This week I came across two news stories from different Anglican dioceses on opposite sides of the world, one of which heartened me greatly. The first story wasn’t the one that heartened me. It was from the Diocese of Sydney entitled “Behind the decline in Church attendance”, and in it, Anglican priest, Antony Barraclough tried to make sense of the dropping rate of attendance at Sydney Anglican church services.

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Who doesn’t love a fountain? Fountains are extravagantly, unceasingly festive. Whether it’s the continuous trickle of Rome’s Trevi fountain, or the exuberant bursts of the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas, a fountain is a thing of joy. Some fountains are flashy and show-offy, like Seoul’s Banpo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow. Others, like New York’s Bethesda fountain in Central Park, are stately and majestic.

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The reference to women being the “weaker sex” comes from the Bible, I know. It’s a variation on the words of 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them [your wives] with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel…” Note the term, vessel, not sex or gender. Some scholars say that when Peter uses the term vessel (in Greek, skeuei) he meant just that, a vessel or a jar or container of some sort.

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You might have seen the recent conversation between Late Show host Stephen Colbert and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. They were discussing how to deal with grief and loss, and Cooper was reflecting on Colbert’s words to him on the death of his mother. Choking back tears, Cooper asked, “You said ‘what punishments of god are not gifts?’ Do you really believe that?” “Yes,” replied Colbert, “It’s a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.”

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When you think about Jesus as a shepherd this is what comes to mind, right?

Gentle Jesus with a docile lamb nestled in his arms or around his shoulders?

The nurturing shepherd, protecting his sheep, loving them one and all?

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