Sunday, May 31, 2009


My sister has had a bad week. It began the week before when she and her husband were told that a dear friend had cancer in the kidney and only a few months to live. She discussed with his wife how to help her travel regularly to the hospital. The next day they were told he had died just 15 minutes after his wife arrived at the hospital thinking she had a few months more with him. At least the suffering was short but of course the shock was great. The funeral was this week.

At least it did not cause a clash with her regular 3 month check-up with her dermatologist. This time last year I related how she had a melanoma removed successfully. She has been visiting the same dermatologist for 20 years. Dr Collins also treated our mother so I have met her. A message on the answer phone informed her the appointment had to be cancelled and to ring for details. On ringing she was told that Dr Collins had died last month of an aggressive brain tumour within 4 weeks of diagnosis.

Another close friend of hers has had cancer for a while and is having treatment. Their group went on a little holiday together a few weeks ago and it was upsetting to see this once capable woman who used to be the organiser needing to be helped around and bursting into tears because she felt helpless and a nuisance. She and her husband sold their house several years ago, travelled around Australia, invested their money and moved into a house owned by one of their children. Like for so many these days the investment has gone and they have just been told they are to be evicted by their own children.

With tears in her eyes my sister hoped this week will be better yet she is to have the first of her cataract operations on Wednesday so it will not be a week of unbridled joy.
Please pray that this now routine operation will go well.

I also had my yearly visit to the dermatologist 2 weeks ago. He put me onto the operating table and made 4 incisions on forehead, nose and neck to obtain pathology samples. I did the shopping with 3 large bandages over my face and neck.
I returned last week to remove the stitches and get the results. The nose was a mole, the neck will just need some ointment and freezing but the forehead is a basal skin cancer (the least invasive) and will need to be cut out on June 16. He will need to make a large incision to avoid my having a permanently raised eyebrow (Oh vanity of vanities!!). After that news he then froze about a dozen pre-cancerous growths across my face which I originally expected and always dread, I would prefer to visit the dentist, so now I have a blotchy face.

Last night I attended the Blue Mountains Musical Society to which I once belonged (see various posts). They put on 'Les Miserables', quite appropriate. This is my favourite musical but luckily I had already purchased my ticket as it was a cold, wet night so staying at home was tempting.
The usher commenting on my being alone did not help my feelings. I really have no-one other than my sister with whom to attend theatre or movies.
It is over 10 years since I was a member so while I recognised a few faces, none recognised me, my hair has gone grey and I now wear glasses. I enjoyed the singing but it did not help my miserables.

I think we have had enough of "I dreamed a dream"lately so will instead give you another favourite of mine "Do you hear the people sing"

Friday, May 29, 2009

An Invitation that is easy to refuse

I have been told I will be warmly welcomed if I attend St Augustine's Neutral Bay by the associate minister David Ould.
I renewed a discussion with Mr Ould after being directed from Father Christian at GAFCON to a discussion on Anglican Priest Father David Heron.
Both these blogs are satirical and I am not good at satire. I once told David Heron I did not appreciate that he put words into the mouth of Peter Jensen. There is really no need the man spews forth enough drivel on his own. For an example, just look at the meanderings over women in the priesthood in an interview on our ABC.

Anyway Mr Ould tells me I will be warmly welcome if I choose to descend from the Mountains and visit his church. "Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly"

I am sure he would put on a bright smile and shake my hand as long as I just sit there, sing the hymns and donate to the offertory.
But it would be a different matter if I should ask to read the lesson, or horror of horrors offer to preach or to give any indication that I might have thoughts of entering the ministry. Nor would I be so welcome if I arrived hand in hand with a man and asked for a blessing on our relationship.

Why would I want to travel so far when I can receive the same "welcome" in nearby churches. The ferry trip across the harbour would be pleasant but little else.

For years I visited nearby churches because I believe I should regularly participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion. I did not attend expecting any fellowship and was fully aware I should hide my sexuality. Before moving to the Mountains I came out to the local rector at Bexley North (Rev Robert Jones, now located at Turramurra) and was immediately removed from the Reader roster. I continued to worship there for another year, often with my then partner. I was much more forgiving in those days. He continued to smile and shake hands although he had compared homosexuality to bestiality.

For many years I worshipped at Emmanuel Church, Lawson in whose parish I reside. They have a traditional service at 8.30 and it was 1662 Holy Communion at the time. A new rector arrived, since left, who began making unusual changes to the service and whose preaching was of the fire and brimstone style but the last straw came when I was told a dear little old lady would be visiting me monthly for personal prayer. I informed them I would prefer to be asked not told and while I liked the dear lady I had no intention of discussing my personal life with her on a regular basis and have not been back there since.

