This is the latest blurb that is published on the front of our weekly bulletin

Hope from the horror of Orlando

orlando-pulse-massacreThe shooting at Orlando reminds us of the evil of humanity and the fragility of human life.

It is a bitter tragedy to see 49 people shot dead and 53 others seriously injured from a civilian mass shooting with military-style weapons.

It is also very sad to see the LGBTQI community targeted by a man who claimed to be influenced by Islam.

Yet in the midst of the tragedy and the sadness there is hope.

People have gathered across the planet to pray for the victims and their loved-ones, regardless of whether they agree with the values and beliefs of those who were targeted in the attack.

It shows the best side of humanity as together we demonstrate love for individuals, even as people disagree about matters close to our heart.

It is good and right for us to be engaged in debate about things like the definition of marriage, but even as we disagree, we must do so in love.

Let us keep praying for peace in our world, especially as we witness the sin and hatred that is sadly part of broken humanity.

Let us pray for the leaders of our world, as they seek to work together to deal with extremist violence and the weapons that can cause such harm.

Let us pray for those who are injured, for those who are grieving, and for the communities shaken by this senseless violence.

And let us pray in this tragedy that people might “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” and “know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19)

All other ground is sinking sand

Erosion along Sydney beaches (CREDIT: David Morgan-Mar via Flickr)

Erosion along Sydney beaches (CREDIT: David Morgan-Mar via Flickr)

This week we’ve seen the powerful forces of wind and rain.

Whether it’s been the flooding of buildings around Picton, or the erosion of the beach at Collaroy, we’ve witnessed just how easily our homes can be damaged or destroyed by ‘natural’ forces.

As we saw these pictures in the media, many of us might have recalled the story Jesus told about two men who built homes on very different foundations:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew chapter 7 verses 24 to 27)

Jesus was speaking about the need to hear his words and put them into practice.

For if we don’t build our life on the solid foundation of Jesus, then we’ll be investing everything on something that is only a big storm away from being destroyed.

Let’s pray for those who have been affected by the storms that have lashed the East Coast over the past week, and ask God to help them rebuild their lives.

But more than that, let’s pray that this graphic illustration reminds everyone of the need to stand upon the solid ground of Jesus’ word, since all other ground is sinking sand.

God’s word is really powerful

(CREDIT: Matthew Keefe via Flickr)

(CREDIT: Matthew Keefe via Flickr)

We don’t really appreciate power until we lose it.

Some of us have felt the powerlessness in retirement, where one day we’ve got power over people and processes, and then the next day, this power is given over to someone younger.

Some of us have felt the powerlessness during poor health, where one day we’re running around a field, or carrying bags of groceries, or just tying your shoelaces, and then the next day we’re confined to crutches, or bedrest, or told about the medical condition that will now define our future.

Some of us have experienced powerlessness through abuse, where one day we’re young and free, able to make choices about life and actions, and then the next day your spouse takes away your power to contact friends, or spend money, or make simple choices.

So, we cry out to God to ask him to fix this world that suffers so much from the powerlessness of loss and sickness and abuse, and as we pray, God shows us the very thing that has the power to change everything.

It’s the power that is summed up in the simple phrase, “Jesus is Lord”, and it’s the power that transforms lives in this life, and in the life that is to come.

Romans chapter 1 verse 16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

For, as people hear the gospel of Jesus, and believe in him as Lord and Saviour, then hope comes from the power of the gospel to bring true forgiveness and genuine reconciliation.

This side of Heaven we won’t enjoy the full peace that we await, but we will have real hope in the real Jesus as we await his return or our going to be with him.

Saying ‘sorry’ is just the first step

sorry in the sky

Sorry Day over Sydney Harbour (CREDIT: Butuba via flickr.com)

Thursday was National Sorry Day in Australia, a day to recognise all the damage done to Indigenous peoples of Australia since the arrival of the British in 1788.

