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.

9th June

Like every Christian congregation around the world, we meet together because God has reached out in love to a wayward world.  Jesus said that he had come “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  We often speak about a lost dog, a lost child or a lost mobile phone at times when we still hope to find them again.  At such times we hope that what is lost is really just misplaced.  But when we have truly lost something or someone – forever – it is tragic.  And Jesus was sent by his Father to a human race that was deeply and tragically lost, estranged from God through sin, and under his anger.

The sad truth is that most of the world continues to live in this lostness, either because they have not heard of Jesus, or because they do not give him a second thought.  But to those who hear his invitation to turn back to our heavenly Father, there is a rich welcome, forgiveness, and the certain hope of living under God’s blessing forever.  All of this is won for us by Jesus’ powerful death and resurrection.  And so every Christian can sing the famous words: “I once was lost but now am found” (from John Newton’s Amazing Grace).

Church is a gathering of people who were lost and have now been found through Jesus’ rescue mission.  In this shared connection to Jesus Christ, we have also become God’s family, and brothers and sisters to each other.  Church is not for people who are already perfect, but it is for people who are on a journey together, through this world’s wilderness, and who want to help each other stay faithful to Jesus to the end.

We hope you will feel welcomed and helped on your journey by joining us today.

In brief:

  • Thanks again to everyone who made last week’s Fireworks such a success.
  • Regular members please collect your Restoration Appeal letter if you did not receive it last week.
  • CRU Edge is on soon.  Please attend, invite or help!

 

2nd June

The night before he died, Jesus told his disciples that he was going away, and that they could not follow him.  They were both perplexed and saddened.  Jesus then began to unfold to them his wondrous plan to continue being with them (and now us) through his Holy Spirit.  Jesus explained that even after he had gone, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

The Holy Spirit is not a mere concept, or feeling, but the very presence of God with his people.  He lives in the heart of every Christian person, reassuring us that we are God’s children, empowering us to obey God’s good commands, enabling us to pray, and even praying on our behalf when we do not know what to pray for (Romans 8:26).  If you have made Jesus the Lord of your life, you can be sure that you have the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3), as a guarantee of your eternal inheritance.

The next two weeks in the church calendar, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, remind us that God is Three-in-One.  Only because of this, God is able through his Spirit to be truly with us now, as we wait for Jesus’ return.

At the time of writing I was prayerfully hoping that Fireworks would be possible last night in the face of a dubious weather forecast.  If it happened, then thanks to everyone who helped and who attended.  If not, then a new date will be announced today!

In brief:

–          Our Restoration Fund appeal is underway.  May I encourage you to give generously to the ongoing work of restoring our wonderful heritage site.

–          This is my last Sunday until 21st July, as we depart on long service leave.  Until then, every blessing to you, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

26th May

Today I have a few updates for you.  The renovation of our childcare centre playground, announced several months back, is currently at the design stage.  We have retained an experienced playground company to do both design and construction, and are currently working through some different design possibilities before we go ahead.  This process has taken a little longer than expected, but is well on track.

Many will be aware that I am taking Long Service Leave to holiday in Europe and the UK with our family (the first time our children have needed passports!).  Next Sunday will be our last Sunday before the trip.  For the following six weeks your locum rector will be Rev. Stephen Fifer, the recently retired rector of St Jude’s Bowral.  He is preparing a series of sermons on the Parables of Jesus from Luke’s gospel, which I am sure you will find interesting and enjoyable. Please make him feel welcome in our part of God’s family.

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the Bush Church Aid society (BCA), and we will be praying for its work. In addition to the money raised for BCA  at our Concert a few weeks back, we have another opportunity to make a special gift to BCA for its centenary.

In brief:

  • Fireworks is on this coming Saturday at 5 pm. Please come along, and invite a friend.
  • We need more volunteers to provide afternoon tea at Kids’ Club on Wednesday afternoons. Please let Kat know if you can help.

19th May

Who would have thought, six months ago, that the final week of campaigning towards yesterday’s election would involve the contenders trading theological pronouncements about hell?  Although there was not much substance or authority to the statements they made, I think I am pleased that hell is in the news, because unpleasant as it is, there is no more important subject.  Long after the taxation, labour market and environmental policies taken to yesterday’s election have been forgotten, every Australian voter will be either in heaven or in hell.

