Scarcely had the New Year started to roll across the world’s last continent than we on the first one were returning from a New Year’s Day service at Wesley Uniting, Perth. This is where we usually go when I have a Sunday off… it’s only a 15 minute drive, far enough away to feel we’ve gone somewhere different, we aren’t known well, and the service is contemplative and thoughtful while informally down to earth. It has a tradition of fine music and sponsors the visual arts (as seen by the two sculptures illustrated). It happened to be a communion service with a baptism. What better way to begin a new year?
Getting there was a struggle. I thought we’d try the Convention Centre car park – reasonably close with easy access and egress to the freeway. (My usual park was cut off by construction work). Parked the car, but the lifts were not working and the stairs were well hidden – nothing for it but to strive towards the light, emerging in an area that was verboten. A horrified security guard observed us floundering around for an exit and kindly obliged by finding a key to open a gate for us. (I hope I’m not being too obtuse with all this New Year symbolism). After the church service and its injection of New Year hope and optimism – we confidently strode back to the Convention Centre (tightly locked up) and began a new search for an entrance to the car park. We explored the full length of the complex, eventually collaring another security guard. He had no idea how to reach the car park and suggested we keep looking! Well at least we had let someone know that our intentions in skulking around that great big barn were honourable. Eventually we did find an opening under a stairwell and ducked in and found the car. Easy access and egress from the freeway! Beyond that, forget it!
So here’s three evocative symbols for the New Year.
The Tree of Life sculpture – presented as part of the Project 54 “Prayer for the Nations” programme coinciding with CHOGM 2012 in Perth. The Tree of Life has been a most enriching symbol in many cultures, finding a visionary culmination in Christian tradition that is described in Revelation 22 where the leaves of the tree “bear the healing of the nations”.
The Nativity sculpture depicting the refugee journey from darkness to hope. Each white box bears a layered contemporary photograph that was revealed Advent calendar style one at a time until Christmas. Associations with Incarnation and the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt put some bite and relevance into the task of keeping our central story in focus.
And then the car park! Effort, exploration and application is needed to bring all these about.