Sunday Reflection: The words we all long to hear.

Today is set aside in the Revised Common Lectionary as the Day of Baptism. Like all liturgial days there is something comforting in the familiarity of the day, and the readings. We can almost recite these readings by heart; we have heard them, even our young children have leard them numereous times in their lives. So there is nothing new to learn? WRONG, the more you scratch the surface, the deeper the dive, whether you are using traditional forms of exegisit or a mindful method of reading and colouring in, there really is a new way into these passages each time they reappear.

Teaching your children to read the Bible and leading by example in the home is immensely important but that can be held over to another post or found in previous writings of mine.

Every child wants to hear the words of Luke 3:22b “You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased” (NRSV), Many pschologists insist that parents need to tell their children they are loved. And if God is our role model then as parents we have a great example to copy here.

I do have some questions though, I wonder why God choose this moment after baptism to say it? Some commentators claim that it is for our sake the words were spoken, as there was an audience to the words.

I wonder then if as parents we are only to praise our chidlren in front of others? I hope your answer here is no, many pschologists would tell you that a child needs to genuinely hear these words as for him, not for the praise of other parents for the show of love from a parent. They are useless if the child does not know it to be a truth for themselves.

This reading is Not a parenting advice column from God.

To read this passage exclusively through the lens of the child in the passage is to miss the deeper truths of the verses. (and no I don’t see that arguing against a Child Theology lense is counter to many things I have said over time, it is one form of lens to look at the passage, not THE ONLY lens with which to examine a passage).

And here comes my point.

We need to hear many voices, we need to see with many lens, to fully unpack God’s word.

I wonder what you saw in this passage? What did a younger family member see? or an older family member see (and that can be a genetic or social family or your congregational family)?

This year I came to realise that Jesus may not have been in the water when this event happended. Luke tells us he was praying when the holy spirit descended. He had been baptised, past tense. (my poor Biblical Greek can at least work that out).

So these special days and readings come around each year, but they are never the same. Examing the passages communally or individually, using different methods of exegesis or lenses, opens our eyes to what we failed to see the last time we encountered these readings.

If there is a parental message in this passage, it is to teach our children to read God’s word, so they can wonder themselves when you are not with them.


Wendy L.

I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.


Sunday Reflection: Simple Messages

It lightens my heart to see children participating in services more frequently these days.

More and more congregations are making church notices more available for children, with reflection spaces, hints and ideas for them to participate more fully within the service, some congregations are using more visual graphics to let children and non-official language speakers to know when to stand, sit, pray, sing etc. These are even occurring on screens, where they are being used.

Where we do seem to be failing our children and non-official language speakers is that the church documents and policies are not being given the same consideration.

Twice this week I became aware that we do not have appropriate resources to teach our children the important documents, not of our catholic faith, but of the documents that differentiate our understanding of faith practices from other denominations interpretations. Now, to be precise I am talking about the Uniting Church of Australia, but on a casual look around other denomination sites it seems we might not be the only one overlooking this teaching to our young.

I was lucky enough to pick the brains of a respected semi-retired minister and discovered that our denomination had a few great resources around the 1990’s, but these resources had not been maintained during the past quarter of a century. That’s a whole generation that have not been taught why we think the way we do and why we practice the way we do.

In some general conversations this week, I discovered that most people felt that this information should be available to our teens but few went as far as to suggest that we should have these resources available to our children.

This disappointed me, to know what differentiates the denominations is an important part of a child’s culture.  Thus, having books that are age appropriate that talk about the history, or explain the Basis of Union, even our Baptismal or membership practices seem to be in short supply. An example of what I am trying to describe is one from the Wesleyan tradition called Gospel’s Story by Gary M. Best. There are some beautiful offerings for Children on sacraments etc at Paraclete Press.

