While I have my regular and essential morning cup of tea, I re-read this day’s worship service, tweak and make note of any changes in my sermon, remembering that in this service they will receive and discuss the annual report.
Arrive and set up worship space. Milly, my chocolate Labrador, is a beloved member of the congregation here, where she provides pastoral care and displays unending hope. We celebrate holy communion, where all are invited to participate to feast, including Milly.
Share in conversation with people over morning tea, listening to their concerns and joys, which they have named as part of our worship service.
After this, a member of the congregation and I dash off to Devonport to participate in the launch of the Yes ’23 vote as the start of NAIDOC Week. We join with members of the Devonport congregation, community members, First Nation people and politicians from all three levels of government. With a wonderful smoking ceremony by a local First Nations person, who I know through our pride community in Devonport, Jodie/Kitty.
Then on to lunch with five others at a local Devonport café to discuss how the Devonport NAIDOC Week service went and to celebrate with them. Then time to go home and crash on the couch with Milly and snuggle up in the warmth.
My morning routine of a cup of tea and snuggles with Milly. Then, over my first coffee of the day, I read the start of the third chapter of Sally Douglas’s new book Jesus Sophia. My practice at the moment of learning and reading is to read each day. With most books, I read a chapter a day, but I have discovered with Jesus Sophia, I need to read the chapter over a week to allow it to sink in and wrestle within my being.
Then it is time to head off to Devonport again for the flag-raising at Tiagarra, the keeping place at Devonport for the Six River Nations for NAIDOC Week. This is a wonderful event with schoolchildren from various schools around Devonport assisting in the flag-raising with long ropes – think tug-of-war and you will get close.
We were welcomed to country by the families who now care for this land and waterways, seeing as the Punnilerpanner people did not survive the terrible massacres of colonisation in Tasmania. We then shared in morning tea and a wander through the Tiagarra museum and a look at some of their amazing shell jewellery, which is a feature of the women’s art in this area of Lutarita/ Tasmania.
In the afternoon, I join with members of the Wynyard community for a cuppa and chat, our monthly catch up at a local Wynyard café. Here we share recipes, talk crafts, come up with ideas for the Wynyard congregation to do and the fair activities, talk about worship, our faith and lack of faith at times, and share things we want to pray about.
There is no set agenda and we never know who will turn up, we just share and support each other. This is an important connection for me, due to being a resource minister, things like this help me to keep my finger on the pulse and to be aware of how people are going, getting ideas of what we might need to plan for and supporting the leaders who are providing the pastoral care for their congregations.
When I get home, it’s time to read the papers for the Pastoral Relations Committee of the Presbytery which meets tomorrow in Launceston. Now time to eat and relax.
Up far too early for my liking. I don’t like getting up while it is still dark. Getting ready to drive to Launceston, which is 90 minutes away. Depending on roadworks it might be longer. Cup of tea in the Keep Cup, a bone for Milly to keep her busy and away we go.
On the way I listen to an episode of Dwelling by President Rev Sharon Hollis with Rev Sarah Agnew on prayer. Very inspiring, love the connection with Mother Teresa on prayer, that most of her prayer is silent listening and when asked what God is saying, she replies God is listening, too. So the rest of the trip, I decide to be in silence, listening to God and the thoughts that enter my mind about who and what God is asking me to listen to.
Arrive in Launceston and hit the local café for a coffee and a bagel to get me through the PRC meeting. We have all arrived on time, which is amazing considering so many of us travel, and the Tasmanian roadworks.
We begin with reflecting on Alison Overeem’s prayer for NAIDOC Week with elders and spend time in prayer. Then on to the issues we are discussing of congregations, ministry agents throughout our presbytery. We break for lunch and finish by 3pm. The way I help myself to concentrate and focus during meetings is to knit, nothing complicated, just basic knitting, but it always helps me to stay focused.
Drive home and listen to a podcast on the readings for next Sunday. We are using the Narrative lectionary in three of our four congregations and, at the moment, we are in three weeks of exploring 2 Peter. Not a part of the Bible we look at often, so a challenge and exploration of new area for leading worship. I will be leading worship at Stowport this coming Sunday, part of the Burnie congregation. It’s a small farming community out of Burnie and a small congregation, so the needs and people are different in each worshipping group.
