Friday, September 18, 2015

"Me and My House" (Reconciliation Sermon)

I recently preached on Reconciliation at a youth church in Sunbury, Victoria.

Rather than spend a lot of time pontificating on the topic, I explained it through story.

My Dad wanted to be at the service but he was in California
So I did the next best thing, I filmed it and popped it up on youtube!


The Useful Christian

The easiest way to put flesh on the bones of theology is to bring it to life in action. This is what Paul does in his letter to Philemon. He demonstrates his overall mission and message in the action of writing this short letter and in the request he makes in the letter, thus demonstrating his theology in both his personal practice and the action he expects from the recipient of the letter.

Read Philemon as a group. (ask someone with a strong compelling reading voice)
What is going on in this letter?
What is the point?
What do we know about Philemon?
What do we know about Onesimus?
What is Paul hoping for? Why?

Small Group Time

Group 1: “Letters of Recommendation”
Read 2 Corinthians 3:1-6
What is Paul saying?
How are Jesus’ people like Letters of Recommendation?
What are they recommending? To Whom?
How are they inked? (written on)
What is the difference between a cold-stone letter-of-law and this new kind of Spirit Letter?

Compare Philemon 1-7
What is it about Philemon that brings Paul such joy?
Comparing this to 2 Corinthians 3:1-6, what is Paul saying about Philemon?
Knowing what Paul is about to ask, how is this opening statement important?
Is Paul setting Philemon up? Or is he setting him free? How so?

Group 2: “Ministry of Reconciliation”
Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
What is Paul saying?
What does “being in Christ” mean? What is “being a new creation”?
What steps are present in Jesus’ reconciliation of the world to God?
How do those steps become ours? What is required of us?
What does the “Ministry of Reconciliation” look like?

Compare Philemon 8-14
How is Paul modelling the Ministry of Reconciliation?
How is Paul hoping Philemon will apply the Ministry of Reconciliation?
What is it about Onesimus that brings Paul such joy?
How has Onesimus been ‘useful’ to Paul and Philemon?
How is Onesimus ‘useful’ in applying the Ministry of Reconciliation?

Group 3: “Attitude of Christ Jesus”
Read Philippians 2:1-11
What is Paul saying?
What does it look like to have the attitude of Christ Jesus?
What are we to do in “the same way” as Jesus?
What did Jesus’ humility entail? How does this compare to ours?
What role does self-importance play in Christian life?

Compare Philemon 15-21
How is Paul demonstrating the attitude of Christ Jesus?
How is Paul expecting/hoping Philemon will show the attitude of Christ Jesus?
How is Paul a “partner in the work” with Philemon?
Why is Paul so confident of Philemon’s response/reaction?
How will Onesimus belong to both Philemon and Paul “forever”?


Ask for each group to report a summary of what they discovered particularly focusing on how the mission and message of Paul was revealed.

Review Questions:
Where do you see yourself as a Letter of Recommendation for the Kingdom of God?
Where do you see the need for the Ministry of Reconciliation in your world?
Where have you seen the Attitude of Christ Jesus recently?

Conclusion: “A Changing Spirit”

Read 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

The Spirit is changing us from our selfish Glory to His perfect Glory. In the same way that Paul challenged Philemon, we are to make visible, in our every action, the Image of God as revealed by His Son through the work of the Spirit in our lives.

While Paul does not tell Philemon to become a Letter of Recommendation for the Kingdom of God, the letter he has sent, both in printed word and action, invites Philemon to live as a representative of the new Kingdom and leave the old one behind.

While Paul does not use the word reconciliation or the phrase Ministry of Reconciliation, he demonstrates it repeatedly in this letter. First in his original treatment of Philemon, second in his prison treatment of Onesimus and third in his call to Philemon to demonstrate the Ministry of Reconciliation in his treatment of his slave, Onesimus. Overall, it is as if Paul is standing in the posture of the Cross, reaching from one person to the other, from one Kingdom to the other, making things right.

While Paul does not preach a sermon calling for Philemon to have the Attitude of Christ Jesus, he models it by being both strong and gentle, humble and purposeful, merciful and just. Paul’s attitude, like Jesus’, invites imitation.

As true letters of recommendation of Jesus to the world, we are to be making things right between people and God, people and each other and even people and themselves through the Ministry of Reconciliation. And in doing this revealing and reconciling work we are to be humble in our every word and action, revealing the attitude of Christ Jesus.

