Listening so as to walk in Love
Anglicare has been working with Sapphire Coast for many years through Emergency Relief and the Sapphire Surprise Anglicare retail shop. This has created a developing partnership between Anglicare and the local churches as it provides practical Christian love, through welfare and compassion, to struggling individuals and families. Anglicare have now located a Rural Chaplain, Michael Palmer, to broaden the opportunities for an encounter with this practical Christian love. Our belief is that as the Church shows forth the generous and impartial love that we have seen in Jesus then others will be both thankful for and also feel welcomed into that love.
The hub for this new Anglicare Chaplaincy is the St. James House (SJ’s) in Merimbula with the vision of our Anglican Chaplaincy being ‘Listening so as to Walk in Love’.
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers …….’ (James 1:19-21)
Michael Palmer writes ‘The act of Listening to another is ‘in itself’ loving. But also, as we listen we learn to care appropriately for individuals, families, friendships and our community. We think that listening, as a skill to learn and develop, is the big challenge for our generation. Of course, there are many needs and hence much caring action required but without a ‘Core of Listening’ we may frustrate the people we hoped to serve, exhaust ourselves and wander from our Lord who has shown us the way and depth to love our neighbour”
In the strong networks of rural communities it has been important and exciting to see the Rural Chaplaincy welcomed into collaborative actions of service. Michael is now connected with the Aboriginal Evangelical Church in Eden and looks forward to assisting with the Kids Club and a Sunday Evening Fellowship.
SJ’s is now the OzHarvest Hub where Food ‘rescued’ from imminent waste disposal is funnelled to welfare agents for distribution to the needy. This opportunity is ‘walking in love’ as it meets the food needs of the vulnerable, reduces waste, cares for the environment but also locates the Rural Chaplaincy where ‘listening’ to the welfare initiatives of others may invite further partnerships and also prayer.
Other initiatives like ‘Listening Groups’ and a Community wide ‘Book Club’ are being discussed with local institutions. Within the church, we have revived an initiative to assist families in the building of healthy foundations through fun, food and Christian fellowship.
Michael notes: ‘Though well out of my comfort zone, I feel the Lord is calling me to ‘walk the main street’ of Eden and alert the other shops about the welfare support that is offered from the Anglicare Shop. In some ways, shops can become isolated entities with staff marooned while at work. My hope is that this walking will result in increased care for the vulnerable but also opportunities for collaboration and community. A weekly ‘Main Street’ Morning Prayer meeting will commence.
Anglicare has a long and appreciated history in the Bega Valley Shire. The Rural Chaplaincy is new. Our listening has shown us where to begin our walking in love alongside others. We are now taking our first steps but even these we take with listening ears open to the changing needs of a community and the leading of our Lord. We hope that our listening and walking might be supported in prayer by the wider Anglican Community. In anticipation, we thank you.