Only hearing whispers

We have waited in darkness
God of light.
We have waited,
not always able to see the shape of what we wait for.

We have waited,
not always patiently
or quietly

To see your justice take hold
To find your peace flooding the earth
To be met with your joy
and overwhelmed by your love.

We have waited,
sometimes seeing glimpses of your promise
in the words and actions of your people
Sometimes catching a whisper,
seeing a shape
of what your world could be.

Sometimes we have lost our vision
Sometimes the shape of who we could be
eludes us
fading into the darkness.

And you have met us,
Gentle in your correction
Gracefully placing us back on our path
and promising once again
that what we see and hear
are only whispers of the Kingdom yet to come.

We wait in hope
Calmly patient
Restlessly impatient
Called by your spirit
seeking out the light.

We wait in hope
We wait

Meet us in our waiting

The Great Unchaining

Loving God

You created us in your image
and gave us a world to play in
asking only that we live in hope and joy with you.
You were to be our God
and we to be your people

and yet we chose others to rule us.

We have belonged
to the urge to protect ourselves
from our neighbours
from their hunger
from their thirst.

We have belonged
to lives of frantic competition
where success is achieved synonymously with another’s failure.

We have belonged
to the mistakes of our pasts,
holding our grievances close like teddy bears
knowing that in their sadness they are at least certain.

We have belonged
to acquisition, exhibition, inhibition, prohibition and fear.
Lord,  how we have belonged to fear.

And you seek us out
And you unchain us limb by limb
from our captors
And you say “follow me in freedom.”
“Follow me in hope”
“Follow me in love”
“Follow me in joy”

We have belonged to so many other things Lord.
Give us the courage to belong to you.

Source: Gareth Darlow

You should pause to take a breath

There’s a moment in a long journey where you should pause to take a breath.
Every now and then,
when the voices of your travel companions
start to hammer through your ears and into your brain,
and your smile becomes a little harsh, a little strained,
It doesn’t hurt to give a quick apologetic grin
and slip away from the group.

As you push your way up the hillside,
you let the chatter,  giggles and hollers of your friends
drain from your ears
and allow the silence to enter in.
Finding yourself at the summit,
you breathe deeply, stretch your weary legs,
and realise that the silence may not be silent at all.

There’s a moment on a long journey
If you’re lucky,
When you can sit or stand alone,
and be filled with the earth’s rustling beats
the wind’s playful melody
the harmony of the cosmos
A moment when you gaze up into the sky,
just for a second
find yourself alive with the music of the universe.


Just after the dawn

In the first moments after dawn,
as the sun washes the landscape clean and begins colouring the trees and buildings around you
in gentle pastel,

If you’re lucky enough to see the dawn;
If you happen to be standing, watching, shaking the sleep from bleary eyes,
rubbing your hands across your face and wondering what the day will bring;

As the first gentle light seeks you out and you look a few meters away for details,
you might realise just how dark it still is…. how little of what lies ahead is clear.
As the sun’s tentative warmth reaches out and gently kisses your forehead,
you might realise just how cold the night has been,
and suddenly shivering, head indoors to find hot strong coffee.

There is a time before the light has won.There is a moment
every morning
when darkness seems about to reclaim the world
and keep it for its own.

We seek out against the greying world
companions in a firm belief.A light appears in the darkness
and the darkness will not drag it down.

Any Moment Now

There’s a time before the dawn
where light becomes a promise.
A certainty that in moments
the world will shift slightly on its axis,
and light will spill across the landscape.

In those few minutes,
as the hunted and the hunting night-animals
scuttle, slink and swoosh their ways home,
the breeze murmurs softly of the coming day
gently warning you of the heat, the rain, the bluster on their way.

If you stand there quietly in the dark pre-dawn…
shivering slightly
sniffing the wind, straining your eyes against the darkness
you can know…
just know…

that  in moments
the looming black shapes surrounding you
will resolve into the familiar things that make your home.
That in seconds, the light will begin
to wash away the darkness…
that direction will be found,
that warmth will be provided,
that new possibility will arise.

