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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Girls can change the world – International Day of the Girl Child

You cannot succeed when half of us are held back – Malala Yousafzai

Last Sunday Sophia’s Spring observed the International Day of the Girl Child. Since 2012, United Nations has marked 11 October as a day to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

Jan S led the service during which she reflected on Clementine Ford’s thoughts about ‘the fragility of toxic masculinity’. Ford, arguably  Australia’s most prominent contemporary feminist, in her recent book Boys will be Boys, works toward dismantling the idea that feminism is harming men. Instead, she proposes — as feminists have consistently maintained — that a patriarchal society can be as harmful and destructive for individual men as it can be for women.

Both Clementine Ford, now the mother of a young son, and Nobel Peace prize winner, Malala Yousafzai demonstrate great courage speaking out, as they endeavour to create a more just society for girl children.

I am proud to be a girl. We girls can change the world – Malala Yousafzai

To conclude the service, an Apache Blessing was shared;

May the sun bring you new energy by day
May the moon softly restore you at night
May the rain wash away your worries
May the breeze blow new strength into your being
May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty
all the days of your life.
May it be so!

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Uniting Church joins National Redress Scheme

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan announced yesterday that the Uniting Church will opt in to the Federal Government’s National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse. The National Redress Scheme was one of the recommendations arising from the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

The full text of the Uniting Church media release is here: 180604_UCA_redress_opt-in

More information about the National Redress Scheme here

You can read about some of the other recommendations from the Royal Commission here

The Culture of Safety Unit for the VicTas Synod (UCA) has more information about reporting processes and resources to ensure that our congregations are safe places for all.

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A breath of fresh care

What do a parachute, the Lectionary Text for the day and a model for pastoral care have in common?

Quite a bit, it would seem.

The theme for Sunday 27th May was exploring a ministry of creative care for Sophia’s Spring – the parachute was a means to link each person with those across the room and provide a breath of care to each and everyone including those who were not with us on Sunday.

Connection, care, and joy to celebrate the delight of belonging in the family of Sophia.

Jan and Kay will continue their creative ministry with Sophia’s Spring through June and July.

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Earth Hour – 8.30pm this Saturday (March 24)

An Invitation: Wherever on the planet you are – turn your lights off  from 8.30pm to 9.30pm (1 Hour), Saturday, March 24 – to unite with others in demonstrating our commitment to the earth in reducing the effects of climate change.


More information here

Join the Facebook event here

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Deep Ecology Ritual

Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm
CERES Environment Park, Melbourne, Australia, 3057View Full Map

A ritual to empower creative action for the environment.

*Are you an activist looking for a place to find a nourishing and supportive community?
*Are you a person of faith interested in exploring the connection between spirit and environment?
*Do you want to participate in environmental ritual suited to the 21st century?

Join us at the CERES urban oasis to explore deep ecology rituals inspired by Buddhist activist and teacher Joanna Macy and her “Work That Reconnects”.

This first ritual will focus on gratitude. We hope to follow with further rituals over the year.

Gratitude Ritual: 6pm – 7pm
Nibbles and discussion: 7pm – 8pm
Suggested donation of $5 – $10

“The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.”
― Joanna Macy

Hosted by CERES, Sophia’s Spring and the Australian Religious response to Climate Change (ARRCC) in the CERES Learning Centre.

view on facebook


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Sophia’s Spring welcomes Jan and Kay

Last Sunday was the start of a three month Intentional Creative Ministry that Jan Sebastian and Kay Quisenberry will undertake with the Sophia’s Spring community.  Jan and Kay are no strangers to Sophia’s Spring. We have enjoyed their gentle and joyous presence on many occasions, so it is with real delight that we welcome them as friends to this period of leadership for us.

As a feminist community, we acknowledge that divinity is found in the world, in finite, embodied life.  One of the areas that Jan and Kay will particularly focus on is further exploration of just how our embodied lives matter, particularly in the context of our theology and practices during our Sunday morning services.  Jan suggests that some of the ways that this might be done are through:
~ exploring and inspiring embodied expressions of the lectionary
~ incorporating creative reflections with interaction
~ visual sermons
~ congregational movement and embodied prayer
~ encouragement of sharing the gifts and graces of those gathered
~ contextually crafted services of celebration or lament and all in between

Jan is an ordained Uniting Church Minister. She has a wide experience of ministry, with congregations and also as a hospital chaplain. A trained dancer, she studied sacred dance and other worship arts in the United States but completed her candidature for ministry here in Melbourne.  A clear aspect of her ministry, she understands, ‘is to facilitate people  into a space of mystery in an intentional and wholistic way.’

Kay also has a background in dance, particularly sacred dance.  The focus of her Masters thesis was the Women’s Ceremonial Dances of Elcho Island. Jan and Kay have been friends and colleagues in ministry for 26 years but four years ago began offering short term periods of Intentional Creative Ministry to congregations within the Synod of VicTas. This ministry is characterised by colour, energy, humour and the offering of space to reflect in an experiential way.  Invitation to movement is also a feature of this ministry they offer. Jan says “movement has the potential to disarm the heart and free our bodies to soar in spirit, something that is deeper than words”.  Sophia’s Spring is glad, and grateful, to be given the opportunity to experience this creative intentional ministry.

Over the next three months, Jan will be leading two services per month. She will also be available for pastoral conversations.  Her contact details are Phone: 0448 291 533 and email: jansebastian4@aol.com

Photo shows Kay in purple and Jan in green with a Sophia’s Spring banner made by Stella Watson

Photo taken by Di Gilbert

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