Another issue, is that the documents that need to be available to the public, such as our CoVid safe policy, are written officially, very wordy, without letting either our children or those who struggle with the official language from feeling safe and understanding that we are following the legal guidelines. It takes very little to create a visual document that explains the formal verbose statements. (As a practice, I completed one using WORD and one using CANVA) Yet as I was informed this week, by someone on a Church Council “we are only doing this for legal reasons we don’t need to consider anything else”, no wonder children don’t feel welcome when they are not considered by those meant to be making the important decisions for the future of the church, their church.

To sum, up if we want to engage our children further, we need to have resources that share their denominational history in a way they can understand. To make everyone feel welcome we need to have documents in easy to understand language as well as legal versions. 


Wendy L.

I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.

Sunday Reflection: Parenting

Today is my eldest daughter’s birthday. Halloween. When I attended church in early labour, I was concerned that I would not make it through the service. I felt safer sitting in the service, than I did at home. And as it was I still had 24 hours of labour to go before she made her appearance, waving at the world, she entered the world hand emerging first, as I was to find out her father had years before. Our congregation had a few nurses and a few parents so I felt more comfortable at church realising that many people in our multi-age congregation would know what to do, rather than me wondering what would happen at home. Anyway it seemed completely natural to me to be worshipping. I had prayed over and for my developing child throughout her pregnancy.

 We were part of, not just a congregation but a community, most people living within walking difference of our church, my Paster was around the corner with his school age family, my prayer partner and her brood lived opposite them. There were a few other new mums or mums to be and we would pass each other in the health centre, at Nursing Mother’s meetings, the supermarket, the doctors. I felt that I was in a community that would support us and we would be a part of as she grew, a blend of faith and secular.

What I wanted more than anything was for her to come to know God and be a part of this wonderful nurturing community.

I asked everyone, how do I help her to know God? Most did not have an answer for me, one informed me that it was like introducing her to any friend. But that statement, though true didn’t help me, so I continued praying for and with her, we continued the tradition of attending church together, we prayed at meal times, but we did not read Bible stories, we read secular books, it did not even occur to me that faith books for children even existed. 

With the congregation, she was dedicated, we moved to the front for the children’s talk and sat at the back so we would not disturb other’s in the congregation, eating treats to keep her quiet during the sermon. When the time came for her to join, Sunday School with the other children she left the service to learn. When she was old enough we started evening devotions when she went to bed, a bible reading some questions, which she didn’t enjoy at all. What helped her more was the Christian meditation we practiced.

She went to a Christian school, and I felt that I had done my best, but I was so disappointed when in her teen years she refused to come to church anymore, and I started to question, what I had done wrong to not show her God in a way she wanted in her life. It led me to question so much, to ask questions, to look closely at the gaps in my teaching her about faith. Yes, we could have read story books, watched videos, played computer games with a stronger faith focus. Did she not learn in ways that were appropriate to her learning styles?

God is not a stranger in our home. She still prays, meditates when stressed, she has accepted some of the things we did as a family such as Ski, and rejected others. She is not a part of a faith community other than within our family. I am the only one who is connected to a Church, yet each Christmas and Easter, she comes to church with me, not to please me, but because these events do not have any meaning for her without attending Church. 

As parents, we can not guarantee the faith choices our children make. We can only try our best, and leave the rest to God. Always keep the doors open for that conversation, or the opportunity, but respect their wishes, they like everyone else we come across must be free to open their ears to hear, and shape the faith process for themselves. We do not fail when our children don’t stay in the church, if they know God we have done our job.


Wendy L.

I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.

Sunday Reflection: Social Welfare response as seen in Mark 10:2-16

For most children, the reading that will enthral them, and so it should, is only one part of this week’s RCL Gospel reading, Mark verses 13-16. What child does not want to hear that they are welcome especially when there are so many places that they receive the very clear message that they can’t go in or attend because they are not old enough. 

Just as importantly it has a very clear message for adults, not just in how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but also it demonstrates a strong social justice picture for adults to emulate in their dealings with children and those that are less powerful then themselves. 

