Fiesta is coming!

James DouglasEvents, Family focussedLeave a Comment

Fiesta 2019 – Saturday 23rd March, 11am-4pm

The Autumn Fiesta is back for 2019. Bargains galore, delicious food and something for everyone awaits. Come along and join the fun!


Home-made goodies

Jams, preserves, cakes and biscuits, all home made and delicious. Gluten free and low GI options available.


Fun for the kids

Fun activities for children including ‘lob a choc’, a jumping castle and animal farm.


Food and coffee

A range of options including Chinese food, sausage sizzle, Devonshire teas and ‘Sir Hamlet’ espresso van.


Bargains galore

Traditional ‘White Elephant’, books, mags, music and DVDs, craft, clothing, jewellery and more!

...and so much more!

Holy Week Labyrinth

James DouglasMusicLeave a Comment

Labyrinth Meditations for Holy Week
Mon 15th – Wed 17th April, 10am-noon.
Tue 16th & Wed 17th April, 7-9pm

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, a labyrinth will be available in the Church to facilitate personal reflection, prayer and meditation. Anyone who is interested is invited to come and walk the labyrinth.

Labyrinths have been used by Christians for centuries as a kind of pilgrimage – a physical and spiritual journey which changes you as you walk it. Formed by pews where people would typically sit, this labyrinth will have an inward and outward journey, with stations along the way to allow participants to engage with the readings of the day through image, touch, writing, drawing and sculpting.

While the labyrinth will be open for 2 hours at a time, participants are invited to walk it at their own pace, engaging as much or as little as they are comfortable with. Guidance to use the labyrinth will be available for those who would find it helpful, and the minister will be available to pray and talk with anyone who needs to debrief or further explore any discoveries on the labyrinth journey.

Flinders Quartet Concert

James DouglasEvents, Music, NewsLeave a Comment

Flinders Quartet performed a marvellous concert today, featuring a brand new work from Melbourne composer, Matthew Laing. The work, called ‘Out of Hibernation’ explored the experience of existence and change from animal and human perspectives and it was a delight to hear Matthew speak about the work, as it deepened the experience for the audience. Bookending ‘Out of Hibernation’ were Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 64, No. 3  and Robert Schumann’s String Quartet No. 3 in A major, Op. 41, No. 3. Flinders Quartet’s deep connectedness to the music and to one another’s playing was on display, along with virtuosity and flexibility of technique. It was a wonderful concert and was thoroughly enjoyed by all who came. Head over to Facebook and like our page to make sure you never miss a St Luke’s event, and below is a brief video of Flinders Quartet enjoying Schumann.

West Papua Dinner and Entertainment – Saturday 4th November 5.45-9pm

James DouglasMusicLeave a Comment

Come celebrate West Papuan culture and raise funds to help raise West Papua’s voice to the United Nations. Cost $30 waged, $15 unwaged. Guest Speaker: Rev Peter Woods, Missionary, artist, activist ” Where is God in the West Papuan struggle?” Tickets can be booked online for waged, or unwaged, or by contacting the office of the Federal Republic of West Papua on 0420 250 389.

Blessing of the animals and Preschool service – Sunday 22nd October 9.30am

James DouglasMusicLeave a Comment

They say ‘never work with children or animals’, but at St Luke’s we’re breaking all the rules and celebrating our Preschool and Blessing our Animals on the same day! On Sunday the 22nd of October  at 9.30 am, there’s bound to be fun for all ages as we connect with children’s spirituality and bless the animals who bless our lives. Preschool families are particularly invited to join us this day, as all the groups are learning songs to share with the congregation, and it is an opportunity for the children to see inside the Church building and find out some of what happens there. This year we’re glad to welcome Michele Phillips from the South Oakleigh Wildlife Service to speak to the children about caring for local wildlife. Members of the community who would like to share in this celebration are welcome, and everyone is encouraged to bring an animal (or a photo if bringing your animal isn’t practical).

Happy Birthday UCA!

James DouglasMusicLeave a Comment

40 years ago today, Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational Churches came together to bring a new and uniquely Australian denomination to birth – The Uniting Church in Australia. St Luke’s Uniting Church is proud to celebrate the ongoing contribution of Uniting Church Congregations, Agencies and Schools to the life of our nation.

The Lord’s my shepherd I

Katrina DowlingMusic2 Comments

Peter and lamb

Once a month at St Luke’s we have ‘Music Sunday School’,[1] in which the class is taken by a music educator and music-making is the way we engage with the text of the day. It ranges from experimental sound-making to instrumental music to karaoke! At the moment we are tapping into our musical heritage by exploring “The Lord’s my Shepherd” from the Scottish Psalter and singing it to CRIMOND.

Because it’s Ascension time, we note that the Shepherd-King is an important part of the Jewish and Christian faiths. In Sunday School, the kids were faced with a puzzle –do we know of anyone who is both a shepherd and a monarch? They were able to call to mind both Jesus and David. David was a shepherd-king and wrote the song we know as Psalm 23 using imagery that shows how sheep trust their protector. Jesus identified himself with the shepherd role, and at Ascension his kingship is affirmed.

Brian Tabb sums up the implications of Ascension for our living:

  1. Remember that Jesus is presently reigning as king and remains active and engaged in our world and our lives.
  2. Therefore live boldly, confidently, and strategically as servants of the exalted king of heaven. Know that your labors in the Lord Jesus are not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  3. Sufferers, take heart that Jesus is not indifferent to your struggle. He has endured great suffering and is thus the most merciful and sympathetic counselor and mediator. Take your cares to your ascended Lord who hears your prayers and can respond with all heaven’s authority.
  4. Finally hope in a glorious future. The ascended Lord will return as judge and king. He will abolish injustice, end suffering, and destroy death and set up his kingdom of truth, righteousness and love. Best of all, we will be with our king forever.[2]

If you look at Tabb’s points above in the context of Psalm 23, you can see a very strong sympathy between God’s nature revealed as shepherd and God’s nature revealed as king.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.

