St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga

Blessing of the Schoolbags

This coming Sunday (January 31st), we will be marking the start of a new year at school / preschool with a “blessing of the schoolbags”. This is a bit of the service where we get all the students to bring their school bag up to the front, and we pray for the coming year, and give each of the students a gift (probably in the form of a tag or similar that can be attached to the bag) to mark the occasion. At the end, the students come and take them back out with them (during the bulk of the service we have children’s activities for those aged about 1-12….)

The idea is that we want to recognise that the start of a new school year is a big thing, often exciting or scary or both, and that we want to encourage them to trust in God looking after them and guiding them. And we want them to know that we adults recognise that each new year is an important step for them…

So – it’s a great service to bring the kids (or grandkids) along to, and make sure they bring a bag! If you are able to let Chris know it would help with numbers, but it’s fine to just show up 🙂

Christmas Journal

The latest copy of St. John’s Journal – for Christmas 2015 – is winging it’s electronic way to the printers, and should be available in paper copy soon. But you can get it now, without delay, in full colour, here online….

Thanks, as always, to Rosemary for her work in putting the journal together (and chasing up slack authors like me….)

Metrogaine “LaneCoveRivergaine2”, Saturday 27th February, 2016

The Cartophiles’ second activity for the year is to enter teams in the NSW Rogaining Association’s (NSWRA) annual Metrograine. Last year this event started from the source of the Lane Cove River in Pennant Hills and travelled as far as De Burghs Bridge at West Pymble. This year it continues the journey down the river from De Burghs Bridge as far as Stringybark Creek in Lane Cove.

Rogaine

Rogaining is a team activity for people of all ages and levels of fitness. Everyone from elite athletes to families with young children can enjoy rogaining. The parts of the course you visit are entirely up to you – there are no set routes and you don’t have to spend the whole time on the course. The satisfaction comes in finding your way around the course according to the route you have chosen and navigating back to the finish within the time limit. Last year the Cartophiles only entered one team (read about it here), this year we plan to have our own internal competition!

This event is run by the NSWRA and entry close at midnight on 22nd February.  

To register for the walk, or to get more information, go to the NSWRA site at

http://nswrogaining.org/AboutEvents/Events/16MG/16MG.htm

or contact Kit Craig at cartophiles@stjohnswahroonga.org
or on 0411 507 422

 

Turramurra/ Wahroonga Circuit, Saturday 20th February, 2016

The route

The route

The Cartophiles’ first day walk for 2016 explores some of the lesser known areas of bushland on the western side of the Pacific Highway. Using fire trails and well-defined walking tracks we travel through:

  • The Wahroonga Estate Environmental Conservation Zone
    Privately owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church but open to the public, it includes remnants of Sydney Blue Gum High Forest.
  • Browns Field
    Named after John Brown, a merchant and timber-getter, who cleared the land of timber and planted orchards, it’s a small bushland area in the flat valley floor of a small volcanic diatreme, probably early Jurassic age. Rainforest trees, shrubs and ferns are found at Browns Field but nowhere else in the Lane Cove Valley.
  • Twin Creek Reserve
    Named for the creek in the upper reaches of Lane Cove River that forks near its head. The track follows the lower creek line through rainforest to tall Eucalypt forest. It returns along the ridge top where there are some rare species of Eucalyptus characteristic of the dry Sydney sandstone.
  • The Broadway Bushland Reserve
    A pretty little spot that conserves remnants of the 1924 plan by Ku-ring-gai shire president Christopher Bowes-Thistlethwayte and harbour bridge engineer John Bradfield for the Western Arterial Roadway as an alternative route from the North Shore to the bridge.
  • Bradley Reserve
    Named for the Bradley sisters, Eileen and Joan, pioneers of bush regeneration in the 1960s it is part of the Fox Valley Creek wildlife corridor. It shows the dry sclerophyll forest typical of the ridgelines in the area.

We’ll meet at the entrance to Howson Oval, opposite 22 Howson Avenue, Turramurra, at 9.30am on Saturday, 20th February. The walk will take 2½ – 3 hours, after which you’re invited to the Craigs’ house for a BBQ.

For more details see 2016 Walk 1 (Turramurra-Sth Wahroonga) flyer

Beginning Mark

Listen!
Mark 1:1-20
Today we begin a new the new year for real, as it were, and with it a new series of readings and sermons. I’ve been at St. John’s for six years now, which means we’ve gone through the three year lectionary twice, and I thought it might be time for something a bit different.

So over the coming months we’re going to be following a more recently developed set of readings known as the Narrative Lectionary. The Narrative Lectionary is characterised by a longer main reading that more deliberately covers, over the weeks of a season, a complete narrative arc. So you may have noticed that today we had a decent chunk of Mark’s gospel; over the coming weeks we’ll be reading more or less the whole of Mark in order (with a few variations around Easter, or when I’m away!).

