Parish Connections, December 2017/January 2018


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Newsletter of St James' Anglican Church, King Street, Sydney, Australia

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CPAORNISNHECTIONS december 2017/january 2018 Benozzo Gozzoli – Madonna and Child (detail) ( What do a widow, a prostitute, an alien and a voluptuous bather have to do with Christmas? The Rev’d Canon Dr colleen o'reilly Someone asked me once, “Why did Jesus die?” I answered that it was because he had been born. I was not trying to be funny or ridicule the questioner. After all, the reason we all die is that we are born into a world where all living things have a finite amount of time before they cease to be alive. I quickly realised the person was asking me about the meaning of Jesus’ death, a different and much more complex question to answer. At Christmas time, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, an event that continues to draw people to church in significant numbers. There is still an attractive grandeur and continued overleaf


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CHRISTMAS continued solemnity in a traditional Christmas service of the kind St James’ offers people. But they flock to little weatherboard country churches, as well as to city cathedrals, or sing carols by candlelight in the local park, even before the summer sun has set. They come, perhaps just this once in the year, to sing the familiar carols, hear the familiar stories of shepherds and wise men, and smile upon the infant whose arrival is both comforting and puzzling. After all, who is the child said to be conceived without a human father, announced to shepherds by an angel accompanied by the heavenly host, sought out by astrologers willing to travel from the east to find him, and said to be the Word of God made human flesh, full of the glory of God as an only son is the glory of his father? So, where is the meaning of Christmas to be found? Is it found in the stories of extraordinary events associated with Jesus’ birth, in the stories and teachings of his adult life, in his dying and being found raised to transformed life, his gift of presence even in his physical absence, or in all of this and more? Regular worshippers will know that over each liturgical year, the purpose and meaning of Jesus’ birth unfolds as the seasons move through the overarching story, as told in turn by the gospel writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke. And sitting behind or above is the grand prologue of John’s gospel giving a perspective from beyond human time: ‘In the beginning…’ Try as preachers might, the Christmas story makes little sense in today’s world. Yet it is transformative of our world because it is the story of God’s coming into our world to communicate with us in a language we can understand, if we just open our hearts and minds to the humanity we share with Jesus. The meaning of Christmas is found in taking the birth stories seriously as the stories of people who really lived, and who, like us, did not at first understand what God was doing in and through their lives. Take the four women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1–17). None of them is an ancestor respectable people would own up to, although we all know there are so-called ‘black sheep’ even in the best families: Tamar, a childless widow, waited and waited for the promise of a new husband from among the brothers of her dead one. Eventually she tricked her father-in-law into getting her pregnant by posing as a prostitute. You can read more about her in Genesis 38:1–30. Rahab was a prostitute who hid Joshua’s spies when they came to Jericho prior to taking the city by siege. Her story is in the book of Joshua, Chapter 2. Having come to believe in Israel’s God, Rahab acted against her community, saved her own life, and aided the Israelites to enter the land promised to them forty years earlier when they left Egypt. The third woman, Ruth, has been considered good enough to include in stories taught to children. A childless widow and a foreigner, she goes with her also-widowed mother-in-law Naomi to live in Israel. There she marries Naomi’s kinsman Boaz, becoming the Gentile grandmother of the great King David. The Book of Ruth tells her story in four chapters. The fourth woman in Jesus’ family tree is Bathsheba, famous for bathing in sight of King David who, in turn, arranged her husband’s death on the battlefield and married her, adding to his collection of wives and concubines. The child conceived before the marriage died, but the second son, Solomon, became the wisest king Israel has known. Read all about this in 2 Samuel 11:1–12:25. Since Jesus’ family tree includes Jews and Gentiles, women and men, Matthew wants his readers to know this child, Jesus, has come for all people, the so-called ‘saints and sinners’ or ordinary people of everyday life. With such complex and real characters in the background is it any wonder that the stories of Mary and Joseph are also stories of real people? Both live way beyond cultural and personal expectations to accept that God’s purposes are taking place through them, and they act in that trust. Before the child is born, Joseph is told in a dream that his name, Emmanuel, means ‘God is with us’. When the child is born, his mother, Mary ponders in her heart all that she is part of, and what is said about her son, and enters into the mystery of his existence, just as we still do today. John’s gospel conveys the grandeur of Jesus’ becoming human for us and like us. Read John 1:1-14, and let the extraordinary assertion that God’s Word was alive and active before ever human ear took shape, or human mouth spoke, take you to new wonder that our humanity can bear such divine freight. This life, given human shape in the frail flesh of a newborn baby, is the divine life that fills the universe, as light fills darkness. This is the Christmas story, not the mere fact of being born, but the unique character of PAGE 2 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS December 2017/January 2018


