Sometimes it can seem we only turn to God when we are in need. Our prayers are only those asking for things, needs to be met. Once those needs are met we can find that God has slipped down our list of priorities. Indeed, once we become comfortable, we find our attention to God can become almost negligible. The parable of the rich fool illustrates our need to remain focussed on God, to realise God is the source of our sustenance, not ourselves. May we never lose sight of our need to rely on the goodness of God.
To God’s holy people, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
When writing a pastoral letter, it seems appropriate to begin by borrowing from the Apostle Paul. I admire his heart for the mission and his love for the people God has placed in his care. I am called to provide that same care for the people of Burnside through my ministry here.
We are a growing church. Every day God blesses us by bringing new people our way and many of them are joyfully making Burnside City Uniting Church their spiritual home. All of us are growing in our faith, in our service and into the image of Jesus Christ as we follow Jesus together. Continue reading →
I met an old friend yesterday. Not long after we met at 9 years old we got into a fight and gave each other our first black eyes. I’m sure our parents thought it odd that we each got a black eye in the same lunchtime football game. We haven’t seen each other in 10 years, but our memories of childhood together remain clear. God’s memory of us must be even stronger. If it has been 5 minutes or 5 years since we last prayed, God knows us and continues to hold us in His heart. “You are precious in my eyes, and honoured, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43) God has created each and every human being to be in relationship with Him. Since the beginning of creation and through Jesus on the cross, God seeks each of us every day to be in this wonderful relationship He offers. All we need to do is to respond.
While walking back to church after lunch this week I had a wonderful opportunity to help a young woman. She was out walking her beautiful St Bernard dog, but the dog was tired and had given up. I came across them on the very edge of busy Greenhill Road. The dog was huge and the woman did not have the strength to drag the dog home. I suggested that I hold the dog’s lead and that the woman start walking. She had not gone more than a few steps and the tired dog jumped up and followed her home.
God’s love and grace are so freely given that we are inclined to forget that following Jesus can be tiring and at times we may like to give up. Remember who you serve. Jesus will never give up on you. “Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Today we are blessed to hear from Scott & Rachael Litchfield as they share their experiences of ministry in Cambodia. Their stories of doing God’s work in far-away places are especially close to my heart as I remember my own years of ministry in Africa and India. Responding to the call of God to take the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people in other lands is indeed a high calling. God calls you and me to respond to a call that is no less challenging – the call to live for Jesus in our own neighbourhood. Every day we are called to show the love of God through our words and actions to each and every person we meet. Let us give generously to the work that is being done overseas, pray for those who are sent and remember that we are also called to serve.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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