St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga

What are we for?

When I was training for the ministry, I went with an experienced minister to meet with a family who wanted to have their baby baptized at her Church. In the course of the conversation she asked the couple, who didn’t have any significant connection with the Church, what they thought baptism was all about. What it was for. What they believed they were actually doing when they had their baby baptized.

I remember thinking at the time that that was a really tough question – and I still do. I do this for a job, and I’d be hard pressed to give a clear and simple answer. That’s why I asked the kids what they thought earlier on – I reckon they’ve often got a clearer idea than the rest of us.

And as I was preparing for today – the first baptism that I’ve done as a minister (and I’m so glad I didn’t drop Samantha!) I realized that part of the reason that the baptism question is hard to answer is that there’s another question that needs to come first. Before we can begin to say ‘what is baptism for?’ we need to ask: ‘what are people for?’. Who are we? Why are we here?

Or, in the words of the Psalmist: what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Continue reading

The prayer group lives!

I’ve just got back from the first meeting of the reborn St. John’s prayer group. Seven of us met for a chance to pray for one another, for others in our Church family, and for the wider needs of both Church and community. Many thanks again to Kirupa for coordinating this new group – and hosting us!

Put more in, get more out

Did you know that you can leave a comment on most of the news items that appear on St. John’s website? Just under the title of each story you’ll see the date, and next to that the words ‘No comments’ (or ‘1 comment’ or ’10 comments’). Click there and you’ll be taken to a form where you can enter your name and your comment. Join the conversation!

Gibberagong Track, May 2010

Despite the threatening clouds and early drizzle, eleven Cartophiles set off from Grosvenor Street, Wahroonga, on the long descent to the Bobbin Head picnic area.  After the slippery crossing of Lovers Jump Creek we followed the delightful Cockle Creek past the Gibberagong Waterholes, walking to the accompaniment of Don Reid’s harmonica and sporadic singing.  Even a sole blowout on Don’s left shoe didn’t daunt him: rapid repairs with a piece of elastic bandage saved the day.

Don's quickie shoe repairs

The walk involved a lot of scrambling over rocks, and it was great to see the team working together and supporting each other.  We made it to the aboriginal axe grinding grooves and on to the picnic area in good time, and had lunch in one of the picnic shelters.  A barbecue for some of us and coffees from the Bobbin Inn all around.

Lunch at Bobbin Head

Lunch at Bobbin Head

The group split in two on the journey back.  The greyhounds of Ada & Doug Jenkins, Chris & Sureka Goringe, James Loxton and Sue Craig raced on ahead, while Marjorie & Ian Howden, Mary Smith, Don Reid and Kit Craig maintained a more stately and dignified pace.  The whole adventure finished at about 4.00pm, just as the rain started again.

The next walk is on 26th June, and we’re all looking forward to it.

Wait or Work?

The disciples had been told to go back to Jerusalem and wait; promised that they would receive power from heaven, that they would be Jesus’ witnesses throughout Israel, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
And so, seven weeks after Passover, seven weeks after the resurrection of Jesus, they were all together, celebrating Shavu’ot, the festival of weeks. Because if they had only learned one thing in three years with Jesus it was this:
They weren’t going to achieve anything without him.
Experience with Jesus had shown them that when they were with him, anything was possible. The blind could see and the lame walk, those held captive by evil could be free, the thief, the terrorist, the collaborator, the prostitute – all could change, all could find a new way of life, a new purpose, a new sense of who they were. With Jesus they could face down opposition, deal with criticism, speak the truth to weak and powerful alike. With Jesus, they knew they were a force to be reckoned with.
But without him? Without him they were a rabble; confused, cowardly, jealous, competitive; about as dysfunctional as any group of people picked more or at random and thrown together. They wanted to do the work of God, the work of the Kingdom, but it just didn’t work.
It just didn’t work without God.
And Jesus had gone. Again. Continue reading

Fruit printing at Playjays

Today was fruit printing day at Playjays…. any excuse to make a lot of mess. Seventeen kids aged from six months to four years joined us for craft, play, singing and stories, while the grownups enjoyed coffee, cake and company.

Antarctic Bring and Share

Two dozen St. John’s friends braved the cold night to share a delicious meal, and to hear Ross Duncan, a member of the St. John’s community, speak on an even colder subject – “Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic Islands”.

Next month, come and share and hear John and Olive McCredie’s experiences of practicing as a GP in Newcastle…

Becoming a Church that prays

Am I the only one who finds the story of the ascension just a little bit embarrassing?
I can talk about Christmas; about the wonder of God crossing the infinite divide to become part of creation. I can talk about Easter; about the victory of self-sacrificial love over all the forces of evil, even over death. I can talk about Pentecost, about God inspiring and empowering a motley bunch of nobodies to turn the world upside down.
But the ascension? Jesus riding up to heaven, wrapped in a cloud? When you see what religious works of art have made of this story – Jesus, dressed in glowing white robes, floating up off the top of a mountain in a posture of piety and a swirl of clouds – it seems like a bit of the New Testament mixed with a children’s story. I’ve just finished reading Peter Pan to Jeyanth at bedtimes: if it were up to me, I’d keep floating people firmly in that realm of fiction. Continue reading

Playjays week two

Seven new children joined us for the second week of Playjays, as parents braved the cold wind to get together for hot drinks and friendly company. The older kids made autumn leaf collages, play-dough shapes, and plenty of noise while the babies tried to eat each other’s feet…

Next week we have our first Playjays birthdays, so watch this space!

All photos of children are used with parental permission

It’s about God

The early Church had two stories that it lived by. The most powerful story shaping the Church was, of course, the story retold in the gospels; the story of the life, teaching, miracles, healings, death and resurrection of Jesus. That story is packed with vignettes like the one read to us in our gospel today: the man who had waited for thirty-eight years for healing, who had not even a single friend to help him down into the waters when they were stirred, in the hope of the rather arbitrary divine healing that was promised. This vignette is the gospel in miniature: a man who has lost hope and had been forgotten about by society finds acceptance, healing, and a new community through the life of Jesus. And the early Church immersed itself in this story, seeking, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live as disciples of Jesus, even in his absence. Continue reading

Playjays goes live!

Fifteen kids from six months to four years in age, fourteen mothers and one brave grandfather, came along to the first Playjays morning, and a good time seemed to be had by all! We made Mothers’ Day gifts, played with playdough, crawled through the tunnel, pushed around cars, whacked musical dogs, and generally made lots of noise while the grownups enjoyed coffee and conversation,. Then we all shared morning tea and a sing-a-long! Big thanks to everyone who helped out, and to everyone who came along and made it a great time – looking forward to seeing you all next week!

If you’ve got any comments on how the morning went, please let us know – I’m sure we’ll slowly work out the wrinkles…