St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga

New Covenant

Jeremiah 31:31-34 | John 12:20-28
Jeremiah has a reputation as a grumpy, pessimistic sort of chap.

Not entirely unwarranted, either; for he was a prophet of downfall, a prophet of disaster. When the nation was threatened by foreign powers, and the authorities, as authorities will, were trying to keep people’s spirits up, Jeremiah was telling them that the cause was lost. This is God’s doing, he told them, we will fall and be taken into exile.

But prophesying doom is only half of the Jeremiah story.

For throughout his writings, unheard, perhaps, by those who could not see past what they perceived and treachery and treason, was a promise… “but then…”
And when everything gets dark, when it becomes clear that his warnings were true, that the nation would fall, when desperate hope fell into despair, Jeremiah brings a promise of hope from God. Continue reading

The judgement light

Ephesians 2:1-10 | John 3:14-21
Surely the best known reference in the Bible, John 3:16 has been used over and again as a one sentence summary of the gospel: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
And with good reason. For in this one verse are captured some absolutely core truths of the message of Jesus: that the mission of Jesus was motivated by the love of God; that God’s response to human need is to give; that God’s deepest desire is that all might share with God in the joy of eternal life.

Or, as Rob McFarlane put it on facebook earlier this week, “Grammatically and theologically this shows that God’s love is greater than wrath; God’s fundamental purpose is to give life”.

As John continues, God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world… that wasn’t the point. Judgement wasn’t Jesus’ agenda… but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Those who believe in him are not judged, but those who do not believe in him are judged already because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Suddenly it’s all a bit more messy, a bit more complicated. Continue reading

Church General Meeting

On May 20th, directly after the Morning Service, we’ll be having a Church general meeting. This is going to be a ‘looking forward’ meeting – we’ll be sharing something of the hopes and dreams of different groups within the congregation, considering our 2012/13 budget, and electing elders and councillors. Please make the time to come along.

Reflections on a Busy Life

On May 20th, Bill Bradley will be our guest for Bring and Share. At the age of 14 Bill, a keen sportsman, contracted polio. Bill has had an amazing career with sporting associations for both able bodied and differently abled persons. Come along for an entertaining and inspiring evening, and some time with friends.

Justice will prevail

A couple of weeks ago, St. John’s hosted the World Day of Prayer for the local churches. Those who attended were privileged to hear Rose Raward speaking on Justice. Rose has been kind enough to allow me to reproduce her address here.

Thank you for inviting me today. Selamat Dartung. Peace and welcome to you all.

The Oxford dictionary’s definition of justice says justice is a conduct, the exercise of authority in the maintenance of right.

Children’s notion of justice is simplistic: If you hit me, I’ll hit you back. I see it often in the playground – young children having a sense of what they see as fair and just. So we teach them skills in conflict resolution and encourage them to respond peacefully. As children grow older they observe and learn more sophisticated levels of justice – in their schools, around their home and in their communities. They’re told that bullying is not acceptable; that parents should treat family members fairly, and this is an expectation between siblings – so watch out if, as a parent, you are perceived to have given one child more benefits than the other! You can just hear it – it’s not fair – you allowed him more freedom to do things than me when I was that age! Children learn that lawmakers and law-enforcers, local and national governments have a responsibility to uphold the laws created to protect everyone and to ensure that justice is done in society at large. With modern technology the young quickly become aware of global issues and develop opinions based on what they hear and see through various media of what is fair and just. Continue reading

Love and Anger

Exodus 20:9-11 | Mark 11:15-19
I wonder if you recognise these words:

God is love, and whoever lives in love, lives in God.

Brothers and sisters, let us love one another, for love is the fulfilling of the law.

Or what about these?

I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies

Woe to you, blind guides, hypocrites, For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves Continue reading

Lose your life to save it

Genesis 12:1-4 | Mark 8:31-38
He was starting to feel a bit old. In his young adulthood he’d travelled a bit with his father, wife and his nephew, but they’d settled down and made a life for themselves in Haran. His father had died a while back, and although he and his wife had no children they were not without family: they raised their nephew, whose parents had died when he was young as their own. He’d done pretty well for himself in Haran; lived a good, honest, honourable life, accumulated enough to retire on in some comfort.

Abraham was seventy five years old when God called him.

Surely Abraham must have felt like saying “you know what, God – maybe you should call someone else?”. For what he was being called to do – “go from your country and your kindred and your fathers house” – was no small ask. This was not an age when “go to another country” just meant checking your passport and visa and buying a plane ticket; this meant taking everything, crossing the desert, facing uncertainty and insecurity, never knowing how good the next pasture would be, where the next well was to be found.

This was a journey that many young men would have feared, and many would not have survived. Abraham was safe and secure, and what he heard himself being called to do was to risk his comfort, risk his status, risk his life. How tempting must it have been to say “no, I’d rather look after what I’ve got”. How sensible it would have been, how understandable, how human. And no doubt he would have lived out his life in Haran, comfortable, respected, safe – and never quite sure of what he had lost.

For those who want to save their life will lose it. Continue reading

Galston Gorge Consolation Walk, Sat 3rd March, 2012

The Cartophile’s youngest regular walker, Gabriel, was disappointed that his first hiking camp was deferred because of the heavy rain.  As consolation, his father, Michael, with Sue & Kit, staged an impromptu walk along the Great North Walk from Galston Gorge to Crosslands.  Michael and Gabriel carried their big packs as a training.

The start was delayed by a tree down across the access road to Crosslands when we went to position a car at the end point.  Fortunately for the Victorian tourist stuck on the wrong side of the tree a frendly neighbour with a chainsaw came to the rescue and removed the obstacle.

The weather was threatening, but the rain held off while we were on the trail.  All the small side creeks were high, and we had some minor adventures rock hopping across them.  We’d all brought walking poles, and were very glad to have them as we negotiated mossy rocks above rushing water.

Sadly, the poles did little to discourage the leeches, and at every stop we picked them off our boots and clothing.  Sue and Michael both sported blood stained clothing by the time we finished.

Relatively dry and relatively comfortable, we’d nearly made it when we came to the camping ground about 500m south of Crosslands, and it was flooded.  We carefully picked our way through the more shallow places, but by the end everyone had wet feet because the water was deeper than our boots.

It was a happy, but challenging walk, and Gabriel showed that he’s ready for the
overnight hike in the Heathcote National Park next week.