Monthly Archives: November 2014

Advent Poems

Today’s Advent poem comes from from one of my all time favourite poets and fellow sinner, John Donne (1572-1631) –  of “No Man is an Island” fame.

Holy Sonnet VII: At the Round Earth’s

A statue of Donne dressed in his funeral shroud  in St Paul's London. Courtesy: Google Images

A statue of Donne dressed in his funeral shroud in St Paul’s London. Courtesy: Google Images

At the round earths imagin’d corners, blow

Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise

From death, you numberlesse infinities

Of soules, and to your scattred bodies goe,

All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,

All whom warre, dearth, sage, agues, tyrannies,

Despaire, law chance, hath slaine, and you whose eyes,

Shall behold God, and never tast deaths woe.

But let them sleepe, Lord, and mee mourne a space,

For, if above all these, my sinnes abound,

‘Tis late to aske abundance of thy grace,

When wee are there; here on this lowly ground,

Teach mee how to repent; for that’s as good

As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon, with thy blood.

John Donne

JOHN DONNE COMPLETE WORKS ULTIMATE COLLECTION – All Poems, Love Poetry, Holy Sonnets, Devotions, Meditations, English Poems, Sermons PLUS BIOGRAPHIES and ANNOTATIONS [Annotated] . Everlasting Flames Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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Queenscliff – Part 3

This is the third and final part of  my mini series of photos on Queenscliff – a unique Victorian town where I had most of my high school education. Being surrounded by the sea it is obvious why Queenscliff has so many maritime connections.  The ferries and the fishing are just two. The pilot boats which service the Port Philip heads are based there, and there is a museum which celebrates its connections with the sea, as well as a Marine Discovery centre.  Boat building and restoration is also part of its history.  Like many towns it has had to cope with the “development” of the C21st.  However, from my brief visits it seems to have successfully resisted these better than most and its unique character shines through.

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The Queenscliff-Sorrento Ferry preparing to take vehicles.


Part of the Maritime Museum

Part of the Maritime Museum

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Yachts being restored




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Looking towards the Heads


The beach on the Point Lonsdale side of Queenscliff with the white lighthouse (as opposed to the black lighthouse)  in the distance





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Advent Poems

In recent years I turned my hand to Advent poems. This year I thought I would remember classics from the past. My first comes from Christina Rossetti.


Stained Glass Window Cologne Cathedral

Stained Glass Window Cologne Cathedral

“Come,” thou dost say to Angels,
To blessed Spirits, “Come”;
“Come,” to the Lambs of Thine Own flock,
Thy little Ones, “Come home.”

“Come,” from the many-mansioned house
The gracious word is sent,
“Come,” from the ivory palaces
Unto the Penitent.

O Lord, restore us deaf and blind,
Unclose our lips tho’ dumb;
Then say to us, I come with speed,
And we will answer, Come.

ROSSETTI, CHRISTINA (2012-09-30). Delphi Complete Poetical Works of Christina Rossetti (Illustrated) (Delphi Poets Series Book 12)  Delphi Classics. Kindle Edition.
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Queenscliff – Part 2

One of the joys of Queenscliff is the water.  It is virtually surrounded by water. There is Swan Bay on one side and Port Philip Bay and the Port Philip Heads on the other two sides. A narrow neck of land connects it with Point Lonsdale.  Swan Bay is a shallow bay with extensive bird life.  On the ocean side the water is deeper and rougher – particularly near the Port Philip Heads.


Coming into Queenscliff on the ferry is quite delightful as you see the town from another angle. In this photo we see the Black Lighthouse and the old wooden lighthouse in the grounds of the fort.



The tourist train steams past the site of the my old high school (no longer extant) with Swan Bay in the background.




Another photo from the ferry showing the old hotels and guest houses along Gellibrand Street

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The Queenscliff Marina/Harbour




Queenscliff at dusk. In the distance you can seen the water tower and the top of the Black Lighthouse



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Queenscliff – Part 1

I spent 5 years of my life travelling to Queenscliff every school day – from Form 1 to Form 5. To be honest, I didn’t take too much notice of the town.  Afterall, it was the site of my compulsory incarceration. There was an Army Staff College situated in a C19th fort and a fishing fleet, which made it distinctly different to the town I came from. However, this year I have gone to the town on variety of occasions. Our Year 12 retreat was held there, my wife and I did one of our extended walks nearby, we have taken friends there for a meal and we have passed through using the ferry that goes from Queenscliff to Sorrento. This has given me an opportunity to take a variety of photos. This in turn has opened my eyes to the uniqueness of this Victorian town. Queenscliff is a small borough but it packs in a lot of history – especially by Australian standards.


The Queenscliff Hotel: One of the grand C19th century establishments

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The Vue Grand Hotel: Also established in the C19th




St George the Martyr’s Anglican Church built in the 1860s



The School/Parish Hall



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Queenscliff Pier and old Lifeboat shed.


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Another World

Like my own dad, my wife’s step father was also indentured to work in Germany during WW2.  I have reflected in the past on the tragedy of these young men having crucial years stolen from them. (Being Content in a WW2 Workgang)  Today I simply want to include a few photos that give us a glimpse of that time: the good, the bad and the ugly – and the downright strange.


