Psalm 84 for Western Australia


How lovely is the place where you live,
O Lord who rules over all!
I desperately want to be
in the courts of the Lord’s temple.
My heart and my entire being shout for joy
to the living God.

Even the birds find a home there,
and the blue wren builds a nest,
where she can protect her young
near your altars, O Lord who rules over all,
my king and my God.
How blessed are those who live in your temple
and praise you continually!

How blessed are those who find their strength in you,
and long to travel the roads that lead to your temple!
As they pass through the Sandy Desert,
he provides a spring for them.
The rain even covers it with pools of water.
They are sustained as they travel along;
in their hearts is the highway to Zion.

O Lord, sovereign God,
hear my prayer!
Listen, O God of Jacob!
O God, take notice of our shield!
Show concern for your chosen king!

10 Certainly spending just one day in your temple courts is better
than spending a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather stand at the entrance to the temple of my God
than live in the houses of the wicked.

11 For the Lord God is our sovereign protector.
The Lord bestows favour and honor;
he withholds no good thing from those who have integrity.
12 O Lord who rules over all,
how blessed are those who trust in you!

New English Translation (NET)

NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.

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Gnamma hole, Mukinbudin, W.A. Courtesy Wheatbelttourism.com

Flowing from me – a song for Lent 3


When I leave behind the happiness I know,
called to travel tracks to only God knows where,
I feel the pain of friends and passions left behind,
and the tug of nostalgia is an ache and a snare.

Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
from me, from me,
Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
through me, through me.

When I walk along the desert’s rock path
called to empty my heart and travel so dry,
When the lack of consoling is a tense mystery;
for leaving the old world I want to know why.

Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
from me, from me,
Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
through me, through me.

When I climb the rocks, and scrabble up the scarps
and scratch my hands and tear away my skin,
I’m weak and cannot continue in the heights,
I’ve come to the end for the air is too thin.

Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
from me, from me,
Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
through me, through me.

When friends make me riled and stir me around,
when political gain is everyone’s aim,
I can’t comprehend how believers behave,
With no care or compassion, simply spread blame.

Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
from me, from me,
Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
through me, through me.

When the nights are long and the travel is hard
It seems my faith can be gone without trace
and no way forward in the dry can be found.
I’m rocked and surprised by God’s presence and grace.

Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
from me, from me,
Then he strikes the rock and the waters are flowing
through me, through me.

  • Ted Witham 2017
  • Is there a song-writer who would like to collaborate with me by refining this text and setting it to music? Reply via Comments.

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Psalm 24 for Western Australia


Psalm 24

A psalm of David.

The Lord owns Western Australia and all it contains,
the world and all who live in it.
For he set its foundation upon the two oceans,
and established it upon the Leeuwin currents.
Who is allowed to ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may go up to his sterling dwelling place?
Those whose deeds are blameless
and whose motives are pure,
who do not lie,
or make promises with no intention of keeping them.
Such godly people are rewarded by the Lord,
and vindicated by the God who delivers them.
Such purity characterises the people who seek his favour,
Wollaston’s descendants, who pray to him.
Look up from Karinjini park, you water-tunnels!
Rise up, you eternal gorges!
Then the majestic king will enter!
Who is this majestic king?
The Lord who is strong and mighty!
The Lord whose power is breathtaking!
Look up, you gorges!
Rise up, you walls of the abyss!
Then the majestic king will enter!
10 Who is this majestic king?
The Lord who gives life breath!
He is the majestic king!

New English Translation (NET)

NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.

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A gorge in the Karinjini National Park. Image: Tom Price Visitors’ Centre. W.A.

The Snake’s Sin


The snake, in his tempting, makes us confused,
What is the sin, what punishment to come?
Is it pride, or wisdom or God’s traits to be used
that we deeply desire with our heart’s sum?

The snake, in his tempting, is skilled at misleading,
Look here, I’m a snake! Flabby sin at that address!
Is it sex, is it shame, is it clothes now receding?
Our focus is blurred by cold thoughtlessness.

The snake, in his tempting, makes our souls judder,
Shining skin in its blackness pretends to go deep:
Is it fear, is it self’s fickle flutter
that we dunk our souls in ourselves to steep?

Banish this snake, his crooked advance and sick ways,
Place God at the heart of our loupes’ precious gaze.

  • Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-6
  • Luke 4:1-13
  • (Lent 1, Year B Lectionary)
thruloupe
Photo jeweller’s loupe: Courtesy mazaldiamond.com

Psalm 29 for a flooded Western Australia


Psalm 29 for Western Australia

A Psalm of David

1Acknowledge the Lord, you heavenly beings, 

acknowledge the Lord’s majesty and power! 

2 Acknowledge the majesty of the Lord’s reputation! 

Worship the Lord in holy attire! 

3 The Lord’s shout is heard over the water; 

the majestic God thunders, 

the Lord appears over the surging water.

