From Barbara’s Desk 29-05-2020

Hello again Faith Pals!

I hope you are all coping with lock down.  It is teaching us patience, resourcefulness, prayer techniques, and building up our gratitude credit!  When we count our blessings, there are so many, aren’t there?  Yesterday, when I was speaking with a member of the congregation,  she said we live in the lucky country.  Compared to most of the world at the moment-that is so true.

Keep up your prayers for the world, and its inhabitants.

I have some poetry to share:

Janet Soo’s haiku this week looked at the return to school for some of the children, and the relief on both sides.


Children return to school
Smiles on faces
Of mothers.

John Wallace sent me two; I will hold the other over until next week.  John sent this one last night:

The Garden of Friends As a garden is full of flowers So are our years full of hours Our lives are rich with many a friend On whom we may always depend But there is one thing we all need That is a friend who’s a friend indeed I have a friend who’s closer than a brother He’s not my brother or a lover He is Jesus who is with me wherever I go And there is one thing you must know That I love Him more than any other More than a sister or a brother Because of Him I have many a friend And if I need anything I can always lend He is my all sufficiency who will be with me From now until the rest of eternity He heals my body and takes my sin How to love Him I don’t know where to begin By John P. Wallace This is my contribution-no guesses about what inspired it! Raking creation. Leaves leap,whirling dervishes- more fun than dusting!

For those who are still working on the Bible quiz, you will be pleased to know that Jenny Longmuir’s Aunt Joan has supplied her with the answers!  I will publish them next week, so that gives you a few more days to tackle/finish it.

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday.  I invite you to wear something red, or have something on display that is red.  Some call Pentecost the birth of the church.  You may wish to bake a birthday cake!  No need for the 2000+ candles though!  Be creative, full of the Spirit!

‘Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.'(Romans 8: 26)

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth…’ (John 14: 15-17)

Blessings and love,

Barbara Allen


Monday Reflection 25-05-2020

Hello Faith Pals,

What a crisp beautiful day!  It just says ‘enjoy me!’  Thank you God!  As our glorious autumnal days draw to a close for this year, let’s enjoy them.  As you see the last of the leaves, try to remember their once vivid bright colours, as we near Pentecost, this Sunday.

I received a lovely haiku from Janet Soo this morning:

A Promise

Double doona night Crisp frosty morn Sunny day is promised. How true! Beautifully written. Thank you for your gift, which I can share. Yes, it is time for electric blankets, heat packs, or cats/dogs on beds! I have included a word puzzle, as an attachment. I thought some of you would want to print it out in order to do it. I admit I haven’t finished it, so will attempt it this week. I look forward to hearing how you are going with the challenge (optional, of course!) Last Thursday was Ascension Day, (the ascent/physical departure of Christ from earth, returning to God’s presence in heaven, on the 40th day after his Resurrection). On the Glen Waverley UC live streaming of the service yesterday, the comment was made that somewhere on social media, Jesus’ Ascension was described as ‘the day when Jesus started working from home.’ See-even the Ascension can be applied to lockdown! I love this Melbourne mural. Let us keep remembering the medical and nursing teams in our daily prayers.  To close with a reflection/prayer, that I found in the church magazine that comes to me from Glenroy UC (via Jenny Longmuir’s wonderful Aunt Joan: When this is over. May we never again Take for granted A handshake with a stranger Full shelves at the store Conversations with the neighbours A crowded theatre Friday night out The taste of communion A routine check-up The school rush each morning Coffee with a friend The stadium roaring Each deep breath A boring Tuesday Life itself When this ends May we find That we have become More like the people We wanted to be We were called to be We hoped to be And may we stay That way-better For each other Because of the worst. -Laura Kelly Fanucci. Blessings and love, Barbara I will forward Bruce’s contribution later.


From Barbara’s Desk 22-05-2020

Hello Faith Pals,

I have included a video from Priya, which has a lovely message-plus, with all the photos of flowers-well-it is almost as if you were receiving a bunch of flowers!

Sorting through some old papers, my husband put out a pile of papers.  I found this little puzzle on one of those pieces of (now) scrap paper.  For those who might enjoy a word puzzle:


When you rearrange the letters:



When you rearrange the letters:



When you rearrange the letters:



When you rearrange the letters:



When you rearrange the letters:



When you rearrange the letters:



When you rearrange the letters:


I came across this Sri Lankan prayer when I tidied up some of my papers.  Do our Sri Lankan families know it?

‘Even as the water falls on dry tea leaves and brings out their flavour,

so may your Spirit fall on us and renew us,

so that we may bring refreshment and joy to others.’

