Reflections 29th August 2010

“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is a saying often used when people are worrying about relatively unimportant matters.
Jesus says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” (Luke 12:22 -23)
And, Paul tells the Colossians  to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
Now, I agree that we often get ourselves caught up in the unimportant details of life and need to get our priorities right… on the other hand, I am also moved by a song I hear regularly as part of an advertising campaign on television which says “From little things, big things grow.”
I have been reflecting on “little things” this week… particularly our “small” actions or words… and the way in which they reflect the true state of our heart and soul, and our relationship with God.
Many people give generously to the work of missions and the church. Others work hard at Christian gatherings of all sorts. Some people take on dangerous initiatives for the sake of the gospel… and these things are all valuable in the sight of God. But perhaps, of more importance are the ordinary little words and actions that make up our day.
Much as a small flame lightens a dark room, a smile has the power to brighten the day. A word of welcome or encouragement can change the way we feel about ourselves, can lift us from despair to hope and joy.
May you all be blessed by small acts of kindness this week and may you be a blessing to others as you radiate Christ’s light in the dark places of your neighborhood this week.
Many blessings
Rev Shan

Reflections 22nd August 2010

Through the daily Eucharist readings this week, we have been exploring some of Jesus parables describing the Kingdom of Heaven. What Jesus actually describes is not, the physical attributes of the Kingdom of Heaven, so much as the owner/ruler of the Kingdom, and the desire of the owner to gather his people into the Kingdom.
In the preface to his book ‘The Holy Longing’ by Ronald Rolheiser (Doubleday). Rolheiser quotes Teilhard de Chardin, a scientist and mystic, who asked why so many sincere, good persons do not believe in God. “His answer was sympathetic, not judgmental. He felt that they must not have heard of God in the correct way”.
As bearers of the invitation, within our families and our local community, perhaps it could be worth looking at the way in which we share our faith and the invitation. What do our lives say about God?
Do our actions match our words? Do we use Christian/Church jargon or language, which is easily understood? Despite our ready welcome, do we somehow present an exclusive façade?
I remember attending a particular church, for the first time, years ago. As a little girl I had always worn a hat to church… we wore our “Sunday Best”. This continued into my adult years (not the hat but the “Sunday Best”) so, on this particular Sunday I arrived, was welcomed, and then, very loudly, told “Oh we don’t get dressed up here.” I am sure the woman who said this was trying to put me at ease… but I felt embarrassed and wanted to slink away.
At another church, the majority of the men wore shirt and tie, if not jackets… and some wore waistcoats. A number of young people tried that church but felt they couldn’t fit in… especially as no one spent time trying to engage them in conversation.
I thank God that the Kingdom of heaven, as described by Matthew is a place where the King cares nothing for our outward appearance, or the words we speak, so much as the state of our heart.
Blessings to you all, Rev Shan

Reflections 15th August 2010

A teenage girl at holiday camp was torn between two sets of friends. Some of them were sunbathing on the jetty, saying to her “stay with us.” But her other friends were in a rowboat saying “no, come with us.” There she stood, one foot on the jetty, the other foot on the edge of the boat, and the boat was moving. Trying to appease everyone, putting of the decision, she ended up falling into the water; and worse, her hair got wet!
But I think this is exactly what Jesus is addressing in the gospel lesson today. He is warning us that there will be times when following him will require us to turn away from something else. There will be times in this life when we will be required to say “yes” to one thing, and therefore “no” to the other. And of course, faced with the necessity of making a decision, the action we often take is the same one that girl did on the jetty. We try to go in both directions. We try to say “yes” to it all, and we end up falling in between the cracks, and being miserable.
Jesus does not promise a life of ease… but he does offer the gift of his presence and peace, as we follow in His footsteps. May this be your experience as you journey through this week>
Rev Shan

Reflections 8th August 2010

Recently, for me, it seems that our gospel readings keep focusing my attention on relationships… my/our relationship with God and my/our relationship with others. An important ingredient in any relationship is communication… two-way communication! In our relationship with God, that conversation is called “prayer’.
Too often we end up thinking that prayer is simply asking God for stuff but that is a bit like saying all you expect from your parents is pocket money and big presents!
Our relationship with God should be one of deep love and trust, in which we can disclose our deepest longings and fears. And God will respond to us, though not always in the way that either we want or expect.
In prayer we open ourselves to God, and must therefore be open to the possibility of being changed by that relationship… and by God’s response.
We are shaped by those closest to us; they influence our thinking and our behaviour – hopefully for the better – and without them we would not be the people we are. We don’t spend all our time talking at them or making demands; leastwise I hope not. Rather, we listen too, we care we support, we engage; all ways of seeing prayer.
The same with God!
I might go further. Prayer is nothing without action, and action can be ill considered without prayer. The two walk hand in hand. The old maxim is still true. ‘Speak little, listen much, and do all you can’.
BACK TO CHURCH SUNDAY Now, if you have a meaningful relationship with God, perhaps you might consider sharing that relationship, and the blessings it brings, with others. Maybe there are people around you who are waiting for someone to invite him or her to church, and back into relationship with God, and especially our Savior Jesus Christ.  Perhaps there is someone on your mind and heart as you read these words… might I suggest that you take a prayer card (at the entrance to St Paul’s) and add their names, as a reminder and a help as you pray for the opportunity.
Blessings, Rev Shan

Reflections 1st August 2010 – The Body of Christ

Last Saturday (24th July) was our (the Vierow’s) first experience of the fabled St Paul’s Market. I say, “fabled” because Maurie and I had been hearing about the Market, from a number of sources, for some time before our arrival in the parish. It is a little hard to imagine the size of the market and how it could all come together when St Paul’s has relatively few members… and so few under the age of 60!
Well, I have to say, we were amazed and heartened by what was achieved by the efforts of our new parish family.
Now, I know all didn’t go smoothly… there were little hiccoughs along the way! People were tired and tempers were sometimes slightly frayed… but, because people were willing to pitch in, use their individual gifts and work together, the Market Day was a brilliant success, bringing glory to God and enabling us to continue God’s work.
Week by week, at the “Peace” we proclaim, by word, that “We are the Body of Christ, His Spirit is with us!” and, on the weekend our actions bore witness to this truth.
Are all cooks? Are all baristas? Are all overseers or organisers? Do all manage accounts, spruik or embroider garments? NO! But together we do all these things and more!
St Paul writes of our need to let go of our individual pride (Colossians 2:16-19) saying (Ephesians 15-16) we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Individually we may not seem bug, or strong, or powerful but, bound together in Christ we can do great things for His kingdom.
Blessings Rev Shan