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CHRISTMAS continued the newborn child in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, as the apostle Paul will later write to the Colossian Christians (Colossians 1:19). This story means that if we would know God, we must know our own humanity and the humanity we share with others as the means of encounter with the divine. Since God has chosen to communicate through one unique human life, we dare not discount our own life, or others’ lives, as expressions of God’s life. In coming among us as a baby—truly human and truly divine, living our common life, sharing in the ordinary joys and sorrows of family and community, vulnerable to all that is destructive in human behaviour yet not once imitating our selfish and wilful desires—Jesus’ life transforms human life from the inside out. When we speak of Jesus’ life, we are referring to his life in its entirety. This encompasses his earthly life, including his death, full of trust in God even in the face of human cruelty and God’s seeming abandonment, and his resurrection by God to a new and transformed life. The wooden feeding trough where the newborn was put to sleep prefigures the wooden cross on which he closed his eyes for the last time. Both are key to the Christmas story despite our best efforts to keep the latter out of sight. A few years ago, we had a run of extremely hot days in Melbourne, so hot that even the bluestone interior of St George’s in Malvern heated up. The tall candles in the Lady Chapel wilted in the relentless heatwave. I should have removed them and laid them flat, as parishes do in consistently hot places. Of course, bent over like Christmas candy canes, the candles are now useless. I have kept them and think about them from time to time as object lessons in the mystery of Jesus’ birth, called the Incarnation. In other words, he became as we are, that we might become as he is. The candles can only be straightened out and made fit for their original purpose if heat is gently and very, very carefully applied to the bends in them. The very same thing that has made them unfit for purpose, heat, is the very same thing that can restore them. God communicated through all kinds of people from the beginnings of human history, and managed to be understood enough by a particular people chosen for that purpose, so that the universal nature of God’s purposes and love for humanity could be glimpsed. But the Christian faith makes the bold assertion that, in the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem among those particular people, God’s purposes and love for all humanity is given embodied and irrevocable expression through one life, the life of Jesus Emmanuel, so that every life can become filled with God’s grace and truth. Christmas celebrations might be replete with familiar carols and customs, but to really engage with Christmas is to enter the unfamiliar work of the Word becoming flesh in us, and among us, so that the glory of God might yet be seen in the humanity we share with Jesus, born to Mary, that first Christmas. The Rev’d Canon Dr Colleen O’Reilly is Vicar of St George’s Anglican Church, Malvern, Victoria. advenT & ChriSTmaS ServiCeS 2017 Sunday 3 December 7:30pm Advent Carols Service Sunday 10 December 4:00pm Advent Cantata Service (new work by Dan Walker) Sunday 17 December 9:00am Sung Eucharist with Children’s Pageant 7:30pm Nine Lessons and Carols St James’ Church, 173 King Street, Sydney Wednesday 20 December 1:15pm Lunchtime Lessons and Carols 6:30pm Candlelight Carol Service Thursday 21 December 6:30pm Candlelight Carol Service ChriSTmaS EvE: Sunday 24 December 6:00pm Christingle (Children’s Service) 10:30pm Night Eucharist of the Nativity ChriSTmaS Day: monday 25 December 7:45am Eucharist of the Nativity 10:00am Choral Eucharist of the Nativity T: (02) 8227 1300 December 2017/January 2018 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 3


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rev’d andrew sempell Being, Becoming and I commenced my last article with a question about what the church is meant to ‘be’, especially with respect to its reflecting or standing against society. On investigation, it emerged that the early church was a movement that had diversity in organisation and practice; unique on the one hand, but with a mixture of influences from Judaism, Greek philosophy, Greco-Roman paganism, and ‘mystery’ religions on the other. It did not have a singular form, nor was there an ideal structure upon which each community was based; that emerged later. When looking at the activity of God’s people, what does seem to be present in both the Old and New Testaments is a three-way tension between the ministries of prophecy (including a concern for justice, honesty and faithfulness), priesthood (with a focus on worship, compassion and teaching), and oversight (being the leadership and ordering of the community). It is suggested that all three need to be present for the body of believers to function well, but problems arise when one function dominates the others. A challenge then, is to look at how these three features of church can be nurtured and encouraged in a balanced way. Diversity within the church resonates with St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, in which he wrote of the church as ‘one body with many members’ (1 Corinthians 12: 12-31). It also sits comfortably within the ‘mixed economy’ model of church presented by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, (‘Making the mixed economy work’ - 6 May 2011). Diversity is good for the church because it allows many people to use their gifts and encourages more people to be part of it. In this article, I look further at the organisation, practices and beliefs of the church; including its ideology, mission and purpose as a sacred, mystical and transformational community. An important matter here is the question of the extent to which the church might be a visible sign of God’s grace to humanity; which is to say theologically, a sacramental presence in the world. The Church – ‘being’ or ‘doing’? Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being and existence. It features in theology, especially with respect to the study of the nature of God, humanity and the church. Next to ontology is the matter of function, or what an entity is meant to ‘do’. For example, there is a theological distinction between the ‘immanent’ Trinity (concerning who God is—as Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and the ‘economic’ Trinity (what God does — relating to the world through Christ and the Holy Spirit). One definition describes ‘essence’ and the other ‘activity’. The ontological and functional perspectives also apply to the church, and have an impact on the understanding of its mission. These perspectives often lead to disagreement, as some argue that the church is meant to BE something and others that it is meant to DO something. Once again, the answer is a little bit of both—the church is meant to BE and DO—one cannot exist without the other. This is reflected in the St James’ Church Mission Statement: ‘…to be a transformational community built on the love of God and worked out in the ministries of word, sacrament and incarnation’. Another example of church ‘being Photo: Christopher Shain and doing’ is that we understand ontologically that the church is meant to be prayerful (that is, in touch with God), but functionally it is meant to be active in the pursuit of those things about which it prays. In other words, we should not pray for the poor if we are not going to be generous, we should not pray for peace if we are not going to condemn conflict and violence, we should not pray for refugees if we are not going to show hospitality to them, and so on. We should therefore not claim to be the church if we are not going to be a means of bringing God’s grace into the lives of others. Ideology, Theology and Politics The concept of ideology is a modern one that grew out of the French Revolution, although its features existed long before then. It refers to an ordered set of beliefs, myths, narratives and ideas that shape the behaviour of individuals and societies. In this respect, it is a narrower concept than ontology and tends to have a political, social or organisational emphasis. Some examples are secular-liberalism, PAGE 4 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS December 2017/January 2018