When a child is born

When a child is born we have hopes for them,
That they will grow up strong, that they will make good choices,
that they will find laughter and friendship
that they won’t make our mistakes
that they will find love or that love will find them,that they will want to be around us.
When a child is bornwe want them to have a voice

When a child is born
we make promises to them.
That we will hold them up while they cannot stand,
and hold ourselves back enough that they might grow their own strength.
That we will make the best choices we can,
and when we get things wrong,
we’ll show them how to repent of our mistakes.
We promise to love them
and allow them to love us.
We promise to listen for their voice.

When a child is born,
we look anew at the world around us.
We see with urgency
the need for the earth to be healthy and sustainable
We see with horrorthe violence humans inflict upon each otherin the name of ‘wealth’, or ‘righteousness’ or ‘holiness’ (and decide we need to redefine what those things mean).
We see with alarm the powerful making decisions for today (and maybe tomorrow morning)but ignoring the pressing needs of next week, next month, next decade….

When a child is born,
a shrug of the shoulders and a  “What can you do?”
seems less of a viable option.

A child is born this December.
A child who will grow in strength,
live in love,work in hope,die in injustice
and rise again in life.

But in December,
we celebrate the arrival of the baby
who cries out for the world to be just, kind and well.
We should listen

The Blessing Of Not Being Too Important

The blessing of not being too important
There have been days
when we’ve been loving to our friends
and kind to our enemies.
There have been days when the sight of someone in need
has prompted us to reach into our pocket
and do what we can… all we can…
without even being asked.
There have been days when we’ve worked quietly,
behind the scenes
on behalf of the people we love,
letting them believe that their success is all their own to enjoy.
There have been days
when we’ve stood up for people who struggle to stand on their own
spoken up for those who could not make themselves heard
Days when we’ve borne witness to people’s grief and pain
and with our presence, helped it become bearable.
Not all our days have been like that.
Maybe not most days.
On other days we’ve made ourselves
a bright star
at the center of our own universe.
Our friends and enemies simply planets in orbit around us
Those in need,
those in sickness, pain or grief
difficult to see clearly in the light we have for them.
We find ourselves annoyed when others (probably at the centre of their own universe) ask us to revolve around them for a moment.
We find ourselves resentful
at the weight of sole responsibility for the wellbeing of the world.
And you,
loving God
come to us again,
Gently remove us from the centre of the cosmos
And take from us the need to be everything to everyone.
In your forgiveness,
we find freedom.
To be as good as we can
To do as much as we can
To love all we can
And let you take care of what we can’t.
Creator of worlds within worlds,
Forgiver of wrongs within wrongs
Whisperer of dreams within dreams
We give thanks.

Source: Gareth

The Next Change

I’m in one of my favourite places in the world.
I’m sitting at my kitchen table, a mug of extra strong black coffee (from Cuba!) beside my laptop and while I write I’m pausing to gaze out the double doorway into our back yard.  Whoever planted the garden here was a big fan of citrus.  The lemon and lime trees are swaying gently in the wind, annoying the cat who is intent on catching a bird hopping around on the lawn.  A few years ago I’d have gone out and made some noise to save the bird, but the cat’s glory days of hunting are well behind her… She moves a bit slower than she used to, so unless the bird walks up to her and sticks its head in her mouth, it should be pretty safe.
A plane flies overhead…  a tiny seaplane with floats instead of wheels.  It’s about to land on the bay which I can’t see from here but can smell this morning… a touch of brine mixes with the citrus in the air. The cat lazily tracks the plane across the sky, dreaming of the one big leap it might take to bring it down and feast like a king.
There’s been a lot of moving over the years; I’ve lived in 23 different places over my 43 years of life.  Nowhere’s quite perfect… in one place I’d sleep fully clothed under an enormous doona and wake up shivering at 5am because the room was so cold it was damp.  There’s always something that is uniquely enjoyable about where I find myself.  In this place, on this morning, it’s the garden. 
This place in Williamstown wasn’t something we planned. It was a bit of a last straw, grabbed when the house we were renting was sold out from under us and we couldn’t find anywhere in an area which would work for us both. We came here not as something that we wanted but the least-worst option at the time. It meant I would have to face the Westgate and the Monash pretty much every day, and I braced myself to deal with some tiredness and stress from that.   
But it turns out that the taste of strong black coffee and the smell of citrus and the sea means I’m starting the day in a calm place. Should the drive to work bring unwanted adventure I’ll handle it ok.  And tonight I’ll walk along by the Yarra, watch the small boats bobbing on the water, and the container ships dwarfing the city behind them.  I know as I nod to the families who’ve come down to the river to eat together as the sun goes down, whatever stresses I’ve been through over the course of the day will fade a little into the background.
We don’t often look for change.  Change often happens to us rather than for us, and when it comes it can bring chaos and drama.  We can find ourselves scrambling to try and make good decisions in bad circumstances.  Change hits us that way as individuals, and it hits us that way as a church.
We might find ourselves in a place of change over this coming year. Change that we seek out, perhaps. Change that comes to us unbidden, almost definitely. Luckily, we’re not alone.  We are in a community of belonging at Coatesville. We belong to a God whose love for us is the one thing that doesn’t ever change.  Our experiences together, of God and of each other, suggest to us that whatever chaos change may bring, we might find ourselves in a place of peace and joy.

