Sunday, 14 July 2013

Dyslexia: The Prize

It is almost the first anniversary of my Father’s death.  As a child Dad used to like telling stories to my sisters and me.  They were usually fantasy stories, or greatly exaggerated real events of his life.  It was not till very late in his life that he got the confidence to begin telling stories to other children during services at his Church. 

One of Dad’s stories was used this morning at my Church, and I thought it worth retelling here.

Dad and Mum, myself and two of My sisters Marina (on Dad's lap)and Sandra (on Mum's lap).
The Prize, by Ronnie Oldfield.

As I look back on my life to think of something to tell you a story about, the one thing that becomes most clear to me is the greatness and love of God for his people ... I am terrified by the thought of what might have happened to me if I did not have Jesus.
Up to the time I was 17 years old I was a keg of dynamite ready to explode!  I was full of anger and hate for the world and the people in it.  Then one day when I was 17 God stepped in and I became one of the friends of Jesus. 
All my life I have found it very hard to spell and to read, and in those days if you could not spell or read there were no special classes to help you.
When I went to school, we had exams each year.  I think I must have been one of the most consistent pupils to ever go to a State school!  I never had a mark below zero .... true, never a mark below zero ... and never higher than 20 ... out of 100!  And that was for arithmetic.

I think the reason why I had a good mark in arithmetic was because I didn’t wear shoes, so I could count on my fingers and my toes!  I loved history and geography.  I am sure that I would have received a mark of 100 if I could have read the questions and spelt the answers!
We also had exams at Sunday School in those days.

One year just before the Sunday School exam time, about 30 boys around where I lived had a game of bike polo.  We played that game in the paddock behind my place.  Try to imagine 30 boys on their bikes going mad, trying to hit the ball ... bikes coming from all directions ... no rules ... just hit the ball, or try in anyway ... sticks and bikes going in all directions ... and trying to knock each other off their bikes.  I tell you it was the hardest game I ever played ... it made football look tame!  I loved it!

To cut a long story short, I was knocked off my bike and broke the thumb on my right hand.  So the Sunday of the exam I could not write.  The teacher and I went to a room by ourselves, and he wrote the answers that I gave.
The next Sunday was prize-giving, the names of the people were called out, class by class to receive their prizes.  All the class had been called, and my name had not been called ... so I was thinking that I had failed again!

Then the Sunday School Superintendent went on the stage and announced that the top prize in the Sunday School had been awarded to ... Ronnie Oldfield!
I shot out of my seat like a rocket ... and I ran the fastest 50 metres dash of all time!  I wanted that prize before they realized they had made a mistake!  But there was no mistake.  I had been given 95 out of 100 for the exam!  I felt so happy!  I had a smile as wide as the Sydney Heads!  I wished my school teachers had been there and the boys who made fun of me because I could not spell or read ... to see the dunce of the school getting the top prize of the Sunday School!

I won the top prize for the next 3 years!  But to make sure that I did well I went to a lot of trouble and pain!  One year I went to the shed out the back, and hit my hand as hard as I could with a hammer, and one year I cut my hand with a steak knife and had to have stitches. The last time was with a hammer again.
Do you know I have the greatest prize?

I don’t mean my wife ... she is the second greatest.  The greatest prize is to be friends with Jesus Christ.  It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor.  You don’t have to be clever ... because Jesus loves all people ... even people like me, an average person like me.
You don’t have to hit yourself with a hammer, or cut yourself, or sit for an exam ... you only have to tell Jesus that you want  to be one of his friend, then believe his promises and trust him ... then you will have the greatest prize anyone can have ... Jesus.

Monday, 21 January 2013

England to Australia aboard the Orion 1947. (The first voyage after WW2).