I’ve witnessed people roll their eyes at this stuff before, and not only scoff but even protest against the welfare policies provided to Indigenous peoples today that give them assistance in housing and education, as if it’s somehow unfair.

They probably didn’t realise at the time that I am Indigenous myself.

Massacres of Indigenous peoples were still occurring well into the 20’s and 30’s of last century, often tacitly approved by–if not involving–law enforcement.

After being legally considered flora and fauna for over 100 years, they were only recognised as citizens in 1967.

Tens of thousands of children with mixed Indigenous/non-Indigenous descent were stolen from their families for ‘assimilation’, to absorb them into ‘white’ people while the rest were assumed to die out–and this was occurring until the 1970s, the decade before I was born.

This was not to be officially recognised by the Australian Government until the 1990’s, allowing for consequences to spiral further for another generation.

We are not talking about ancient history: we are talking about hundreds of people groups on this continent who have lost not only their land but their languages, culture, families, identity, and, for ninety percent of them, their lives.

This doesn’t just resolve the moment that the destruction stops, for there needs to be proactive help and reconciliation.

There are generations of Indigenous people today who have been severely disadvantaged from birth because their parents were severely disadvantaged and suffered greatly, and the problem has amplified.

Government assistance with things like housing and education is not only reasonable, but a minimum.

We are still a long way from an equal playing field. 

John Hanlen (one of the members of last week’s Moore College team, who spoke at our church last Saturday night).

Hurry up and wait!

An AS350BA Squirrel helicopter from 723 Squadron (CREDIT: Royal Australian Navy)

An AS350BA Squirrel helicopter from 723 Squadron (CREDIT: Royal Australian Navy)

When I was in the Navy I learnt an important lesson: the ‘hurry up and wait’.

It usually occurred when we’d be told without much notice to be in the next place, that’s usually not very close to where you are, in less time then it really takes you to get there. This is called the hurry up.

Typically what would happen once we had arrived is that the hierarchy would then take another 30 minutes to figure out exactly what it was that they wanted us to do. We did plenty of waiting like this.

As Christians, we’re actually in the ‘hurry up and wait’ business, too. 

In the Bible, Jesus tells us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), but the Bible also tells us that the ‘time is near’ for Jesus’ return. (Revelation 1:3).

This time could even be today or tomorrow.

I want to challenge you to hurry up. Share your faith in Jesus with friends and family, the ones you’ve wanted to share the good news of Jesus with but haven’t quite gotten around to it.

I want to challenge you because, as the Bible tells us, the time is indeed near.

If you don’t trust Jesus, hurry up and investigate Jesus because without trusting in him there is no hope of the ‘wait’.

This is because Christians wait in hope of Jesus’ glorious return.

Whether he returns today, tomorrow or not until more generations have come and gone, Christians await his glorious return knowing we will finally be at home with Jesus when he comes.

So, what are you waiting for? Hurry up!

Mitch Herps (Moore Theological College student)

Isn’t it time to come back to church?

Back to ChurchIsn’t it time you came back to church?

At 5pm this Saturday 21st May we’re hosting a FREE chops, chips and chocolate night at the church. Join us for a free BBQ meal, with salads, hot chips, and a chocolate fountain with marshmallows and fruit, followed by free espresso coffee. It’s a great contemporary church service for people of all ages, and includes a special kids’ program.

If you’d prefer a more traditional service then come along at 8am on Sunday morning for a prayer book service with great hymns and time for reflection.

This weekend at both services we’re welcoming a group of young trainee ministers who will share with us the heart of the Christian faith.

This is the perfect weekend to come back to church. We’d love you to join us!

Back to church week

Back to Church“Why don’t you come back to church this week?”

This is the question that we’re planning to ask hundreds of people this week as we connect with our village and valley in a big push to welcome people back into church.

Some people will respond by saying, “I’ve never been to church before… so why should I come this weekend?” This will create the perfect opportunity for us to share that people should come to church to come alive with Christ.

