I love to see the new shoots on our roses and the pleasure we get from the many months of them being in flower. It is indeed a time of hope and new life. However, I am ever so mindful of the drought that covers a lot of our landscape and the devastation that this is for the many people on the land and their surrounding communities. On Friday, in our Father’s Day liturgy at the diocesan offices we remembered our farmers, with someone sharing the plight of them in the Upper Hunter and the support provided to them by St Vincent de Paul.
While I was in Mass tonight (Sunday) and listening to the word from the letter to St James (1:17-18, 21-22,27) the following words struck a chord in me:
Accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the word tell you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.
This resonated with me because I found myself thinking of the ‘good works’ that had been occurring just in pastoral ministries over the past week, involving so many good people from around the diocese. Here are the ones I have been part of, beginning with today:
- Father’s Day
- Give Us A Sign - Season of Creation
- Organising Church for Mission in a Changing World
- Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia’s Response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
- Plenary Council – Local Animator’s Training
- Council for Mission Volunteer training and formation
Each of these six dot points could provide enough stimulus material for this message, but given the beginning of the Season of Creation, 1 September to 4 October and our active ecumenical involvement in creating the signs for use across churches, schools and organisations, I thought that this would be the focus for this week’s message.
The Give Us a Sign web page is up and running at www.giveusasign.org.au
Put up your signs, take a photograph of it, and send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org for uploading on the Give us A Sign Facebook page.
The Give Us A Sign campaign emerged out of conversations within the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches in the Hunter and Central Coast as a powerful initiative to highlight Social Justice issues across the wider community. Previous campaigns have promoted peace, called for greater compassion for asylum seekers and our need to stand together with the First Peoples of Australia.
In 1989, a day of prayer for creation was proclaimed for 1 September, World Day of Care for Creation, that begins the Season of Creation which runs up to 4 October, the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. During this time Christians across the globe are invited to celebrate prayer services for creation and engage in different actions to care for creation. Caring for our planet demands of us a unified and shared purpose. Our planet is suffering and collectively we need to stand and raise awareness and to make a difference. The theme of Season of Creation 2018 is pilgrimage.
To raise awareness of this important issue and the work that still needs to be achieved, the Give Us A Sign campaign is calling on Churches and Christian organisations to stand together for Creation.
From 1 September to 4 October, simply post a message, at least one day EACH week, on your church or school noticeboards to show that you Stand Together for Creation. Signs will be provided for the Season.
The Give Us a Sign website provides, wording for signs, instructions and resources. This is how you are asked to be involved:
- Choose a message and display it on your noticeboard. Select from the list of signs available from the website giveusasign.org.au or create your own.
- Take a photo of your sign and email it to email@example.com along with the name of the church or group. A member of the team will then upload the image to the Facebook page and the website.
- Individuals can also participate by taking a picture of themselves with a message to show that they Stand Together for creation and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org for uploading.
- Choose a bulletin notice from the website for each week during the Season of Creation.
- Follow the Give Us A Sign Facebook page (link on the website).
Church leaders may also like to preach on the Season of Creation. There are resources on the website.
Rose McAllister, a teacher and artist from San Clemente has created some amazing images which can be found on the website and which will also feature as Facebook posts. She is keen for others to explore their creative talents during this Season of Creation.
Here is one of the bulletin quotes to be found on the giveusasign website:
As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning … Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life. (The Earth Charter, 2000. [LS])
I believe the Gospel reading on Sunday from Mark (7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23), implores us to move from our heads to our hearts, because it is what comes from inside of us that forms our response to life. The laws may be there to guide us but we need to make them part of who we are. People will see us as wise and prudent, because of our covenant relationship with a God (who became one of us) so that we might have life and live it fully and responsibly.
I found these words to be of value:
If the seed of God is planted deep within us, the intentions that arise from our hearts will be good and loving. Our motives for worshipping God and helping others will be pure.
Next week I hope to share with you something of our wonderful encounters with those involved in the Plenary Council Animator Training and Formation sessions. These sessions finish this coming Sunday 9 September. I hope some of those who have already been part of the formation have begun the Listening and Dialogue Encounters within their local communities.