My Mother passed away early Sunday morning 13th January, 2013.  I found a tiny diary that Mum kept that recorded her journey from England to Australia aboard the "Orion".  Her father although Australian went to England to further his study.  There he met and married my Grandmother.  At the time of rhe Second World War my Grandfather enlisted in the British army and was sent to India. He took the opportunity at the end of the war to be repatriated back toAustralia.  From there he sent for his family to follow him.  So my Grandmother, my mother and her brother Peter and little sister Wendy made the journey that is recorded in her diary.  Mum was eleven and I have retained her spelling and wording of her journey.

Mum and me.

                                                           1946                   DECEMBER 
                                                         (Saying Goodbye to England)
Monday, 30th December, 1946:  Went to see “Peter Pan” with mummy & Peter.  We all enjoyed it a lot.
Tuesday, 31st December, 1946:  Went to ‘Bartram Millo Circus” with mum, Peter.  I enjoyed it.  Saw the New Year at Auntie’s.

                                                     1946                 JANUARY

Wednesday, January 1, 1047:  Uncle Jack drove us home Mum & Wendy stayed till after dinner.  I did a bit of my homework.
Thursday, 2nd January, 1947:  Did a bit more of my homework.  Went to see “Robinson Crusoe” with gran, grandfather, mum, Peter & Wendy.  We all enjoyed it very much.
Friday, 3rd January, 1947: Had a letter from Diane.  Wrote my thank you letters.  In the after-noon went to pictures to see “Princess & the Pirate” & “Badman’s Territory.”  V. Good films.
Saturday, 4th January, 1947: Played at circuses in the front room.  Stayed up to play cards, “Express”, & “Hot Cakes”.
Sunday, 5th January, 1947:  Didn’t do anything very exciting except that I stayed up to listen to “Orley Farm”.  (Granny not very well.)
Monday, 6th January, 1947: Snowed today.  Went to London saw the Schoolboy’s Exhibit 7 “the Model Aircraft Exhibit”.  (Granny still not very well).
Tuesday, 7th January, 1947:  Went back to school.  Stayed up to here “Just William.”  (Granny greeting better).
Wednesday, 8th January, 1947:  Uncle Jack & Auntie Audrey & John came.  Nothing else very interesting.
Thursday, 9th January, 1947:  Snow all gone today Stopped up to listen to “Beau Geste.”  Nothing else exiting
Friday, 10th January, 1947:  After school Mummy met me at the Odeon Eltham and we saw “Blue Skies” & “Her Adventurous Night.” They were good films.
Saturday, 11th January, 1947:  Went to see “3 little girls in blue” & “Send for Paul Temple” with Mummy & Peter.  Good films.    
Sunday, 12th January, 1947:  Went for a walk with grandfather.  Had my hair washed.  Stayed up to listen to “Orley Farm”.
Monday, 13th January, 1947:  Went to school took Betty some books.  Most of the class away with ‘flu” (25 out of 43).  Went to bed early.
Tuesday, 14th January, 1947:  Went to school.  Some more of the class away.  Went to bed late.
Wednesday, 15th January, 1947:  Granny went to stay at Auntie Audrey’s.  Jack met me outside the school and took me to some Ice Hockey (USA v. ENGLAND) Went to bed 11.30.
Thursday, 16th January. 1947:  Went to school.  Blossom came today didn’t do anything else exciting today.  Granny came back.
Friday, 17th January, 1947:  Went to school. Blossom went home.  After tea went to the Pictures saw “A Matter of Life and Death” so little films.
Saturday, 18th January, 1947:  Went to the library.  Went for a walk with Grandfather and Peter to Greenwich Park.  Granny went to Auntie Audrey’s again.
Sunday, 19th January, 1947:  Granny came back.  Played in the sitting-room.  Stayed up to listen to “Orley Farm”.
Monday, 20th January, 1947:  Went to school.  Mummy bought me a new frock.  Nothing else exciting happened.
Tuesday, 21st January, 1947:  Didn’t do anything exciting.  Weather not very good.
Wednesday, 22nd January, 1947:  Took the Common Entrance Exam.  Nothing else exciting. 
Thursday, 23rd January, 1947:  Went to school.  Listened to “Beau Geste” & “Much Binding in the Marsh”.  It snowed.
Friday, 24th January, 1947:  Went to school.  Auntie Audrey, Uncle Jack & John came.  There is still snow on the ground.
Saturday, 25th January, 1947:  Went up the library.  Went to the pictures saw “Green Years”, and “Winged Wonders”.
Sunday, 26th January, 1947:  Went and played in the snow with Wendy.  Listened to “Orley Farm.
Monday, 27th January, 1947:  Went to London.  Mummy bought me a grey coat and red shoes.
Tuesday, 28th January, 1947:  Went to school.  Took Betty a book.  Still snow on the ground.
Wednesday, 29th January, 1947:  Went to school.  Still snow on the ground.  Auntie Audrey & John came.
Thursday, 30th January, 1947:  In the morning went to school.  John’s birthday party in the afternoon.  Peter and I stayed away from school.
Friday, 31st January, 1947:  Went to London.  Saw the King, Queen & Princesses go for S. Africa.  Saw “the Walt Disney Show”.  Bought Auntie Mary a scarf.

