Words of hope, I hope.

What a week it has been! The news each day more sobering and depressing than the day before. I could feel myself growing more anxious by the minute. Coronavirus was dominating my thoughts, my email inbox and seemingly every conversation. Then, out of the blue, this quote from Kitty O’Meara appeared in my Instagram. I felt my spirit lift. It was a ray of hope. It made sense to me and helped me to make some sense of this senseless pandemic.

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

I don’t know anything about Kitty O’Meara. There were only two posts on her Instagram account when I checked, one of them containing the poem I am sharing here. I can’t say any more about Kitty’s thoughts and hopes when she posted these words. I am also aware that how they speak to you might be different than how they speak to me. And that is good because it creates an ever greater breadth for hope.

The vision that came to my mind was one of a First World that was ready to take seriously climate change, and who is not only ready to, but able to, live differently. Does this seem like a bit of a leap to take from Kitty’s beautiful and inspiring words? Let me say more.
We know that knowledge and information is not enough to change behaviour. Experience and practice are the best catalysts for change. For a long time we have known about the dangers. We have heard the predictions for the trajectory we have been on. We know the dangers of global warming. We all know how serious the environmental situation is. Right now the pandemic is forcing us to live differently. Restrictions on travel, spacial distancing, empty supermarket shelves, long dole queues.  And it is early days yet. We have a long way to go  to get to the other side of this. And, sadly, some of us won’t make it through. It truly is a frightening time. Some are speculating that the corporate world may never return to it’s former glory. There will be deaths, many jobs lost, much anxiety, grief and suffering. It will not be easy. How will we manage? Generations before us have had to find their way through not dissimilar circumstances. One comfort might be that we are in this together. It is effecting us all.

My hope is that being forced to live with less, in a much smaller world, we will gain new skills and competencies that will enable us to continue to live more simply and conducively towards the health of the whole planet once the Coronavirus pandemic is over.
Right now, just imagine the effect on the atmosphere of all those grounded airplanes. Already there are stories of human inventiveness and kindness in these challenging times. Like the musicians in Italy performing on their balconies while their neighbours enjoyed the music from their own balconies and the restaurants in Melbourne taking free meals to community members unable to leave their homes. Coronavirus has already made things, ‘life’, different. Let’s hope that when it is all over things, ‘life’, might actually be better.

Stay strong, stay connected and stay well.

“Only a crisis produces real change” – Milton Friedman



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Candle lighting liturgy for January 26, Survival Day

Below follows some extracts from the liturgy developed by Rev Jan Sebastian  for Sunday January 26.  The community chose to recognise this day as Survival Day, rather than Australia Day or Invasion Day, because First Peoples are here, proud and resilient                                                                                                                                                               

We gather today in the shadow of our nations’ beginning.

Ashamed of what we have established on the pain and destruction of others.

We gather today in the light of our hopes for the future.

Looking forward and longing for reconciliation and new ways to be our future.


Sophia calls us to gather

We gather in response to Sophia’s Love,
love within and without,                                                                                                                                      love encircling, love calling us to seek justice for all.

Together we gather as community, as companions along the way, part of an ever growing circle.

Together we gather knowing our lives are intertwined and that we care for each other.


Lighting of Candles: Black, Yellow, Red, Rainbow

We light the world with Black – to remember our brothers and sisters who suffered and continue to suffer from the oppression that grows from invasion, greed and disrespect.

We light the world with Yellow – remembering with gratitude the sun, giving thanks for light, warmth, life, and beauty that emanates from her silent passage through time.

We light the world with Red – remembering the red earth beneath our feet and facing our little understood spiritual connection with the ground that holds and supports our life.

We light the world with Rainbow – acknowledging Sophia, God of Wisdom in our midst, bringer of hope, peace, joy and love to a world greatly in need of these, and a world in great need of reconciliation.                                              

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Afternoon Service: Naming the unnameable

Shekinah God Holy One Sophia Wisdom Godde

Sophia’s Spring is experimenting with an occasional series of different approaches to church.  Our second afternoon service is this week 2 p.m.  There will not be a 10 a.m. service that day.  Come in the afternoon and bring a friend!

The theme for the service is exploring the names of God.

