The cold weather of late has found most of us who work outside developing an appreciation for a second beanie, gloves and a long singlet that can be tucked into the trousers. We are well into the pruning of the vineyard now but rainy days have put us behind where we want to be. So even though it has been very cold we have pressed on.

At the end of the day getting warm is both a luxury and a need. I have a wood fire in my lounge room and keeping a good wood supply on hand is another of the important considerations of daily living. I live in an old house so I’m not trying to heat the whole house, just my small lounge room. Some days the fire, despite looking its noFirewood3rmal self, gives out considerably more heat than others. One day I came in to find the temperature in the room was nearly 30 degrees. Wow, it was like summer again!

While taking a service at the Rushworth Aged Care Hostel I happened to mention this to the residents and you wouldn’t believe the animated conversation it triggered. Everyone was talking about wood. Talking very knowledgeably about wood! About the different heating qualities of Ironbark, Redgum, Whitebox and Sugargum. About the difference the size of the log made. About woodstoves, open fires and slow-combustion. As each person finished their comment someone else would agree then add some detail or comparison. These women were experts and each had a lived experience and some very happy memories about wood and fires and kitchen stoves and the families they had shared them with. They may not have been able to talk the science of good firewood, but they knew firewood.

I love talking with people who know what they are talking about. Sometimes I try to ask questions to draw out their knowledge. But usually when I am among a group of such experts I tend to just keep quiet and watch and listen as they feed off each other. And try not to show my ignorance!

As a minister I like to think of myself as having some expertise in thinking and talking about matters of faith, hope, grace and meaning. I enjoy talking with people about their experience of God. It saddens me when good people turn their backs on the church because of what they think it is rather than from any contemporary experience. It saddens me when people reject the Bible as a source of insight into this mystery of life because they reject the literal interpretation of fundamentalists. Most Christians have moved on from the very simple understandings of their childhood and have discovered a more complex and less prescriptive faith.  I suggest you spend some time listening to people with lived expertise in finding faith, meaning, joy and hope in the midst of grief, disappointment and the general confusion of living. Listen as they talk of a sustaining presence even as they struggle to find words to express it. They may not talk theology, but they live the faith.

You will hear the gospel, and it’s good news.

Brian Spencer, Minister

By the way “oils ain’t oils, Sol” was the catch line from some well known Castrol Oil Adverts from the 1980s. You can see one of the later ones by clicking here