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Behaving as Church social-democracy, theocracy, monarchy, meritocracy, consumer capitalism, national socialism, communism, and so on and so forth. Social movements and institutions will tend to have some sort of ideology to provide group cohesion, as well as practical direction and motivation for their members. In this respect, theology is a subset of ideology but is focussed on God rather than humanity. Of course, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference. Recent political debates about same-sex marriage, the treatment of refugees, immigration, and multiculturalism, have included commentary from religious groups on both sides of the argument, which in a democracy is expected. Sometimes the views, while attempting to be ‘theological’, however appear to be driven more by political ideology than doctrinal principles. Indeed, in the modern world, churches have sometimes attached themselves to certain political agendas to such a degree that they have become subsets of the politics and indistinguishable from it. This has been the case regarding alignment of right-wing religious groups in the United States of America with the right to bear arms, and it was also the case of the Roman Catholic Church’s connection with the Democratic Labour Party in Australia during the 1950s and 60s. There should be nothing surprising in any of this—theological agendas and religious engagement with society will tend to have organised political outlets. What is disingenuous, however, is the claim by ideological groups and political parties to be the ‘proper’ expression of a faith group. This is the problem of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), among others. Despite its name, the ACL is merely a rightwing political lobby group that only represents its members and is not structurally connected with the churches nor representative of them. Media commentary, however, might cause us to think otherwise! A question that therefore arises in these circumstances centres on the concern about what might be the dominant agenda: the politics or the gospel, and which informs the other? The leaders of the church need to understand the influence that political ideology has upon it, and avoid the temptation of aligning their churches to particular ideological positions as a means of gaining influence within a government at the expense of being a prophetic voice in society. During the eighteenth century, the established Church of England was so enmeshed with the business of government that it became a moribund sub-set of it. This changed when progressive social reformers such as William Wilberforce, and religious reformers such as John Wesley spoke prophetically. While the desire to engage in the ordering of the community is accepted, it is nevertheless important for the church to distinguish between those things that are predominantly secular in nature, those things that have to do with the ordering of the life of the church, and finally those things that are about the proclamation of the gospel. This is partly the position of the liberal-democratic concept of the separation of church and state, where the church does not interfere with the ordering of the state and the state does not interfere with the ordering of the church. Yet, each need to engage with the other for the mutual benefit of society. ‘The Medium is the Message’ Another important aspect of being and behaving as church is the need to communicate with the surrounding community. While the gospel message may be consistent, nevertheless the language, concepts and medium for communication will change over time. The printing press (a new-fangled mechanical invention in its day) for example, became one of the most powerful instruments for the spread and influence of the European Reformation. Digital technology is doing the same today by allowing people to communicate en masse while bypassing the hegemony of media operators. Islamic fundamentalists have been lethal in this way. ‘The medium is the message’ wrote Canadian Marshall McLuhan in 1964 in his criticism of popular culture and its media-driven obsession with material things and technology. McLuhan was concerned with the blindness of Western society to how it is shaped by the things that people possess and use in their daily lives. He was especially concerned that these things can cause people to disengage with real relationships. McLuhan’s concern focussed on how we choose to live our lives through the things that consume our time and energy, and that become expressions or extensions of who we are. This can lead to an ‘unreality’ when it is over-extended, bringing disorientation and dysfunction, he argued. For example, television can be a healthy form of communication through which we become aware of the wider world, but it also has the potential to dominate us to the extent that we only experience the world through the television. Real communication then ceases to continued overleaf December 2017/January 2018 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 5