This is, in both theology and practice, the mission and message of the Apostle Paul.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Melbourne Schools Ending Bullying

Working everyday as a chaplain I get to see kids at their best and worst. Bullying is a consistent problem, primarily fueled by a lack of others-awareness.

Alongside chaplaincy, I also present a cultural awareness program for Cultural Infusion called the "Intercultural Citizenship Ambassador Program." The 8-week or 16-week ICAP program allows me to see the growth kids go through as they expand the borders of their identity from multicultural to intercultural.

And I'm noticing something. In classrooms where I teach ICAP, precursors to bullying (like interrupting, talking over the top of others, and emotional outbursts) are largely absent by the end of the program. Not because I'm making them better individuals but because they are realising (and fascinated by) the uniqueness of every other person in the room.

The primary message I repeat every week during ICAP is the difference between multicultural and intercultural. Any kid who has been through ICAP with me can tell you the difference. So what is it?

Multiculturalism is when people come from other countries and build little versions of 'home' in the new place - little China, little Italy, little England - where they can live, shop, interact and speak as if they are still in the old country.

Interculturalism is when people from various places come together for a common purpose and create a new culture to accomplish that goal as an inclusive group. I say to the kids, "Your class is a perfect example of intercultural citizenship. There are 30 of you from different cultures, religions and families and you all work together with the common goal of education."

And this is where it gets interesting. Bullying comes from the lack of a meaningful relationship.

While multiculturalism can raise awareness, it often raises preconceptions and stereotyping as well. If you see me from across the street, you don't know me but you will notice I look different, sound different and even act different than you. This can make it easy for you to make fun of me - laughing at me, imitating me, making cartoons about me. I'm only a caricature of myself in your eyes.

Interculturalism is only possible where a new culture is created. A place where nobody fits better than anyone else. Everyone is treated equally. And to solidify the culture, a shared purpose is required. This is what happens in a classroom. One school I just finished with had 27 different cultures represented in the combined year 5 class I was working with. That is intercultural citizenship!

Melbourne is a multicultural hotbed. There are people from all around the world who, within the past 3 or 4 generations, have made this their home. Some refugees are brand new. And our schools are the answer to why Australia is a country with an excellent future. The schools are intentionally taking the multicultural population of Melbourne and creating new cultures of intercultural kids one classroom at a time. Some of these students are now graduating and becoming the worlds workforce.

Perhaps Australia can lead the way in recreating workplaces as they have in classrooms. Working together with a common purpose bridges divides and has to potential to expunge bullying from our global mindset.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Mud Puddle

Life is like a “choose your own adventure” book. At the end of each event you get to choose where the story goes next.

Elly and Jane got to school early and were the only two kids on the playground. Elly slipped and fell in a mud puddle. Jane ran over, jumped in the puddle, laughed and said, “You look better now than before!” Then she ran away laughing.

Option 1: As Elly was brushing herself off, the bus arrived. Rose, May and Sarah asked Elly what had happened. Elly told them about Jane. If you want to see what happens next, turn to page 12.

Option 2: Elly stood up and brushed herself off. She saw the bus pulling in and went to meet her friends. Rose, May and Sarah said, “Elly, you’re covered in mud! What happened?” Elly said she fell in a puddle and needed to go to the bathroom to clean up. Her friends said they would come with her. If you want to see what happens next, turn to page 26.


Page 12 – Rose, May and Sarah were angry. They told Elly some things that Jane had done to them in the past. They all decided that it was time for Jane to pay for her bullying. They came up with a plan to embarrass Jane…


Page 26 – At recess, Elly found Jane in a corner of the playground. Elly explained how sad it made her that Jane didn’t help her up when she fell down. Elly said, “Jane, the things you said and did made me sad. I want you to be my friend.” Jane looked at the ground and said, “Yeah. I’m sorry, Elly. I did the wrong thing.” The two returned to the playground together…


We all can write the next part of both stories because we’ve seen them. One leads to healthy friendships, the other leads to more hateful words and actions that go on and on. The best option is to talk to the person who hurt us, tell them what hurt and that we want to be their friend. It’s not always the easiest way, but it is the best way.

As kids, you also have teachers, parents and chaplains to help. You can ask a grown up what you should do and they will help you turn to page 26!

