~ 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. You can click on the links to read the verses automatically.

For the week of Friday, 19th April 2019

…a day of too many chocolate eggs.
…a day of excited children.
…a day of life from death.

It is hard, in many ways, to place Good Friday and Easter Sunday side-by-side without being assaulted by the stark contrast between them: despair and death on the one hand, and hope and new life on the other. There have been various belief systems over the years that have seen the forces of darkness and light, of evil and goodness, as being in opposition to each other, and as being equally balanced; one side is not stronger than the other.

The Christian faith disagrees, claiming that darkness and evil are not of the same order as the light and goodness which, ultimately, derive from God. Darkness and evil are secondary, not primary to existence, and ultimately goodness and light will win out. This can be hard to swallow as we look around at a world that features so much hatred and violence. But perhaps we’re being too hasty by ‘writing off’ the human race as an interesting experiment gone tragically wrong. God’s timing and our timing may be quite different. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King once stated, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Easter is a statement of great power, and it carries a promise. It claims, boldly, that hatred is not the final word; violence is not the final word; even death is not the final word. The final word…is hope.

Michael Dowling

For the week of Friday, 12th April 2019

Palm Sunday

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem…

The people cheered.

The people waved.

The people shouted, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”

It was as if the excitement, and the passion, and the welcome for Jesus would last forever.

But the excitement, the passion, and the welcome didn’t last.

How has our own excitement, passion and welcome for Jesus stood the test of time?

Have we retained the fervour of the early days of our faith?

Have we become more complacent and subdued in our faith?

Has our faith actually deepened and become enriched over time?

Where has our excitement and passion for Jesus gone?

What has become of it?

 Michael Dowling

For the week of Friday, 5th April 2019

In the beginning was the Word.
And the Word was with God.
And the Word was God.
The Word was with God in the beginning.
Through the Word all things were made.
Without the Word nothing was made that has been made.

God ‘spoke’ the Word and the Word brought everything into being!

There is much to be ‘unpacked’ in that statement, both theologically and scientifically, and that unpacking is a subject for another day! In the meantime, what do our words bring into being? We often focus, rightly so, on our actions, and how these actions either contribute to or detract from the peace and goodwill in our world. But our words also have powerful effects! Our words have the power to create, and the power to destroy; the power to unite, and the power to divide. In the week to come, what effect will our words have, in our lives, in our community, and in our world?

 Michael Dowling

For the week of Friday, 29th March 2019

Last April I began a three month supply ministry here at Blackwood along with Judi Hartwig. Somehow that became almost a year! Since this Sunday is my last day at Blackwood, I want to say thank you for the opportunity to spend time with you these past months. I’ve been grateful that Blackwood is such a welcoming and open community. I’d like to pay a huge tribute to Jacqui Harrison who is simply amazing and a force of nature. The large cast of volunteers in the church office are amazing. Chris Bray has done an extraordinary amount the keep the SS Blackwood sailing. Thanks for your gracious willingness to let me do unusual things in worship. You have been most patient and courageous at times!

This coming Sunday tells the story of the Lost Son, one of a series of parables in Luke 15 that Jesus tells about things that are lost and found, including a sheep and a coin. Of course, the stories are about finding rather than losing, about God’s persistent grace that is always gathering up our lostness. It is interesting that chapters 14 and 16 of Luke contain rather hard saying about discipleship. Grace is accompanied by the call to follow, to leave things behind, to be prepared to bear the cost of being a follower. A grace-shaped church is also a cross-shaped church.

My prayer is that you will continue to flourish as a faith community, continue to seek and know God’s grace, and continue to be shaped by God’s good news for our world.

Craig Mitchell

For the week of Friday, 22nd March 2019

Many years ago when we were travelling in Switzerland in a motor-home, I turned on to an autobahn and quickly realised that we were heading in the wrong direction. We had to travel about 10km going the wrong way before we could turn around and head towards our destination.

Ever had a similar experience – the wrong way on a freeway … or even the wrong way in life?

Session 3 of the Lenten study is entitled: “Turning round the right way”. The study reminds us, “When people experience tragedy, it is often not because they are bad people or have done bad things. Sometimes people suffer innocently.”

We reflect on the tragedy of Christchurch.
So many innocent lives lost. Why? O why?
There is no place for radical extremism in any country.
What more can we do to build a truly harmonious community?

On a personal note, thank you again for your prayers and support.

God bless each one,

Doug Hosking

For the week of Friday, 17th March 2019

Session 2 of the Lenten Study is entitled, “Jesus at prayer”.

As we read through the Gospels we find that Jesus prayed frequently and regularly. At times he withdrew to spend the whole night in prayer, especially before making important decisions. See the suggested readings for reflection and meditation at the end of Session 2 on Page 21.

Last year during our tour of New Zealand I had some free time in Wellington. I found the R.C. Cathedral – and it was closed to be made more earthquake safe. I met the Administrator and, as I was leaving, he presented me with a locally produced book of prayers. I share one of the brief prayers:

“Dear God
We have so much to celebrate –
Friends and family and everything that
has happened in our lives,
our achievements and our happiness
and everything about us.
Thank you.
[Millie, Year 8]

Grace and Peace

Rev Doug Hosking