Honour God

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Honour God, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday August 27, 2017. The Reading was Matthew 6:1-4.

There are some things, as an officer, you learn to give up. Some, you’re aware of before you start. For example, I knew that I was giving up my freedom in choosing where to live. Don’t get me wrong, I love living here, but I am a long way from my family. But I knew that going in it would be unlikely that I ever get sent back to WA. At the very least – I don’t have the choice. But there are some things that you aren’t told going in, and one of them is my very minor OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Continue reading “Honour God”

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Letter to Mr Damian Drum, Federal Member for Murray

To Mr Drum,

I am writing to you this evening regarding Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement today that any Asylum Seeker who arrived by boat after mid-2013 would be permanently banned from entering Australia (As reported by ABC News).
I am horrified by this announcement. There are so many things wrong with this it makes it difficult to start.

Continue reading “Letter to Mr Damian Drum, Federal Member for Murray”

Why the $7 co-payment is a bad idea

In last night’s budget, the Government announced a $7 co-payment for GP’s, as well as pathology, and a $5 co-contribution for medicines on the PBS. Now, $7 doesn’t seem like a lot, but the issue is, it’s not ever going to be $7.

Sometimes, a GP can’t get everything they need just by looking at you. They need to send you off to get some blood work done. So, what was a $7 visit, now becomes a $21 visit ($7 for the initial visit, $7 for the pathology, $7 for the results). If there is then medicine needed, that increases to a $26 visit. Continue reading “Why the $7 co-payment is a bad idea”

Lament for Manus

Our God, Our God,
we have hit a low point in our nation.
In our fear, we have put people in situations
where they have faced the very thing they were fleeing.
In our fear, we have caused people to be hurt, we have caused people to die
and blamed it on the very people who were hurt.
In our fear, we will try to explain it away,
they came here the wrong way, they shouldn’t have protested
they brought it on themselves.

Lord God, shine a light on our misdeeds.
Help us to see that our actions born out of fear
feed only that fear, and do not offer the protection that only you can give.

Father God, protect those who are in need of protection.
Heal their injuries, and keep them safe from further attacks.

Loving God, accept us with all our frailties,
the mistakes that we have made
the mistreatment that we have endorsed
and the times when we stayed silent when we should have had a voice
to speak for those who had no voice.

Blessed are you, O God, who accepts us all
Praise be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost
Who is above all, in all, and through all things. Amen.

This prayer of lament was written by Ben Clapton, Salvation Army Officer, musician and activist, in response to the reports of violence at Manus Island. I release this to be used in any manner, as long as the entire text remains in one unit, and a reference to this post is included.

I’ve been feeling a lot of hurt over the reports coming out from Manus Island. Last year, at this time, I was over on Manus Island. While it is my understanding that the families are no longer on the Island, I believe that many of the men that I met are still there. I don’t know if they’re ok, or whether they’re part of those who have been injured – and I’ll probably never know. It pains me that our government put these people here, and have not done enough to fully protect them, in the name of protecting us. I know that I am, at times, guilty of not speaking up, feeling tired and not knowing whether my voice really adds anything. This fight has gone on for far too long. My prayer is that this tragic event, which I wish had never happened, might draw us as a nation into focus, and realise that our actions and the path we headed down was wrong, and that we would repent of our actions as a nation, and set up a process to assess the claims of asylum in a timely and humane manner.

Cup Day

It’s Cup Day, which means it’s a public holiday here in Victoria. As such, it was a quiet day, with no classes or anything. For us, we took it as an opportunity to do some shopping before our big move down to Tasmania. There’s some furniture that we need to take with us – a new bed for Annabelle, and a new change table, so we headed down to Ikea to get some new furniture. We also got a couple of things for now – a new chair for Annabelle to eat dinner at our little coffee table, and some Christmas decorations to liven up our place for the last month or so.