Perhaps that can be a prayer said when we make a cup of tea?

‘Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone or weary of life.’-Rachel Carson.

And this one, which will help us all sleep soundly at night!:

‘For peace of mind, we need to resign as general manager of the universe.’-Larry Eisenberg

We would probably say CEO these days.  I’ve met some wonderful CEOs in my time-but with human flaws and failings.  God is much more than a CEO!

‘The Lord is merciful and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.'(Psalm 103:8)

” I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.  Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me,” says the Lord…'(Jeremiah 29: 11-13)

I think that is enough this Friday!  You have a puzzle, (I have a bigger one for Monday! plus a beautiful music video from Bruce), some quotes, and a service and sermon.

Blessings and love

Barbara Allen

This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.

From Barbara’s Desk 18-05-2020

Hello Faith Pals,

I hope you have been getting some sun!

Two quotes for you today:

‘There are two ways to live your life.

One is as though nothing is a miracle.

The other is as though everything is a miracle.’-Albert Einstein.

Dear Albert-made me think of a poster we have on one of our walls at home:

‘Gravitation cannot be held responsible  for people falling in love.’ -Albert Einstein.

(a great one to quote at weddings!)

But the other quote is:

‘Write your hurts in sand.

Carve your blessings in stone.'(Anon)

I have included a short reflection for you to mull over during the week.

Blessings and love,



In my previous parish, an elderly member of the congregation showed me an ancient exercise book that was filled with poems and reflections.  The poems were written in beautiful penmanship, by her older cousin. This is one of them:

Let’s not go on strike!

‘It’s just a good thing God above has never gone on strike,

because he wasn’t treated fair or things he didn’t like.

If he had once sat down and said “That’s it-I’m through,

I’ve had enough of those on earth so this is what I’ll do.

I’ll give my orders to the sun- cut off your heat supply,

and to the moon-give no more light, and run the oceans dry.

Then just to really make it tough and put the pressure on,

turn off the air and oxygen, till every breath is gone.”

And surely he’d be justified if fairness was the game,

for no one has been more abused or treated with disdain, than God.

And yet he carries on supplying you and me

with all the favours of his grace in everything for free.

Men say they want a better deal and so on strike they go,

but what a deal we’re given, God to whom all things we owe.

We don’t care whom we hurt or harm to gain the things we like,

But what a mess we’d all be in if God should go on strike.’

This made me wonder about ourselves, and the way we live our lives.

What if our faith went on strike?

What if our smiles went on strike?

What if our volunteer work went on strike?

What if our compassion went on strike?

What if love went on strike?

As Christians, we are not to become bored, blasé, or cynical. We are to hold fast to that which is true, to persevere.  We are not to become jaded, or fed up with our God-given lives.

‘Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.’(2 Thessalonians 3: 13)

‘…hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’(Romans 5:5)

-Rev Barbara Allen

From Barbara’s Desk 15-05-2020

Hello Faith Pals,

I hope you are going to enjoy the sunshine today.  I don’t mind the cold nights if our reward is the blue sky.  I lived in Canberra for about 20 years, so I am used to the chill!

Now, I gave you the gift of Rob Weir’s haiku on Monday.  Here is one from Janet Soo:

Half moon Pink and grey sky Butcher birds greeting the day.  

So much talent!  I know some of you are displaying your talents in the garden, or in the kitchen, or via craft or sewing.  Others are sharing their pastoral gifts.

Speaking of Rob-we greeted each other on the escalator at the supermarket yesterday.  It was wonderful seeing someone from the congregation!

Yesterday this came in from the Spiritual Health website:

A friend stands on the precipice of death
Peace is no where
Friends and family form a circle of love
Peace is now here
A patient wrestles with her fear
Peace is no where
Spiritual care creates space for difficult words to be spoken and held
Peace is now here

What a difference a space makes! Or a different perspective.

Also on their webpage was the UK Church Blessing.  Please have your tissues ready-very moving!:

‘The UK Blessing’ — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK

In the United Kingdom over 65 churches and movements, representing hundreds of others, have come together online to sing a blessing over their land. “Standing together as one, our desire is that this song will fill you with hope and encourage you. But the church is not simply singing a blessing, each day we’re looking to practically be a blessing. Many of the churches included in this song have assisted with supplying over 400,000 meals to the most vulnerable and isolated in our nation since COVID-19 lockdown began. This alongside phone calls to the isolated, pharmacy delivery drops and hot meals to the NHS frontline hospital staff. Our buildings may be closed but the church is very much alive!”

(just cut and paste this into your browser)

We seem to have a long email again, but I hope there is something in it for everyone.