This is the clear testimony of Scripture (e.g. Luke 12:5, Revelation 21:8).  And for all the talk of a “vengeful God” that we have heard in the media, it should be obvious that Scripture warns us about the reality of hell because God does not want us to go there.  At the centre of our faith is the death of the Lord Jesus Christ who underwent the punishment of hell to redeem sinners from the hell that we all deserve.

Hell is not reserved for especially heinous sinners.  Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).  The way to life is through faith in the crucified Christ.

If you are not sure you are on the road to life, tell me at the door, and let’s talk about it urgently.

12th May

On this Mothers’ Day I am grateful to God for my mother, who taught me to believe in God and loves me unconditionally to this day.  I am grateful to God for one particularly good friend of my mother, who never had children of her and own and has been very generous towards me and my children.  And I am grateful to God for my wife, with her endless patience and devotion, and timely Christian encouragements, for our children (and for me!).  God gave us our mothers and mother figures.  Indeed, God invented motherhood and occasionally describes himself in motherly terms (e.g., Matthew 23:37).  Therefore, while it is right to thank and acknowledge the women in our lives today, let us genuinely acknowledge God for his wisdom and kindness in providing them.

You may have seen article about our Sculpture dedication in the Southern Courier, 30th April, page 17.  It happens that on the very next page, our choir is mentioned for their participation in the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Coogee Beach.  It’s nice to get some media coverage!

This week it would be remiss of me to say nothing about this Saturday’s federal election.  I want to encourage you to vote Christianly.  By this I mean to start with the realisation that your vote is a gift of God to be used in obedience to him.  In deciding how to vote, our self-interest, and our tribal loyalties to one side of politics or the other, must give way to our Christian identity.  We must make a judgment, as best we can, as to what political outcome will be best for the advance of the gospel.

There is no such person as the perfect Christian candidate.  All have strengths and weaknesses in the way their character and policies align with the gospel.  As a result, Christian people can legitimately differ in their political judgments and end up voting for different candidates.  The key, however, is to recognise in our vote a God-given responsibility for which we will give account. So please pray sincerely for wisdom, and vote with the wisdom God gives you.  I have written a prayer which you may like to use (see inside).

Also, this month’s edition of the Southern Cross contains an excellent column from our Archbishop in relation to the upcoming election.

In brief, Fireworks is in three weeks’ time (Sat 1st June, 5 pm).  Please plan to come, and invite a friend.

5th May

A warm welcome to church today.  I trust you will grow in joy and hope through what takes places in the service.  Sunday School (9.30 am service) returns today after a holiday break.  Children join in the main gathering at the start, and then head off to their programs after the children’s talk.  There is also a creche operating in the Parish Room during the 9.30 am service.  Feel free to drop off babies and toddlers there and pick up after the service.

Thanks to everyone who made yesterday’s Autumn Concert such a great event.  I trust you enjoyed it very much.  Next week I will be able to announce the amount we raised for the Bush Church Aid Society’s 100th Anniversary Appeal.

Today we welcome Jono Campbell, of SRE East, to our 8.00 and 9.30 am services to speak to us about his work in teaching SRE (School Scripture) in Randwick Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools.  This is exciting work for which we pray regularly.  (Our own Martin E. Robinson is also involved in teaching some of the classes).

Next week, of course, is Mothers’ Day.  At church we mark this fairly simply, by giving thanks and praying for all the mothers and mother figures that God has given to us.  I know that some mums take this as an opportunity to invite family to church.  Please do this!  We are prepared for visitors both in the service and in Sunday School.

In brief, the countdown is now on to our annual Fireworks and BBQ, Saturday 1st June.

28th April

It was during the course of last Sunday (Easter Day) that news broke of the terrorist attack on hotels and churches in Sri Lanka.  The death toll now stands at over three hundred.  My initial reaction is simply shock and sadness at yet another attack in which the perpetrators’ love for their own ideas has led them to inflict such dreadful suffering on fellow human beings.  This was truly perverse.

At the time of writing, no-one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.  However it is telling that churches (both Catholic and Protestant) were targetted, and on the greatest day of celebration in the Christian calendar.  The Bible teaches that “all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12), and these brothers and sisters have paid the price for gathering in Christ’s name.  Sri Lankan Christians will now be thinking twice before they gather.  We ought to pray that they would not be frightened to return to church, because gathering is a fundamental part of the Christian life.  For our part, we must also decide not to neglect gathering as Christians, whether for fear of violence or (more likely) simply having other things to do.  It is precious to God that we take the time to gather with his people, even though it is difficult.

