A message from Matthew 4th June

Imagine if serving God was fun!               

Imagine what the church (and the
communities it influences) would look like if its people actually looked forward to serving God!

Imagine how the Kingdom of God could be advanced if people gave their time and their skills to God and prayed ‘Holy Spirit, use me!”

At BCUC we believe all these things are not only possibilities, but they are in fact God’s desire for His church and His people – including you and me.

The right people serving in the right places for the right reasons

The five week Ignite the Gifts of the Spirit resource is designed to help you
discover:

The unique ways God has created and gifted you

The power of the Holy Spirit in your daily living and serving

How you can find the right place to serve with the gifts you have

There are five daily readings each week for five weeks.

There are a number of individual assessments to be completed as part of the daily readings.

These daily readings are designed to be used in conjunction with your Small Group. Small Groups will spend time discussing together the results of your individual
assessments. It is best to be a part of a Small Group in order to make the most of this daily resource.

The daily readings and leaders guide are available in the foyer this Sunday
morning.

Please sign up today at the table in the foyer or contact the church office to join a Small Group for this five week season.

 

A message from Matthew May 28

Imagine if serving God was fun!

 

Imagine what the church (and the
communities it influences) would look like if its people actually looked forward to serving God!

Imagine how the Kingdom of God could be advanced if people gave their time and their skills to God and prayed ‘Holy Spirit, use me!”

At BCUC we believe all these things are not only possibilities, but they are in fact God’s desire for His church and His people – including you and me.

The right people serving in the right places for the right reasons

The five week Ignite the Gifts of the Spirit resource is designed to help you
discover:

The unique ways God has created and gifted you

The power of the Holy Spirit in your daily living and serving

How you can find the right place to serve with the gifts you have

There are five daily readings each week for five weeks.

There are a number of individual assessments to be completed as part of the daily readings.

These daily readings are designed to be used in conjunction with your Small Group. Small Groups will spend time discussing together the results of your individual
assessments. You need to be a part of a Small Group in order to make the most of this daily resource. Contact the church office to join a Small Group during this five week season.

Each week is themed and builds on previous weeks. The themes for these five weeks are:

Week 1:  The Uniqueness of You

Week 2:  The Power to Serve (the role of the Holy Spirit)

Week 3:  Discovering Spiritual Gifts

Week 4:  Just Do It! (finding your place to serve in the Kingdom of God)

I pray that this preaching and small group series, starting on June 11,  will be a blessing to you and that it will motivate, equip and empower you to become a blessing to others.

 

A message from Matthew 21st May

“Ignite the gifts of the Holy Spirit”            

The next study in our series of small group studies will begin on Sunday June 11th and will run for 5 weeks until July 15th.

We are excited by the response to the “Refresh” and “New Life in the Spirit”
studies we have been doing this year. The good news is that we can all grow
deeper in our faith as we gather together to share and learn. Now is the time to decide which small group you would like to join and what time of the week suits you best. Groups are meeting at various times of the day through the week and it is hoped that everyone can find an hour and a half somewhere in the week to join in. Perhaps you have been part of a group before and you know how much you can gain through this practice? Maybe you are newer to faith and have not experienced the benefits of listening to people just like you talk about their faith? Whatever your experience, I assure you, that you will find this small step of faith and
commitment of time will change your life. A bold claim, I know, but one that has been proven over the centuries of Christianity. It is vital for our Christian growth that we share what we know and are able to ask questions to learn more.

The studies will be linked to the message each Sunday. From Pentecost as we
celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian church we will explore what this means for us as followers of Jesus Christ today. The Uniting Church recognises that every member has gifts and that we have a responsibility to discover and use these gifts in God’s mission in the world. This is our opportunity to learn about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, discern what gifts we have and how we can use them. Of course many people in our community are already using their gifts. Just look around and you will see gifts of hospitality, mercy, prayer, faith, teaching and others in action every day. With discernment and teaching we will all be able to recognise these gifts in others and appreciate what God is doing here every day. We will also be able to use our gifts more effectively, with greater
excitement and with improved harmony.

There will be a small group leaders meeting on Tuesday May 30th from 7.30 to 9pm to prepare and ensure each group knows what is going on.

