4th Sunday of Advent B – 21st December 2014

I have incredibly mixed feelings about the events of the last week. On Monday morning, while sitting in the Parish Office, I received a call from our daughter announcing “I’m not one of the hostages!” And I was confused because I had been in the office for some time and hadn’t heard the latest news.

All day I felt bombarded (along with the rest of Australia) with suppositions, accusations and commentary by so called “experts” – speaking about the situation with little real knowledge of what was actually happening inside the Lindt Coffee Shop in Martin Place. 

I thank God that a certain amount of calm replaced the original fear mongering by the media, bent on explaining the incident as an act of terrorism. Meanwhile our Muslim brothers and sisters were the subject of hateful and vitriolic calls to (go back where you belong!”) in an act of solidarity, Christians began to reach out in friendship, to innocent Muslims who were once again blamed for this act of violence – and every other act of terrorism.

On Wednesday morning I awoke to the news that Taliban insurgents had killed at least 141 people, most of them children, after storming an army-run school in Pakistan’s deadliest ever terror attack. This attack made the news but hardly rated a mention on a number of media websites.

And good news rates even less attention unless it involves blowing one’s own trumpet. There has been little, in the news, about the meaning of Christmas.

We live in a crazy world where horror is newsworthy and good deeds barely rate a mention. We live in a world where people live in fear of their neighbours and events that may never come to reality. But there is good news!

In this last week before Christmas, we read of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she will give birth to a special baby. Gabriel’s reassurance not to be afraid reminds us that God is with us in all circumstances. God’s steadfast, faithful, ever present love is expressed in all readings for today.

In the “magnificat,” Mary sings a song of total trust, singing of great reversals, and rejoicing that even in affliction God can bring about good. In our sorrow songs, spirituals, and freedom songs, God sustains us, affirms us, emboldens us as God did Mary. We the weak are made strong. “We are not afraid today, for we shall overcome.”

Consider, when and how have you felt the sustaining power of God’s presence and when have you been able to encourage others to live lives of trust and faith because of the “present” of Gods own Son?

Many Blessings

Reverend Shan

St Paul’s Anniversaries

St. Paul’s has recently celebrated two important anniversaries:

  • the Centenary of our hall, which was dedicated by Archdeacon Henry Le Fanu on 10th November, 1914
  • and the Golden Anniversary of our church, dedicated by Bishop W. Hudson on 22nd November, 1964.

A beautiful commemorative book “Here at the Edge of the Sea” has been published. It offers a detailed history of the parish from 1890-2014. A DVD of 176 coloured photos is included. The cost of this package? $36.00.

In addition, engraved commemorative wine glasses are available for the cost of $7.00 each. Two beautiful mementoes of 120 years of faithful worship.

Phone – 33962745 (Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am to noon

email: office@stpaulsmanly.org

Dustcover of "Here at the Edge of the Sea"

Dustcover of “Here at the Edge of the Sea”

Commemorative glasses on display

Commemorative glasses on display

Books at the Altar

Books at the Altar

Advent 2b – 7th December 2014

Change – Who likes change?

Some people thrive on change; others struggle with the unfamiliar and are comforted by what they know. As we steadily prepare for Christmas in 2014 we would be wise to remember that time changes everything, bit by bit, imperceptibly! The world we live in today is very different to the world, as it was, at our birth! Yet, in our inmost being we are no different to the people of Jesus time – we live, we grow, we laugh and love, we fear, we hurt, we cry & die!

Each Advent we remember four of the unchanging gifts of God – Hope, peace, joy and Love – all of which remain in the midst of the turmoil of life.

This year we do so in a slightly different way. Today we light the candle of Preparation – not peace. Why? Because the world of people is not truly at peace and even the hearts of “the faithful” struggle to find a place of peace to recognize and receive the gift of Christ.

Is your heart prepared? Are you ready for what is yet to come? In the craziness of life is there space in your heart for peace to bloom?

As the candle of Preparation is lit, today, we pray – God of promise, as we journey toward another Christmas season,
give us your grace so we may focus on preparing ourselves to receive your life anew. Amen.

Perhaps, as part of your preparation for Christmas you might physically and spiritually set aside a time each day, to light your own candle, and to clear your heart and mind of all that is not “peace” in readiness to receive the fullness of love and joy of Christ.

Many blessings

Reverend Shan