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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Living Word

A Compassionate Theology: Growing in Christ

The Bible demonstrates the full spectrum of life with and without God. It goes through the journey of sinners and saints and shows they are often the same people at different stages of their lives.

If the Bible were being written today, your story would be within its pages. In your past, God was abused in the way He was misrepresented to you and today He is seeking to be known by you in His true, loving and compassionate nature. 

God has been part of your life when it was roses and when it was thorns. He loves you, and His Book is all about you and people just like you. God’s living Word, from cover to cover and continuing in us, is the story of people glimpsing and grasping at God. People just like you and me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cross-Cultural Compassion

(what’s a startwarmer?)
Invite participants: Tell of a time when you were with someone who didn’t believe in God, and yet you saw God through them.

What do you think of the phrase “Cross-Cultural Compassion”? How is it similar to “Cross-Cultural Missions”?

Discussion Time: 
In small groups (2-4) discuss the Participant Discussion Guide questions.

Participants Discussion Guides:

Group 1: Cross Cultural Compassion
John 4:4–30
What does this story teach you about Cross-Cultural Compassion?
What does this story tell you about true faith in Jesus?
What does this story teach you about God’s plan?
In what ways does this story challenge you?
Prepare a short retelling of the story.

Group 2: Cross Cultural Compassion
Matt. 8:5–13
What does this story teach you about Cross-Cultural Compassion?
What does this story tell you about true faith in Jesus?
What does this story teach you about God’s plan?
In what ways does this story challenge you?
Prepare a short retelling of the story.

Group 3: Cross Cultural Compassion
Mark 5:1–20
What does this story teach you about Cross-Cultural Compassion?
What does this story tell you about true faith in Jesus?
What does this story teach you about God’s plan?
In what ways does this story challenge you?
Prepare a short retelling of the story.

Group 4: Cross Cultural Compassion
Matt. 15:21–28
What does this story teach you about Cross-Cultural Compassion?
What does this story tell you about true faith in Jesus?
What does this story teach you about God’s plan?
In what ways does this story challenge you?
Prepare a short retelling of the story.

Group 5: Cross Cultural Compassion
Luke 17:11–19
What does this story teach you about Cross-Cultural Compassion?
What does this story tell you about true faith in Jesus?
What does this story teach you about God’s plan?
In what ways does this story challenge you?
Prepare a short retelling of the story.

Review and Reply
Have each group report back, tell their story and answer the questions succinctly.

Key Question: Who is with Jesus?

Read John 12:20–32 aloud to the group.

What does this story teach you about Cross-Cultural Compassion?

  • Jesus’ answer to the “Greeks want to be with you” question was: 
  • “If they know me as sacrifice and Saviour and are willing to sacrifice themselves to tell the world of God’s Love (like I have) then they are already with me.”

What does this story tell you about true faith in Jesus?

  • Those who are willing to suffer for the greater good of others are faithful to Jesus’ mission.

What does this story teach you about God’s plan?

  • God’s good and perfect goal is to see His name glorified. In this humanity is made whole. It was glorified in the incarnation and teaching of Jesus – then again in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In compassion for us, God is willing to put Himself through the agony of death. Now He calls us to the world of Cross-Cultural Compassion: incarnational, teaching, dying to self and resurrecting anew for the people and the Earth which He created and recreates daily.

In what ways does this story challenge you?

  • I want the easy way out far too often. Jesus faced death for us to save us. Now he asks us to live for Him and His message of reconciliation. This goal of divine compassion is to see God’s name glorified in all we say and do.

Ask for reflections from the group.

Blessing: May you live your life to the Glory of God’s Name!

Close in prayer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Little Things

When Sully left home the morning of January 15, 2009 he had no idea he would be a hero by the end of the day. To him, as a pilot flying from one US city to another, he was just going to another day at work.

But when a flock of geese flew into the engines – both engines – of his Airbus A320, there was no choice but to crash land. He could choose where, but the plane was coming down – and quickly. Would he choose an airport a few miles away? No, too far. Would he choose the freeway and hope not to hit too many cars? No, too dangerous.

Sully steered the giant plane toward the Hudson River and planned his descent. The damaged engines would need to get the plane to the right speed and then be turned off. Then he would need to glide it in, powerless, and hit the water just right so the plane didn’t flip end over end or tear apart wing from wing. He needed to skim the plane across the river’s surface like a boy skipping a rock on a pond.