One big concern I have is that, due to the lifting of some covid 19 restrictions, recreational duck shooting will begin again.  It is already banned in three states, but not in Victoria. I do not see this as part of caring for God’s creation.  Our wild life is diminishing, especially after the recent bush fires.  If you want to send in a signature as protest to the government, please go to the Animals Australia website.  All you have to do is press a button and the letter,  already written, will be sent.

(If we were having a church service I would mention this in the notices/concerns).

I have included a beautiful short video as an attachment from a friend about our gorgeous world.

Had a Presbytery meeting via zoom this morning.  We are in a transition period, and need to exercise months of caution.  We are to ensure the safety of vulnerable people, and the weakest or most vulnerable, are the test for any decision we make as church.  People before programs. Presbytery and Synod will have more information for us next week.

Well, I think that is enough for Friday.

Blessings and love


Monday’s Reflection 11-05-2020

Hello Faith Pals,

I know some of you read yesterday’s sermon.  Here is Rob Weir’s haiku contribution:

Grand Designs:
Though we are shut in
Heaven is Home, where we will
Never be shut out.

Well Rob, that would have saved me many words in the sermon!  Beautifully and succinctly put!

I have been receiving some stunning haiku from another member of the congregation, but I have not sought that person’s permission yet re sharing them.

Have you been enjoying the bursts of autumn?  I have. Love the colours, even enjoy the slight chill in the morning.  Here is my not very profound contribution-a response to today’s cold morning:

Floorboards shock my toes.

Winter chill plays ‘hide and seek’.

Soon it will be ‘he’.

Yes, it will soon be winter.  Feels as though we have been  hibernating BEFORE winter, doesn’t it?

I often share a useless fact at the beginning of a service.  We are WAY BEHIND so here are a few:

  • The sound a camel makes is called nuzzling.
  • The size of your foot is approximately the size of your forearm (careful if you test this one!)
  • ‘Papparazzi’ means buzzing mosquitos in Italian.
  • Rats can tell the difference between two human languages (not sure which two-and how do they test it?)

Here is a story I found on-line that made me stop and think (and not just because it was about dogs!):

‘A shop owner placed a sign above his door that said: “Puppies For Sale.”

Signs like this always have a way of attracting young children, and to no surprise, a boy saw the sign and approached the owner; 

“How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” he asked.The store owner replied, “Anywhere from $30 to $50.”

The little boy pulled out some change from his pocket. “I have $2.37,” he said. “Can I please look at them?”

The shop owner smiled and whistled. Out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his shop followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur.

One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?”

The shop owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn’t have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame.

The little boy became excited. “That is the puppy that I want to buy.”

The shop owner said, “No, you don’t want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you.”

The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said;

 “I don’t want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I’ll pay full price. In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for.”

 The shop owner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.”

To his surprise, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the shop owner and softly replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!”

Well said!  It reminded me a little of when we adopted our blind dog Harry, from The Lost Dog’s Home.  Because he was deemed to be a senior (over 7 years) he was very cheap.  I paid full price, telling the staff that seniors are as precious as the young.

‘Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,

your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,

your judgements are like the great deep;

you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.'(Psalm 36: 5-&)

Blessings and love



From Barbara’s Desk 08-05-2020

Hello Faith Pals,

Just a reminder of the youtube link from Heatheron-Dingley:

I know that it is hard not being together face to face-but in spirit we are.   It does give us the opportunity to connect as church in different ways.

It is also hard because it is Mother’s Day on Sunday. We pray for our mothers, and for mothers everywhere.

Special prayers please for Fredrica and Alan Kingsbury, and for Rohini and Jaya Mendis and their families.  Our love connects with God’s.  Oh how we would LOVE to share our hugs, listening ear etc with them-BUT our hearts are connected to God’s, and God is there, with them, always.

Also, for those who want to read something different on-line.  I am recommending (before I have had a chance to read it-which I aim to do over the weekend) a free on-line contribution from Mitch Albom.  He is one of my favourite authors, and this is his contribution to help raise spirits during the pandemic.

(If that doesn’t work, just type in Mitch Albom).

The opening quote:

“The spirit of man can endure only so much. And when it is broken, only a miracle can mend it.”

—John Burroughs, American essayist

I know many of you have been tidying up, and sorting, during this time of lock down.   Found any treasures?

What china have you stored away, to protect them from life’s knocks?  Precious crystal dishes?  Fine porcelain figures?  Perhaps even a hand made clay dish from a child or grandchild?  I think we all have at least one, if not protected from dust and damage, then carefully dusted and cleaned.

