Musings

Jul 152018
 

As we continue with our series ‘Who is God?’, I want to draw your attention to the structure of The Apostle’s Creed. It would be a shame for us to teach all the way through the creed without pointing out the overall structure. That would be to miss the forest from the trees. So let me point out the forest. The creed has a three-part structure:

  1. I believe in God the Father
  2. I believe in Jesus Christ God’s only Son
  3. I believe in the Holy Spirit. One God,

three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The key verse behind the structure is Matthew 28:18-20:

Go and make disciples of all nations… baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

To baptise means ‘to immerse in water’, but do you see what Jesus says people are to be immersed in? They are to be immersed “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. To be immersed in the ‘name’ of God is to be immersed in the ‘being’ of God.

Why are we to be immersed in the being of God? Because that is what we were made for – relationship with God! That is the very essence of salvation! To be brought back into relationship with God by having our sins washed away through Jesus’ death on the cross.

When a person in the 4th century wanted to be baptised, before they could be immersed in water they had to be immersed in (taught) the Apostle’s Creed. Easter Sunday was the time for baptism in the water, but Lent was the time for baptism in the Apostle’s Creed. I doubt many of us have experienced such an immersion (into the creed, that is).

Alister McGrath provides an excerpt from a sermon preached in the 4th century to those who had just been baptised:

“You were asked,  ‘Do you believe in God the Father almighty?’ You replied ‘I believe,’ and were immersed, that is, were buried.

Again, you were asked, ‘Do you believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and his cross?’ You replied, ‘I believe,’ and were immersed…

A third time you were asked, ‘Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?’ You replied, ‘I believe,’ and were immersed for a third time.”

It is comforting and amazing to me that our Anglican baptism service has barely changed since then. We continue to ask these questions and recite The Apostle’s Creed. It illustrates the fact that ‘the communion of saints’ reaches across the ages and not just across the globe. To revisit the theme of ‘passing on the baton’, it reminds me of Psalm 145:4:

One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

Blessings,

Kieran

 

Jul 082018
 

A few weeks ago in the 9.30 service each of the testimonies had the theme of passing the baton. If I remember correctly, the people who prayed together before the service also had a similar word for us. As well, Kieran and I have been thinking about this concept strongly as we’ve planned and prayed about introducing the New City Catechism. It’s at the heart of why we are doing it. It’s so important for us to pass on the baton of our faith to others, including and especially our children.

I’m currently reading through Deuteronomy. Many of us will know Deuteronomy 6:4-9: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

It’s definitely a passage about living out our faith with our children and passing it on to them.

One of the things that has struck me on this occasion, as I’ve been re-reading Deuteronomy, is the number of other times similar statements

are made. The Israelites were told time and time again that it was important for them to pass on their faith to their children in this way. I wonder how we are at passing on our faith . . . to our children but also to others in our lives. These passages speak about this as a natural and integral part of our lives. How might you makes some small changes and step into that more this week, whatever your life situation is?

I’ve also been struck by the call to obedience that is present throughout Deuteronomy. I read a quote by Kathy Keller during the week: “All joyless obedience commits the sin of questioning God’s love”! Are we being obedient to the things that we know God would have us do? And are we being joyful in that obedience? It’s as we are growing in faithful obedience and continuing to deepen our own relationship with Jesus that we will experience greater life ourselves. It’s also then we’ll have a baton to pass on to others.

So are you growing in your knowledge and love of God? Are you continuing in your trust in Jesus? Are you walking in step with the Spirit in joyful obedience? And how are you passing on the baton of faith to others from that place?

 

Blessings,

Barb

 

Jul 012018
 

This week we are starting a series on the Creed. We also start learning The City Catechism together. See the insert in this pewsheet for more information about this and the encouragement to engage with it yourself and with your family.

It’s so vital that we are growing in our understanding of what we believe and that our lives are undergirded by a Christian worldview. There are so many worldviews trying to shape us often without us even realizing it. I’ve recently read This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax. Such a good book: so helpful in helping us think about the myths in our culture that we often buy into, both intentionally and subconsciously, and how the gospel is a better story. Being shaped strongly in what we believe as Christians helps us to grasp that it is in fact a better story and to be able to see how it is different from the everyday myths of our culture.