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Being, Becoming and Behaving as Church continued exist. So called ‘reality TV’ is a good example of this, as it bears little resemblance to reality. Today, the internet and social media are even more powerful agents in this regard. The church can run into similar problems. It can so focus on the activities and ideas of ‘being church’ that it ceases to be an effective and dynamic ‘sacred community’ giving of itself for the benefit of others. The image that many people have of the church is one that has the features of institution, hierarchy and dogma— the tat, trappings and tradition side of things. This, for many is ‘the message’. But God doesn’t call us to be an institution, but rather to be a faith community or ‘communion’ that is actively engaged in developing relationships between each other and God. Nevertheless, the church does need structure, tradition and belief, principally for the purposes of providing corporate memory, giving shape to its beliefs, and facilitating its ongoing mission. A Sacred, Mystical, Transformational Community In this short journey of exploration on the nature of the church we have looked at how it is called both to ‘be’ the presence of God and ‘do’ the things of God in the world. A description of the church is that it is called to be a sacred, mystical and transformational community. That means it is set apart and empowered to bring an experience of God’s love to the lives of people in the world, so that they may be changed and drawn into a closer relationship with God themselves. Functionally, the church is called to be a bringer of God’s grace into the community. Moreover, it is a ‘conduit’ for God’s grace rather than a ‘possessor’ of it. As Martin Luther argued, if the Church actually had a storehouse of grace then it should, in the spirit of Christ, give it away rather than sell it (which was happening through the sale of indulgences). It is the same today; if God’s grace is present in the church then it should be freely giving it away by being a blessing to the community rather than a curse. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case, and recently the church has too often turned to special pleading to protect its interests; be it a desire for tolerance of its peculiar beliefs such as ‘male headship’ or ‘creationism’, or exemptions from discrimination laws so that they have no impact on its religious practices. In this way, the church presents itself as an institution that wants to receive grace from the community rather than give it—indeed, a matter of law over grace. It is where we have ended up in the matter of same-sex marriage. But it doesn’t have to stay this way, there can still be good news. Somehow, we need to rediscover the transcendence, mystery and universality of God on the one hand, and also experience the God whom we came to understand was present in Jesus and continues to be present in his followers today on the other. This is the God who is not bound by the ecclesiological and theological constructs that we create, but rather is present in and transforming of the world in which we live. It is the God of Christmas, who arrives in vulnerability, engages through love, and brings hope in the darkness of life. To achieve this, there is a need for diversity, an acceptance that we do not ‘know it all’, and a desire to give of ourselves in the service of others, rather than demand that the world conform to us and meet our needs. The Rev’d Andrew Sempell is the Rector of St James’. advertising Have you ever considered advertising your business in Parish Connections? Please phone 8227 1301 or email for advertising design criteria, quotes and copy deadlines. next edition The next edition of Parish Connections will be published on Friday 2 February. Deadlines (advertising and editorial): Monday 22 January. Please phone 8227 1301 or email PAGE 6 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS December 2017/January 2018


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two books The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt Christmas; the themes are exhausted. Yet there is always room on the heart for another snowflake to reveal a pattern. Love knocks with such frosted fingers. I look out. In the shadow of so vast a God I shiver, unable to detect the child for the whiteness. R. S. Thomas from Blind Noel, in No Truce with the Furies (1995). ‘There is always room on the heart for another snowflake to reveal a pattern…’ Deeply embedded within the tradition of our faith is the idea that the revelation of the Divine is recorded in two books, and that we do our best theology when the two books are read together. The two books are the Bible and the Book of Nature, or the Book of Creation. John Scotus Eriugena, a ninth century Irish theologian, captured this idea most succinctly by describing the ‘two books’ as two theophanies—two manifestations of God that humans can comprehend. One theophany, he said, was mediated through the use of words, the second through physical objects. But the idea of the two books dates back to the Church Mothers and Fathers. Augustine, in his Expositions on the Psalms wrote, ‘It is the divine page that you must listen to; it is the book of the universe that you must observe. The pages of Scripture can only be read by those who know how to read and write, while everyone, even the illiterate, can read the book of the universe.’ And in a sermon he said, “Some people in order to discover God, read a book. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above and below, note, read. God whom you want to discover, did not make the letters with ink; he put in front of your eyes the very things that he made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?” Reading the two books together can generate a creative tension. The tension arises when the two books seem to be at odds with one another. Examples of this include the dispute between Galileo and the Inquisition over the relative motion of the Sun and the Earth, the Creation-Evolution debate and, in our own time, the debates about gender, sexuality, the shape of marriage and the submission of wives to husbands. The tension becomes creative when we acknowledge that our reading of the two differs, and then strive to resolve the conflict by finding a way to read the two so that they sing with one voice. As a result of the tension set up by the conflicting Creation-Evolution readings of the two books, for example, many of us discovered an evolutionary God and came to a fresh, awe-filled, understanding of what it means to acknowledge God as the creator. The use of the two books, and the embracing of the creative tension that can arise as a result of reading two instead of just one, introduces a system of checks and balances into the way we read God. It can also save us from hubris, as we find ourselves searching for what God has in mind rather than assuming that we already know it in a definitive way. This can help us to avoid being ridiculous and ensures that we are not easily dismissed as narrow-minded or irrelevant. Acknowledging that there are two books also serves to remind us that the Word of God is Jesus, the incarnate Word, not the written word. Each of the two books reveals the ministry of the incarnate Word in its own way. Having the two can protect us from the form of idolatry known as bibliolatry. I am always troubled by the way the word Holy is used about the Bible. The creative tension created by having two reference points can alert us to potential misreadings of one or other of the books. Had such a method been in use by the Church authorities when Galileo was being tried, they might have come out of the interaction looking less foolish. The gospel is not a fairy tale and we do well to avoid any reading that suggests otherwise. We do not want to be grouped with the antivaxxers and the flat-earthers. In a letter to Benedetto Castelli, Galileo identified the problem associated with having just one book. ‘It seems to me’, he wrote, ‘that it was well said by Madama Serenissima, and insisted on by your reverence, that the Holy Scripture cannot err, and that the decrees therein contained are absolutely true and inviolable. But I should have in your place added that, though Scripture cannot err, its expounders and interpreters continued overleaf December 2017/January 2018 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 7


