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.

2nd December

“For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven.”  These words, which we say in the Nicene Creed, explain how the God the Son, who is truly God and has existed forever in glory with his Father, became the man Jesus of Nazareth.  God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, “came down from heaven”.

This is something that Jesus frequently spoke about with his disciples and his opponents.  “I have come down from heaven”, he said in John 6:38.  Jesus also said, “He who sent me is true… I know him, for I have come from him, and he sent me” (John 7:28-29).  It is truly mind-boggling to think that Jesus, a man who walked among us, could speak naturally of having been with the Father in heaven before he came to us.

In his prayer before going to the Cross, Jesus said, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5).  Jesus is God the Son who came down from heaven.

Jesus’ prior existence in heaven with his Father was glorious and perfect.  He did not have to come down, but he did it for us – that God might share himself with us by revealing what he is truly like – and for our salvation – for it was only through the death of the incarnate Son that we could be saved from God’s righteous anger at our sin.

I urge you to stop, and give a serious length of time to reflecting on the life-changing truth that the Son of God “came down from heaven”.

25th November

Lately our staff team has been thinking a lot about next year and how we want to keep developing the ministry.  Obviously it is going to make a big difference having our new Women’s and Families Minister, Kat Cowell with us, together with her husband Nigel who will be a student minister.  These will assist the new focus on small Bible study groups.

But today I want to highlight our plans for youth.  In 2019, our youth group (called Youth) will be moving to Friday nights, 7-9 pm.  We are also moving our evening service a little earlier (to 6 pm, as of Feb 2019) and designing it especially as a place for Year 6 and up to gather (with others of all ages) for fellowship, prayer, song, and hearing God’s word – plus dinner once a month!

Friday night Youth is for games, hanging out, Bible talk and discussion groups.  It will be different from church, so that it’s worth coming to both Fridays and Sunday evenings.

Sunday morning church is still a great option for youth, and we know this will suit some families.  We won’t be having a separate Youth Bible study as part of Sunday School, so high schoolers can choose to tag along with Sunday School, or to join in the main church gathering.

As well as all this, we’ll be kicking off a new after school Kids’ Club for years K-6 on Wednesday afternoons.

In brief, I’m preaching through the book of Malachi today and through Advent, during which our gospel readings will track through the lead-up to Jesus’ birth in Luke’s lengthy first chapter.  This evening’s 6.30 pm service is Choral Evensong: I hope to see you there.

18th November 2018

What a wonderful day we had for our Fair last Saturday!  A mighty army arrived for set up, including several new faces.  The grounds were buzzing with visitors soon after 9 am.  The bands created a fun atmosphere.  The ponies and climbing wall were in constant use.  By early afternoon, we had sold out altogether of scones, sausages, kids’ plaster painting, and flowers.  The cake and jam stall scored another record result.  Clean-up was impeccable, with hardly a sign of detritus from the Fair in evidence on Sunday morning.

Lots of people had a fun time; we pray that they can be connected further into our community and be drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Fair raised a little over $21,000 in gross terms, and about $17,000 after paying for attractions like the ponies and wall.  As you know, the Parish Council had decided to give 25% of the Fair’s profits to the drought relief through Anglican Aid.  This figure was rounded up to $5000.

While on the subject of money, it seems a good time to offer a brief review and reminder of the work currently in progress on our amazing church property. The brand new news is that the Parish Room is to be air conditioned!  Work commences tomorrow, and the new system should be operating next Sunday.

As I mentioned a while back, with the final repayment on our loan being made this year, the Parish Council decided that we ought to make a significant new investment in the Childcare Centre, by redeveloping the playground. Designs for this work are currently being prepared.

As well as this, a sculpture is to be created to celebrate the ministry of women in our parish throughout its history. We have invited special gifts towards the $15,000 cost of this sculpture, and have received a number of generous contributions.  This invitation is still open.

Next Sunday evening we will hold a choral evensong at 6.30 pm.  Why not come to church twice – both morning and evening?  See you then.

11th November

You have probably heard of the kerfuffle this week over the letter signed by the heads of 34 Sydney Anglican schools, calling on our Federal Parliament to enact a positive right to religious freedom.  This has been the subject of grossly misleading media reporting, which is the cause of the significant hurt that has ensued.

The Archbishop has repeatedly stated that Anglican Schools are not seeking the right to expel students or sack teachers for being gay.  This very clear statement has been completely left out of most newspaper articles and social media fulminations.  What our schools are seeking is a positive right to employ staff who are committed to the Christian ethos of these schools (as distinct from the current unsatisfactory exemption from anti-discrimination legislation).

Could I urge you generally not to jump to any conclusions about our Diocese based on mainstream media.  You can get a more direct view from sydneyanglicans.net, which, incidentally, this week also featured a photo of our very own Angus Gilchrist and others in the ringing chamber at St Andrew’s, as part of an article about the ringing of bells across Sydney to mark the Centenary of the Armistice.  Our church services today will reflect on that very significant event, and on God’s gift of peace.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard for yesterday’s Fair.  I will bring a more detailed report next week.

4th November

Isn’t it amazing to think that the Fair is upon us again?  It’s hard to miss, of course, with the build up of second hand goods in the Parish Room.  Thank you to our volunteers who have been working hard sorting and pricing the goods.  On Saturday it will be all systems go, with all the stalls plus petting zoo, jumping castle, ponies, BBQ, musical performances and more.  Please pray for good weather, and invite friends along, and be here bright and early on Saturday to help set up.