1947                                                   FEBRUARY
 Saturday, 1st February, 1947:  Went to the library.  Went to bed early.  (With Auntie Rose went to lib.)
Sunday, 2nd February, 1947:  Auntie Carrie came.  Listened to “Orley Farm”.                  
Monday 3rd February, 1947:  Went to school.  Took Betty some books.  Betty ill.
Tuesday 4th February, 1947:  Went to school.  Listened to “Children’s Hour”,  “Dick Barton” and “William”.
Wednesday, 5th February, 1947:  Went to school in the morning.  In the afternoon went to the pictures saw “Sister Kenny”.
Thursday, 6th February, 1947:  Went to school.  Betty still ill.  Still snow on the ground.  Listened to “Dick Barton”, ‘Much Binding” & “Beau Geste”.
Friday, 7th February, 1947:  Went to London to Blossom’s.  Nursed the kitten called Inky.  Anita’s friend Fritz came.  We bought Gran some Wattle.
Saturday, 8th February, 1947:  Went up to the library with mummy.  Bought a plastic belt for my grey frock.  Nothing else exciting.
Sundayn 9th February, 1947:  Played with my paper-dolls.  Auntie Audrey, Uncle Jack & Johnny came for dinner.  Listened to the new serial called “IN CHANCERY”.
Monday, 10th February, 1947:  Went to school.  Wrote invitations for my party.  Made up some rhymes and wrote them in my note-book.  Still snow.
Tuesday, 11th February, 1947:  Went to school.  Mummy went to London for her perm.  Brought puppet’s head home & did a bit.  Listened to “Dick Barton” & “William”.
Wednesday, 12th February, 1947:  Went to school.  Listened to “Dick Barton”.  Nothing else exciting.
Thursday, 13th February, 1947:  Went to school in the morning.  In the afternoon went to pictures saw, “Great Expectations”.  Listened to “Much Binding” & “Beau Geste”.
Friday, 14th February, 1947:  Went to school.  Listened to “Dick Barton”.  Brought my blouse home although not finished.
Saturday, 15th February, 1947:  Went to Betty’s party.  Had a nice tea, played a lot of games.  Came home with Iris Green.     