I had seen homophobic letters to our local paper from the pastor (his term) of the next church east so went west to Holy Trinity, Wentworth Falls. Holy Communion was only every 2nd sunday and seemed to be omitted for the slightest reason in favour of family services so I did not stay there long.

I went further west to St Alban's Leura. I worshipped there for a number of years as the services were very traditional and the preaching, while mainly consisting of bland Bible stories, was bearable. I noted women were busy at the door but never took a part in the service, not even reading the lesson. A new rector arrived and while pleasant, never even asked my name. Eventually he departed from the Bible stories to make a violent attack on a movie, 'Brokeback Mountain'. I never heard him attack other movies with sex out of wedlock, I guess because at least they were heterosexual. I walked out, wrote a letter and he replied telling me we were all sinners. I agree but do not believe my homosexuality is a sin. I have not returned.

So why would I travel all the way to Neutral Bay knowing the ministers of the church are so homophobic as to write messages decrying a partnered homosexual minister in a non-Anglican church in a country as far away as Scotland.

If Mr Ould is not willing to accept Bishop Gene Robinson, would deny the priesthood to openly partnered homosexual men and women and refuse to bless gay partnerships, I have no interest in meeting with him and would find it very difficult to worship with him. I would not feel "welcome".

Out of curiosity I visited the website of St Augustine's Neutral Bay.
They have meetings at 9.30. Twice each month they have Holy Communion. They describe Holy Communion as "a token meal"
Then they continue:
"When we share in Communion together, we look back, look forward, and we look around. We look back to remember Jesus' death for our sins and his resurrection to new life, we look forward to his coming again to take us to be with him forever, and we look around to remind ourselves that all who trust in Christ are united in him. After a reminder is given of these things in the service, whilst you remain seated, trays of individual cups of grape juice and plates of pieces of bread are handed around the congregation. We encourage you to take this opportunity to do business with God in the quietness of your own heart. If your trust is in Jesus, we invite you to take a piece of bread and a cup of juice and place them on the shelf in front of your seat and wait until all have been served. Then we eat and drink together recalling that Jesus death and resurrection is for us, and that we are united with each other in him."

My United Church friends do something like this and I have no quarrel with that but I am an Anglican, this is not Anglicanism.

At St James, King Street there are 3 services of Eucharist (Said, Sung and Choral) almost every Sunday and there is also a midday Eucharist every weekday.

We use a common cup of wine and believe that the Body and Blood of Christ becomes truly present in the bread and the wine during the Prayer of Consecration.

Next Sunday we will have a woman preaching, a fairly common occurrence. Women act as deacons during the Eucharist and regularly read the lessons. We would be happy to have them preside (if ordained) but the Diocese does not recognise their ordination to the priesthood.
Most importantly is that every service sheet and publication has on the front page.
"We are a progressive community that welcomes all people regardless of age, race, sexual orientation or religion"
I know I praise St James a lot but it is so wonderful to feel truly "welcome".

So I will make the long trip each week to St James, King Street until I can arrange to move to the Diocese of Dunedin which was the first Diocese to have a woman bishop and has ordained an openly gay partnered man, Rev Juan Kinnear, to the priesthood who is part of the Cathedral staff.

I have no plans to visit any of the homophobic quasi baptist churches which masquerade as Anglican churches throughout Sydney.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

St James Reaches Out

Just on a year ago, St James, King Street installed a coffee shop at the front on the square which leads from the Railway Station to the main legal section of the city. It is only open on weekdays so I have only once tried its coffee but I am glad to read that it is going well. In our monthly online magazine the Associate Rector, Fr John Stewart writes:
"From 6.00am Monday to Friday, the friendly and welcoming faces of Marius and Luis swing wide open the old wrought iron gates at the East end of the Church, start the heating-up process of the espresso machine, and prepare for the steady stream of workers, who over the next few hours, will emerge from the subway that links St James’ station to Queen’s Square. Many of them will divert from their well trodden path to the office, in order to pick-up their favourite shot – sometimes called a ‘god shot’ by coffee connoisseurs, or those who simply know what they like! Since Coffee @ St James’ Church began operating almost twelve months ago, not only has the legal precinct gained a new coffee cart and unique cafĂ© experience, so too have the ministry opportunities for the parish grown in an exciting way. Our church now looks alive throughout the day as the eastern end of the grounds host patrons at the tables overlooking the Square, and even in the bays of the crypt. For many, they have never before set foot on our grounds – and here we are now, welcoming them in!".....
"for the clergy at St James’ as each visit to the
coffee cart results in encountering and conversing with the customers either in the queue or seated at tables in the courtyard. In fact, only the other week, a man from south-west Sydney had made what he called ‘a rare journey into the city,’ discovered our coffee cart, and found there the welcoming embrace of St James’ as a result. Furthermore, he also encountered a priest to whom he could talk – and he needed to! What a unique opportunity God has given us, as we minister here in the heart of the city – just imagine what we could do if we could offer a continuous priestly presence in and around the coffee cart each day? Food for thought."
And I note the customers can tell Fr John is a priest which would not be true for many of the evangelical priests in our city.

