No Us and Them

Panic buying, self-isolation, hand sanitiser – even working from home are all privileges vast numbers of people around the world and certainly in Australia, do not have access to.

The COVID-19 pandemic will impact people that live in poverty, be it in Kings Cross, Sydney or Alexandra, Johannesburg far more than those with economic stability and access to health care.

The impact this crisis is having around the world, where self-isolation is a myth, where there is no choice to work from home and where health systems are struggling is heartbreaking. The level of human devastation that will be caused is not yet properly understood.

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The Other Side of Easter - A Pastoral Note from Jenny

Dear friends, 

“Leadership therefore is not called Christian because it is permeated with optimism against all the odds of life, but because it is grounded in the historic Christ-event which is … a dramatic affirmation that there is light on the other side of darkness.”

Henri Nouwen: The Wounded Healer (76)

 Well, here we are on the “other side” of Easter! I know there are many who were feeling very stressed in the lead up to the Easter services, with big questions around how it would all go. I also know that there are many people feeling stressed now that Easter is over, raising questions of “What now?” and generally, genuinely feeling anxious about how to engage in post-Easter life in and with our Congregations or other settings. I’d like to take the opportunity to share with you all an observation and a brief reflection arising from what I have been noticing.

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Easter Note from Jenny

Dear friends,

“I remember a story about a Rabbi during a natural disaster.

He was asked how he could explain such a tragic act of God.

The Rabbi answered that the disaster was an act of nature.

The act of God occurred when people stepped up to help each other.”

(Meme wisdom from Facebook)

Well, we are in the midst of Holy Week. A week of high stress and anxiety for Jesus’ followers as they rode the foreboding rollercoaster from the entry into Jerusalem with crowds singing Hosanna! through the upheaval in the temple and a final meal together. Of course, as we know, the week ended with Jesus on a cross then in a grave. It was the end.

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Value of The Home

I spent several Sundays ago walking through the lanes of Ultimo, flipping my gaze from house numbers to the blue dot on Google Maps, on my phone. I had been invited to lunch by a resident of Ultimo and a friend to MustardSeed Uniting and Harris St Centre. We’d met several times over coffee before, sometimes with another staff person, sometimes with a Uniting or UCA person, always chewing over community organising, church and climate change. This time I was invited over to lunch, at her place. 

Standing in her house wasn’t geographically unique to the situation – we were perhaps only around the corner from any establishment we could have been to. But it was unique to be standing in her house; I felt the joy of it, leaning against the door jam of her kitchen, listening to her as she stirred the pot of pasta she was making us for lunch.

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Pastoral Note from Jenny

Dear friends,

A friendly reminder: “doing your best” does not mean

working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown. (Source unknown)

Perhaps the “new normal” is starting to settle in for some of us now? Maybe the frenetic activity is slowing down? Or maybe we don’t notice that happening for us yet? I think something that I am learning – again – is that it’s ok to feel confused and overwhelmed. It’s ok for my feet to be paddling furiously underwater whilst on top of the water it looks like I’m gliding gracefully. And I am aware that you might be feeling pretty much the same.

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With the rapid escalation of circumstances around COVID-19 in the last two weeks, our face-to-face gatherings have been cancelled or moved online. As a result, many of us are left feeling sad, feeling lost, stressed and anxious. 

In a recent press conference, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison described what we are facing as a 1 in 100 year event. Which is true, the last time the world saw something like this it was in 1918 with the outbreak of the Spanish flu. And a key difference between now and then is social media, technology and software that allows all of us to experience this whole thing together - at once. We aren’t just seeing what is happening in our pocket of the world, we are experiencing these events over and over again. And in the midst of all this we are physically losing the connection to places and people in our lives that are our community and identity.

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A Pastoral Note from Jenny

Dear friends,

“What a year this week has been!”

This was a meme I saw on Facebook – one amongst many that seek to express the bewilderment people are experiencing. Things are changing around us at a rate that seems to leave us with increasing uncertainty, and possibly fear and anxiety. We can be left reeling when we consider that only a few days ago we were still allowed to gather at a café or restaurant and for worship, even if there were some new rules about numbers and how close we could sit next to each other. Now walking down the street the cafes seem like empty shells, with forlorn staff members wistfully watching passersby, hoping someone will come in to order a takeaway coffee.

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Tips for the long haul from Sydney Presbytery staff to each other

For looking after ourselves. For looking after each other. For making choices for the marathon, not the sprint.

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GOOD NEWS AMIDST THE BLUES: Rev. Bill Crews on the Project

Rev. Bill Crews was on the The Project last night to discuss how The Loaves & Fishes Restaurant at Ashfield Uniting Church is managing to keep serving free meals to folks sleeping rough during this trying and unprecedented time.

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Covid-19 Update from the Moderator | 20 March 2020

Rev. Simon Hansford, Moderator of Synod NSW & ACT speaks about what it means to be Church in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic.