love , co-operation and hope.

Dorrigo Christians working together

This is another reason I love living In Dorrigo, a small rural community on the east coast of Australia. The majority of the believers in each of the  faith communities that follow Jesus are committed to His words “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:3

This love and co-operation between the churches is a hope that has taken root and is now growing in the hearts of those who love Him. A  banner of love that has been raised over this community and we will not take it down.

dorrigo sunrise

Sunrise over Dorrigo…as I look to the east I expect His coming …every day with His mercy and hope, correction and joy. There is a day coming that will have no end.

Maranatha:

“If one chooses to split the two words as מרנא תא (maranâ thâ), a vocative concept with an imperative verb, then it can be translated as a command to the Lord to come. On the other hand, if one decides that the two words מרן אתא (maran ‘athâ), a possessive “Our Lord” and a perfect/preterite verb “has come,” are actually more warranted, then it would be seen as a credal expression. ” 

Jesus has come, He is ever present and He will, in all His glory, come again.

In the mean time….. His people, gathering together in all possible ways, at all possible times, standing on the foundation laid by Christ, are fueled by the fire from our God, Whose heart burns with desire for a world He loves and a Bride He died for.

fire under the church

Dorrigo Life: reflection on trees

My husband, John (who pastors  the Dorrigo LifeSprings Church), and I enjoy, really enjoy, travelling in the car together. Our favourite get-a-ways consist of a car, a country road and somewhere nice. Living on the New England Plateau we often see that trees in isolation do not survive so long as those left as groves, along fence lines or planted as wind breaks. Safety is in numbers. Recently, we came across the peculiar growing habits of the giant Californian Redwood trees, hundreds of feet tall with a tiny tap root. Survival in the often severe storms that come in from the Pacific Ocean is because of the interdependent root system just below the surface.

redwood rootsOur own Eucalypti have a similar structure, shallow rooted to take advantage of the often infrequent rainfall; but in the cleared farmlands , are at risk of weather and the pest attacks that intensify when the natural habitats of the creatures that keep the balances disappear.

It is no wonder that the Holy Spirit tells us to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.“(Hebrews 10:25)

“grown together, life entangles us,

the strength of my sister makes me stronger,

the strength of my brother helps me grow taller,

safe in the storm”

Living in Dorrigo

cropped-jacaranda.jpgLiving in Dorrigo has proved to be even more delightful than I had anticipated . The sky seems closer, the trees more alive, the soil more generous. The air is consistently keener and sharpens me nicely. Winter has just begun, but like elsewhere, day to day predictions are untrustworthy. Most days are a  gloriously crispy blue and the waterlogged ones have the comforts of work, fires and friendships to compensate.

DSC_1555 The landscape is broad, with lane-ways and country roads that take you into hidden valleys and surprising finds.

DSC_1389 Like this gate; obviously loved, apparently leading no-where, but nevertheless being there, joyous.

The skies are miracles

IMG_20150415_172337IMG_20141030_191917

 

and the bush

DSC_1139

 

and the beach

DSC_1283  are not too far away

 

DSC_0934 and even three day old nasturtium culls look good.

 

The path that brought us here, unexpected and difficult at first, has become a path of peace.

 

The Open Door

open door

Reflections from Dorrigo LifeSprings church service this week.

“As we spent much time in the presence of God, He caused our hearts to be opened to all that is written.” Agnes Ozman, who asked for and received the baptism of the Spirit on January 1st 1901.

When we open our hearts to Him, He will open our hearts to receive revelation and understanding of “all that is written”. “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” Luke 24:45

There is also, now, “a door standing open in heaven.” Revelation 4:1,   “an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name” Revelation 3:8

Jesus says “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in” Revelation 3:20. When we open the door and Jesus comes in, He come in trailing the Glory of an open access to  the presence of God, an access that He will never deny us.

“You are calling us ever onward, through the open door. The door You opened, the door You will never close. You are calling us ever onward , through that always opening door” A praise prayer from my mum, Beverley, 89 years old, a crazy lover of God and one of the delights of my life.

Give us this day our daily bread

looking into glory_npainting by Ineke Hopgood

” give us this day our daily bread”…the answer to this request will always be yes. I don’t know why I don’t ask every day. Given the picture we have of maggoty manna, my only response can be “silly me!” Existence is sustained by Him; good physical growth comes from good food, clean water, fresh air. How much more then do we have in Jesus for our spiritual health : He is the best Bread of Heaven, broken open for us, the purist Living Water flowing from the Source of all things, the freshest Breath of the Almighty invigorating us as we breathe Him in and He increases our capacity for always more. Give me these things daily my Father of all delights and surpassing glory …my daily Bread , my daily Jesus, my moment by moment eternal weight of Glory. His answer is already there. Yes, I will.

