St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga

Being Made Ready

Psalm 25 | Mark 1:9-15
As part of Lent Event this year I decided to give up drinking coffee. So if I seem a little grumpy, or find it hard to stay awake at times, there is a good, chemical reason. At least that’s my excuse.

Lent is best known as a period of fasting, of doing without. In fact, that idea has probably come to dominate the popular concept of Lent – I imagine if you asked the majority of people outside the Church what Lent was about, they would either have no idea what you were talking about, or would simply know that it’s a time when people give something up.

In modern years, and with an eye to shedding the negative, life-retricting image that the Church too often has, many people have tried to change the emphasis of Lent. It’s quite popular now to talk of taking something up instead of giving something up; to view Lent as an opportunity to build a new, positive dimension in your life; whether that be committing to a time of prayer or reading of the Bible, or a regular act of service, or spending increased time with family and friends, or giving in a more disciplined way to a cause you believe in. Continue reading

Ignite festival at St. John’s

Ignite the Flame Arts Festival is being celebrated at St Johns this year with a space to hear stories and contemplate. Godly Play in conjunction with Sacred Space is running from 13th-14th April. All are welcome and the event is free! Bookings for numbers must be made if you wish to attend a Godly Play session. For online bookings, click ‘here‘!


Exodus 34:29-32 | Mark 9:2-9
On Tuesday night at Nooma we had what I call a ‘help Chris to write his sermon’ study. Essentially this consists of listening to a passage of the Bible being read, and then reflecting on a few simple questions.

Last Tuesday we looked at our gospel reading for today, and essentially the concensus we came to was that none of us in the room could see how this story has anything to do with our lives today.

So what’s it about? Why does Mark choose to include this story in his gospel? What role does it play in his narrative, what is it about Jesus that we are supposed to read through, in, or behind these words? Continue reading

… and then there were 8: Harbour Circle Walk, Saturday 18th February, 2012

Twelve Cartophiles started the walk on Saturday, but a rather reduced number finished.

The weather was delightful when we gathered at Woolwich ferry wharf for the short trip across to Greenwich and the start of the walk.  Michael, Gabriel, Annie, James and Kit backed up from the last week’s rogaine with stalwart Cartophiles Sue, Aida and Doug.  They were joined by new Cartophiles Kaaren, Rachel, Tertius and Amanda.

Annie & Sue at Burns Bay

With Kit and Doug navigating we should have simply followed the well-documented course, but somehow we took several accidental shortcuts that reduced the walk to 12 km instead of the planned 15½ km.  Well, one shortcut was planned: the one that took us to the Hunters Hill Hotel for lunch.  The walk varied between busy streets, cool creek-side trails, scenic harbour edges and the stately old houses of Hunters Hill.

The first half of the walk was the hardest, with a few steep sets of steps and some grinding road hills.  After about 3½ km Gabriel’s seven year old legs were showing the effort of doing the rogaine the previous weekend, so he and Michel decided to wait for ‘Mum’s taxi’ to come and get them.  Then there were ten.

In another kilometre, as we descended steep stone steps towards Tambourine Creek, Amanda slipped and twisted her ankle so badly she had to turn back and catch a cab home.  Then there were nine.

From Tambourine Bay we climbed to St Ignatius College at Riverwood, where Kaaren had to leave to meet her family.  And then there were eight.

No further casualties occurred, and all eight finished the walk.  After the walk we retired to the Woolwich Pier Hotel to congratulate ourselves on another successful walk.

The next Cartophiles walk is an two day hike from Waterfall Station to Heathcote Station on 3rd/4th March.  The next day walk is from .

The Turramurra Passion

I really can’t recommend The Turramurra Passion Play highly enough. The Play is an interactive and slightly modern interpretation of the Easter story, performed in and around the grounds of Turramurra Uniting Church. Based primarily on Luke’s Gospel from The Message translation, the play was first performed in 1999, and has developed over the following years. There are seven performances, from 23 March to 4 April. It’s free, but bookings are essential. Check out for full details and to book.

If it had been hard…

2 Kings 5:1-14
Naaman was a powerful and influential man, commander of the army of the king of Aram, a successful military leader who had won the favour of his king through his victories on the battlefield. And to put that into context; Aram was the dominant power in the region at the time of Elisha – Naaman’s defeated opponents had, on numerous occasions, included the people of Israel (as we read in the passage, Naaman’s wife was served by a slave girl who was an Israelite, taken in one of their raids on the land).

A powerful man, used to winning, used to getting his own way.