But before that, he had to bank into a long left turn lining up the river in the direction it was flowing, the auto pilot had to be turned off, the plane had to be levelled perfectly, the nose lifted just right, the vents and valves had to be sealed to stop water coming in – all with only emergency generator power and battery operated systems.

As a pilot and gliding instructor, Sully flew planes and taught others to do so every day. But today, there was no room for even the slightest mistake.

A few tense minutes later, Sully slid down the emergency slide to join the crew and passengers in one of the life rafts. The landing went perfectly, everyone survived –with an amazing story to tell.

Could you have done that? Yes, if you had the thousands and thousands of hours of training, practice and experience – and the calm confidence those hours brought Sully.

The greatest things in life are accomplished through the virtue and character developed by little things done over and over when they don’t seem to matter. One day, piled on top of each other, those little things create a mountain of potential that can do the impossible!

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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Saying Sorry

I can’t remember the conversation beforehand but I do remember that I was in trouble—lots of trouble. I had said something insensitive and was not doing well formulating an apology.

My wife and I laid side by side, sharing the same darkness and the same doona, in silence. I knew it was my turn to say something. Something helpful.

What should I say?

Thoughts were racing through my mind. I remember feeling very disappointed in myself for mistreating my wife. I felt like a bad person.

My words so far had been very hurtful. As had my attempt at an apology thus far. I hadn’t meant to say what I had said and I was sorry. But I couldn’t figure out the best way to say that.

Finally I decided to simply say, “I’m sorry.” But as I spoke, I thought, sometimes I am such a useless person. So, my planned words and my unplanned thought combined to fill the dark void with, “I’m a sorry person.”

Great, I thought, I’ve done it again. That didn’t help at all.

Then I heard something unexpected from the other side of the bed. It started as a sniffle, turned into a giggle and then became convulsions of laughter. When my wife was finally able to catch her breath, she said, “Truer words have never been spoken.” Then she went back into hysterics and I joined her in tears of laughter and relief.

There is something very healing about a good laugh. It has the power to turn bitter tears into sweet ones. The tissue box was still being used but for a very different reason.

My wife and I now have a new technique for disarming potential setbacks in our relationship that involve me blurting and her hurting. Upon hearing me say something bordering on insensitive she says, “You know, you’re a sorry person.” And I gingerly step across my freshly dropped eggshells, wrap my arms around her and say, “Yes. More sorry than I can say. I love you.”

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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Little Happy

 When I was a boy, I had a little dog named Happy. She was so little, I had to sit down to pat her.

Happy loved to play games – hopping, jumping, running, licking your face kind of games. Happy waited for me at the front window every day when I came home from school. And every night, Happy slept on a pillow above my pillow. I loved Happy.

But, while I was at school Happy had a bad habit. Happy liked chasing the neighbours chickens. And sometimes, she would catch a chicken. And when that happened, the neighbour became very upset because little Happy could cause a fair bit of damage to a little chicken. And she did, too often.

So, my mum helped me put an advertisement in the local paper telling everyone that Happy needed a home with someone who had lots of love to give to a little dog and who didn’t have chickens. A few days later a big motorhome drove into our driveway and an elderly couple came to the door and asked if they could meet Happy. Of course, they loved her. And Happy loved them, too. They told me they were traveling around America and would give Happy lots of love and many wonderful experiences.

I cried as I watched little Happy leave in that big motorhome. I loved her and didn’t want to lose her. But, I knew things would be better for her if she wasn’t near chickens and was with people who could spend all day with her.

A few weeks later, I got a postcard from Happy! On the front of the card was a picture of Happy somewhere in America and on the back was a letter all about what Happy had been doing and seeing. Every few weeks, I got another postcard and another story about Happy. She was having fun, getting lots of love and not killing chickens. Which, I knew was for the best. And I was happy for Happy.

Learning to see the positive in a negative situation is called being resilient. And I ‘m grateful to my Mum and Dad for helping me find a good solution for me and my little dog Happy.

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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Startwarmers: Starting Great Meetings

Every good meeting starts with an interactive activity. 
Why? Because people need their focus captured so they can refocus it on the matter at hand.

But, why have a good meeting when you can have a great one?

Those first moments need not be wasted playing games or doing embarrassing activities. 
Instead, you can use those first few minutes to strengthen your group.
Rather than starting with an 'icebreaker' start with a 'heartwarmer'. 

Let's call them "startwarmers"

Here's what I mean...