Dorrigo Life

 

let's help each other shine

 

Walking up the main street of Dorrigo a few days ago, I crossed paths with a friend I  hadn’t seen for a while.  We were just chatting about things that happen and changes that come and she said something that had me scrabbling around the bottom of my bag for a pen.  She is one of the reasons I love this community; a transitional place between ocean and hinterland, with a crispness in the air that corresponds to a keen conversational habit of getting to the point.

“In any community it is our responsibility to help each other shine, and that’s all.” Fran

All I can say is ‘amen to that’ . To build up and not tear down, to encourage and not douse a flicker of hope, to be the spit and polish for someone who fell over and got a bit grubby and not the tar and feathers that stick and hurt like blazes to get rid of, to be a solution and not a problem.

 

 

Dorrigo Life Springs

‘For I know well the spring that flows and runs, although it is night’….

 

The traditional custodians of the land that is now known as Dorrigo are the  Gumbaynggirr nation. “They were renowned as the ‘sharing people’ because their land was so rich that food and other resources were commonly shared with other nations.” http://www.arrawarraculture.com.au/fact_sheets/…/01_Gumbaynggir_Nation.p…

Red Cedar brought the timber cutters in 1841 and the rich soil and good water ensured settlement by the 1860’s. The soil is a volcanic legacy and there are springs of water to be found all over this region.

John and I were exploring the network of lanes and roads that sashay through the  folded hills, green even in drought, and would often see water coming out of a hillside, and again around the next bend, and again. This is one reason our gathering is called “LifeSprings”. The image of God’s people used by Jeremiah, “they are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought”,  resonates in this physical geography.

Jesus gave us Himself as living water so we would never be thirsty again, and He gave us the Holy Spirit so that out of us would flow rivers of living water so that others could drink and live.

This poem, written by St John of the Cross who lived in the latter half of the 16th century, testifies of spiritual geographies that are no less real.

Cantar del alma que se huelga de conocer a Dios por fe

(Song of the soul that rejoices in knowing God by faith)

For I know well the spring that flows and runs,

although it is night.

1. That eternal spring is hidden,

for I know well where it has its rise,

although it is night.

2. I do not know its origin, nor has it one,

but I know that every origin has come from it,

although it is night.

3. I know that nothing else is so beautiful,

and that the heavens and the earth drink there,

although it is night.

4. I know well that it is bottomless

and no one is able to cross it,

although it is night.

5. Its clarity is never darkened,

and I know that every light has come from it,

although it is night.

6. I know that its streams are so brimming

they water the lands of hell, the heavens, and earth,

although it is night.

7. I know well the stream that flows from this spring

is mighty in compass and power,

although it is night.

8. I know the stream proceeding from these two,

that neither of them in fact precedes it,

although it is night.

9. This eternal spring is hidden

in this living bread for our life’s sake,

although it is night.

10. It is here calling out to creatures;

and they satisfy their thirst, although in darkness,

because it is night.

11. This living spring that I long for,

I see in this bread of life,

although it is night.”

 

Dorrigo Life

Image

Dorrigo is a rural community, funded primarily by potatoes and cattle, sitting on a plateau fifty kilometres inland from the Pacific Ocean. The soil is rich, red and deep, the climate is friendly forty-six weeks of the year and the people are kind. There are the same challenges faced by any community, yet there is a buoyancy of spirit and a deep courage to be found in this place. The inspiration of crows-feet smiles and paddock-muddied boots in the face of too little rain for too long is easy to see as you walk down the street.
Some people avoid Dorrigo because of the drive up the mountain, the vision-impairing bends, the occasional exposure to uncertain edges, the narrowing of the way. This drive has become one of my favourite things; a metaphor for risk and reward…just like the people that populate the town where the mountain ends and the plateau begins.
My husband, John Woolhouse, pastors the Dorrigo LifeSprings Church and I am particularly happy that our life together has brought us here.

This blog is about the Kingdom of God, found in all places at all times and where there are geographies of risk and reward that reflect the nature of its King. . I am expecting extravagant  amounts of personal enjoyment in exploring this landscape.