Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Advent already!

Although the first Sunday in Advent doesn't fall until 3 December this year - as late as it can fall, this evening is the first of 4 Wednesdays leading up to Christmas when the churches in Dimboola have ecumenical services of the Word to mark Advent.  This year, the Lutherans are first cab off the rank, and we get to do Advent before the first Sunday in Advent!

The Scripture readings for the first Sunday in Advent tend to bridge the idea of the coming Christ as judge and king (that the last couple of weeks have emphasized) to the coming Christ as the baby in the manger in Bethlehem.  To get into the right frame-of-mind ("O how shall I receive thee?") we need to identify the coming babe in the manger as the lord of the universe.  Only then are we ready to hear the words of the Baptist (next week) and so on, building our anticipation until we get to the festival that is Christmas.

A trip to the beach

As I had the day off yesterday, and 36 degrees were forecast for Horsham, and rule-of-thumb says add 2 degrees to that for Dimboola, we drove down to the coast.  A Picnic lunch in Hamilton, some 2 hours drive from here, under a shady sequoia in the botanical gardens, and then arriving at about 2pm in Warrnambool.

Although we went prepared to swim, the icy-cool breeze was sufficient to make it unpleasant even just to stand on the beach.

A few hours in a tourist town including an early tea at La Porchetta was a great little break, and we got back to Dimboola by about 8:40pm.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fires, Power outages, wind! (not quite earth, wind and fire!)

After a busy week - including the aforementioned trip to Melbourne and back, and the Bothe reunion here in Dimboola Saturday and Sunday, we headed out Monday for our usual Monday-Tuesday janut up-country.  We left evaporative cooling ticking over on low speed, because the temperature was already well into the 30s by mid-morning.

We came home to smoke haze, 100km/h gusts and a power-outage.  Fortunately the power was only off for 90 minutes or so.  The smoke came from a largish fire near Goroke - some 40km away from here, the other side of the Little Desert National Park.

Since then, the power came back on, and a cool change came through.  The temperature dropped from mid 30s to 16 by 19:30 or so, and we had an overnight low of around 11 degrees.

The wind gusts left their mark, however.  One tree in the church yard split right down the trunk, and will have to get the chop.  Another lost a major limb.  A tree at the school was blown out of the ground roots and all, and several limbs from other trees came down.  We hope that all these will be dealt with by day's end.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A long day on the road coming up.

On Friday this week I'm off to Melbourne as part of wearing my Council for Lutheran Education (South East Region) hat.

Last year, I flew to Brisbane and attended the National School Pastors' Conference hosted by CLE (Qld).  This biennual event will be hosted by the SE Region in 2007 and the planning group meet this Friday at Box Hill. Also, I'm planning to take with me a parishioner whose daughter is in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

So, the plan is to leave at 5:30 or so, get to Box Hill by 10am, leave by 2pm or so, and be back in Dimboola by dinner time or thereabouts.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q. What is the difference between an alpaca (pictured) and a backpacker?

A. One is shaggy, unkempt and smelly, and the other looks a lot like a llama.

(Credit / Apologies to S J Pietsch)

The widow's mite

This coming Sunday the Gospel reading is Mark 12:38-44, including the account of the widow's mite.  In this time of drought (the hundred-year drought, possibly), it seems hard to hear about giving - not from spare change, but generously.

In fact, it is precisely in these hard times that we need to be reminded of our right attitude towards money and possessions - the temptation to claim things as "mine" and give God from the spare change is much greater.  This text can help jolt us back to the reality that all that we have comes from God.

The OT reading for Sunday is topical, too - it talks about the three and a half year drought in the time of Elijah the Prophet (I Kings 17:8-16)  Elijah asked the widow of Zara-thingummy to make him some bread with the remains of her flour and oil, and promised that neither the oil nor the flour would run out until the drought broke.  And they didn't.

Sometimes, when things look like they are running low, and we are tempted to hoard, we need to remember that God looks after even the sparrows, so surely he will look after us!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The dreaded root-canal!

The dentist opined that all my trouble was not wisdom-tooth related, but rather an infection in the nerve canal of a back molar which has been filled more than once (and which fillings have crumbled more than once).

He started the root-canal process today and extracted an infected nerve and inserted a temporary filling with antibiotic to calm the infection.

My face feels like it should hit things 10 or more centimetres beyond me, after all the anesthetic he injected into me!

Waiting lists being what they are, I have two appointments in January to finish the job off.

All Saints

Today - 1 November is All Saints Day.  The reason that the day before is called Halloween is to do with it being the Eve (preceding day) of the Hallowed Day, much like December 24 is the Eve of Christmas.

In the church, many places will celebrate the Feast of All Saints on Sunday, when we remember with thanksgiving those who have gone before us to joint the heavenly throng during the past year.  They are no longer part of the church militant (fighting it out with sin, death and the devil here on earth), but part of the church triumphant (having conquered sin, death and the devil).

Educate all your trick-or-treating friends!

Birthday changes

I forgot to mention that I didn't celebrate my birthday alone.  My daughter was so upset at Daddy not being there for his birthday that I rang the motel and upgraded the room to a family unit.

Before we left Dimboola, the school staff gave me a cake and sang Happy Birthday to me.

At the CLESER dinner, my birthday was also acknowledged, and the administrator kindly offered to repay the extra tariff that I had paid for the room upgrade.

After my CLESER meeting on Friday (during which my wife & daughter drove to the Healseville Native Animal Sanctuary and back) we headed home.  We stopped in Ballarat on the way for a birthday tea at La Porchetta.

When we got home to Dimboola (about 9pm) I blew out my candles and we had some birthday cake.

A different sort of birthday!


Virus ... stay home ... teeth!

This week a nasty cold virus hit hard and so we didn't make our regular pilgrimage to Ballarat on Monday, returning Tuesday, but did have a phone consultation.

A side effect of the virus seems to have been my swollen glands pushing against my wisdom teeth, causing dreadful nervous pain - think of a long bolt from above the temple, just inside the face, past the front of the ear, and down to the point of the jawbone on the right side, with a nut on the end being constantly tightened.

Paracetamol, and codeine every 4 hours help, but I've found myself counting the minutes until I can take the next dose.  So I am lucky enough to have gotten into the dentist at 3pm this afternoon.  We'll see what sort of treatment is ordered.!