Source: Gareth

Not yet time to sleep

We thought it was over, loving god
We had done our very best in your service
Been faithful apostles
Spoken your word of life
Performed works of comfort and healing
Lived out the kingdom of heaven.
All this we had done in your name,
But the world is what the world is.
And peace is sometimes met with violence.
Joy met with cynicism.
Light sometimes surrounded by darkness
A hand stretched out in earnest is sometimes slapped away
And so we were ready to down tools,
And if we’re honest with ourselves
There was some comfort to be found in that.
At the end of a long day of hard work
It can be right to settle in your chair
Sip your drink and close your eyes.
And yet the voice of Jeremiah
Calls to us across the generations.
That as the old passes away, the new comes to replace it
That as we mourn the old things we did
You are doing a new thing.
A covenant written on our hearts
A new word to catch us up and
Hurl us back into the world
You move within your people
And once again your shalom moves upon the earth.

Source: Gareth

We will speak of love (a christmas dialogue)

Who would dare to speak of hope
In this world where numbers are more important than people,
Where with a little patience, the powerful can explain to the powerless
why it’s necessary that they get by with less
Less money to live on
Less community to live with
Where the powerful can even stand in the face of the cosmos
and say “Sorry Nature, you’re in our way.”
Who would dare speak of hope in such a world?
We would.
Then who would dare to speak of peace
in a world where neighbour attacks neighbour in streets and cafes,
drones patrol foreign skies, taking out entire rooms and hoping for the best,
Who would speak of peace when nobody can even explain what victory would look like?
We would.
And Joy…
It’s 2015 and we haven’t even figured out basic joy…
Who, rubbing the sleep from their eyes, worrying about how to get from here to lunch then back again in time for work on Monday would even contemplate speaking of Joy?
We Would.
Would you?
Yes. We would.
And that’s before we even get to Love… Who, in their right mind would…
We would.
You didn’t let me finish.
You don’t need to finish.  We will speak of love.
We will speak of the hope that comes when the most powerless one of all; 
a newborn baby; 
cries out and wraps the hearts of a universe around it.   
The hope that it can be different; 
that we can be different 
and from our response to an infant’s cry, 
the world will pivot and change.
We will speak of the peace that comes
because it must. 
The peace that a newborn child demands we strive for,
the peace that comes when as a people we refuse to put another like this child in harm’s way.
We will speak of the joy
that comes when we live together in hope and peace,
when our differences are cause for celebration rather than fear
When that which lets us belong outweighs that which sets us apart.
And most of all we will speak of love.
For without love there will be no joy,
no peace,
no hope.
We will tell of the love of a mother for a child,
a lover for a beloved,
a sister for a sister
a friend for a friend
We will tell of the love
of a God for a people
One love which drives us
to sacrifice our own needs for others.
We will not speak lightly,
but we will speak of love
until our voices are just part of a mighty wind.
We will speak of love.

Source: Gareth