A Message from Rev Benji Callen – June 2 2019

Today is the last week of the ‘Surprise the World’ series. We look at defining our identity as the SENT ones of God. We are a people on mission. Mission doesn’t need to refer to only people who are sent from a church overseas to evangelise the far-flung nations of the Earth. This work is inspiring and continuing, however we are also missionaries in our everyday lives. We need to live the way Paul describes to the Corinthian church “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT). Rev. Dr. Phil Carr, would often say in church council meetings that it was a requirement in Methodist Leaders meetings to have as a constant agenda item: “What more can we do to promote the gospel?”. This is good question for ourselves also. The practical homework suggested by Mike Frost this week is to ‘journal the times we have proclaimed the reign of God in the world’. That is, to reflect back on the week and recognise times we have demonstrated the peace of God, the justice, the healing, the joy, the hope or the beauty of God in our everyday lives to others. This journaling is different to bible journaling or prayer journaling, rather it is writing down those moments where the kingdom of God was glimpsed through us. One helpful tool maybe to use the Daily Prayer of Examen (google it for more information). It is a basic 5 step process developed by St Ignatius to review the day. One helpful summary I found uses a 5-Rs mnemonic which I have combined with 2 of the 5 habits (listen and send) Request the Spirit to lead me through my review of the day. (Silence and listening, “Speak Lord your servant is listening”). Relish the moments that went well and all of the gifts I have today. (List moments when you were involved in ‘declaring the reign of God’) Review the day. Examining the conversations you had, the people you met, the feelings you experienced. Repent of any mistakes or failures. Resolve, in concrete ways, to live tomorrow well. The Jesuits practice a similar prayer twice daily. I’m suggesting to try this once a week. I look forward to celebrating Pentecost next week at BCUC. … Continue reading

A message from Gary 28 January 2018

Discovering Your Personal Mission   Several years ago a book appeared on the shelves (this is before Kindle!) with the title, “I’d say yes God if I knew what you wanted”. And of course we would. But the problem it seems is that we find it very hard to know what God wants.               Last week in the Contemporary and Classic services, and this week in Café, I took the text we know well of the voice of Jesus calling four fishermen to follow him. It’s a text which has always intrigued me, mainly because of the immediate and whole hearted response to Jesus by the four, Peter and Andrew, James and John. What was it in the invitation to follow that impelled them to leave their boats? There could be lots of reasons, but one I think is that the invitation of Jesus, the word of Jesus, was a creative word. Jesus’ voice brought into being that which was said. We may not literally hear the voice of Jesus, but when Jesus summons us to follow, his is a voice which creates possibilities of discipleship. We may not ‘hear’ the summons of Jesus in the way we normally understand the word ‘hear’, but we can, nonetheless, hear Jesus invitation for us to follow. Each and every one of us is called to follow Jesus in some way. The word I would use is vocation. We all have a vocation. Mostly ‘vocation’ is used as synonymous with career or job. However, in the spiritual context it is used differently. There vocation is the way God wants to use your life to make a difference in the world. How, then, do we go about discovering our vocation, that unique life to which God has called us? We do not invent our vocation. The seeds of who God calls us to be are p0lanted within us and our task is to create the environment in which those seeds can grow and flourish. In a positive way our vocation reveals itself by asking the right questions. What seem to be my gifts? What kinds of things do I do well? What kinds of activities give me real sense of contentment? What kinds of things do I find most challenging and fulfilling to do? In what kinds of activities do I feel most myself? What kind of people do you most admire? (The people we admire reveal something of ourselves.) Do you feel an inner nudge that seems to point you in a particular direction? What kinds of things do you think you and God can do with your life that will make a difference for good in the world?   “Somewhere under the stars God has a job for you to do and nobody else can do it.”   … Continue reading