For others, they’ll say that they don’t feel the need to come to church. This should naturally lead to a great chat about how God created every person and longs for us all to know him and come alive with Christ.

Some might also respond to this challenge by saying that they don’t feel they’d fit in to church. This should lead us to talk about the many different kinds of people who are part of our church, from all ages and walks of life.

Finally, they might feel that it wouldn’t be right for them to come to church because of the bad things they’ve done. This will create a wonderful opportunity to talk about the rich message of grace that comes through the death of Jesus on their behalf.

It’s my prayer that over this week we’ll have lots of different opportunities to share the good news that ‘Jesus is Lord’ so that many people will hear his call to repent and believe, and then be saved.

That’s a great reason to come back to church! What about you?

From CHAOS to Refuge

Refuge LogoFor many years our church youth group has been known by the name ‘CHAOS’, which stands for ‘Christ Honoured and Others Served’.

As a tagline or mission statement, it’s a terrific summary of what we want to happen in our youth group.

The problem is that the idea of ‘chaos’ in the Bible is generally a bad thing.

After all, God’s work in the world generally brings order where there used to be chaos, especially in the lives of those who have been filled with the Holy Spirit.

Now it’s true that youth often find a grungy, anti-establishment kind of identity to be one that is strangely attractive as they navigate the challenging journey from childhood to adulthood.

But, the problem with the name ‘CHAOS’ is that it doesn’t really communicate that we long for our youth group to attract people by the delight that comes from knowing Jesus and being transformed by his Holy Spirit.

So that’s why we’ve switched our name to ‘Refuge’, which seeks to sum up the security that comes from knowing God, and the safety we can experience as we gather together for youth group in the name of Jesus.

For as we know from the Bible, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46 verse 1).

Jodie.

PS: Refuge is for high-school aged people and it meets at Oak Flats Anglican each Friday from 7pm to 9.30pm during school terms.

Anglicare and ARV Better Together

Anglicare and ARV TogetherThe parliament of our church voted unanimously this week to merge Anglicare and Anglican Retirement Villages (ARV) to better meet the need for their services in the future.

Archbishop Glenn Davies told a special synod called to consider a merger that the landscape of aged care in Australia has dramatically changed.

“The future will see constraints placed on government funding of aged care services and development of the practice of consumer directed care. Users of aged care services will be required to pay more and will be given greater say in the way their services are delivered.” Dr Davies said.

“This is a dramatic shift in social policy by the Commonwealth Government, which has significant ramifications for both organisations. New players are entering the field of aged care services. These are large, international, for-profit organisations who are growing at a rapid rate. Scale will be vital for growth: scale is the new criterion for survival.”

Dr Davies said he was thankful for the strength of both Anglicare and ARV. “Strong financially, strong in reputation and strong in the foundation of their work on the love of Jesus Christ. I am thankful that we are able to look with confidence to the future and are able to plan that future from a position of strength.”

The Archbishop paid tribute to the 4,000 staff who work at Anglicare and ARV and the thousands of volunteers who he said ‘contribute greatly to our mission’. “I am excited about the prospect of one formidable agency working alongside our parishes to share the gospel by word and deed.” the Archbishop said.

Report from sydneyanglicans.net

We must never glorify death

Anzac memorial (CREDIT: Nadia Morgan via Flickr)

Anzac memorial (CREDIT: Nadia Morgan via Flickr)

As we come to Anzac Day, it’s impossible to avoid speaking of death.

As we remember the heroism of those who served, we never forget the many who gave their lives to protect our way of life.

Yet even as we honour their sacrifice, we must never glorify death.

Death is our greatest enemy, no matter how much we try to conquer it ourselves.

It brings us sadness and pain, even when it comes with valour.

Even Jesus wept as he stood at the grave of his friend.

And this is why Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by giving his life in order to conquer death.

And because of Jesus’ death for us, the Bible cries out,  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1Corinthians 15:55)

As we remember those who gave their life for our nation, let us pray to the man who gave his life for the world. 

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Lest we forget.