Even in the face of such horror, we can confidently pray to God that he will do justice, and enable the families of victims to find true hope in Christ.  “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).

In brief:

  • Our Autumn Concert is this Saturday, 3.00 pm. Please come along and invite a friend.
  • Don’t forget the SRE East Supporters’ Afternoon Tea this afternoon. We also hope to see Jono Campbell at St Jude’s next week.
  • Kids’ Club, Youth and some Bible study groups return this week (see back page for details).

21st April

At this time of year, we rightly focus on the deep, deep love of God our Father and his Son, expressed in the saving death of Jesus.  As his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane showed, Jesus was sorrowful, abandoned, and in dread of the pain he would endure as he drank the cup of God’s wrath on the Cross.  Yet he willingly chose it, out of love for his Father and for us whom he would rescue, by his death, from eternity under God’s wrath.  Samuel Crossman beautifully puts it this way: “Yet cheerful he to suffering goes”.

Someone may ask: but why was this necessary?  Why could God not simply forgive and forget, without any sacrifice?  At this point it may helpful to consider human households and societies.  No household can function if parents freely accept disobedience by saying, “It’s OK.”  And no society can function if its authorities freely accept being ignored.

Not only that, but when a wrong is committed, the victim wants to see a consequence meted out to the perpetrator; otherwise the victim feels that they are not valued. If God, therefore, is the wronged party when we sin, then to require no punishment for sin would be equivalent to saying that God is of no value.  Although this is precisely what many people think, it is obviously untrue.  The God who lives in unapproachable light is of supreme value, and worthy of our praise.

All of this is why the Bible says of the sacrifice of Jesus at the Cross, that God did it “to show his righteousness” (Romans 3:26).

In brief:

  • There is an afternoon tea for supporters of SRE East next Sunday
  • Please plan to come to our concert in two weeks’ time, Sat 4th

14th April

On Wednesday afternoon, my “fill the church” vision was briefly fulfilled with over 600 students from Randwick Public School attending their Easter Scripture Assembly here.  It is amazing how they are able to pack in.  Reggie the puppet was in fine form, and we presented the story of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, in which Pilate tried to set Jesus free by offering them the murderer Barabbas.  But, of course, the crowd in a fit of insanity chose Barabbas to go free, and Jesus to be crucified.  All of this serves as a remarkable illustration of the achievement of Christ’s death, for he was the innocent one who died in place of the guilty – you and me.

Thank you for your prayers for the Scripture Assembly, and please continue to pray that God would use our efforts to his glory.

We are going to hold a concert here at St Jude’s on Saturday 4th May, at 3.00 pm, with brass, cello, choir and organ.  I hope you will plan to be here for this great event.  A collection will be taken up for the Bush Church Aid Society’s 100th anniversary appeal.  Also, we will have afternoon tea following the concert.  Please bring a plate if you can.

In brief, this is definitely the last week to take and deliver Easter flyers, and also to put your name down for Maundy Thursday dinner, which is of course, this Thursday.  I am looking forward to seeing you over Easter as we celebrate the central event of all history in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ.

7th April 2019

Last week was the big Sunday we had spoken about for many weeks, with the Sculpture Dedication and Choral Evensong as well as our three regular gatherings. Our prayers for good weather were answered spectacularly, as God gave us truly perfect autumn weather to enjoy the dedication ceremony under the fig tree near Frances St. Around sixty people gathered to hear prayers, scripture and words of tribute to women who served in the body of Christ here at St Jude’s, without making the history books.

The sculpture itself is a beautiful piece of work, which exceeds the expectations aroused by the computer generated image we had in advance.  We are grateful to God for his creative gifts to the sculptor, Tory Richards.  May I encourage you to take the time to walk down to the graveyard – which has enjoyed its post summer haircut and is a very pleasant place to be – to have a close look at the sculpture.

Evensong was also most enjoyable, with a good sized congregation in attendance to hear 1662 Evening Prayer and the choir in fine voice.  Thanks to Angus and the choir for organising this.

Thank you to everyone who has taken Easter flyers to deliver.  I hope that our tag line “The Humble King” will resonate with the community.  Jesus, the humble king, is the king the world needs.  Please collect more flyers and try to get them into letter boxes this week.  Next week is Palm Sunday and then Easter is upon us!  Also, please plan to come to Maundy Thursday dinner, and put your name down.