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.

18th March 2018

I want to share one of the goals I’ll be mentioning in my report at today’s Annual Meeting. I am praying that we experience a growing confidence in the Bible as the primary means of encounter with God in our everyday lives.

Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). Peter teaches that we have been born again “through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). It is in hearing and believing God’s word that we come alive to God.

God’s word is available to us in the pages of the Bible. When we read the Bible, both publicly and privately, we can do so in the confident expectation that we will encounter God. He speaks to us. It’s true that some parts of the Bible can be hard to understand, but if we come with a real desire to hear God speak, the difficulties can be overcome.

The way to increase one’s confidence in anything (including the Bible) is to try it out. This, of course, is something we do each week through our Sunday gatherings, but we can also read the Bible for ourselves at home, and/or in a group setting such as KYB or my Wednesday night group.
In brief, congratulations to our bell ringers, who took out third place in the Eight Bell Striking Competition last Sunday. Many thanks to our choir, which made our Choral Evensong a beautiful experience. It was pleasing to see it so well attended.

Sunday 11th March 2018

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the opportunity we have to share in the work of the gospel through financial support of our parish. Today can I remind you of the wonderful work of many Christian organisations. This week I received newsletters from the Bible Society (which aims to put the word of God into people’s hands), Overseas Council Australia (which supports theological education in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East), Barnabas Fund (supporting persecuted Christians) and our Archbishop’s Aid appeal (which amongst other things is supporting various water projects in Asia and Africa).

It is exhilarating to think of all the good things Christians are doing, as well as overwhelming to realise we cannot get involved in all of them. Praise God that he is at work in all of this, and powerful enough to do it!

One piece of a mature Christian life, I would suggest, is to be committed financially and prayerfully both to the local congregation and to one or more Christian causes outside the local congregation. It is such a privilege to be involved in what God is doing all over the world. Please browse the new brochure stand in the Parish Room and take anything you like. Use it to pray and to give in whatever way God calls you.

Sunday 4th March 2018

With our Annual Parish Meeting coming up in two weeks, let me explain a little parish politics!  The Anglican system of church government is, I believe, a very good one and perhaps the best of all.  It makes the rector responsible for “cure of souls” in the parish and, under God, for its overall spiritual direction.  However, each parish in our diocese must also have three wardens, who administer the financial and property affairs of the church.  They ensure that proper care is taken of the church and other buildings, and ensure proper use of parish funds.

The Parish Council is the governing body for financial and property affairs, which means that it approves the budget and shapes overall policy which wardens are to implement.  The Parish Council is made up of the rector, wardens and a number of other elected members.

The Annual Parish Meeting is an opportunity to have fruitful participation in church governance.  It elects our wardens and councillors (plus nominators and synod reps); not only this but it is also a chance to receive encouraging reports from rector, treasurer, and various ministry leaders.  Please do come along.

Also, don’t forget our big Sunday next week, with both the bell competition and choral evensong.  I am told that the bell comp will be featured in the Southern Courier this week.  Finally, please get involved in our Easter letterbox drop if you can!

Sunday 9th July 2017

Probably every Christian has wished to have been there 2000 years ago to see Jesus in his earthly life.  But was the life of faith necessarily easier for Jesus’ contemporaries than for us?  Here is an interesting perspective on this question:

“One is stirred, one harks back to those beautiful times, sweet tender longings lead one to the goal of one’s desire, to see Christ walking about in the promised land.  One forgets the fear, the distress, the paradox.  Was it so easy a matter not to be mistaken?  Was it not a fearful thought that this man who walked among the others was God?  Was it not terrifying to sit down and eat with him?  Was it so easy to become an apostle? … I do not feel brave enough to wish to be contemporary with such events, but for that reason I do not judge harshly those who were mistaken, nor think meanly of those who saw the truth” (from S. Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Penguin, 1985).

It is a helpful reminder that, just as we face challenges today, those who met Jesus in the flesh also faced their own particular difficulties.  This Sunday, as we consider Jesus stilling the storm, we are reminded of the terror he could inspire in his disciples.  We also know that Peter himself could only grasp Jesus’ true identity because God revealed it to him (Matt. 16:17).

We must not forget that God’s Spirit gives us a clarity about God’s plans that is the envy even of angels (1 Peter 1:12).  Until he returns, the Scriptures provide us with all we need for an ever-brightening vision of Jesus Christ.

Sunday 2nd July 2017

There is a creche in the Parish Room today during the 9:30 am service.  Amanda and Veralene are ready to look after any babies and toddlers while parents take part in worship.  Since Sunday School is on a break, children and youth will stay in the main gathering.