Next weekend is also significant because Sunday is Remembrance Day, and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  As well as the preaching being on this subject, we will be marking this in two other ways.  We will have some guests from the UNSW Regiment, one of whom will address us in the 9.30 am service.  Also, as part of a plan to have church bells ring throughout Australia at 11 am, our tenor bell will be tolled 100 times, followed by the ringing of a full peal (about 3 hours of ringing). I hope this will help us reflect on God’s gift of peace which has prevailed in Australia now for such a long time.

21st October

Today is Mission Sunday, and we welcome Helena and Doug Painting, whose work at Bookham Community Church we support through BCA.  I am sure we will be encouraged by their news and learn more of how we can support and pray for them.

At Synod last week, I was reminded of the paramount task of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost.  Of Sydney’s 5 million people, only around 1% are in Anglican Churches each Sunday.  While there are, of course, other churches, clearly a vast number of people in our city are lost without Christ.  They need to hear the good news of salvation, and be invited to join in Christian fellowship.  Who will tell them, and invite them, if not you and me?!

Synod decided to provide a much needed cash injection to the Bathurst Diocese, to enable it to continue to have a bishop and registrar.  Sydney will contribute $250,000 for each of the next six years, to help that Diocese get back on its feet and provide for the gospel needs of that significant part of rural Australia.

Closer to home, our Diocese continues to establish new churches in greenfield areas like Leppington and Oran Park.  There is so much to do to reach the lost for Christ, without even leaving NSW!  Please pray, give sacrificially, and speak of Christ to others.

Don’t forget your Operation Christmas Child box must be returned next week.  However it’s not too late to take one today and return it next week, which is our Patronal Festival 10.30 am combined service and picnic.  See you there!

14th October

It’s great to be back from holidays, and a busy week awaits me, with the Synod of the Sydney Diocese starting tomorrow afternoon.  Please pray for me and our two parish representatives, Doug George and Karen Calayag, as we play this role in the governance of the Diocese.  It involves a lot of listening and a small degree of conflict, but I believe it is highly necessary and worthwhile to discuss how we can work together in stewarding the resources God has given to Sydney Anglicans.

The Fair, Saturday 10th November, is almost upon us (four weeks away). It is one of the key days of the year when hundreds of non-church goers will be in the church grounds and have a positive experience – creating good vibes with the community.  The Parish Council has decided to donate 25% of the Fair’s net proceeds to the Archbishop’s Drought Relief Appeal.  Please plan to come along, and to help with set up, and/or a stall if you can.

Even sooner is Mission Sunday, next week.  We welcome Helena Painting to share about her work in Bookham, which we support through BCA.  Also, don’t forget to be filling your Operation Christmas Child box, which needs to be brought back by St Jude’s Day special service and picnic in two weeks’ time.

7th October 2018

Today I’d like to review a book I’ve been reading – and which Jim Le Huray has also read recently! – called The Fountain of Public Prosperity: Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1740-1914 by Piggin and Linder. It challenges the secular view of Australia’s origins, telling of the many evangelical Christians who came to the colonies in the fervent hope of making a godly society.  An example is George Fife Angas, the father of South Australia, who sought God’s blessing on SA by seeking “God-fearing people” to settle it (p. 231).

It also details the keen interest of early evangelical Christians in Australia’s aboriginal people.  Lancelot Threlkeld, for example, learned Awabakal, the Lake Macquarie aboriginal language, eventually producing a translation of Luke’s gospel.  While his flock had sadly dwindled by the time of the work’s completion, his pioneering grammatical work has exercised a lasting influence (pp. 179-82).

It is encouraging to read of how God has used his people for the good of our nation, perhaps to a much greater extent than is commonly realised.  If you don’t mind a weighty tome, I recommend it!

30th September 2018

Today I can share with you the very exciting news that a new member of our ministry staff team is joining us next year.  Ms Kat Cowell will commence in the role of Women’s and Families’ Minister in January.  This follows several months of prayer, searching and chatting with possible candidates for the role.  A few weeks ago Kat was interviewed by a panel of three Parish Councillors and subsequently invited to take up the role.  She is a godly and intelligent person with a heart for people.  I am very grateful to God for sending her to us.

Kat will be discipling women both individually and in small groups, as well as being actively involved in all three of our Sunday gatherings, and taking on the chaplaincy role to St Jude’s Childcare.  She is married to Nigel, who will be a Student Minister with us over the next two years, while he completes his studies at Moore College.  Please join me in praying for them both, and for ourselves, as we prepare to welcome them early next year.

Still on the topic of recruitment, we hope to advertise for a new church administrator soon.  Realistically it will probably be the new year before we have someone in the role.  In the mean time, the assistance of our office volunteers continues to be absolutely invaluable.

In brief, please check out the Mission News (inside) and if you are able, do take a box to fill for Operation Christmas Child!

23rd September 2018

It was great to see a such a good turnout from St Judes’ people at the recent New College Lectures (about eight of us came to at least one of the lectures).  I found it stimulating to hear, on the first evening, of the “transhumanist” movement, which seeks to perfect humanity through technology, and on the second to hear the speaker’s scientific perspective on free will.  Using his expertise in genetics, he argued that reports of our genes “determining” us are overblown.  Throughout the talks he argued that the Christian doctrine of humans being made in the image of God is the essential safeguard against the de-humanising possibilities of some emerging technologies.

New College also produces a quarterly magazine called CASE, to which I sometimes contribute. I encourage you to subscribe or, if you’re lucky, grab a free copy from our brochure stand!

Another opportunity to go deeper in our thinking about God and his relation to the world is through Marty’s book reading group, which is meeting again on Saturday 20th Oct (note the change of date!) to discuss Delighting in the Trinity.

In case you were not here last week, you will see a beautiful image of a sculpture, which is to be created and placed in the cemetery near Frances St.  It is a project to celebrate the ministry of women in our parish throughout its long history.  We are making an appeal to parishioners to contribute to the cost of this excellent work.