Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Moving to WordPress...

I'm moving this blog to WordPress. It will be found here. I'll probably delete posts from Blogger after New Year's.

Gembrook for New Year's Eve

A number of us are going to camp out at the retreat centre in Gembrook for New Year's Eve. Will probably be back in Melbourne on Saturday.
Have a good one!

'Group moves people into foreclosed houses'

The Charlotte Observer has an interesting article about a group of activists in Miami called Take Back the Land, who are helping homeless people move into foreclosed homes:

Max Rameau delivers his sales pitch like a pro. “All tile floor!” he says during a recent showing. “And the living room, wow! It has great blinds.”
But in nearly every other respect, he is unlike any real estate agent you've ever met. He is unshaven, drives a beat-up car and wears grungy cut-off sweat pants. He also breaks into the homes he shows. And his clients don't have a dime for a down payment.
Rameau is an activist who has been executing a bailout plan of his own around Miami's empty streets: He is helping homeless people illegally move into foreclosed homes.
Read the whole article here.
(Found through Boing Boing.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Liturgy from Advent Conspiracy

The following is the liturgy from the Advent Conspiracy service as we ran it in Footscray:

Advent Conspiracy - An Alternative Carols Service

Lights Down

Water Pouring

Reading 1: Annunciation: Luke 1:26-35
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’* 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’* 35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

Light Bubble wrap Womb Station and play Heartbeat audio loop

Divine Womb
(Marcus got this off Jonny Bakers blog. Jonny Baker's blog says that it's from Greyspace, but it doesn't seem to be available from there anymore.)

God joined with Mary and created
The divine fertilised human
Nestling into her womb, nourished by her blood

God joins with us and creates
A divine planted idea, an inspiration
Which settles in us, and feeds

But after the ecstasy of impregnation
9 months of waiting, hoping, growing
The invisible inside, waiting to be born

And while we wait, difficulties arise
Herod’s try to destroy
Authorities try to rationalise
Husbands doubt,
While redemption gestates

We are all wombs of the divine
Pregnant with that which God envisions us
How will we feed it?
Who will it most resemble, us or God?
How long are we prepared to be patient?

We wait.
We wait
We wait for the invisible to become visible
For the seed to flourish
For vision to be born

Touch the water in the baptismal/ womb.
Consider it as an image of life and death and think of something you wish to be birthed in you this Christmas time.
You may wish to mark your forehead with the sign of the cross as a symbol of your own participation in the Christ Story.

Carol: O Come all ye faithful

Reading: Bible Journey Luke 2:1-7
The Birth of Jesus
2In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Reading: O Little Town Of Bethlehem ( A Contemporary Version)
Words By Don Hinchey (from Amos Trust Christmas Leaflet, 2004)

O Little Town Of Bethlehem
How Still We See Thee Lie
Above Thy Deep And Restless Sleep
A Missile Glideth By
And Over Dark Streets Soundeth
The Mortar's Deadly Roar
While Children Weep In Shallow Sleep
For Friends Who Are No More

How Silently How Silently
Their Hope Has Gone Away
No Laughter Rings No Choir Sings
In Shepherds Fields This Day
The Angels In The Heavens
Are Hushed In Sad Lament
Back In Exie The Holy Child
Finds Herod Won't Relent

O Holy Child Of Bethlehem
Descend To Us We Pray
Your Love Bring Down On David's Town
Drive Fear And Hate Away
Awake The Ire Of Nations
Let Justice Be Restored
Rebuild The Peace In Silent Streets
Where Once Your Love Was Born

Light Bethlehem Station
Station notes:
The baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Read the alternative Carol
Read the article about what is happening in Bethlehem today.
You may wish to write down the email to send your Christmas Greetings.
Following the instructions build an Origami House.
Place it in the sand as a prayer for the children of Bethlehem this Easter.

