I’m still waiting for you to send me material for this page. So I continue to write all the comments and reflections myself.
I know that many of you, despite the advanced average age of our Congregation, are web-literate. Send me your photos, and your comments. We have a world-wide reach.
Gary the webmaster
Our Christmas Appeal 2017
Above is a photo from the Christian World Service (CWS) website. The caption is:
“Clarita is pleased with the root crops and banana trees she has planted in her new garden.Â She wants to grow more so her family has a cushion against future calamities.”
The text below the photo reads:
The memory of Typhoon Haiyan drives 74 year old Clarita who lives near the coast of Aklan province in the Philippines.
In 2013, her house and crops were badly damaged. She wants to have a cushion against future calamities and make her community stronger. Together they have planted fruit trees and root crops, and started their very own farmers market. In the face of climate change, they are preparing with hope for an uncertain future.
Before the typhoon, she lived a largely subsistent life, dependent on the food she and her family grew. It was enough to feed them most days in the year. She also worked as a volunteer health worker in her community, part of Developers self-help programme. Along with other members of her community she has learnt a lot from Developers. They have a good understanding about their local environment and the effects climate change will have.
Typhoon Haiyan was the wakeup call. Filipinos know the temperatures are rising and typhoons will be more severe. Despite their economic poverty, they are determined to be better prepared for the next superstorm.
Clarita wants a cushion against future calamities. She is taking nothing for granted. Every day, she works on her land, tending her newly planted fruit trees and crops. Knowing how important the community is when disaster strikes, she participates in the planting drives organised by Developers.Â For the last four years, their story has been only of disaster, but a new one is emerging.
The following reflections are also copied from the CWS website:
Lighting the Advent Candle of Hope
In the lighting of this first Advent Candle of Hope we make space within ourselves to hear and engage with the voices of those we might otherwise miss but with whom we are connected by our common humanity.
We remember also the voice of the prophets calling us to be bearers of hope in a troubled world.
Advent is preparing us to celebrate the birth afresh for another year and season. We prepare by cultivating personally and collectively as €˜church, a particular kind of desire that longs for the coming of God on earth.
As we engage for another year in this season of Advent let us reflect on what the season is training us, both as individuals and communities to long for, to desire for? Our desires are both personal and social. Our desires are deeply formed by social context and events we have experienced and as such affect not only us but others around us.
The CWS Annual Appeal Theme for 2017 is €˜Make Hope Our Story”. Hope must always be enacted in the here and now.
Reflection from the Webperson.
I have just returned from the yearly symposium of the AKO Academy, an outfit set up by the Government some years ago to recognise the contribution of outstanding Tertiary teachers to education and society.
This is an oddball group. Its members are selected by a committee which every year looks around the country to find teachers who are using innovative methods to get their message across. Some of them give presentations and illustrate what they do.
This year, we heard from a Politics lecturer who introduces each class with a folk-song, composed by himself, about his topic of the day. Several others showed controversial videos about society’s treatment of the disadvantaged, its attitudes to homosexuals, street beggars, the outcasts. Some of these were very moving. We have a flash dinner, and afterwards talk to each other about what we do. I always return greatly inspired. As long as we have people like this setting the standard in education, there is hope.
This is an uninhibited group. We greet old friends by embracing each other, male and female, with glad cries. Yet now it seems, such close contact is highly inappropriate.. TV and social media are currently and continually revealing such male/female encounters which are really excuses for groping by dominant males. More and more of these seem to appear on social media, video interviews, and the nightly TV news.
This is troubling. Yet Academy members continue to do it. Nobody is offended, because the long-time members have always greeted each other like this, and the new members are delighted to be warmly embraced in welcome. As scripture says, “to the pure, all things are pure.”
Years ago, a colleague returned from a two-year stay in a South America country, where he lectured in a University. He told me that before each class he taught, all the lady students would embrace him warmly, one by one, in welcome. Friends meeting on the street would embrace each other. The whole society was awash in hugging. He found this very inspiring. But when he returned to teach in New Zealand, he realised that this would never do here. We are too suspicious of hugging. He found this sad.
More Thoughts at the end of the year.
How fast the years fly by now! When I was young, they seemed to take forever. But every year at this time, I thank back to days that were, and the people that were, and the world we dimly remember.
Ogden Nash wrote a poem called “My little Dog.” (I’ve abridged it. Sorry Ogden.)
“Ten years ago my little dog was arrogant and spry,
Her step was proud, her bark was loud, a fire was in her eye!
Small birds on stilts along the beach rose up with piping cry,
And as they leaped beyond her reach, she thought that she might fly!
If nature’s laws refused her wings, those laws she would defy.
But she was ten years younger then, and so, by God, was I.
Ten years ago she cleft the air, to seize what she could spy,
Tonight she bumps against the chair, betrayed by milky eye.
She seems to pant “time up, time up”,
My little dog must die.
And lie in dust with Caesars pup,
So, presently, must I.”
And he also wrote:
“When I consider bygone days,
I think how evening follows morn,
So many I loved were not yet dead;
So many I love, were not yet born.”
So at our Christmas day service, I’ll close my eyes, and see my Father and Mother, sitting in the pew at the Onehunga Presbyterian Church. I’ll hear the voice of the Reverend Frank Winton preaching. I’ll remember the day that God answered my prayer, the day that the girl of my dreams sat down in Church in the pew in front of me. Yes, I married her. Thank you God.
All of you will have memories at Christmas that have great meaning. Cherish them. The years now go faster than they used to.
TIME, you old gipsy man,
Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
Just for one day?
All things I'll give you
Will you be my guest,
Bells for your jennet
Of silver the best,
Goldsmiths shall beat you
A great golden ring,
Peacocks shall bow to you,
Little boys sing,
Oh, and sweet girls will
Festoon you with may.
Time, you old gipsy
Why hasten away?