A message from Matthew December 24

Merry Christmas This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9 NIV) The secret is out – God loves us! We know this because God sent Jesus to live with us. This is what we are celebrating all through the season of Advent and at Christmas. And the celebrations of God’s love continue through the year because God’s love is eternal – it never stops. Did you know that we need to keep this secret? What would happen if everyone truly knew that God loved them enough to send Jesus into the world? Imagine if every single person you met every single day, was filled with the assurance of God’s great love for them? Perhaps people would smile more? Perhaps people would be more generous, because they would know that the God who created the world and all that is in it loves them and cares for their every need. Perhaps there would be no fear, because people would know the love and protection of God and they would know that every other person in the world was also filled with that love from God. There is no fear in love. But God’s perfect love drives out fear. Perhaps your imagination can take this thought and continue to dream of what our world would be like if everyone truly knew that God loved them? This is not a secret! We can tell it to the world. Let that little spark of faith that burns inside your heart continue to grow to the point that you can share it with others without the fear of it being snuffed out by a rebuke or critical question that you cannot answer off the cuff. Imagine the newborn baby Jesus, so fragile and vulnerable in the manger – God put everything on the line by sending him into the world and hoping that he would survive to manhood to be the Saviour of us all. God is faithfully protecting that little spark of faith in you too.   … Continue reading

A message from Matthew December 17

The challenge of last week was to think of and to invite someone to one of our Christmas Services so that they too can hear the good news that Jesus Christ has come into the world to bring us joy. How did you go? Have you invited someone? Did they say yes? In the Gospel according to Luke we are given an example to follow. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,     and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:8-18 NIV) The Good News of the birth of Jesus is still cause for great joy for all people and all who hear this good news will be amazed. Before you invite anyone else to come and share this great joy, I ask you to stop and think – am I taking this good news for granted in my own life? Do I really understand that this good news has turned my life upside-down? Do I believe that Jesus still has the power to miraculously change lives today? The shepherds heard the Good News, they experienced it for themselves and then they spread the word. We are compelled to do the same.   … Continue reading

A message from Matthew 10 December

Get yourself up on a high mountain,     O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily,     O Jerusalem, bearer of good news,     lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah,     “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:9 NRSV) These are the words of the Prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel some 700 years before the birth of Jesus the Christ. I wonder how we can respond to these words today. At our school ministry this week, as we have been telling the story of the first Christmas, one little girl asked, “Why is it called Christmas?” My answer to her was that the first part “Christ” is the name for Jesus who came to the world to save us and that the second part “mas” is the word for worship and so Christmas is about showing our love for Jesus who came to save us. I pray that in this Christmas season you will also find ways to say to the world, “Here is your God!” In recent months, through the generosity of an individual donor, we have given away over 200 Bibles in the foyer of our church. More than 50 of these have been children’s Bibles. Each gift has ensured that the message “Here is your God!” has been received. I have heard stories of grandchildren reading their Bibles and asking wonderful questions of their grandparents as they read. These precious moments are the moments when these children are discovering their God. We have special Christmas services here at church in the coming weeks to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Saviour. This Sunday at the 10.30am Classic Service we are celebrating the truth of God with us in the Lessons and Carols. Next Sunday, December 17th the Junior Church will lead us at 9am to celebrate the joy of God with us in dramatic form as the children dress up and act out the story of the first Christmas. On Sunday December 24th our worship will focus on celebrating the coming of our Saviour as we worship together at times that are a bit different than our usual Sunday practice. Classic will be at 10.30am, Contemporary will be at 5pm and Café will be at 11.30pm. That’s right – Café Worship at 11.30pm! Then on Christmas Day we will worship together at 9.30am. Each of these times of worship will be an opportunity to get yourself up on a high mountain and say “Here is your God!” This information is available on our Christmas postcards that have been delivered to 5,000 homes in the Burnside area and are at the reception desk for you to take home. Here is a challenge for you. Think of someone you can invite to one of our Christmas services so that they too can hear the good news that Jesus the Christ has come to us to bring us joy.   … Continue reading