Sunday, 16th February, 1947:  Uncle Will & Auntie Min came.  Auntie Min gave me some Turkish Delight. 
Monday, 17th February, 1947:  Went to school for the last time.  Took Betty a book.  Had to stand in front of school because I was going.  Listened to King  on wireless.
Tuesday, 18th February, 1947:  We had pancakes.  I ate five.  Auntie Carrie came.  Cream Buns for tea.  Listened to “Children’s Hour” & “Dick Barton”.
Wednesday, 19th February, 1947:  Went to London to see Blossom.  Mummy bought Peter a new blazer.  I went with Blossom to Kensington Gard.
Thursday, 20th February, 1947:  Auntie Audrey, Uncle Jack & John came.  Mummy, Peter and I went with them to see “The Ice Review”.  Mum getting ready for my party.
Friday, 21st February, 1947:  Had my party everybody who was invited came.  I think they enjoyed it.  Took them home with Grandfather.
Saturday, 22nd February, 1947:  Went to Doreen’s to tea.  Played card games.  Learnt some card tricks.  Played Draughts and Long Hop.
Sunday, 23rd February, 1947:  Went to Auntie’s.  Had goose for dinner & a lovely tea.  Had our birthday presents early.  Mine from John a set to clean my shoes.  Auntie & Uncle a necklace & 10/-.
Monday, 24th February, 1947:  Auntie Carrie came, Auntie Audrey, Uncle Jack & Johnny came as well.  Didn’t do anything exciting.

                                                                        "Aboard The Orion" ...