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two books continued are liable to err in many ways; and one error in particular would be most grave and most frequent, if we always stopped short at the literal signification of the words.’ From the point of view of my own faith journey, had the art of reading the two books together been part of the Christian repertoire when I was a teenage seeker, then the Creation/ Evolution debate, that made it so difficult for me as a young scientist to enter the life of faith, might not have been the unnecessary distraction it proved to be. Imagine, to bring this way of honouring God in the world home to our current church life, the rich conversations that we could be having about gender, sexuality and the future of marriage. The second book, which indeed was the first, has much to teach about how our biology affects our identity. And the unfolding of human community, the record of which is being laid down in that book in our day, might have something to say about submission in marriage being an expression of culture rather than an expression of how we are ordered. The interaction of the two books ultimately prevents the themes of Christmas from being exhausted. God is with us in the process of our becoming, and in our developing understanding. The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt is Dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane Editorial policy We aim to publish a wide range of views and opinions in this magazine. Publication should therefore not be read as St James’, the Rector, Parish Council, staff or parishioners necessarily endorsing or approving any particular view or opinion. Counselling @ St James’ St James’ Church offers a socially inclusive and non-faith based professional counselling service as part of its outreach ministry to the city. Our professional counsellors/psychotherapists/coaches are available to assist individuals, couples and family members on a wide range of issues. Appointment flexibility is offered to accommodate work schedules. The service is provided in rooms in the lower level of St James’ Church, located in the heart of the city. To make an appointment, or for further details, please visit www. or telephone 8227 1300. ORCHESTRAL MASSES 2018 The Choir and Orchestra of St James’ will again provide sublime musical settings for three special services in early 2018. Note the dates in your diary now so you don’t miss out! Each service begins at 10:00am. Sunday 14 January Francisco Valls Missa Scala Aretina Sunday 21 January Peteris Vasks Missa Sunday 28 January Haydn Missa Sancti Bernardi von Offida (‘Heiligmesse’) PAGE 8 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS December 2017/January 2018


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Camino to Santiago julie sheppard A group organised by the Sydney College of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd walked on a Camino from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela in Spain from 20–29 September. The ten pilgrims included four members of the parish of St James’ King Street: Julie Sheppard, Christopher Godfrey, Kumar Rasiah and Fr Ron Henderson OGS. We asked Julie to reflect on her experiences for publication in Parish Connections. This is her response: In May, Kumar spoke to me about a planned trip to Spain to walk the last 115km of the Camino. My interest was high, and when he encouraged me to join the group bringing it to 10 people I became quite excited. I had often thought it was something I would love to do. This seemed to be possible! The distance was spread over 10 days of walking. Rather than the 24-30+km that most pilgrims cover each day, our biggest day was 15km. Luggage would be transported daily to our next destination, where we stayed in comfortable accommodation, leaving us only a light day pack to carry. Furthermore, the ‘pilgrimage’ would be shared with the company of a group of fellow Christians including Fr Ron Henderson as our Chaplain. “God, are you really gifting me with this?”, I asked one morning during my prayers. Soon I was seeing it as a ‘window of opportunity’ that I must take. Some stress involved in getting to Spain was soon forgotten with the joy of meeting up with the members of our group. From then onwards, it was an uplifting couple of weeks of immense enjoyment that will stay with me for the rest of my life! Indeed, for several days after returning home, my dreams and daytime thoughts were threaded with the atmosphere of the Camino and mental pictures of the Galician countryside: farmlands, centuries old stone houses, little chapels and churches, wide views across distance, walking tracks sheltered by the arching branches of trees, and the outdoor cafes along the way for the refreshment of ‘pilgrims’ as they take a break. Morning Prayer and Eucharist before breakfast, and after arrival at the day’s destination, Evening Prayer before dining. Important times. The first sight of Santiago in the distance on the tenth day of walking brought mixed feelings. Yes, our destination was near, but a wave of sadness washed over me as I realised it also meant that all I had been enjoying so much was coming to an end. Scaffolding for restoration work on the Cathedral hid the front of it from us, as we stood in the huge open square before it. A bit disappointing. We entered from a back or side door. We took our seats at 6:30pm for the 7:30pm Mass for which the Cathedral was packed. While waiting, I pondered the years and years of devotion expressed by many thousands who had been part of Cathedral life over the centuries, especially the builders, artisans and craftsmen, and, just momentarily, I felt a sense of God’s presence in it all. Each day was wrapped in prayer: continued overleaf December 2017/January 2018 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 9


