A message from Matthew 16 November 2017

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, On Wednesday, the results from the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey were published on the ABS website. 61 per cent of the votes were ‘Yes’ in the same-sex marriage postal vote. In the lead up to this announcement, the Uniting Church President and the Moderators of each Synod prepared the pastoral statement. I encourage you to read this statement (attached) and pray for wisdom, courage and discernment for the Uniting Church and the wider community throughout this season. Here at Burnside City we are called to continue to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ as people of faith. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31New King James Version (NKJV) As we consider our path from here, I think that we must, in the interests of wisdom and peace, acknowledge the laws of our nation and the authority of the parliament. How we behave now is going to be a profound witness to the people in our community and the world. This is the time for the church to demonstrate the love of God for all to see. The conversations that we have in this time of change will shape the future of our church for years to come. I want us to be known as people who love passionately, for this is the message of the Gospel. Grace and peace, Rev Matthew Bond   … Continue reading

A message from Gary October 1

You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:37) Last Saturday 24 people from Burnside City gathered for the day to continue the process of discerning God’s loving desire for the church through the next few years. Building on information drawn from the National Church Life Survey, the Spiritual Gifts identification process, the Vision and Mission Day in August, and responses from the Sunday prayer gathering, those gathered sought to discern threads which may open us to the future direction in which God desires to take Burnside City. It was my privilege to be asked to facilitate the day. In doing so, I structured the day around the story of the feeding of the 5,000 form Mark’s Gospel. What has that got to do with discerning the future for BCUC? Well, I think, plenty. In the story Jesus is seeking some time away from the crowds and the pressure of ministry for himself and the disciples. They depart by boat seeking a deserted place to be by themselves. However, it was not to be. The crowds saw where they were headed and arrived there before Jesus and the disciples. Although desiring solitude and rest, Jesus had compassion on the crowds and continued to teach them. Late in the day the disciples suggested to Jesus that it might be time to send the crowds away to find some food. But then Jesus did an amazing thing. He put the matter back onto the disciples: “You give them something to eat.” The disciples immediately respond by pointing out to Jesus that they didn’t have the resources to do that. But Jesus asks them: “How many loaves have you?” Although there were only five (and two fish) they found that when you take what little you have and offer it to Jesus, amazing things can happen. And that is what we focused on last Saturday- what are the loaves Burnside City has, what are the hungers people have and how can we bring the two together? As the day progressed we, like the disciples, sensed the hungers were great and we wondered about our resources to respond to them. We recognized that we cannot address all the hungers people have, but we have been blessed with some amazing resources in people, facilities, finances and more, and that when given to Jesus many can be fed. What are the loaves you bring to be used to feed people? What are the hungers that we see in people? And how can what God has blessed us with at BCUC be used to satisfy the many hungers people have? Gary Stuckey (Rev)   … Continue reading

A message from Matthew September 24

On my desk recently was this little cameo of a couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary.   As they held hands across the table a little ‘Tinkerbell’ like creature appeared and said…”I have been sent to give you the desire of your heart’..  Immediately the wife said….’My desire is to travel the world’…. and ‘zap’ there were 2 around the world cruise tickets in her hand. The husband thinking this may be his one and only opportunity to get the desire of his heart, thought long and hard, and then turning to his wife, he said ‘You may not like what I have to say, but my desire is to be married to someone 30 years younger than me’….and ‘zap’, he was a 92 year old man. We may laugh, and make jokes about married love, but being happily married is the desire of the heart for most of us. Remembering this message comes from the Christian Ministers Association, and focuses on a culture  founded on the love of God, may I encourage us to be thoughtful, prayerful about this  ‘SEASON OF THE PLEBISCITE’, What is it we are really asked to vote upon? The Word of God in Ephesians 5 speaks about the Christian life, and Christian marriage.   St Paul personally addresses husbands and wives about a love that is eternal, personal and abundant. A love that the Greeks call AGAPE LOVE, God’s divine, healing, forgiving love that permeates all our love relationships, it flows through to our EROS LOVE, married love, and to our PHILIA LOVE, brotherly, family community love…. It is a love that is gift love through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This AGAPE love, can be new every morning, just for the asking, because of the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to all people.   When I think about my family, my children and grandchildren, and future children yet to come, my thoughts, my desire is that they may be happy, fulfilled, loved and loving.   That they may know the power, the presence and the peace of AGAPE LOVE, not only know it but share it in every relationship that they encounter……and that they may be aware of God’s love in every possible adventure and commitment they experience….. I feel that we are about to make history because of this plebiscite, and I am reminded that the Nobel Peace Prize winner of l964 MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. famously said… “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” King challenged many laws dealing with equality.   His life and love for God changed the nation of the USA, and shaped the progressive world we live in today. May I leave you with this very memorable quote of MARTIN LUTHER KING JR…. ‘I HAVE HAD MANY THINGS IN MY HAND AND I HAVE LOST THEM ALL, BUT WHATEVER I PLACED IN GOD’S HANDS THAT I STILL POSSESS’.   May we be wise and place  this important Plebiscite season in the hands of our God, may our decision … Continue reading