In recent times, many congregations have found different ways to welcome children, or some have them participate in the whole service and some have even become Intergenerational, a deliberate act of integrating all ages in all aspects of community living and worship, because of the renewed interest from this passage and similar ones in the other Gospels, along with other readings on children in the Kingdom of God. So, whether children are worshipping in a congregation where they are included or not, this passage is still important for them to hear the word of God itself proclaiming that Jesus called the children to Him and chastised the adults from keeping them from Him. It is a significant passage and in my humble opinion deserves to be read and spoken about on its own.

But it is paired with Mark 10:2-12, a passage that doesn’t have as much of an impact for any listening child. And yet it is a beautifully thoughtful pairing. Let’s remove all modern interpretations of this passage and return to the time it was written, a period in history where men would sit around a teacher, listening and questioning what he is saying, women were not a part of these teaching sessions, so we are to assume that this passage really is for male ears, but I think the women would be very impressed with what was being discussed. Jewish Divorce was easy, a matter of being displeased with your wife for any reason, denouncing her in public and she is left, without her children, without accommodation and without an honourable income. Divorce was just as easy in the dominating culture of the times too.

When I review these two stories, the commonality here is that both passages are about power and the use or misuse of it. Men had the power to keep women safe, and the disciples had the power to decide who approached Jesus. Just as an interesting aside, it is the Mother’s we are told who are bringing the children to Jesus in Verses 13-16, in Jewish tradition it would be the father who presents the child, the male child, at the Temple. In today’s world these speak of social injustices and they are spoken directly to those with the power. If we are too look forward to the application of, especially the first verses, then it is not a teaching on morals so much as a teaching on social justice, on the use and abuse of power and these are still issues that are with us today. If it were not so we would not have seen the significance of the Me Too or the Black Lives Matter Movements. Who are the gatekeepers? Who has the power? Who keeps the children away from Christ’s teachings and being a full participant in the Christian Community? Divorce still leaves women, bereft of housing, superannuation, dignity. Where are other areas of injustice and who are the gatekeepers for them in your community? 

Today’s Gospel reading, not just tells the children that they are welcome, it warns everyone of misusing the power they have, and that is a message we all need to hear.


Wendy L.

I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.


Today’s reflection is very hard to write, it is based on my own poor behaviour and I don’t have to reveal that but I will to show how impassioned I am that you hear my words today not as a study but as relatable to real life.

I’ve been dwelling on Mark 9:38-50, especially verse 42, about placing yourself as a stumbling block. This is my where my bad behaviour comes in. I am very passionate about all things children and Intergenerational, I look Biblically through the lens of Child Theology, and I could write on whether the reference to Little one’s relates to physical children or not.

I could write about protecting children, but what I have been thinking about is how I put “stumbling blocks” to people, adults grown in faith when I am trying to convince them of the worthiness of looking at faith, or worship with the child in mind, or when I am trying to convince them that becoming Intergenerational might be a better form of practice. In these areas, these adults are like “little children” still learning, but I want to move them on, hurry them up to where I am in my thinking.

Cory Seibel at the Intergenerate Conference earlier this year identified that there is always someone at the head of the curve for Institutional Change. Personal experience has shown me that this is a lonely space, and for someone who craves to be accepted and feel normal, this is the most uncomfortable place in the world. It is also the place where abuse can happen when others try to quieten your ideas and pull you back in line to maintain the status que. But it is also a place where I can wield damage as I push my ideas through. If I am feeling under attack I bring my worse me, in my case the defensive, attacking demeaning me. As a leader in the church I wield power and I am not using it well, I am creating stumbling blocks that are making it harder for people, good reasonable people to hear my views, and undermining my own goodness, as well as the message I want to share. As also mentioned in this passage from Mark I need cauterizing. Not all of me, it does feel much easier to be pulling out and wiping the dust from my feet as another passage of scripture encourages us to do if God’s word is not being heard, than to remove the bit of me that is getting in the way. In my case this would be the idea that I am feeling persecuted, the idea that I’m different, the idea that what I say is more important. It is these bits I need to “cut-off” to bring the jewel (another reference from Seibel) of what I am trying to share that is so important to me, instead of the toxic hurt, fear, abandonment issues that keep surfacing and which I protect with bad behaviour which causes people to stumble, and turn away from what I want to say.

