~ Ideas shared in our Sunday morning messages ~

Have you ever suddenly come across a word or a phrase that makes an indelible imprint on your mind? One word which springs to mind is Spirituality – Spirit-uality. This means living each day by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, reading the Word, praying, listening for the still small voice of the Spirit or giving praise and thanks to God.

Something to think about…

Each week we have a small devotion to contemplate for the days following the service on Sunday. These are included in the BUC newsletter for the congregation but they are also provided for you below to read at your own leisure.

For the week of Friday, 16th August 2019

This week we welcome back Rev David Houston so that we can celebrate the 60th Anniversary of his Ordination. David was the Minister here at Blackwood Methodist from 1971-1981.

David’s theme for the service is ‘Coming together in Community’ and he will be talking a little about the history of the Blackwood Uniting Church.

It makes me think about how many people have come together in this place of worship to support one another in times of joy and sadness. It is what we do as humans and sometimes it is something we forget about in our daily lives as we look at screens, smartphones and not the people sitting next to us. It is often the smallest acts of kindness that make the biggest impact on people.

I believe and I hope this service will be a reminder for people to come together and support one another, to share memories and to look ahead at how we move forward to dream, to build, to worship, to love, to celebrate and to live.


For the week of Friday, 9th August 2019

Most church buildings are filled with reminders of the generations that preceded the present one. The reminders can be in the form of pictures or plaques on the walls, names engraved on sturdy pews or displayed in a stained-glass window. In some places worship is shaped by enduring traditions that were started by past generations. How many examples of this can you think of in or near the Blackwood Uniting Church?

This week’s readings from the gospel and the epistle provides an opportunity to celebrate the past, present and future of our faith. The words of Paul in the epistle remind us of the faith displayed by Abraham and Sarah, stories well-known from the Old Testament. The words of Jesus in the gospel challenge us to use our faith and not be distracted by the pressures of everyday life.

For some the legend of faith will bring comfort. For others, it could lead to a feeling of exclusion, despair or anxiety. Some may feel that their faith in God has been disappointed by tragedy, by prayer requests not granted or the over whelming presence of suffering in the world.

As we consider the readings may we be challenged to renew our faith and be prepared to display our faith in our community.

(Adapted from Seasons of the Spirit, copyright Wood Lake Publishing)

 Wes Bray

For the week of Friday, 2nd August 2019

In this week’s gospel reading, Jesus tells the parable of a man who seems to be getting too far ahead of himself, perceiving what he sees to be an opportunity to set himself up for the future, allowing him to then ‘take things easy.’ In the parable, God critiques this attitude, focussed as it seems on a future the man perceives to be real, stating, that this very night, the man’s life will be demanded of him.

None of us knows which night will be our last. Do we give much thought to this reality? How do we balance the need to plan for the future with the reality that this present moment is all we ever have? What if tonight were to be our last night? Would we be satisfied with how we had apportioned our energy between planning for the future and living in the here and now?

Michael Dowling

For the week of Friday, 26th July 2019

“Lord, teach us to pray…”

In this week’s reading, Jesus’ disciples ask him how to pray.

On one level, it seems strange that they should ask Jesus such a question. Surely it’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Don’t you just pray?! Why would you need instruction? Perhaps it was a case of you had to be there. Perhaps if we were there, in the actual presence of Jesus, then it would become clear to us why they might have asked him how to pray. We hear in the gospels that Jesus would go off alone to pray, sometime spending the entire night in prayer. Jesus had a deep relationship with the transcendent Creator God, a relationship centred in prayer, and the result of this relationship could, doubtless, be sensed by his disciples in his very character. I’ll have what you’re having. Teach us to pray…as you pray, Lord.

But, we have an advantage over the disciples, don’t we? We can read in this Sunday’s gospel reading the famous prayer that Jesus taught them – The Lord’s Prayer – and we therefore have no need to ask any further, “Teach us to pray.” Or do we? Might there be something ‘missing’ in our prayer life, something crucial, something that might make all the difference in the world? This Sunday we will explore the strange idea of prayer and what it means for us.

 Michael Dowling

For the week of Friday, 19th July 2019

Lectionary readings, Luke 10: 32-42, Colossians 1: 15-28

Last week Michael had as wondering “Why do you do the things you do?” as we reflected on ”The Good Samaritan”. This week’s story is almost as familiar:- Mary and Martha.   It’s about action and reflection.

Old verses come to mind:

What is this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare …
No time to turn at beauty’s glance, and watch her feet, see how they dance …
A poor thing life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.

An American friend’s email this week quoted Seneca from 2000 years ago seeing busyness as an addiction that stands in the way of mastering the art of living.:-“ No activity can be successfully pursued by an individual who is preoccupied… since the mind when pre-occupied….the mind when distracted absorbs nothing deeply.”

Paul also wrote to Colossians about 2000 years ago fearing they had too much theorising and not enough practicality. Scholars have identified their mistakes as rooted in the Gnostic belief that “ matter is essentially evil and the spirit is altogether good.”

Early in his letter Paul says “ The secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the Glory of God.”( Col.1:27b). Marys may be better at sensing the spirit’s presence; Marthas may be better at acting on that presence…. So we can’t say :”Our mob good, their mob bad!”

Malcolm McArthur

For the week of Friday, 12th July 2019

The Parable of the Good Samaritan and ‘Unsettling Grace.’

We know the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’ very well. It is a story that Jesus uses to address the question “And who is my neighbour?” There is a risk with familiarity, however, because we can feel that we’ve heard it all before, and so often, that there is nothing left for us to hear. Might there still be something new for us in this parable, despite its familiarity? God’s grace has a way of breaking through, at the most unexpected times, and in the most unexpected ways. Moreover, God’s grace comes in many forms. Many times, we experience God’s grace as uplifting, welcoming and affirming. Other times, however, God’s grace can be disturbing, unsettling, and something we’d much rather ignore. As we engage with this well-known parable, will we be any more open than its first hearer to Christ’s grace, Christ’s unsettling grace?

Michael Dowling