Arrive home before dark. It’s really nice and gives me an opportunity to take Milly for a walk down along the beach, a time of unwinding, relaxing, stretching out the body and being reminded with the waves continually coming in that God’s love and presence is always constant and how we respond to that is always changing, like the sand along the beach.
A day of no scheduled things, so time to sit with the readings for Sunday, allow them to percolate within my brain, then go and have a walk along the beach with Milly and a coffee and doggy chino at our favourite café in Penguin. Then home to cook some meals to be given to a person who is struggling financially, and really only has the facilities to heat meals up, not to cook. This allows space for my brain to float ideas around about the readings, what I can use in the service, etc.
In the afternoon, I sit down at the computer and allow space for the worship service to be created in. Remembering that at Stowport they are a worshipping community of six people, who punch above their weight in living out the good news of God.
Each week, they offer hospitality for all the locals in their community, to gather for a cuppa and in the second hour each person — usually around 20 or so — share how they are going. It can be things like the sale of a good bull, writing a book about your life and sharing why you felt called to do so, it can be the struggle of dealing with cancer or family illness, all these people know they matter and are loved.
Last year, one member, Christine, felt called to resume the Sunday school for the children and grandchildren of the area. This resulted in a baptism for two of the children last year. I wonder to myself, with the start of school holidays will there be children at the service and some of their families? I think yes, prepare for that, so I decide on what story book I will use, about knowing that we are loved and affirming each other. I think that what will resonate from 2 Peter 1 is that we are called to put our faith into action and that we are led by the Spirit of God and then we will see the fruit. Remembering and recalling the stories we are called to share, not just the ones from scriptures, but also our local stories, and invite them to share these stories.
A drive off to Devonport for our monthly Pride coffee catch up. We gather at a café in Devonport, Laneway, place the rainbow flag on the table and everyone is welcome. This month, there are about 13 of us, from gay, to non-binary, trans people, allies, First Nation, non-binary as well which is another struggle in itself.
In the conversation, I listen to the story of the trans-woman who transitioned late in life, and is struggling with feeling worthwhile and appreciated, who are they now. Their determination to help others go through what they have in a more healthy way, so studying community work at TAFE, and realising how far they have come in three years, from self-harm and being suicidal to now sharing their story with others to assist others.
I listen to the autistic person share their fear about coming out fully to everyone they know. We cry and laugh together, share hugs oh so freely and I am reminded of what it means to be fully welcomed into a community and God’s loving embrace.
I am always in awe of this group of people, their openness and authenticity with each other, of how we as church communities could learn from them.
The afternoon is spent collating and preparing worship resources for our worship leaders, both on the RCL and the Narrative lectionary. I am trying to prepare resources for our four weeks on Wisdom and poetry readings, these are not usually found elsewhere in the RCL, except on the odd occasion. So it is a challenge, to think of music options, giving people my notes on my first thoughts on the readings and some more collated thoughts. Sharing prayers, calls to worship and blessings, trying to write some and source some from trusted websites and writers. Including Sally Douglas’s new book ‘Jesus Sophia’, woman wisdom, this will help worship leaders get a bigger picture of wisdom throughout the scriptures and an idea of a female divine image, which many people struggle with.
In the evening, it is our Burnie gathering at a restaurant, where members of the congregation and wider community gather to have dinner together. Someone shares about their navy cadet days as a female, when there was an oil strike in Victoria and the females had to have cold showers as their showers were still on oil, while the men had hot showers. As we drink and eat together, we accept each other and all the differences we bring to the table are accepted in our love for humanity. I hear about the end of the mutton bird season for our First Peoples, and how many people use the oil for health reasons.
My scheduled day off, but still so much to finish off for the week before I can take some space. Finish reading chapter three of ‘Jesus Sophia’ and spend time with wondering questions. Then on to preparing the powerpoint for Sunday’s worship. Finish the resources for the Wisdom and poetry time and send them out to our worship leaders.
It is now 2pm and pouring with rain. What better way than to spend the afternoon off in this weather, then to watch last night’s Tour de France, and knit away. Time and space for me to recharge.
It has been interesting doing this writing up of the week, and reflecting on how different resource ministry compared with congregational-based ministry. Sometimes we are so busy doing that we don’t take to to reflect and notice the differences in where God is is calling us.