Each week, Andrew our Rector writes a short column of church news and Christian reflection in the pew bulletin.  If you miss a week, you can catch up here.

8th July 2018

At last week’s mission prayer meeting, we had the opportunity for a video chat with our mission partners in SE Asia.  It was interesting to learn of the way their mission has morphed slightly since their arrival: whereas they had expected to need to acquire new language skills, their ministry so far has been amongst people whose natural language is English.  They were excited about a Christianity Explored group is running at their church, and feeling very grateful for the opportunity to read the Bible with a Buddhist woman who had simply fronted up to church wanting to find out about Christ.  They greatly value our prayers for them.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the GAFCON conference, held 17-22 June in Jerusalem.  I’ve heard many reports of an encouraging time had by the nearly 2000 delegates, who represented 50 million of the world’s 70 million Anglicans.  The conference produced a “letter to the churches” which is available for you to collect.

Thank you to everyone who offered to help in the kitchen, and to host leaders for this week’s CRU Edge day camp.  We now have enough volunteers and it’s full steam ahead.  Please pray for a safe, happy and spiritual week for children, leaders and helpers.

1st July 2018

Welcome to St Jude’s for our special Dedication Sunday combined service.  Today we have invited all our members, from our three regular Sunday services, to join together in one gathering at 10.30 am, followed by lunch together.  Sunday School and Morning Youth are on today: the children and youth join us at the start of church and will head off to their programs after the children’s talk.  Afternoon Youth is on today at 4.00 pm, with dinner afterwards (5.30-6.30 pm) for the end of the term

Thank you to everyone who contributed so generously to our annual Restoration Appeal.  The appeal has so far raised just on $93,000, which is almost exactly the same amount as was raised last year.  This is wonderfully helpful and ensures the ongoing progress of the restoration program, whose next tasks include restoring fireplaces in our historic buildings, and the repointing of the columbarium wall.  And of course, even though the financial year is over, there is still time to contribute to this year’s appeal.

I’d like to let you know about this year’s Annual Parish Lunch on Sunday 12th August.  Yes, we’re going to have a lunch this year instead of a dinner, and it will be held in our very own Parish Room, with caterers preparing a delicious meal for us.  Rev. Dr Greg Clarke from the Bible Society will be our speaker.  Please save the date, and watch this space for more details.

Next week we have a very special event at the 9.30 am service, with the baptism of Levi Robinson.  While we commonly hold baptisms at a special time, it is in many ways more fitting to welcome a new member into the church at a regular gathering of God’s people.  I am looking forward to this very special day for Levi, and to welcoming Emma and Martin’s family and friends for the occasion.

We’re also moving into the school holiday period, which means that some of our ministries have a well-earned rest!  Sunday School and Youth are on a break for the next three weeks (returning Sunday 29 July).  My Wednesday Bible study group meets this week but then has a break until 1 August.

But, we are full steam ahead for the CRU Edge day camp, the week after next.  Please let me know if you can help with billetting or in the kitchen.  I would also really value your prayers that God will use the camp for his wonderful purposes.

24th June 2018

Last weekend’s Fireworks may well have been the most successful ever, with 300 people joining us in the graveyard on a beautiful winter evening.  As I chatted with people, it was lovely to hear many say that they’d been personally invited to come.  The personal invitation is a very powerful thing in our frenetic, disconnected age.  It is the leading way people get connected with church and with Jesus Christ himself.  And remember, the apostle Peter came to Jesus through an invitation by his brother Andrew (John 1).  Why not personally invite someone along to a Sunday service?

And why not invite them next week, for Dedication Sunday, a special day set aside to give thanks for our church, and reflect on the church’s importance in God’s great plan for the world.  We hold just one service at 10.30 am for the whole church family.  (Sunday School and Morning Youth will be on at that time too!)  Afterwards we all gather for lunch in the Parish Room.  Please bring along a plate of savoury food if you can.

The CRU Edge Day Camp (for school years K-6) is fast approaching!  It’s the first week of the school holidays, Mon 9th to Fri 13th July.  We still have spots available for kids, so do take a flyer and invite families along.  There are also two other opportunities to help.  We need parishioners to host our leaders, who will be travelling from around Sydney and staying with us.  We also need people to help in the kitchen putting together the children’s meals (chef skills not required!).