Sunday the 4th of June we celebrate Pentecost at each of our three services.

Tuesday the 6th of June we will be led in a special night of worship with Ignite Ministries. “Come along and engage in inclusive community and passionate
worship, while being encouraged and equipped as you serve at your local church.” There will be more information soon.

We hope to see everyone making the most of these wonderful opportunities
together.

“Ignite the gifts of the Holy Spirit”            

The next study in our series of small group studies will begin on Sunday June 11th and will run for 5 weeks until July 15th.

We are excited by the response to the “Refresh” and “New Life in the Spirit”
studies we have been doing this year. The good news is that we can all grow
deeper in our faith as we gather together to share and learn. Now is the time to decide which small group you would like to join and what time of the week suits you best. Groups are meeting at various times of the day through the week and it is hoped that everyone can find an hour and a half somewhere in the week to join in. Perhaps you have been part of a group before and you know how much you can gain through this practice? Maybe you are newer to faith and have not experienced the benefits of listening to people just like you talk about their faith? Whatever your experience, I assure you, that you will find this small step of faith and
commitment of time will change your life. A bold claim, I know, but one that has been proven over the centuries of Christianity. It is vital for our Christian growth that we share what we know and are able to ask questions to learn more.

The studies will be linked to the message each Sunday. From Pentecost as we
celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian church we will explore what this means for us as followers of Jesus Christ today. The Uniting Church recognises that every member has gifts and that we have a responsibility to discover and use these gifts in God’s mission in the world. This is our opportunity to learn about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, discern what gifts we have and how we can use them. Of course many people in our community are already using their gifts. Just look around and you will see gifts of hospitality, mercy, prayer, faith, teaching and others in action every day. With discernment and teaching we will all be able to recognise these gifts in others and appreciate what God is doing here every day. We will also be able to use our gifts more effectively, with greater
excitement and with improved harmony.

There will be a small group leaders meeting on Tuesday May 30th from 7.30 to 9pm to prepare and ensure each group knows what is going on.

Sunday the 4th of June we celebrate Pentecost at each of our three services.

Tuesday the 6th of June we will be led in a special night of worship with Ignite Ministries. “Come along and engage in inclusive community and passionate
worship, while being encouraged and equipped as you serve at your local church.” There will be more information soon.

We hope to see everyone making the most of these wonderful opportunities
together.

 

 

A message from Matthew 14th May

A lesson for parents and the church

As Mothers Day approaches, Rev Steph Tai  reflects on an important lesson
motherhood taught her – one that she believes also applies to the church. Used by permission.

It was five years ago, I had been a mum for all of about a minute and I was feeling pretty out of my depth as you can imagine. I was tired. Really tired. My whole
routine had changed and been taken over by the whims of this little man. I was somehow supposed to know what he wanted… but rarely felt like I did.

I used to spend my days engaged in practical, spiritual and strategic conversations. Now I spent my time in vomit-covered pyjamas and my greatest achievement for the day was a shower, if I was lucky. I was driving along in the car, the baby was screaming as usual, and I had a thought land in my mind: “Wow, I am really selfish. I guess God has a lot more work to do in me than I thought.” This thought wasn’t based in a feeling of guilt – self-care and having a village around you is vital to all people, including mothers.

Instead, the thought came from the sudden realisation that there is something in me that is deeply driven by me and my needs, placing them before anyone else – even my son, whom I love.

Here was this little baby, who really didn’t have a choice about coming into this world, who needed me to survive, and all I could think about was how it was
effecting me and my life. I realised my preferences and the way I lived my life had to change. It wasn’t comfortable, and certainly wasn’t always enjoyable. Sure, my son was cute, which helped, but at 3am it still wasn’t enough for me to forget the comfort of my bed. Our own preferences, the way we have always done things, or what makes us comfortable can be a very strong factors in our lives. But what if we need to reassess them to allow the next generation to survive?