4 The Lord’s shout is powerful,

the Lord’s shout is majestic.

5 The Lord’s shout breaks the jarrah trees,

the Lord shatters the karris of Pemberton.

6 He makes Esperance skip like a calf

and Northam like an emu chick.

7 The Lord’s shout strikes with flaming fire. 

8 The Lord’s shout shakes the desert,

the Lord shakes the Great Sandy Desert. 

9 The Lord’s shout bends the large trees  

and strips the leaves from the forests. 

Everyone in his temple says, “Majestic!” 

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the engulfing waters, 

the Lord sits enthroned as the eternal king.

11 The Lord gives his people strength;

the Lord grants his people security. 

northam-in-flood-feb17
Flood waters near Williams WA. 13/2/2017 Courtesy ABC

 

 

 

Puncturing Trump’s Power


If the idea of the weakness of God in the world of Trump offends you, please read on. The President of the United States has vowed to ‘make America great again’, and logically America’s greatness must be at the expense of the rest of the world. He wants to use his power to decrease the life-chances of Mexicans, Syrian refugees and the environment.

It seems that this is a man using excessive power to accumulate more power. He can bully everyone from a Prime Minister to a girl in the backrooms of the White House. Be sure, the psychologists tell us, that a man like that who can use his power over others will display that power.

The response to Mr Trump portrayed in both traditional media and social media is often hysterical. ‘When will someone exterminate that man?’, one exasperated Facebook post asked. ‘This Crazy Man,’ writes another, ‘will provoke Iran into war.’ Or another typical reaction, ‘I’m terrified for the world.’

For those of us, white Western males in particular, who think we have power in this world, Mr Trump is a challenge. We want to use our power to change Mr Trump’s thoughts and actions., just as we use our power more locally. We are accustomed to our politicians responding to our emails, to bending the way of the people, and to honouring the democratic will every three or four years.

We tell ourselves that we can change things. We fantasise that we are staffers in the TV series The West Wing. We ‘speak truth to power’, and power listens.

But Mr Trump reminds us that we delude ourselves. I think we should take some care how we respond to him for fear of setting off damaging reactions. To bring power against Mr Trump, however great that power, will result in a reaction of more power. We threaten Mr Trump and the violence ratchets up. His Acting Attorney-General defied him on his Executive Order regarding immigration. He sacked her. His Generals advised him of the power of Al-Qaeda in Yemen. Mr Trump used a drone to kill 30 human beings.

It seems to me that we Franciscans have a contribution to make here. Particularly when a power-oriented President is breathing out fire.

We believe that the Divine way is the way of littleness, the path of humility.

Mr Trump, were he to encounter the concept of littleness, would not understand it. For him, being little is the worst kind of weakness.

The path of littleness eschews using all power over others. The path of littleness sees ourselves as fallible pilgrims seeking a way forward that will nurture those around us. The path of humility sees the other as the focus of my concern and not myself. If I have wealth it is at the disposal of others, not myself. If I have earthly power, it is to promote the needs and wants of the least in this world. (And as Australians, as whites, and as males, whatever we say we do have wealth and power).

This way of littleness was incarnated by Jesus. He ‘took the form of a servant and emptied himself’ (Phil. 2:7). He made no claims to overthrow the Roman yoke, or even to get stuck into reforming the Sadducean hierarchy. For us as for Jesus, the way of littleness leads to the greatest of power; but this kind of power is the power of love, not the power of violence.

My resolution – for myself – is to hold back from trying to use my little bit of power to change Mr Trump through outraged blog posts and emails to the White House and to pressing “LIKE” to affirm the violent language of my friends.

I see only two responses I can make: one is satire (but I have no doubt that satire is a form of power), and the other is modelling the humility that seeks to put others first. I think of certain pupils at Christ Church Grammar School, I think of Jews in Auschwitz modestly trying to create a mini-world of care and kindness in the harshness of their surrounds. That’s what will change the world.

 

King Richard and me


Warming up for next week’s monologue workshop:

King Richard III: A History Lesson

Would you believe I’m a clone of King Richard,
the last of Plantagenet line?
To start with, his spine describes an S-bend,
so his skeleton looks exactly like mine.

A left-hander like me was good King Richard the Third,
so with the sword in his left he surprised.
Does the archaeological record contend
That molly-dukers too are baptised?

A brother of brothers was Richard the King,
All of them in the end killed.
Then his nephews made way for him to ascend,
at murder he was mightily skilled.

Then Richard the Third was himself finished off,
Giving the field to bad Henry Tudor.
While Harry and family may have been thrilled,
It’s hard now to say who was the shrewder.

One thing’s for sure when comparing little me is,
Being a King may be fun while you’re thriving,
But being a nobody you’re much more fulfilled:
At least in the end you’re surviving!

  • Ted Witham 2017
Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013
Battle of Bosworth