St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga

The Growing Place social

On the evening of June 18th, the The Growing Place grownups are all arranging babysitting so we can go out for a proper adult meal together! Whether you’ve got pre- or primary- school aged kids, or like spending time with people who do, and would like to join us for an informal introduction to The Growing Place, please get in touch (call Chris on 0402 012 418 or email minister@stjohnswahroonga.org)….

Called to be sent

Ephesians 2:8-10 | Luke 10:25-37

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at different words that shape the Christian faith, shape our understanding of God, ourselves, the world. Two weeks ago we reflected on grace, God’s unconditional, unshakeable love for us; and last week, on forgiveness, the reality of reconciliation at the heart of what it means to be part of God’s Kingdom. This week we turn to another church word: mission.

Now ‘mission’ is a word with an interesting history. It’s a word that once belonged firmly to the Church – we knew what it meant, we had missionaries, we sent them (the root of the word, missio, to send) out into the pagan world to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. But then over time the word crept out of the Church and into common usage – and in particular, it got co-opted by the world of management, and reshaped into ‘the mission statement’ – once defined as “a long, awkward sentence that demonstrates management’s inability to think clearly.”

But we in the Church weren’t going to let a good word get away so easily, and we’ve stolen it back. And of course we’ve stolen it back complete with all the additional meaning that it has picked up in corporate life – so now we too speak of ‘our mission’, and many a Church, ourselves included, now have mission statements, or in our case ‘mission goals’. Continue reading

Called and Sent at The Growing Place

Sunday afternoon saw The Growing Place overflowing with kids (well, we had to run around finding extra plates at supper time to feed 17….) and adults, as we reflected on The Parable of Good Sneetch (with apologies to Dr. Seuss) and our calling to take the love of God to wherever we find ourselves.

Next Growing Place is June 12th – looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Forgiveness

Matthew 6:9-15 | Colossians 1:9-14

Last Sunday, as I’m sure you all remember, the theme of our service was grace – God’s unconditional, unshakeable love for each one of us. What I didn’t tell you was that that was the start of a new series of Sundays, in which we’re going to be looking at different words that have a special place in the Christian faith – grace, mission, hope, Church, Spirit, discipleship, faith. So this week, a word that surely is close to the heart of what it means to be a Christian: forgiveness. Continue reading

Grace

Matthew 5:43-48 | Luke 15:11-24

I wonder, if you could choose one thing for a new born child to know, to be really absolutely definitely sure of, what would it be? Think about that for a moment. One thing that you would want a child to always know without a doubt.

I don’t know what came to your mind, but if some genie offered me that wish for my kids I would ask for this: that they would always know that whatever happened, they were loved, and always would be. How much security would it bring them, how much would it reverse the desperate need to be accepted at any cost; and, especially as they get older, how much would it protect them from damaging or risk taking behaviour, behaviour driven by the need to find and cling to love at any cost.

And I suspect that we might make the same wish for others, as well: for those who are still single but long to find a life partner; for those whose relationships have broken down; for those who have lost their loved ones through age, sickness, abuse, betrayal. How much desperate loneliness could be abated if love was known as an reliable certainty?

In fact, wouldn’t it be the thing we would wish also for ourselves? For even if you are in a stable, strong relationship, you know that that can change; that tragedy can strike; that those we love and who love us might not be there – or worse, that we might do something that would drive them away. Continue reading

Before the Books

Bob Potter

Five weeks ago I stood with my grandson in the Chester Beatty library in Dublin looking at some threadbare scraps of papyri. These were some of the earliest fragments of New Testament books and letters in existence and dated from about 180 AD. One of the curators explained to Jonathan that they were written on the lowest grade of papyri, the coarsest, made from the bottom of the stem. The finest grade that came from the top of the plant was used for royal documents; the middle grade was used for bureaucratic communications and commercial purposes. Christians could only afford, or more likely obtain, the lowest coarse grade. I looked at the small handwritten Greek characters forming a text which I could not read and reflected on the amazing story of the birth and growth of the Christian church.

Last Sunday Dr Ian Paterson spoke to us of the Battle of the Books contrasting the different approach and emphasis in the Bible with those in the Koran. Our readings today take us back to the beginnings of the early church. At the time of Peter’s address to fellow Jews in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus’ death and pictured in the reading from Acts, the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, what we know as the Old Testament, was not yet fixed. Local synagogues would possess scrolls of only a few books and these would vary from congregation to congregation. None of the books and letters that make up the New Testament had yet been written. It would be at least 100 years or more before the last was penned and not until 419 AD when the Synod of Carthage confirmed, at least for the Western church, the New Testament canon of 27 books. Approximately 600 years would have to pass after Peter’s address before the Koran was written. Therefore, I cheekily have entitled this address ‘Before the books’. Continue reading

Gwen Benz Funeral

Most of the St. John’s community have probably heard that Gwen Benz died on Friday May 6th. The funeral will be held on Thursday May 12th, at St. John’s, at 11am.

Bring and Share special

June 12th will see an extra special Bring and Share – ‘Television news – behind the camera and in the studio’. Speakers will be Steven Curtis and Susannah Loxton. Steven is a cameraman for a major TV network and Susannah helps put the stories to air. We will be privileged to see some fabulous news footage of major events, many taken from the news helicopter, and hear how the images mysteriously get from the cameras into our lounge rooms.

Please bring a plate of food to share; 6.30pm for the meal and 7.10pm to 8.00 pm for the presentation and discussion. This Bring and Share will take place in the Upper Hall.

Next Growing Place May 15th

Last Sunday most of the families who’ve been involved in The Growing Place got together to talk about our next steps forward. The grown-ups chatted over a glass or two of wine while Amanda heroically played with all the kids! Lots of ideas emerged, the most immediately significant of which was that The Growing Place will be meeting fortnightly in the coming months, with the hope that we’ll also be able to add some more social events into the off weeks.

So, the next meeting of The Growing Place will be on Sunday May 15th, probably in the Lower Hall. Watch this space for details…