The next six months will be critical. The next six months in the unlawful Russian invasion of Ukraine will be critical according to military analysts. Will NATO and the United States send combat aircraft and lethal weaponry to help the Ukrainian nation defend itself?
This week independent human rights organizations have submitted their findings: certain Russian soldiers and units have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine; torture and beatings, summary executions and rape. By implication this was ordered by someone in the Kremlin. And there is this. Thousands of Ukrainian children have been taken hostage and deported to Russia to be ‘re-educated and re-settled’.
To state the obvious, a culture of rampant violence toward the other and disregard of human life and well-being pervades Russia and stalks humanity. And thousands of Russian boys are led away to their deaths at places like Bakhmut because Putin says so. In a certain sense many Russians too are victims of the machine, the machine-state, the death star making people and civilizations into objects and slaves.
The liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter help you experience in yourself a call out of enslavement to destructive habits of mind, to new and better ways of thinking and being, to bring decency and compassion to your relationships. Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover festival with his disciples. In the power of the Spirit he then confronted the Jerusalem elites. They ran the central economic and political institutions concentrated at the Jerusalem temple; they were killing the people. Passover was and is the Jewish festival marking the Hebrews slaves’ twilight struggle for freedom in ancient Egypt.
In Hebrew legend there was fire on the mountain; it was the moment God ‘gave’ Moses the ten commandments on Mount Sinai. The ‘Thou Shalt Nots’ of the ten commandments as most people know are a series of prohibitions against things like killing, stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting- wanting what someone else has. (Exodus 20)
The list might elicit a very strong yawn. Until you consider who the commandments came through and who they came from. They came through Moses, a former slave, now a free-man. As a slave working in Egypt Moses was a cog in the machine of state; he witnessed casual beatings of his fellow Hebrew slaves, probably summary executions too. His political overlords treated Moses and his people like dirt.
From whom did the rules or commandments for a good society come? Not from the Egyptian slave masters, nor slave masters of any time or place. The moral standards that Moses heard and recorded came from the Spirit of God, who called him to act against the order of the ruling class. He may not have been able to hear God’s voice if he had stayed in his chains. We know from this story that civilization is not built by government of organised money or organized mob. It’s founded on moral rules that protect all people, especially the widow and orphan; the resident alien and the slave; the Russian soldier and Ukrainian civilian.
And there was the first commandment: “You shall have no other Gods before me” (Exodus 20:3) Be subject to no power but God’s. In other words grasp the privilege of a life-time to protest and liberate for the glory of God and the uplift of the individual- the power to bless.
Rev Ron Rosinsky
This newsletter is also available on the Coburg Uniting website and Facebook page.
Worship Topic for February-March:
‘Native American Theology, Zen Buddhism and Christian Mysticism’
Looking forward: March
First Sunday: Celebration of Communion, featuring music by Josh Cake
Second Sunday: Featuring music by Keith Hoffmann
Third Sunday: Featuring music by Ruth Sandy and the singing group
Fourth Sunday: Featuring music by Josh Cake and the Coburg band
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar commemorating the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert and dealing with temptations to power according to the Gospels. The temptations of Christ occurred just before he began his public ministry.
Lent culminates in Holy Week and the commemoration of the crucifixion of Christ and the resurrection of his Spirit.
- Sunday 26 February: Season of Lent begins
- Sunday 19 March: Rev. Mark Dunn leads the service
- Sunday 2 April: Palm Sunday
Holy Week Services
- 6 April: Maundy Thursday Service: Service of the Shadows: Communion Service, time TBC
- 7 April: 9:30am Good Friday Service
- Sunday, 9 April: 10am Easter Celebration
Spiritual Growth Programs
- Men’s Group Dinner and discussion: First Saturday monthly, 6-9pm at church. Our next meeting is Saturday 4 March.
Topic: ‘Amnesia and the Big Picture’ (Ch. 8), from Richard Rohr’s, Falling Upward, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
And studying chapters 8-13 from Rohr’s book in the first half of 2023.
- Guided Meditation Group: Usually the third Sunday monthly, 11:45am- 12:30 in front room at church. The next meeting has changed to Sunday 26 March.
- Social Board Games Night: Thursday 9 March and Thursday 23 March (2nd and 4th Thursdays), 7:30-10pm in the front room at church
- Coffee Chat and Play: Playgroup every Friday 10:30am-12pm during school term.
- Coburg Common: the Gardening Mob and Coburg Uniting garden located behind the church. Buy a plant, plant a plant, or have a cuppa and a chat surrounded by natural beauty.
The Heather Pover Oration is an annual lunch to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year, we are celebrating women storytellers who tell their stories in writing and art.
A ‘Telling’ Tale: Celebrating Women Storytellers
- Fabiola Campbell, Founder and Mentor, Professional Migrant Women
- Madhavi Johnson, Mentor/Writer & Management Consultant, SHaPe Solutions; Author of “Demon on Fire and Other Stories”
- Celia Torres-Villanueva, Lawyer, Board Director, Former scientist; Author of “The Ally”, “The White Table”, “Getting There”, and “The Cap” in “Undefeated”
- Jemima Lotika, Public Health Professional, Co-Founder of Public Health en Afrique; Fine Artist; Author of “I am Congolese” in the anthology “Undefeated”
PLUS: There will be author-signed books and artwork by the speakers available for sale at the event.
This is a family-friendly, queer-friendly, accessible event. All are welcome.
Date and time
Sun 5th Mar 2023, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm AEDT
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Uniting Church in Australia Coburg
19 Victoria St, Coburg VIC 3058, Australia