I think this approach captures something about the scriptures that we tend to know but neglect in our more bite-sized, disconnected readings; that each of the books in the Bible actually exists as its own work. For the most part, at least in the New Testament, each has a single author, who, guided by the inspiration of God, had something that they wanted to say. These books are not disconnected collections of little stories about Jesus and fragments of teaching and doctrine; they are works of literature written out of and into their particular context.

Which is not to try to play down the sense of the scriptures as inspired; but to acknowledge their dual status – as the canon of our faith, received by the Church through the generations as the place in which we most reliably encounter the living word of God – and at the same time, as human works written by real people at a particular time and place.

Which coming out of Christmas perhaps ought not surprise us: that the God who was prepared to enter into human frailty would also allow the faith to be recorded by those same frail and fallible humans.

So today we begin at the beginning of the gospel of Mark. Generally reckoned to be the first of the gospels to be written, and most New Testament scholars would agree that Mark was written entirely from the oral tradition of the early Church – a recording of the stories of Jesus that had been told by those who had been there. It’s generally thought to have been written in the 60’s AD, about 30 years after the events of Jesus’ life, and at a time when two important changes were happening within the early Church. The first was that the first generation of believers, the apostles who had seen Jesus with their own eyes and carried the story to the ancient world, were starting to die out. Young men of Jesus’ day were now in their fifties, and it was becoming clear that that first generation would not be there forever.

And exacerbating that problem was the persecution of the Church, especially under the rule of Emperor Nero from 54AD onwards. Not only were the apostles, and other eye witnesses, dying of old age, they were being systematically executed, and gathering to hear them tell the stories of Jesus was dangerous to say the least.
And so Mark – or whoever the author was – the gospel itself makes no claim of authorship, and the naming arises from a rather unlikely tradition – but let’s use the name Mark to keep things simple – decided that the stories needed to be written down, copied, kept safe, handed on to the generations to come.

So in these opening verses we get a taste of what cared about, what aspects of the story of Jesus he considered important enough to record. And there are four themes established here that will occur over and again as we read through Mark.

First of all, in the very opening verses, Mark places Jesus in the Jewish tradition. By the time Mark was writing the Church was no longer exclusively – perhaps not even majority – Jewish. The success of Paul’s missionary endeavours had brought many gentiles into the faith (and we know Mark was writing for, at least in part, a gentile audience – when he uses a word in Aramaic, he translates it, which you would never do for a Jewish audience), and some of the more philosophical, Hellenistic traditions that had converted were wont to deemphasise the Jewishness of Jesus, to play down his role as Messiah of – and from – the Jews. But Mark will have none of this. In his opening words he declares that he is writing of Jesus the Christ, who was spoken of by the great prophet Isaiah.

Now Mark has no problem with Gentile believers, he doesn’t share Matthew’s emphasis on Jesus as the restorer of Judaism to it’s true meaning: but at the same time he is resisting the loss of the Jewish heritage from which Jesus arose.

And the reason for that emerges quickly as the second theme that Mark is going to emphasise: and that is to place Jesus not just into his Jewish context, but very firmly into the prophetic tradition of Judaism. I’ve spoken about this before – the two intertwining strands of the Law and the Prophets, the powerful call to holiness and the preservation of all that is good in the tradition that is represented in the Law, and the challenging voice from the margins calling the people to be more: more than equitable, to be just; to be more than community, to be welcoming of the stranger; to be more than upstanding, to be compassionate.

And of these two poles of the Jewish tradition, Mark identifies Jesus very strongly with the prophetic, with the voices that would challenge the status quo and demand more. John the Baptism had been widely recognised and affirmed by the people of Israel as the latest and greatest voice of this tradition, and Isaiah was the great forefather of the prophets; so Mark doesn’t hesitate to link Jesus with both of them.

And perhaps a certain logical flow to Mark’s writing is starting to emerge, because having identified Jesus as of the prophets, calling the people to something new, something more, he then gives us the one sentence summary of Jesus’ call:

‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

Which is Mark’s third theme – the Kingdom of God. Right from the outset Mark wants his readers to know that they have been called, not into some sort of personal renewal, not into a life of living well, and doing good, and worshipping God in a respectable way that certainly never upsets the authorities, but into something that is radical and counter cultural. Something we – a middle class Church in a wealthy suburb of a wealthy nation – often find hard to hear, hard to recognise – that the Gospel Jesus proclaimed was not supportive of the establishment. It was not – and I use this word in its broad, non-political sense – conservative. It was not about maintaining the status quo. We see Jesus often enough challenging the religious status-quo of his day; to speak of a Kingdom of God was to speak against the political status-quo as well.

And this unapologetically radical nature of the mission leads into the final vignette, and the fourth theme introduced in this passage, the calling of the first disciples. For here Mark gives us some sense of just how life changing, just how un-business as usual, Jesus’ call into the Kingdom of God is. Jesus calls them, and they leave their nets, they leave their family business, and they follow. Knowing nothing but that when they heard the voice of Jesus calling them, they could do no other.

As we read Mark’s gospel together we will be see again and again these themes emerge. But it is this final theme that stands most starkly for us as a challenge. Is the Christian faith just part of everyday life, just part of the culture or subculture that we have received with the air we breath, just the faith aspect of a respectable life?

