A Message from Rev Rob Williams – January 13 2019

Sometimes I feel there should be a law against January. You know, the post-Christmas and New Year’s blues; the recovery from overeating and still failing to go on a healthy diet; over-spending and the dread of facing all those bills; maybe the feeling of guilt for having not contacted someone; along with the struggle to motivate yourself enough to get on and do the things that need doing. In addition to all our ‘inner-personal’ struggle, there’s still our awareness of all those ‘outside struggles’ in the larger community, as well as in the wider world. When we combine all these and other pressures, anxieties, and struggles, no wonder we sometimes feel a tad ‘down in the dumps’ at this time of year. Isaiah 43:1-7 focuses on the Israelites who were ‘down in the dumps’; they were depressed; they were fearful. Their hopes and dreams of the future had all but dried up and disappeared.  But then comes a wonderful, uplifting message of Good News from God, overflowing with love and hope, restoration and deliverance, affirmation and acceptance: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. I will be with you… For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. …you are precious in my sight, and honoured – and I love you… What a fantastic message – uplifting and full of hope!  God comes to Israel in one of their most depressed, vulnerable moments. God comes when they feel down and out and fearful.  God assures them that they have not been forgotten; they are indeed very special to God; they belong to God; they are loved by God; they need not fear. Often we need to be reminded that God remains vitally interested in us; that even if we can’t see Him at work in our lives, we can be assured that God is still at work in us by his Spirit, and will bring us to Christian maturity – for that is his promise.  At the beginning of this new year with its uncertainties, remember – we are loved by God and  God is with us. … Continue reading

A Message from Rev Rob Williams – December 23 2018

God – the Keeper of Promises   When I was a little child, my mother loved to play ‘Can you keep a secret?’ with me. Her tickling of my soft palm, followed by the underarm tickle, always caused me to giggle loudly, evidence that as a keeper of secrets I was hopeless! I have to write in my defence that I’ve improved considerably over the years! Another Williams’ family virtue taught by my parents became a part of me. It was that we kept our promises. ‘Don’t make a promise that you can’t keep’ was taught with an explanation of the effect broken promises had on the one to whom the promise was given, as well as on me as the promise-maker. Unkept promises make for fractured relationships. Two of our readings for today contain promises which God has kept. In Micah 5 : 2-5a we hear God promising that out of Bethlehem will come a ruler, strong in the Lord, shepherding his flock to bring peace and unity to his people. Luke 1: 46–55 is Mary’s response to the angel’s news that she will become the mother of Jesus – ‘the Son of the Most High’ – that he will stand in the line of King David, that he will rule forever and that his kingdom will never end. Verse 55 of Mary’s Song – ‘.. just as he promised our ancestors ..’ – links back to the promise in Micah and God’s promises and covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. It is through Abraham’s descendants, the tribe of King David, that God promised to bring the world his eternal blessing of Jesus, our Saviour, God with us. These two promises are about God’s love relationship with us – God working throughout history to ultimately draw people like us to himself through the promised One whose coming we celebrate at Christmas and whose coming again in glory we await. Truly we can sing ‘Glory to the newborn King’ as we celebrate his birth. God has kept his promises to us – and all people. … Continue reading