Carol : O Little Town of Bethlehem

Light City + Stars Station

Reading : Matthew 2
The Visit of the Wise Men
2In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men* from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,* and have come to pay him homage.’ 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah* was to be born. 5They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd* my people Israel.” ’
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men* and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,* until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped,* they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

City + Christ Star Reflection: Christop
A group of astrologers were led to the Christ by a star. Where I live it’s actually pretty difficult to see the stars because the city lights are so bright. I’ve been thinking about what that means for me trying to find the Christ in an urban environment. During the Advent period, I find this particularly difficult. It seems like the city has gone insane on Christmas shopping and excessive advertising.
What makes it difficult for you to find the Christ?
Write it down on a post-it note, and stick it on one of the buildings.

When you do manage to find the Christ, where do you find him?
Write it down on a post-it note, and stick it on one of the stars.

Light Chess Nativity Station and read explanation.

Prayer Constellation Explanation. (This was a computer program which Jon-Jon made. While visiting this station, participants would type in a prayer, which became a star. By hovering the mouse over other stars, people participants could read others' prayers.)

Carol: We Three Kings

Light Angel Station

The Shepherds and the Angels
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying,
14‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’* 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Station Notes:
Be Not Afraid…
An elderly couple are told that they will have their first child – but that they shouldn’t be afraid. (Luke 1:13)
A young woman is told that she is pregnant, and that her husband is not the father. Even though she is at risk of being executed, she is told that she shouldn’t be afraid. (Luke 1:30)
Some sheep farmers are trusted with a treasonous secret, about a new king who has been born. He hasn’t been born in Jerusalem or Rome, but in a town called Bethlehem. And the farmers are told that they shouldn’t be afraid. (Luke 2:10)
All of these pieces of news are good reasons to be afraid. But God’s angel says, ‘Be not afraid.’ God has not put us in a dangerous situation and then left us on our own. God is with us in the danger.
There has been a lot of news recently which might give us good reason to be afraid. The economic meltdown. The possibility of losing our jobs. Alcohol-related violence.
Have a look through a newspaper. If you find something frightening, you might like to rip it out, and stick it on the angel, remembering that God is with us in the danger.

Carol: While Shepherds Watched

Light Dragon and Woman Station

Reading: Revelation 12 :1-6a, 13-17 (King James Version)
1And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. 5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, …13And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Reflection: O Holy Night-Mare (Marcus)

In the twelfth chapter of Revelation, the woman and the dragon appear as a great sign. The Greek word is semeion and it gets a good run at Christmas. The old prophet uses it when he announces to Mary “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against. The angel’s tell the shepherds the sign of their messiah will be a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
And so I too was inspired to make a great sign for Christmas.
The 12th Chapter of Revelation is not commonly read at Christmas time. The sign of the woman crying out and giving birth to the child with a dragon spitting threats and pursuing is not the sort of thing that sits comfortably alongside fairy lit reindeers or pastoral manger scenes on well manicured suburban front lawns.
Not exactly the thing we sing to our children. “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better watch out I’m telling you why, The Red Dragon from Revelation 12 is coming to town.”
But we should read this story at Christmas. In this painting, the Dragon is seen ready to devour the child of the pregnant woman, who symbolises the Church, the Virgin Mary and Israel. Like Eve at the start of Creation we have here another primeval encounter with the serpent. But here, at the end, it is another outcome entirely.
The woman clothed in the sun stands for and with all of humanity. She bears witness to hope by looking the dragon in the eye. She stares death in the face and gives birth anyway.
There is a lot at stake at Christmas. We domesticate it at our peril.
The dragons watch in Matthew is kept by the puppet King, Herod the Great. He is the representative of Rome who stands for all the worldly powers. Even today our fairy lights do little to light the darkness of the slaughter of the innocents today from economic crisis, climate change, to famine and genocide. At stake for the woman was her life and the life of the child – and in the reign his birth promised. At stake for us is our lives and all of creation.
When you go to sleep on Christmas Eve, what is it that you dream is coming to town? Is it a Holy Night or a Holy Nightmare? At every turn it appears an absurd mismatch: a woman and a dragon, a babe and the kings of this world, a messiah of utter folly and the power of death. But that is precisely the method that God has chosen risking everything on the power of powerlessness. The topic of Christmas is whether we have the eyes to see it, and the heart to follow.
Like the Woman, look the Dragon in the eye. Where do you see the powers of death in your own story? Plant a seed as a symbol of life and your hope and determination for an unlikely cause.
The sign is based upon the “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the Rays of the Sun,” a watercolor painting by the English poet and painter William Blake. painted between 1806 and 1809.