How can I rid myself of these damaging insecurities that harm others? I need look no further than the other passages in today’s RCL readings. Queen Esther’s example of praying when she was frightened, and James’s reminder of the reliance on prayer, supply me with two healthy examples of the use of prayer. Reminding people to include Children and be Intergenerationally minded is important to me, but so is being the best person God wants me to be, and prayer is the lifeline I need to keep using. I just wish I could remember to do as I say, and take my big concerns first to the Lord and not, to my insecurities. I would prefer people to hear what I feel God is asking me to say rather than to make others and myself stumble.


Wendy L.

I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.

Sunday Reflection: Mark 9:30-37

I have been contemplating the Mark 9 reading further, if you look back you will find a blog I wrote on two of this week’s Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) reading from three years ago where you will find a predominantly Child Theology view. I have been taking my thoughts in different directions. Alongside my thoughts on Mark this week I have also been considering the effect of culture on our faith formation, the Intergenerational Movement, as well as going back and rereading the Mark passage both with and without the Child Theology lens.

Putting these thoughts in the mixmaster called my mind has lead me to dig a little deeper, and come up with these thoughts. Now I am more than happy for others to jump in, think about or make other suggestions, as I truly would say that these thoughts are in production, possibly not my finished product, but definitely worth a run through, especially if there are others out there that might help me birth them.

Let’s start with the Mark Passage, and more importantly the Greek word used for child. In all of the passages that involved Jesus and children, different Gospels have used different Greek words for child, in Mark’s version it is a word used for an older child or a servant.

This story and its companion stories in the 3 other Gospels are one of the few teachings where we are told that Jesus uses a prop, a baby/child/slave depending on which of the versions we look at. To me this is significant, of course the physical presence of a child can be extended by metaphor, in just the same way as the written or verbal word can be, but this is one of the few examples that we have of Jesus teaching by using more than just words. 

Why? Does the object lend more weight to the words? If so is this story not to be extended into metaphor and thus are we meant to take this teaching literally? (I accept that there are many that take the teachings as literal, but there are also scholars who extend the literal to the metaphor, heavily crafted by using other methods of exegesis).

If we take the weight of the words literally then we are being asked to make the least first, and value the child. Written in an era where children’s value was in their survival, the Greek would suggest this is a child who has already survived. Slaves could be children, children could be slaves, could it be that this child is already running errands, fetching food and drink for those assembled, be it an actual slave or a child of the disciples, is it not too fanciful of me to think that maybe the disciples may not have been treating the child/slaves well. Embedded into adjoining passages regarding who is important and what do we really understand of the teacher’s teaching, this seems very much a telling off to the disciples, a reminder that they are not as important as they think they are.

This analysis sits nicely with traditional exegesis which, though a child is mentioned, jump off too quickly into a morals lesson on how to treat those who are unlike you, quickly leaving the idea of the child to one side. If we take this moral argument, but keep the emphasis on the child then what is this passage saying to us today, in thinking about this, my mind turned to the Intergenerational Movement. The intergenerational Movement understand Christian community in terms of intentionally including more than 2 generations but preferably more, be it in worship, fellowship, governance or any other aspect of a worshipping community’s life. So, unlike the child theology movement where the child is placed in the centre, of all thought and activity, the Intergenerational Movement’s concern is that many generations are intentionally part of the community, all generations are important and by extension because generations include diverse people, that all diversities of gender, cultures and ability etc are also catered for. We could say that the Mark reading is supportive of an Intergenerational viewpoint, that all generations are needed to help each generation grow and adapt, so that no-one feels superior. There is no serving of one generation to the other but of all generations to each other, and one generation does not control, but each generation is needed to guide and lead. Power, or dominance in the hands of a few who feel entitled is not what the Intergenerational movement is about, nor is it about what Jesus is trying to teach his disciples here.

