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PEACE AND HARMONY
Parish priest Reverend Dr. Doru Costache
The Christless Xmas vs. Christmas
by Reverend Dr. Doru Costache
They say we need to let us be simply absorbed by ‘the spirit of Christmas’… I wonder what that may mean. Some say it’s about a family feast, yet I know of many family feasts which don’t really have a name. Others say it’s a moment when one goes out to meet with their friends, yet again I know of many such opportunities without them deserving a name. Others again say it’s about letting us be absorbed by the exuberant spirit of celebrating no-matter-what, where from the offensive anagram Xmas. Finally, others say it’s about shopping! The Grinch undoubtedly exults… For Christians, however, it is never a purely human event at the core of Christmas and it’s never Xmas. Christians know that it is not just their ephemeral joy at stake, nor another reason to eat, drink and ‘have fun’ no matter with whom and in what circumstances. They know that this is our Lord’s birthday, Christ’s feast, whose meaning and significance go far beyond ‘having fun’ with family, friends or no-matter-whom-else. To them, Christmas is the opportune moment of renewing our commitment to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, a renewal which takes first the pain of ‘dealing with’ the fasting period and then to let us be absorbed by the liturgical rhythm of the festal celebration. Christmas is also, and consequently, a season of remembrance of who we are and are called to become, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Everything else comes after. It is a matter of fact that all our existential failures reside ultimately in our inability and unwillingness to acknowledge God and his mercy which was bestowed upon us through the incarnation of the Son of God. In and through the ritual we learn to uplift our hearts from everything in order to acknowledge how everything is a gift coming from above; in and through the ritual we learn to give thanks to our life-giving Lord; in and through the ritual we learn to embrace all with divine love and compassion, since there we learn and manifest the fact that we are sons and daughters of the same God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The secular, Christless, Xmas cannot last. The mystery of Christmas brings to the receptive souls the ineffaceable joy of renewal as sons and daughters of God, by the presence of Christ’s Holy Spirit, the one who enables us to call God ‘Father’. What is it that we celebrate?
NEWS FROM THE ROMANIAN PATRIARCHATE
His Beatitude Daniel became the sixth Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. We wish His Beatitude a long and fruitful arch-pastoral service. The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church has decided the establishment of the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Australia and the New Zealand
anul XXXII December 2007
Angels from the Realms of Glory
Presbytera Eisodia Menis
During the approach to Christmas we hear many carols. We might even sing along, sometimes without even being aware of it. We sort of know the words; we have heard them so often. Apart from some Christmas songs which have nothing to do with the birth of our Lord, many carols reiterate the story of Christ’s nativity, being more or less faithful to the Gospel accounts. Angels are often mentioned in Bible and we hear about them in the carols too. It was the Archangel Gabriel who was sent to the Theotokos to give her the good news that she would be the mother of God (Luke 1:26-38). Joseph, too, was visited by an angel, in a dream, and was given the confidence to accept Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:20-21). The angels proclaimed the birth of Christ to the shepherds who heeded their announcement without question. Seeing things for themselves, the shepherds praised and glorified God (Luke 2:8-20). Angels are not characters of fairy tales. The Church teaches that angels were created by God (Colossians 1:16). St Dionysius the Areopagite expands further – the orders of angels include powers, principalities, thrones, cherubim, seraphim, dominions, authorities, rulers, archangels, and angels. It is not known when they were actually created. The book of Job (Septuagint Job 38:7) says that when the stars were made, the angels praised
Parochial Life | December 2007 |
God with a loud voice. We can know then that they were there before the creation of the rest of the material world. The angels are pure, spiritual, immortal beings. They are immaterial and bodiless, therefore invisible to us. Thus they can transport themselves easily from place to place. Although they have greater powers than humans, the angels have limited abilities; for example they cannot be everywhere at once, nor can they know everything. In other words, unlike God, they are not omnipresent or omniscient. They do have wills and, by grace, they are inclined good. They have already been tested for those who did not align their wills with God’s and followed Lucifer (once the lightbearing angel) and revolted against God became fallen angels, in other words, demons. If angels are invisible, how is it then that the Bible reports that they have been seen by humans? These sightings are not confined to Biblical reports. As the occasion warranted, angels took on the appearance of humans, for example like a young man (Mark 16:5), sometimes with wings, and were able to communicate in human language. Thus they reveal God’s messages (angel = messenger) to people. The Epistle to the Hebrews (1:14) is indicates that their messages are to do with our salvation. Angels continually praise and glorify God and this sublime work makes them more spiritual, more blessed. The message of the angels for us at Christmas time is joyful. The good news of Christ’s birth and therefore, too, salvation, is for everyone. Together with the hosts of angels, then, we can sing praises to our God.