Community comes through shared story. 
We are created by the communities in which we participate. Therefore, to strengthen a community the people in that community need to share their stories. 

To get to know someone, you need to learn about their communities - from big to small: National, religious, sport/clubs, workplace, extended family, immediate family, partner, internal (me, myself and I).

Principle: When developing a startwarmer, use a positive approach. Teaching a value by focusing on the negative reinforces the negative. Find the positive angle and promote growth by focusing on the positive value.

1. Choose what value you want to explore, and formulate a one sentence 'punchline'
2. Decide which community level (big to small list above) is best to probe for this value
3. Frame a question that would get yourself talking
4. Create or find a short intro story/joke on the theme (personal is best)

1. Tell a brief introductory story/joke introducing the 'startwarmer' question.
2. Break big group into small groups and discuss question
3. Regroup, ask for highlights from groups
4. Wrap up with your one sentence 'punchline' for the activity


Example value & questions:

Classroom: What is the most honest thing a student has said to you?

Family: What's the best thing your family has done together in the past month?

Open Community: What is the most meaningful act of compassion you've ever witnessed?

Immediate family: What is the bravest thing one of your children (or siblings) has done?

Personal: Tell a story about something silly you did that actually made things better.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Words We Use

My first dog wagged her tail a lot, ran in a bouncing sideways sort of way and loved to lick my little face. So I named her Happy.

My second dog was born with no bones in one of his legs. As a puppy, he did some pretty funny somersaults learning to run. I named him Hop-a-long.

My children’s first cat was an orange mutt of a cat who never quite learned how to use a litterbox. We named him Nugget.

The names we give our pets tell people what we think of them.
And so do the names we give each other.

And they tell us something about ourselves.

How do you tell someone that you love them? With words.
How do you tell someone that you hate them? With words.

So, how important are the words we choose?

I am the words I believe about myself.
And I believe what I hear the most.
First from others, then from myself.

Even the subtlest of words shape us.

“Why did you do that? Sometimes you are so stupid!” 
“That was stupid thing to do. That’s not like you!”

“That dress makes you look gorgeous!”
“What a dress! You are so gorgeous!”

It may not seem like much of a difference but every word leads somewhere.

What do you want your children to believe about themselves?
Then tell them with your words.

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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Power of Forgiveness

Arriving home from primary school, I ran into my mother’s bedroom, climbed onto her bed and rested my little head on her tummy. I hugged her tight and said, “Mum, I don’t want you to die.”

“Die?” my mum said, “Why would you say that?”

“Because you’re in bed a lot.” I said, “At school today, my teacher said that when people get old they stay in bed a lot and then they die.”

“I’m not going to die, sweetie. Mummy’s just got a sore tummy.”


 “Let me tell you why most of you are here tonight,” the speaker said to the crowd. “If you are experience headaches, muscle stiffness, extreme tiredness, internal infections, bowel trouble, stomach pains, ulcers – you have been hurt by someone.“

My mother sat up and stared at the man on the stage. “All of these things and many others are ways our body tells us we are hurting.”

Then the speaker slowed his pace and said, “What I’m going to say next is going to make some of you angry but it is true. If you want to be well, if you want to be healthy again, you need to forgive the person who hurt you.”

My mother felt tears trickling down her cheeks. How could she ever forgive her father for what he’d done? She had held those painful memories for years. Forgiving him seemed impossible.

“Forgiveness is your way of handing back the suffering; back to the person who should be bearing its weight.” The man continued, “The emotional pain you feel should be carried by the person who caused that pain, not you. Forgive them and let them take ownership of their personal brokenness. It’s not yours, it’s theirs. You deserve peace and healing.”

It took some time. Months. Finally my mum was able to visit her father and tell him she forgave him.

And, amazingly, once she let go of the hatred and the pain, she began to heal. The ulcers, the headaches and the other health issues she had been suffering faded away as she healed – heart, mind and soul.

There is power in forgiveness.

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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Aisle Seven

A Compassionate Theology: Sabbath

My Son Michael spent a week in June doing work experience at the nearest Coles to our home. He was there from 8AM until 4:30PM each day for a week. He said he spent a lot of time “facing up” aisles ensuring the products on display were pulled forward, faced outward and lined up with the other items. He also said he worked with a manager, another work experience student and a few employees.

I couldn’t help wondering about the many conversations and experiences that Michael may have had that week. I lost myself imagining how one of his mornings may have played out.

