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St Johns Southgate

13 Mar 2015

The character Maria in The Sound of Music, famously sang of her favourite things.

I don’t recall all the words of the song, but I know that there’s something about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. As someone who suffers from hay fever and is allergic to cats, my list of favourite things would be somewhat different.

Near the top of my list would have to be two things: food and wine.

As such, upon my arrival as the new pastor of St Johns Southgate, it was a delight to discover that the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival was in full swing.

Taking a peek at the various events on in Southbank, I couldn’t help but reflect on the wonderful contrast between times of self-denial and times of joyous celebration in the Christian tradition.

While it may be festival season here in Melbourne, the church is in the season of Lent, a time of minimising the ego and focussing on the things that really matter – such as the place of the divine in our lives and the wellbeing of others.

It can be a time when people choose to go without certain foods or drinks – such as wine – or choose to make an extra effort in serving others.

While Lent does afford opportunities for spiritual disciplines like fasting, it’s not a time of fasting for its own sake.

When we are hungry and thirsty, food and drink taste their finest. It’s the same spiritually speaking.

When we follow Jesus by walking the road of suffering, the celebration of the Easter feast is all the sweeter. Jesus of Nazareth may have called his disciples to walk through the lowest of valleys, but he also took them to the mountain tops.

It’s the same for us now. The spiritual life of a Christian fluctuates between periods of hunger and times of overwhelming and joyful abundance.

After all, the same Jesus who told his disciples to deny themselves and take up the cross turned water into wine so that the people of a wedding feast might party on late into the night!

Food and wine might be two of my favourite things, but top of the list is the spiritual heartbeat of the Christian life that keeps its rhythm through every high and every low of human experience.

Pastor Tom

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