~ 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, 16th February 2018

Reading:  Mark 1:1-11

Prince Charles turns 70 in November and he is yet to become a king. He has been a king-in-waiting for all of his life and one can only wonder at the frustration he must feel – even if becoming king implies the death of his mother. No doubt he has given many, many hours of thought to what he wants to do when he does become king, having the dubious distinction of being both the longest serving and oldest heir apparent in British history.

Will Charles be an activist king? A king who does what his Prime Minister tells him? Will he wage war on climate change deniers? Will he disappoint his “subjects”? Will we be satisfied with his stewardship? Will we wish him a short reign or that he will abdicate in favour of Prince William? Who knows what answers these questions will have but there is no doubt speculation is already going on in the media in an attempt to answer them.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem he was feted as a king as the palm branches were placed in his path. But what kind of king did they get? What kind did they expect? Were unfulfilled expectations behind what happened at the end of that week which began so excitedly?

These are questions which face us as we look to how we do or will respond to Jesus as a king on the road to Easter. What are your thoughts and how do they influence your words and actions?

Read Mark 1: 1-11 as we begin our Lenten journey through the events that of Holy Week, beginning with Sunday and the entry into Jerusalem.

Next week we look at trouble in the Temple.

  The Rev Dr Adrian Brown

For the week of Friday, 9th February 2018

Reading:  Mark 9:2-9

Having thousands of memories locked away in photo albums or stored on USB sticks or CD ROMs represent our stored memories. They tell us where we have been and with whom. But of what use are they after we have gone? After all, it is the experience which the photos or films provoke that give them meaning and, in truth, that meaning is only accessible to those who have had that experience.

Today’s lectionary theme is the Transfiguration. It is one of those words that send shivers up and down a preacher’s spine but it is simply another word for trans-for-mation. Those who went up to the mountain with Jesus were changed, transformed and all because of the experience not because of the “photos” they took.

Just as cameras can be programmed to print the date on the film in order to remember exactly when an event occurred, Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus took Peter, James and John up to this mountain exactly six days after reminding them that “those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel will save it”. It’s not a bad idea to ask ourselves, “What are we really losing and what are we really keeping, in the big picture?” What will it profit us to preserve our life’s history, if we forget the fundamental reason for remembering?

For another transfigured/transforming  moment check out this YouTube film clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oehry1JC9Rk when Martin Luther King talked of his experience of “having been to the mountaintop”

  The Rev Dr Adrian Brown

For the week of Friday, 2nd February 2018

Reading:  Isaiah 40:21-31

With the winter Olympics beginning on February 9th I was reminded of the effort and the excitement that athletes sense from participating in an Olympic Games. One of the key experiences seems to be that so many of them are able to achieve personal bests, which is surely what it is all about rather than either being excited by or deflated over the medal results.

On the other hand, there are the stories of those who do the unexpected. Stephen Bradbury won a gold medal in speed skating when he was never expected to do so. The fact that all of the other competitors had fallen is irrelevant as far as the record books are concerned.

What the Olympics do remind us of is the determination of the athletes to achieve and to turn their determination into success.

The people of Isaiah’s day were discouraged, disconsolate and in need of hope and it is to them that the unknown prophet spoke these words:

30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

As we face changes either in our own lives or in our Church community, be encouraged.  Read Isaiah 40:21-31.

Rev Dr Adrian Brown

For the week of Friday, 26th January 2018

Reading:  Mark 1:21-28

Remember the Sundays of generations past.   Businesses shuttered, organised sport frowned on?  The Sabbath of Jesus day was similar but also a relief from dawn to dusk labour in struggling peasant communities.  The synagogue was a place to gather and listen to the educated scribes exploring the Talmudic tradition.  It might have been boring too.  All those learned explorations could be far removed from fears of ‘evil spirits’ seen in invasive epilepsy , cancer, mental illnesses or invading armies.  Debating could not defeat the demonic.  Maybe we feel 2017 was not a good year for us!

Mark 1 records a memorable Sabbath. Jesus, spoke with authority, he confronted the illness of a disturbed interrupter. At sunset (when the Sabbath was over) people came out with many “sick with all kind of diseases and drove out many demons”.  The challenge is, for us, to see the many demonic forces at work in our society today, to challenge times when profits are put before people or present pleasures before the needs of generations to come.  The challenge is, also, not to be sorry for ourselves , to trust our Jesus’ way, prepared to be  “lost in wonder, love and praise!”

Rev Dr Malcolm McArthur

For the week of Friday, 22nd December 2017

Reading:  The Gospel of Luke chapters 1 & 2 [Fourth Sunday of Advent]

Can you find yourself in the characters of the Christmas story?

Elizabeth and Zechariah … tired out by life, but sensing the promise of a new hope.

Joseph … not understanding at all, but faithful and loyal despite.

Star-gazers from the East … travellers, keen to know, not wanting to miss out.

Shepherds … acclaiming a baby in meagre circumstance, “just as ours are born”

Mary … afraid, but pondering, treasuring such joy in her heart.

The blessings of this wondrous love be taken into your spirits this Christmas.

Rev Phil Hoffmann

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