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St Johns Southgate

10 Jul 2018

Moments

There are moments. Moments that provoke a reaction. Moments that strike a chord. Moments that (sometimes) even inspire change.

Sadly, these societal moments are usually arrived at after something terrible has happened.

The rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon landed Melbourne, perhaps even the whole country, in such a moment. Thousands of people gathered in Princes Park on June 18 to both stand in solidarity with those grieving and silently announce the necessity of the moment being momentous.

Since Ms Dixon’s life was ended by an act of brutality, a line of sorts has been drawn in the sand. The conversation around violence against women has gone up an octave and the tempo has hastened.

The right of all people to go about their business without fear, no matter what the time of day, has been voiced like a defiant manifesto.

Men, boys and their parents, have been challenged to rethink their thinking and teaching about sex, respect and autonomy.

Just the other day I had a conversation with my four-year-old son that I probably wouldn’t have had if the weight of the moment hadn’t hung heavy upon me.

So, I’m not without hope for the future of our community, I’ll always be hopeful. That being said, lines in the sand tend to wash away when the tide turns.

Writing this column, I spent some time wondering what I, as a Christian minister, might have to say – what wisdom I might draw upon from the holy scriptures in such a moment?

But the truth is that the Bible doesn’t really say what people want to hear right now.

I’d like to be able to promise a utopian society and direct us all to the chapter and verse where we’ll find the blueprints. But it’s not that simple. The teachings of Jesus are certainly those of universal love and peace, but they’re shared with a mournful acknowledgement that we’re going to struggle to get there in this waking life.

The timeless poetry of the prophet Isaiah might offer the image of the wolf living with the lamb and the leopard lying down with the goat, but even there, the poet’s peaceful vision can only be understood when one knows what a predator is.

For religious types like me, it’s no longer considered cool to say I’m #prayingfor x, y or z. But in reality, with some sadness, I must say that’s most of what I can do in this moment.

I’ll continue to talk to my dear little boy (and my girls too) and my congregation about respect for all people, at all times and in every way, but I’ll keep praying too.

Praying not just for this moment, but praying into the future, that even if we might never totally extricate the sense of entitlement that will lead some individuals to assert themselves violently over another, that we might learn to grow in ways that bring us a little closer to peace on earth and good will toward all people.

 

Tom Hoffmann

Pastor - St Johns Southgate

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