Matt 4:12-23 | 1 Cor 1:10-17 Bob Potter ‘Are you a Christian?’ was the opening greeting of the earnest young Chinese girl who welcomed us to the church function Laurena and I attended in New Zealand last year. I was affronted by the directness of the question from someone I had not yet been introduced to. Something (probably the look in Laurena’s eye) prevented me from answering ‘No!’ and seeing where the conversation would have led. On reflection, I wonder if she didn’t have her priorities right. I think she was genuinely interested in my eternal future and wanted to ensure I was in the company of the blest. However, I found her approach confrontational, divisive and, to me at least, counter-productive, supposing she wanted to open up dialogue with me. About the time the gospels were written her question was a life-threatening one, especially if it was asked by a Jewish zealot wanting to weed out members of this heretical sect who followed Jesus or a Roman soldier searching for traitors who, it was believed, were undermining the stability of the Empire. An affirmative answer could lead to a very unpleasant, if not fatal, conclusion. It was not a question which was unthinkingly answered, ‘Yes’. Read More

Too small a calling

Isaiah 49:5-7 | John 1:35-42 Looked at the right way, John the Baptist had been something of a success. I’m not sure that there is a formal performance review for the role of ‘slightly eccentric prophet’, but if there were I’m guessing that the key performance indicators would include things like clarity of message (‘repent and be baptised’ – pretty good), geographical scope of appeal (excellent; the people came from all over Judea), short term impact (lots of baptisms), long term impact (maybe a bit early to tell whether lives were being changed, but initial signs are good), and of course, team building (tricky, when the job involves living in the wilderness and eating locusts, but none the less, he’d managed to recruit at least a few disciples.) If you picture John as a Church, we’d have to say he was doing pretty well. Lots of attendees, crowds listening to him preach, and loads of people responding to his message and getting baptised. If he’d taken up a collection I’m sure he’d have found he had plenty of resources to pay for the building upkeep, employ the youth worker, cover administrative expenses. Read More

Cartophiles 2011 Walks Schedule

The 2011 program for The Cartophiles has been updated – the second day walk for the year is now on the 12th March.  The updated program is on the link below. This year we will explore the opening stages of the Great North Walk, which go through our local region and take the opportunity to walk a couple of Sydney’s unique harbourside walks. … Read More... Read More

A noise or a difference

Isaiah 42:1-9 | Matthew 3:13-17 When I was a fairly new Christian, I remember coming across a street preacher in Oxford – he was on the street corner, holding the obligatory large black bible, and – well – preaching. He wasn’t raving, he wasn’t condemning people to hellfire or any of that – in fact, the content of his message wasn’t far removed from what I would hear at the youth group I was going to; a gospel message of God’s love and the possibility of salvation. But no-one stopped to listen; as far as I could see no message was actually being communicated. So what was I to think? He was trying to share good news (which is more than many of us), but I’m not sure he was actually doing so. Later, when we were talking about this preacher, a friend commented “you have to decide what you want your faith to make – a noise, or a difference”. A noise or a difference. Read More