This is true for us as adults; it’s also true for our children and young people. Last week Kieran wrote in the musing about Sticky Faith and the statistics of young people abandoning their faith and I’ve referred a number of times to the many variables that the Here-to-Stay research has found to be of benefit to young people in maintaining their faith into adulthood. We are wanting to lay a strong foundation for our young people and for them to be strongly shaped in a Christian worldview, so that now and as they grow older they will be deeply convinced that the gospel is a better story than the everyday myths our culture throws at them.

 

Information and formation are both crucial parts of this and we are hoping that the New City Catechism will be an effective tool for that – information gained through the questions and answers, formation through learning and exploration together, at home and at church. We reckon that many of us adults will gain a stronger grasp of the Christian faith and worldview through our engagement with it too!

It’s definitely not just about information; it’s about grasping truths about God and the Christian faith that lead us to know how good God is, to love and worship Him more fully and to be more grounded in the truth of the ‘better story’, so that we are less tossed about by the various waves of the culture that we live in. It’s also about formation – by giving parents a tool to use in the home as they embrace their role as the primary spiritual nurturers of their children, a tool for us to use to shape each other in the truths of the Christian faith and to form our children and young people during their times each Sunday morning. 

God works through information and formation to bring transformation. It’s our prayer that this will be the outcome of this teaching times and that we will be adults and young people who strongly know and live more deeply into the better story of the gospel and be shaped less by the everyday myths of the culture around us.

 

Blessings,

Barb

 

Jun 242018
 

Ruth and I recently hosted our very first Bible study for young adults. As we started I wanted to answer the question, “Why am I so passionate about youth and young adults ministry?” There are three main reasons: My own experiences as a 15-20 year old. I came to faith just after I turned 18. That period was probably the most vulnerable of my entire life. I was trying to figure out who I was and where I belonged. I [continue reading…]

Jun 172018
 

Since  civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, about 300,000 of its people have died and about 3.5 million have become refugees. Over a quarter of a million are living in Bidi Bidi in north-west Uganda, the largest refugee settlement in the world. A large number of South Sudanese are in refugee camps in Kenya. They “just want to go home”. Aballa Ojulu’s youngest brother, Rev’d Samuel Otwel Ojulu, and his cousins, Rev’d Joshua Ojulu and Rev’d [continue reading…]

Jun 102018
 

As I write this, I’ve just got home from seeing a film put together by the Centre for Public Christianity, For the Love of God: How the Church is Better and Worse Than You Imagined. It is a great historical account of some of the ways in which Christians have been a huge blessing in society, as well as some of the atrocities that Christians have been involved in through the ages. The hope of the people involved in putting [continue reading…]

Jun 032018
 

I want to tell you about an exciting book I’m reading called This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in the Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax. It’s not often that I find a real ‘page turner’, but this book definitely is. The book is basically trying to equip Christians with gospel lenses through which they can critically evaluate 21st century cultural issues. It has chapters that deal with technology, Hollywood, the pursuit of happiness, sex and marriage. The Framework [continue reading…]

May 272018
 

Throughout the past year, the St Philips community has been journeying alongside James Duff (and his family) as he has stepped more fully into The Common, a church plant in Palmyra. We’ve prayed and heard stories along the way and kept track of the development of The Common community. It’s exciting that James is now able to concentrate his time in the leadership of that community. As a church, we are supporting them financially, in prayer and in other ways. [continue reading…]

May 202018
 

Our family has been in Perth for just over a month this week and we are still finding our feet. We have had a wonderful time getting to know people, the playgrounds,  the seaside and Swan River. I want to share some things that I’ve been impressed with and for which I give thanks to God. Prayer Meetings You may remember that my very first word to you, from Colossians 4:2-4, was to ask you to pray, for an ‘open [continue reading…]

May 132018
 

There are days and weeks when everything you thought was going to happen goes out the window and your hours and days are consumed in a completely different way. This last week has been one such week for me – precious hours and days but nothing like what I thought I’d be doing or where I thought I’d be. At this time I’m sitting on a train in Sydney heading over to scan photos of my aunt at one of [continue reading…]