STATEMENT BY AUSTRALIAN CHURCH LEADERS
Bethlehem, December 2007
In December 2007 a delegation of nine Australian Church leaders visited Jerusalem and the Holy Land to:
meet with and express friendship and support for Christians in Palestine and Israel ;
• meet with Jewish and Muslim faith leaders and representatives of the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority; and help Australians more fully understand and respond to the situation in Israel and Palestine .
It was a profound privilege to visit Palestine and Israel. We felt very welcome and safe, and greatly appreciated the friendship and hospitality extended to us. We consulted widely, visiting the Old City of Jerusalem, West and East Jerusalem, Hebron , Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem , and refugee camps where churches are providing humanitarian support. We met with Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders, Israeli government and Palestinian National Authority representatives, and civic and human rights leaders. We have been encouraged by international efforts toward a just peace renewed at Annapolis, and by the desire for negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. We were distressed to hear Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, relate the suffering and fear experienced daily by large numbers of their people. We saw and heard evidence of systematic harassment, physical and psychological oppression, widespread unemployment, poverty, and economic deprivation, resulting directly or indirectly from Israeli military occupation of the West Bank . Their suffering compels us to respond, and we assure Palestinians of our compassion and concern. We visited Yad Vashem and laid a wreath in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. We heard of Israeli grief and pain resulting from violent attacks and continuing fear of terrorist activity. We condemn all acts of terrorism and assure Israelis of our compassion and concern. We recognise the complex nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We strongly affirm the right of both Israel and Palestine to political autonomy, security and self-determination. We join with a large majority of the people of Palestine and Israel in longing for a just and lasting peace. We understand the reluctance to make concessions or to trust those who are the source of fear and oppression, but the time for courageous and inspiring leadership has come. In the light of what we have seen and heard during this visit, we support actions to enable Israel and Palestine to negotiate just outcomes on borders, settlements, water, refugees, prisoners, Jerusalem, and security. We are particularly concerned by the imprisonment of teenagers, mothers with dependent children, and those detained without trial for long periods. We encountered the debilitating effects on the Palestinian economy and impacts on daily life of the segregated road system, the proliferation of checkpoints and road blocks throughout the West Bank, restrictions on movement of people and goods, and the effective isolation of Palestinian communities from one another. We were repeatedly told that these matters stand in the way of a just peace. We are heartened by important signs of hope in the face of persistent difficulties. The emergence in Jerusalem of the Council for Religious Institutions promises greater understanding and cooperation among Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders and communities. Human rights organisations in both Palestine and Israel undertake significant and sometimes dangerous work with courage and passion. Vibrant educational and cultural initiatives are evident in oppressed communities and refugee camps.
