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Anniversary can be moments of joy.  “Thank God we made it this far!”

They can be times of reflection. “Ah, remember the good old days!”

They can be times of hope. “Let’s make it another good year!”

This year as we celebrate 36 years of the Uniting Church I am reminded again of why it was we came together and it is this which shapes my response.  That in and through Jesus Christ unity is God’s gift and will for the church.

Here is a gift we have received in fullness but not yet for the church is not one at least in any visible way.  By coming together the 3 uniting churches the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterians acted in penitence, turning towards one another and so also God’s gift and will for unity, but as they did so they also acted as witness to the church and world, this unity is not for us alone.

Institutional unity amongst the churches may not be necessary to achieve the unity to which God calls us, yet seeking reconciliation and unity with other Christians remains a calling from God. 

Jesus prayed ‘that they may be one so that the world might beleive’.  We are neither one nor has the world come to believe.

So on this anniversary the moment I find my response is this “May we remember God gifts and will and may we learn to be one.”

 

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In this time of (political) turmoil
This time of joy and dejection
Of half-truths and false accusations
In this time of unspoken desires
And unexpressed joy
In this time of changing allegiances
And of new optimism
In a time when those who remain silent
Are overtaken by the vociferous
When what’s in it for me
Is often the guiding principle
When it is difficult to knowAug to Dec 2010 084
                What is right
                What is good
                What is true
                What is trustworthy
When we look at our neighbours with suspicion
When we choose our words carefully to avoid hurt or anger
In this time of turmoil in our community
And in the land we hold dear
Let us pray for this country that we love
And for its people 

Let us pray for [Our] Rolling Brown Land 

Lord God,
your Spirit has moved over the face of Australia,
and formed from its dust a rolling brown land.
Your Spirit has moved over its warm tropical waters
and created a rich diversity of life.
Your Spirit has moved in the lives
or men, and women, and children,
and given them, from the dreamtime,
an affinity with their lands and waters.
Your Spirit has moved in pilgrim people
and brought them to a place of freedom and plenty.
Your Spirit moves still today
in sprawling, high rise cities,
in the vast distances of the outback,
and in the ethnic diversity of the Australian people.

Lord God,
in the midst of this varied huddle of humanity
you have set your church.
Give us, the people you have so richly blessed,
a commitment to justice and peace for all nations;
and a vision of righteousness
and equality for all people in our own country.
Help us to look beyond our far horizons
to see our neighbours in their many guises,
so that we may be mutually enriched by our differences.
and may our love and compassion for all people on earth
be as wide and varied as our land
and as constant as the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Douglass McKenzie, Uniting in Worship, Peoples Book p. 240]
T4P 27th June 2013     Lesley Shaw

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Living the Faith

Living the Faith is a series of sermons and studies which invite you to deepen your faith as you explore the 5 different aspect of being a Christian. 

Sermon Title & Theme Question

1. Whom do we follow. Who is Jesus Christ?

2. Celebrating New Life. What does it mean to be baptised into Christ?

3. More than a meal. How does God grow us in the faith?

4. A Shared Life. How do we live in Christian community?

5. Helping hands. How do we live in the world?

9am Sundays from 30th June-28th July 2013

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I had one of those interesting experiences with a young girl a bumped into the other day.  When she found out I was a minister she told me earnestly that her mum said that God was just a story the people make up but she believed in God.  She then asked whether Jesus was in my church.

As a parent I am wary of interfering in what another parent might teach or tell their child.  At the same time of this I wanted to affirm the child in her spirituality.  I tried to answer diplomatically saying I had different thoughts to the little girl’s mum and believed that God is more than a story made up by some people.

Hopefully, prayerfully, the seed of spiritual belief that the little girl has been nurtured by what I said.  Yet I can’t help wondering at the difficult journey that little seedling will have in such a hostile environment.

As people of faith in an increasingly secular and even antagonistic environment the example of our belief and spirituality expressed publicly in however a small way I believe is becoming more and more important.

 It left my wondering how I could be a better bearer of good news inviting, encouraging and exampling God’s love so that children such as this one might feel some encouragement in what has already begun to stir in them.

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Did you by chance watch “Ten Bucks a Litre” by Dick Smith on ABC on Thursday night.  If not maybe you can watch it on iView.  Dick Smith has ever been an optimist and this was evident in his documentary about the issues we face in termes of energy.  He raised some serious questions about the potential which lies before us in terms of energy usage and costs, and not not simply financial costs.

Nevertheless listening to Smith I could not help thinking about Paul Gilding’s book “The Great Disruption” which paints a more dire picture. (A good summary can be seen in his TED talk). Or the even more disturbing article about Professor Steven Emmott’s research I read last week.  It predicts a massive global economic collapse in the mids 2020s, or to use Gildings anaology ‘the lights will go out’!

Aug to Dec 2010 084This week in our Bible study I returned to Psalm 8 as we considered the place of Christians in the world.  We discussed the notion of ‘dominion’ and I could not help asking again, with some  deep reservations, “So, how is that dominion thing really working out?”    

With this all in mind I find myself falling back to Psalm 121: “1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Where do we find hope in the midst of these immense challenges?  How do we live our faith in these times?

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We do not consider enough what a subversive and counter cultural act coming to church on Sunday is. 

This morning as I travelled to church I saw people setting out in lycra for their ride, I saw basketball players on a court, people walking their dog, other houses with doors closed and people sleeping in (well quite possibly). 

Others are heading to the Ekka, whilst some have birthday parties to attend, and for yet others a day at the coast or in the mountains. 

Instead of choosing one of these many options in churches across Australia people gather and in so doing remind each other that there is a God, that this God is love and that there is an invitation to think of life in the world in more expansive ways as followers of Jesus.

Sometimes I hear it said you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian but when I consider what a radical and subversive act it is in this culture that invites us to leisure first maybe coming to church has greater importance than we think.

What did you do this Sunday?