Another part of the magazine refers to the Christian Meditation Group.
One was started just 20 years ago and there are now 3 weekday groups plus one on Sunday afternoon.
"The lunchtime groups are very popular and attract a lot of city workers and others. In fact they are so popular and St James’ is so connected with the tradition of contemplative prayer that we are seeking leaders for groups to meet at lunchtime on the other two days of the week, so that Christian meditation is offered at our church every day of the week."

It is good to read about these developments in a parish which would be often criticised by others in the diocese as not being evangelistic. I do regret that living 80km from my church restricts my participation even in drinking coffee there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jensen Jetaways

I have just learned, thanks to Grandmere Mimi, that Peter Jensen who styles himself Anglican Archbishop of Sydney will be at a conference in London on July 6. It is only a few weeks since I read he was stirring up trouble while speaking in Ireland, I do not know if he has been back in the meantime or is just enjoying the English Spring. We know he was gallivanting around Jerusalem and the United Kingdom although avoiding Lambeth last (Australian) winter. Must be a nice job. Guess he does not want to spend too much time on mundane Diocesan matters, I do not believe he ever ran a parish so pastoral care is not his forte.

However it sickens me to think that the cost of all his jaunts are being paid by Diocesan funds which are supported by the dues from my parish and therefore my weekly offerings. The thought that just one cent of my church donation could be used to pay for the jet travel of this hate filled little man to meet his homophobic mates and support him while he works to destroy the Anglican communion makes me want to retch. I think I will put an empty envelope in the plate in future and direct my money in other ways. Maithri's work of love in Swaziland and Medecins Sans Frontiers or perhaps the work of Red Cross in Sri Lanka are obvious alternatives. I stopped donating to Anglicare (Sydney) when Jensen became President of that organisation and wrote to tell them so. That money now goes to Anglicoord in Melbourne.
If Jensen is so fond of his travels, why doesn't he resign and concentrate on running the FOCAS or whatever they now call themselves and stop embarrassing the real Anglicans of Sydney he pretends to lead. Unfortunately most of his henchmen who are running the diocese in his absence are worse than him if you can believe it.

A dear friend who is a deacon (no women priests in Sydney though she would love to be one and would be excellent in that position) last week told us that she spent a year at Moore Theological College in 1966 and has spent over 40 years since studying theology to wipe away what she learned at that time. Jensen, spent most of his time from the late 60's until 2001 there as student, teacher then principal so would need aeons to destroy the viruses implanted.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Russian Music and Lunch by the Harbour

Now that I have gone back to work 2 days per week, I will find it hard to read let alone post blogs. I have spent several hours this morning trying to catch up. I worked Tuesday/Wednesday this week. In future it will be Wednesday/Thursday but yesterday was my sister's birthday and by good fortune we had one of our symphony concerts on the same day so I took her out to lunch first.

We lunched at an outdoor restaurant at Circular Quay just near the Opera House. (just left of centre in photo)
It was a typical sunny Sydney day as winter approaches although a bit windy (It was blowing a gale up at home in the Mountains) but the wind was not cold, just had to hang on to our napkins.

The symphony concert was conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy who is now Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor. It was titled Russian Tribute. The first half was Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1 played by Sasha Rozhdestvensky. I am not a fan of Shostakovich but although the first movement (nocturne) was slow, the Scherzo was better but then I found the Passacaglia excruciating while the Burlesque was very good. However Rozhdestevesky played excellently, it is just Shostakovich I find a bit hard.

The second half was Mussorgsky 'Pictures at an Exhibition'. I know this well though have never heard it live before but the usual version played is the orchestral arrangement by Ravel. This was to be Ashkenazy's own arrangement and suppose to be truer to its Russian origin. It was the premiere in Australia. I was a little nervous but need not have been as it was excellent, in fact I was close to tears by the end, it was such a marvellous performance. So my sister and I had a very pleasant day for her birthday (75). Her husband was at home recovering from his hernia op which apparently went well although he is very sore.

