St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga

Christmas family service

A date for your diary…. November 28th is the first Sunday in advent, and it will be our next family service. We’ll have a couple of baptisms, and we’ll tell the Christmas story in a family friendly way, with songs, readings and an unrehearsed Christmas pagaent! All in a service that should run about 45 minutes…

Then after Church we’ll have a special visitor at morning tea, and follow it up with a BBQ sausage sizzle – hopefully on the newly grown grass carpark.

Put the date in your diary, bring your family, invite your friends, and join the fun as we start the celebrations of Jesus’ birth together!

Write it down

And now for something completely different.

Most weeks, when I get up to speak, I come seeking to do what preachers throughout the generations have done; to take the words of scripture and find in and through them words of God for today; words of inspiration, words of comfort; words of the Kingdom. I come with the hope that what I have to say will be relevant to us, here in Wahroonga in 2010, in a different way each week; but the question I try to answer is always the same – what does this part of our story say to us?

This week, that’s not happening. My words today are not an attempt to make any sort of sense or relevance out of the passages of scripture we have heard read. They are inspired by a few words in the text, but no more than that.

Call it an aberration, or an indulgence; normal service will be resumed next week. Probably.

But as I pondered the Old testament reading, one phrase, six words, stood out for me: “write the vision, make it plain”. Continue reading

Family Picnic

What? A family picnic
Where? In Wahroonga park – or the Church Hall if wet
When? Sunday November 7th at 3:30pm
Bring? Yourself, your family, a picnic rug, and some food and drink
Why? Why not? A chance for kids, parents, grandparents and others to get to know one another, and enjoy (hopefully) the spring weather!

It’s not easy….

Genesis 32:22-31 | Luke 18:1-8

Sometimes it seems as if the most important things we have to do in our lives are the hardest. And much as we might long for God to change the situation, fix what is broken, smooth the path out for us, rarely does God’s help seem to come in the form that we would hope. We pray, but our struggles remain.

And today we have two readings, two stories of people struggling. Jacob wrestling with… who? a man? an angel? God? – the story leaves it unclear; and a widow pleading with a judge for justice. Two people who find that the path ahead does not run straight, that life has become twisted and complicated, that the right thing is not the easy thing. Continue reading

Water play

It was a beautiful morning for the first outing of our new water play table – and it was a big hit with the kids! A bit of extra space outside also meant we could get the ride on toys out without worrying about baby fingers under wheels…

Just a reminder that if the weather is nice we’ll have some toys out in the courtyard each week this term – so bring a hat, and put on the sunscreen…

MOU

As discussed at the Congregational meeting on Sunday, here is the memorandum of understanding between St. John’s and WPS. Note that although this copy is B&W, the original is in colour!

Memorandum of Understanding

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask any of those involved in the working group:

Ex officio Representing the
Church Council
Representing WPS
Chris Goringe
Jim Mein (convener)
Sue Craig
Ian Paterson
Derek Bryden
Gordon Fuller
Narelle Bray
Margaret Harper
Paul Reidy
James Loxton

Noisyjays

A great start to the new Playjays term – 22 kids, seven of whom were brand new friends! Seemed to be more bigger kids this week as well, as a result of which it was a lot louder than usual! Lots of fun… see you all next week!

A day in the park

Just to let you all know about a special event organised by the Uniting Church Children’s team… on Wednesday November 3rd, from 10am till 1pm at the Centre for Ministry (16 Masons Drive, North Parramatta), we’ll be having a “Day in the Park”, specially for preschoolers and families. There’ll be an animal nursery, music, face painting, story tent, sausage sizzle and more.

http://childrensministry.org.au

We’re back!

Playjays hardly seems to have taken a break this holiday, with our celebration sunday one week and the music special the second week – both of which I just hope the kids enjoyed as much as I did! But school holidays are over and we’re back this Friday, at the usual time of 9:30am.

Hopefully the weather will be good, because we’ve got a water table for some outdoor play in the courtyard this term – and some baby-den fencing to make the steps safe!

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

A first hand account of Fiji

This coming Sunday, at 6:30pm, we are delighted to be able to welcome Rev. James Bahgwan, of the Methodist Church in Fiji, as our guest speaker. Rev. Bahgwan is a journalist, minister, and lecturer in theology, ethics, and Church history, and he will share firsthand the challenges facing the Church in Fiji at this time.

Rev. Bahgwan is visiting Australia as the guest of Uniting World, The Uniting Church’s development agency.

What you missed at Jazz Café

Guest post by Ted Metcalf

Chris made an announcement in Church on Sunday morning in which he mentioned Mel Coleman, the featured flautist for Jazz Café Church that night.  Those who went along were treated to some magnificent music.

But first at the start – small groups seated around candlelit tables created a ‘mood’ to support the soft jazz being played by Don & Robyn Reid.  We all know their talents in this sphere and this night was at the best of their performances; as usual played from the heart.

A little light food of the ‘bring and share’ variety, possibly even a glass of wine added to the sense of occasion.  Later there was good plunger coffee. Continue reading

Life in Exile

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

We tell the Biblical history of the people of Israel as if it were the history of a country. When we speak of the Jews of the Old Testament, we speak of the promised land, of laws and kings, cities and armies, of the things that established God’s people as a nation. A kingdom established by God, a place on earth where the law of God could be seen in action, where all nations could come and see what life according to the Torah, the law of God that was so much more than a set of rules, could look like.

Even the names given to Jesus reflect this image of what it meant to be God’s people. “Son of David” they called him – and we call him – son of David, the boy who slew Goliath with just a stone and an outrageous faith in God, the king who in the name of God united a nation, defeated his enemies, established the city of Jerusalem and laid the groundwork for the building of the Temple. Jesus son of David – “will you at this time reestablish the kingdom?”

As if a nation, with borders and laws and government and rulers was what God’s people were always meant to be, and the rest was just a strange aberration.

But even as told by the Hebrew scriptures, the kingdom that David founded did not even survive beyond his son. Solomon’s Temple was hardly completed before king Jereboam was building an alternative place of worship, and the nation was torn apart by civil war, inexorable decline, and inevitably, hostile takeover at the hands of the Babylonians and the destruction of the Temple.

Nationhood, for the people of God, was the aberration. Continue reading

Congregational Meeting

In two weeks time, on Sunday 17sup October, there will be a (fairly short) congregational meeting. Business will include the election of elders and councillors, the Church financial report for the past year, the memorandum of understanding between St. Johns and WPS, and the decision on whether to invite Chris to continue as St. John’s minister after the end of January.

Please do your best to be there!

Further reflections on a Greek icon

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept when we remembered Zion” cried the Psalmist.

“My eyes are worn out with weeping” wails the writer of Lamentations.

For generations Orthodox Christians have used icons to help keep their faith alive in times of disaster.

Not so long ago at a Jazz Cafe evening I talked about this icon which is seen frequently in Orthodox churches and it features Jesus and the words that God uses to reply to Moses’ question at the burning bush.

When Moses asks God for his name, and one’s name in those days meant one’s whole nature, God says enigmatically “I am who I am” and oceans of ink have been used up over the years on how to translate and interpret these words.

But what is important for us, as Christians, is this:
Having these words in the nimbus, the halo around the head of Jesus, is saying loud and clear that “Jesus” is the answer to Moses’ question. Continue reading