Tuesday, 25th February, 1947:  Went in a taxi with Aunty Audrey to get on the ‘Orion”.  It is a big boat and very comfortable.
Wednesday, 26th February, 1947:   We were all sea-sick.  Now in “the Bay of Biscay”.  I went to dinner with mummy.
Thursday, 27th February, 1947 :  Feeling a bit better now.  Out of ‘the Bay” just before dinner.  Spent most of the day on the deck. Stayed up for dinner again.
Friday, 28th February, 1947:  Feeling much better now.  We are now near Gibraltar.  The swimming bath full but too deep for me.
                                                           1947                           MARCH
 Saturday, 1st March, 1947 :  In the Mediterranean now.  It is lovely and warm.  Mummy bought me a new blouse & swim suit.
Sunday, 2nd March 1947:  Went up on the Sun Deck and stayed there most of the time.  Watched the swimming.  Nothing exciting happening.
Monday, 3rd March, 1947:  Went in the swimming bath when it was lowered for the under 12s.  Getting fairly hot now.
Tuesday, 4th March, 1947:  Very hot now.  No land in sight.  Didn’t do anything exciting.
Wednesday, 5th March, 1947:  Called at Port Said.  Went ashore.  Mum & I had a pair of sun-glasses.  Peter& Mum had sandals each.  We all had a linen hat & had a bag from the boat.
Thursday, 6th March, 1947:  Fell over cut my leg badly.  Had a stitch in it.  Mummy didn’t know anything about it.  A man carried me to the Dr’s.
Friday, 7th March, 1947:  Stayed in bed reading all day.  Had a jelly for dinner.
Saturday, 8th March, 1947:  Went to the doctors to have a fresh bandage put on.  Sat on a deck-chair reading most of the time.
Sunday 9th March, 1947:  Called at Aden.  Didn’t go ashore because of my leg.  When we left the harbour we saw an air-craft-carrier.  Also before that a German Ship.
Monday, 10th March, 1947:  Went to the Doctor’s again.  Had fresh bandage put on and 3 stitches taken out 2 or 3 left.  
Tuesday, 11th March, 1947:  Didn’t do anything exciting.  Weather is very hot.
Wednesday, 12th March, 1947:  Went to the Doctor’s had a fresh bandage put on.  We have found our trunk now.  Went to Child’s Party.
Thusday, 13th March, 1947:  Went to the Doctor’s had fresh bandage and a stitch taken out.  Wore my beach-suit for first time.
Friday, 14th March, 1947:  Called at Colombo.  Stayed there all day.  Went in a motor-coach to Kandy.  Bought coconut, pineapple, and bananas. 
Saturday, 15th March, 1947:  Went to Doctor.  Had fresh bandage on.  Went down in the engine room.
Sunday, 16th March, 1947:  Went to Doctor.  Had 2 stitches out.  Fresh bandage on.  Stayed on Deck reading.  At 6.30 am crossed the line.
Monday, 17th March, 1947:  Went to the Doctor’s.  Had a fresh bandage.  Nothing exciting.
Tuesday, 18th March, 1947:  Went to Dr’s fresh bandage.  Saw a concert and baby show.
Wednesday, 19th March, 1947:  There were water-sports on Sun-Deck.  I didn’t see it.  Went to the film saw “The Rakes Progress”.
Thursday, 20th March, 1947:  Went to the Doctor’s.  Stayed up to see a fancy dress parade and concert.
Friday, 21st March, 1947:  Had to go to a Medical Inspection.  Played with Peter’s cars.  Didn’t do anything exciting at all.
                                                       (Docked in Freemantle, Australia)
 Saturday, 22nd March, 1947:  Went to the Doctor’s.  Stopped at Freemantle.  Went in a taxi to Perth.  Bought sweets & fruit & a tray-cloth to sew.  Came back in train.
Sunday, 23rd March, 1947:  The Ship was rolling a lot.  They put rims round the table to stop things falling off.  Nothing exciting.
Monday, 24th March, 1947:  Went to the Doctor’s.  Weather fairly cold and quiet a swell in sea.  Nothing exciting.
Tuesday, 25th March, 1947:  Weather still cold.  Nothing happening.
Wednesday, 26th March, 1947:  Weather getting a weenie bit warmer.  Nothing exciting.
Thursday, 27th March, 1947:  We stopped at Melbourne.  Went to Doctor’s.  Went ashore & came back for tea.  Bought fruit, cakes & sweets.
Friday, 28th March, 1947:  Went on the beach at Melbourne.  Collected some shells.  Paddled at the very edge because of my leg.
Saturday, 29th March, 1947:  Went on the beach again (before & after lunch). Got a few more shells.  Paddled.  Ship sailed at 6pm.
Sunday, 30th March, 1947:  It rained and the sea was rough.  Mummy was sick.  We stayed on deck most of the day.
                                                         (The Orion docks in Sydney)
Monday 31st March, 1947:  Got up 6am saw ship enter Sydney Heads.  Docked at 7.30 at Woolloomooloo.  Went home in a car with Auntie Mary & Grandma.
Mum and her brother and little sister ... Three "New Australians".
                                                                  1947                           APRIL
Tuesday, 1st April, 1947:  Went down to the wharf to get the trunks through the customs.  Saw Dr. McNamara again.
Wednesday, 2nd April, 1947:  It rained.  Daddy took us in the car to see the beaches.  Bondi, Clovelly & went right up to S. Head.
Thursday, 3rd April, 1947:  In the afternoon went to the show.  Saw cattle, horses, dogs and prize fruit etc.
Friday, 4th April, 1947:  Went to Bondi.  Daddy took us right in so that the waves came up to our necks.
Saturday, 5th April, 1947:  We went to Neilson Park.  Climbed over the rocks.
Sunday, 6th April, 1947:  Went to Rockdale.  Had Easter egg each.  (Chocolate).
Monday, 7th April, 1947:  Went to Bondi in the morning.  In the afternoon went to Port Hacking & Cronulla.
Tuesday, 8th April, 1947:  Weather sunny.  Did nothing except stayed in the garden.
Wednesday, 9th April, 1947:  Went shopping.  To try to get my birthday present.  Only got a box of sweets from Wendy 7 Peter (1 lb)
Thursday, 10th April, 1947:  My birthday.  Cardigan from granny. Brush and comb from Daddy.  Camera from Mummy.  Sweets from Peter & Wendy.
Friday, 11th April, 1947:  Went round the town, to Lady Macquarie’s Chair and Fort Macquarie.  Took Auntie Mary to the dentist.
Saturday, 12th April, 1947:  Went to Elizabeth Bay to see “Orion” sail.  Bought some cakes for my party.  And also collected my cake.
Sunday, 13th April, 1947:  My party.  Went to National Park for a picnic.  Daddy, mummy, Auntie Mary & Joan, David & twins. Peter & Wendy & me.
One last entry ---
Monday, 14th April, 1947:  Went to town.  Daddy went to catch his train to Bundaberg.  Nothing else happening. 



Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas, a time to consider true peace on earth.

We are living in an increasingly polarized world.   The gap between opposing sides are widening ... and that gap seems to be driven wider daily ... with anger ... hostility ... hatred ... often stirred up and enflamed by very powerful vested interests.

·        Blind prejudices are overcoming reason ... and any rational debate.

·        It is affecting all sorts of issues ...from the minor to the major.  The climate debate and mining ... refugee policy ... racial policy ... sexual orientation ... left and right of politics ... unions and business ...

·        I think we on King Island are about to begin our own local version ... to wind farm or not to wind farm.

Joking aside the worlds increasing polarization and ramping up of hate rhetoric is producing tragic results.

The end of the last century I think saw the end of the divide between communist and democratically elected governments.  At the time of the change of the millennium it seemed possible that the world was on the brink of being able to enjoy a lengthy period of comparative peace ... but it appears that the world needs conflict ... because into that gap of peace came a new topic of struggle and anger ... a new reason to hate ... a new excuse to go to war.  A new reason for old men to stir up the young to hurl insults ... hurl hate ... hurl rocks ... and aim bullets.

You may have been lucky this week and missed a story from Pakistan.  In a series of attacks eight young ... dedicated nurses ... male and female have been senselessly killed while going about their compassionate service trying to help Pakistan eradicate polio.  Polio ... a crippling disease ... often affecting the young ... the children ... and if they survive ... often leaving the child crippled for life. 

In a country without a good social welfare system like Pakistan ... this is a sentence to slow starvation ... begging daily in rags in the street ... being ignored by everyone ...

Not a thing you would wish on your worst enemy.

For some years now the United Nations have been working with the Pakistani government on a plan for this diseases eradication.  Enter the Taliban ... who sees in this an opportunity to enflame the passions of the vulnerable.  They have been spreading the rumour that the immunisation programme has all be a front in order to sterilize Muslims. 

The result of this irrational hate campaign ... Eight lives lost so far ... an immunization program that could end the suffering of hundreds of children and adults every year is in doubt.

·        What hope does the world have in the face of this level of prejudice and hatred?

Enter a baby in a manger.

There were great social, cultural, political and religious prejudices and hatreds in the community and the culture into which this special baby was born.

·        No one liked the Romans ... they had conquered and ruled Israel.

·        But there was a much older hatred against Israel’s long time opponents and foes ... Babylon (who had conquered them) ... Egypt (the land they were enslaved in and with God’s help escaped from).

·        Israel’s neighbours ... the Samaritans were despised (who Babylon resettled there after taking the Israel’s who inhabited that land originally into exile).

·        The poor ... Jews who had the wrong sort of job (tax collecting, people who kept pigs) ... those who lived outside the towns and cities (the shepherds, lepers the ritually unclean, the sexually promiscuous) were all thought to be being punished by God for their sins.

It is interesting to read the Jesus’ birth narrative and see just how many of these people feature in that short story.

·        Mary ... the mother of Jesus is an unmarried woman.  She could by keeping to the letter of the laws have been stoned.

·        The shepherds ... outcasts ... not trusted by the people who lived in the cities and towns

·        Shortly after His birth the Babylonians become involved ... the wise men from the east.

·        They visit Herod the Roman puppet King seeking the child who they foretold one day would be king.

·        When Herrod in fear went searching to kill this child ... the baby’s family become what we today would class as refugee ... people fleeing their country of birth because they had a reasonable fear of harm because of who they were.

And as Jesus grew we read of him meeting ... talking with lepers ... Samaritans ... Roman soldiers and officers ... often healing them ... tax collectors ...encouraging them and having them believe in him and them following him ... joining his small group of followers. 

