On the shoulders of giants…. As part of the process of naming CBC’s strengths, I’ve been reading much of its history. There are so many books and articles that contain so much information about the life and mission of this church. It’s wonderful to read of the dedication and commitment that so many have given. We do indeed stand on the shoulders of giants!
We are in a process of naming our strengths. We are currently in the stage of seeking to name the strengths we see within the church property. It’s not a typical analysis of buildings and structures. It is an attempt to connect with what the property, including its building, means to us. That is why I’m asking questions that seek to discover how the property has been a source of blessings and joy?
Canberra Baptist Church in Earlier Days

Within the responses already received there are some wonderful words of how within the various spaces people have experienced joy, support, inspiration, wonder, and awe. The spaces have been places of great celebration and inspiring tributes, space where life changing conversations have occurred and ‘aha’ moments have happened. Places of laughter and tears, spaces that are sacred and holy, spaces that are fun and have helped create adventure.

I believe it’s the memories and experiences that are the real strengths of a property. The ground, brick and mortar are part of what makes a property functional. It’s what occurs on them or within them that are its true strengths.
This is not to say that the design and function are unimportant. In fact, before anyone can have the opportunity to create or experience the true strengths of the property, they need to cross the threshold, walk through the door, find an entry point.

The first experience of a place is always significant. The first time someone looks at and/or enters a space, the space itself will convey a very clear message to them. Of course, buildings don’t talk, but it is certainly possible for a building to communicate. A buildings or space’s design coveys a message. Is this a closed off space or a welcome and inviting, open space? Without an actual word being said, the space will convey a message. 

I wonder if each of us could step back in time, what message did the property and buildings convey to us as we approached it? What do we remember of that moment? Did it say something that encouraged, inspired or intrigued you? Was it a space that was an obvious and tangible expression of our Mission and Goals:

Building a vibrant and open community 
which is responsive to God’s love in Christ and 
committed to serving God and people.

Explore together what it means to follow Jesus today
Build inclusive, caring community
Share God’s love and justice in words and action.

Can I strongly encourage you, if you have not already done so, to complete our online property strengths survey – click this link. It should only take a few minutes. Hardcopies are available in the church office or just ask me. The surveys help us bring together and build on all our strengths. Helping us, through the same Spirit that inspired and enabled those who have gone before us, move into the future with hope!

Grace and Peace
Steve Coster
Community Leader – Canberra Baptist Church

Also, please find below a prayer that Lucy Gledhill shared in the service I led a few weeks ago. It comes from her experience of walking around Lake Burley Griffin. As we remember the past, we are also mindful of the future, this prayer reminds us of the challenges and hopes of the people in our day. It is a tangible expression and hope of God’s call on us to connect with our community.

A Liturgy of the Lake (Burley Griffin). 
Sometimes people meet down at the lake.  They meet and they greet and God, we give you thanks for friends. Who set a foot on the path. God, we give you thanks as we stop at the flag display, waiting for them there if they are late.  We give you thanks for snatches of conversation “how was your week? What happened with that terrible situation? Forgot my sunscreen and my hat, these people on the path, we are walking along the path. 
Lord at the flags we are remembering different countries and places around the world. 
Today lord I am praying for Lisa as she returns to Uganda to do your work there so faithfully, perhaps other people think of someone else as they walk past the flags and see a familiar flag. Help us to notice other places far away in the World. 
Lord thank you for happy dogs and the cathedral of green leaves over our head, that reminds us that we can be with you wherever we are. We thank you for leadership and noticing monuments. We think of Australians of the Year who are community leaders and ask your blessing on those past and present.  
Holding on to our hats at the bridge, we look at the light on the water. Keep left,  keep left. The pressing issues are bubbling up in our conversations. The surface of the lake shines light on stories and sharing of secrets and hurts and fears and our arm gestures get bigger with the things that we are passionate about.  Lord be with us as we walk.
Help us to care for the environment, help us to notice the rabbits grazing on the grass near Gallipoli reach and the bats in the trees. Help us to care for the environment as you have done. 
Help us to listen.  Im grateful for him but…  Work is hard… Im worried about… I wish for the best… Oh this relationship…  Our feet are walking us on along paths as we look at the corridors of power. Help us to pray for the passers-by and our community and the beautiful city. Help us to notice when a phrase or a fragment of a sentence needs us to intercede to you. 
Oh God, I give you thanks for the parents with prams running who give us a glance, who bring joy to the old people on their bicycles smiling as they pass, and they are remembering a grandchild or a child far away. In this globalised world that moves us apart, give us opportunities to connect here with our church community and with those around the lake.  Be with us in the public places, the paths and spaces and help us to come out of our covid cocoon in safe ways and take a risk on being together again in new ways.  Be with us as we farewell, as we pass the brutalist architecture of the High Court that brings such amazing justice. Be with us in the Marketplace and the churches.  Be with us this week Amen. 

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