Posts Tagged 'making sense'


discernmentI find it amazing how from time to time events, incidents and observations coalesce – in ways in which God can clarify things going on in my life … those times when discernment is so necessary. God has God’s own sense of timing … with which I don’t stand a chance.

Presently, discernment is a major thing for me – knowing where, how, when and why and with whom God would want me to give special focus in life and ministry. You see, I’m a fairly self-motivated, self-sufficient, independent, strong Myers-Briggs “J” (almost off the scale in that area!)

Amazing then (well – perhaps not really, when one considers things) that a week back, I again picked up Christianity for the Rest of Us, by Diana Butler Bass – a book I had got 1/3 of the way through by last October, before the ‘hecticness’ of the silly season ground my reading to a sudden halt. No kidding, I opened up the book to where I left off … the chapter? Discernment. Among the first words I read were these: Where do you see God in your ministry? An important question for me at the moment; of course: 24/7.

I still dwell on that question: Where do I see God in my ministry? It’s a question we would all do well to ask – God, are you in this? God, are you in this decision I must make? And God if you are, give me the eyes to see, the heart to embrace and the mind to understand AND the feet to follow your way.

And then this weekend, as I sit in an a Sydney airport lounge en-route home to Brisbane, I reflect on two really helpful reflections (teaching times really) presented by Peter T, a Sydney minister – on the theme of anxiety. There is anxiety in my life at present – Peter’s teaching was so helpful. Nothing of a health or relationship thing I quickly hasten to add! Discerning the mind of God is important for me in these times.

I see this reopened book (highly recommended) and the chapter I opened up AND Peter’s sharing as exquisite examples of God’s gracious moving in my life – all bound up in the challenge of discerning.

Bushfire song

A week or so back, I received this contemporary hymn lyric from Peter Woodward, a ministry colleague of mine with the Uniting Church; in Peter’s case – in Ipswich, Queensland.  It’s Peter’s musings on the flood and fire dramas of recent weeks here in the north and south of Australia.  I offer it with Peter’s blessing …

To God be the glory: how can we sing this
when fires destroy us and floods threaten life?
A world that is suffering and wants to know why
can barely believe in a God in the sky.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord: seems a torment to us.
God of Love! God of Love, we are conflicted and lost.
We come to you Father and want to believe;
so help us see Jesus and know that you grieve.

For all who are suffering and all who are lost
we pray special caring whatever the cost.
In all of our neighbours, O, help us to see
the call to look out and build community.            Peter Woodward (C) 2009

Songs of sadness & sustaining

These past days, as folk here in Australia have reflected on appropriate worship resources to use this weekend – in helping God’s people deal with the horror, grief, sorrow, anger, sadness and bewilderment of the Victorian bushfire tragedy (and not forgetting 62% of my state Queensland in flood) – here are many of the songs that have been suggested and some of my own thrown in.  This is far from an exhaustive list.  For a longer selection, go here.  Special thanks to Natalie Sims – Uniting Church, Victoria

God, we’ve known such grief and anger  –  Carolyn Winfrey Gillette     lyrics

Babylon (by the waters, the waters, the waters of Babylon ..)  traditional – the one popularized by Don McLean back in the ’70s

We cannot measure how you heal  – John Bell/Graham Maule   (Iona Community: When Grief is Raw, also Church Hymnary, Common Ground)

Nothing is lost on the breath of God –  Colin Gibson.  Words and music are here. Sound sample here.

Touch the earth lightly, God weeps  –  Shirley Erena Murray (various)

Don’t be afraid  (my love is stronger than your fear) – John Bell    (Iona Community,  All Together Whatever 496)

O God of mighty wind and flame –  Carolyn Winfrey Gillette   lyrics etc                  

O Christ you wept when grief was raw. –  John Bell/Graham Maule   (Iona: Love from Below,  Church Hymnary 734)

When pain and terror strike by chance  – Brian Wren   (Together in Song 262, various)

How long?   –  short lament response by me.  Link here to download page  (scroll down to Holy Communion settings)

Lord have mercy  – short sung response by me.  Link here to download page

For you, deep stillness  –  Julie Perrin/Robin Mann       (All Together Whatever 494, various)  Beautiful, gentle imagery – appropriate for a blessing song


For more bushfire info/pictures/video – go to this link:    It’s worth checking out.   The ABC is our equivalent (sort of) of your PBS.

Making sense of senselessness

Like not only Australians, but folk worldwide, I’m struggling to get my head around the sheer enormity of the devastation – particularly in human loss – from the horrific bushfires that have raged in Victoria these past days.  If I can’t get my head around it, imagine how my heart is faring.  I’m reminded of an Iona Community song from John L. Bell and Graham Maule: “We cannot measure how you heal” – it was sung after sixteen school children and their teacher were killed by a gunman in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996.

For now, these words best capture my prayers, feelings, bewilderment and belief:

We cannot measure how you heal

Or answer every sufferer’s prayer,

Yet we believe your grace responds

Where faith and doubt unite to care.

Your hands, though bloodied on the cross,

Survive to hold and heal and warn,

To carry all through death to life

And cradle children yet unborn.


The pain that will not go away,

The guilt that clings from things long past,

The fear of what the future holds,

Are present as if meant to last.

But present too is love which tends

The hurt we never hoped to find,

The private agonies inside,

The memories that haunt the mind.


So some have come who need your help

And some have come to make amends,

As hands which shaped and saved the world

Are present in the touch of friends.

Lord, let your Spirit meet us here

To mend the body, mind and soul,

To disentangle peace from pain

And make your broken people whole.


John Bell & Graham Maule   (C) 1989 Wild Goose Resource Group/Iona Community

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