Christmas with Dickens

Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, and raising funds to purchase streetswags for people living on the streets, A Dickens of a Christmas will be a night to remember. Held in St George’s Cathedral on St George’s Terrace, Perth on Monday 3 December, 7.30pm, the night will include Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, interwoven with seasonal carols and music. Tickets available from the Cathedral office on 9325 5766 .

Moderator’s Advent Message: Preparing to Serve

Recently, in my role as Moderator, I attended a board meeting of one of our caring agencies. I was asked by the chairperson to spend a few minutes reflecting on the relationship of the Church to the work of our caring agencies, as a discussion starter.

As someone who only came into the life of the Uniting Church as an adult, I have made the observation that there are some things that run all the way through the very centre of the being of our Church, just like the words “Whitley Bay” ran through the sticks of rock sold in the place where I grew up. One of those things is the belief that we are to always be a serving community.

I talked to the board about the history of a church that finds its roots in three earlier communities that were all intrinsically linked by their sense of call, as Christians, to serve those in need in the world around them and beyond. This is a history and a call that is still present in the DNA of the church today and out of which all our caring agencies have ultimately come into being.

I related my experience of visiting a minister at one of our churches. There was a small circle of chairs in the chapel, maybe 25, but the hall was a bustling ‘op shop’, and beyond that there was a low-cost food shop, both staffed by members of the congregation and community volunteers; the church at work, serving the community.

Someone said to me recently that nationally UnitingCare has more outlets than McDonalds, but for me that is only part of an even bigger picture. To get a picture of the places the Uniting Church serves the community, in one way or another, would probably stagger us all. It truly is in our DNA. I had some time to reflect on this Christian ‘sense of call to serve’ recently at a day retreat at Wollaston, which the Presbytery held for those in ministry.

The theme of the day was Advent and Rev Viv Larkin, who led the day, placed three beautiful Advent banners in the chapel for us to reflect on. One banner contained an image of Mary visited by the shadowed, yet powerful outline of an angel messenger.

As I walked the labyrinth during the day, as a journey of prayer, the image kept reappearing for me with the word ‘beginning’. On reflection I realise that whether you consider the story of Mary’s visitation by the angel to be literal or metaphor, the Christian story begins with a choice to serve.

The whole Christian story begins at this point, or not, with a choice. Am I prepared to serve God or not? Perhaps that is why serving is in our DNA.

As we begin our Advent journey again this year, perhaps it is time to ask ourselves: where is the God revealed in the child born in a manger calling me to serve?

May you find blessings as you walk the Advent journey again this year.

Rev Ron Larkin,
Moderator, Uniting Church in WA

Treatment of asylum seekers hits all-time low as public debate sinks even lower

he Uniting Church in Australia has condemned the Federal Government for the disgraceful treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru outlined in today’s report by Amnesty International.

“Amnesty’s report on the conditions on Nauru should turn the stomach of all compassionate Australians,” said National Director of UnitingJustice, Rev. Elenie Poulos. Continue reading