17th June 2018

Commencing today in Jerusalem is the third Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON).  Over 1500 laity, bishops and other clergy will gather to give encouragement and build networks for the advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.

The GAFCON movement began over ten years ago (its first conference was in Jerusalem in 2008) to fill needs which were not being adequately met by the traditional structures of the worldwide Anglican communion.  It is always a difficult challenge to speak the saving news of the Lord Jesus Christ into a culture which is foreign to the gospel, and biblically orthodox Anglicans, wishing to do this, were in need of support.

As Peter Jensen writes on the GAFCON website: “Whereas the role of the bishop has diminished somewhat in the Global North, the Global South bishops tend to be like the bishops of the ancient church: missionaries, evangelists, pastors, carers, administrators, educators, builders.” As a result, many from Global South, such as Africa where most of the world’s Anglicans live, place great value on gathering with those bearing similar responsibilities around the world.

GAFCON also embraces Anglicans, mostly in the developed world, who have been marginalised by local bishops, and seek like-minded support for a biblically orthodox ministry.  Please pray for the work of the conference this weekend, and that its fruit will be felt as delegates return to their diverse homes and ministries.

10th June 2018

Today we welcome the families of Caleb Robert Wah-Loong Tanner and Bodhi Jordan Totten for our Family Baptism Service at 11.00 am.  Also, on Sunday 8th July, we will celebrate Levi Robinson’s baptism in the 9.30 am service.

 

The simple ceremony of water baptism symbolises what happens when a person becomes a Christian.  This has two aspects: the powerful action taken by God, and the response of the individual to his gospel.  When God saves someone, he pours out his Holy Spirit upon them.  The Spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6); indeed the change symbolised in baptism is nothing less than a transfer from death to life.  The water of baptism symbolises this gift of the Spirit.

 

At the same time, baptism has always symbolised repentance: John the Baptist proclaimed a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).  Repentance is the “turning around” from serving self to serving Christ that marks the beginning of the Christian life.  Just like the move from death to life, it is a profoundly radical change.

 

As a result, baptism is not just a powerful symbol, but it is in fact subversive, because it marks a break with the way of the world.   Non-Christian cultures often take umbrage at baptism because they recognise this subversiveness.  However, life in Christ is well worth the world’s frown.

 

Don’t forget Fireworks this Saturday, 5.00 pm!

3rd June 2018

Our famous Fireworks evening is two weeks away.  This week you will receive a flyer to put on your fridge, or to give away as invite.  It’s always a good time to invite someone to church (especially a Sunday gathering), but the Fireworks is a particularly “easy” invitation to a fun event.

We’re also on the countdown to the CRU Edge Day Camp (for years K-6), in week one of the school holidays (9-13 July). A number of our leaders will be travelling down from Springwood and we hope to billet them with congregation members for the week.  Please mention to me, Marty or the office if you would like to host a leader.

At the end of each communion service we hear the words “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guards your hearts and minds”.  This “exquisitely tender and beautiful Benediction” (so called by John Dowden), dating back to the 1549 Prayer Book, is based on the apostle Paul’s words in Philippian 4:7.

In Philippians, the promise of peace follows on from Paul’s encouragement not to be anxious about anything, but to take our concerns to God in prayer.  God’s peace will guard us because we know our heavenly Father has heard us.  As such it is a fitting way to conclude a service in which we have uttered so many prayers, confident that they have reached God’s heavenly throne room.  May God’s peace guard your heart and mind this week.

27th May 2018

We are making a concerted effort this year to make lots of connections with youth and children in our parish.  I am grateful that, since the launch of Youth four weeks ago, God has brought more youth along each week.  As well as this, we have seen many new faces at Play Group on Tuesday mornings.

Our long term relationship with Claremont College was in action last week as the school held two leadership training days on our site.  It was great to see the lawn full of children both in their discussion groups and break time.

Today I want to highlight another new event, this time focussed on primary aged children (school years K-6).  This is a CRU Holiday Camp, to be held at St Jude’s in the winter school holidays from Mon 9th-Fri 13th July.   CRU (a.k.a. Crusaders), an experienced Christian camp operator, bring their program and staff; we provide volunteers to help.