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We ask Australian Churches to: pray for a just and lasting peace for Jerusalem and the Holy Land ; encourage the Australian Gov. to take more action to support a just and lasting peace for Israel and Palestine ; hear the stories of the suffering and oppression, perseverance and hope of the people of the Holy Land ; sponsor aid and development projects in the West Bank and Gaza ; support the status of Jerusalem as an open city for all faiths and peoples; encourage Australian Christians to visit the Holy Land and foster relationships with Palestinian Christians; build stronger relationships with Jewish and Muslim communities in Australia. Our common humanity and legitimate desires for security and freedom can drive the peace process forward. We are confident that a just and lasting peace for Palestine and Israel can be realised. As Christmas approaches, we look to the future with hope, confident in God’s promise of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace!” (Luke 2:14 NRSV) Bethlehem, 12 December 2007
+ Archbishop Phillip Aspinall Primate, Anglican Church of Australia Archbishop of Brisbane Revd Rod Benson Ethicist, National Council Baptist Union of Australia Dr Kevin Bray National Council churches of Christ in Australia + Archbishop Francis Carroll Roman Catholic Archbishop emeritus Immediate Past President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Revd Terence Corkin Assembly General Secretary Uniting Church in Australia Lyndsay Farrall Presiding Clerk Australian Yearly Meeting Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Revd Gregor Henderson President Uniting Church in Australia Revd John Henderson General Secretary National Council of Churches in Australia Revd Merrill Kitchen National Council churches of Christ in Australia
• • • • • •
THE SKETCH OF THE OF THE ROMANIAN PEOPLE CATHEDRAL IN BUCHAREST
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Ongoing Conversion, the Barest Beginning
In ruminating about my introduction into Orthodoxy, something came to me that I had forgotten. Something that perhaps could be thought of as more than coincidental. Shortly after my husband died, nearly ten years ago, I was attending the Roman Catholic weekday Mass one Friday at a church near the town where I lived. As I was leaving, a pamphlet rack in the narthex caught my eye. I looked over all the literature and one small piece, printed on goldenrod paper, grabbed my attention, standing out among the others. In reading it, I noticed that it was Russian Orthodox literature and had an advertisement for an Orthodox bookstore printed on the back. Now, how unlikely could it be to find a Russian Orthodox pamphlet in a Roman Catholic church? And, it was the only copy! Of course, I was intrigued and took it with me. On the drive home I began to think that I should visit this bookstore and so turned around and headed to the larger city where it was located. At the bookstore, I encountered individuals who were solidly committed to living an Orthodox Christian life. I bought a book by St. Theophane the Recluse which was the first true feeding of my soul, making me aware of a serious lack in myself and in my spiritual life. It took until this past April for me to finally arrive at Chrismation, which I now understand is only the barest of beginnings, and I do believe that I have made the first authentic surrender of my life. How does one write about this ongoing conversion into Orthodoxy so that it makes sense to others? Words fail to describe with any kind of clarity the sense of the mystical, of dancing with the Divine, being definitively guided, but the need is there to share it. In the Liturgy, it is hard not to fly with the birds in the ozone. The beauty is overwhelming as is the fact that I am so unworthy to be participating, to be given the Eucharist. Christ’s gifts abound in everything but are particularly obvious to me in the Eucharist and it makes me weak in the knees with a tendency to wander off entranced by the sweet smells. But, I’m not meant for more than a moment’s stay in the ozone. I’m carnal and have to be “down to earth” in every respect in order to be the way God meant, but sometimes he gives glimpses.
The privilege of singing in the choir keeps me present, skirts anchored to earth, not exactly being passive in the Liturgy but not drunk with it either. Singing with the choir enables me to stay earthbound, to withstand not just the joy of the Liturgy but the pain of my own sinfulness that rises when I am on such holy ground. I’m a pitiful offering to God and yet feel loved anyway. I don’t think God calls me to be successful, rather, perhaps God’s expectations of me are simply to remain faithful, to get up and face the music every time I fall, to keep coming back. Orthodoxy has opened doors for me that were shut until now. I can even take care of my aging, ailing mother, who is a sad and abusive soul, without resentment. Before, I could hardly stand to be in the same room with her. In learning to stand still and let the Great Surgeon operate on me, the mirror thing happens in my life. I’m not hiding so much anymore, but able to stand the pain of my own grossness and receive the beauty of God without feeling the need to escape the intensity of the emotion. It’s the same in caring for my mother, I am able to stand the pain and somehow it becomes a healing compassion for us both. Little by little, through learning to live as an Orthodox Christian, I begin to cooperate with God’s grace which transforms through the Liturgy.