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camino to santiago continued During the Mass I was most taken by the nun (or religious sister) with a lovely singing voice who taught us the responses 10 minutes before the Mass commenced, and continued during the Mass to competently direct proceedings from behind, drawing us all in with the movements of her hands, and yet at the same time remaining unobtrusive. A work of art! Have I learnt anything about pilgrimage? It was certainly more than a holiday. Was it a spiritual experience? All I can say is that it was a time filled with enjoyment and delight: in God’s creation and the capacities of human endeavour; in the company of members of our group; in the pleasures of walking, sometimes with another, and sometimes by myself; and in the camaraderie of encounters on the way with other ‘pilgrims’ of various nationalities, ages, and capacities. Maybe ‘meaning’ will unfold gradually as memories continue to colour my ongoing life pilgrimage. At present, ‘my Camino’ has been more about experiencing God’s gifts to me of love, freedom, peace, joy and delight, and I overflow with gratitude for all who have contributed to this, particularly, members of our group and those at home who showed their interest and said they would pray for us. Julie Sheppard is a parishioner at St James’. Finding guidance during a difficult time is comforting. Servicing the Funeral induStry For over 50 yearS. This proudly Australian owned family operated business offers 24 hour, 7 day service in all suburbs. In your hour of need Trevor Lee, Bernadette Lee (Nee O’Hare), Darren Lee & Yvette Sheppard offer you personalised, attentive service at this difficult time. Pre-paid funerals available. Phone for a free booklet on ‘What to do at the time of Bereavement’. Contact our team on: 9746 2949 • 0411 743 334 • 115 Wellbank St, North Strathfield 2137 We have no affiliation with any other Funeral Director. That’s why people turn to us MFF MAURER FAMILY FUNERALS Maurer&Bracks 9413 1377 Offices at Chatswood & Balgowlah Three generations of family values since 1941 PAGE 10 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS December 2017/January 2018


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A HYMN FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING HARKING TO THE ANGELIC HERALDS associate professor Michael Horsburgh am Christmas is fast approaching, a fact that we know, not just because we follow the church calendar and find ourselves in Advent, but because the ubiquitous and inescapable carols have begun in shops and malls everywhere. We have unnumbered opportunities to hear ‘Hark! the herald angels sing’ in as many versions as we can imagine and many more than we can endure. Charles Wesley has a lot to answer for! His hymn has had a somewhat chequered history. It first appeared in the second edition of the Wesley brothers’ Hymns and Sacred Poems of 1739, under the title ‘Hymn for Christmas Day’. The original had ten four-line verses: If this original is compared with the version we now sing, we can see that many changes have been made. George Whitefield, the Wesley brothers’ early friend and later opponent, was first. There was no copyright in those days and publishers were free to make any changes that they desired. Whitefield published his eight-verse version, omitting verses 8 and 10, in his Collection of Hymns for Social Worship of 1758, for use for his Tabernacle Congregation in Moorfields, London. December 2017/January 2018 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 11


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harking to the angelic heralds continued The original ‘Welkin’ refers to the sky, the firmament or the heavens and, even in 1739, was somewhat archaic. His change to the first line probably saved the hymn from ultimate obscurity, but, as Andrew Gant suggests, ‘new-born King’ is less theologically accurate than ‘King of Kings’. It reduces the cosmic sense of the original to a more secular earthly event, one king among many. The last two lines of the second verse were then changed to their present form, With the angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem. in Martin Madan’s Psalms and Hymns of 1760. Madan, originally a barrister, was converted by John Wesley and took holy orders, becoming chaplain to the London Lock Hospital, an institution for the treatment of venereal diseases. He ultimately fell out of favour for advocating, in a book called Thelyphthora, or a Treatise on Female Ruin, polygamy as a solution to the many sexual sins he observed. He thought, it seems, that polygamy would absorb all the surplus women and incorporate them into families. In his Collection of Psalms and Hymns of 1775, Richard de Courcy omitted two more verses, leaving six in all. A significant change was then made in an appendix to a 1782 edition of Brady and Tate’s New Version of the Psalms of David. This appendix reorganised the hymn into three verses of eight lines each and created a chorus with the first two lines of Whitefield’s first verse. Thus, the modern form was achieved. The original verse 4 ending was changed to Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel. in Hymns Ancient and Modern of 1861. The original line, ‘Pleas’d as Man with Men t’appear’, attracted some attention because of its possible implication of heresy. The Docetic heresy appeared in the second century as an attempt to solve the problem of the incarnation. How could God become human? The proposed solution was that he didn’t, he only appeared to. Thus, the humanity of Jesus was an illusion. The name of the heresy comes from the Greek ‘to seem’ (δοκεῖν). Docetism was condemned by the Council of Nicaea in 325. The condemnation appears in the Nicene Creed in the words ‘became truly human’. There is no suggestion that Wesley adhered to this heresy but the possible implication may have prompted the editors of Hymns Ancient and Modern, ever with an eye to orthodoxy and its effects on sales, to make their change. An exception to the now customary three-verse hymn is The New English Hymnal, which still retains a fourth verse combining the original verses 7 and 8 with the suggestion that it might be omitted, which it invariably is. Thus, this hymn is now not exactly as Wesley wrote it, being possibly the most changed of all his hymns. The changes certainly ensured its continued use. Wesley was not, however, pleased with the changes made by Whitefield and Madan and the hymn disappeared from the Methodist collections for some time. The practice of altering the Wesleys’ hymns had become so common that John Wesley complained publicly: Many gentlemen have done my brother and me (though without naming us) the honour to reprint many of our Hymns. Now they are perfectly welcome so to do, provided they print them just as they are. But I desire they would not attempt to mend them; for they really are not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse. Therefore, I must beg of them one of these two favours; either to let them stand just as they are, to take them for better for worse; or to add the true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page; that we may no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men. But, by 1845 it had reappeared in the latest edition of A Collection of Hymns for the use of the People Called Methodists. The text has been parodied on many occasions. Many of us will remember this: Hark the herald angels sing “Beecham’s pills are just the thing”, Peace on earth and mercy mild, Two for adult, one for child. Beecham’s Pills were a well-known laxative manufactured in the United Kingdom between 1842 and 1998. The business provided the wealth for the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham (1879–1961). More recently, a parody has advertised the Burger King chain: Hark, I heard my best friend ring, “Let’s have lunch at Burger King.” With chicken sandwiches both spicy and mild And Kids Club meals for every child. Don’t you worry ’bout your thighs PAGE 12 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS December 2017/January 2018


