St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga

Christmas K-MOTION

This Christmas, we’re going to be running a two school holiday kids fun days, on December 22nd and 23rd. Find out more, and register online here! Please tell friends and family with primary school aged kids all about it! If you’d like to help out in any way, please talk to Amanda.

Thanks!

Thanks for registering for Christmas k-motion 2011. You should get an email within the next 24 hours to confirm that we’ve received your registration – if you don’t hear from us, please feel free to email youth@stjohnswahroonga.org!

Looking forward to seeing you on December 22nd!

Into exile

Daniel 1:1-8, 18-21 | Matthew 5:13-16

Daniel, of course, is best known for his survival of a close encounter with hungry lions – a story of a man who refuses to compromise his faith by praying to the king, even in the face of palace intrigue which should have cost him his life.

But Daniel’s story goes back a long way before the events of the lion’s den, and it’s a story which, while it might not have a lot of answers for us, does ask of us some difficult and provocative questions.

Daniel was a young man of the Jewish nobility when king Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and conquered the nation of Judah. We’re told in passing that the king took treasures from the Temple, and placed them in the treasuries of his Gods – as a declaration that his Gods were greater than the God of Israel.
And so Daniel and his friends were carried off to be educated in the court of Babylon, trained in their literature and language, to become civil servants, administrators of the Babylonian Empire, advisors to the king of Babylon.

A difficult position for a young Jewish man to find himself in – in the palace of the king who had destroyed your nation, defiled the temple of your God, and set himself and his Gods up for worship – but being well treated, educated, and offered a position of responsibility and authority in the empire.

What’s a devout, God fearing, Jew supposed to do? Continue reading

You work it out

Psalm 99 | Matthew 22:15-22

Even for Jesus, who must surely have had a reputation for answering every question with a question, for avoiding the traps of those who plotted against him by turning their words back upon themselves, this was a memorable little exchange. Not least because this time, the stakes were so high.

It’s the final week, the week in Jerusalem. Jesus has entered the city in triumph, and has set the cat very firmly amongst the pigeons by clearing the temple, and by telling a series of parables directly targeting the religious authorities. In fact, he’s gone so far in his attacks on the priests and the Pharisees that even old enemies are now united against him.

The Pharisees sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians. Do you have any idea how crazy that sentence is in the context of first century Jerusalem? In occupied Israel, those who have fought to preserve the religious traditions in the face of Roman oppression getting together with those who collaborate with Rome. The Pharisees had died at the hands of the Romans, sometimes in their thousands, because they insisted on the rule of God over the rule of Rome; and here they are, bringing in as allies, the party of Herod, the puppet king, Roman in all but name.

And they bring to Jesus a trap. Continue reading

Attention, please!

Matthew 6:19-34 | Philippians 4:1-9
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, said Mark Twain, but most of them never happened.

There are few words of advice as universally recognized as wise, and so commonly ignored, as those of Jesus in our gospel reading today: “I tell you; do not worry”.

I don’t know about you, but there is almost nothing I find more annoying and frustrating that being told not to worry. My first reaction, of course, is denial: “I’m not worrying, I’m planning”, but I soon find myself getting defensive: “If I don’t worry about this, who will?”. I’m sure that when Jesus spoke these words in the sermon on the mount, he created the same sort of reactions in the crowd; parents saying to themselves “its alright for him to say ‘don’t worry about food and drink’, he doesn’t have children to feed”, or “don’t worry about your life, he says, but he’s not waiting for test results, or living with the reality of an aging body”.

And of course, we have plenty of things in life that we seem to need to worry about: our health, and that of our families; our children and grandchildren; the apparent meltdown of the global economic system. Jesus’ advice to ‘consider the lilies’ or ‘look at the birds of the air’ just seems naïve; we can’t grow petals for clothes, fly to work, or eat worms for lunch. Like most advice, ‘do not worry’ is a lot easier to give than it is to take. And yet, there is something wrong with our worries. Not so much with worry itself, but with the way we worry, and the things we choose to worry about. Continue reading

Horn of Africa appeal

The Federal government has announced that it will match, dollar for dollar, donations in aid of the Horn of Africa relief appeal. Kevin Rudd chose a Uniting Church as his venue to announce this initiative, saying “I am proud of the Uniting Church’s work locally, nationally and with partners overseas.”. Visit Uniting World’s Horn of Africa Appeal to make a tax deductible donation before the end of November so that your gift will qualify for matching funding.

The vineyard judgement

Isaiah 5:1-7 | Matthew 21:33-46
It’s a funny sort of love song.

Traditionally, a love song would be full of words of praise for the beloved, painting a picture of them as wonderful beyond imagining, reciting all the things that are lovely and beautiful and admirable. Love songs cast the beloved in the best light possible, or even better. Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate…

Isaiah sings a love song, from God, to his people. It starts well enough, with flowery praise; they are a fertile hill which God has cleared and planted, prepared, poured love and effort into.

But there the traditional love song ends. Continue reading