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world?’ Over the last 237 years since Lt. James Cook arrived, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been denied a proper place within our own country. Just like Jesus’ family on returning to their home country we also have not been able to find a proper place for ourselves in our own land. Too many other interests seem to distract the country where we once roamed freely. We have been turned away at the door and given scant attention and meagre generosity by the new Innkeepers. It is interesting that we, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, were not part of Federation, were forgotten about as the new wave of Immigrants came from the Mediterranean during the post war years and were not on the radar until the 1967 referendum. Except, of course, when we were allowed to lose our lives fighting for this country, or when we were seen as strange curiosities of a bygone era. Mostly, we were labelled as a troublesome few dissidents who should not expect the same rights as everyone else. Children were removed from their families because it was perceived that they were not being cared for to acceptable western standards. Or they were taken away simply so they could be given the ‘western makeover’ to fit better into western society. The only problem was that they still had a different colour than those holding up the bar of mainstream society. This brings me to the question of an apology. The former Howard Government was against any apology as it was seen that the mainstream should not be held accountable for the past, and such an apology could hold the State open to litigation. It’s an interesting irony that in this corporate world we live in, mainstream Australia will hold accountable corporations for their past organisational failings, and yet the nation cannot live up to its own corporate responsibilities. As for the apology itself, the Nation is either Sorry or it’s not. Putting provisos on it (we regret etc.) is not an apology. If we are going to move forward then it is very important that the Nation says Sorry and accepts any consequences that might result. The present Rudd Government must take the lead on this and soon. The continual denial of the rights of Indigenous peoples, as Australian Citizens, has gone on for too long. We have a right to education, health and the many opportunities that most Australians take for granted. Governments need to act now to correct these situations, which occur around the country not just the Northern Territory, and close the gap between us and the mainstream. As I’ve often said in other Forums, how can Australia set out to save the world when there is so much to be done at home? What credibility does Australia have if it is not working to correct the situations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities?
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“No Room at the Inn”
An Open Letter to the Australian Nation
from the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission of the National Council of Churches in Australia 11 December 2007 At this time of the year, as we turn our minds to Christmas and reflect on the year that was (and what a year it was) and look forward to the year to come, I cannot help but think of many of my Indigenous brothers and sisters. This season of peace, hope and joy leads me to ask, ‘what peace, hope and joy will be given unto us with the coming of the Christ Child into the
There needs to be a plan, not knee jerk reactions, to address these situations. The Millennium Development Goals help us in this area. These eight time bound and measurable goals discourage empty rhetoric. They encourage us to formulate concrete plans to build a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The first step to any action is recognition of what is currently happening. We have no real voice or say or control in what is happening to us. Outsiders are dictating our future. There is no national representative voice to carry our hopes, dreams and desires forward into the future. Hand picked advisors are not a representative voice. A process needs to be put into place where a representative voice can be heard and acted upon. National conventions need to be held so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can contribute to the process of forming this new voice and eventually own the outcomes. People say that there is not one voice in Indigenous Australia, but surely that can also be said of mainstream Australia. Our Federal Parliament, with different parties and different factions, continues to exist. The one voice comes when these groups are allowed a forum like Parliament to reach compromise and consensus for the good of all. This forum will help lead us into a better tomorrow for our children and children’s children. The issue of whether we should be included in the preamble to the constitution of Australia can also be debated in these forums and a proposition then put forward to the Australian people in a future referendum. These issues cannot be put off until tomorrow for tomorrow may never come. Many of our great Indigenous leaders are already passing on and we need their valuable input into these forums. As I reflect this Christmas time, I wonder if Australia will place their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians again in the stable, as Jesus was over 2,000 years ago, or will we be invited in to share fully in the Australia which is so gifted, diverse and forward looking. Will we begin to “Make Indigenous Poverty History” this Christmas? May the peace, hope and Joy of Christmas fill all Australians with the hope of a new tomorrow!
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Graeme MUNDINE Executive Secretary National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Ecumenical Commission National Council of Churches in Australia Mob: 0419 238 788
EL GRECO THE ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS 1596-1600 oil on canvas (346 x 147 cm) National Museum of Art of Romania - Bucharest
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TEXTS FOR THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST
Troparion: Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined upon the world the light of knowledge; for thereby, they that worshipped the stars were taught by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to Thee.