Or does the call of Jesus turn life upside down?

I believe that if we truly hear Jesus’ voice in the gospel of Mark it will not allow any of us to remain as we were.

Jesus called to them “follow me”. And you can’t follow and remain where you are.

Amen

Cartophiles’ 2016 Walk Program

The walking program for 2016 is now available.  It’s just a little but harder than last year, but in return includes more new walks, including a local walk exploring of some of the lesser known tracks and hidden gems on the west side of the Pacific Highway.

As another new adventure we will travel to Batemans Bay on the June long weekend to do three individual day walks.

Finally, we have TWO major treks planned this year: a one week trek on the Katoomba to Mittagong Trail in October and a four day walk on the new Three Capes Track in Tasmania in November.

The program is available in PDF format on this link 2016 Walk Program.

it-is-all-solved-by-walking

 

The Lost Records – the Walks We Did in the Second Half of 2015

The lack of reports since June 2015 could be taken as evidence that the Cartophiles haven’t been very active.  In fact, it just demonstrates that walking has been a higher priority than writing.  Here’s a quick summary of the walks we did in the second half of 2015 but never reported on:

Wondabyne Station to Kariong Brook Waterfall, Saturday 16th May, 2015

Just three of us, walking in the drizzle!
CIMG1759

CIMG1758

 

 

 

 

 

 

Govett’s Leap to Mt Victoria, Blue Mountains National Park, 6th – 8th June (Queen’s Birthday Weekend), 2015

Actually, this was reported by James, but I just had to add some photos.

Two fine figures ready to go

Two fine figures ready to go

A very steep descent

A very steep descent

Victoria Cascades

Victoria Cascades

James looked damp after falling in the creek

James looked damp after falling in the creek

We made it!

We made it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burrawang Walk & Cape Baily Track, Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Saturday 20th June, 2015

Kit and four girls!

At Captain Cook's landing place

At Captain Cook’s landing place

A waterfall over the track

A waterfall over the track

Through the bog!

Through the bog!

Axe sharpening grooves

Axe sharpening grooves

I see no signal!

I see no signal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thornleigh Station to Hornsby Station, Saturday 18th July, 2015

No photos of climbing the stairs to Hornsby, though …

A few hills

A few hills

A few stairs

A few stairs

A few flat bits ... in order walking away: David, Paul, Tim, Linda, Sue

A few flat bits. In order walking away: David, Paul, Tim, Linda, Sue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middle Harbour Creek Loop, Saturday 15th August, 2015

A delightful new walk

Awwwww ... ducklings

Awwwww … ducklings

Middle Harbour Creek was very still in the morning light

Middle Harbour Creek was very still in the morning light

The Cartophiles' answer to Abbey Rd

The Cartophiles’ answer to Abbey Rd

You're probably wondering why I've called you all together like this

You’re probably wondering why I’ve called you all together like this

Who was photographing who?

Who was photographing who?

Sue & Andrew reminisce about the Camino

Sue & Andrew reminisce about the Camino

A grand entrance

A grand entrance

Crossing Roseville Bridge

Crossing Roseville Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muogamarra Nature Reserve, Saturday 19th September, 2015

Our traditional Spring walk

View from the top

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katoomba to Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains National Park, 3rd – 5th October, 2015

This one was hard!

Penny & Sue on the flanks of Mt Solitary

Penny & Sue on the flanks of Mt Solitary

Sue meditates on top of Mt Solitary

Sue meditates on top of Mt Solitary

Penny climbing the Koorowall Knife-edge

Penny climbing the Koorowall Knife-edge

Kit's leg, infected after the walk

Kit’s leg, infected after the walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bloody Long Walk, Northern Beaches, Sunday 18th October, 2015

A 35 km team challenge from Palm Beach to Manly.  We had two teams, this is just the one I was with.

They started

They started

They walked

They walked

and they finished

and they finished

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Curl Curl to Long Reef and Return, Saturday 14th November, 2015

It rained again.

The girls on the rocks

The girls on the rocks

The photo shop

The photo shop

Janet leads the cold, damp team over the track

Janet leads the cold, damp team over the track

The debrief

The debrief

The furthest point reached was Dee Why Lagoon ... then we went to the debrief.  Pip in the foreground, L-R at the back: James, Sue, Tim, Don (obscured), Rupert (slightly less obscured), Rebecca, Natalie, Annie, Kit, Janet, David

The furthest point reached was Dee Why Lagoon … then we went to the debrief. Pip in the foreground, L-R at the back: James, Sue, Tim, Don (obscured), Rupert (slightly less obscured), Rebecca, Natalie, Annie, Kit, Janet, David

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Manly Scenic Walkway, Saturday 19th December, 2015

Lots of walkers, lots of fun

Mmmmm ... ice cream

Mmmmm … ice cream

stairs

Some stairs

The gentlemen taking the air at Fairlight

The gentlemen taking the air at Fairlight