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.

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.

29th April 2018

With our Hymn Fest for Nungalinya College coming up, it is good for us to know a bit more about the College and its mission.  Nungalinya is an inter-denominational indigenous Christian college in Casuarina, in the suburbs of Darwin.  Its students are from all over Australia, but mostly from across the NT.

 

Nungalinya aims to provide Christian education in theology, community development, leadership and media.  It teaches literacy and numeracy, theology, music and media, and cross-cultural awareness.  The money raised by our Hymn Fest will go towards the music and media course which has suffered a cut of government funding.

 

The college website explains:

 

”Theology Courses that address the unique nature of Aboriginality and Christianity. They are designed to develop personal faith and equip people for practical Christian ministry.”

 

This seems to me an excellent aim.  Personal faith is of the utmost importance, but this personal faith forms in a particular context, so it is great to see the particular context of aboriginality being addressed in their courses.

 

The best possible promoter of harmony between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians is the growth of the gospel of the one and only God amongst all of us.  For this reason, I am grateful to God for the many indigenous people whom he has called through Jesus Christ, and very pleased that we can support the training of indigenous Christians at Nungalinya through our prayers and financial giving.

 

With this in mind, do come along to the Hymn Fest on Saturday at 11.00 am.

 

And don’t forget Youth kicks off the next day, this Sunday at 4.00 pm, and every Sunday from then on.

22nd April 2018

It is ANZAC Day on Wednesday this week and we will mark this in our services today.

 

Although Australia has been at war in my lifetime (notably in Iraq and Afghanistan), I come from a generation that has almost no first hand experience of the heavy, heavy costs of war.  In light of this, it seems to me that the main purpose of ANZAC Day is to remember that the political freedoms Australia currently enjoys have come at a price.  It is so easy to forget, as we enjoy our Australian lifestyle, that it is a gift of God and indeed of many ordinary people who suffered to make it possible.

 

The practice of not taking for granted what we have, but remembering the sacrifice that made it possible, is also deeply Christian.  It is precisely what we seek to do each week through the Holy Communion.  By eating and drinking to remember Christ’s death for us, we acknowledge that our release from the power of sin came at the greatest cost – and is not to be taken for granted.

 

In brief, I have exercised my power to appoint one Parish Councillor in addition to the six elected last month.  Crispin Arnall, who has been a member of our parish for most of his life, is keen to serve in this way again, and I am looking forward to his contribution.

 

Finally, don’t forget our Hymn Fest on Sat 5th May, and Youth starting on Sun 6th May.

15th April 2018

Each Sunday our service includes a collect, which is a special prayer set for the day.  Collects are short prayers which get straight to the point.  They usually begin by addressing God as the one who is willing and able to answer the prayer.  For example, “Heavenly Father, giver of all good things”.  In this way we praise and thank God for who he is.

 

After this, we bring our request.  Often these short requests are not about our health and prosperity, but our godliness.  For example, the well-known collect at morning prayer: “grant that today we fall into no sin”.  These are excellent prayers which show that we want to please our heavenly Father.

 

Most collects finish with “through Jesus Christ our Lord”, and sometimes say something more about him, such as that he is reigning with the Father and the Spirit.  In this way we acknowledge that it is only through the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are able to gain access to God in prayer.  Without Jesus’ high priestly work, we could not take it for granted that God would be listening.

 

The collects are thoughtful prayers that bear much reflection.  You may like to pray through the day’s collect slowly again at home.

8th April 2018

During my time in Springwood, in 2013, our community was affected by a very significant bushfire which destroyed hundreds of houses and damaged many more.  Almost as soon as the fire had taken place, our parish started receiving financial donations from Anglicans around the Diocese.  Eventually these totalled well over $200,000.  This enabled me and the other ministry staff to be able to visit those affected by the fire and offer them gifts to help them through the crisis.  It was a great experience of God’s church in action.

 

As a result of the Tathra bushfires on 18th March, we have an opportunity to help in a similar way.  The Archbishop of Sydney has set up an appeal for aid to those affected in Tathra, with the funds to be distributed through the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn.  I have personally made a gift to this appeal and I’d like to encourage you to do so as well, using the slip you should find in your bulletin.

 

I am very excited to announce that we are going to be starting a Sunday afternoon youth group from next school term.  Marty has been energetically connecting with our families, as well as recruiting leaders, and is ready to kick off the group at 4.00 pm on Sunday 6th May.  This afternoon’s youth social is a taster of what is planned.

 

Preparations for our Hymn Fest on Sat 5th May are also underway.  Please put in a vote for your favourite hymn!

1st April 2018

As you’ve probably realised by now,  I am very taken with the fact of Easter Sunday falling on April Fools’ Day (for the first time since 1956!).  Perhaps you’re even at church today because of one of our “Jesus rose no joke” flyers in your letterbox.

The reason why the Easter-April Fools’ connection caught my attention is because it sharpens up a question that every human must think about.  Is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ a fact, or were those first Christians simply the first victims of the world’s longest running practical joke?

There is so much that turns on this question.  If the resurrection is a fact, it is the most life-changing of all facts, because it gives to Christians a life-changing hope in their future life with God forever.  If it is not true, then, as I will explore in today’s sermon, Christians “are to be pitied more than all people”.  I hope you find it both thought-provoking and a great joy to celebrate this most important of all days in the Christian year with us today.

In some brief but exciting news, our new church website is finally live.  Please check out stjudesrandwick.org.au.  The next big event we are planning is a Hymn Fest on Saturday 5th May in support of our mission partner, Nungalinya College.  I am looking forward to seeing you there.

Don’t forget to pick up your Gazette on your way out today.

25th March 2018

It was encouraging to see such a good turnout (49 people) at our Annual Vestry Meeting last Sunday. The rector’s, wardens’ and treasurer’s reports were presented, prompting a number of helpful questions that were asked from the floor. Written reports were provided on children’s and youth ministry, safe ministry, mission, craft group, flower guild, women’s fellowship, bell ringers, servers and the fair. Extra copies are available in the porch. Many thanks to all who reported and to all who serve our congregation and wider community in these ministries.

Our wardens, parish councillors and nominators were all duly elected (see back page for details). I am very grateful to all of our office bearers for their willingness to serve in these capacities. The meeting also recognised Fred Orr, on his retirement from the parish council, for some 20 years of service.

Holy week begins today (Palm Sunday), and leads into Easter. We will be holding Maundy Thursday dinner at 6.00 pm on Thursday (followed by communion). Please put your name down for catering purposes (folder in the porch). This is also the last week for distributing our “Jesus rose. No joke.” flyers to let the community know about our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services.
Finally, don’t forget that daylight saving ends on Sunday at 3.00 am, when clocks are to be turned back one hour. If you arrive at church and find nothing happening, it is not an April Fools’ prank; you’ll be an hour early!