St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga


Psalm 23 | John 10:11-18
I’ve always found the sheep stories in the Bible a bit hard to take.

Partly, I’m sure, its something to do with the suburban life that I live. My encounters with sheep are limited, brief, and mostly from a distance. Apart from the very occasional visit to the Easter show, sheep for me are basically white blobs which dot the hillside – and my encounters with shepherds are rare still. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a conversation with a shepherd, not sure I’ve even met one.

Of course it made sense for David, and Jesus, to talk about shepherds and sheep. That was the world they knew, the world they experienced. It’s not mine. Not, I’m guessing, yours. Not likely to be Nathan’s, when he grows up.

But that’s not my main problem with the sheep stories. We know that the Bible presents us with problems of context, of making sense, in our modern age, of stories told in an ancient world. It’s part of the struggle of reading scripture – and it is testament to the incredible power of the Biblical narrative that despite all the changes in the world since the words were first written, they still ring true for us today.

No, my problem with the stories of God as shepherd and us as sheep is basically this: sheep are stupid. I mean, maybe I’m wrong, as I said, I don’t know a lot of sheep, but as far as I can see, the main thing you can say about sheep is that they are not the brightest animals in the field. Continue reading

Mt Kuring-gai – Crosslands; Crosslands – Berowra Bushwalk, Saturday 19th May, 2012

The next walk for the Cartophiles bushwalking club is on 19th May in two parts.  The first part is a moderate grade walk, mostly downhill, through the beautiful Lyrebird Gully to Crosslands for lunch.  The second part is a moderate to hard walk along Berowra Creek and up the steep climb to Berowra.  Members can do either part or both. Continue reading

Harbour Circle Walk: Gladesville to Balmain, Saturday 21st April, 2012

What an amazing walk! A gentle breeze brushed us while the Harbour sparkled under a blue skies and cotton wool clouds, and all around us was the history of the industrial and social development of Sydney.  James, Annie, Rachel, Tertius, Andrew, Sue, Kit and new Cartophile Trent continued our celebration of Sydney Harbour with the third section of the Harbour Circle Walk, from Huntleys Point Wharf, Gladesville, to the Balmain East Wharf.  This is the first walk the Cartophiles have done that is almost all on pavement.  It also marked two years since the first ever Cartophiles walk!

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Palm Sunday Politics

Psalm 118:19-29 | John 12:12-16
The Passover festival was approaching, the high point of the Jewish year, the one time that every Jew who possibly could, would come into the city, and come to the Temple. Jerusalem was packed – every inn full to overflowing, every street packed with stalls, animals, and people, people, people. The air was full of the sounds and smells of life.

But Jerusalem, in the days of Jesus, did not belong to the Jewish people. As Jews came to the Temple they could not miss the watchtower, the Roman military building built to overlook the Temple, to watch over the holy places of the Jewish faith. As the faithful entered to worship, they could see Roman soldiers looking down upon them. Resentment against the Roman occupiers ran high, and the Jewish revolutionary zealots found in this resentment an ideal opportunity to recruit for their cause.

For Passover was a religious festival, but it was more than that. At Passover the Jews celebrated the event which had defined them as a people; God setting them freedom from slavery in Egypt. Passover was not just a celebration of the Jewish religion, but of being set free from oppression; set free by an unlikely leader and the hand of God. And there were many who longed for the same to happen again – for freedom, this time from Rome.

And the Roman authorities were well aware of this – of the meaning of Passover, of the political implications, of the stories of the people being set free from oppression. And they had no hesitation in stepping in to crush even a hint of rebellion.

Now add to the political tension, another layer. Human nature being what it was, Passover was also a commercial opportunity. Animals had to be purchased for sacrifice, money had to be changed (because Roman currency was not acceptable for offering at the Temple), rooms and meals had to be purchased – and there will always be those who are ready to provide these services at a healthy profit.

Put together the massive crowds, the political tension, and the money involved – and the city of Jerusalem at Passover was a tinderbox – a mass of frustration, and resentment, with sporadic violence and, never far from the surface, the possibility of riot. Continue reading

Waterfall Station to Heathcote Station, March 10th/11th 2012

Heavy rain and flooded creeks forced us to defer this walk one week, so only four Cartophiles finally took part.  Kit boldly billed the walk as a “great introductory walk for newcomers to hiking camping”  that is suitable for children, so seven year old Gabriel came with Michael, Sue and Kit to face the wilds of the Heathcote National Park.  Kit may have overstated the suitability for beginners. Continue reading

Cowan Station to Jerusalem Bay and Return, Saturday 17th March, 2012

Annie & Sue start the walk in the drizzle

Under a threatening sky – but without any substantial rain while we walked – four Cartophiles left Cowan Station for Jerusalem Bay.  Annie, Sue, James & Kit dared the wet weather for a chance to picnic near one of the most iconic views along the Great North Walk.  We weren’t disappointed.

It had been raining hard all week, and a light drizzle persisted as we set off.  The track by Cowan station was muddy and covered in puddles, and the group of walkers we bumped into coming the other way told stories of nearly impassable creeks.  The rain let up soon after we started walking and for the three of us wearing hiking boots there was no problem.  Annie’s runners weren’t quite so waterproof, though. Continue reading