As we sang through the psalm and opened out the imagery verse by verse, the children discovered these insights as well. They learned of the rod and staff used for protecting and guiding, and were stirred by the thought of the shepherd “bonking lions on the head.” But at the same time they realised that if the psalmist is comforted by the presence of the rod and staff, it reveals that this shepherd is not the kind to use his staff for smacking the sheep! And when we came to the final verse, considering how the line “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” speaks to us, one response was “what it means to me is that even if I’d been naughty, the shepherd would never say, ‘That’s it – now you’re out with the lions and bears.’”

The images in this post are kindly shared by photographer Carlene Hardt.[3] In a later post I’ll also have the privilege of sharing a poem by Peter, the shepherd in the photos! But I’ll make you wait until July, when our next ‘Music Sunday School’ session will see a return to Psalm 23 and the children will be invited to compose their own shepherd songs in response to the poetry they’ve encountered so far.

Peter and lamb

[1] Music Sunday School is on the fourth Sunday of the month during school term times.

[2] Brian Tabb, “More Than an Afterthought: Six Reasons Jesus’s Ascension Matters,”, April 13, 2013,

[3] Thanks to Carlene, to Peter and to Elaine Hardt of for their generous correspondence.

If ye love me

Katrina DowlingMusic1 Comment

In our composer-focussed service on 14 May, one of our musicians shared this thought about polyphonic music (that is, music with more than one interdependent vocal line):

What I love about singing a cappella [unaccompanied] is the feeling of being part of a polyphonic instrument. Everybody else involved is coming from a slightly different angle; they’re on their own unique path, but the journey is the same: the song.

Put this thought alongside the lovely part-song by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), “If ye love me,” a four-voice setting of part of the text for the coming week:

If ye love me,
keep my commandments,
and I will pray the Father,
and he shall give you another comforter,
that he may ’bide with you forever;
e’en the Spirit of truth.[1]

Between them, this song and Clare’s insight suggest to me that the experience of polyphonic singing can reveal something significant about the text of this song – that it is in listening to the many parts and in participating in the one journey that we keep the commandments and receive the abiding spirit spoken of in this passage.

Listening to the diversity of the parts

What if the way we “keep my commandments” consists in communal listening to the moving of God in our midst, just like the singers’ communal listening to the moving of the parts?

Pentecost is first of all an experience of prayerful, communal listening. Pentecost teaches the disciples to listen for the spirit of God moving in their lives. Only after listening do they know what to teach.[2]

Enacting the equality of the parts

What if we experience “he may abide with you forever” in our mindful, understanding, and loving relationships to each other, just like the singers’ enacting of the equality between the parts?

For a community to be a real place of practice or worship, its members have to cultivate mindfulness, understanding, and love. A church where people are unkind to each other or suppress each other is not a true church. The Holy Spirit is not there. If you want to renew your church, bring the energy of the Holy Spirit into it.[3]

In the Harmony-Quartet’s rendition of “If ye love me” at their 2008 Freiburg concert, it’s easy both to follow an individual vocal part and to listen to the whole. Try listening twice through: first time, choose one singer and follow his line with attention. Second time, listen to the ‘polyphonic instrument’ as a whole, but with an awareness of all the unique paths that are being traced within this one journey. See how much of each line you can hear at the same time as being able to hear the whole!

Thomas Tallis, “If ye love me,” Bass part, The Wanley Partbooks, Bodl. Mus. Sch. MSS e420-422, fol.55r (detail).

Edit – update from the 21 May intergenerational service:

We listened to this quartet in our music session in the Sunday service, and afterwards a few people shared these thoughts about how being part of music-making relates to being part of the Church (my paraphrases):

  • It’s significant that there is something holding the music together. The independent parts do not go flying apart, because they are made to be part of a harmonious whole.
  • The voices in “If ye love me” enter at different times, not all at once. We can allow people to enter at the time that is right for them, not expect everyone to be at the same place simultaneously in their faith.
  • At first you can only concentrate on following one voice part at a time, and then when you listen again, you become able to hear more of the other parts as well as the whole. That the Holy Spirit is in us means that we listen to the Spirit and because of that we are able to listen to each other.

Feel free to add your own comments in the field below!

If you’re interested in seeing more of the Harmony-Quartet, you can visit their web page and buy a DVD of the entire 2008 concert.

[1] John 14:15-17 (KJV)

[2] John Dear, Living Peace: A Spirituality of Contemplation and Action (New York: Doubleday, 2001), 34.

[3] Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ (London: Random House, 1996), 67.

Grassroots music

Katrina DowlingMusicLeave a Comment

On Sunday 7 May we celebrate ‘Land’ Sunday in Season of Creation, so let’s consider grassroots music in church – you might also think of ‘grassroots music’ as folk music.

The soundtrack of the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is pervaded with grassroots music of Northern America – you can listen to an interview with T-Bone Burnett, on NPR’s all songs considered, and play some of the songs from the 10th anniversary recording.

In the movie, there is a touching scene in which grassroots music both encapsulates and stirs the men’s impulse towards faith and freedom: the ‘down in the river to pray’ scene. This is a style of music that speaks to many at St Luke’s as well, and we’ve enjoyed singing it in our own harmonisations. Alison Krauss’ version in O Brother, Where Art Thou? is beautiful. Can you think of a better musical setting for this scene?