In my last congregation, when the Lectionary reading was about The Ten Commandments, I preached about keeping the Sabbath holy, and how it is important to try to make our Sundays different from the rest of the week.  I suggested using a special dish or cup on Sundays.  Maybe there is a tea cup that has been given to you, that you put in the china cabinet, or in a cupboard, deemed ‘too good to use’?  Why wait?  What are you waiting for?  A special occasion?  If so…each Sunday is a mini-Resurrection, a weekly Easter Day.  What better day to bring it out and let it see the light of day?  Are you waiting for the right opportunity-or do you think you are not worthy of it?  “It’s too good to use” may translate as “It is too good for me to use.”  Really?  Think about it.  You are made in God’s image.  Op shops are full of items that people have kept in their cupboards and drawers to use ‘one day’.

In front of me, I have a tea set from my wonderful Nana.  It is of Scottish clans (not sure why, because she wasn’t Scottish!)  I confess-I don’t use it very often, but it is in a drawer that I pull out every day, so I see it daily, and am reminded of my much loved Nan, a Nan who taught me, by example, to love others.  On train trips (in the ‘old days’ when trains had compartments, so you shared that space with 6-8 people) she would open her big handbag, share lollies with the other occupants, and hear their life stories.  By journey’s end we felt we were now friends.

Her tea set is sweet, but not that useful, for I am a tea fiend and most of the time I drink my brew from a large mug (always concerned after having a blood test that the results will show that my blood type has changed to ‘Tea’, Earl Grey positive!).  Sharing tea (or coffee, or a cup of water) can be holy time, sacred space.  For me, having a cuppa is a time when I am still with God.  It is often a time of prayer, not only of thanksgiving, thanking God for the gift of water, electricity, shelter etc, but a time to pray for others-those without clean water, those who are thirsty, those who do not get paid a fair wage for their labour, for those who are sick, dying etc. 

In an earlier email, I shared with you one of my  spiritual disciplines, that of writing haiku.   Here is one about  praying while drinking tea, the steam resembling the incense of prayer:

Clouds of steam ascend.

Prayers steeped in holiness

-God in a teacup.


A cuppa is also a time of pastoral support and care.  We tend to open up, relax, with a cuppa, find it easier to speak to one another about our lives, our concerns, joys and sorrows.  This beautiful verse from Scripture sums it up: ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.’  (Hebrews 13:2)

Isn’t that part of the frustration of being in lock down?  Not able to drop in to be with friends, to check on those going through challenging times-to share a hug, a smile, tears…even a drop or two of tea.


Blessings (you are all in my prayers as I sip my tea!)

This Irish Blessing seemed to address our current situation! ‘until we meet again…’



From Barbara’s Desk 04-05-2020

Hello Faith Pals,

It was lovely to be present via Zoom at Joy’s Induction service, but I did feel sad there was no big celebration/hugging etc.  Hopefully we will be able to do something along those lines when lock down finishes.

On Saturday evening we zoomed with friends in England.  They are a dear couple, Gillian  is a member of the clergy (C of E) , and was saying she would be surprised if the churches in England were back holding services, face to face within 12-18 months.  I also really felt for her-her father died during Holy Week from covid 19, so she hadn’t been able to see him when he became unwell, and when he was dying. Yes, we are living through hard times, but there are countries who are doing it tougher.

How crowded is your fridge door?  Is there anyone with  a pure white/silver unadorned door?

Ours is full of magnets, calendars, a few photographs, a cartoon or two.

I put a new Leunig cartoon up on its wide white stomach (well, that’s what my fridge looks like!)

It is a cartoon from last month’s The Age, April 4, but I only found it on the weekend, while sorting our newspapers (for the kitty litters/bird cages-gosh, doesn’t that sound like the height of excitement!)

Leunig’s sentiments are as fitting now, as they were last month.

I am not sure of copyright, so rather than send a photo of it, I will describe it.

[a picture of a man and a duck]:

Man: “The world is changing.”

Duck: “It’s always changing.”

Man: ” Our lives are in danger.  We are in lock down.”

Duck: “Life is always dangerous.  We were never free.”

Man: “Many of us could die.”

Duck: “We all get our turn.”

Man: “Nobody knows what’s going to happen.”

Duck: “Nobody ever knows.  This makes life interesting.”

Man: “We don’t know what to believe any more.”

Duck: “Keep an open mind.  This also makes life interesting.”

Man: “We are living in strange times.”

Duck: “When were we NOT living in strange times?


This was meant to have gone in the last email, but for some reason it didn’t save:

I looked under a bill on my fridge and uncovered this quote:

‘Good friends are like stars.