A message from Matthew December 3

Christmas 2017 Next week we will be presenting the Christmas Play in our local Primary Schools. We have a team of dedicated actors from our local churches who have been rehearsing the play in November. The 30 minute play simply tells the story of the first Christmas by involving the children on stage. We will have shepherds, angels and wise-men joining Mary and Joseph on stage as the story is told. The children are invited to dress up in costume and participate in the story with us. Please pray for each of the four schools we will visit as they welcome us into their school communities and engage in the message of Christmas. On Monday December 4th we will spend the day at Linden Park Primary School. On Wednesday we will be at Burnside Primary School for the day and on Thursday we will perform in the morning at Marryatville Primary School and go to Rose Park Primary School for a lunch time performance. Prayers are requested for the actors (Glenyss, Gerald, Mark, David & Jessica) as they take time off from work or study to dedicate themselves to this wonderful ministry. Thank you also to our Pastoral Care Workers for their support of this work in their schools. This year the message of Christmas will be on the big screen in the new animated movie called “The Star”. I am hoping that through our efforts in the schools when we encourage the children to learn more about the Christmas message by inviting them to church events, we will also be able to suggest that they see this movie. This may also be a great family outing for our children and grandchildren. It will certainly give us an opportunity to talk about the birth of Jesus our Saviour.   … Continue reading

A message from Gary 26 November 2017

Today we come to the last day of the year! Well, it’s the last day of the Christian year anyway. It’s the day that ends the season of Pentecost and precedes the season of Advent which begins next week. As such it is a special day, a festival day: the Festival of Christ the King or The Reign of Christ. As a festival of the Church, however, it is a relatively new and recent celebration. It was proposed by Pope Pius IX in 1925, so it is less than 100 years old. While the Church has always celebrated images of Christ the King, Pius felt at this stage of world history this image of Christ needed a special focus. To understand his reasoning we need to think of what was happening in the world at that time. WW1 was only just over, Nazism and Fascism were on the rise and the Great Depression was just around the corner. Pius felt that the world was in this turmoil because, “the people of the day had thrust Jesus Christ… out of their lives and these had no place in public affairs or politics.” Pius felt that as long as people found no place for Jesus in their lives or world affairs there could be no lasting peace among the nations and no peace in lives. So he proposed a feast to encourage people to refocus on Jesus, to reaffirm Christ’s reign, to imagine and live out what the world would be like if Christ we in charge. In our readings today we see an image of what such a world would be like. As we celebrate Christ the king, we do so not as the kind of king or ruler who seeks power or prestige or position, but a king who is in solidarity with the ‘little ones’ of this world: the hungry, the poor, the homeless and the landless. He is indeed, the servant king who calls us to serve with him the forgotten ones of this world. The reading form Ezekiel (34:11-16, 20-24) also takes up the theme of compassion to those considered the least. The prophet reminds us that even when human companions fail the little and the least, our Divine companion never does, always acting for their well-being and inviting us to do the same. Let us worship our Servant King! Peace, Gary Stuckey (Rev)   … Continue reading

A message from Matthew 16 November 2017

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, On Wednesday, the results from the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey were published on the ABS website. 61 per cent of the votes were ‘Yes’ in the same-sex marriage postal vote. In the lead up to this announcement, the Uniting Church President and the Moderators of each Synod prepared the pastoral statement. I encourage you to read this statement (attached) and pray for wisdom, courage and discernment for the Uniting Church and the wider community throughout this season. Here at Burnside City we are called to continue to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ as people of faith. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31New King James Version (NKJV) As we consider our path from here, I think that we must, in the interests of wisdom and peace, acknowledge the laws of our nation and the authority of the parliament. How we behave now is going to be a profound witness to the people in our community and the world. This is the time for the church to demonstrate the love of God for all to see. The conversations that we have in this time of change will shape the future of our church for years to come. I want us to be known as people who love passionately, for this is the message of the Gospel. Grace and peace, Rev Matthew Bond   … Continue reading