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…and now for something a little bit different

Fifth Sunday in June: 30 June 2019 at 2 p.m.
Sophia’s Spring is experimenting with an occasional series of different approaches to church. The first such service is on the 30th of June at 2 p.m. There will not be a 10 a.m. service on that day. Come in the afternoon and bring a friend!
The theme for the service is the names of God.

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Easter at Sophia’s Spring

Maundy Thursday 18th April      6.30 p.m.
Simple shared meal followed by a Service of Shadows which will be led by Rev Jan Sebastian and Rev Coralie Ling.

Maundy Thursday
Sharing herbs, olives, fish, figs and grapes
Herbs for the bitterness of suffering (Exodus 12:8)
Olives for the hope of peace (Hosea 14:6)
Fish for sustenance and life (Luke 24:41)
Grapes and figs for celebration and abundance (Micah 4:4)
Sharing a simple meal of soup and bread.
We gather this Maundy Thursday evening and
recall Jesus’ new commandment after which this day is named.

Good Friday 19th April      10 a.m. 
Meditation walk around CERES, led by Jan Garood. Followed by hot cross bun morning tea.

Good Friday
Reflection:  Jesus carries his cross outside the city to a rubbish dump.  This beautiful park was once a rubbish dump; but it has been transformed, resurrected, by years of hard work. Food scraps were composted and turned into soil, every tree you see was planted, energy was generated.

From the sun and wind, water was captured, conserved and recycled.   After many years of dedication the soils returned to fertility.

Prayer:  Jesus, you carried your cross alone, yet you reached out to the marginalised: the refugee, the unemployed, the mentally ill.  Grow in us the compassion to love and serve the marginalised and dispossessed.

Easter Sunday 21st April  10 a.m. 
A celebratory Easter Sunday Service, to be led by Rev. Coralie Ling.

All gatherings held in the CERES Learning Centre, along the path from the Lee Street entrance, CERES Environmental Park in East Brunswick.  see google map and site map CERES_Site_Map_Web

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Vale Mary Oliver

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
                                                                                              Mary Oliver, from  ‘When death comes’

Mary Oliver  (1935-2019) died this week. Her words have brought solace and delight through all the seasons of our lives.  And they will continue to do so.  So many poems. Something for everyone, for every day, for every occasion.  Oliver once said in a radio interview that poetry “wishes for a community. It’s a community ritual” and in our ritual life her words will continue to resound. Her words will continue to connect us to each other and to the natural world. In amazement, and gratitude, we celebrate the life of Mary Oliver.

When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will wither or not.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

Live with the beetle, and the wind.

Mary Oliver, from The Leaf And The Cloud: A Poem

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Holding on and letting go

The following service was shared at Sophia’s Spring on November 4, 2018.  It was prepared and led by our Minister, Rev Jan Sebastian.

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First to let go of life.
Finally, to take a step without feet

Acknowledgement of the First Peoples

Song AA 72   In this familiar place

Lighting of the Candles
As the sea gathers its waters
for the next waves on the shore:
so Sophia’s people gather for loving.

As the notes of harmony congregate
for the sound of music:
so Sophia’s people cluster in community.

As the wind sweeps the air
Into great clouds of beauty:
So Sophia’s people wonder at creation.

As the call for justice is heard
across the planet in many places:
so Sophia’s people commit to work for peace
and justice for all.
Source of Love, Source of Being, Source of Life.
We give thanks for you, Sophia, breath of life.
                                            Adapted by JS from original words by Dorothy McRae McMahon

Circle of Names                

Song   AA 151 When human voices cannot sing

A time to quietly reflect
Loved ones who have gone before us…(using stones, reminiscent of the Jewish custom of leaving stones on graves – linking in with All Saints Day)                                                       

Psalm 24   from   Barbara Monda, Rejoice, Beloved Woman: The Psalms Revisioned
John 11:1-44          Martha’s perspective  by Jan Sebastian       

Reflection one and all
With a challenge to reflect on what we are holding too tightly to… bound to, and then releasing it, letting it go – symbolized by a strip of cloth (like Lazarus’ grave clothes)

Song   AA 48     God of all beauty

Notices and Offering

Joys and Concerns

Prayers for others
Candles passed around the circle and people prayed out loud, or silently, as they held a candle, before passing it on.