I have 5 more weeks of this work. I was very tired both days, mainly from standing for so long. I need to leave home just after 7am to be at school by 8.15 then leave about 3.15 and home (if I do not stop for shopping ) about 4.30. Difficult after 18 months without any work. The last time I worked was to pay for my flight to Europe but this time, I have stopped my superannuation payments for the period so there will no immediate increase in my income. Hope I live long enough to realise the benefit of preserving them.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Email hoaxes

I have just received an email from a dear friend with whom I use to work. It is not the first time a concerned, loving but naive friend had sent me one of those emails about some poor child (graphic photos) suffering some disease with the message that AOL or some other company will donate 15 - 32 cents for each email forwarded.
They make me see red and I look up Snopes to prove they are false.
I hate telling my dear friends they have been hoaxed but feel such messages must be stopped where possible.
Having sent the message to her, I then found Maithri's latest post about a little girl, Zama, who has suffered terrible physical and emotional injuries in Swaziland and the way he has been able to help. I sent the link to my friend saying this was real and hopefully she would pass that on. Maithri and all those like him are true candidates for sainthood. Hopefully people may send him or other real charities a few dollars rather than clog the intertubes with useless emails.
My favourite is Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to any Mums reading.

I felt a little sad this morning when I picked up the City Paper off the lawn and found a sticker attached "Forget saying it with flowers today, Just say it". Of course it was an advert for the telephone company.
It is now nearly 3 years since Mum departed this life but I will always miss her and wish I could ring her as I did nearly every day for over 30 years. One photo taken in the 1980's, the other on her last Christmas with us.
Love you Mum.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Prayer Request

There are many prayer requests on the blogs I read, mine are not serious but are for my sister and brother-in-law.
He is to be operated on for a hernia next week. He has had a number of these over his life, however he had an operation for prostate cancer last year and has therefore had a number of anaesthetics over a year and apparently this is not good at his age so my sister is rather worried.
Meanwhile she has been told she needs to have cataracts removed from both eyes. These days that is just day surgery but still not pleasant. She will wait until her husband is fully recovered so the first one will be in a month's time.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Autumn blues

For the last 2 years I have been in Europe at this time of the year.
May 1st, 2008 I was in Appenzellerland, Switzerland and travelled to Liechtenstein while back in 2007 I was with my sister in Paris and went to Chartres and the cathedral. The night before we had attended a string concert playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons in the glorious La Chapelle followed by dinner in St Germain.

Therefore it is a bit of a letdown to be home this year. I should be preparing the house and garden for sale but we have had an unusually early cold snap. The weather is ridiculous with the hottest temperatures on record back in January leading to the disastrous bushfires down south and now some areas are having the coldest April temperatures on record and the earliest snowfalls in 13 years.

I know I am moving to a colder area but I will certainly look for a house which is easier to heat. My present home has open plan lounge, dining, kitchen with halls and high ceilings (split level home) all needing to be heated just for me. The cheaper alternative is to go into the bedroom and read.

The ensuite renovation is now finished and the main bedroom painted with new vertical blinds but I have not yet put everything back, much is still on the floor of the 2nd bedroom.
The landscaping is finally finished, it took 3 months but I have to do final touches with new soil and plantings and the cold weather has been a deterrent there.

I cannot see anyone buying this cold house in winter so will now leave it until August to contact agents. At the moment the leaves are turning and there is a good display of sasanqua camellias and nerines but they will soon be finished and there will be just bare branches. In August the spring bulbs will be appearing followed by the blossoms and azaleas to attract a buyer (I hope).

Meanwhile the financial news has been improving. My super funds finally began to go back up in March and early April but have stalled again now, not helped by the flu scare. I moved them to a conservative position over a year ago which helped but did not stop their decline, others have lost far more. I now have to decide if and when to move them back to take more advantage of any rise. I think I need to wait a bit longer.

I have been offered 2 days work per week for 6 weeks starting the week after next. It is a school where I enjoy working although I do not like the 60km each way drive and it will be difficult as I have not worked for nearly 18 months.

I may not have much time to read or write blogs while working.
I do recommend Rev Susan Russell's sermon from last Sunday. "Let No One Deceive You". She has really excelled herself there.
Also the writings of Maithri from Swaziland. The Soaring Impulse are inspiring.

I feel very guilty when I sometimes feel a little down. My life has been so lucky. I have had very little illness. I am a little concerned about the flu epidemic, having just had my yearly vaccine which was free this year due to my age. The last time I had the flu was on 10th September, 2001 and I was in bed the day of 9/11 or rather on the couch watching TV that dreadful day. The vaccine each year since has prevented my previous regular occurrence at least every second year. I would prefer to keep it that way. However why should I complain when I read of the people with whom Maithri is working. If possible I would encourage you to assist him in his work through the paypal link on his site.

Finally some photos in my garden taken on May 1.