Sunday’s service and the conversations we have been having about mental health emphasise how important it is to talk to friends.

As I related in the children’s talk with the teddy bears and other soft toys, in the course of our lives around half of us will suffer from some form of mental illness, but only 1 in 5 people will reach out for some form of formal support.

One of the first ways to seek help is to talk to a trusted friend.

If you are that friend, there are simple questions that you can ask to enquire about someone’s well-being. You don’t need to be an expert – just a good friend and a good listener. Most of us will be aware of the R U OK? Campaign. In the image (attached) are the questions and steps they encourage people to go through with those friends who are struggling at the moment.

Many of you will have seen in the news this week the death of Eddie Jaku, aged 101, a Holocaust survivor and volunteer at The Sydney Jewish Museum. Despite having seen the very worst of mankind he said that he considered himself the happiest man on earth. Last year, to celebrate his 100th birthday, he published a book with that title – The Happiest Man on Earth.

It is worthwhile listening to a TED talk he gave in 2019 –

There he gives some insights into his journey and the self-care practices that have enabled him to move from the traumas he experienced to that incredibly positive and hope-filled description of himself, as well as other statements like, “I do not hate anyone. Hate is a disease which may destroy your enemy, but will also destroy you.”

He speaks plainly about the horrors he experienced and grieves for those he lost, and there clear boundaries that he established. He promised himself he would never step foot on German soil again. However, he also speaks about the value of connection with the natural world and with friends. It was a friend, Kurt, who gave him a reason to keep on living when he was in Auschwitz. “One flower is my garden,” he says, “One good friend is my entire world.”  It was the birth of his first son, while experiencing post-traumatic stress, that galvanised him to choose a more hopeful way of being in the world; to focus on kindness and courtesy and happiness. He maintained that focus throughout his life. “Invite a friend for a meal,” he advised in the TED talk, “Go for a walk…Happiness does not fall from the sky. It is in your hands.”

It is an incredible story of the healing power of practicing self-care.

Next week there are a number of dates for your diary!

Tuesday next week, 19th October, marks the twentieth anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV X, the Indonesian fishing boat loaded with people seeking asylum in Australia.  Three hundred and fifty three people lost their lives.  The National Memorial for the SIEV X (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel.  X – or unknown) is at Weston Park, and one of the poles in the memorial was painted by members of our youth group twenty years ago. During next week you are encouraged to visit the memorial and reflect on the plight of people who take enormous risks to find safety. There will be an online commemoration that evening and details will be in this week’s church bulletin.

Thursday, 21st October, is the last joint sitting day in Parliament before COP 26 in Glasgow in November. Every MP and Senator  has been gifted with a scarf that shows tragically and dramatically how our earth is warming and they are being asked to #WearTheScarf in Question Time on that day to show their support for urgent, ambitious climate action. We can all be part of this by urging our Federal MP or Senator to #WearThe Scarf next Thursday. 

Lockdown comes to an end in the ACT this Friday, but we are opening up carefully as we continue to consider those who are more vulnerable in our community. After restrictions are further eased on Friday, 29th October, we will be welcoming half of the congregation (following the 1 person per 4 square metre rule) in-person each Sunday. We are again using our alphabetical system, but this time we are going by street names! So, on the 31st October it will be everyone with a street name from A to H, and on the 7th November it will be everyone with a street name from I to Z. (Fortunately the manse sits on the corner of Currie Crescent and Telopea Park Road, so I will be able to be present every Sunday!) If there are more people than the church is allowed to hold, there will be an overflow set up in the lounge. Masks will still be required and, at this stage, we assume that singing will be limited.

Tonight at 5:30pm we are celebrating the end of lockdown at Community Hour by sharing the first thing we plan to do once lockdown is lifted. Come along and join us for this final online get together – Community Hour On Zoom

Grace and peace to you all,


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