Song AA 39 For the bread and wine and blessing

May the love of Sophia inspire you,
And you too

Let us lift our hearts in gratitude for breath
Yes, let us give thanks for life and breath.

It is a good and joyful thing…

prayer continues…

We break this bread for our broken humanity,
For the powerful and the powerless
Trapped by exploitation and oppression
May there be healing of humanity

We break this bread
for those who follow other paths:
the noble path of the Buddha;
the yogic path of the Hindus;
the way of the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs;
and for the children of Abraham and Sarah,
the Jews and Muslims
May there be healing where there is pain and woundedness.

We break this bread for the unhealed hurts and wounds within us.
May we seek healing.

This is the cup of peace and of new life for all.
A sign of love for the community of hope.
A reminder of the call to live fully, to love generously, and to be all that we can be.

To eat and drink together reminds us of the deeper aspects of our human fellowship, for from time immemorial the sharing of bread and wine has been a universal symbol of community.

So let us share this special symbolic meal together.
Sharing bread and wine together

A moment of silence together

Community Prayer
We are grateful that we can gather in peace and can share this meal together.
We are grateful and do not take this for granted.

May we go from here strengthened by the love and grace of Sophia, Spirit of Wisdom and the example of Jesus, his call to justice and abundant life.
We are strengthened to go out with courage.

We are grateful for the blessing of this community, which connects us and springs us onward.
We are grateful for life and breath.

Blessing Song
May the blessing of God go before you.
May Her grace and peace abound.
May Her Spirit live within you.
May Her love wrap you ‘round.
May Her blessing remain with you always.
May you walk on holy ground.
Miriam Therese Winter

Service prepared by Jan Sebastian
Songs from Alleluia Aotearoa (AA) The New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, and
Songlines. Miriam Therese Winter
Music used by permission or with license CCL14970
With thanks to our musician, Betty Dodemaide


Photo Credit
Diana Gilbert

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Special guest this Sunday – October 28

Cath Connelly will be leading our service next Sunday.

Cath is a Celtic harp player, spiritual director, and pilgrimage and retreat leader. She is co-director of the Living Well Centre for Christian Spirituality, and her Masters degree explored Celtic spirituality in Australia. Cath is passionate about sharing her sense of the sacred through the inner / outer journey of pilgrimages. During the service Cath will also play the harp.

Please join us, if you would like to. 10am Learning Centre, CERES Environment Park – continuation of Lee Street, Brunswick East. More information about how to get to CERES on this page. Bike, bus, tram, car info towards bottom of page. The Learning Centre is N11 on this map.

Photo and video from Green South Records

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‘The first will be last, and the last first’

Sophia encourage us to act for justice, to advocate for change and to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

One of the hallmarks of true wisdom is that it often subverts the taken-for-granted, dominant culture norms of the day.  Something Jesus was well known for. Last Sunday the service at Sophia’s Spring focused on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and the Mark 10: 17 – 31 reading, which ends with the well known apophthegm used as the title of this post.  In this reading we have Jesus, the radical, subverting cultural norms of his day. We catch sight of, as Issey Fujishima calls him, ‘the maverick hungry for justice, the poet caring for the most neglected people on earth.’  Issey Fujishima, or Fuji, as he likes to be called, has delved deep into the stories of Jesus and the historical context in which they are set. His research led him to spend a number of years writing/drawing  a graphic novel published last year. Writing on his blog about the man he found, Fuji says,

The Jesus I once knew has disappeared into a mirage: that one-dimensional Christ figure of children’s Bibles and dusty church decors. The Jesus who is roaming my heart now is very different. This Yeshua from Galilee is witty, wild and unpredictable. His feet are dirty and his skin is burnt brown from the scourging sun of Palestine. He is full of emotions and warmth, and his eyes pierce you with a divine light. Gosh, darn it—I’m in love with him, and this is my way of telling his story! 

Given this, it was very fitting to have Fuji reflect last Sunday on visiting the lands of Jesus, his historical research and on the book he wrote in response to his honest questioning of the faith he grew up with.  This is what Fuji shared:

The Paths that Jesus walked

“The shepherds eat it so they won’t get thirsty.” Nadal handed me a dry bean pod he had picked up from the ground. Inside the brittle hull were black pellets. We stood under an enormous carob tree growing on a slope. My group had walked through a barren canyon the whole morning and the tree had drawn my attention. When I tried the carob pellets they tasted like chocolate. Nadal picked up another fruit. “It’s poisonous. But people in Bethlehem know how to make it edible.”

