As part of the sermon series looking at the sacraments, a statement on the significance of baptism has been released for discussion. There is a one page summary that is intended to outline the position of the church, and an eight page document that attempts to answer questions people may have. If you are interested in one or both statements, ask Peter for a copy.
A blog used by pastor and the elders.
Thank you for engaging with me last week on the topic of how we love one another better. This is such a vital part of our calling, and yet it is so easy to slip into the world’s tendency towards individualism and keeping our distance from one another. So what can you do to help us make sure we operate differently? I came across this quote on grace. Grace is the gift of God, and we so badly need God’s power if we are to successfully love one another with the affection scripture urges us to have.
“One reason we place high value on grace in our relationships is because grace plows the soil of the hearts and makes it receptive to receive the seeds that we may want to drop into the soil. Grace cultivates the soil so that when truth is spoken, the person is open and receptive. When the spirit of grace is my lifestyle towards others, I speak to them, and they are more apt to accept and profit from what I say. Seeds of truth need to fall in grace-saturated soil.”
— Dr. Norm Wakefield & Jody Brolsma in Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab
Now, have a great week filling your life with grace!
As part of our focus on Ephesians recently I have been drawing an analogy with the Cinderella story. Actually, I believe the story is so cherished because it reflects aspects of the gospel story. Ephesians helps us to get our perspective right. It helps us to see that, really, our salvation is for God’s benefit, not our own – “that we … might be for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12). That’s why I’ve called it “Cinderella’s king”. For your own reflection on this book of the Bible I have included this analogy. I hope is inspires you to feel the romance in God’s love for us.
On Sunday I raised the issue of the ‘Nauru files’ – the recent release of 2,000 leaked reports of awful conditions on Nauru. It seems that refugees on Nauru, including and especially children, are being treated shamefully in what appears to be a systemic pattern of abuse and neglect. I do not believe we can be silent about this.
But how do we speak out as a community? It is important that we separate our personal opinion about border protection policies from the care for fellow human beings. In our church there will be different opinions about how to deal with the boats that smuggle refugees onto Australian shores. Some of you will have strong opinions about this and these opinions may well clash. That is ok, so long as we are keeping love for one another and love for God as the driving force behind our exchanges. As Paul writes in Romans 14, “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (v5) for “he … does so to the Lord”.
Whatever you think is the right way to deal with refugees arriving by boat, we cannot ignore those who tonight are already sitting in a detention centre in fear for their own safety. I believe we need to speak up. One way we can do this is be part of an Inter Church Council initiative to hold a candlelight vigil. The idea is to hold a prayer vigil for refugees in our church building, to which all the other churches in our area, as well as any general public, would be invited. We would gather not to debate policy but to pray for those who are in the camps at Nauru and Manus Islands.
This will happen on Saturday 27 August at 6:00pm in our church building. The theme will be “Close the camps”, and this theme will be written on the notice boards of all the churches in the ICC. Closing the camps does not necessarily mean bringing those refugees to Australia. It may mean settling them in other countries, or it may mean finding another solution. (Have a look at the Sydney Morning Herald for more information.) But it does mean ending the unjust treatment of those refugees.
I hope you will join me in this fight for justice and mercy. Come to the event if you can, pray for it leading up to the time, and pray for the refugees, that they may be given hope.