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Thursday, January 9, 2014

From the Wayside Chapel by Graham Long

Graham Long is a family friend and slightly distant  relative via family marriage.
He is the Pastor of the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross,Sydney.
His newsletter is sent out weekly to his "Inner Circle".
There are many supporters  of the Wayside Chapel and it's work in the "Inner Circle"

Dear Inner Circle,

Surprises happen here on a daily basis. I remember walking into our Chapel once to conduct a wedding only to find the bride and the groom using the most foul language on each other at volumes that could be heard all through Kings Cross. I’m not a detective but judged this as being a difficult time to be pledging undying love. I’m not a counsellor either because my best efforts to calm this situation led to them physically throwing things at each other. I walked away but in a bizarre Wayside moment the couple came back a few hours later and I conducted their wedding. I’ve long since stopped making guesses about people’s suitability for marriage for the years have taught me that no one is in a position to know such things and that my judgements were usually wrong anyway. I saw the same couple today. They are together and drug free and each in awe of the other’s success with sobriety. They told me about their difficult road to recovery and how they had each helped the other. They didn’t really need to tell me anything because one glance at them said it all.

A woman who has spent many years living on the street said to me today, “I saw you this morning walking down the street, holding Robyn’s hand.” “We like each other,” I said. “How long have you been married?” she asked. “42 years,” I said. She looked at me like I’d not long landed from Mars but in a lovely way said, “Well that’s amazing.”

In another surprise on Sunday a woman came to church who I’d not seen in many years. I was delighted to see her and introduced her to a few of the locals. Lots of people use language that is a tad too dramatic for the circumstances but I was never-the-less blown away to hear her talk about how Wayside had changed her life and how she’d reached a point where she needed another dose of love. As she shared the tip of the iceberg of her journey with some, I remembered how dramatic it was at the time. Although still a young woman, she’d spent nearly all of her working life selling what can never be sold but only given. It’s a truth mostly lost in our day but you cannot take what can only be given and you cannot buy or sell what can only be given. I remember well her slow discovery that she had a soul; a personhood; a right to be and to live rather than to use and be used. As I’m writing this I’ve just recalled an amazing event when this lady landed quite a good job and held the only “I’ve-just-paid-tax party” that has probably ever been held anywhere in the world. What an honour it was to see her celebrate her achievement of pulling her weight in our community and what an honour it was to meet her again just now and see that her life has gone from strength to strength.

I’m inviting you to a party and I’d love you to save the date of Sunday, 13 April 2014. The Wayside Chapel will be 50 years old on that day. We’ll start the day with a mighty celebration at 10am in our Chapel followed by a huge street carnival. We’re shutting the street for the day and there will be stalls and jumping castles and all manner of fun things on the street. It won’t cost anything but a decision to stop and celebrate the presence of a good thing in our city and in our history.

Our Christmas Day was a success in every way. Although it was raining, street people and neighbours danced in the street together. It was a marvellous moment of mission. We really were a community of no 'them and us’. You can see photos from the day here. The new year has started with a bang. It looks to me to be far and away the busiest and biggest that I’ve ever known at Wayside. Hang on to your hats, fasten your seat belts, it could be quite a ride.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

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