That was in 2012. I was part of a hiking tour through the Palestinian countryside, during which we walked from village to village for four days. Sometimes there was a road. Oftentimes there wasn’t. Blue-eyed and soft-spoken Nadal was our guide. Every night, we would stay with Arab locals who granted us their hospitality. During the day, the wind howled between the hills. A landscape dotted with olive trees, goat herds, and memories of lost sons.

Palestine, Galilee, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea… I often thought back of the places I had seen in Israel when I was making my book. Going there had been part of my personal search to learn more deeply about Jesus and his world. I wanted to let the scenery with its biblical past, its conflicted peoples, and its azure firmament speak to me. To walk the paths that Jesus had walked.

Although they’re ancient, the gospel stories we base our Christian faith on did not spring from some mythical, symbolic past. Jesus and his first disciples lived in a specific time and place in history. The unique constellation of politics, society and religion influenced their personalities. Language shaped their thought as did rural Mediterranean culture. But the world they knew, that impoverished countryside of first century Roman Galilee that could so often erupt in bloodshed, would be as alien to us today as the ancients Mayans. I realized that if I truly wanted to understand what Jesus’ message—my faith!—meant I would have to learn about that world… even if the Jesus I had known all my life would then disappear. It was the start of my journey to honestly test if my faith would still hold water today.

By the time I visited Israel, I had already studied many books and papers on Christian origins. I was excited to find that the nuanced “Jesus of history” was far more relevant and revolutionary than the simple “church Jesus” from my childhood. Slowly, an image formed of a man of incredible courage, who reached out his hand to touch the untouchables and resisted petrified hierarchies of his day. I could see an energetic Jesus who was witty, moody, carefree yet caring, a maverick who invited outcasts to become part of something exciting: a kingdom of justice, peace and good. In this kingdom, I believe, he offered a new community that would share and heal, and embody the fatherly love of God. An alternative to a world governed by division and violence. And this kingdom would be within reach if God and humans came together…

“This,” I thought, “is a story I wanna tell.”

This is the story The Reign of God, the graphic novel I published last December, is about. Not another theology book, but a drama driven by biblical heroes with all their conflicting desires. It tells about passionate men and women who shine a light in the darkness of oppression. A story of our eternal temptation to “take the Kingdom of God by force” and rule over others… and how we may follow God’s will. I try to depict Jesus as a human rich in emotions and mystery. It is the expression of my own journey of faith.

Since I released my book last December, I got many warm messages as well as questions about it. I know it is a challenging read in many regards. But I hope it can open up new paths in readers’ minds: something like a clearing in the wilderness that can lead you to an unexpected place.You might find your own questions to guide your journey on what God can turn into a Holy Land—and slowly discover what Jesus could have meant when he spoke of this way of life he called the Reign of God. This book invites you to walk like Jesus walked.

You can find out more about Fuji’s book ‘The Reign of God’  from his website . It was reviewed in the September 18 Crosslight.  and details about purchasing a copy of the book are here.

This is from the flyer at the back of his book:

“From the burning streets of Jerusalem to the wilderness of the Jordan valley …..The Reign of God  takes the reader to a dangerous ancient world where priests, prophets and kings struggle for divine authority.  Loaded with a dense atmospheres, passionate characters and careful research this story stands out from all ‘Bible comics’ of the past.  Impressive black and white drawings create a vibrant image of the Gospels that challenges the reader to the very last page”.

Photo taken by Di Gilbert, who led the service.
All other images were drawn by Fuji and are from his website.
With thanks to Fuji for allowing his thoughts to be shared here and to Di for facilitating this.



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Basket Making Demonstration & Workshop

~ Fundraiser for CERES Meditation Garden ~


Demonstration & Workshop

Come and play with baskets!


Learn Raffia Coil-pot techniques

Make a small basket

100% of all money will be donated

to the CERES Meditation Garden project.

Join Jeanette Acland from Sophias Spring at

The CERES Learning Centre (off Lee St)

Date:Saturday 1 December

Time:2 pm till 4 p.m.

Suggested Donation: $50

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