Jesus broke open the prejudices and hatreds that kept people apart ... that provided a fertile ground for increasing the distrust that leads to hatred and in extreme cases ... violence.

Jesus did it by becoming one of us.  God did it by becoming human.  The incarnation ... is about God becoming a person and participating fully in all that it means to live a human life. 

·        It becomes possible to believe anything and everything of people we know nothing about.  They could be plotting to sterilize our children ... they could be making bombs to blow up our stadiums in their garages ... they could ... fill in any wild claim you can think of.

·        But when we see these same people ... and get to know them ... their hopes ... dreams ... concerns ... when we see people are not that different from us ... it becomes a lot more difficult to be prejudiced ... it become impossible to hate people if we see that they are not much different from us.

·        That is what the baby in the stable did.  He showed us what it is to be human in the very best and fullest sense of the term.  What it is to love other people more than oneself.   What it is to risk all for the sake of a stranger.

·        And Jesus calls us who believe to live his incarnate life ... so prejudices might break down ... so faith might grow ... so a new redeemed people might be the salt and light in this world.

So that God might be glorified by the people of this world no matter what group they may have by accident of birth been born into.

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace to people on whom his favour rests”



Thursday, 13 September 2012

King Island Abattoir Closes:

This week has seen closure of the abattoir on King Island.  75 people put out of work instantly.   It would be easy to predicting a future of doom and gloom.  I do wonder what the immediate future might be for us on King Island.  How will the Island cope?
As I have read the history of King Island, one of the things that struck me is that the Island and her people have had to struggle for much of that history.  Right from the beginning, ship wrecks, unpredictable weather, and as the Island progressed fires, the struggle with the land anda series of businesses booming and then closing.   
For generations people have survived and even thrived here for much of that time with few of the luxuries or conveniences the world took for granted.  They built their homes, they built a community and they left a legacy.  From what I have read they seemed happy in what they did have.  Their Island home, their friends and family and for many a deep faith in God.
·        When times of trouble have come people have shared the little they did have with those who had none. 
·        They did not asked what is in it for me?
·        There was a strong commitment to the idea of the “common good”. 
Sharing, caring for those in need, the elderly, the sick and the less able is fortunately a strong and visible value on this Island.  But it is under attack. 
·        We live in an age where individuals rights are emphasised over or our community responsibilities. 
·        We live in an age where everyone looks to the “bottom line” … “what’s in it for me?”
·        And advertising tells us …”look after the most important person in the world … you”.
The Island way of the ‘common good” is worth protecting; a community that does care for those in need.

It is a value that goes to the heart of the Christian message.  Jesus just hours before he was betrayed but knowing what was to happen to him said to his followers …
“A new commandment I give unto you … that you love one another as I have loved you”.
Jesus used a specific word that we translate as love: agape.

The best characterization of agape that I have come across is from New Testament scholar, Leon Morris … who writes …
 Agape is a love lavished on others without a thought of whether they are worthy to receive it or not.  It proceeds rather from the nature of the lover, than from any merit in the beloved.”
This definition distinguishes agape love from what we would normally regard as love. 

We most commonly show love to those who are loveable.  In other words because there is something about the other we like, or want, there is a bottom line in it for us.
But the love Jesus commanded his followers to show was a love for all people that was a sacrificial love.  A love that did not expect to be repaid.  This is what the ‘common good’ is about.  Caring for those in our community who may never have the ability or means to repay us but caring for them and loving them because it is right, because it is good, because they are our neighbours and friends.
If we care for members of our Island in this way, I don’t think we will have much to fear no matter how bad the fallout of the abattoir closure might be, because the whole community will be sharing and supporting the cost equally.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Eulogy for my Dad

My Dad passed away last week.  What follows is the euglogy I delivered at his funeral.

To Ronnie James Oldfield, with thanks for being my Dad.

St. Ignatius of Loyola reportedly said ...“Give me a child for his first seven years and I will give you the man.”
Dad was born the depression; they must have been hard times for his parents.  No work and no money to feed a young family.  His mother began entertaining men while his father was out trying to earn a living.
Dad has horrendous memories of that period of his life that have left their scars on the man he was to become.  He remembered afternoons and mornings spent locked in a cupboard by the strangers that visited his home, often with threats of violence if he told his father what his mother had been doing.
But his father did find out.  Coming home early he caught my grandmother with a ‘friend’.  Dad saw his mother stab his father with a kitchen knife and then running away, leaving his father for dead and Dad and his younger sister with the body of their father.
My Grandfather did survive but I don’t think he ever really got over what happened that night.  He was not able to look after his three children, so Grandfather, Dad and his two sisters Elsie and Yvonne were taken in by his grandparents.  His grandmother willingly caring for the two girls but telling Dad he was there only because it was her ‘Christian duty’ to do so.  Never wanted.  Rejected by his mother.  These early years as I have said, left lasting scars on Dad.
Grandfather was now an alcoholic; drinking his wages on a Friday night and coming home drunk to give Dad lessons in being a man.  He would get Dad in a corner and demand he put up his fists and fight him.  Dad never could bring himself to hit his father. 
But he did learn two lessons ... never hit someone weaker than you ... and how to fight, and that is just what Dad did at school.  Dad fought but he never picked on anyone smaller than himself as he saw that as cowardice, always someone bigger and never any one weaker than himself.  As a result Dad seemed to have spent most of his school years standing outside the teacher’s office waiting for the cane.  
He told of one year picking on a bigger new boy the first day back at school; unfortunately this time Dad really did pick the wrong student.  The new boy was his new teacher’s son.  The way dad told the story was with him spending the rest of his schooling getting ‘six of the best’ on each hand every hour of the school day. 
Poor Dad, he really didn’t like teachers at all but ended up with two daughters, countless in-laws and now grandchildren who are teachers.
Not surprisingly Dad didn’t see he had much future as an academic and left school around this time.  His employment plans involved giving someone he knew all the money he had to get him a gun.  Fortunately whoever that was ‘ripped’ Dad off and took the money, but never gave Dad a gun.
Dad did have better memories of his childhood.  One very profound memory was of his grandmother reading the Bible aloud.  The passage was from St. John’s gospel that Sandra has just read us, which speaks of someone going to prepare a room just for him. 
Dad never had a proper bedroom, instead his bed was in a hallway connecting the rest of the house with the kitchen, the backdoor, the pantry at one end, and the bathroom at the other and all his few processions kept in a box under the bed.
Although Dad did not understand what the passage was about it impressed him hearing of someone who loved him and was building a bedroom just for him, something Dad longed for.
Last Sunday I was in this church with Mum and Clive spoke about David and Bathsheba, a story of adultery and murder ... echoes of Dad’s own story.  Dad was damaged by the events of his childhood.  He spent most of his life believing if people knew who he really was that they would think he was unlovable.  He was deeply scarred by the events of his childhood.  
Dad’s life really could have ended in violence and another tragedy but fortunately he met two people who loved him unconditionally; Mum and Jesus. God sees through the walls we can all build around ourselves in an attempt to protect ourselves from being hurt.  God sees our real heart and I believe saw the little boy who had a great capacity to love and was loveable, who had real compassion to care for those weaker than himself; the little boy that Dad might have been if his life had been different.
With Mum’s love and God’s healing grace Dad’s adult life became very different from his childhood.  Mum and Dad built a life and home together that was loving and nurturing, a home and family which my sisters and I could not have wanted any different.
Last Sunday’s services finished with the familiar words I say every Sunday at the communion service,“We do this until he returns”.
After saying those words this week I took Mum’s hand and said to her, “Dad is in heaven now and at last enjoying perfect communion with God”.
And  I saw Dad there as that little boy he might have been, taking delight in a room of his own built for him with loving hands by the master carpenter, Jesus.