Thursday, 3 April 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
The most colourful bucket of language just got tipped over a woman out the front by a fellow who I think might still be in his teens. I think the horror on the woman’s face must have registered in the heart of man with a filthy mouth because he followed up by saying, “I don’t mean that in an offensive way!”
Yesterday I tried to walk past our front seat but glanced at a woman who burst instantly into tears. I didn’t want to engage but her opening remark was, “I am so ashamed”. How quickly the urgent evaporates in the presence of the important! This attractive woman has lost the trust of her family and finally lost the custody of her baby. I couldn’t look her in the eyes because her head was planted in my chest. “My darling,” (in that moment she was my daughter), “feel the full weight of this pain and let it make you stronger.” Having spent years dodging and dashing to avoid dealing with her addiction, finally the loss of her baby was the deepest and most devastating pain she had known. The woman had known plenty of pain but she’d always looked for comfort rather than to face the cause of her pain. Woe to anyone that cannot say, 'no' to destructive pleasure and cannot say, 'yes' to helpful pain. No connection has been strong enough to break this girl’s reach for comfort but maybe the miraculous connection with her own baby will be enough. Maybe her sweet baby who needs her Mum and develops anew every day will be worth the fight and worth the pain. When I stood to walk away, we were both mopping our faces with handkerchiefs. If only I was superman instead of this tower of weakness.
Last week we held a fundraising dinner in our street. Thank you City of Sydney for allowing us to shut the street for this 50th anniversary fundraising event. Literally scores of people worked all day and through the night to the next morning (deepest apology to our neighbours along with our promise not to repeat a night-time event of this scale for 50 years). It was a night of the most astonishing outpouring of goodwill that I think I’ve ever witnessed. We hoped to raise $300,000 which always to me seemed like a stretch, but anniversaries are a good time for a stretch. On the night people donated $750,000. I’m overwhelmed and although I’ve been thanking people ever since, there doesn’t seem to be words that match the effort that so many people made to ensure the success of the event.
Sunday, 13 April is our 50th anniversary Celebration Sunday event. In our special service at 10am, Rev Bill Crews is coming to talk about the old days of Wayside. Bill has some side splitting stories as well as some that will tear your heart out. Matt Noffs will pay tribute to his grandfather Ted Noffs. In my view, Matt has all the flair of his grandfather and we look forward to his tribute. The Honeybees gospel choir will sing some of their songs that reach into your heart and lift you and inspire you. After the service at 11am we will open our Street Carnival. The street will be closed and there will be a jumping castle and petting zoo in the street for kids. There will be food and our building will have a dozen things going on inside for the public to explore. There will be afternoon tea served on the roof, inspections of our garden and bees, worm farms and our Ambassador Indira Naidoo will be giving a cooking class. At 12noon, we'll have our official birthday celebration. This part of the day will be light on speeches (although Malcolm Turnbull with be with us and I’d love him to give a short speech) and big on fun. Don’t miss it, we only do this once every 50 years! There are also plenty of other events happening next week. More details here.
Wayside is creating a new team, called the Twilight Team. This means we’re hiring people with the skills and heart to meet people at the end of the day and to be alongside people and deliver activities from 4pm to 8pm. I think it's fair to say that this is the toughest time of day for many and so it's a chance to take on a role that will be incredibly rewarding. We're also looking for a new Youth Worker to support young people in our youth program. If you’re interested in joining our Wayside team, you can find more details here.
There is nothing more humbling than a tsunami of good will and I wish I could express my sense of awe.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Thank you for being part of this inner circle and thank you for being part of our 50th anniversary,
Rev. Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Click here to listen to podcasts of past Inner Circle's, aired on ABC 702's 'Afternoons with James Valentine'
Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor
Previous Inner Circles
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