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News from Manna Gum

December 2014

Manna Matters December 2014

The season of Advent is now upon us. It is the season of the Christian calendar when we are called to focus our minds on that most central and most unfathomable of Christian convictions: that God became one of us; that he entered into the morass of human suffering not as an all-powerful deity, but in the most vulnerable form possible: a baby born to poor peasants in a violent and oppressed corner of the world. Why would God choose to come to us like this? This is the question we must never stop asking, for it holds the key to so much of the teaching of Jesus.

Thankfully, the beginning of Advent also marks the winding down of a very busy period of Manna Gum work. As mentioned in the previous newsletter, this semester Jonathan was involved in co-teaching a subject in ‘Economics, Theology & Justice’ with Mark Brett at Whitley College. While this was fairly time-demanding, it was a very rewarding and stimulating experience. The subject will likely be offered again in 2017.

A highlight of the last couple of months was the opportunity in October to go to Corryong, at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, at the invitation of Howard and Jillian Wilkins of the Corryong Baptist Church. Jonathan spoke on a Friday evening to a packed gathering at a local cafe on the topic of ‘Food, farming, family and community’. The following morning, he led a stimulating discussion with a men’s prayer breakfast on the ecological mandate of humanity, and, on the Sunday morning, spoke at the Baptist Church on the vocation of the church in a changing world. In between, the Cornford family was privileged to bet taken on a tour of the very impressive organic dairy farm of church members, Don and Denise Jarvis. The time in Corryong was particularly gratifying, not just because of the country hospitality, but because it was a first foray for Manna Gum into a wholly rural setting. It is our hope that Manna Gum’s work will encourage people to strengthen urban-rural linkages, so the time in Corryong was a valuable experience.


In November, we ran the annual A Different Way intensive week, spending half the time in Cudgee, near Warrnambool, and the second-half in Footscray, in inner-city Melbourne. We had more applications for the week than we could accommodate, so unfortunately, some people had to miss out. The week is something of a marathon of theological, theoretical and practical exploration of how the Bible speaks into our everyday lives in the areas of work, money, food, hospitality, shopping, waste, gardening, etc. There are a broad number of people in Cudgee/Warrnambool and in Footscray (they know who they are) who support and contribute to the week and make it a particularly rich experience, for which we owe them much thanks. (Photo: Elvira Hewson running a session helping people to plan their own vegie garden during the 'A Different Way' week.)

In 2015, we will again run a Household Covenant process over Lent, beginning Feb 18. This year, we will abandon the WordPress format and encourage those who take it up to form small groups over Lent. A Household Covenant Resource Booklet (in PDF or hard copy) will be available in the new year to accompany the process, and, for those interested, there will be a half-day retrreat somewhere near Melbourne on Feb 14. Click here to find out more.