from Rev. Matthew Bond – Sunday 21st July

tireddog

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.”

from Rev. Matthew Bond – Sunday 14th July

DSC01478

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.

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

pcost2

“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

tree-light

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

wtrdrp

“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!