a couple of weekends ago I graduated from my Diploma of Christian Studies and was lucky enough to be able to give a speech way of encouraging the staff of Cornerstone - and saying thankyou. Here's some of it for posterity...
The Twelve Apostles stand off the south coast of Victoria, pillars of rock in a changing landscape, buffeted by wind and wave. Although we call them 'twelve' Apostles, their number changes. As some collapse and wash away others stand tall, wide and strong - perhaps telling us what the collapsed ones may once have looked like.
I visited this natural wonder as I was trying to think of how to express what the gift of the last two years had been like. And as I stood there that day the wind blew around me and I couldn’t tell where it was coming from or where it was going to - but it came to me that the peninsular of limestone that I was standing on was being shaped into a future 'apostle' -that one day there would be no land bridge to where I was standing and a new pillar would have been formed - and I saw that these Apostles were more a monument to a beautiful moment in time than a fixed part of the landscape.
Over the last two millennia other apostles, visionaries of a good and true kingdom, have stood so, representing their point in time, washed by the wind, born of water, living monuments to God's presence in their world.
It all made me acutely aware of God's immanence - how close he was (and is) in each particle of limestone and in each drop of water and circling me as well as a whole bunch of tourists on the wind and blowing through and around us.
Just the same, as I stood before those crumbling apostles I felt assaulted by doubts and fears. Was I worth my salt as a misho in Australia today? Could I listen to God's Spirit and follow the thread? When would I start to feel like a blessing and not just a mediocre muddle?
And then I remembered Sonja's faith in me and her faithful example, and Dave Etty's sensible advice in sticky situations on team, and one morning on Nerida's front porch, and a refuge at the Richards' (and Pete's visits to team where after he left you felt, as Sophie once said, as though Father Christmas had come like he did in Narnia and no matter how great the evil you are confronting or what the consequences might be you are just bursting to cry out "he's been here he's been here!"), and lectures and work and meals and chores and phone calls without number and visits to team and prayer and emails of encouragement - each instance a sacred moment to remember, a monument to the living God's presence in my world.
And I know that each of the graduates here will be able to find such monuments to God's presence in their lives from their own experiences with staff over the last two, three or more years. And in their studies too, because as I looked at those pillars I thought of Mary McKillop and Charles Finney and Count Zinzendorf and Thomas Aquinas too and on back to the time when the Master himself walked the earth and there were these two young blokes who were followers of John the Baptist. And they were there the day that he saw Jesus and cried out. "Look! there goes God's lamb!" So these disciples followed Jesus.
And he turned around he saw them and asked them, "What do you want?"
"Um... Rabbi... where are you staying?"
"Come and see," Jesus replied.
Well I don’t live in Galilee and it's not the year dot, and I can’t touch or feel or follow Jesus around and go and stay at his place in downtown Capernaum. But over the last two years I sort of have been able to anyway. So thanks to all of you Cornerstone Staff men and women who are giving your lives so that people like me can "Come and see."
You have been and continue to be living monuments to God's presence in our world.