Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
As part of our commitment to celebrating creation this month, today we are focussing on the Outback the wonder and grandeur of special parts of the land on which we live. I suspect there is nothing like this land anywhere else on earth and I say this as one who has visited the deserts of Africa all very amazing but nothing like the colour and endless beauty of our own outback country.
Nowhere else would you see something like Uluru in the centre of this wide red land and the smooth sands stretching out towards the horizons.
I remember when Ali and I were travelling from Katherine to Kakadu (with me, the “lead-
We stood there and felt something which you rarely experience as city-
I shared that I believe that the creation itself is alive perhaps differently from the life of humans and other creatures, but still with a life of its own. We pondered whether it protests when we harm it surging, flooding and sometimes leaping into the air in earthquakes. Maybe?
I must say that our Indigenous people could teach us much about the land and how to respect and care for it, especially in the outback. You might wonder how they survived out there, but they did, for at least 60,000 years. They knew where to find and nurture enough to eat, where to shelter and add their art and how to respect it as truly home.
I will always remember visiting Obirr Rock in Kakadu. An Aboriginal guide showed us how his people would climb up onto the rock in the wet season, shelter in small caves on the rock and make paint for their artwork which they did until the waters went down. The Indigenous art added to the beauty of all sorts of places in the outback never damaging anything, just expressing the life of those who lived there.
We stood on the rock and looked out at where the water would have been around the rock and saw kangaroos hopping all over the place, obviously enjoying themselves. While we enjoyed living in the city, there was something especially sacred about this amazing land.
Of course, if we are fortunate enough to travel around the world, we will see extraordinary parts of the creation in mountains, rivers, sea and shore, farmlands and orchards, the high and the low. If you look up at a grand high mountain, that is one sort of experience one of wonder as you see its majesty.
However, I think that standing and gazing across a part of the outback is something else. It invites us into a space surrounded by beauty, to remain quiet and feel a new connection with ourselves and our Creator.
In the Gospel passage today, we heard about Jesus entering the wilderness. He had just been baptised and acclaimed as one with whom God was well-
When I was in Israel a Palestinian Christian took me to the place which is still known as the wilderness and which Christians believe was the place where Jesus went.
I stood in silence and looked around. It felt like a place where no-
I could well imagine going there and being confronted with my own inner life, invited into a meditative space in which I could do no other than face who I am or could become. Especially after feeling rather good about myself, I could easily imagine the tempter offering me ways towards power.
Having said that, I could also imagine a God who speaks to me of grander life, and of having the strength and courage to choose a life-
When I think of standing in our outback, I think the landscape offers similar possibilities its very simplicity and space invites a deeper connectedness with inner life alongside that of the Creator who prepares so many different gift-
There, in the landscape is the call of a God who invites us to remember to pause, to regularly find ways of entering the Divine silence where we go down into the depths of our lives and know new truths about ourselves and ways of new living. This is often something we avoid doing, maybe because we sense that we will be called to change, to face things we would rather not face and to grow in life and faith.
Now, as we complete the homily together, I invite you t take the little stone you were holding earlier in the service. Imagine that you are looking out on an outback scene, with the light of Christ’s life shining ahead of you and reflect on either a question which might arise for you as you do that, or a small inspiration which may be given to you.
Then, if you wish, come forward to share or silently place your stone on the Altar Table.
Rev. Dorothy McRae-