Gosh its hard to get into the Christmas mood. The older I get the faster time moves and start of the Christmas season arrives to some considerable annoyance. It’s an inconvenience and perhaps even more than that as I struggle to see my life accelerating to its end. Another year is over. Where did it go?

When I was younger and more crass than I am now, I used to joke that Jesus could not be born in our time because there would be no hope of locating three wise men or a virgin. Closer to the truth is that if a 14 year girl presented, heavily pregnant, we’d call the Department of Family and Community Services and a psychologist.

Maybe there was never room at the inn; maybe its always difficult to stop the normal business of life to remember that the most important of all gifts is small, present and under our noses. First time round it was a little baby, born to Trevor from Blacktown and Sharleen from Mount Druittt. The birth was announced to some labourers on a building site. Is anyone impressed? The baby was sleeping in an animal feedbox. What made the wise men was the care they took about where they stepped. There could be no chance that this was a “Silent Night” but rather into the chaos of the smell and the noise came such a powerful presence that we’re told the sky illuminated with angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest”.

This season can be an ugly chapter of overspending and overeating. It can also be a season of great joy. The difference is between presents and presence. The first Christmas happened with ordinary people saw the Divine in the ordinary. Emmanuel, God with us, in the least likely people and place. If we could stop business long enough to see the divine in our nearest and dearest, what a blessing that would be in any family. If we could see the divine presence in a homeless man or a street kid; if we could see the Almighty seeking to break into our world as the child of a boat person, gosh, I think the heavens would...[read more]
Dear Inner Circle,
Adam Goodes dropped in the other day. No cameras, no reporters, no agenda; he came to spend some time with our Aboriginal community. What a fabulous bloke and what a worthy Australian of the Year!
Massive, gigantic and an extra large thank you to all of you who have “donated a plate” for our Christmas Day street party. Over the years this party has become more expensive and we could only achieve it with the help of good and generous people. You can still donate a plate here. For those of you who haven't experienced a Wayside Christmas, we close the street and throw a big party. We start the day with a Church Service at 10.30am and last year almost 450 people joined us to sing carols and be part of the magic of the day, then a generous lunch is served with all the trimmings at 12.30pm.
The importance of the Christmas street party has grown over the years. We don’t say its just for the poor any more but we invite lonely people from all walks of life to come and join us. The result is street dwellers, elderly people who rarely go out, the working poor and any manner of person who might be on their own on Christmas Day is welcomed and will find a place at our table. Also a big thank you to the hundreds of people who have registered as volunteers on the day. If you wanted to volunteer and missed out, come anyway and add YOU to the day. Come and talk to people; that’s a wonderful job that anyone can do. By about 2 pm, you’ll see street people dancing in the street. It causes my heart to leap for joy every time I see it.

....Read on here.
captivated by the awe
Is the goal of learning to close us down or to open us up?

There is a kind of learning that seems to shut people down. To the extent to which they are experts, they tend to spend their time correcting others rather than asking the kind of questions that gave birth to their first questions.

Learning is born of wonder even perhaps, awe. Any activity that explains away the wonder, is surely an activity that kills rather than gives life. Perhaps in engineering this is ok but in philosophy or theology, what could be sadder? A learner is a most attractive person but nothing is more ugly than someone who is dead right.

I’m not about to make an argument against education. What’s missing in our culture is a lack of understanding of the life-rhythms that determine that we can only learn and love in bursts. We must sleep and wake and sleep again. A sense of wonder and awe gives birth to our learning. In the act of learning we are for a time in the presence of something greater than we had previously known. Such bursts of learning must end. A process takes place whereby we fossilize our learning into orderly concepts that we can command and call upon in the future. The process of fossilization is a useful and important part of living and at the same time, an inevitable loss of life or wonder.

A body of knowledge or a scheme of ideas, is located in me. I know things. I am able to diagnose, expound and correct, based on what I know. But the thing known is always greater than my idea of it. There are always more questions and plenty of material for anyone with a sense of wonder. In science, theology, philosophy there is always more. The trick is to be captured by the awe that first propelled us into the field. The only process I know that can achieve this is a process of “turning”.

To turn from my idea of something to the something itself, will awaken awe in me. Even in a field that I know well, I can meet it all as if for the first time when I turn from my...[read more]