We also had a baby shower for one of the Cadets, which was a lot of fun. Continue reading “Cup Day”

The importance of language

I’ve been reading Jim Wallis’ book, The Soul of Politics, and I got to one section and it really struck me how much it related to a recent change in tack in how the Australian Government treats Asylum Seekers. It’s from a section dealing with the inequality between gender, and Wallis tells a story from a report published in Sojourners magazine. Continue reading “The importance of language”

An open letter to our new Prime Minister

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (16)
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (16) (Photo credit: Troy Constable Photography™)

Dear Mr Abbott,
Firstly, congratulations on being elected our latest national leader. You ran a very professional campaign, and defeated an opposition who was trying hard not to implode, whilst trying to destroy themselves at the same time.

So you are now the elected official to lead our country into the next three years. And while I didn’t personally vote for you, and I don’t agree with many of your policies, I thought that I would share some advice from myself, of things I would like to see as the hallmarks of your time as prime minister. Continue reading “An open letter to our new Prime Minister”

An open letter to Tony Abbott

Dear Tony,

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (16)
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (16) (Photo credit: Troy Constable Photography™)

I realise that you’re in the midst of a very busy election campaign, however I feel like I need to bring some things to your attention that need your swift and decisive action.

Now I know you’re a man who likes to be portrayed as Australia’s next action hero, what with the bike riding, budgie smugglers, and running in the city 2 surf, so I’m sure you’ll be able to take the quick and decisive action needed on this issue.

The issue at hand is your language. Now, many will say that perhaps I’m overreacting, but as a voter who hasn’t completely made up his mind yet, I feel like you need to know this information.

Firstly, calling asylum seekers “illegals” is incorrect, you know this, and have been pulled up on it many times. Stop it.

Secondly, and probably the most important thing, please engage your brain before you open your mouth. I have to assume that you are, in fact, quite smart, or you wouldn’t have got as far in politics as you have. However, in recent days, your brain seems to have been on holiday when you’ve been making comments to the media.

For example, your “suppository of wisdom” comment. Now, I know you meant to say “repository” and everyone has little slips of the tongue now and then, but if we are too consider you to be a serious prime ministerial candidate, then we’re need to hold you to a higher level, otherwise we’ll end up with a George W. Bush style leader, whose gaffes are remembered more than what he actually did while in office.

Another example is saying that one of your female candidates has “sex appeal.” Tony, we live in a modern age, where women are seen to have the same opportunities as men, however there are many times when discriminatory remarks are made that while thought to put women up, they actually drag them down. Saying that a female has sex appeal says that we should vote for them based on looks, rather than any of the values that we would hold out male politicians to – hard work, telling the truth, fighting for the values we hold dear. It puts in a discriminatory wedge that devalues all female politicians. In order to get away with this, I have a brilliant idea. Before you make a comment about any female candidate, think, “would I say this about Joe Hockey?” If not, then keep it in your head.

You may think it petty, but your language is very important, as it shows what sort of prime minister you will be – one who builds up our great country, or one who drags it through the mud of derision and being the butt of all jokes for the next three years.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Clapton

What now for asylum seekers?

A couple of nights ago, I attended an event that looked at the issue of asylum seekers, and where to now. The event was very well attended – they were expecting about 30 people, but instead had about 100.
One of the big things I took out of this was an understanding of the two main issues in asylum seeker policy – that of fairness, and of standards.
Continue reading “What now for asylum seekers?”

A shameful day… but what else?

Yesterday, Kevin Rudd announced his new asylum seeker policy, which included as a major point the change that no asylum seeker arriving by boat would be settled in Australia, but instead they would be sent to Papua New Guinea, processed by the PNG Government, and settled in PNG. Another announcement today saw an announcement that the Manus Island Detention Centre would be redeveloped to increase capacity to 3000.

All this from the Prime Minister who warned the Labor party against a lurch to the right on asylum seeker policy. I can only assume that Kevin Rudd meant that instead of a lurch to the right, you should jump so far past the right that we can’t even see the right.

There will be many articles written on why this new policy is bad. Here’s one looking at the numbers of why PNG is not a good solution. But it’s no use to just proclaim the policy bad. In order to fully participate in the debate, an alternative solution needs to be presented as well. This solution needs to not only be shaped on Australian values, but it must also address the issues that this new policy aims to address.

While the Asylum Seeker issue worldwide is a non-issue, here in Australia it is a major part of the political landscape. We need to find a new solution. So I went to look at what other countries do to process their Asylum Seekers. Continue reading “A shameful day… but what else?”