It’s a “day camp”: the children go home to sleep, and come back each morning for some excellent activities and spiritual discovery time. The week includes an off-site trip on one of the days.

Registrations are now open, and we are praying for up to 50 children to come along for the week.

In brief, there is a film crew at St Jude’s tomorrow, for the series “Lambs of God”.  Also, Fireworks are getting close, Saturday 16th June.

20th May 2018

For today’s bulletin, I’ve decided to turn film critic!  Last week, through the lovely gift of a Ritz movie voucher from a parishioner, Kathryn and I went to see The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.  We loved it and highly recommend it.

The movie, set in 1946, recounts a young writer’s visit to Guernsey, where she meets a number of eccentric islanders, who at first seem stand-offish and closed.  However, as she gradually learns of what had happened to them during the war, she comes to understand them, and beautiful friendships form.

For me, the movie’s one annoying feature is the landlady on Guernsey: an avaricious, joyless and judgmental old lady who is always reading her Bible!  It is telling that we never heard this woman’s story, or learned what sad events had made her so cold.  If we had, we might have come to understand her, as we did the other islanders.  But the movie makers didn’t want us to understand her.  They wanted the token Christian in the movie to be a caricature, not a true character.

The movie makers reflect our society, which shows not only a widespread ignorance of Christianity, but also a lack of desire to understand the real people who follow Christ.  There is no quick fix to this problem, but undoubtedly we must pray for those around us who do not know Christ.  Also, let us be people who are truly interested in the stories of others, and who are ready to share our own stories, including the role that Jesus plays in our lives.

13th May 2018

A special welcome to all mothers and mother figures on this Mothers’ Day.  We give great thanks to God for his wonderful gift of our mums and the unconditional love they have shown us.

Today we have opportunity to consider a couple of special ways in which we can give financially to the work of the gospel.  First, we have as our guest Jonathan Campbell, who recently commenced work teaching Scripture in Randwick Boys High through the SRE East Scripture Trust.  Secondly, our annual Restoration Appeal letters have been posted this week to all regular members (please let the office know if you don’t receive yours!).

An important part of our calling as Christians is sharing with others the resources that God has entrusted to us.  God owns all things; everything we have is “on loan”, and he loves to see us use it in a way that is shaped by his character and priorities.  God wants us to be financial partners in the spread of the gospel, the wonderful news of God’s love for us in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course, it is essential for us to follow up our financial giving with our own prayers that God would prosper the work we support.

I would like to commend these opportunities to you.

6th May 2018

A warm welcome to church today.  Sunday School and Youth return from holidays this morning, and Sunday afternoon Youth kicks off today at 4.00 pm.  Also please check out Dot’s Mothers’ Day stall at morning tea in the Parish Room.

For yesterday’s Hymn Fest I looked into the life of hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748), who wrote Joy to the World, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Alas and did my Saviour Bleed, O God our help in ages past, and many other hymns still in use today.

Watts’ hymns often emphasise the duty laid on us humans to praise God for creating and redeeming us, and yet our inadequacy for this task.  As a result we need the “quickening powers” of the Holy Spirit whom God pours out on his people.

As well as hymns he wrote theological and philosophical essays, a logic textbook, and spiritual songs for children!  He had a very good and enquiring mind, which he placed in service of his God and Saviour.  With all of his intellectual accomplishments, he was still able to write in one of his hymns:

Where reason fails with all her powers,
There faith prevails, and love adores.

Despite his precocious talents, he was not able to attend university because he was a Dissenter (that is, a Protestant who was not a member of the Church of England).  Ironically his Logic was later used as a text at Oxford for 100 years, and he was granted a day in the Anglican calendar!

As with all seemingly all the great Christians of the past, Isaac Watts had his flaws, but has nevertheless been used powerfully by God, to whom all the glory must go.  Thanks to everyone who came along to the Hymn Fest, and who helped make it such a great occasion.

In brief, we will have a guest at church next week, Jonathon Campbell, whom I will interview about his work teaching Scripture at Randwick Boys’ High School.