21st August 2011 – 10th Sunday After Pentcost A

Bill Armstrong, pastor of the Wynnum Manly Alliance Church, sends weekly words of encouragement to members of the Ministers Fraternal. In the midst of preparation for his surgery (on Thursday) Bill has continued to send these stirring thoughts to us all.

Last week he wrote the following, which seems incredibly appropriate given some of the concerns, which have been shared of late-

The Divine Plus: Ole Hallesby wrote in the 1930’s in Norway, “The stress of economic difficulty darkens many a home.” He mentioned families who had been relatively rich but in one year became poor. As then, financial losses and pressures weigh on many of us today, with negative news making us question how we’ll avoid hunger and homelessness in the future. For Hallesby and his neighbours, things got much worse – in April 1940, the Nazis invaded. Hallesby was a leader among those who resisted, and he was sent to a concentration camp for two years. He experienced what we dread.

What if everything we’re counting on for security is swept away? What if we lose our jobs or health? What if the worst happened here – the way it has happened, and continues to happen to innocent people elsewhere in the world?

We get a bracing view of money and security in 1 Timothy 6:6-8: “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content” (NLT). Content even when the food is plain and the clothes threadbare? Content even when the future is uncertain? Content in a concentration camp?

God’s grace has brought godly contentment to many in extreme circumstances. We bring our anxieties and needs to the Father, with prayer and thanksgiving. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he tells his young protégé not to be afraid of suffering.

Hallesby writes the following about times when it seemed there just wasn’t enough money and resources to cover basic necessities: “God quietly added His divine plus, and there was enough. He has not removed our difficulties, He has transformed them so that we can see His purpose and His grace.”

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Lord, please help me to have a spirit of contentment about what I have and what I lack. In poverty or prosperity, in good or poor health, in peace or danger, pour into my soul the confidence that You care and will provide. Amen.

Our prayers are with Bill, his family and congregation, as he recovers from surgery.

Blessings

Rev Shan

9th Sunday After Pentecost- 14th August 2011

Last week I quoted from a book by Anselm of Canterbury, and spoke about our need to be diligent and purposeful in our search for a deeper relationship with God. I was reminded by our lectionary readings, however, that a longing after the divine is not confined to those who have a faith in God.

People spend their lives striving to fill an emptiness or hunger within them, by all sorts of methods. For very many, fulfillment is never achieved!

We do well to remember that the love of God and the message of salvation is available and meant for all… not just a select few… but, in the words of St Paul in the 10th chapter of his letter to the Romans  – 14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

If we have faith, we have hope and a way forward in even the darkest of times. How sad for those who have never known the love of God? I know I have said it before… but I think it is an often forgotten fact that there is a Mission Field at the door.

Who will share the love of God and the good news with them? Will it be you? Will it be the community of faith at St Paul’s Manly? And, if it is to be our faith community…”How can we work together to do this?”

If we are to be true to God’s call on our lives, these questions need to be considered. I know they have been weighing heavily on my heart and mind of late.

Love and Blessings

Reverend Shan

7th August 2011 – 8th Sunday After Pentecost A – Seeking God.

In our Wednesday evening Reflection we came upon a prayer by Anselm of Canterbury 1033-1109. It is found in his book “Proslogion” which was written to enable the uneducated to seek and find God. I quote (below) from the 1st chapter.

Come on now little man, get away from your worldly occupations for a while, escape from your tumultuous thoughts. Lay aside your burdensome cares and put off your laborious exertions. Give yourself over to God for a little while, and rest for a while in Him. Enter into the cell of your mind, shut out everything except God and whatever helps you to seek Him once the door is shut. Speak now, my heart, and say to God,

“I seek your face;

your face, Lord, I seek.

O Lord, my God,

teach my heart where to see you,

how to see you,

where and how to find you.

You have made me and remade me,

and you have given me all the good things I have ever possessed

– and still I do not know you.

Teach me to seek you,

for I cannot seek you unless you teach me,

or find you unless you reveal yourself to me

Help me to seek you in desire,

help me to desire you in my seeking,

help me to find you by loving you,

help me to love you when I find you.”

–       St. Anselm of Canterbury, England 1033-1109

Anselms’ advice is worth taking on board, whether we are educated or not. If a child or a parent went missing we would be diligent and purposeful in seeking them out. If we desire a relationship with God, surely we should be as diligent in seeking Him out?

Many Blessings

Rev Shan