Thursday, 15 May 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
An 'alb' is a long white gown that ministers in the Uniting Church often wear. I tend only to wear it for weddings, funerals or christenings, especially those that are away from Wayside. It makes the point that I act as the church rather than as a civil celebrant. I had my alb dry cleaned the other day and hung it over my shoulder as I walked to the car. A young homeless girl walked with me as far as the fountain. She looked at the alb over my shoulder and asked, “Are you a witch?” I told her that the church doesn’t issue us with flying brooms but because this is Kings Cross, they occasionally let us cross dress.
In a week loaded with budget gloom, we have done some things that are right and inspirational. Adam Goodes (Australian of the Year) and Fred Chaney (Senior Australian of the Year) came to Wayside to highlight the need for the Australian Constitution to acknowledge the presence of our first peoples. Fred dramatically demonstrated how the country has changed since this founding document was put in place. He quoted from early Prime Ministers who expressed boldly their belief that black races were inferior to white. Thank God our country has moved on but our founding document still has provisions for governments to legislate on the basis of race. A couple of changes will be an important part of our journey to a wiser, more just Australia. You can join the cause by supporting Recognise, the people’s movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution. On a gloomy day and in the context of a few gloomy years of political life in this country, I fervently hope our people develop a taste to do something right and inspirational.
Last night people from our youth program held a dinner on our roof. A candlelit table for about 30 people was beautifully set. Young people prepared every aspect of the event, including the planning, cooking and service of the food. The young participants earned credit in a TAFE course for their work. I’m proud of our whole youth team for a beautiful job well done. Our public voice on the night was Amy, our youngest member of staff. Dear Amy speaks and love oozes from the pores of her skin. She rejoiced in the achievement of the young people and they rejoiced in her joy. I couldn’t be more proud. It was a moment of mission for us; a moment of community with no 'us and them'. When I left, Claudia Karvan was in conversation with a homeless young woman and our staff and volunteers worked as one to make sure everyone was included and all arrangements went smoothly. Thank you to Joe and Amy in our youth team; thank you to our youth volunteers and congratulations to Kim for leading such a team.
On Saturday, 24 May, you can come to Wayside and engage David Hicks in conversation after we see the film, “The Road to Guantanamo”. Come at 2pm if you’re interested to meet the man himself and hear his story. The day is part of a global push urging the closure of Guantanamo where people are still rotting. The majority of these prisoners have been cleared for release and yet they sit without hope or any indication of reunion with their families. Last I heard there are still people on a hunger strike since February last year who suffer the indignity of being force fed; without anesthetic and left in nappies. More details here.
I’m not always grateful for church meetings but on Tuesday night a Presbytery meeting saved me from hearing our Treasurer spin like Shane Warne was an amateur. By the time I got home the television were running interviews of CEOs and bankers, all of whom thought that it was a “fair” budget where “everyone had to pull their weight.” There is no sacrifice being asked of the wealthy but there is a massive sacrifice being asked of the poor. One of the richest countries on this planet is happy to spend wads of money to implement a system of cruelty for any who dare to run here for protection. To prove we are even handed, we not only offer no hospitality here but we’re making drastic cuts to our overseas aide. So now the infection spreads and we're going to make the young and the sick pay while we all talk about “pulling our weight”. I want to find a high mountain, tear my clothes, cover my face in ashes and lament what’s happened to this country.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
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
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