You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there…’

Perhaps I should call you ‘stars’?

Blessings and love,


From Barbara’s Desk 01-05-2020

Hello Faith Pals,

Happy May!  Where did January, February, March and April go?

One of the deep privileges in ministry, is meeting different people, and learning something of their story.  God has made us all quite different-and isn’t that a good thing!  All of us have been through hard times, but we have also been able to celebrate wonderful occasions, perhaps the birth of a child, a wedding, a significant birthday, a graduation, etc.  Good health, or healing from an illness or operation are also times for celebration, special occasions when we should give thanks.

Where is God in your life story?  Reflect back on your life, and see God’s hand.  Sometimes it is good to travel back to your early memories, and see God in your childhood.  When we are young, we are often more open to be free with our praise, or questions-more receptive to God’s miracles around us.  Who spent hours in the grass, watching beetles crawl, or ants parade back to their nests?  Who sat under trees, watching the branches sway, or, lying flat on your back, imagining pictures in cloud formations? Or who remembers having an evening bath, and curling up warm and snug in bed?  A parent’s love can mirror God’s love. If we watch the little, we are more likely to notice the big.

As we get older, we have a tendency to push God off the page, perhaps taking credit for something that is really God’s doing.  Where have we seen God’s hand writing our story?  Have there been big changes?  Don’t forget Simon Peter, transformed from a humble fisherman, to becoming the leader of the church.

In our life story, there is no The End.  We are eternal beings, we continue on.  Ecclesiastes 3: 11 says: ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart…’ (NIV).  After our earthly life, there will be more…much more.  In the book The Last Battle, the final book in the Narnia series, the children cross over into the afterlife.  C. S. Lewis writes: ‘But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.’

Live out God’s story, which is written between the words, in the spaces on the pages of your life.

Blessings (and keep warm, dry and safe!)

Barbara Allen

Consider your hands 28-04-2020

Consider your hands.

‘Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good to all,

healing pain and sickness, blessing children small,

washing tired feet, and saving those who fall:

Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good to all.’

(Margaret Beatrice Cropper, 1886-1980)

Some of us know that children’s hymn quite well.

Hands.  We take them for granted, as we do many things.

Consider Jesus, and his hands.  He used them to bless, to heal, to lift up…and to destroy (think of the overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple).

What about our own hands?  Take a moment to look at them, to feel them.

Every hand is different, because our hands reflect something of our lives and the activities we are involved in.  Perhaps they are as individual as our fingerprints.  Sometimes they are an indicator of our physical health, perhaps sporting the bumps and clench of arthritis.

The rough hands of builders, hobbyists, or of gardeners.   The reddened hands due to washing dishes, clothes, or scrubbing floors.  The hands that are soft-often when one is elderly and no longer able to use them for particular activities (smooth hands used to be a sign of nobility, of a high status!)

What about your own hands?  If they could talk, what would they say?  They may speak of construction work-maybe they were part of a project that built a bridge!  Or of the many times they soothed the hot forehead of a loved one, picked up a crying infant, comforted a grieving friend, or carried the shopping bags for one who was struggling.  Think of the supermarket: your hands have cradled God’s produce in the fresh food section, perhaps grabbed a tin for someone who could not reach the high shelf, fumbled with coinage and been reminded of the necessity of money, watched the hands of the check out operator as they scanned and packed your groceries.

My hands would say that they could not build Lego models very well, and assembling Ikea products were beyond them, but they have kneaded some delicious loaves of bread over the years!

Our hands have also been involved in ministry, we ‘lend a hand’: writing cheques for charities, cards and notes to cheer up folk, or to let them know they are in your prayers when they are sick or grieving.  They have helped in practical ways, doing jobs for those unable to anymore, preparing food for the sick, driving people to appointments etc.  Hands have been used to spread the good news via the writing and sending of Christmas cards.  We clap our hands after a concert or performance, encouraging the performers.  How many of you wear a wedding ring, which tells the world that you belong to a very special person?  Hands are often folded in prayer, hold open Bibles (and other books), teach young children how to tie bows (my Nana’s hands taught me!), and gently cuddle newborn babies.  As I sit at the computer writing this, I stop and pat Harry our dog, who is resting at my feet.  Aren’t hands wonderful?  They can grasp mountains, sift sand, be drenched by oceans, prune roses, stroke cats…

I know as we get older they wrinkle and age-but think of all they have done!  And at the end, our hands will stretch out to grasp the hands of Jesus, who will lead us to our final resting place, our Heavenly Home.

Thank you, Lord, for our hands, another precious gift from you.  May we use them to praise you and to help others.  Amen

Barbara Allen