from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 18th December

Looking to the future     Our Ministry Team met this week for breakfast on Monday to give thanks for the year that has almost come to an end. It has been a challenging year and we look forward to continuing our celebrations of the birth of our Saviour together in the coming weeks. There are many people to thank for their amazing ministry during this year. Linda, Rob, Ben & Deb have each been amazing as they have used their God-given gifts. The Church Council have worked tirelessly to listen to God and fulfil God’s mission in this place along with the many other wonderful people who faithfully serve God here. The coming year holds much excitement. Linda will be ordained at Adelaide West Uniting Church on Sunday the 5th of February at 1.30pm. Linda will continue her ministry here at BCUC as the Reverend Linda Driver from that day and will continue at 0.8. Linda will continue her studies at the Uniting College of Leadership and Theology. Her regular days with us are Monday to Wednesday and Sunday. Rob Williams has been elected as President of the South Australian Council of Churches for 2017 and will continue to serve at Burnside City Uniting Church next year as our Minister-in-Association as he has done in recent years. Ben has some exciting new ideas with Youth Ministry planned for 2017. Many of our youth have graduated year 12 this year and a new younger group are developing. Ben will be focusing his time on connecting with these younger people and reaching out to young people in the community. Deb will continue in her role as Church Administrator, working here Monday to Thursday from 9am to 2.30pm. The Church Office is open from 9am-12noon these days. Deb is a valuable support to the Ministry Team and the Congregation here at BCUC. My role as Ministry Team Leader continues in 2017 as we look with renewed vision to how we can effectively serve God together here. In this Advent Season we are celebrating the birth of Jesus and looking to Jesus returning as Lord of all. This will happen as one heart at a time is given to Jesus and we each seek to draw closer to our Lord & Saviour. This year I am challenged to listen, pray and preach. I continue to point people to Jesus with the same challenge that we listen to Jesus, remain faithful in our prayer-life and declare our love for Jesus at every opportunity. Church Council appointments for 2017 Chairperson: Valerie Aloa;Deputy Chairperson: Michael Dring;Secretary: Gill Cibich;Treasurer: Randolph Alwis;Liaisons with Mission Action and Mission Support Areas:Spirituality, Worship and Prayer: Thomas Pruszinski;Ministry with Children, youth, young adults and their families: Sarah Randall;Ministry with Adults: Keith Maynard; Living Beyond Ourselves: Julie-Anne Bingham;Communication Support Area: Clare Bleakley;Administration Support Area: Michael Dring;Facilities Support Area: Chris Lake;Finance Support Area: Gaynor Strapp We thank all these people for their willingness to serve God at BCUC in these ways and ask that … Continue reading

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 27th November

As we commission our Elders today, it may be helpful to have a fresh look at the role of Elders in the Church. This is what the Bible says about Elders. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the  charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:6-9 NIV) This is what the Uniting Church says about Elders. The Church Council shall give priority in its life to building up the congregation in faith and love, sustaining members in hope, and leading the congregation to fuller participation in Christ’s mission in the world. This priority shall be reflected in the agenda of its ordinary meetings. The Uniting Church Regulation 3.1.13(a) It is timely to appreciate that every aspect of the life and mission of a congregation has a spiritual dimension. The old divisions about “sacred” and “secular” dimensions of church life need to be discarded, and in particular there needs to be a reclaiming that decisions about the maintenance and use of property and financial resources are profoundly missional and spiritual. It is appropriate to reaffirm that the role of Elders is one of spiritual oversight. The context for Congregational life and mission in Australia in the 21st century requires that the Council within the congregation consists of those whom the congregation recognises as endowed by the Holy Spirit with gifts fitting them for rule and oversight. Those whom the congregation recognises to have other gifts can be welcomed as members of sub-committees which provide advice to Church Council. Please pray for the Elders of our church as they serve God here with the gifts God has given them. This is a challenging role which requires a high level of commitment, time and prayer. Our Elders will be commissioned on Sunday 27 November 2016 at all three services. ( … Continue reading

