It is funny how certain books jump out at you at particular times - and this one (Everyday Passions: A Conversation on Living) leapt at me today as I reflected on All Saints and the communion of the just/justified. For the author, Dorothy McRae-McMahon, has always been incredibly high on my list of Australian Christian heroes and this liturgy (the first page below) seems particularly appropriate right now. I’ve only met Dorothy in person once - sharing a platform in the Blue Mountains a number of years ago - and she seemed quite surprised then when I said she had been such an inspiration to me. She shared her wisdom in a NSW ecumenical project on prayer I once organised too (albeit she was then too ill to attend the key event in Sydney) and my involvement of her brought swift reaction from Sydney Anglican leadership - evidently they felt prayer was thereby made invalid, and ‘no Sydney Anglican will be part of the project if Dorothy McRae-McMahon is involved’ (as it happens, as on a number of other things, they proved wrong on that!). All of that kind of thing most certainly shouldn’t dent our courage for love and living truthfully. For as Dorothy wrote in this book (in the chapter ‘Living Life Under Attack’):
‘I would never choose to live under attack, but I will never regret living in ways which sometimes make it almost inevitable... To live in a way that produces attack in order to live more truly (as against choosing martyrdom) is to live with passion.’
The book ends with Marge Piercy’s poem ‘For Strong Women’ and Dorothy’s final words: ‘Living is, indeed, an everyday passion and “strong is what we make each other”’.
With blessings and solidarity to those saints who live into wholeness and inspire others this All Saints-tide.
Last weekend, over three nights, our worship centre at All Saints in Arthur Street hosted a series of open-air movies under the stars, together with a barbeque and other refreshments. Particularly at the 6.30 pm 'family' showing, a good audience was present, enjoying Up, Lion King and Toy Story 3. We hope this may be a regular feature, maybe twice a year, as we enable All Saints to develop its life and ministry to the community.
All Saints is in some ways like a platypus: it easily goes unnoticed. Changes of time, activity and orientation at our other two parish worship centres has also seen it drift somewhat, especially after its regular members declined to make any time and worship changes in the 2013 parish review. For the 8 am regular worship time has clashed with the much bigger centre of St Luke's and there has been no clear focus for the future. With considerable faith and courage, All Saints congregation has however now launched themselves into a new time slot - 4.30 pm on a Sunday - and begun establishing new links and a refreshed profile for its surrounding community. Its hall is now certainly well-used during the week. It offers hospitality to both the Toowoomba Coptic and Greek Orthodox worshipping communities and it is a delightful setting for a wedding. Time will tell but we had a very encouraging gathering for worship at the first 4.30 pm service last week. Led by its current dynamic centre wardens, we hope it can therefore continue to claim its growing identity as 'Toowoomba's Village Church'.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.