Musings

Nov 112018
 

It’s no secret that today is Remembrance Day. We remember the end of the First World War and, more importantly, those who died in it.  Lest We Forget.

I was listening on the radio to Peter Hitchens, the renowned atheist Christopher Hitchens’ brother; the difference is that Peter is a committed Christian.  Peter was explaining eloquently the impact of the wars on the Christian faith of all of Europe.  Obviously everyone thought God was with them, when clearly, if winning the war was the criterion, God was not with them all. 1 Samuel 4 today sees Israel heading out to war, for no particular reason it seems, expecting God to be with them.

What do you expect from God when you ask?

I found the introduction to the Open Doors Prayer Diary compelling. I quote from the Egyptian pastor writing there: “If you pray for us, you will pray for the wrong things.  You will pray for the church to be safe.  You will pray for the persecution to cease.  We are not praying for these things.  We ask that …… when the inevitable persecution comes we will be faithful, even if it costs us our lives.  Will you tell your friends to pray these prayer with us?”

So much of our lives is seeking our ease and an easy way out.  This message asks not for a way out but, in and through the resurrection of Christ, to find a way through.

Our eldest grandson, Ari, who is 5, has a very special relationship with his grandma,  He has been behaving erratically lately; he is sad and then he just lashes out and dissolves into tears.  His mum had a chat to him and said, “You seem sad and angry these days, what is happening for you?”

Ari responded by saying that he is sad because he misses his grandma.  He used to do so many things with her.  He finished by saying, “I miss her because I just love her!”

When I heard that I just dissolved.  Ring Qantas!  Buy a ticket!  Get her over there!

But no.  This is not God’s way.  I want to find a way out – for Ari, for grandma, and probably mostly for me. I want a way out.  But here is the thing.  If Ari is to grow up to be a resilient, compassionate, emotionally-attuned young man, he has to go through his sadness.  He has to find a way through.  And he has to find a way that doesn’t involve lashing out and and being destructive.

Dear Jesus, for those of us who need you now, more than ever, please, in your mercy help us to reflect on our circumstance and how we are handling it.

Reassure us of you love, power and resource. 

Help me to look at the situation with fresh eyes.  Help me to seek you as, together, we look for a way through this season.

Be our certainty when everything else seems adrift.

Amen

 

Blessings

Malcolm

 

Nov 042018
 

I’ve just come back from a great couple of weeks on leave. I spent time in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra – lots of time with people, with some time as a tourist thrown in,   as well as reading a few good books. In Sydney I stayed with a couple who I’ve known for almost 30 years. As a teenager I was in and out of their house as a close friend of their daughter and the friendship has continued and grown over the years. There are several youth group generations who have been shaped by this couple, as they have opened their home and lives to the peers of their four children, ministering to us deeply in all sorts of ways as they did so.

In Canberra I spent some time with the Apopeis. They are staying with a couple who I know through SU circles – a couple who have opened up their home to the Apopeis while they continue to look for a house in a tough rental market – a huge gift and answer to prayer for the Apopeis. This is just one action in a long history of such hospitality and generosity by that couple. (As an aside, do continue praying for for the Apopei’s house hunting process!)

What fantastic examples to us all these two couples are – and they’d be rather embarrassed to be written about I’m sure! As the woman I was staying with said, “You serve God with what he’s given you, with the things and people he puts in your life.” So I wonder what those things are for us, that might be a blessing to the people and contexts that we find ourselves connected with and in? How might God be inviting us to minister to those around us? So often simple things at particular times or offered consistently over time make such a difference.

There are many examples of such things around and in our congregation. For example, it was fantastic to see photos of the Days for Girls sewing day last Saturday that Clare Brans coordinated. Hearing about a need and a way of participating in making a difference towards it, she then followed up by both alerting others to the need and facilitating a way for people to participate in the solution. Then lots of people got on board and took part – people from our congregation and beyond.

It’s so easy as we approach the end of the year to get consumed with the things that need to be done and that we have on. I encourage you to continue to have your eyes open for how God might have you reach out to those around you with who you are and what you have. It might be in the midst of the activities and demands that these months can contain, or it might be people, things and contexts that are separate to the other things that are happening for us at this time.