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 6th November

Why do we Worship?  Is It a Requirement?  A man once told me that He would never bow his knee to God. He argued, “What kind of father wants his own children to bow down to him?” He thought it was strange because he did not want his own children to bow down to him. Philippians 2:9-10 says, however, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.” So high and great is Jesus that eventually the knees of everyone born or created will bend in reverent homage to Him. This man was so blinded that he did not understand even this.We might consider understanding the worship of God as simple, but doing it is not always easy. It is simple only after we have learned some basic things about it. I Chronicles 16 largely consists of a psalm of praise and thanksgiving David composed to commemorate the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to the Tabernacle in Jerusalem. In verse 29, David writes, “Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!” Let us add to this Matthew 4:9-10, the occasion of Satan’s third temptation of Christ in the wilderness. “And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”‘” These two verses clearly establish the most basic element of why we must worship God: because God commands it! He must command us to worship Him because it is possible to worship others and things besides God. Satan was clearly attempting to get Christ to worship him—a being besides God—and that Jesus replies, referring to the Father, “Him only you shall serve.” Not only does God command us to worship Him, He also forbids us to worship any others. In addition, Jesus’ statement shows the inextricable link between the worship and the service of God. It is as if they are synonymous. Worship involves highly regarding and then serving the One worshipped.We worship God because God commands it. We worship God because God alone deserves it, knowing what God is and what God does. We worship God because without worshipping God we cannot rise to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is the final week of our October series on worship. Prayerfully our worship will be enriched by what we have learned in these articles. … Continue reading

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 30th October

Grammatically, worship can be either a verb or noun. According to Webster’s Dictionary, its verb form includes such synonyms as “esteem,” “exalt,” “revere,” “glorify” and “respect.” As a noun, it can encompass adoration, veneration, devotion, supplication and invocation. Its actual definition, though, is “reverence, honour or homage paid to God; ceremonies or services expressing such reverence.” Worship thus includes both an attitude and the actions that accompany and are motivated by it. The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says, “Worship is first and foremost a verb, an action” (p.970). This is revealing because so many equate worship with either a place (usually a building) or a feeling. That worship is an action becomes clearer when we examine the roots of the Hebrew and Greek words for “worship.” According to the New Bible Dictionary, both the “Hebrew aboda, and the Greek latreia originally signified the labour of slaves or hired servants” (p. 1262). Therefore, the underlying concept of worship in Scripture is that of service to the One revered. This understanding greatly expands the application of worship far beyond the walls of a building. It includes any activity done in service to and because of the one worshipped. Worship is homage consisting of both an attitude of deep respect, adoration, reverence and even awe and the activities designed to describe the position and worth of the One worshipped. We must understand that biblically, the Creator initiates our worship of Him and that our response in worship is merely a reaction to His insertion of Himself into our lives. Most of the Old Testament allusions to worship are confined to services in or about the Tabernacle, the Temple, the sacrifices and festivals. They celebrate Him as Creator, Deliverer, Provider and Redeemer, and centre on such things as the Passover, Exodus, His miraculous provision in the wilderness and bountiful harvests.In the New Testament, these “restraints” are greatly diminished. In fact, Jesus showed in John 4:21 that worship in a place like the Temple is unnecessary. Further elaboration by Paul reveals that we are the Temple, and the worship of God expands to any time, any place, under any circumstance. This does not mean that fellowshipping as a congregation in a formal setting is no longer necessary, but it enlarges the idea and practice of worship beyond and besides the formal setting. In other words, worship expands right into the home, the work place, the bedroom, the kitchen, the highway and the sports field. In fact, worship includes all the activities one does as well as the formal religious setting. Thus, we have the opportunity through all our activities to show the high regard and homage we hold for the One we worship. We can see, then, that worship even plays a part in the quality of witness we make before the world, though it is an indirect fruit of worship. Worshipping God plays a far more direct, positive and practical role in the comple-tion of His purpose in us than we may have realized. … Continue reading

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 16th October

Why Do We Worship?   In his revelation, Jesus portrays a picture of heavenly choirs. Throughout the pages, he paints a graphic scene of the heavenly congregation continually in relationship with God, engaging in worship, and bringing praise to the Lamb of God. These worshipers and choristers are in the presence of the Messiah; they need hope no more, for the Messiah has come. Toward the end of Revelation, God completes the redemption of all creation, and God and humanity dwell together. John writes that a loud voice from the throne shouts, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (vv. 3- 4). Finally, there are no barriers to our worship, no distractions, no more confusing our need with worship. Finally, all worshipers give full attention to God, our creator. Can you imagine what that will be like? “I Can Only Imagine” by the award-winning Christian singers Mercy Me, wonders aloud about John’s picture of Revelation. What will life be when our complete focus is on the one who is present among us? Written in first person, this is a song sung as a prayer to God. “Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel? . . . I can only imagine!” What will you do? Perhaps the question Jesus poses for us today is, what are you doing? If the Christ, our Messiah, has come, if Christ, our Lord, is present today, then how is our worship? Someone says, “But Lord, the music was just not of the quality that you deserve?” Christ replies, “But my friends in the ghetto sing passionately without any accompaniment.” Another complains, “I just couldn’t worship today, Lord, because I just wasn’t fed.” Christ answers, “By whom are you expecting to be fed? I was with you. Did I not satisfy you?” Can you imagine what it might be like when we finally know that Christ is present? This is the third week of our October series on worship. Please join us as we learn more about worship. … Continue reading

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 9th October

Why Do We Worship?   The Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) tried to draw Jesus into the question of worship styles. “You believe that traditional worship is best done in the temple and that only the Hebrew priests can properly lead worship, but our Samaritan leaders have another view.” What led to this division between Samaritans and Jews was the long period of exile in Babylon. Jews who had been taken into captivity tried to remain racially and religiously pure, not allowing any intermarriage. The Jews who were left behind intermarried and developed new religious practices as a part of their survival. When those in captivity finally returned under Nehemiah and Ezra, those who had remained behind were declared “unclean” and their worship on Mount Gerizim was termed sacrilegious. The debate had continued for centuries as Jews and Samaritans remained enemies. Jesus cut to the heart of the woman’s need. Worship does not require either temple or sacred mountain; true worship focuses upon God and not upon the worshiper. What does that say about our contemporary-versus-traditional debates? Jesus’ words call us to question our worship. Why does God call us to worship? Why do we sing? Leaf through most hymnals and notice few hymns written in the manner of the psalms. The language of the psalms points attention toward God. Our hymns, contemporary and traditional, often point toward us: our calling, our experience, the testimony of the church. John Wesley provided directions for congregational singing, which read, in part: “sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself. . . . attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually.” Our favourite church songs assist our worship. Some bring praise, and others call to pray. Some hymns declare God’s faithfulness, while others call us to serve. Some relay the gospel, and others tell the story of the church. We need hymns that call us to know God, not merely to know about God. When the Samaritan woman tries to divert conversation away from herself by saying that one day the Messiah will come, Jesus simply says, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.” This is the second week of our October series on worship. Please join us as we learn more about worship. … Continue reading

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 2nd October

Why Do We Worship?   The fastest growing area of Christian music today is in the contemporary arena. Many churches are shifting to a blended or contemporary style of music. Choirs have given way to praise teams, while organs have given way to keyboards. Some worry that our church music is being lost. We long to pass on our heritage. Yet, just as children may not inherit our faith, neither can new generations necessarily inherit our worship. Many preachers and churches deal regularly with complaints about worship being dull or boring, or the number one complaint, “I’m not being fed.” More emphasis seems to be on the quality of the worship experience. Realizing that this is the priority for many twenty-first-century churchgoers, one leading church has changed the name of their worship services to “experiences.” They tell us that the word worship implies dull and boring. Another major complaint from long-time churchgoers is that worship seems more like entertainment. The changes seem to some more like a concert than a service of worship. Even some among the younger generations agree.   Why Worship God?   The answer is vital to our spiritual and physical well-being. However, when we are asked why we worship God, our answers are often vague because we take worshiping God for granted and never methodically think it through. The most basic answer is that He is the great and powerful Creator and we, the insignificant and weak creation. Therefore, we humble ourselves and submit. Such reasoning is true and a good start, but that is all it is, a place to begin. In the church worship is something that is always there; it is woven into the fabric of our lives, and in far too many cases, we take it for granted. It is entirely possible that we have never considered even basic things about worshipping God. For instance, is God on an ego trip? Could our understanding of worship be far too narrow? Why does God want us to worship Him? Are there plain and practical reasons for it? Could it even be necessary for us to worship Him for Him to fulfil His purpose in us? This is the first of a 4 part series on worship. Please join us as we learn more about worship. … Continue reading