Sunday 9th September 2018  (Mark 4:30ff)                    Big afternoon declaring, representing and demonstrating the kingdom of heaven to the families of Lauren and Michael, south of Canberra at the historic Lanyon Homestead. Lauren is the mum of Renee, and I have had the privilege of facilitating Renee’s marriage to Dug in January 2008 and their 3 Kids’ dedication ceremonies; Jasmine in 2010, Emily in 2012 and Alyssa in 2014. This is one of the 150 plus beautiful families that engage with me as their primary pastoral contact for all things faith and church. Lanyon always provides a beautiful setting for Life Celebrations and this afternoon was no exception. As is usual for me in these situations, I keep it simple, I focus on what they want and inevitably, as was the case again today, the couple asks me to pray or say some things that help them feel they are joining their lives together in the sight of God.

As I was driving the 2 and a half hours home (Lanyon is 40kms south of our usual destination in Canberra), I found myself reflecting and praying for more illumination about the icons or ‘metaphorical synagogues’ of our culture and the language of heaven needed to address them (Mark 4:30ff). Whilst praying, I sensed a few ‘timing of God’ moments (including the wedding today) and the stirrings of belief that with a move back to living more closely to the Hub, we could restore the idea of providing ‘Life Celebrants’ to the community; an idea God gave me in 2001 when I was singing at a local village cafe in Canberra every Sunday. This initiative opened doors to engage with people who have no faith or no church background.

My premise then was and still is now, that we are living in a post-christendom Australia or more simply put, a time when going to a church service regularly on Sundays is no longer the norm that it might have been in the 1950-60’s. However, I didn’t and don’t believe that this means that people aren’t interested in Jesus or in the case of marriage in a predominantly secular society, wouldn’t like a ‘minister’ to perform their marriage ceremony, or facilitate an important life / family celebration. My experience since about 2004 (which includes in the order of 400 weddings and over 200 child dedication ceremonies), people who don’t have a relationship with a ‘minister’ or don’t attend a church service (or just haven’t for a while), or have questions about ‘religion’, mostly respond positively to a relational approach that represents and demonstrates heaven in the simplest most tangible of ways (e.g. disarming statements, relaxed manner, no question or request too hard and being genuinely interested in THEM to name a few things which reconcile, even start to redeem perceptions of ‘church people’ and what they actually represent).

I’d appreciate your prayer partnership as we discern the Spirit’s leading in this regard. I would like us to test together whether it might be time to let our community know that this is something we can serve them with and do some equipping of potential ‘Life Celebrants’ to prepare us. When I was present in Canberra, building community around ‘Kingdom Conversations’ with the terrific people God gave us favour for through the entry point of ‘Life Celebrations’ was not only possible, it produced fruit. If you pray about this specifically, please let me know what you are hearing from God.

Love, Graeme

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