Kontakion: Today the virgin giveth birth to Him Who is above all being, and the earth offereth a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with shepherds give glory, and magi journey with a star. For our sake is born a Young Child, the Pre-eternal God! First Canon of Canticle Four: Rod of the root of Jesse, and flower that blossomed from his stem, O Christ, Thou hast sprung from the Virgin. From the Mountain overshadowed by the forest Thou hast come, made flesh from her that knew not wedlock, O God who art not formed from matter. Glory to Thy power, O Lord. O Christ, whom Jacob foretold in the days of old, calling Thee the Expectation of the nations, Thou hast shone forth from the tribe of Judah, and Thou hast come to plunder the strength of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria, turning their error into faith, O beautiful God. Glory to Thy power, O Lord. O Master who hast risen as a Star out of Jacob, Thou hast filled with joy the watchers of the stars, who interpreted wisely the words of Balaam, the soothsayer of old. As the first fruits of the Gentiles were they led unto Thee, and Thou has openly received them, as they brought Thee acceptable gifts. Glory to Thy power, O Lord. As dew upon the fleece hast Thou descended into
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the womb of the Virgin, O Christ, and as drops of rain that fall upon the earth. Ethiopia and Tarshish and the isles of Arabia, the kings of Saba, of the Medes and all the earth, fell down before Thee, O Saviour. Glory to Thy power, O Lord. A Hymn of the Nativity: How is He contained in a womb, whom nothing can contain? And how can He who is in the bosom of the Father be held in the arms of His Mother? This is according to His good pleasure, as He knows and wishes. For being without flesh, of His own will has He been made flesh; and He Who Is, for our sakes has become that which He was not. Without departing from His own nature He has shared in our substance. Desiring to fill the world on high with citizens, Christ has undergone a twofold birth. Praises (Lauds) of Nativity: Make glad, O ye righteous; greatly rejoice, O ye heavens; ye mountains, dance for joy. Christ is born, and like the cherubim the Virgin makes a throne, carrying at her bosom God the Word made flesh. Shepherds glorify the newborn Child, magi offer the Master gifts. Angels sing praises, saying: 'O Lord past understanding, glory to Thee!' It was the good pleasure of the Father: the Word became flesh, and the Virgin bore God made man. A star spreads abroad the tidings: the Magi worship, the shepherds stand amazed, and the creation is filled with mighty joy. O Mother of God, Virgin who hast borne the Saviour, thou hast overthrown the ancient curse of Eve. For thou hast become the Mother of Him in whom the Father was well pleased,
and has carried at thy bosom God the incarnate Word. We cannot fathom this mystery: but by faith alone we all glorify it, crying with thee and saying: O Lord past all interpretation, glory to Thee! O come, let us sing the praises of the Mother of the Saviour, who after bearing child still remained Virgin. Rejoice, thou Living City of God the King, in which Christ has dwelt, bringing to pass our salvation. With Gabriel we sing thy praises; with the shepherds we glorify thee, crying: O Mother of God, intercede for our salvation with Him who took flesh from thee! First Ode of the Canon of the Nativity: Christ is born, glorify him. Christ is from heaven, go to meet him. Christ is an earth, be ye lifted up. Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing out with gladness, all ye people. For he is glorified.
Come, let us adore Him!
Presbytera Eisodia Menis
Church hymns and secular carols can be heard imploring us to come to Christ and to adore Him. The Gospels tell us that among the first to come to Christ were some shepherds who were informed by the angels (Luke 2:10). The angels proclaimed news of great joy and having seen what the angels were speaking of they glorified and praised God. Our Church’s Christmas Troparion, reflecting the second chapter of the gospel of Matthew, teaches that those who worshiped the stars were taught by a star to adore Christ. The light of wisdom dawned upon the world and amongst the first to be informed by it were men from the east. The magi, studiers of the stars, saw a sign that, according to their knowledge, heralded an event which justified their long journey to examine it – they came looking for a King. Knowledge of Christ may come to us from different sources and our abilities or stations in life have no bearing on the matter. It is our acceptance and faith that allows this new knowledge to lead us to worship Christ. Jesus is the light of the world and whoever comes to
Him will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life (John 8:12). The true light is already shining (1 John 2:10). Being enlightened leads to being changed. How do we know if we are enlightened? How do we gage if we know Jesus or love God? We know by the extent to which we keep His commandments (1 John 2). We give of ourselves freely for God loves us first (1 John 4:9-10). Jesus loves us (John 15:9). He came that we might have abundant life (John10:10) and God loves us for believing that Jesus came from the Father. We put ourselves in His trust and He promises us eternal life (1 John 2:25). We express our love for our Lord in diverse ways. We indicate our love by prayers and/or complete silence. Further, we show our love with gestures, by our relationships with others and by our way of life. In the Orthodox Church, the services of the Hours have at their beginning these verses: “Come let us worship and fall down before our King and God. Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ, our King and God. Come let us worship and fall down before Him, Christ the King and our God” Traditionally we say these lines with prostrations. We are bowing before Christ the King. Many Fathers of the church have written extensively concerning the divinity of Christ. In answer to those who suggested that Christ is merely a man, the Fathers asserted that Jesus Christ was from God, and that in fact, He is divine. We have received this faith from our relationship with Christ. It is God who reveals to us that Jesus is the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16-17). Having come to Jesus at His invitation (Mark 11:28), even though struggle is part of it, the high calling of God is an invaluable prize (Philippians 3:14). Why wouldn’t we fall down before our Lord, to adore Him? In the presence of Christ with great reverence and awe do we bow down and worship God. Like the Apostles then, we too, might have great joy and praise and bless God (Luke 24:52-53).