A Message from Rev Trevor Klar – December 16

Peace and Harmony   It is said of beauty contestants that they always want world peace, it has even been used in several movies as a comedic device. We all want peace. At Christmas time there is often tension not far below the surface. Relatives who don’t get on, some whose behaviour can do a good impersonation of the Christmas Grinch, others who just are not socially adept. So we would often just hope and pray that everything goes well, that no new feuds are begun. If we were to think of harmony at Christmas that would seem a bridge too far. Yet harmony is in fact a closer representation of what Jesus offers than just “getting through” Christmas. Harmony where everyone is really close, where relationships are all positive is the promise of “Shalom”, the word for peace in the Bible. It is a positive concept, where we are at one (in harmony) with ourselves, others and God. It starts when we deal with the discordant parts of ourselves, when we allow Jesus transforming love free reign in our lives, and allow him to truly bring our lives under his control. It continues when we allow ourselves to love as Jesus did, seeking the best for others at every opportunity. When that love is not determined by our agenda, but is determined by God’s purpose in each situation, and happens in a way that we are enlarged by that love as well (love your neighbour as you love yourself). This shalom is the purpose of Jesus at Christmas as he came to begin the journey that ended in his death and resurrection. It was a journey of transformation as the relationship between humanity and God was changed forever on the cross. It is fully expressed when we seek Jesus transformation in our lives, for this is true peace! … Continue reading

A Message from Rev Rob Williams – December 9

Heard any good news lately?   Once upon a time, before every home had telephones – yes, ‘telephones’ not mobile phones – a young, pregnant woman awaited the birth of her first child. Their neighbours, an elderly couple, insisted that when the time came, their telephone was to be used to call the hospital, no matter what the hour of the day or the night. And so the time came for her to be delivered (sound familiar?). Stuck to the wall above the neighbour’s telephone, in very large numerals, was the hospital’s telephone number. Thus the process began, culminating in the birth of the couple’s first-born son. Over the next 48 hours, the new father visited many, many friends and relatives, each conversation beginning with the words “I’ve got some really good news for you!” Luke 2:15-20 records the appearance of an angel of the Lord to a most unlikely group of men – shepherds, among the outcasts of their society – looking after their sheep on the hills above Bethlehem. “Don’t be afraid – have I got some really good news for you!” could be a paraphrase of his greeting. Not only did they hear his greeting but also the good news that Messiah – the long awaited, anointed One from God – had been born. He was to be found in a stock feeder wrapped up nice and tight in the little town below them. Being curious by nature, the shepherds hurried down to Bethlehem to discover things were just as they had been told. But the shepherds didn’t stop there. They had heard some good news, they had seen for themselves it was true and they spread the word to amazed townsfolk and anyone who would listen to them – good news from most unlikely sources. Now is a great a time for Christians to ask, “Have you heard the Good News lately?” … Continue reading

A Message from Rev Trevor Klar – December 2

Advent – How do we measure it?    Scientists and governments love to measure things. This week there was a new shock and horror campaign about ICE and its effects. The government agencies said it wasn’t evidence based and the organisers cleverly asked back about the evidence base for the “Grim Reaper” ads about AIDS. This got me thinking about people measuring Christmas. Do we measure it by the size of presents we are given? You know how it goes – an expensive present means he/she loves me more. Or perhaps it’s the quality of the food – NO-ONE makes better mince pies than I do, or my turkey stuffing is the best, or the lights/decorations (our roof leaked one year after our daughters took down the many lights they put up in such a way that one of the tiles was half off) are the very best in the street. There of course many others we could add. We could take a step in the right direction and measure how much we love others. Back in the eighties I remember getting a call about 3pm on Christmas Eve from a young man I had married in the spring. He was a courier driver and he and his fellow workers were sitting around celebrating and decided they needed to do something for others, so they passed the hat around and raised over $500 – which was a lot for a bunch of courier drivers. He was the only one with any contact with someone who might be able to do something – so we did. We could measure our own response and decide to do even more; maybe volunteer to serve Christmas lunch at a homeless shelter, or pack Christmas Hampers at Uniting Care Wesley Bowden or another agency, or invite a lonely person to share our family Christmas in a non-patronizing way. But perhaps the best way is to think about the measure of God’s love, who put at risk his only Son, who sent him to a situation where he would be misunderstood even by those close to him, face constant harassment from those opposed and then to see him betrayed and crucified, and the Father choosing not to intervene and save him. That is the best measure of Christmas and I encourage you this Advent to use this as your measure!! … Continue reading

A Message from Rev Trevor Klar – November 25

Fully Alive in Christ   Next week is the beginning of Advent. Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Christ. A time of realising that the world was remarkably changed when God entered it, and a chance for us to think about how our lives have been completely changed when Christ entered them. As Christians we believe our life is made complete in Jesus and therefore our potential is only fully released through a life lived intimately with him. Therefore we have chosen our theme for Advent to be “FULLY ALIVE IN JESUS”. We will have many different ways of expressing this in worship. We will use the four traditional themes of Hope, Joy, Peace and Love for each Sunday exploring how our lives become fully alive through each of these. We will have liturgy and will build colours over the four weeks to remind us of all the ways that Jesus brings us fully alive. Of course we will have the junior church Christmas service and the lessons and carols service on the 9th of December. We will also have puppet plays for the contemporary service and we hope the puppets will make guest appearances at the other services. We will also be asking you to “buy in” each week. One way we will be asking this of you is that we will be asking you to wear a colour each week. The first week is BLUE (2nd December). If you don’t have suitable clothes in one of the colours we will ask you to pin a scrap of cloth or even paper to your clothes. This can be very helpful as the best way to have a full Christian life is to commit and be a participator with Christ. I hope to see some outrageous clothes in the various colours. I encourage you to prepare for Christmas by doing at least the following : 1. Read the stories for yourself. 2. Pray for Jesus to come into your life in a new way or into a new area of your life. 3. Find a way to show love to a stranger as often as possible. 4. Reflect on the theme each week and look for the ways hope/joy/peace/love enrich your life. In the midst of busyness we can lose sight of the important things, they don’t cry out over the urgent – we have to make space for them. Please find a way to encourage at least one other in the church by telling them how you see the life/fullness of Jesus in their lives; for that was the purpose of Jesus coming, that we might see the fullness of God. … Continue reading

A Message from Rev Rob Williams – November 18

Encourage one another!   A congregation made the decision to do a major renovation on its thirty-five-year-old sanctuary. The first step was to put together a crew of people to do the internal demolition. Around forty people showed up to take care of this task. Dust was everywhere as they ripped up carpet, knocked out walls, tore down ceilings, and dismantled the platform. There were people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. It was a wonderful project for everyone because absolutely no skill was needed. It doesn’t take much training to destroy something. When this phase was completed, the remodelling began. This was the part that required skilled and trained people—those who knew how to construct, build, and refurbish. Their task was much more difficult and it took much longer than the demolition. Anybody can tear down, but not everyone can build up. As we make our way through the Letter of Hebrews with its glittering and sometimes confusing images, the following verses come to us with a remarkable clarity and freshness: ‘Let us consider how to provoke/stir up one another to love and good works/service, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.’  (Hebrews 10:24-25) How might this consideration of stirring one another to love and service operate in practical terms? Discerning people’s strengths and opportunities, rather than fixing on their weaknesses and needs? Praying that people might be encouraged to give something of themselves which God might enable them to share for the mutual benefit of their faith and this community of faith? A wise person once said: “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.” … Continue reading

A Message from Trevor Klar – November 11

The journey to maturity As Christians one of our goals is grow in faith and love. This journey is the journey of discipleship. To grow more like Christ in our attitudes and behaviours, to have interactions with our neighbours in which we reflect Christ to them, in which, we in effect become the gospel. This entails a journey of change, in which we read are influenced by the scriptures, in which our prayer life deepens and we learn to listen for the voice of God. As we mature it involves putting off childish aspects of faith and growing in many ways. We are people who unknowingly carry many attitudes and values from our families without reflecting whether they are Godly or not. In my family I learnt many good things from my extended family but there were also attitudes and values that were not of God. My journey in life is one where I have reflected on these from time to time. I have affirmed many of the values I learnt from my parents but there are others I have left behind and replaced with others. My parents were wary of strangers and particularly Japanese as my father fought in New Guinea in WW2. In later years he grew beyond this, but I was influenced by this as a child. Values from our family of origin should not be excluded from scrutiny as we grow as disciples, and part of our journey is to leave values behind that will not fit in the coming Kingdom of God, and that do not fit within the church today. I would encourage you to also reflect on the way that hurts from the past can diminish us for much of our lives. We can easily see how someone who was abused as a child can be affected by that abuse for decades or a lifetime, but it is also true that when we have experienced small hurts as a child they can shape the way we interact with others for decades. Many children have their hopes dashed and withdraw. Not all of us can be like Shane Warne who, rejected by the St Kilda football club, became determined and focussed on cricket. So this week I encourage you to consider how unexamined values and behaviours may be stunting your growth in discipleship. I encourage you to bring these matters before God, to do some soul-searching and leave behind values and behaviours that hamper our growth into Christian maturity. We are called to become the very best version of ourselves, for Christ’s sake. … Continue reading

Christmas Plays in local Primary Schools

In the 2016 National Census, in the City of Burnside, 35.5% of people responded that they had “No religion”.  An additional 7.9% of people did not state any religion.  Add to that the impact of the decline in church attendance of those who did state a religion. As a consequence, how many children grow up with the idea that the public holiday on December 25th is all about Father Christmas!! We have the opportunity to present a Christmas play to a large number of primary children in a few weeks time.  The children – and staff – will hear at least a part of the true message of Christmas.  A high percentage of the children in the designated year levels attend the plays and they show interest in them. Yet we probably won’t be able to do it.  Why?  Because we haven’t got enough volunteers willing to help.  Ally Russell, the Director, has assembled some volunteers from her church – St. George’s Anglican Church, Magill.  She still needs people to play very simple roles: Joseph, Mary, Shepherds, Angel, Wise men, Gabriel, Innkeepers.  They are not taxing – the script was written for older children to play.  She also needs someone to make a big star. And some simple painted cardboard ‘Inn’ outlines.   Dates are yet to be confirmed with the schools, but the performances will be early December. There will be 3 or 4 rehearsals leading up to the performances with times and venue depending on volunteer availability.  A leaflet containing more details was included in last Sunday’s Newsletter and is also available at the front desk.  Please pray very seriously about this situation.  If you are willing to help, contact the church office ASAP for more information or to sign up! … Continue reading

A Message from Colette Williams – October 28

When Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life”, he was referring not only to our bodily resurrection at the end times when Jesus returns, but also to the quality of our resurrected life right now.  If we have given our lives to Jesus, we are “in Christ”, and he has brought us out of spiritual death into new spiritual life. (John 5:24)  We are, in Jesus’ words, born again, and we have a brand new born again spirit within us which responds to the Holy Spirit and longs to do God’s will.  Our bodies and minds however, take a bit more getting under control and bringing into alignment with God’s ways. Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days and he was on the nose!  All hope was gone.  They could only look back with regret and say, “Lord, if you had been here…” But then the authoritative voice of Jesus cut through the atmosphere of grief, “Lazarus, come out!”  And to the astonishment of everyone present, Lazarus stumbled out, still fully encased in strips of linen, but alive!  Jesus instructed, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Miraculously, Lazarus had been given back the gift of life.  The unthinkable had happened!  But if Lazarus was going to live his new life effectively, the grave clothes had to be removed.  They had the stench of death clinging to them; they were restrictive and disabling. And what about us? We have been brought from death to life, but do we, like Lazarus, still have remnants of our old, spiritually dead life clinging to us?  Are we living in the freedom that Jesus, at huge cost, has won for us?  Or are we still bound up by old mindsets, guilt, unforgiveness, shame, fear etc.?  Like the grave clothes, they are restrictive and disabling. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  (Gal.5:1) I encourage us all to ask the Holy Spirit to show us if we are still bound up by anything from our old, unredeemed life, ask if there’s anything we need to do by way of forgiveness etc., and then invite him to deal with it once and for all. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…” … Continue reading