Archive for February, 2017

Sydney services cancelled

February 23rd, 2017
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Because of electrical maintenance at the school the Sydney congregation will not be meeting on February 25th and March 11th.

Our next service will be this week March 4th and then March 18th.




Joy 5

February 19th, 2017
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NT Wright:

In particular, for Paul ‘joy’ is intimately connected to the resurrection of Jesus on the one hand and to his ascended lordship on the other…. The words for ‘joy’ or ‘rejoicing’ do not occur in Romans 8, but one can hardly read that passage without a sense that what is being expressed is joy of the highest quality.

There as elsewhere Paul is drawing on the ancient Exodus narrative, seeing it as newly accomplished in the events concerning Jesus.

(Romans 6: the slaves come through the water to freedom;

Romans 7: arriving at Sinai and the problem of Torah’s condemnation;

Romans 8: journeying to the ‘inheritance’.)

Romans 8 is thus his own fresh equivalent of the song of Miriam, looking at the defeated forces of sin and death and celebrating the divine victory, the revelation of divine covenant faithfulness.

Romans 8

Joy of Salvation and human pain

The sound was deafening. Although no one was near enough to hear it, ultimately it echoed around the world. None of the passengers in the DC-4 ever knew what happened—they died instantly. That was February 15, 1947, when the Avianca Airline flight bound for Quito, Ecuador, crashed into the 14,000-foot-high peak of El Tablazo not far from Bogota, then dropped—a flaming mass of metal—into a ravine far below.

One of the victims was a young New Yorker named Glenn Chambers, who had planned to begin a ministry with the “Voice of the Andes.”
Before leaving the Miami airport earlier that day, Chambers had written a note to his mother on a piece of paper he picked up in the terminal. The paper was a piece of an advertisement with the single word WHY? sprawled across the center. In a hurry and preoccupied, he scribbled his note around that word, folded it, and stuffed it into an envelope addressed to his mother.

The note arrived after the news of his death. When his mother received it, there, staring up at her, was that haunting question: WHY?

Of all questions, this is the most searching, the most tormenting. It accompanies every tragedy. It falls from the lips of the mother who delivers a stillborn . . . the wife who learns of her husband’s tragic death . . . the child who is told, “Daddy won’t be coming home any more” . . . the struggling father of five who loses his job . . . the close friend of one who commits suicide.

Why? Why me? Why now? Why this? Nothing can fully prepare us for such moments. Few thoughts can steady us afterward . . . perhaps only one.

 Often our certainties can collapse in the presence of the great Why?

In a previous message we referred to the play ANATEVKA, or FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. It tells of Tevye, the dairyman, and his Jewish congregation in the Ukranian village of Anatevka. The Czar is oppressing them with excessive taxation.

Their sons have to serve in a strange army and fight in unwanted wars. The Cossacks initiate pogroms against them whenever it strikes their fancy to go after the Jews. Still, this small congregation of the persecuted and pursued sings the Lord’s song in an alien land.

Moltmann asks :

Are they doing this merely to forget their ugly predicament?

Are they only trying to comfort themselves by covering their sadness with happy sounds? Or is there really such a thing as freedom in the midst of slavery, joy in the midst of suffering, and praise of God in the groaning of his creatures?

An old man in Poland lived near Auschwitz concentration camp. He described how the railway tracks that lead to Auschwitz past through his village and as the trains loaded with Jews went past the houses, the men, women and children screamed to draw attention to themselves in the hopes of making someone hear.

And he described how on Sundays, when he was in church with other villagers, as they heard the rattle of of the carriages in the distance, coming nearer, the minister would tell them to sing louder. To drown the screams of the victims passing by, he would urge the congregation”Sing, sing sing!”

In a world of pain and sorrow, in which so many despair, we can wonder if it is a right response to be happy? And to be joyful would seem very inappropriate. Are we just trying to deny the reality of life in this world?

It would seem from the book of Ecclesiastes that grief is deeper than joy, that pain weighs more heavily than happiness, and that suffering seems more a matter of course than laughter and celebration.

We read in Ecclesiastes 7:1-6

1 A good name is better than fine perfume,
    and the day of death better than the day of birth.

I am not sure we would automatically agree with that. We celebrate the birth of a child and grieve at the death of a loved one.

2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
    than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
 the living should take this to heart.

Life is seen more as a tragedy than a celebration. The advantage of sorrow over pleasure is presented first. Since death is the destiny of all, it must not be ignored.

The funeral, not the party, causes one to number one’s days and to gain a heart of wisdom.

Queen Elizabeth1 last words before she died in 1603 “All my possessions for one moment in time.”

 3 Frustration is better than laughter,
    because a sad face is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.

One senses that joy is a lot deeper than fun.

5 It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person
    than to listen to the song of fools.
6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
    so is the laughter of fools.
    This too is meaningless.

We have a choice: hear the cry of the fool “Let’s eat drink and be merry. Tomorrow we die”.

Or we can go through the anguish of facing the reality of this world.

Read more…

Message for the Day

February 2017 Church Matters

February 9th, 2017
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The latest edition of Church Matters is now available. In this issue we say thank you and good bye to the Wilson family and Zane and Eilish Garratt. We also have a PNG annual meeting report. To complete we show the latest photos of the children’s building in Buduburam.

To read please click here.