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In the New Revised Standard Version we read Luke 2:29-32 from the ‘Song of Simeon’ as

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel’.

Recently, I came by this paraphrase of these verses:  “And now you're here - the light is shining where the darkness used to be - and all the world is a different place... ...and every single day a fresh beginning” (‘Finan Reflections’ Oct 3 Celtic Daily Prayer).

We know the light is shining in many corners of the world where there once was darkness.  And we are aware that there is still darkness in many other places.  During September I visited Palestine and discovered shining light and disturbing darkness.

Bethlehem is a Palestinian town just beyond Jerusalem.  It is a white, stony landscape with very little water.  Its steep hills shelter many church and mosques, and its narrow streets are filled with a blending of the very old and the very new.  Palestinian Moslems and Palestinian Christians live together peacefully. 

Christian souvenirs are plentiful.  Vendors sell their wares on street corners, at stalls in the markets and in a myriad of shops.  Because of the recent Gaza crisis, tourism numbers are down in Bethlehem.  Economically, Bethlehem may have a very poor Christmas this year.

The spirit of Palestinians in Bethlehem may be dimmed but it is not extinguished.  The welcome, warmth and generosity of the Palestinian people is a genuine delight.  Israeli suppression of the Bethlehem people seems to be nurturing in them a heart and a hope for peace that is a privilege to experience.   

The wall that separates Bethlehem from Israel is 9 metres high.  Eventually it will be built across Palestinian land for 745 kilometres.  But the wall does not shut out the light, as the graffiti in this photograph shows.  Written below “Love wins” are the words “Kingdom come to Palestine”. 

May we all pray that the Palestinian people of Bethlehem will continue to celebrate each new day with hope, resist the Israeli border controls, guns, tear gas and harassment with peaceful protest, and show their light to us all by reminding us that love does wins and God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven! 

In the midst of despair, hope holds the power to heal us and enables us to see the light of God’s love shining before us.


Janelle McGregor



Lenten reflections on MH370

A notice outside the parish of Gosford, shared on social media this morning reads, "Joining our hearts to the families of flight MH370."

And so, I think, do we all. But what Fr Rod from the parish writes in his accompanying note sounds a deeper question than all the speculation as to what has happened. He writes,

"The tragedy of this event is obvious but what makes it so much more disturbing is its mystery. In situations like this we always need someone or something else to blame, a peg to hang something on. In this case we must just sit in the tragedy, the powerlessness and the realization of the reality of human fragility. Human life and death is at its core a profound mystery and we will do just about anything to pretend this is not the case. MH370 is not allowing us to pretend and that is deeply disturbing."

To me that is a profound truth which goes to the heart of what our Lenten season is all about - that turning to God, facing uncertainty, living with questions and not allowing - tempting though it is - the speculation of the 24 hour news service that needs constant feeding - to let us escape the mystery and to pretend we can answer all questions.

As the Temptations of Jesus which we read on the First Sunday of Lent remind us, we cannot be satisfied with easy answers, cheap answers and easy solutions. We cannot live by bread alone. The Lenten season is all about uncertainty and ambiguity, about avoiding speculation that might turn out to be wrong, it is about tasting, as Brian Wren says, "the in-between, suspended in the stillness of things unheard, unseen."* - those moments in the space between the passion and the resurrection where we simply don't know.

That's where we are, I think, at this moment with MH370 and as Christians we stand with all of the families in the pain of that unknowing, waiting ...

Alex Scutt.
Alex is an Anglican priest and musician based in Melbourne and a friend of Wellspring.

*Brian Wren (c) 1996 Hope Publishing Company, Piece Together Praise "Made one in Christ we gather"

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