Carol: O Holy Night

Open Space for interaction with Stations.
Music during Open Space: Mahalia Jackson's 'Silent Night' (King Kooba remix); 'Bring a Torch Jeanette, Isabella', 'O Holy Night', 'Star of Wonder' and 'We Three Kings' from Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas; and Jackson Browne's 'The Rebel Jesus' from The Bells of Dublin.

Housekeeping : Marcus

Lights off all stations except for the womb/heartbeat
Divine Womb Prayer
Relight Stations and play background music.

Christmas Cake served for supper.

With Many thanks to Dave, Kylie and Ali in Bendigo, Nomes, Talitha and Anthony in Footscray and Christop and Merhin [and Marx] for being above and beyond fantastic worship gypsies!

Gaza ceasefire petition

There is a petition at Avaaz to the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Arab League and the USA asking for a ceasefire in Gaza:

We urge you to act immediately to ensure a comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, to protect civilians on all sides, and to address the growing humanitarian crisis. Only through robust international action and oversight can the bloodshed be stopped, the Gaza crossings safely re-opened and real progress made toward a wider peace in 2009.
They want 250 000 signatures. So far there are 52 254. You can sign the petition here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Doyle says, 'Bogan it up at home'

Our Mayor, Robert Doyle is once again saying that working class people aren't welcome in the city:

"If you're coming in to create trouble don't bother, bogan it up at home, don't come into the City of Melbourne," Cr Doyle said.
(Article from The Age is here.)
I don't know why he thinks it's working class people in particular that cause trouble in the city.

'War will not bring peace'

Deb Storie has an opionion piece in today's Age about the war in Afghanistan:

'WHAT is Kevin Rudd like?" "What type of man is he?" "Will he win the election?" Afghan friends and colleagues assailed me with these questions when I returned to Afghanistan in October last year. Their obsession with our federal election bemused me. Ten years ago they didn't know when Australian elections were or that Australia had a prime minister.
My friends explained: "Your next prime minister is very important to us. We need to know whether he will be someone else who believes that guns are the answer to everything. You see if he is different, and if the next American president is different, if they are people of peace, then maybe there is hope for us."
Read the whole article here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

'Tenant internet connects broader band of people'

Article in The Age about Infoxchange setting up broadband at the Collingwood flats:

Mr Mahar says that when he proposed wiring the Fitzroy flats, sceptics told him that computers would add to residents' isolation. But a study of the scheme, done by Swinburne University's Institute for Social Research, found the opposite was true: computers allowed tenants to participate more fully in the world around them. Young people used them to do homework, the unemployed searched for jobs and training, while an intranet site told residents what was going on around the estate.
Neighbours even began emailing each other to suggest meetings. Mr Mahar's favourite story is about a Serb and a Croat who lived next door to each other but had never spoken: after going online they began chatting about Solitaire on their PCs.
Read the whole article here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

'Advent Conspiracy' in Footscray

Yesterday afternoon/evening (Christmas Eve), Marcus, Mehrin, Talitha and I set up for 'Advent Conspiracy' at Footscray Baptist Church.
Pics and videos:

Marcus or I will publish the liturgy shortly after Christmas.

And as a bonus Christmas present, here is Marcus trying out the organ: