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Michael's blog

Listening...

Pastoral care in a church community is important. It is one way of living out the great commandment, ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ Pastoral care happens in all sorts of ways: it might be a meal that is cooked for someone, of the offer of a lift, or the writing of a card, or a prayer… An important dimension of pastoral care that I would like to focus on is listening to others. Let me share a story with you:

Insider, outsider...

‘Looking, they will not perceive and listening, they will not understand’
In Mark 4:12, Jesus quotes this saying with approval and announces that he will mystify and obstruct those seeking to understand his message. Unexpected and strange words!
The disciples are promised an insider’s prerogative of secret instruction but what they receive from Jesus, in vv13-20, is less than compelling.

Water, water, everywhere...

‘Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink...’ This famous line from ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ gained new meaning for me when I was travelling through India. Indeed, there is water almost everywhere in India but to drink even a drop is to become rapidly familiar with ‘Delhi belly’! I got by on Coke. I quite like an occasional Coke. However, for months on end, including for brushing teeth, it loses its appeal. For us living in Sydney, clean, fresh, drinking water is just a tap turn away. That’s not the case for 780 million people in the world, according to a recent UN report.

Where should we look? Up or down?

Above is a photo of a remarkable mosaic inside the Aya Sofia, an ancient and imposing church in Istanbul. The mosaic, dating from 944 CE, is both beautiful and troubling. Why troubling? In it, is depicted Mary, denoted ‘Mother of God’, with an infant Jesus on her lap. He is dressed in gold and his head is surrounded by a halo. The holy pair sits at the centre of the mosaic, receiving honour, deference and gifts from the Emperor Constantine, on the right, and the Emperor Justinian, on her left.

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