Jul 142019

This morning I learned something.  Do you ever feel you are past learning or cannot be bothered to learn new things?

At our Thursday prayer time we were discussing the talk that Kieran will be giving this morning.  Without stealing his thunder, the three attributes of believing, behaving and belonging were being talked about.  Which comes first for the Christian?  Should one come first?  Is there a ‘Jesus’ type of order?

Anyway, when it comes to ‘belonging’, which I have tended to prioritise, it dawned on me that true belonging is for every Christian who has trusted Jesus.  I belong because of what Jesus has done.  Sherrie said it like this: “A child belongs because they are a child.  That child might not believe in their parent or behave like they are a part of the family.”  But they still belong, not because of what they have done but because of what has been given to them.

I learned this morning that Christian belonging needs to be understood as more than a feeling, yet so many Christians opt out because they declare they don’t belong.  I need to do better at helping greater robustness in true belonging.

I also learned something BIG on the men’s weekend.  I learned, after 35 years of being a professional Christian, that I have never truly understood forgiveness.

We discussed this at the 7:30am service last week, so I thought I’d give a summary.  Feel free to discuss it with me because it has far-reaching implications.

On the cross, Jesus declared, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”  God’s forgiveness does not primarily require our understanding.  It does require his initiative and authority to forgive.  We have this in Jesus.

Forgiveness comprises my relinquishment of two things:
1) my right to revenge, and
2) my right to harbour bitterness.

When it comes to me forgiving another person,
I do it – after much, much, much soul-searching and clarifying – because Jesus has forgiven me.  It is ONLY between me and Jesus. It goes, “Dear Jesus, I forgive Bill x,y,z as a decision of my will.  I relinquish my right to revenge and bitterness. I resolve to leave this with you who have given your life to win my eternal forgiveness. Amen.”

I’m doing two things. I’m opening the hand to restoration – not relationship or friendship – by letting the offence go, but also declaring STOP!  I have been wronged.  I cannot and may never progress with the offender unless they agree they have done wrong and owe me some recompense. This is about justice.

The insight here is that forgiveness does not necessarily lead to reconciliation with the person.

Reconciliation may, sometimes, be possible – when the offender sees the injustice they have done and acts with contrition and seeks to make reparation.

Understanding forgiveness gets all confused when I rush from forgive to reconcile.  I need to do a lot of work to understand my grief, loss, bitterness, guilt, shame, etc. before I can come near the act of declaring forgiveness; and it may never get beyond me and God.  But he demands this work of me.  This is why he sweated blood in the garden, to, in time, make this miracle possible and to set me free.

Still learning after all these years.


Jul 072019

Welcome to St Philips, Archbishop Kay!  And welcome to the clan of Pritchard on this special day when Evan, Zara and Bobby are baptised and Naomi is confirmed.

Because we want to honour the special things that are happening today we have decided to defer a whole raft of other pieces of good news to next week. 

I’m often asked to give more dot points of what is going on, so here are but a few of them that would make great testimonies.

Kieran finished the Bible overview on a high on Wednesday night.  I know it was a high by the energy with which people were telling me about it.  Next term there is the opportunity to read and study together what many scholars believe to be the greatest chapter of the greatest book ever written, Romans 8.  This will be a high because Kieran is so excited about it.

Graham Whitley was hoping to share more from Kakuma Camp in Kenya today.  We shall defer that video till next week but do pray for Jeremy, Lucy and Jeremy’s grand children, without parents and living without effective shelter and barely-basic resources in the middle of the wet season.

The Men’s Weekend last weekend saw 20 blokes learn, listen, eat [a lot] and play and enjoy nature.  The theme, “Turn up for one another”, resonated – and we did.  I think I understand forgiveness for the first time after over 30 years of being a Christian.  Now that is exciting!

Last Friday night there were more kids at youth group than ever before, but it’s the quality of engagement that we pray for, so please join in with that.

Last Friday Kieran and Barb shared a celebration with two families whose teenagers are working on Equip, a training experience for future Christian leaders.  It was a highlight especially to hear parents affirm the progress of their children and hear the teens share their 5-step action plans for the future.We are pushing our Growing Young initiative. The next step, following your survey suggestions, is a process called ‘appreciative enquiry’,  a fancy name for listening to people in all life stages to best achieve a vibrant future for all life stages at St Philips. Let Kieran and Barb know if you’d like to participate.

A women’s Alpha Course has just had their Holy Spirit weekend in Mandurah.  Pray for the participants for the Holy Spirit’s ongoing enlightening.

A Friday women’s group is doing Christian growth subjects online from Ridley College. They’re loving increasing understanding together.

Kieran has been invited to contribute to the lunchtime groups at Christ Church Grammar run by chaplain Nick Russell.  Great energy and sharing there.

Lots of parents, teachers, but especially kids, coming to appreciate the melding together of the knowledge gained through the New City Catechism curriculum in KidsChurch.

North Cottesloe Primary volunteers have their own badges.  Just a great ministry of affirmation.

There is a lot more I could dot point but space is short.  You are all inspirational in your stepping into the world Jesus loves.  Keep it up BUT please come and tell us your stories.


Jun 232019

Welcome to our AMEP Sunday – that is, our Annual Meeting of Enrolled Parishioners.  Quite a mouthful. The meeting is at 11:30am today and usually takes about one hour.  It is a formal meeting that deals with Reports, Elections and Budgets.  We always finish with a time for Q&A but the meeting cannot address business from the floor that has not been submitted previously.  No business has been submitted for this meeting.  If something comes up, we table it for [continue reading…]

Jun 162019

http://media.blubrry.com/stpips/p/stphilips.net.au/main/media/SR-20190616-Malcolm-Potts.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 30:18 — 10.4MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe? Reading 1         Isaiah 53: 4-6 Reading 2         Matthew 8: 5-13

Jun 092019

http://media.blubrry.com/stpips/p/stphilips.net.au/main/media/SR-20190609-Malcolm-Potts.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 26:32 — 9.1MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe? Reading 1         Acts 2: 1-13 Reading 2         Matthew 8:1-4, 14-17

Jun 092019

A few bits of housekeeping. I enjoyed what Nick Russell from Christ Church shared last week.  We are fortunate to have Nick as a chaplain and I commend him to you.  Support him any way you can. Kieran is the Vicar of Rottnest this weekend, so trust he is enjoying our first winter squall out there with the family. I will be in Melbourne next week catching up with my mum.  Things have changed considerably for her.  She has become [continue reading…]

Jun 022019

Welcome to Nick from Christchurch.  Today I am looking forward to an insiders view of a school chaplain’s life. I have been musing as I consider staying alert to the challenge to ‘switch on’ following our How to Be Rich Series.  It got me thinking about contentment. A brief explanation: If I am going to be generous I need to do something really hard, that is, say “no” to myself. And no one likes to be told, “no”! “No” always [continue reading…]

May 262019

http://media.blubrry.com/stpips/p/stphilips.net.au/main/media/SR-20190526-Malcolm-Potts.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 22:09 — 7.6MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe? Matthew 25:14-30

May 122019

http://media.blubrry.com/stpips/p/stphilips.net.au/main/media/SR-20190512-Malcolm-Potts.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 33:13 — 11.4MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe? Reading 1         Luke 12:13-21 Reading 2         2 Corinthians 8:1-7

Apr 192019

http://media.blubrry.com/stpips/p/stphilips.net.au/main/media/SR-20190419-Malcolm-Potts.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 15:08 — 5.2MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe? John 19 : 6 – 42