A past redeemed

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Father Michael Lapsley SSM (now leader of the Institute for Healing of Memories is a remarkable teacher. He was an anti-aparthied campaigner and chaplain to the ANC when his hands and one eye were destroyed in 1990 by a letter-bomb most likely in a covert operation of the apartheid regime. [He has prosthetic ‘hands’.) What follows is from a conversation he had with Rowan Williams at https://stethelburgas.org/”>St Ethelburga’s in London:

"In our Christian faith, we say, ‘By His wounds we are healed,’ and of course we often speak of the wounded healer. Let me tell a personal story which, while amusing, speaks to the issue of how we perceive woundedness and whether we see it as incapacitating or enlivening.

"I was bombed in Zimbabwe and then was moved to a hospital in Australia. Before I left for Australia, my bishop came to visit me and prayed for my recovery. Seven months later and now recovered, I returned to his office in Zimbabwe and said, ‘Here I am, Father.’ The bishop looked startled. At first I imagined perhaps he wasn’t used to God answering his prayers, but then he said, ‘But you are disabled now. What can you do?’ So I said, ‘Well, Bishop, I can drive a car.’ Then he looked frightened. I think he thought he might be on the same road with me. So I said, ‘Father, I think I can be more of a priest with no hands than I ever was with two hands.’ When I inquired of Archbishop Tutu, I got quite a different response. He said, ‘Come and work in Cape Town. I have one priest who is deaf and one who is blind, and now one with no hands.’

"Wow! So, for one bishop I was a liability but for the other I was an asset. The first bishop wasn’t a bad person, but his vision was narrow. Archbishop Tutu, on the other hand, had a different pair of spectacles and he was able to see that my woundedness could help others to heal. So it is fitting that Archbishop Tutu has written the foreword for my recent memoir Redeeming the Past, for he saw immediately that what happened to me was also an opportunity.

"Of course, none of that means that what happened to me was right. Sometimes people say, ‘It was God’s will that you were bombed.’ Now what kind of nonsense is that? Does that mean that God makes letter bombs? I am not interested in that kind of God. Rather, I believe in a God that gives us the strength to bring good out of evil, so that I can sit here today and say that in the bombing I lost a lot and that I have gained a lot.

"I know that I’m a better human being because of the journey I have travelled. For me, God’s grace worked through the prayers and support of people around the globe who also saw the possibilities of healing and continued to believe that I had a life ahead of me. That didn’t happen solely by my own efforts but through the collective power of love."
—Rowan Williams and Michael Lapsley, "The Journey toward Forgiveness: A Dialogue," The Ecumenical Review 66, no. 2 (July 2014): 191–213.

Parish prayers for the same-sex marriage debate

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Acknowledgement: Professor Peter Sherlock #postalsurveyprayers

Matthew 22.23–33.

Gracious Lord, we give thanks for marriage and the great blessing it is to so many. We thank you for faithful married couples who bless us so richly.

Gracious Lord, long ago, lawyers and teachers used a problem about marriage to try and trick Jesus. How familiar this seems to us, as people of faith stumble over a question of marriage in the crude form of a postal survey.

We pray that all Australians may be prepared for whatever happens about marriage in the next few months. May Christians reflect and act on the teaching and model of Jesus. Should any fear for freedom, we ask reassurance should there be nothing to fear, and courage if there is.

May what remains of the campaigning be honest and constructive. We ask for a civil society, that we may learn to disagree passionately without violence or intimidation. May religious leaders inspire faith, hope, and love in a weary and angry nation. May both the opponents and the supporters of marriage equality be gracious and generous, as together we find good news to share in your love. Cause those who argue for argument’s sake to be silent, to listen and to learn.

May people feeling alone, unnoticed or unloved—especially young people—know that your love encompasses and holds them. May those who find only condemnation in the Bible come to know the gospel of grace. Uphold mental health staff and service providers that they have resources to help all in need.

Help our leaders to be prepared when the result is announced, that our democracy may be strengthened, not harmed. Help public servants who draft legislation to be patient and thorough. Guide religious and civil marriage celebrants to respond well to change and marriage counsellors that they may help people live fruitfully.