This is the point where I considered cultural influence on Biblical text. Where the power base has been hierarchical and dare I say even male orientated, should we be looking at this text to query if that entitlement view has come from culture or theology? Many cultures were altered by, or justified by the dominant power of a colonising power. Sometimes we all fail to measure our structures by the Christian principles we are meant to be forming.

What a mix of thoughts I have poured out.

I really have been wrestling with the text this week, hope you may find something inspiring within my wanderings


Wendy L.

Sunday Reflection: Wisdom

The obvious theme running through all 4 RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) readings this week is Wisdom.

From wise sayings(Proverbs 1:20-33 and James 3:1-12) through to being told where wisdom comes from( in Mark 8: 27-38 and the Psalm 19), there is a wide choice of material to exegite and think about.

Due to Feminist Theology the feminine expression of God, Sophia is more widely recognised and used by mainstream theologies. Thus the female voice of Proverbs 1 will have been identified and stressed from many pulpits today. Feminist Theology like Child Theology is an offshoot of Liberation Theology. Whereas with Child Theology we see the text through the child, feminist Theology opens our eyes to the feminine in the text, or to the lack of the feminine.

Now all of these texts, do not refer to children, but we can still find the child or in this case the ommission of the childs voice in the text.

Before we wonder about where that voice might be, or why it might be missing, I want to turn your attention to another issue. As long as I have been listening, I have heard exclusively of the moral message, especially in James 3:1-12, that creeps in whenever we have a Wisdom text. It is as if we can not exam God’s Word without our own agenda. How to be GOOD. As soon as we start moralising the text we make it a weapon upon which people can be divided as Good or Bad. By doing this we are left in a rather unfortunate situation when we look at Peter in the Mark reading. He is definately rebuked, that would possibly make him rejected and yet those of us who have read the Bible on numereous occassions would know that he became the foundation of the church. Children and those coming to the story for the first time, when approaching this passage as a moral teaching may feel that they are inadequate, less of a child of God, but Peter should reassure them not condem them that we all need to understand Jesus’s teachings more fully.

The fault is not in the passage but the way we approach a passage such as this.

If instead we appraoch this and the other wisdom sayings in today’s readings as starting points of discussion, we would all still be learning but we would be bringing ourselves, we would be being shown how to have a lifelong interation with the text, and we would have an awareness of the way that others may understand this passage diferently to ourselves.

We don’t need to make it a moral lesson for us to learn and grow in faith from these passages. That is not to say that we may make moral understanding from them but rather that we will hear a greater richness from them.

In one of Renata Weems book she outlines how she understands the Jews to use these readings as starting points of discussion. If we follow this understanding from Jesus’s expereience than it is not difficult to see that using that form of teaching rather than a stated outcome type of learning might help us to engage more richly in the text.

At present I am rereading Godly Play by Jerome Berryman, when I look at his method for experiencing Biblical texts and faith practices,I find a way of teaching that also allows us to enter the text in a richer way. It allows for the child to find their own understanding, God’s wisdom, from the text, without an agenda overlay (ie such as a moral lesson).

Anyone who has taught Godly Play, or really just taught children will know that moment when God’s Wisdom shines through the child, when they express or crystalise a thought that they have either been grappling with or just come to see. I love those moments, they are the ones that bring me great joy, becasue even if I don’t see something new, I see something of God in them, and it is amazing.

Before I finish I’d just like to share where I found the omited child’s voice in today’s readings? Psalm 19 reminds us to find wisdom in the world around us, and James reminds us all that we are children of God, there is nothing to quantify wisdom s being attached to the chronological ages but rather it is found in searching for God and is from God. Open to all.


