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.

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!

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.