from Rev. Douglas Monaghan – Sunday 7th July

This week the lectionary reading sees Jesus sending out the 72 on an evangelical mission (Lk 10:1-11, 16-20). He does not send them out without guidance and issues instructions on what to say and do. What is interesting is that He also prepares them for failure.

When we try and carry out some evangelical programme and don’t see results it is all too easy to worry that we have done something wrong. If this is God’s work surely it would succeed? Not so, says Jesus. There will be some who refuse to listen to us at this time. We should not worry about this but move on. Maybe the next person will make the breakthrough and we have softened their hearts a little as preparation? Evangelism is a long term project, not a quick fix; the work is too important to give up easily.

from Rev. Matthew Bond – Sunday 30th June

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

Today we witness the baptism of 4 people who have decided to publicly confess their faith and declare that they want to “keep in step with the Spirit”. It is a good time to recall our own baptisms or the time when we were so excited about Jesus that nothing could stop us declaring our love for him. Being a Christian is not always about these exciting times. There are times when it is hard work. I remember learning about the “Faith, Facts & Feelings Train” – faith is the engine that drives the train; the facts in the Bible give us the fuel for our faith and the feelings follow along behind. When we “keep in step with the Spirit” we know that God is with us through the ups & downs even if we don’t feel it.

from Rev. Matthew Bond – Sunday 19th May

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“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again” (Romans 8:15).

Today, Pentecost Sunday is the day we traditionally celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. It was the day that the Early Church leaders stepped up and took on the ministry that Jesus had prepared them to do. From there they really did go …out into all the world and preach the Gospel. They were able to do this because they were free, they were not slaves and they no longer lived in fear. They had been given the gift of the Spirit. All too easily we can fall back into slavery and fear. It sneaks up on us when we give in to temptation or fire off an angry word. Today we reclaim the freedom and courage that God has so graciously given us. We do this in God’s mighty strength as seen in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

from Rev. Douglas Monaghan – Sunday 12th May

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I’ve just finished watching the excellent “The Fabric of the Cosmos” shown on SBS. Presented by Professor Brian Greene of Columbia University, it gave the layman an idea of where current thinking in Physics is. The last programme considered the possibility of alternative Universes existing alongside our own and maybe even being connected to us. I want to use this as an analogy for today, Ascension Sunday.

We tend to think in dualistic ways, “good” or “bad”, “like” or “unlike”, “Port” or “Crows”. Things have to be one thing or the other. This extends to our thinking of heaven and earth. This view has us thinking God was separate from earth, came amongst us for a while before returning back to heaven. It’s easy to grasp but I’m not sure it is correct. What if heaven and earth are not two separate places but rather two connected places? What if God is connected and active on earth at all times and always was? Perhaps the incarnation was a way that God might become known to us and through His life and death become reconciled to God again.

When Jesus returned to God we were left with the Spirit which connects us to God and God to us. To be truly the head of the church, Jesus needs to be accessible to all and this can only be done if Jesus is in God’s realm, where all on earth can have access to him, not just a few in Jerusalem. Although Jesus physically left us, He didn’t truly leave us and remains involved in our world each and every day.

from Rev. Matthew Bond – Sunday 5th May

shared-bible

This morning the Wednesday morning prayer group began reading The Gospel of Luke after more than a year of reading the Psalms. We had enjoyed the poetic imagery of the Psalms and had decided that it was time for some New Testament story.

Chapter 1 of Luke is filled with excitement as we read about the power of God at work in the lives of Zechariah, Elizabeth and Mary. Babies are announced, angels appear and there is new hope for the people as the Holy Spirit is at work. The message is even clearer as the different voices of our group read, especially the two teenage girls.

There is something special about reading the Bible and praying aloud. It is a statement of faith and an affirmation of our commitment to God. I encourage you to read and pray out loud, even if you are on your own and be ready for the power of God to work in your life.

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” ? Corrie ten Boom

from Rev. Matthew Bond – Sunday 28th April

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“Who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” – Peter (Acts 11:17)

This is a simple question but it carries so much meaning. As we serve our mighty God who created all that we see, God calls us to engage in the on-going work of creation. We begin by coming to God in prayer.

Peter was raised under the Law as a Jew and was taught that Jews and Gentiles did not mix. Jesus had shown Peter how to live by the Spirit. As these two ideas clashed Peter was open to God and in a dream God showed the plan.

The response from the church in Jerusalem was; “They had no further objections and praised God”. We are each invited to join God to engage in the on-going work of creation. We do this by listening to God, talking with each other and taking action.

from Rev. Matthew Bond – Sunday 21st April

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” – Jesus
We hear so many voices around us these days; there is the voice of the media telling us of political struggles and conflicts, there is the busy voice telling us to do more, there is the voice of reason telling us we’ve done enough and there are the familiar voices of our friends. Conversations with friends can be uplifting and encouraging, the voice of reason can keep us from exhaustion, the busy voice can make us feel guilty and the media voice can cause us to be fearful. Listen to the voice of Jesus above all others. The voice of Jesus is familiar, uplifting and encouraging. The voice of Jesus drives out guilt and fear. Help us dear God to always be a church that listens to the voice of Jesus. Amen.

from Rev. Douglas Monaghan – Sunday 14th April

beach-fire

The theme this week is “Restoration” as Peter meets Jesus on the shores of Lake Galilee. Just as Peter had denied Jesus three times standing over a charcoal fire, around another charcoal fire he gets to state three times he will love and follow Jesus. This beautifully touching scene shows us what Jesus thinks forgiveness means. As we saw with the prodigal son, it means, like the dictionary definition of restoration, “a return of something to its former, original, unimpaired condition”. We need to understand this. Jesus wipes the slate completely clean as frees Peter for effective mission. Peter will not be burdened by his sense of past failure nor seeking to overcompensate by zealous and unforgiving attitudes to others. Peter will be freed for effective, grace filled, missional service. It is the same for us. Despite what has happened Jesus frees us from our past and encourages us to follow Him in the future. We are assured of being restored in God’s eyes to our unimpaired, original condition. What a freedom, what a relief!

Easter Thank You

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Thank you to everyone at Burnside City Uniting Church for all that was done over the Easter Season. We had so many wonderful opportunities to share our faith and celebrate Jesus with the people in our wider community. There were a good number of new people at each of our services and there were many enquiries about getting involved. We all enjoyed the strong singing on Good Friday morning. Family Fun @ 5 was full of excitement as around 100 people played games, enjoyed craft and ate together. Our Easter performance had us all laughing and crying. Douglas and his actors did a wonderful job. The rain held off for our 7.28am Sunrise Service and 45 of us enjoyed fresh hot fish and communion with damper. All three of our regular services on Easter Sunday morning gave us opportunity to proclaim our faith in vibrant ways. “Jesus is risen indeed!”

from Rev. Douglas Monaghan – Easter Sunday 31st March

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“The resurrection is perplexing. The women are perplexed that Jesus is no longer in the tomb. The angels are perplexed that the women are seeking the living amongst the dead. The disciples are perplexed at the women’s “idle tale”, Peter stands looking at the empty clothing and wonders what is happening. Why is Easter so perplexing? Because Easter is the happy ending turning up in the middle of the story. It is the final scene showing us that everything is going to be alright coming out of sequence. It is our hope, given to us ahead of time, that all will be well. It is not just hope for the future though. Easter means living with the resurrected Lord, and that’s every single day. It gives us Hope for the present too. May you always hold this hope nearest your hearts not only throughout Easter but throughout your lives.”