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harking to the angelic heralds continued As you order extra fries. We don’t need no special sauce Cuz the Whopper is the boss. Hark, I heard my best friend ring, “Let’s have lunch at Burger King.” Perhaps in times of pollution and climate change, this version is more appropriate: Hark the Carol singers choke, from the smog and fumes and smoke. See them rub their itching eyes while soot pours from the skies. Filthy air their throats expel, gasping out The First Noel, Joyful Voices cough and hack, While fresh snow is turning black. When their final song is sung, they’ll head home with one less lung. Finally, those with a cynical view of politics might prefer this: Hark! the politicians rant, Giving their self-serving slant; Social justice, so they say, Is a pipe-dream—far away. Insurance lords are our salvation, They know what’s good for the nation. If somebody starts to think, Suddenly they are labelled ‘pink’! People, can’t you recognize That these are whopping monstrous lies? Neither the original nor the parodies would work without a memorable tune. The Wesley brothers first set the hymn to the same tune as they used for Charles’ ‘Christ the Lord is ris’n to Day’, which was first published in the same edition of Hymns and Sacred Poems. This tune appears to be ‘Easter Hymn’ from Lyra Davidica of 1708. Our present version of this tune includes Hallelujahs at the end of each line, which the original Wesley text of the ‘Easter Hymn’ did not have. Both hymns have the same 77.77 meter and could thus be sung to the same tune. A version of ‘Easter Hymn’, with the words to ‘Christ the Lord is ris’n to Day’, appears under the name, ‘Salisbury Tune’ in John Wesley’s first tune book, commonly known as The Foundery Collection, of 1742, but this version already has the Hallelujahs included. So, the identity of the original tune is somewhat uncertain. An alternative possibility is ‘Savannah’, which also appears in The Foundery Collection. This is the tune to which Wesley’s Easter hymn is set in the New English Hymnal (No. 113), although without Wesley’s first verse. It has no Hallelujahs. The hymn has been sung to many tunes over the years, including ‘Newton’s Double’ from the Oxfordshire village of Adderbury, which dates from before 1850: There can be no doubt, however, that the popularity of the hymn is due to the tune to which we now sing it. That eponymous tune by Felix Mendelssohn, (‘Mendelssohn’ in the New English Hymnal but ‘Berlin’ in some other books) was adapted in 1855 by the English organist, Williams Hayman Cummings, from the cantata Festgesang (Festive Hymn) of 1840. The Musical Times of 1897 described how Cummings did it. Mr. Cummings informs us that he eagerly procured everything that Mendelssohn composed as soon as it was published. While playing over the chorus in G he was at once struck by its adaptability to the words ‘Hark! the herald angels sing’. He copied out the parts, and the tune was sung with great enthusiasm by the congregation at Waltham Abbey. He soon afterwards began to receive so many applications for manuscript copies that he took his arrangement to Messrs. Ewer and Co., who published it in 1856. The tune’s rousing notes tempt us, usually successfully, to sing the hymn with great energy, which is what is required for the words. Perhaps you will enjoy even the shopping mall versions a little better now. Associate Professor Michael Horsburgh AM is Diocesan Reader at St James’. December 2017/January 2018 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 13