“Christ” by Stela Viorica Şimon (Timişoara - Romania) - Icon painted on glass
At the heart of our life together as Christians is sharing in the Great Prayer of Jesus: “that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17.20-21) In Australia we will be marking 100 years of the origins of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity between:
4 MAY - 11 MAY 2008
Resources will be made available for this special time but we need to plan ahead…
How will you celebrate the Week of Prayer with other Christians in 2008?
"Should not our churches as themselves whether they are showing sufficient eagerness to enter into conversation with other churches, and whether they should not act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them to act separately?"
(the ‘Lund Principle’, as agreed by the World Council of Churches’ Faith & Order Conference in Lund, Sweden in 1952)
for more information please contact:
NSW Ecumenical Council Locked Bag 199, 7/379 Kent Street, Sydney, NSW 1230 Ph. (02)9299 2215 email@example.com www.nswec.org.au
Parochial Life | December 2007 |
A Bush Christmas
by C.J. Dennis (1876-1938)
The sun burns hotly thro' the gums As down the road old Rogan comes The hatter from the lonely hut Beside the track to Woollybutt. He likes to spend his Christmas with us here. He says a man gets sort of strange Living alone without a change, Gets sort of settled in his way; And so he comes each Christmas day To share a bite of tucker and a beer. Dad and the boys have nought to do, Except a stray odd job or two. Along the fence or in the yard, "It ain't a day for workin' hard." Says Dad. "One day a year don't matter much." And then dishevelled, hot and red, Mum, thro' the doorway puts her head And says, "This Christmas cooking, My! The sun's near fit for cooking by." Upon her word she never did see such. "Your fault," says Dad, "you know it is. Plum puddin'! on a day like this, And roasted turkeys! Spare me days, I can't get over women's ways. In climates such as this the thing's all wrong. A bit of cold corned beef an' bread Would do us very well instead." Then Rogan said, "You're right; it's hot. It makes a feller drink a lot." And Dad gets up and says, "Well, come along." The dinner's served - full bite and sup. "Come on," says Mum, "Now all sit up." The meal takes on a festive air; And even father eats his share
And passes up his plate to have some more. He laughs and says it's Christmas time, "That's cookin', Mum. The stuffin's prime." But Rogan pauses once to praise, Then eats as tho' he'd starved for days. And pitches turkey bones outside the door. The sun burns hotly thro' the gums, The chirping of the locusts comes Across the paddocks, parched and grey. "Whew!" wheezes Father. "What a day!" And sheds his vest. For coats no man had need. Then Rogan shoves his plate aside And sighs, as sated men have sighed, At many boards in many climes On many other Christmas times. "By gum!" he says, "That was a slap-up feed!" Then, with his black pipe well alight, Old Rogan brings the kids delight By telling o'er again his yarns Of Christmas tide 'mid English barns When he was, long ago, a farmer's boy. His old eyes glisten as he sees Half glimpses of old memories, Of whitened fields and winter snows, And yuletide logs and mistletoes, And all that half-forgotten, hallowed joy. The children listen, mouths agape, And see a land with no escape Fro biting cold and snow and frost A land to all earth's brightness lost, A strange and freakish Christmas land to them. But Rogan, with his dim old eyes Grown far away and strangely wise Talks on; and pauses but to ask "Ain't there a drop more in that cask?" And father nods; but Mother says "Ahem!" The sun slants redly thro' the gums As quietly the evening comes, And Rogan gets his old grey mare, That matches well his own grey hair, And rides away into the setting sun. "Ah, well," says Dad. "I got to say I never spent a lazier day. We ought to get that top fence wired." "My!" sighs poor Mum. "But I am tired! An' all that washing up still to be done."
