong questions. Everyone could hear the heart cry of this young bloke and while no-one had any answers, he found himself in a deep pool of love and acceptance. A softly spoken woman stood to speak. She is a high-priced consultant who I think it’s fair to say is at the top of the tree in her field of expertise. She told us that just through the week she was in a situation where she was asked for something for which she didn’t have the right answer. She beamed with a smile as she told us how she’d learned at church of the sheer joy of being without answers. In just a few words she spoke of the release that comes from being a person rather than being an expert. Our Assistant Pastor, Jon Owen, spoke of the power of words to heal or to wound. A dark-skinned man, Jon said that at school, he used to be called a ‘chocolate frog’. His Mum suggested that he call the white kids at school ‘milky bar kids’ but the next day he came home with hurt feelings and some bruises. His father’s advice was the classic, ‘just blend in’. He had us laughing to the point of tears but made a powerful story about words as weapons or words that heal.

We always say, “We’re not much like a church which might work for you if you’re not much like a Christian.” If you are ever in town and you’re tempted to find a community who aspire to love, drop into Bondi Beach at 9.30am or Kings Cross at 11am. Once I was enjoying one of our songs and Saint Interuptus said, “Can you sing tenor?” to which I answered that I was a poor tenor. She said, “No! Can you sing tenor twelve miles away!”

To my surprise this morning I met a bloke who I thought was in hospital. I cross-examined him a bit because I thought he was facing surgery. He told me that he was ok and everything was in order. Minutes ago I found out that he’d checked himself out simply because he was worried about his car, which has been for many years also his home. Here’s a tip I’ll give you for free; think twice about accepting a lift in a car where a man and his dog have lived for years. Some of our fabulous staff have already made sure his car is in a secure place to ease his worry and made it possible for him to get back to the hospital.

Just another week, how lucky are we? Thanks for being part of this inner circle.


PS. An especially big thanks to so many who sent us some undies for Valentine’s Day. Many people either sent in undies through our front door or donated through our webpage, and together you made this the most wonderful Valentine’s Day ever. Special thanks to 10-year-old Luci who heard about our need for undies while listening to Triple J and immediately emptied her money box and organised her own underwear drive. Nothing says I love you like a clean pair of undies.

Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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

Previous Inner Circles


16 February: Wayside Isn't A Place, It's An Activity

9 February: Heavy With Meaning

2 February: The Danger of Stability

26 January: Australia Day

19 January: Wow

13 January: The Joy of Being Useless


22 December: Miracles in the Messy

15 December: A Season for Demons

8 December: Soul Restorer

1 December: Holy Ground

24 November: Opening Presence for Christmas

17 November: On Our Best Behaviour For a Day

10 November: A Seismic Shift

3 November: Outcomes by Accident

27 October: Wow! Look How Far You've Come

20 October: Moving Toward Our Destiny

13 October: A Tribute

06 October: Risk and Sacrifice

29 September: Wisdom in Unconventional Places

22 September: It's What We Do at Wayside

15 September: The Joy of Being Wrong

8 September: Turning Toward Love

1 September: The Power of Weakness

25 August: Words as weapons

18 August: Wattle become of us

11 August: Precious and fragile

4 August: A wave from Wayside

28 July: Understanding bedlam

21 July: Time for some straight talking

14 July: Holy ground

7 July: Sowing in tears, reaping with shouts of joy

30 June: A bit of banter about Bondi

23 June: My cup runneth over

16 June: Injecting some joy

9 June: At the end of the line

2 June: Lots of perspiration and a touch of inspiration

26 May: Swimming against the tide

19 May: Every 7 days but not weakly

12 May: I once was blind

5 May: A place to belong

28 April: Lest we forget

21 April: I've seen into the abyss

14 April: Colourful language

7 April: Poetic licence

31 March: Happy in the Cross

24 March: Easter

17 March: A party mix

10 March: The intimacy of everything

3 March: An unusual look

25 February: He ain't heavy

18 February: Tears of laughter and sadness

11 February: Wisdom is a tricky business

4 February: A wave from The Wayside Chapel

28 January: Some long distance loving

21 January: No time for judgement


17 December: Last note for 2015

10 December: Sanity Clause if coming to town

3 December: It's all about the presence

26 November: The joy of not knowing

19 November: The curse of perfectionism

12 November: To speak is to act

5 November: My cup runneth over

29 October: Prophet and loss

22 October: Finding yourself in a magical team

15 October: A silly question

8 October: Surprised by the joy

1 October: Being dead right

24 September: A day by the Wayside

17 September: It's a gold rush

10 September: The psychology of onions

3 September: Life comes from without

27 August: Surprised by the beautiful

20 August: Light shining through the cracks

13 August: A matter of balance

6 August: Recognising a gift

30 July: Your weakly note

23 July: 'A thing' from the Wayside

16 July: The future is calling

9 July: In love with some Dame

2 July: Better days ahead

25 June: Something funny, something beautiful

18 June: Seeing what's there

11 June: Amazing mates

4 June: There's a time and a place

28 May: The weight and the joy of being a neighbour

21 May: You're invited

14 May: Laughing, lying and loving

7 May: The awesome in the ordinary

30 April: Wayside light

23 April: Priceless gifts, freely given

16 April: Good news from the Wayside is great news

9 April: Awesome

2 April: Easter by the Wayside

26 March: Thankful for little things

19 March: A few minutes in the cross

12 March: Seeing what isn't there

5 March : A tour like no other

26 February: Tough love

19 February: Puffing or building

12 February: The two shall become two

5 February: Chest pains

29 January: Shear joy

22 January 2015: Fully alive

15 January 2015: Blessed interruptions

8 January 2015: A glimpse of glory


18 December 2014: Christmas hat in hand

11 December 2014: A little season of goodwill

4 December 2014: There was nothing silent about that night

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

20 June: You cannot take what can only be given



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