National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Colour my world

June 2020

by Matt Huckel

It’s quite hard to put into words what cross-cultural or multiethnic ministry at Trinity Pasadena in suburban Adelaide feels like. There’s something that feels wonderful and new, but also very normal at the same time.

Nine years ago in my job as a music therapist, I worked with a paralysed man with locked-in syndrome. We were able to make music together using an electronic machine to produce live sounds from his head movements, with me accompanying on guitar, piano, or lute. After a year, I discovered that he was experiencing spontaneous vivid colours in a condition called synaesthesia. Curiously, it would only happen when he moved his head to music and when I played live with him. When we added my music to his music a third thing was experienced: colour.

This is what our multiethnic ministry at Pasadena feels like because it brings a wonderful synaesthesia-like effect. When we combine the ‘music’ or cultural ingredients of a Lutheran community of European heritage with the cultures of Indonesian, Persian and African communities, you get the extra effect of experiencing colour, warmth and joy. I think it fills the Father’s heart with delight. I’ve learned here that God very much wants his diverse family to be together.

Over the past few years, our communities have been growing closer as we have been learning the art of blending cultural and spiritual ingredients in worship, social activities and fellowship. We are also learning to widen our lens to see more things from other people’s perspectives, challenging certain aspects of worship practice to better include and serve members of a different culture.

The real challenge and gift from God is for us to synthesise all these cultural colours together to better equip us for cross-cultural mission to reach the lost in the wider community.

In the photo with the sanctuary colours of our church is the lute, Djembe and an Angklung; each instrument representing European, African and Indonesian cultures. This photo represents both a spiritual and cultural synaesthesia; a church of colours, bonded together through the musical love of the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Matt Huckel serves at Trinity Lutheran Church Pasadena in South Australia.