It’s important that this comes out of our relationship with Jesus and empowered by His Spirit; it’s not about just doing more good stuff! So let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and continue to be filled with the Spirit as we live as God’s people in the places and relationships that He has placed us within.

 

Blessings,

Barb

 

Oct 282018
 

As we continue our journey through the New City Catechism (NCC), I must admit to feeling a little bit embarrassed at all this talk about ‘sin’, ‘the law’ and ‘punishment’. These words are all so very unpopular in this day and age. Why do we have to dwell here so long? Why such doom and gloom? Give us some good news! We’ll get there soon…but not yet.

A dark and difficult journey is made easier if you can see a light at the end of the tunnel. At the moment we are in section 1 of the NCC,  but it helps to keep the overall structure in mind:

  • God, Creation & Fall, Law (bad news)
  • Christ, Redemption, Grace (good news)
  • Spirit, Restoration, Growing in Grace (more good news!)

When your doctor shares your latest test results, you expect nothing less than the unvarnished truth. You want to know exactly what’s wrong. If your doctor was to ‘spruce up’ your results, for fear of giving offence, you would not be helped. If there is to be any hope of recovery, you need a proper diagnosis so you know exactly how much effort you will need to make.

Like a master surgeon, God knows exactly what’s wrong with us, and he doesn’t shy away from telling us: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8).

The painful thing about our journey through the NCC is that we are in the diagnostic stage (section 1) but we haven’t got to God’s remedy (in section 2). However, it is vital for us to grasp the ‘bad news’ of our sin before we are ready to receive the ‘good news’ of God’s grace.

Martin Luther said that “the first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and to show the nature of sin.” The great evangelist, D.L. Moody, said something similar: “God being a perfect God, gave a perfect law, and the law was given not to save people, but to measure them.”

So please stick with us on the NCC journey. Please don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to lay a strong biblical foundation for your life and the lives of those around you.

Blessings,

Kieran

 

Oct 212018
 

For my daily devotions I sometimes watch a 10 minute YouTube clip called Look at the Book by John Piper, which examines a short passage of Scripture. Philippians 3:15-16 goes like this: Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. So how can we as Christians defend the gospel? By preaching the gospel. In order for [continue reading…]

Oct 142018
 

The end of the year is fast approaching and for me this year one of the things that means is that the Augusta (Flinders Bay) Family Festival is not that long away. For the first ten days of each year a group of Christians go and camp in the Flinders Bay Caravan Park in Augusta, form a missional community and aim to share God’s love and the good news of Jesus in word and deed through presence, relationships and activities. [continue reading…]

Oct 072018
 

Each fortnight I meet with James and Jared to discuss the progress with the Common. This week James reflected on a talk he had heard by one of the senior pastors from Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. He had said that as he reflected on years in church he had observed the following: We see the need for parents to have somewhere for their babies and little ones to cry and cope inside the church environment.  So we begin church by [continue reading…]

Sep 302018
 

It’s school holidays. It’s also a time of the year when a number of our congregation take the opportunity to travel. These can be times of busyness or rest, times that offer a chance to be refreshed, or times to be distracted. They may present the chance to connect with one another and, in some deeper ways, with God; or it may be harder to maintain our rhythms of Bible reading, prayer and connection during these seasons. It’s important that [continue reading…]

Sep 232018
 

Today Pam is sharing with us her reflections from the Bible on “I believe in the communion (or fellowship), of the saints and the life everlasting.” I have no idea what Pam will have to say but I found her first reading choice particularly intriguing: Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke [continue reading…]

Sep 162018
 

I want to give thanks this week for encouragement. There are so many examples of people joining in with the Holy Spirit in ways that bring so much encouragement. I shared the front with two of our parishioners during funerals this past week or so, whose lives, words and love were such an encouragement to me. I am on the Being Church email feed.  It is where ‘the left hand reports to the right hand’ what it has been doing [continue reading…]

Sep 092018
 

‘‘Sustainable September’ is an initiative of the Anglican EcoCare Commission who devise a programme and activities to celebrate and honour God’s creation and our place in His purposes.  It  gives EcoChurch an opportunity to remind you, His people, of those purposes and encourage you to take seriously His commission to support justice and equity in the world (EcoJustice).  When I asked Malcolm if EcoChurch could have the Musing space, he asked me to consider how Christians are not simply ‘greenies’; [continue reading…]