Today we read of the testing of Abraham’s faith.  It is a profoundly important Bible passage, because faith is the foremost response that God wants from us.  It is by faith that we gain the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection: “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Rom. 3:22).

What exactly is faith?  A good way to understand it is that having faith in God means treating God as reliable.  We all like to be believed, and trusted, even if our track record isn’t great.  How much more, then, does God, who cannot lie, want us to believe him when he speaks!  So Sarah is commended for “considering him faithful who had promised” (Heb. 11:11).

Our God is a God who makes promises – promises which are found in the Scriptures.  Our part is to treat God as reliable, by believing that his promises are true.  I am praying that God will help us to do this more and more.

In brief, please keep praying for Martin E. Robinson (with wife Emma and baby on the way) as he prepares to join our staff team from 2018.  Our evening service will be held in the Parish Room during July and August.  If you would like the opportunity to purchase and dedicate a new hymn or prayer book to a friend or family member, this can be arranged through the church office.

Sunday 25th June 2017

Welcome to St Jude’s for our special Dedication Sunday service. If you are new, or making an occasional visit especially for today, we hope you find the gathering enjoyable and encouraging.  Everyone is invited to stay on after the service today for a finger food lunch in the Parish Room.

Our usual children’s and youth program is on today.  Children and youth will be invited to head off from church with their leaders at around 10.45 am.  These programs will be on a three-week break from next week, returning Sunday 23rd July.  BUT… parents of babies and toddlers, don’t forget there is a creche in the Parish Room on the first Sunday of each month, including next Sunday 2nd July.

On Dedication Sunday, which commemorates the opening of our building, we give great thanks to God for the provision of this place in which we worship.  To have a place where we can gather in Christ’s name is a wonderful gift of God, and is not to be taken for granted.  Many Christians around the world cannot even meet publicly, let alone in a place as prominent, spacious, and beautiful as St Jude’s.

At the same time, we are reminded that “the church” is not the building, but the gathering of Christ’s redeemed people.  A fundamental part of the Christian life is that God’s people gather together regularly, in anticipation of that heavenly gathering for which we have been bought with Jesus’ blood.  Our gathering here is one of thousands of such gatherings taking place around the world, this very day.

Sunday 18th June 2017

As part of redeveloping our church website, we have a photographer, Katie, with us this week and next.  Please make her feel welcome.

Next Sunday, 25th June is Dedication Sunday, which is one of two Sundays per year when we bring everyone together for a combined gathering at 10.30 am.  Children’s and youth programs will be on as usual.  (Services will not be held at the usual 8.00, 9.30 and 6.30 timeslots.)

Dedication Sunday commemorates the opening of our church building on 29 June 1865 (which was also St Peter’s Day).  As such it is a time to give thanks to God for the ministry that has taken place at St Jude’s over the last 152 years, as well as looking to the future in anticipation of God’s continued blessing.  This year it seems appropriate for me to preach on “The Future of St Jude’s”, based on Matthew 16:13-20.  I am looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Don’t forget to keep praying for our new staff member (commencing 2018), Martin E. Robinson, with his wife Emma and baby on the way.

Finally, we need around 10 new hymn books and prayer books.  The wardens and I would like to invite anyone who wishes to donate a book.  The cost is $40 each.  This can be arranged through the church office.

Sunday 11th June 2017

Today is Trinity Sunday, a date specially set aside for considering God’s Three-in-Oneness.  The  nature of our God as one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is an essential truth.  It underpins everything important in the Christian faith.

Only because Jesus is truly God can we say that God has come to us as a man, and that he understands first-hand what it is like to be human.  Only because Jesus and the Father are One can we be assured that our prayers, in Jesus’ name, are heard by the Father.  Only because the Spirit of the Father and the Son is truly God can we take comfort that God is present with us through the Spirit.

If God were merely One, not Three-in-One, he would inevitably be a distant God who could not be truly known.  As it is, however, he is near to us and can be known through his Son Jesus Christ.  As we come to know God, and of the bond of love between the Father and the Son in the Spirit, we learn that in the very being of God – is love!  This could not be the case if God were not Three-in-One.

This is a matter for wonder and praise of our great God.

On a more prosaic note, don’t forget that Dedication Sunday is coming up on 25th June.  We hold one combined service at 10.30 am, followed by a finger food lunch.  Please use the sign up sheet in the porch to indicate attendance as well as what you can bring.  Looking forward to seeing you there!