Working his way down the confectionery aisle, Michael touched up one display after the next. It was a slow and tedious process but he enjoyed looking back down the aisle and seeing the tidy results of his handiwork. He also enjoyed the occasional customers who came into the aisle to choose a favourite treat.

There were the teenagers who came in at the beginning of his shift. Laughing and pushing each other around, they selected chocolate bars and energy drinks to fuel their day of study, sport and socialising. Michael was sure he knew a couple of them from his high school but he stayed focused on his task. When they left, he noticed they’d made quite a mess but he knew it would look good once he got to that end of the aisle.

Next was the American tourist who made a bee-line for the licorice. After selecting a bag of dark straps and another of Allsorts, the man spoke to Michael, as Americans are prone to do. “I can’t get enough of these Allsorts,” He said with a huge smile. Thrusting the bag into Michael’s face, he continued, “They’re like little squares of happiness!” Michael smiled, agreeing and stepped aside to let the man hurry about his day.

Then there was the young mum pushing the pram. She had explored the Push Pops, trying to find the right one for her little guy. She showed him colour after colour until he finally choose one. She walked down the aisle quickly grabbing a Mars bar for herself as she went past. The boy in the pram held out his hand knocking each bag that passed near him. One fell on the floor without his mother’s notice. After they left the aisle, Michael quickly replaced the bag on the correct hook.

When Michael reached the boxed chocolates, a young man carrying an armful of roses approached. He scanned the boxes for a while and the said, probably to himself, “What would she like? Maybe a truffle box.” Michael knew something about women and chocolate, “My Mum loves the Seashells. Maybe you could try those.” Almost startled, the man looked at Michael and said, “Thanks for that! You know what? I’ll take a box of truffles and the Seashells. She’s worth it!” Mikey helped him get both boxes in his free hand and watched as he left the aisle.

Almost finished with the confectionery aisle, Michael saw an elderly couple coming toward him. The man reached out taking a bag of Jaffas off the rack. He turned and held them out to his wife, “Remember these, love?” Her face blushed and Michael looked away, realising he had been staring. “It’s okay, sonny,” the woman said. “He bought Jaffas on our first date in 1958. He took me to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And that’s what our hands were when we’d both reach into the bag at the same time. Until, in a fit of bravery, this young man firmly grabbed my hand and said, ‘I think it’d be best for both of us if I just held onto this!’” They both broke into fits of laughter at the story. “Now put those back, you goose,” she said, “our dentures can’t tolerate them, and you know it!”

At the end of his lunch break, the manager directed Michael to a trolley holding a few boxes. "These need to be stocked in aisle seven."

“The confectionery aisle,” Michael said.

“Yes, good memory!” His manager said, “You must like lollies!”

“There’s a lot more than lollies on aisle seven,” Michael said. “There’s people having fun, falling in love and reliving old stories.”

The manager looked Michael up and down. “Whatever are you talking about?”

“Aisle Seven,” Michael said, with a smirk. “You should spend more time there.”

“Perhaps I should!” His manager laughed, “After years of working here, it’s just the number that’s important to me.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

For All of Us

Like all of us, I’ve noticed the terrible things happening around the world due to racism, politics and religious fundamentalism.

As I watch the racial turmoil in my homeland – the USA – and see vitriol, murder and division caused by the many shades of grey that consider themselves black and white; I see one thing.
As I watch refugees drowning in stateless seas and stranded on islands of (in)convenience; I see one thing.
As I watch people of faith myopically claiming they’re right while others are left for dead; I see one thing.

The one thing I see is me.
Rather than us.
I see the breakdown of community, the fragmenting of family, the loneliness of each of us.

When was the last time you attended a gathering for the sake of the many?
When was the last time you sat in a circle facing those you love?
When was the last time you smiled at a stranger?

So, I’m going to make a commitment – and I invite you to join me – to celebrate the other.

Take a group to a local footy game. Eat lunch with family. Laugh at a child’s joke.
Go to a place where everyone is singing and join the song.
Tell someone pushing a pram how beautiful their baby is.
Buy something at the market made by the person sitting behind the table.
Tell your kids you love them. Then say it again. And again.
Until they laugh. Until they feel the joy they are to you.

Community is the best form of humanity – until it closes its eyes, doors, borders and hearts.
Then it’s the worst.

So, let’s build the world up. Make it stronger. Together, all of us.

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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.