Wendy Lewis

Sunday Reflection: Mark 7:24-37, A Child Theology response

One of my favourite memories are of the dinner parties my parents had when I was very little. My brother and I would eat with the adults, the same meal at the same table at the same time, but smaller portions for our tinier tummies. We would start with Grace, and when we had permission to leave the table, we would slide down out of our seats and crawl underneath the table, between thick trunk like legs, I would love the pretty shoes of the women, enjoy the smells of their perfume or soap but best was the special treats smuggled down to us by emerging hands from above the table top as we crawled past, a strawberry or a chocolate, a bit of a biscuit or cake. We had quite a feast before we left the special world under the table. We did not find the family dog in our crawl through this wonderful leg trunk world. We had a dog, but he lived outside, where he was fed the family scraps, just like the pet in the story. (The Greek word used in this passage suggests a family pet).

Too big now to crawl under the table, just writing about it takes me there now.

Whenever I read or hear Mark 7:24-30, I am there again.

By looking at this story through the focus of the child, I also bring my childhood persona. What a picture of Intergenerational gathering, adults, children and the family pet all gathering together around the one table that this passage paints. It is not a picture of equality, of equal distribution, but rather one of everyone being present getting their fill. No-one is left out or forgotten. A beautiful reminder that at God’s table everyone is feed. In our ministry shouldn’t we do likewise, the Intergenerational Movement feel it is, this is a great passage to remind us that we don’t have to serve everyone the same amount but they do all get to be fed at God’s table.

But the Gospel reading for Sunday does not stop there it heads into a very adult story of healing? Or does it! Every parent can hear themselves in the verse 36, trying to settle an overexcited child, we will tell them, not very convincingly of course to settle down, don’t be so load, bottle up your excitement. This is how I see this request by Jesus to “not tell anyone”, because for me who could contain their excitement, a life changing miracle, the ability for someone to hear and to talk well. How after being inarticulate or being one to witness such a miracle could you stay quiet. Big brother disciplining a younger child for over the top excitement that might just upset a parent!

Unfortunately, the words used in Vs.36, can have a sinister aspect, and at the start of Child Safety Week, I feel remiss not to point it out, one of the forms of coercive control is to tell someone not to tell. Any child who has been subject to abuse with the extra threat of do not tell anyone, must surely quake at this reading and others like it when Jesus implores his followers not to tell. Maybe it is a normal request, we might ask ourselves? But why then does it feel wrong, might our emotions counter? The confusion heightens the abuse.

When we preach these passages, it is important to remember that these words may trigger an unwanted memory for someone in the congregation. How are you looking after your congregation? How are you imparting these passages? Are you encouraging the wrong use of these words or supplying a healthier reason for them? What pastoral tools do you have in place so that those that are vulnerable are held, and supported by safe people and safe structures in place?

When we look at a passage by putting the child at the centre, even those passages that appear to be absent of a children’s voice, the lens of exegesis can throw up issues that other forms of analysis do not.


Wendy L.

Sunday Reflection: Beyond Words

Somedays the words don’t make their way to the paper, even though I am still being influenced by this weeks readings.

It is weeks like this that I think of children with their limited vocablaries, those through illness or accident with limited capacity to verbalise or write. Sometimes in our lives our emotions overide our capacity to express ourselves in a verbal or written sense. I know that like me, when words fail, we have other ways of praising, sharing, expressing ourselves.

And 10% of us are dyslexic. I remember my own daughter’s struggle to find God was frustrated by worship material only being available in written format, where Sunday School meant reading aloud from the Bible and then responding to written question. She was not alone, I struggled too in trying to find material that she could relate too. Messy Church has only been around for a decade and though Godly Play has been around for decades, a product of the Berryman’s own search to find a good way of teaching children, especially their own daughter, it was not until after my daughter had walked away from the church that my studies introduced me to this method.

