‘God bless you!’

Pre-Kindergarten students learn about Jesus and all who were part of his story in Godly Play.
Pre-Kindergarten students learn about Jesus and all who were part of his story in Godly Play.


By Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain

Both Barrels
By Helen Garner

“I pulled up at the lights on Racecourse Road and a desperado of a junkie offered to clean my windscreen. He did the job in three smooth strokes and everything glistened. I opened my purse. No coins. Only a 20-dollar note. He waited at my open window. We looked each other in the eye. He was young, but shockingly haggard; he was ravaged, ruined. I held out the 20. He stood there stunned in the traffic, gripping his squeegee and his pump pack. He said, “But… will you be right?” I said, “Oh, please take it.” He took it between two fingers and stepped away. The lights changed. I put the car in gear, and he called out after me: he said, “God bless you!” We smiled at each other. We waved. I cried all the way to Camberwell. A stranger, a lost soul, speaking out of his purgatory, had blessed me.

Recently, on a morning walk, I found myself at O’Connor shops. While I waited for a coffee, I noticed a community library and found a copy of April’s The Monthly inside. This slim magazine contained a plethora of deep insights, ranging from the climate emergency, commentary on the prison system in Australia, the rise of independents in the federal election, and the devastation faced by Papuan communities due to the production of palm oil - much to think about and be challenged by. That morning, however, it was Helen Garner’s introspection that I turned to first. As shown in the excerpt above, Garner has a way of conveying everyday moments that invite her readers to experience them too.

The Gospel’s accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry also invite us to be part of intimate encounters. This week’s Gospel reading from Luke 23:33-43 brings us into the scene of the crucifixion, when Jesus is surrounded by guards and two criminals who are also facing their death. Amid his vulnerability, Jesus seeks God’s forgiveness for those who have harmed him and consoles the unnamed criminal who reaches out to him. As Debra J. Mumford shows, the kingdom that Jesus inaugurates challenges systems in which power and influence are conflated with justice.

“God with us” is part of the mystery of Christian faith. God chooses to enter the messiness and complexity of our world and our lives. Jesus begins life as a vulnerable baby, relying on Mary and Joseph to care for him, both of whom required their own divine encounter to be assured of the path before them. Amid confusion, fear and hope, Mary and Joseph were invited and then responded with, ‘yes’ to being part of God's purposes and promises.

Image 1: How God Shows Up by Lisle Gwynn Garrity, silk painting with digital drawing and collage © A Sanctified Art, used with permission. Image 2: The Courageous Choice by Lisle Gwynn Garrity, silk painting with digital drawing and collage © A Sanctified Art, used with permission.

The above artworks, by Lisle Gwynn Garrity - of Mary after she has given birth and of the moment an angel appears in Joseph's dream to invite him to adopt Jesus and raise him as his son - convey the everyday places where God shows up. For our Year 12 students who had their final day yesterday and will graduate on Friday, and for us all, may our ‘yes’ to God’s purposes and promises be a source of praise to God and blessing to us and those around us.

Contact