Tag Archives: church: st albans

Lady Preacher

In less than a month I begin maternity leave and hit the pause button on my (paid) ministry career. I am expecting lots of things to be different, so I am taking some time to thank God for what this last season has looked like.

I’m especially thankful that I have been given so many opportunities to teach people from the bible, especially as a preacher. There is a broad spectrum of evangelical opinions on women teaching, but I’m thankful that so far, my story of training as a teacher has been filled with very supportive people – even among the institutions and personalities that I least expected, and even among people who may disagree with what I do.

So, a month and bit out from having a kid, with no more scheduled sermons or SRE classes to give, hardly any kids church lessons left to run and only a handful of bible studies left to lead, here is a collection of thoughts on what it has been like to train as a lady preacher.

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Return to suburbia

This afternoon I ran errands around our church building. As I walked across the property towards the main street I heard an excited voice shouting out my name: ‘HEY ALISON!’ A couple of 12 year old boys tumbled out the tree in the front of the church, laughing, then a dozen more started running around up and down the street playing tips, suddenly ignoring me again, wrapped up in their own game.

I got to witness a moment of suburban perfection – young boys, not quite men, still entertained with the place they’ve grown up in, owning the streets and the public places, not anxious or afraid to run around in the open, genuinely enjoying childhood games that they’ll grow out of in about 18 months.

And I only got to witness it because of the perfect timing of three things:

  1. A year ago I moved back to the suburbs.
  2. I have been volunteering at the local youth drop in where I’ve met all these kids.
  3. Our minister’s oldest son is one of these kids – it’s him and his friends running up and down the street and climbing the church trees.

And December is just around the corner, that sweet time for year 6 kids, when school is ending and everything is parties and Christmas is coming and you are on top of the world. This afternoon I was flooded with waves of nostalgia. I am feeling OK about living in suburbia again.

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Baptism Class

This is how Baptism Class went down today with my 12 year old pupil Josiah:

“OK, Josiah. John 1:1-18. You can read.”

Before the world began, there was the Word. Wait, what? What does it mean, the Word? Is that God?”

“Keep reading, Josiah.”

“The Word was with God. OK. The Word isn’t God.”

“Keep reading, Josiah.

“The Word was with God, and the Word was God. What??”

“Yep, the Word was with God and the Word was God. Keep reading.”

“He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through him. Wait, through God?”

“Well, through the Word.”

“How can a Word be a him? A word is a not a person.”

“Keep reading, Josiah!”

“Nothing was made without him. Him as in God, right?”

“Him as in the Word.”

“But how can a word be a person?!”

“Keep reading, Josiah!!”

“In him there was life. That life was light for the people of the world. The Light shines in the darkness. And the darkness has not overpowered the Light.There was a man named John who was sent by God. He came to tell people about the Light. Through him all people could hear about the Light and believe. John was not the Light, but he came to tell people about the Light. The true Light was coming into the world. The true Light gives light to all. The Word was in the word. Wait, in the world.

“You’re doing great.”

“The Word was in the world. The world was made through him, but the world did not know him. He came to the world that was his own. But his own people did not accept him. But some people did accept him. They believed in him. To them he gave the right to become children of God. They did not become his children in the human way. They were not born because of the desire or wish of some man. They were born of God.”

“Good job, keep going.”

“The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace and truth. John told about him. Wait, him? The word is a him?”

“Yes, Josiah, the Word became a man and lived among us. Have you worked out who it is yet?”

“Ummmm…”

“Keep reading.”

“He said, “This is the One I was talking about. I said, ‘The One who comes after me is greater than I am. He was living before me.’” The Word was full of grace and truth. From him we all received more and more blessings. The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Oh!! The Jesus! The Word is Jesus!”

“Yes! Good job. Nearly there, keep reading.”

“No man has ever seen God. But God the only Son is very close to the Father. And the Son has shown us what God is like.”

“Yay!”

“So did God kind of put the Word into Mary’s womb?”

“You can read the beginning of Luke in your own time.”

And that is John 1:1-18 with commentary from a year 6 kid (International Children’s Bible). He asks very good questions!

 

New things and old things

I can describe to you the images of every single stained glass window in St John’s Ashfield.

I can quote the bible verses painted around the pulpit, and I can tell you which colour linen is draped around the church at various points of the year. I can point out the four animals representing the evangelists in the big front window. I can show you the corresponding four frescoes painted along the wooden panels above the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles Creed, and the Ten Commandments. And the words of Jesus: I am the bread of life. It is a beautiful and inspiring place to worship the Lord.

And I can tell you about the people who have come and gone – all the different catechists who have spent a year or two serving there, all those people who have turned up to study in Sydney, to work in the city, to move closer to their fiancee, to explore the city on their working holiday visa. People who have come to Christ, people who have fallen away from Christ, people who have stood firm in their faith, people who have proclaimed the Gospel powerfully to others, people who have served with every fibre of their being. The baptisms and the confirmations, the marriages and the babies, the new arrivals and the deportations, the graduations and the new beginnings, the prolonged seasons of unemployment. The tearful farewells when people leave (all the time!), the excitement and joy when God brings new people along to serve with the gifts they have. All the poetry and the music that people have created together!

Matt and I spent our last Sunday at St John’s last week; it was tragic to leave and it’s exciting to go somewhere new. I have started a new job at St Alban’s Five Dock, one of the other sites of the same parish. It’s not really that big a leap, it’s not really somewhere new. And yet it is, it’s new people and a new place.

And it’s a new thing to be working in parish ministry too. I’ve never done that before. I am so thankful that God goes before me in everything, that he is strengthening me for what is coming. I am so thankful for the training and care I received working as a Howie at Sydney Uni and I am so thankful for the support I am already receiving in the team I work with now. I hope that I grow to love St Alban’s as much as I have loved St John’s, and I hope I get to see God do amazing things in that community too!