Previous Next

# Immerse – Practicing Discipleship

Most of my profound moments in life have come in the form of shared experiences. One of the great things about a shared experience, is that it is shared. How ironic. What I mean though is, that the power of an experience within a relationship has lasting impacts beyond just you. Its ripple effect is magnified, because there is ongoing reliving and reimagining of that experience.

Some of the profound shared experiences of my life are second hand experiences. That is, they are the story of someone else’s experience that has been gifted to me through story, through song, through liturgical dance. Maybe not liturgical dance, but you understand where I am going with this.

I have been gifted experiences that have shaped me to be who I am today, most good, some not so good. There is an incredible gift in sharing our stories and our experiences together. While some of those stories cause us to share something of a wounded experience, the profound impact of the sharing of that story can help, not only us, but also those who we share with.

One of the most potentially powerful aspects of Immerse is the opportunity to articulate, communicate and celebrate. As we journey and intentionally invest in Practicing Discipleship we begin to articulate what it means to be a disciple, we communicate that experience in order that we can celebrate that experience.

Your journey, your story is a powerful story. When you communicate that story, it empowers others to do the same, and it means that we can celebrate together.

God is creating and blessing amazing things in the people of this Ringwood Uniting Church community, let’s all work together as we deepen our experience of discipleship.


# Immerse

Writing about matters of faith is not something that comes naturally to me, nor is it something that I devote time to in my daily life. So bear with me & here I go.

At times during my life when I have found myself over thinking a situation, issue or set of circumstances I find myself or someone close to me to be in (hard to believe? I know), it is often in the garden where I find myself being able to gather my thoughts. It can be constructing something or preparing soil for the vegetables or pruning trees or mulching – it matters not. I am able to find a clarity of thought to be able to process these issues that I can find in no place else. Whether it is being close to God’s creation, or being able to cut all other outside distraction I don’t know, but whatever it is the focus seems to be resolved, sorted or just a path through the maze is realised.
Also when in times of deep thought, I find that during a church service the great music offered in both songs and hymns means I can open my heart to sing or immerse myself in the song and I find that I can become overcome with emotion and I am are unable to sing again until I regain my composure. Strangely enough this never happens while singing in the shower or during a football game. Interesting?

# Immerse

I took a break from my frenetic life during the last school holidays and I took my 2 young grand children to the beach with the help of my wife. You may wonder if this was really a break but it truly was. There is always something deeply relaxing about the beach. Watching the water come in, break gently and go back out gives me great sense of the magnificence of nature and a sense of a creation spanning millions of years.

At the same time, I watched 2 energetic young boys delight in running on the beach, picking up shells, digging holes and running in the shallow water. Their faces reflected their delight and they had none of the expressions of troubled adults with the weight of the world on their shoulders. The miracle of childbirth has inspired me throughout all my working life and the untroubled innocence of youth was a joy to watch. It left me with a profound sense of the spirituality within me.

Soon the holiday was over and I returned to work. Anzac day was upon us and I read well balanced press coverage relating the deep sorrow for young lives lost and at the same time describing the futility of war. Unfortunately, the next few days saw coverage of megalomanic world leaders threatening nuclear warfare and the unthinkable carnage that would inevitably result. And then our leaders on both sides of politics declaring our support for any action deemed necessary by our major ally. My sense of peace was abruptly halted and my fear for the future of the innocent faces I had watched play on the beach was considerably heightened.

I was reminded of a line from a song from my teens, a Peter, Paul and Mary classic. (this no doubt dates me ) .  “When will they ever learn?”

 Peace be with you.

– Alan

IMMERSION AND DISCIPLESHIP from an old man’s perspective

Now an old person is always someone who is 10 years older than me. However my granddaughter, affectionately, sometimes calls me “old man” and at 76 I need to admit that, yes, I am old and for that I’m grateful and I like it.

So how do I Immerse in Christian Discipleship? A Christian disciple is one who follows the way of Christ. Seeing that immersion is getting deeply engaged, absorbed, it means that immersion in Christian discipleship means being totally involved in a Christian lifestyle.

For many Christians this means serving Jesus as Lord and Saviour and in obedience endeavouring to save souls for eternity. Tried that, but a God who punishes or rewards, who blesses some and not others, who offers the choice of “frizzle and fry” or “pie in the sky when you die” depending on your belief (or His predestined decision) is not for me.

Others strive to change the world and bring justice and equality for all. I admire and support that but somehow don’t have the energy for that anymore, it often seems so futile.

Now I just want to follow the way of Christ, living Christ like. Jesus tells me (Mathew 5 v13-16) John when are a follower of me you are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Not you SHOULD BE but you ARE. Yet losing your saltiness or hiding your light is not of much value. I think this means that to Immerse in Discipleship I need to connect with the Christ’s Spirit of love and let that shine through on whoever I meet and whatever I do. To, just like Christ, be motivated by compassion, forgiveness, prepared to suffer and cry with others, to see and understand that every one seeks to be a person of value, to be loved and know how to love others. (Watch out John, it is so easy to loose your saltiness and dim your light, to join the “it’s all about me” crowd or condemn others and do precious little yourself). Christian Discipleship, to be the light on the hill so that all can see the Christ light in me, that is a big call and I am only a little light in a small corner. But in the darkness of the “all about me, not much justice world” a small light is still very bright and lots of little lights can brighten up the world.

Remember the song, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. You in your small corner and I in mine.”

John H


# Immerse

Being Awake to God

Immerse I believe is all about being “awake to God.” Increasingly I’m learning to experience God in the everyday. And so it is during my stay at Ringwood, every Thursday morning between 11.30 and noon I find myself awake to God at Biala, participating in the singing with the children. And if it’s not to old fashioned a phrase, I find myself full of joy. Joy in seeing the faces of the children as they participate in the music making, wriggling about, their faces alive as they add to the music in their own idiosyncratic manner. I experience the love of the volunteers as they each lead their charges in the song. No religious songs, just the pure joy of music, a spiritual rather than religious exercise. And I love it. God presence fills the room and I go way fully refreshed, awake for my next experience of the holy. Biala, a Godgift to Ringwood Uniting, a Godgift to the community. A place where you can be awake to God.


– Rev Tony Duncan