The striking thing about this photo is both the fact that the young men organised themselves into musical groups but also took pride in their appearance.















This this one of the more bizarre photos. Dutch cowboys in a Nazi hall during an entertainment evening.














This was a time of war. The workers’ barracks were bombed by the allies. The Allies may have heard of the appalling costumes in the earlier photo.















So naturally the workers had to rebuild their own accommodation.















My wife’s stepfather worked in a railway workshop. I am intrigued by the presence of a lady in the middle of this photo.






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Whenever m15561596102_7315309493_zy wife and I go camping it is very unusual if we don’t end up near water. We love camping near rivers, lakes and, especially,the ocean.  Some of our most memorable camping experiences have been next to water of some sort.  In a blog I did over a year ago – Our Top Ten Camping spots, the majority of them were next to water. Even in the arid country of the Grand Canyon the Colorado river still surged through the ravine.

Water has moods.  Water is almost human in the way it moves from c14940018184_cef81c9638_zalmness to fury and back again. A raging angry river, a placid sea or an agitated lake all remind us of traits in ourselves.  There are other aspects. Some watery places are secluded and intimate, others are large and expansive and still others are mischievous or treacherous.  Recently walking along the beach I noted that the most dangerous part of the ocean wasn’t the foaming surf but the dark rip of water that could have taken an unsuspecting swimmer hundreds of terrifying metres  out into the ocean.

15374634478_0527b03fbf_zBut of all the watery places it is the sea that always gives me glimpses of the Creator.  It is untameable and vast.  The sea reminds me of my own smallness and vulnerability.  And yet, when I am in ship or boat it holds me and takes me great distances.  It brought me to Australia as a child, I paddle at its edges and I can ride its waves.  Yet it is always the sea. It continues to have a mind of its own and nothing I do will change it.

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Life’s Paradox

Paper thin,

weakest link,

hair’s breadth.


Always present.

The certain

uncertainty of

our time

and timing.


“are we there yet?”

of life.


In the midst of

this ambiguity

there is

a hand that

upholds and rules

so that every

tear and worry,

fret and angst,

burden and hassle


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Recently my wife and I watched the acclaimed french film “Amour.”  The acting was stunning, the pace reflective and the themes challenging. The film introduces us to the twilight years of a loving couple, Anne and GeorgeAmour-poster-frenchs, at about the time Anne has a stroke. We then see the struggles that this stage of life introduces them to and their attempts to deal with that. 

I was amazed how much this film unsettled me. Films don’t normally eat at me so much and I began to ask why?

One reason that this film challenged me is that both my wife and I have lost our mothers in the last 5 or 6 years. It brought back painful memories. Helplessly watching people at the end of their lives is not a pleasant experience. Added to this was that it also brought back memories of difficult pastoral visits that I have made in the past. As a young (and when I reflect back, often clueless) pastor I assisted many people in these final years. Some people going with assurance and peace and others with fear and trepidation.

However, the most confronting aspect of the film was the reminder of my my own mortality. My wife and I maybe relatively healthy now but there is no guarantee as to how long this will last. One of us is going to look into a coffin to say goodbye to the other.  So the questions arise, how will I react as the carer or the one being cared for? How gracious and patient and forgiving will I be? My track record hasn’t always been that good.

The saddest aspect of the film was that faith and hope were largely absent. There was love and dedication and certainly a hint of Christ-likeness in their attitude toward each other but there was no future or eternity in view. So as unsettled as the film made me, the biggest reminder for me is to continue to stay focussed on Christ. My life here is a pilgrimage and not the destination.

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They Will Know …

In my last blog I finished with the statement, “My consistency and that of the Christian community to a gospel life style should be the first line of defence against assaults on Christian values and principles.”

A number of people have responded to me with regard to that comment. It struck a chord. Christians are apt to accuse the world of persecuting them (and it does) but we often forget, particularly in the West, that our greatest witness is our life style, and in the last few decades that has been badly tarnished.  We have had the disturbing litany of fallen televangelists, abuse of children in Christian institutions, corruption, unedifying bickering and … sadly, the list goes on. I haven’t even mentioned my own poor personal example to the neighbourhood in which I live.

Picture 316cropThose of us who are old enough will remember the ’60s song “We are one in the Spirit“. It ends with the chorus, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” In John 13:34  Jesus gives his disciples a new command: “Love one another”  and he adds in verse 35, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love, agape love – sacrificial, giving not expecting in return love, is to be the badge of the Christian.

Two thousands years later it is still a difficult task for us.  We are good at making our views heard on a whole range of social and moral issues.  But often these voices are strident, judgmental and graceless with no sense of the compassion that Christ showed a fallen world.

Maybe we, and I certainly include myself, need to go back to basics. We need to go back to the attitude of grace that God called his children to have and show.  So when we are persecuted or martyred or pilloried in the media, we would hope that what the world sees is not the hissing of people like cornered snakes, but the face of a Christlike family of people who share the grief of their master for a fallen world.


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