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5.18) In 2008, a special concern will be supporting our Pacific Church partners, as part of the 2008 PACIFIC FOCUS of the Decade to Overcome Violence. Key elements are assisting Christians to support Pacific Islanders in peace building and in enabling churches to work more effectively to address the ever more pressing challenges of Climate Change.
The Ecumenical Council will also be following up our involvements in solidarity with suffering Christians in Palestine-Israel and, with our member churches in the wider Middle East.
By a young anonymous Romanian poet in Sydney
An undersized part but a part none the less, An element that will strike the heart of mankind. Love is an attribute that all of these men possessed, Their love for life immortal, as all ideal are, And we respect their beliefs yet honour their actions, For it is easy to hate, but honourable to forgive. And yet through great deliberation, The minute imparting that these men left behind, Seems to be swelling as time goes on, Until their sacrifice seems inhumanly large, That is the price of being remembered, You must sever part of yourself until you have bled dry, And have the ignorant masses drink from your efforts, Until they are overcome by the taste of hope.
at home, we will continue to work for a more just Australia, especially through the House of Welcome and our Refugee Program, Churches Community Housing Ltd, and support of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Christians
To remember your past is to love or to hate, And hate is but a corrupted form of love, And so one must greatly love his past, To live his future in reminiscence. And for those that subsist in the past, Are naught but walking dead, For life without love is death itself, And these men have only hate to impart. Incidentally, the greatest gift is to be remembered, And in order to be remembered you have to leave something behind, Parochial Life | December 2007 |
"Rin doon, rin doon, my little son Jack, "to whaur the emus bide, Ye shall find the auld hen on the nest while the auld cock sits beside." "But speak them fair and speak them saft lest they kick ye a fearful jolt, Ye can gie them a feed of the half inch nails or a rusty carriage bolt." So little son Jack ran blithely down with the rusty nails in hand, Till he came where the emus scratched by their nest in the open sand. And there he has gathered the new-laid egg 'twould feed 3 men or 4, And the emus came for the half inch nails right up to the settlers door.
NSW Ecumenical Council
serving churches in NSW and the ACT
churches together… seeking peace and reconciliation
Themes for 2008
Santa Claus In The Bush
by Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson (1864-1941) It chanced out back at the Christmas time, When the wheat was ripe and tall, A stranger rode to the farmer's gate A sturdy man and a small. "Rin doon, rin doon, my little son Jack, and bid the stranger stay, And we'll hae a crack for Auld Lang Syne, for the morn is Christmas day." "Nay noo, nay noo," said the dour guidwife, "But ye should let him be, He's maybe only a drover chap, From the land o' the Darling Pea." "Wi a drovers tales, and a drover's thirst tae swiggle the hail nicht through, Or he's maybe a life assurance carle, to talk ye black and blue." "Guidwife, he's never a drover chap for their swags are neat and thin, And he's never a life assurance carl with the brick dust burnt in his skin." "Guidwife, guidwife, be nae sae dour for the wheat stands ripe and tall And we shore a seven pound fleece this year, ewes and weaners and all." "There is grass to spare and the stock are fat, where they whiles are gaunt and thin, And we owe a tithe to the travellin' poor, so we maun ask him in." "Ye can set him a chair at table side and gie him a bite tae eat, An omelette made of a new-laid egg, or a tasty bit o' meat." "But the native cats hae taen fowls-they havena left a leg, And he'll get nae omelette at a' till the emu lays an egg."