While I was originally reflected on this from my perspective as a mother, I have since realised that it is something that also applies to the church. If we – as
Christians and church communities – hold too tightly to our preferences, we won’t be giving life and room to grow for the generations that are following. It may not be easy or enjoyable to think about, but for the kids, young people and new
believers to thrive, we are going to need to be uncomfortable. For them to grow, we are going to need to change the way we have always done things. It will be messy. We may even lose sleep. And they will not always be cute… But it will be worth it.

I guess God has a lot more work to do in all of us. Being a parent, even a spiritual parent, means that you do what it takes to love and provide space for them to grow – not into carbon copies of ourselves, but into who God has created them to be. Amazing things happen in ourselves and our communities when we choose to put aside our preferences and raise a new generation to thrive.

 

A message from Matthew May 7

We are very pleased to have Dan McAloon, the Relationship Manager from the National Office of Frontier Services in Sydney here to speak with us today at all three of our services.

Here is some information from their website.

Frontier Services is a national charity working on behalf of people living in remote areas, which covers 85% of Australia. Our primary purpose is to raise funds in order to support the Uniting Church in Australia, through its network of Patrol Ministers, in their pastoral work with Indigenous communities, isolated properties, mining sites and other remotely located communities. 

Frontier Services also provides drought relief and other forms of practical
community support through its volunteer assistance program known as “Outback Links”.

Our mission: “To support, link and empower the people of Outback Australia by creating connections and mobilising resources”.

Frontier Services is a charity and national agency of the Uniting Church that grew out of the pioneering work begun in 1912 by the Rev John Flynn “Flynn of the
Inland” – the man on the $20 note.

As the successor in the Uniting Church to the Australian Inland Mission, Frontier Services has sought to work with and empower communities and individuals to overcome the disadvantages of living in remote locations for more than 100 years.

We are able to support their work today through our retiring offering.

https://www.frontierservices.org/

 

A message from Matthew 9th April 2017

Palm Sunday is a joyful time for God’s people to celebrate our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

During the Easter Play in schools this week, we have acted out the Easter Story, including Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The children wave their arms as Jesus walks among them and our actors welcome Jesus by waving their brightly coloured clothes.

It is such a wonderful honour to bring the story of Jesus to almost 3000 children in 6 of our local Primary Schools. We have a unique relationship with these schools that has been built over many years by many people from our local churches.
Reverend Philip Gardner was writing these plays before Burnside City Uniting Church was even formed. Reverend Ruthmary Bond continued this tradition from 2006 to 2012. For the past 5 years I have enjoyed writing, directing and performing the Easter and Christmas plays with many different people from the Burnside Inter Church Council Churches.

One of my favourite questions this year was from a young girl who asked, “If Mary and Joseph were Jesus’ parents, why did Jesus call God his father?” This is an amazing question and shows the ability of children to think deeply about Christian Faith. Perhaps you would like to consider how to answer her child-like faith
question?

As we were leaving another school, two boys in the yard told us that they were trying to act out our play themselves but they needed more actors and off they ran to find their friends to help them.

Thank you for your prayers of support for this ministry. We will never know all the ways that these performances affect the lives of children and their families in our community, but we can be assured that God is at work in these young lives.

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV)

 

A message from Matthew 2nd April 2017

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

Easter is when we celebrate the most significant event in human history. There is no other event that even comes close. I know that is a bold claim. We celebrate that the Living God, who created everything, sent his only Son, Jesus Christ to live with us on earth as fully human and fully God. We celebrate that Jesus taught us how to be in relationship with God and each other. We celebrate that Jesus willingly gave His life as the perfect sacrifice for all that we do that comes between us and our God. Most of all, we celebrate that death could not hold the Son of God and that Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, defeating sin and death for all time, for all people! This is worth celebrating! This is so powerful that as followers of Jesus Christ we are commanded to go and tell everyone all about it.

But how can we do this? The Apostle Paul has answered this question in the letter he wrote to the church in Galatia almost 2000 years ago. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” Jesus promised us that we would never be alone and he gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit as our comforter and companion. The Spirit of God is with each of us all day, every day. Paul tells us to live by the Spirit. We do this as we pray and take the time to listen to the small still voice of God each day. Jesus makes it very clear in Revelation 3:20 when he says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” This is the promise that Jesus makes to everyone. We have only to open the door and we will be welcomed into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We open that door every day when we say, “Jesus I love you and I want to love you more”.