But he has a problem. For all his military success, all his armies, all his influence with the king cannot cure him of a disfiguring skin condition (normally translated in English versions of the Bible as leprosy, although lacking modern medical categories the word probably included a wide range of skin diseases). None of his power or influence can help him – but help comes, from the most unexpected of sources. Continue reading

Cartophiles in “The Baygaine”, 12th Feb 2012

The Cartophiles entered three teams in the NSW Rogaining Association’s 2012 Metrogaine, called The Baygaine.  This 6 hour event pitted 125 teams (about 300 competitors) in a find-your-own-route hunt for control sites throughout Sydney’s Inner West.

Our family team, Michael and 7yo Gabriel, stuck with the adults for the first three checkpoints, then went their own way to lunch at Birkenhead Point.  They covered about 15km and scored 900 points.  The two adult teams, Annie & James and Adam & Kit, stuck together for the full six hours, travelling 23½km and scoring 1350 points.  Unfortunately, they never made their lunch date with Michael and Gabriel as cramps, blisters and sore muscles took their toll.

Cartophiles at the top of Gladesville Bridge

The adult teams left the start/end point at the Orange Grove School in Lilyfield and walked around the bottom of Iron Cove and through Five Dock to Abbotsford.  From the tip of the point we followed the shoreline around Fig Tree Bay and Five Dock Bay to Five Dock Point.  After climbing to the top of Gladesville Bridge, we dropped down to Wrights Point and followed the Drummoyne shore to Birkenhead Point.  After lunch we crossed the Iron Cove Bridge into Balmain before following Darling Street, Balmain Road and Perry Street back to the start point.

Although none of the teams achieved top 3 status in their categories we enjoyed challenging ourselves in a walk that was different to any other the Cartophiles have undertaken.  We saw parts of Sydney we might never have looked at, and the weather was kind enough to hold off the rain until we were finished and under shelter.  This was the Cartophiles’ first rogaine, but won’t be our last.

The next Cartophiles walk is the lovely second part of the Harbour Circle Walk on Saturday, 18th February.



Growing Outdoors

Our next service for The Growing Place is this coming Sunday 11th February at 4pm. But we’re doing something a little DIFFERENT! We’re going to do a little bushwalking and then have our service in the National Park. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on God’s creation and enjoy a bit of the great outdoors.

We’re meeting at the start of the Gibberagong Track, at the north end of Grosvenor St, North Wahroonga. Park anywhere on the street.

Click here for link to map.

Pack a picnic dinner for your kids and bring along some wine and nibbles for the grown ups. We know everyone has young kids, so we’ll only walk a very short way and then find a clearing to sit together.

(Wet weather plan is to meet at the church, so please check your emails in the late morning if it looks like rain).

Hikers’ Tips ’n’ Tricks Workshop CANCELLED

The Cartophiles bushwalking workshop scheduled for February 25th  is cancelled.

The workshop may be rescheduled in the future if there is sufficient demand.  It is aimed at hikers who want to start walks that include overnight camping, and discusses some of the ‘hundred little dodges’ that will enable them to get maximum enjoyment out of the experience.

The workshop is free and is open to anyone, irrespective of age.  There is no requirement to be a member of the Cartophiles Bushwalking Club or to commit to joining the club.

The workshop covers what to carry, what to wear, footwear pros and cons, choosing & pitching a tent, selecting & wearing a pack, hiking food & drink plus a few handy ideas to maximise comfort while minimising weight.  For more detailed information go to 2012 Bushwalking Workshop.

To express interest in attending  a future workshop, email your name and contact telephone number to


Hebrews 11:29 – 12:2 | Mark 1:21-28
When I was at High School – cross country running (at which I was rubbish) – taught that the secret of keeping going was always to keep in sight the runner in front of you.. The last thing you could afford to do, as the going got tough, was to think about how far there still was to go, or how cold, wet and miserable you were (this was in England, and cross country running was only scheduled for when it was too wet (or snowy) to play rugby). Instead, focus on the runner ahead of you, on following them, maybe on passing them (this wasn’t often on my agenda), and you can somehow shut out everything else and keep going, beyond what you thought were your limits.

Let us run the race set before us, fixing our gaze on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Continue reading


Hard to believe that Lent will be upon us soon… shrove tuesday is February 21st, and we’ll be having dessert pancakes at the manse, starting at 7. Everyone welcome! If you can, please bring along a topping that we can put on the pancakes, or something to drink, or something…

Art group 2012

In case anyone hadn’t heard, the art group starts up again today, at 9:30 in the lower hall. Everyone is welcome! The art group meets every wednesday except the third of the month (when the coffee morning is on).