A message from Gary October 1

You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:37) Last Saturday 24 people from Burnside City gathered for the day to continue the process of discerning God’s loving desire for the church through the next few years. Building on information drawn from the National Church Life Survey, the Spiritual Gifts identification process, the Vision and Mission Day in August, and responses from the Sunday prayer gathering, those gathered sought to discern threads which may open us to the future direction in which God desires to take Burnside City. It was my privilege to be asked to facilitate the day. In doing so, I structured the day around the story of the feeding of the 5,000 form Mark’s Gospel. What has that got to do with discerning the future for BCUC? Well, I think, plenty. In the story Jesus is seeking some time away from the crowds and the pressure of ministry for himself and the disciples. They depart by boat seeking a deserted place to be by themselves. However, it was not to be. The crowds saw where they were headed and arrived there before Jesus and the disciples. Although desiring solitude and rest, Jesus had compassion on the crowds and continued to teach them. Late in the day the disciples suggested to Jesus that it might be time to send the crowds away to find some food. But then Jesus did an amazing thing. He put the matter back onto the disciples: “You give them something to eat.” The disciples immediately respond by pointing out to Jesus that they didn’t have the resources to do that. But Jesus asks them: “How many loaves have you?” Although there were only five (and two fish) they found that when you take what little you have and offer it to Jesus, amazing things can happen. And that is what we focused on last Saturday- what are the loaves Burnside City has, what are the hungers people have and how can we bring the two together? As the day progressed we, like the disciples, sensed the hungers were great and we wondered about our resources to respond to them. We recognized that we cannot address all the hungers people have, but we have been blessed with some amazing resources in people, facilities, finances and more, and that when given to Jesus many can be fed. What are the loaves you bring to be used to feed people? What are the hungers that we see in people? And how can what God has blessed us with at BCUC be used to satisfy the many hungers people have? Gary Stuckey (Rev)   … Continue reading

A message from Matthew September 24

On my desk recently was this little cameo of a couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary.   As they held hands across the table a little ‘Tinkerbell’ like creature appeared and said…”I have been sent to give you the desire of your heart’..  Immediately the wife said….’My desire is to travel the world’…. and ‘zap’ there were 2 around the world cruise tickets in her hand. The husband thinking this may be his one and only opportunity to get the desire of his heart, thought long and hard, and then turning to his wife, he said ‘You may not like what I have to say, but my desire is to be married to someone 30 years younger than me’….and ‘zap’, he was a 92 year old man. We may laugh, and make jokes about married love, but being happily married is the desire of the heart for most of us. Remembering this message comes from the Christian Ministers Association, and focuses on a culture  founded on the love of God, may I encourage us to be thoughtful, prayerful about this  ‘SEASON OF THE PLEBISCITE’, What is it we are really asked to vote upon? The Word of God in Ephesians 5 speaks about the Christian life, and Christian marriage.   St Paul personally addresses husbands and wives about a love that is eternal, personal and abundant. A love that the Greeks call AGAPE LOVE, God’s divine, healing, forgiving love that permeates all our love relationships, it flows through to our EROS LOVE, married love, and to our PHILIA LOVE, brotherly, family community love…. It is a love that is gift love through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This AGAPE love, can be new every morning, just for the asking, because of the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to all people.   When I think about my family, my children and grandchildren, and future children yet to come, my thoughts, my desire is that they may be happy, fulfilled, loved and loving.   That they may know the power, the presence and the peace of AGAPE LOVE, not only know it but share it in every relationship that they encounter……and that they may be aware of God’s love in every possible adventure and commitment they experience….. I feel that we are about to make history because of this plebiscite, and I am reminded that the Nobel Peace Prize winner of l964 MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. famously said… “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” King challenged many laws dealing with equality.   His life and love for God changed the nation of the USA, and shaped the progressive world we live in today. May I leave you with this very memorable quote of MARTIN LUTHER KING JR…. ‘I HAVE HAD MANY THINGS IN MY HAND AND I HAVE LOST THEM ALL, BUT WHATEVER I PLACED IN GOD’S HANDS THAT I STILL POSSESS’.   May we be wise and place  this important Plebiscite season in the hands of our God, may our decision … Continue reading