~ 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, 15th December 2017
Reading: The Gospel of John 1:6-8, 19-28 [Third Sunday of Advent]
To what does your life point as being important? Or put another way, if your life could be imagined as a torch, what are you lighting up for others to see? Your love for your family? Your faith and or Church community? Your passion for the Crows? What would people who know you think you are most ‘on about’?
Here in the Season of Advent we hear of John the Baptist bellowing in the desert lands out in the valleys beyond Jerusalem. “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord,” John’s Gospel makes much of the Baptist. He is a pointer to the light, the light which is “coming into the world”.
We are all advocates, witnesses, promoters and tellers. Question is, “Of what?” Your conversation will be a guide. Now is the opportunity to point to what matters most. In all that the Christmas season brings.
Rev Phil Hoffmann
For the week of Friday, 8th December 2017
Reading: Mark 1:1-8
Imagine the reporting and reaction if a scruffy, unkempt and oddly dressed man turned up at Parliament House in Canberra and said he had a message for the politicians. Imagine, also, how it might be reported in some parts of the media and what traffic would begin to be transmitted on social media.
Terrorist attempts to storm Parliament, Politicians reject call to change their ways, Plot to undermine the Government’s legislative programme, Monarch’s authority diminished.
If this had been John the Baptist who had turned up at Parliament House then all but the second headline would have been fake news. The point of this was later proven when King Herod had John’s head on a plate to please his daughter and to be rid of a threat.
John was the vanguard, the forerunner of what was to come. He came out of the wilderness to utter a few home truths to the community, home truths which many could not accept and rather than listen they closed their ears and carried out their threats to be rid of both hi and the one whom he foreshadowed.
Fake news is nothing new and it remains a tactic to avoid truth, to discredit unwelcome news or analysis, and to manipulate truth to suit the propagandists. John brought news that many did not want to hear but he was only wanting to recover the relationship with God that had been rejected in favour of personal theological comfort and practice.
John is a preparer of the light, one who paves the way for the inevitable impact of Christmas and its reminder of new beginnings and opportunities.
The Rev Dr Adrian Brown
For the week of Friday, 1st December 2017
Reading : Isaiah 64: 1 – 9 [First Sunday of Advent – Happy New Year!]
During the Season of Advent and its time of preparation for the coming Christmas the Lectionary of readings invites the Church into a hearing of the words of the prophets, particularly this Year [‘Year B’ if you were wondering], the call of the prophet Isaiah. These are the cries of hope of the people in the midst of national calamity and challenge, very human in their longings and often desperate in their questions. The prophets ask “Where is God in this?”
Beginning today in Advent with the plea, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence”. This is the cry of faith wanting God to make it plain, to be real in the lives of the people. But it is rarely so clear. Faith is mystery, requiring response. It is no simple thing.
In his book, “Silent Hope: Living with the Mystery of God”, the Canadian Catholic writer on spirituality John Kirvan says, “Our search for God will never be conducted in a neat world. Life will never submit to our good intentions … life will never cease to be a messy affair, and our spiritual journey will never be reduced to a tidying-up operation. God doesn’t wait to enter our life until we have put it all in order. Our journey … is about finding God in the midst of the mess. The messiest place of all will be our own soul, our own life, which, despite our best efforts, will insist on remaining human. And it is into this mess, this confusion, that God and others will invite themselves”.
Christmas is coming people!
Rev Phil Hoffmann
For the week of Friday, 24th November 2017
Reading: Matthew 25:31-46
Here is a memory check from the Andy Griffith Show called The Loaded Goat and you can watch it on You Tube:
A local construction crew is blasting for an underpass near Mayberry. The rumour is that the mayor wants to bring the highway past his brother’s service station. A farmer brings his goat to town to experience his weekly shopping trip, and partly because of the blasting making the goat nervous. Told to get him out of the barbershop, he ties him up outside but the animal soon frees itself. Unfortunately for everyone, the goat makes its way to a construction shack used by a road crew and eats a crate-full of dynamite. Andy and Barney treat the goat with kid gloves and place him in drunk and disorderly Otis’s cell. The fun starts when Otis lets himself into the locked jail using his own key and kicks the goat out of “his” cell. It’s left to Barney to play the pied piper and get the animal out of town.
Separating the sheep from the goats takes on a new meaning. Everyone might want to find and be rid of the goat but his owner loves him (put another way, God loves even the goats and this is the message from today’s reading that we should too).
Rev Dr Adrian Brown
For the week of Friday, 17th November 2017
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11
Today Salonika is a major Greek port. Thessalonicans were important, even in Paul’s time. They were on the main highway linking Asia minor with Europe . They were among the first European converts to the new hope arising from the life and death of Jesus. They longed for an end of the troubles of their present lives with “the Parousia,” a hoped for ‘coming again’ of the Jesus they’d never known in the flesh. Already, some of them had died and some were ready to give up hope. Paul’s response in his letter-“whether we are ‘awake’ or ‘asleep’ we share his life. So go on cheering and strengthening each other.’ (1Thess. 5:11 – J.B.Phillips )
“Coming Ready or not” was the cry when we played hidey. The Parousia was also the concern the writer of Matthew in (chap.25) was addressing with his parables of ‘the ten girls’ and ‘the three servants ’. The writer had a sense of ‘the end times ’because of the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple and people’s powerlessness. The people of Southern Sudan or Kurdistan have reason to feel the same today. 2000 years on we could easily wish for such “a last judgement” as we contemplate the growing inequalities of our world, the un-trammelled power of great corporations, the incapacity of nations to respond to climate change threats and our inadequate responses.
Paul called the Christians of Salonika to be ready. How? By “cheering and strengthening others.” That reminds me of Mary Thomas, of Phyllis Mitchell, of Jeff Hunter! The latter part of Matthew 25 portrays King Jesus as saying “whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.” Paul’s words fit us all, in Blackwood, or Salonica, or by the ruins of Philippi. Paul pleads (from gaol in Rome), “ Have a reputation for gentleness and never forget the nearness of the Lord.…and the peace of God ,which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus”. (4:5,7 Phillips).
Christ comes constantly in the lives of peacemakers. Am I ready or not?
Rev Dr Malcolm McArthur