We ask courage for same-sex couples as the nation sits in judgment, and for couples whose legitimate marriages are not recognised in Australia, that their commitment may be respected. Watch over children of same-sex couples, that they may be cherished and kept free from fear or harm.

May gay and lesbian refugees in find their trust in Australia as a place of safety not to be misplaced.

We pray for celibate Australians, that their joy and fruitfulness will be recognised and nurtured.

We pray for those who for whom thoughts of marriage bring sadness and fear:
— people trapped in abusive relationships;
— those for marriage is a distant dream as the struggle to find the simple necessities of food, clothing and shelter;
— those forced or compelled to marry: may they find freedom.

We pray for those who grieve the loss of a partner and for those who mourn for what might have been—and for those whose partners have never been acknowledged, even in death, because of fear, prejudice and ignorance.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Parish Prayers as Jesus meets the woman at the well (John 4.5-42)

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God of all peoples,
just as Jesus and his disciples journeyed through Samaria to reach their appointed destination;
teach us to how to walk through strange, foreign places,
how to meet people different from ourselves—
that they we might say to them "come and see".
You bypass no one; in this may we follow you.

May we also be like the Samaritan woman: willing to examine our lives in Jesus’ presence
that we may continue to true worshipers of the Father in spirit and in truth,
that we may share with those we know what it is like to meet with Jesus.
The truth revealed her faults, yet liberated the unnamed woman.
This Lent, may your truth reveal us to ourselves and set us free in you.

God of the nations, lead and direct so that truth and truthfulness may direct our leaders, inform our nation, govern our business and our everyday lives, that we may live in justice and peace together.

Give us and all who thirst for you that living water of your Spirit:
water of refreshment,
water of healing,
water of cleansing,
water of life.

Avoidable gas “+crisis”

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The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is responsible for operating Australia’s largest gas and electricity markets and power systems, including the National Electricity Market (NEM), the interconnected power system in Australia’s eastern and south-eastern seaboard. The AEMO has released its 2017 Gas Statement of Opportunities (GSOO), intended to assess the adequacy of gas infrastructure, reserves and resources to meet demand in eastern and south-eastern Australia to 2036.

The GSOO finds that declining gas production may result in insufficient gas to meet projected demand by Gas Powered Generation for supply of electricity from summer 2018–19. To meet electricity supply needs, the NEM requires either increases in gas production to fuel GPG, or a rapid implementation of alternative non-gas electricity generation sources. If neither occurs, AEMO projects that declining gas supplies could result in electricity supply shortfalls between 2019 and 2021 of approximately 80 gigawatt hours (GWh) to 363 GWh across South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria. Overall gas production for the domestic market is projected to decline from 600 PJ in 2017 to 478 PJ in 2021.

The 2017 GSOO highlights a projected decline in gas production at a time when withdrawal of coal-fired generation in the NEM is increasing reliance on GPG to maintain reliable and secure electricity supply
and meet emissions reduction targets. AEMO forecasts that sufficient electricity generation alternatives, relying on fuel sources such as black coal, will be available to meet electricity demand until summer 2018–19.

The stupidity in all this is that what is now a crisis was entirely predicable and solvable with half-way decent collation of information, coordination of policy and political cooperation.

Ethan Hethcote about the scars that bullying leaves on young gay people

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Vlogger Ethan Hethcote offers some thoughts about the scars that bullying leaves on young gay people, offering a powerful personal story that may resonate with a few of you. His remarks are a reaction to an article by Michael Hobbes published by Highline on HuffPost entitled Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, which is about that subject, but also about the pressures of rejection faced by gay men once they are "out". Notwithstanding advances in rights and legal equality, Hobbes notes, "e;the rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades."

Writes Hobbes:

Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. In a survey of gay men who recently arrived in New York City, three-quarters suffered from anxiety or depression, abused drugs or alcohol or were having risky sex—or some combination of the three. Despite all the talk of our "chosen families," gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women. In a survey of care-providers at HIV clinics, one respondent told
researchers: "It’s not a question of them not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them knowing if their lives are worth saving."

Ethan has some interesting and heartfelt thoughts about his own experience: