Reverend Doug Hosking finishes up his time with us next week. Doug will be serving at Resthaven Leabrook on Easter Sunday afternoon as his final official duty here with us. Doug has been a blessing to our community as he has proclaimed God’s word and pastorally cared for members of the congregation as our supply minister over the past 6 months. We offer our gratitude and prayers as Doug and his lovely wife, Jennie take up the challenge of ministry at the theological library in the Philippines in June for 4 weeks. Please make sure that you personally thank Doug and Jennie for the blessing that they have been to you.
This has been an amazing week as our team of actors have gone into 7 of our local primary schools to tell the Easter story. This has been a regular event for many years & the children know us well. This year the play is about a little girl in the supermarket with her mum. They are told the meaning behind the symbols of Easter eggs & hot cross buns. The play clearly tells of God’s power through the death & resurrection of Jesus. We have wonderful sets that show the cross & the empty tomb. The children ask lots of wonderful questions about faith & new life. Thank you for your prayers & support of this vital local ministry.
In John’s gospel chapter 4 we read Jesus’ gentle conversation, at midday, with the woman at the well at Sychar in Samaria. According to the culture of the day this was a most unusual situation – a Jewish man talking with a foreign woman; at midday (when everyone else was resting); and Jesus knew everything about her. She was led to recognise Jesus as the Messiah; she returned to the city and told her fellow citizens who then came to see Jesus and hear for themselves. Many believed. Jesus encourages us all to have gentle conversations with others about Him and this leads people to believe in Him.
This is the season of Lent. It is a time to prepare ourselves for the amazing message of Easter. God sent His only Son Jesus to live among us and to die on the cross in our place. Through God’s mighty power Jesus defeated death and rose from the grave. This is awesome news and requires some time to prepare our hearts and minds to receive its full impact. Some people pray while others fast and still others chose to give up something during this time of Lent. Whatever you have decided to do for Lent, please use this time to draw expectantly closer to God. God desires to do amazing things through you and your local church. All we need to do is to be willing to join God’s mission by giving God our best.
On our recent trip to French Polynesia on the Aranui 3, Jennie and I and an English couple left the ship early on a Sunday morning. We attended worship in an old small dilapidated Protestant Church. All the worship was in the Marquesan language – but we understood the message when the preacher pointed to an old oil lamp – Matthew 5: 14 “You are like light for the whole world.” This leads well into the Lenten theme: “Finding Light in Darkness.” Let us walk daily with, and in, the light of Jesus.
Burnside City Uniting Church is an exciting place. We have so many people engaged in so many activities here and in the community – the website is an excellent place to catch a glimpse of what is going on here. Coming up on the 30th of March is our Ministry Expo where we are joining together as a community to celebrate what we do and encourage people to join us in our passions. In all this activity let me remind you that we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ and called to serve God with our gifts. At all times we give God the glory.
What sort of church do we want to be? My personal answer to this question is that we would be a church that is passionate for God, others and life. Passionate means that we have a strong feeling of enthusiasm (filled with God) and are compelled to action. Let’s create for each other a safe place where our love for Jesus drives us to action. Moses’ final words to the people of Israel were that they should choose life by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice and by holding fast to Him. Let’s do that.
During our time of BCUC Listens to God on 2nd February, we felt that God was speaking to us regarding prayer at BCUC. We believe God wants to enhance the prayer life of BCUC. We know there are many groups and faithful pray-errs who regularly pray outside the church in house-groups etc., however, Matthew 21:13 says…….It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer’. We believe God has led us into taking the step of faith to begin ‘open’ prayer Monday – Thursday, when the church is open, between 10am and 4pm in the Memorial Chapel. There will be chairs already set out and a diary, which we will call our ‘Prayer Journal’. We are hoping that members of our church family who have a yearning to pray, but have been are unable to attend BCUC Listens to God on Sunday afternoons, will come and pray in the chapel. No agenda is necessary other than an open heart to hear from the Lord, then to record in the journal what God is saying. There may be times when He is calling us into action, or there may be times when He is calling us to pray for a particular need for BCUC or something that is heavy on our hearts regarding the wider community or the world. It is our hope and prayer that by praying and journaling what the Lord says that we will be able to discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What sort of church do we want to be? You would think that this question is well and truly answered after 2000 years of Christianity. We live in constantly changing times and it is clear that the church of 1950, 1980 or even 2010 is not who we are anymore. Now is the time for a health check, marriage counselling or trading in the old car on a new model. Whatever we call it let’s make sure that we consider what sort of church we want to be and together let us seek God’s guidance to answer the call.
Australia Day – Commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney. We also need to remember that for many Indigenous Australians, it is “Invasion Day” and we need to keep supporting, in whatever way we can, our Indigenous brothers and sisters.
During the horrendous bushfires across southern Australian earlier this month we witnessed the best of Australia’s characteristics; the fireries going the second (and third) mile to save properties, the instant support offered to victims, the unstinting efforts of all the Emergency Services as well as the “backroom” people who continually provide food and drink to those on the front-line. Thank you to each one.
“Australians, whatever your culture or race, come, lift up your hearts to the Giver of grace.” Elizabeth J Smith (TiS 188)