A time for Transformation

A time for Transformation, Uniting Church Australia

A letter from Circle Advocate Rev. Alex Sangster

Hey Transforming Worship crew,

I write to you all from Melbourne.                                            
I write to you from a city ‘ringed in steel’.                                
Where we rally ourselves,                                          
to not despair,                                                 
to take deep care                                                     
with our own lives                                                 
and the lives of others,                                                                
and we walk to the shops like Ned Kelly and his gang             
and we try to get the hang                                             
of how                                                     
to talk                                                     
from behind this mask                                            
to do the tasks                                                 
of living in a siege, ahh my liege                                     
And I hear folks say:                                        
Did you read the news today                                     
And I don’t know anything anymore, because:                                 
I can’t even get my mask to stay on,                                    
and home schooling is making me want to poke my eye out with a fork   
         
and I know of people that have not spoken to other                        
actual people,                                             
for weeks                                                
And there is a dizzying, apocalyptic feeling in the air,
and we try not to despair
but                                                         
we are weary and we are lost                        
and our thoughts                                             
are tossed                                                     
on statistics                                                 
and logistics                                                     
of how we keep                                             
each other
breathing  

And I find myself thinking of how
in my father’s house there are many rooms
and there are many zooms
and there are many people
Their faces shining forth from squares in tiny screens
meeting after meeting
Heart space and worship
zoom after zoom
And of how
in my father’s house,
which is also my house
because my father lives with me
there are 7 people and two dogs and 2 rabbits which is a lot,
a lot of souls
all nestling and wrestling and bumping along
with a sigh
and a song and sometimes
the days
are so very long
but so full too
with the work
and the sweeping and the wiping and the washing
Of all those people all home together
And the hot glue gun which is out again
coz a girl
who is ten
is making a cubby
on the stairs,
my own room she cries
As she glues and ties
doonas to bannisters
and her mother sighs
Its time to pack up sweetheart
its getting dark and we can go to the park
and we can do this all
again
tomorrow

my God

we are almost… undone
yet here is the sun
and the sky so blue
shot through with you
so we will stand strong,
though the 6 weeks is so long
and we will open our Hearts to your Power
in this grim time hour …
we will remember you.

……

I sat down to write you all a letter and I ended up writing this instead, a poem, of sorts, attempting to capture a little of life in Melbourne at this time. Our worship, all of ours, those in lockdown and those set free, has been profoundly transformed (and not always for the good) from the pandemic.

There is much to be explored:

To Zoom or not to Zoom?
To pre-record worship or to Facebook live?
To fast or feast with our holy meal?

And while we practitioners grapple with all these and many other questions the other great cries of our age continue to ring out…
Like the cry of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the cries of our earth in climate distress…How can we pay attention to all that matters?

My colleague Rev Radhika Sukumar has written a timely and powerful reflection calling us all to a transformation of our liturgies and language.  I encourage you to read it and see how you can rise to the challenge of her vital words.

Blessings,
Alex