Council dreaming – 1

On 20 October and 27 October, several members of the Kippax Church Council shared with the congregation some of their thoughts and hopes and dreams for the future of Kippax.

Here are two of them – by Dean Tregenza and Sue Gore Phillips

Dean Tregenza

I am going to start with a small reflection on the reading Jeremiah 31:31-34 – The final four verses in fact…

The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Like all prophets the writer in Jeremiah tells us a few home truths and then gives us a future by reminding us our past.

These verses speak of a new beginning in terms of a new covenant. However, the intent of the covenant itself, the parties involved, and the law that was an integral part of it, are not specifically new.

What is ‘new’ about the covenant is not the covenant itself, but the way it is to be effected. God will put his Torah within the people and ‘write it on their hearts’.

And, in Hebrew, ‘heart’ represents not so much the seat of the emotions as that of practical knowledge, and is not significantly different from ‘mind’.

Each person, regardless of their background or situation in life, will have a personal knowledge of God. They will not be dependent on the instruction of another. Jeremiah goes on to anchor this new knowledge in forgiveness (v. 34).

Each person shall know that experience personally. No longer will they just hear from another person the story of God’s liberation of his people long ago in the Exodus (v. 32). No longer will they need to be taught the Torah by another. It will be integrated into their very being – both the experience of grace and the desire to live out the way of God. No longer will they hear the story they will become a part of the story.

Now in approaching today Gordon provided us with three questions to ponder on.

What is it about Kippax’s future (as you hope for it, or dream of it) that you think is important to share?

I would like to note two key aspects of the reading from Jeremiah in terms of the renewed covenant.

First, the reading affirms the ongoing place of Torah, the law, although now written on human hearts (Jer. 31:33).

I have used the word Torah as the Hebrew text uses language that is much more than what we call law. The Torah – is not just the books of the law – they include the beginnings of the story to which others have continued to add and we have become a part. The whole Bible is something that holds a significant place in our heritage.

There is a song that we sing here in this place written by Andrew Tanner for the Uniting Church’s National Christian Youth Convention held at Adelaide in 1985.

As you dream receive your history
from the martyrs and the saints.
Let their story be your story,
yours the laughter, yours the pain.

Lord, we stumble in the darkness,
we cry for vision in these days.
Pour on us your living spirit
in all ways, always.

Jesus save your nomad people,
bring us face to face with you.
Start in us a new creation.
Christ be with us as we go.

The song reflects the words of the book of Joel – which is the lectionary reading for next week. Songs are very useful to help remind us of things. This song reminds us that

As we dream of the future our history is often good at bringing clarity of vision to that we seek.

I think the Bible is something that we need to put more time and effort into getting to know better. No in the least because as the writer of Timothy reminds us:

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

And I certainly need regular correction.

While the Bible is important we are not “the people of the book”. We need to affirm its place in our community.

The second thing from the reading from Jeremiah is that it repeats the old covenant affirmation ‘I will be their God, and they will be my people’ that is found in the book of Exodus (6:7).

This is an important reminder for even with the new individual knowledge of God, the corporate side of the covenant relationship remains essential.

Individuals, with their own experience of forgiveness and God’s writings on their hearts, are not without connection to the whole community of God’s people.

“Saints cannot exist without a community, as they require, like all of us, nurturance by a people who, while often unfaithful, preserve the habits necessary to learn the story of God.” ― Stanley Hauerwas

We cannot exist without each other for we are all a part of the continuing story of God.

As we practice the faith together, through our experiences of joy and love, loss and sorrow – we learn to read that which God has written on our hearts. This, in turn, can nurture the desire for us to be active in the way of the new covenant.

As followers of Jesus reconciliation is our work of the new covenant. For that was the ministry of Jesus.

Our work in the community together is for many people the presence of Jesus Christ in the world.

What is it about Kippax that makes you excited or energised? Is there a story that illustrates this?

I have found a place here at Kippax… because people have been living as agents of reconciliation. I have experienced and seen this in many different ways over the last 30 years. There are plenty of examples to demonstrate this – but I don’t think I need to add anymore on this.

What would I like this community of people that gathers at Kippax to be like in 5-10 years?

Like the hawkers in Chang Mai told me as they tried to sell me rip-off t-shirts: “Same, same, but different”.

Different. But, only in as much that our context will have changed. And we will have responded to the changes around us as the people of God.

Whatever the future holds I would like to see us to have maintained a sense of who we are. I would like to see us have clarity of mind and a sensitivity to hear the prompting of the Spirit.

For this to be the case we ought to continue the practices from our heritage in reading the Bible, praying together, gathering for worship – and walking the way of Jesus – loving the wider community into reconciliation and wholeness.

Of course we do depend on some notable unsettling and disruptive graffiti that God has written on our hearts.

 

Sue Gore Phillips

What is home?

This may sound an odd question perhaps but please indulge me.

For a while I thought Home was the house in which my family lived – except that it needed a coat of paint, a new fence, a kitchen rebuild, a bigger chicken run, a bathroom reno, a Vegetable Garden, Ducted heating and perhaps a few fruit trees to make it perfect.

I moved a lot – in fact there were a number of Real Estate Agents that recognized me and called me by name.  I have been the proud owner of 5 houses.  Each one needed work and in every case my family and I rolled up our sleeves and made improvements large and small before my love of real estate and my search for the Perfect Home had us moving on to the next house – Our next Home.

You are probably thinking that I am extremely difficult to please or perhaps even focused on material gains more than I should but I have learned a lot from this search

2 years ago my family moved down to Bendigo and I was lucky enough to find a fabulous house – 4 Bedrooms, Study, 2 Living areas, 2 bathrooms, Heating, Cooling and ½ an acre of land on which to raise chickens and run the dogs.  But it still wasn’t perfect.

I now know what Home is –

Home  by EDGAR ALBERT GUEST

It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ’preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.
 Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ‘em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumbmarks on the door.

 

Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ’come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes’ t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.

 

Home is where you are safe, you are loved, you are forgiven and you will find understanding, guidance and support.

Once we worked this out we came home.

Now I wont promise that I wont buy another house and make improvements to it to make it more comfortable but I now know that I am where I am supposed to be.

I stand within the walls of a place where I am loved and forgiven.  I know that I am safe here and that there are a great many members of my family to whom I can turn for Understanding, Support and guidance.

Kippax Uniting Church is part of my home.  It is where I belong.

If I had to dream a future for us all it would be that Kippax would continue to grown and flourish and that we would become better and better known for providing a safe place to go, a place where you need not ask for forgiveness – as it is already yours, a place where anyone can turn for support, understanding and guidance

A Home for all.
That is my wish for the future of my Home.

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