Tena tatou whanau katoa.
What have you been working on this week? What’s been your mahi? One of the enjoyable things about working on a service of wor(th)ship is discovering websites and writing that, as a layperson, I don’t often spend time with.
A pithy quote I’ve used before—“Two hands working can achieve more than a thousand clasped in prayer”— comes, I discovered, from the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of Atheist Republic and its thought-provoking website. I found myself on Hilltop Diaries reading a blog post “breastfeeding and the eucharist”—another time I’d like to share thoughts and ideas around this young mother’s reflection; and the online search for quality liturgical images leads to weird, wonderful and challenging artistry. Like the naked Adam and Eve paintings by Chris Cook, and the bright, delightful work of Chinese American artist He Qi who brings an Asian sensibility to Bible themes.
The Unitarian Universalist site has wonderful inclusive liturgy, and a line from ‘not-exactly-a-children’s-story’ became my theme: “It matters what we do” (click on the quote to read how kids can describe their non-dogmatic faith community).
I’ve also been thinking about death and life. My Uncle Trevor died last week, and his funeral was at the Palmerston North Seventh Day Adventist Church—a place I spent a lot of time as a child and teenager; my family lived near Wanganui and we frequently exchanged weekend visits. Among people I grew up with and away from, I reflected on the fun my uncle-by-marriage introduced to the extremely restrictive fundamentalism of my parents: loading a car with kids and doing wheelies along Himatangi – Foxton Beach; taking us kayaking and making sand sculptures; sneaking into town for ice-creams while my irascible father slept in his armchair for hours—aunty, mum, nanna, and siblings piling into uncle’s VW van on a forbidden mission to the fish and chip shop.
Speaker after speaker praised Trevor’s quiet good humour, his willingness to help with any task, his amazing ability to turn wood and create detailed models of cars, ships, trains; and his selfless industry on behalf of others. By the time Trevor died, he was very frail, worn out and ready to go. But being with family brought up a lot of difficult memories, and I’ve tried to release some of them into a “New Prayer” (we’ll say it in place of the Lord’s Prayer), re-interpreting “forgive us our trespasses” and “lead us not into temptation” as “letting go of harmful attitudes” and “not falling back into negative patterns”.
Our scripture readings this week are by and about Moses, who lived to the ripe old age of 120, still clear-sighted and healthy. Yet, although he saw into the Promised Land from the mountain top, he died in Moab and his life’s work was left to Joshua and others to complete. I’ve always loved the stories of Moses and am inspired by his courage in standing barefoot before a burning bush, picking up the snake/rod, and finding the words to command Pharaoh: Let my people go!
Will I find something new to say about the Bible verses I’ve reflected on twice before? Or will I re-use the same script, hoping nobody remembers it from 10 years ago? If you’re at St Andrew’s on Sunday, you’ll find out with me as we bless each other with our presence and participation: Ka kite anō au i a koutou!
And if you’re away for the weekend, then blessed be your hands on the steering wheel and blessed be the places you’re visiting: Haere tū atu, hoki tū mai!
In whatever is occupying you this week, blessed be the work of your hands.
To view the full e-news click here https://mailchi.mp/169a39daa072/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-3908309