This is one of the reasons I often suggest play, singing, colouring-in, or craft as a response to the RCL readings in this weekly blog. Why I move away from wordsearches, written responses to questions, or private reading when I make suggestions for All-age or Family based worship.

As a teacher, I have always used multi-sense methods of teaching, never one method alone.

Like Godly Play I am influenced by the work of Montessori, but also Steiner, even though I teach and have been educated through the mainstream channels, where more theorists are using multi-sensory models now.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram some of what is below you willl have seen.

Everything was a response to the Bible readings either this week or last week.

They were as much an outpouring of my response as a production for other’s consumption, that is they were my spiritual response. I hope they spark a response in you.

This was my response to Ephesians 6:10-20, every one is putting on protective gear these days, so I extrapolated away from the idea of Roman war attire as appropriate to the time of writing and thought about our present day situation

I created a game board for the same reading. You need to print 2 then cut one up and then match up the protective garment pictures.

At the start of the week, I created some inspiration to bring a spiritual dimension into our 2 hour exercise walks(where I live we are in lockdown due to the rising presence of th COVID-19 infection, delta varient, and the lack of innoculations). This had been inspired by Ephesians 5:15-20. Use the ideas each day to find Biblical references or to spark prayer.


Wendy L.

If you would like to use any of these please acknowledge my work, thank you.

Sunday Reflection: Cultural Image of the the Baby in the Manger

This topic will have a very different cultural identity as I am writing in Australia, rather than America. So for those in the USA my apologies for anything I say that might add fuel to the very real cultural tensions that exist, or for the use of terms that may have different connotations than your own. I read an article a few years ago that explained that of all the English speaking countries we only understand each other on average 80% of the time. And as a frequent visitor to the USA, I have discovered that my vocabulary, if not my accent changes as soon as I touch down now. But culturally I still make mistakes as I don’t have the education, or history behind me to place me fully in the cultural context.

So, to be clear, I am writing this from an Australian context.

If we place a baby in the Christmas crib. What cultural type do we place there?

I have been bought up with a baby that reflects my own culture, and was comfortable with this until during my Children’s Spirituality qualifications, the cultural integrity of Bible story books was pointed out to me (thank you Dr Beth Barnett for opening my eyes to this)

So, when choosing storybook bible’s, I now automatically look for ones that represent a more culturally middle east specific representation if that is where the story takes place. Just as I look for Storybooks that tell of a more culturally diversified Australia.

But do we show the same care when choosing our Manger representation.

It is difficult to find culturally diverse dolls in Australia.

A few can be found in high end toy stores ( or or preschool or Kindergarten suppliers,(   , ) occasionally you come across culturally diverse dolls in the department stores or Kmart (—assorted/2688392 or—taylor/1040301  ) Big W or Target (though this is where I found mine a few years ago, unfortunately I haven’t seen them since) Thus, by default on limited budgets most congregations make do with the Anglo-Saxon representative in the manger.

But maybe the more expensive choices should be considered, and duly budgeted for. If the Children’s budget is too tight place it under the Outreach budget.

Because the theological discussion that needs to take place is if the representation should be culturally accurate for the times of the Bible stories or whether it should show God in our own image. But in today’s Australia what is that image and how many differences do we see in our congregations. Should the Chinese churches be using a Chinese baby? Where congregations are mixed in whose image do we place the Child in the Manger? The major cultural representation or show hospitality by representing the smallest cultural representative (if you can find the appropriate baby doll), and what of the other cultures in the congregation?

We are not alone, the discussion of representing God in human form has split the church, literally, since its early days. But for us maybe this is our time to ask the question in this way.

In the early 1990’s my eldest daughter would watch the TV show Lift Off, in this show was a doll, made of scraps and without a detailed face. This Doll was known as EC a tussle between two children left it with a male and female name shortened to EC, or as it was meant to represent Every Child. Are we at the point of cultural correctness that we need our own EC doll in the manger? And how would that look? And would, as I have seen for decades, a small child reach in and hug the baby to their heart?


Wendy L.