"A waste o' food," said the dour guidwife, as she took the egg with a frown, "But he gets nae meat unless ye rin a paddy-melon down." "Gang oot, gang oot, my little son Jack wi your twa-three doggies sma, Gin ye come nae back wi a paddy-melon, then come nae back at a'." So little son Jack he raced and he ran and he was bare o' the feet, And soon he captured a paddy-melon was gorged with stolen wheat. "Sit doon, sit doon," my bonny wee man; "to the best that the hoose can do, An omelette made o' the emu egg, and a paddy melon stew." "'Tis well, 'tis well", said the bonny wee man, "I have eaten the wide world's meat, And the food that is given with right good will is the sweetest food to eat." "But the night draws on to Christmas Day and I must rise and go, For I have a mighty way to ride to the land of the Esquimaux." "And it's there I must load my sledges up with the reindeers four-in-hand, That go to the North, South, East and West to every Christian land."
In order to unite with one another, we must love one another; in order to love one another, we must know one another; in order to know one another, we must go and meet one another.
(The Testament of Cardinal Mercier)
Encountering the God of Jesus Christ in other people and places is at the heart of Christian discipleship. Sharing in the ‘Pilgrimage of Trust’ with the ecumenical Taizé Community is just one way the NSW Ecumenical Council assists directly.
In the coming year, the NSW Ecumenical Council will continue to encourage opportunities for Christians of different traditions and cultures to meet and deepen their relationships in the Body of Christ / with a special feature being the "Tae the Esquimaux," said the dour guidwife ”Pilgrimage of Resurrection” "ye suit my husband well, in February-April 2008 For when he gets up on his journey horse when young people from Western and he's a bit o' a liar himsel'." Orthodox Churches will have opportunities to Then out with a laugh went the bonny wee man-- learn more about one another’s faith and life during their respective Lenten observances to his old horse grazing nigh, and Easter celebrations. And away like a meteor flash they went far off to the Northern sky. Where, and with whom, will you walk this coming year? When the children woke on the Christmas morn, “we need each other they chattered with might and main, to make each other holy” For a sword and a gun had little son Jack, and a braw new doll had Jane, (Archbishop Elias Chacour, And a packet o' screws had the twa emus; at Parramatta, but the dour guidwife got nane!
6 May 2007)
Parochial Life | December 2007 |
Between 1st December and 15th January, the parish organises special collections every Sunday, for the acquisition of candles and other expenses. For donations over $20 for which you want receipts, please speak to Ms Angela Kalafatis (treasurer) before making the donation.
ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN SYDNEY, INC Christmas – Epiphany Program 2007 - 2008
Sunday, 16th December 10.00-11.40: liturgy 11.40-12.15: Santa Claus arrives Sunday, 23rd December 10.00-12.00: matins & liturgy Monday, 24th December Christmas Eve 18.30-19.30: festal vespers Tuesday, 25th December Lord’s Nativity 10.00-12.00: matins & liturgy Sunday, 30th December 10.00-12.00: matins & liturgy Tues, 1st January Lord’s Circumcision 10.00-12.00: liturgy; St Basil’s exorcisms
For the glory of God
The church has been added again glamour this Christmas by two superb floral ornaments donated, as always, by the Bunescu Family and the Elin Family.
Sunday, 6th January Baptism of the Lord (Epiphany) 10.00-12.00: liturgy; great blessing of waters
Sunday, 6th January - Monday, 7th January Pastoral visit to St Andrew’s Romanian community, Newcastle
Those willing to receive the traditional blessing of houses, please call the parish priest at 0415 890 774 for appointments.
Christmas Carols at the Church
After the divine liturgy, on the 16 of December, the parish has organised a Christmas Carols show. In the opening, Santa Claus (the actor Cătălin Anastase) recited a few classic Romanian poems dedicated to Christmas. After the poems, Santa asked the children to approach and receive – as in an echo of the holy communion they have received beforehand from the hand of their priest – the presents. This year, the presents were donated by the Parish Committee and Mr & Mrs Badrea. After the distribution of these modest symbols of the arriving feast, all present intoned the traditional carols, in a warm atmosphere of joyful friendship. Merry Christmas!
Editor in chief: pr. dr. Doru Costache Design & layout: George Roca (Sydney)
64 Linthorn Ave, Croydon Park, NSW 2133. phone: (02) 9642 02 60
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