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holly raiche Mission and Outreach: Every year, one tenth of St James’ offertories are given to charitable purposes. The task of distributing St James’ ‘tithe’ falls to the Mission and Outreach Committee, comprising Penelope Burton, Robert Marriott, Michael Robinson, and Holly Raiche. With $30,000 to distribute this year, the Committee, with Parish Council approval, settled on six recipients ($5,000 each). The Committee based its allocations on the three themes of the Parish Strategic Plan 2015-2020: ŪŪ Social Justice ŪŪ Inclusion (people on the margins) ŪŪ Classically Anglican – support for Anglican activities The Committee also seeks to balance allocations between local, national and international charities. Based on those criteria, the allocations for 2017 were as follows: Social Justice ŪŪ Asylum Seekers Centre ŪŪ Support for a Syrian refugee family Inclusion (people on the margins) ŪŪ Act for Peace – Gaza ŪŪ Anglicare funding for Aboriginal community in remote WA Classically Anglican ŪŪ Continued support for training of Aboriginal people in Christian leadership ŪŪ St Laurence House programme providing living skills and support to young people at risk of homelessness Asylum Seekers Centre The Centre provides a range of services for asylum seekers needing assistance. The Centre’s assistance begins with personal case management, to assess the needs of people seeking asylum, and includes financial aid and emergency support. One of the first assessments is a free health care check, with free health care programmes provided by volunteer medical professionals, including GPs, dentists and physiotherapists. The Centre, with assistance from pro bono lawyers, provides legal advice with protection visa and other essential legal issues. Volunteers serve daily meals and provide essential groceries. The Centre also allows clients to use the Centre’s kitchen all day. Volunteer tutors help asylum seekers with the English language, and other volunteers hold afternoon classes in music, yoga, sewing, and computer skills. Finally, volunteers and staff give the asylum seekers advice, including helping to write CVs, and support work readiness, in collaboration with the Centre’s business partners. The Centre has 40 volunteer staff, and with the assistance it has received, it has been able to increase the number of people it helps support per year from just over 400 people in 2011-12 to over 2000 people in 2016. Support for all of the Centre’s activities is particularly important because the Centre does not receive Government funding. Support for a Syrian Family Early in 2017, Anglicare announced a fundraising project to support Syrian refugee families migrating from Jordan, where they are now living, to Australia. The advice from Anglicare is that each Parish/ group would need to raise about $15,000 towards accommodation and support for the families when they arrive in Australia. A special fund has been set up by St James’ to support a family, and the Mission and Outreach Committee has contributed $5,000 towards that fund. It will be between 12 and 24 months before the families start coming to Australia. Photo: Ben Littlejohn, Act for Peace PAGE 14 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS December 2017/January 2018


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St James’ Tithe Doctor and child  Photo: Ben Littlejohn, Act for Peace Act for Peace – Health Clinics in Gaza This project helps to fund health care services for vulnerable families, particularly children, in Gaza. Gaza has been under blockade for the past ten years, with access to food and medical supplies cut off, and children in particular impacted on, both physically and mentally. Act For Peace, working through the Near East Council of Churches, helps fund three primary health care services in Gaza. The clinics provide vital services including preand post-natal care for mothers and babies, nutritional support, free prescribed medicine and dental care, and dermatology services. They also provide psychosocial support for mothers and children who have suffered trauma. Aboriginal Community in West Australia This project was established in 2013 by Anglicare’s WA East Kimberley regional office based in Kununurra. With the seed funding, the Balgo community built a community garden to provide not only a source of healthy fresh food, but a strong symbol of community pride and involvement. The original garden was constructed, fenced and planted with a range of vegetables and herbs in 2013 and 2014. Fruit trees were planted adjacent to the garden. The community has been an active consumer of the produce grown, and a senior male community member is a self-appointed guardian of the community garden. He maintains the gardens, including weeding, clearing debris and watering via a mobile watering tank. Unfortunately, the original fruit trees outside of the fenced areas were stolen, but all remaining plants in the fenced area are intact and thriving, and enjoyed by the community’s children and family members. The St James’ contribution is being used by the community in three ways: ŪŪ The installation of an automatic irrigation system; ŪŪ The planting of new fruit trees; ŪŪ The extension of the existing fencing to enclose and protect the fruit trees. This will ensure that the existing garden thrives, for the health and support of the Balgo community, and that fruit is added back into the community’s healthy foods output. Aboriginal Christian Leadership Programme This will be the third year of St James’ support for the Indigenous Theological Education in Central Australia Inc (IECTA). St James’ is one of four churches involved (the others are the Lutheran, Catholic and Uniting Churches). IECTA cooperates with Nungalinya College, Darwin to offer an accredited Certificate in Christian Ministry and Theology for Aboriginal men and women in central Australia. In July, they ran a course in Biblical theology, using material that has been translated from local Aboriginal languages into English. A second course, running for three days and focusing on the Old Testament, was held in September. In the long term, ITECA plans to develop and offer accredited courses in theology. St Laurence House St James’ contributions this year go towards the St Laurence House project, STAY (Supported Transitional Accommodation for Youth). The contributions will help fund outreach youth workers under this programme, to provide case-management support through their living-skills programme for homeless youth. St Laurence House has been acknowledged by the Minister for Family and Community Services, the Hon Brad Hazzard, for the way St Laurence House works with homeless young people, using an internationally best practice approach to deal with the personal histories and complex needs of homeless youth. Holly Raiche is a Churchwarden at St James’. Health Care worker on a home visit  Photo: Ben Littlejohn, Act for Peace December 2017/January 2018 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 15



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