A message from Matthew September 17

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18a KJV) These are dramatic words. They are words that get my attention. They are ancient words of wisdom from the scriptures. On Saturday September 23rd the people of Burnside City Uniting Church are invited to gather for a Vision and Mission Retreat Workshop. This will begin at 10am and will include lunch. Please provide an ‘expression of interest’ to the Church Council Secretary, Gill Cibich by Thursday 21st of September for catering and preparation purposes. We will conclude the day at 4pm. Over recent months we have all participated in the “Gifts of the Spirit” series and have learned that we all have Spiritual Gifts that are to be used in the service of God through our church. Last year we filled in the National Church Life Survey and these results are now available for us to better understand our church and the situation for all churches in Australia. We have valuable ideas from the Vision and Mission afternoon held here on the 20th of August. Many people have been praying regularly and seeking to hear from God about what God has planned for our church in the future. From this information we will be asked on September 23 as Gary Stuckey leads us in this retreat workshop to discern where God is leading us as a church community. We have gathered a lot of information and we will respect the privacy of the people who have shared from their hearts. This is another step along the way as we faithfully seek to be the church that God has called us to be. Please make every effort to be here on the 23rd of September. God bless, Matthew.   … Continue reading

Vision and Mission Retreat Workshop

Saturday September 23rd 10 am to 4pm with lunch included. The purpose of the gathering is to discern God’s Mission for BCUC by working through the : National Church Life Survey data, the information from the Gifts of the Spirit responses, the offerings from the Vision and Mission planning day and the input from the Sunday prayer group. All are invited to join with the Elders to explore the information to discern God’s Mission for BCUC. Contact Gill Cibich to reserve your space gcibich@internode.on.net   … Continue reading

A message from Gary September 10

Resolving our differences   The theme for services at BCUC during September is “Relationships.” That is hardly surprising. The pages of the Bible often address the relationships amongst the people of God and exhort us to engage in supportive, encouraging and loving relationships. The way we relate to and with one another is a part of our witness to those around us.   However, we know that even in the best relationships differences and conflict will arise. And so it sometimes is in the life of the church. There will be times when those alongside whom we work and worship in Christian community will see things differently from the way we do. Sometimes these will be small differences, easily resolved. On other occasions the differences will be over more substantial matters.   I’ve heard it said on occasions, as I’m sure you have, that as a Christian community we shouldn’t experience differences, let alone conflict. A common criticism of churches is, “Look, they can’t even get on together.” But this misses the point.   The text from Matthew’s Gospel this morning is about resolving conflicts that arose within the church. That Matthew even wrote about this at least shows us that this is nothing new! There have always been differences when people get together, even as the church. When you look around at those with whom we are in Christian community and consider how different we are, sometimes it is surprising that we can agree on anything at all.   As Jesus addresses the matter of handling differences, he starts by assuming that they will arise. What makes the difference is not whether or not we fight or disagree or wound one another, but how we go about addressing these issues. We are not to yell, slander, gossip about or humiliate those with whom we disagree, but neither are we to pretend that conflict does not exist. The invitation is to seek reconciliation, and Jesus provides a way to move in that direction. Firstly, we go to the one with whom we disagree privately. If that fails, involve one or two wise, trusted people to help towards reconciliation. If the matter is still not resolved, it is then given a public airing in the church. But always the aim and desire is for reconciliation.   Could we do any less when we worship a God who is reconciling all things to himself?   Gary   … Continue reading

A message from Matthew September 3

 This is the latest statement on Marriage from the President of the Uniting Church released on 28 August, 2017. I believe it is helpful for members of Burnside City Uniting Church to hear these words. The Marriage Law Postal Survey and Respectful Conversations The Australian Government has announced the process it will follow for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. Survey forms will be mailed out to all eligible voters from 12 September with voters asked to return the completed survey by 6pm on 27 October 2017. Full details of the process are available on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. As explained previously, the Uniting Church is conducting its own longstanding independent discernment on marriage and we will not be recommending any position to UCA members in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. (The Uniting Church in Australia currently understands marriage as ‘the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of a man and a woman to live together for life’.) I would however take this opportunity to again remind members of the need for respectful conversations on the issue of same-gender marriage. As the public debate intensifies, we must redouble our efforts to choose our words carefully, including when we speak of our sisters and brothers in Christ. For those who feel the need to share their views, pointed criticism of other Christians lacks grace and falls short of our stated ecumenical values. In Paragraph 2 of the Basis of Union we state our belief that Christians in Australia are called to bear witness to a unity of faith and life in Christ which transcends cultural and economic, national and racial boundaries. We may disagree with each other on any number of issues as Christians, but as Paul said in Romans 12:5 “We belong to one another”. So please speak with love. The Uniting Church’s official definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. Also we are committed to being an inclusive Church that embraces LGBTIQ people as full members and to culturally appropriate discussion about relationships and marriage across our diversity. Public speculation on how the Uniting Church might respond to a change in the Marriage Act is unhelpful, and distracts focus on our own discernment. Under the Marriage Act, ministers of religion cannot legally solemnise a marriage without an approved liturgy. Whatever the outcome of the postal survey and any subsequent changes to the Act, our Church’s position on marriage will remain the same until such a time as our national Council, the Assembly, decides otherwise and approves an appropriate liturgy. This is not a matter in which individual Uniting Church congregations can act unilaterally. I would like to acknowledge that this national conversation is difficult and painful for many. If in the course of the public debate you experience sadness or distress and you need help, please seek support. Stuart McMillan President, Uniting Church Australia   … Continue reading