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Gentle Reminders

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Dear Inner Circle, 

No transformative human moment begins with a predetermined outcome in mind, no matter how much we might wish it were otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, the setting of goals and “beginning with the end in mind” may all play good roles in the arena of personal pursuits but, try as we might, it doesn’t translate to our interactions with others. One of our long-lasting legacies are our christenings, our founder conducted over 20,000 of them where he welcomed all into “the family of humanity”. These days I often have the privilege of conducting them for their grandchildren. We don’t begin these rituals with the child, but rather with the parents, gently reminding them that how they treat each other forms a powerful template from which this precious child will learn how they ought to be treated. When my wife Lisa and I were running our open home as a safe space for women and their children, often the place was packed with over a dozen squealing little girls. All the time we were acutely aware that all their little eyes were fixed on the ways we showed love for each other, rather than lavished upon them. 

The next part of the ritual involves a reminder to the parents that we aren’t human beings trying to be “spiritual”, rather we are spiritual beings trying to work out what it means to be human! This then is accompanied by holding the child as a gift, not as their possession, but rather as someone “on loan” to them for an all too brief moment in time. As a parent, if you ever doubt this whilst preparing dinner, juggling bath times, tantrums and washing up, ask an older mother or father for their perspective. We are acutely aware of this as our youngest, who feels like she was born five minutes ago, turns 18 years old next month. 

“Peace begins with a smile.” Some time moves fast, other time moves slow, and it is important to know the difference. To those of who desire change we must acknowledge that we exist in a culture that sells instant fixes, cures and fads so these words of Mother Theresa are an invitation for us to slow down. In an increasingly hostile world, the extension of hospitality is a sorely needed gift and it cannot happen at pace, nor with an agenda. Last night we celebrated the stories of our courageous outreach teams, who through the heights of our city’s lockdowns, hit the streets to simply love and provide essentials to those who did not have the luxury of isolating in private. As they shared, instead of listing their wonderful achievements in terms of getting people into hotels and housing, they named the smaller moments, like how after 18 months of just smiling and saying hello to a man living under a tree, enough trust was built for a conversation, because he felt secure enough to know that they weren’t there to “try and help fix him”. The power of presence was borne out in their patience and commitment. 

This Tuesday is the longest and often one of the coldest nights of the year, our Winter Solstice. A group of faith based and charitable organisation’s people will gather in Peace Park at 6.30pm, Elizabeth Bay, for a memorial service for all who have died on our streets in the past year. Sadly, for those who have died during COVID this may be their only memorial. Please join us there with a candle if you have the time, or if you can’t make it spare a thought for those who are still struggling on our streets that night.  

Thanks for being a part of our Inner Circle, 

Jon

Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel 

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