Keeping in step with the Spirit is a conscious choice we make every moment of every day. Making this choice shows in our words, in our actions, in our relationships and in our thoughts. You may know this as listening to your conscience, choosing between right and wrong or good living. The Apostle Paul calls it keeping in step with the Spirit.

As we listen to the Spirit of God we will have confidence to talk to others about what we know, how we live and what we hope for in God’s future. Telling others about the Easter Story of Jesus at this time of the year is a real gift from God. The shops are filled with hot CROSS buns. The sign of the cross of Jesus is there in everyone’s hands
waiting for followers of Jesus to weave into the conversation. There are Eaters eggs by the thousands, opening conversations of new life in Jesus or hollow eggs that are like hollow tombs that couldn’t contain the Son of God. We are delivering Easter postcards this week with a beautiful invitation to share in our celebrations of Easter.

The special gift I receive this Easter is to be able to use my gifts to share the Easter Story of Jesus with students in 6 of our local primary schools again. Almost 3000 children will hear about what Christians believe happened at the first Easter and what it means to us all.

This is worth celebrating.  

 

A message from the Living Beyond Ourselves Team

One of our young people, Alexandra Bingham, has been commissioned by the Uniting Church to film a series of videos about the Church’s support for:

Christian leaders in South Sudan who are caring for people traumatized by war, teaching peace and forgiveness, and rebuilding livelihoods.

Community workers in PNG who are providing taps, tanks and education about sanitation, and saving lives.

New ministers in China nurturing Christians to share God’s love in the
fastest growing Church in the world.

Community development workers in India who are championing justice and supporting families to break the chains of poverty through education, employment and healthcare.

 

Alexandra has written an article about her project. 

You can read it on the back page of the New Times magazine for February and March.

 

You can also watch the videos by typing the following link into the web browser.

http://www.lentevent.com/stories

 

A message from Matthew 19th March 2017

We are loved

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one
another
. (1 John 4:11 NIV)

Any time you find yourself saying, “I just can’t love that person”, I
suggest you read this verse again to
remind yourself of the truth of God’s great love for you. If you have experienced this kind of love, if you have been to the cross and felt the overwhelming cleansing of God’s love for you, despite the antagonism and hatefulness you have shown Him and despite your loving your own way and
wanting to do what you like; if you have felt the cleansing grace of God wiping that all out without any recriminations or calling up of the past, forgetting and forgiving it all, then, as John says, you not only can love someone else but you won’t be able to do anything but love others. God’s love will automatically flow out of each of us.

John goes on to say, If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is made complete (1 John 4:12); that is, His love reaches its final end in us. That is where people see God’s love. The fact of an indwelling God becomes visible in us only when we manifest love one to another. As long as we are nice only to our friends or to those who are nice to us, no one has any idea that God is around. But when we start being nice to those who are nasty to us, when we start returning good for evil, when we start being patient, tender, thoughtful, and considerate of those who are stubborn, obstinate, and selfish, then people get the sense that God is close at hand, that He is in the situation. Then God’s dwelling in us becomes visible to them.

May God’s great love continue to bubble out of each one of us this week in ways that point people to Jesus our Saviour.

 

A message from Matthew 12th March 2017

On Sunday last week in our Creative/Kids Spot in the Contemporary Service I asked some families and other people there about the ways they like to refresh
themselves.

We heard about families going to the beach together for a swim or walking in the hills. The ideas were fun and inspiring. We have some creative people in our community.

Here are some more ideas to help us refresh; sing, dance, skip, run in circles, drink water, watch a funny movie, find some flowers, rub your ears,
embrace imperfection, take a deep breath, stretch, get a good night’s sleep, good posture, redecorate, good diet, silence, walk, 20 minutes of sunshine, smile or socialize.

This may refresh our bodies and our minds, as Christians we also know that it is Jesus who is able to refresh our souls.

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38 (NIV)

The Refresh Studies are a season of reflection for our whole of our church to come to Jesus and find rest for our souls. I strongly encourage you to join a group or pick up the study with a friend and be part of this exciting season with others in our church family.