Seventh Sunday after Easter Day – 28th May 2017

An old rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and the day had begun. “Could it be,” asked one student, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it’s a sheep or a dog?” “No,” answered the rabbi. Another asked, “Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it’s a fig tree or a peach tree?” “No,” answered the rabbi. “Then when is it?” the pupils demanded. “It is when you can look on the face of any person and see that it is your sister and brother. Because if you cannot see this, it is still night.”

The organising team for the Mega Car Boot Sale and Mini Market Day has asked me to pass on their “thanks to all Parishioners for being so ready to help at such short notice and who all worked together to make last Saturday a success. When we are stretched to the limit the smallest contribution or word of encouragement is uplifting.”

I would like to add a special thank you to the organisers … 5 people who did the planning and organising – Chris, Isobelle, Rob, Mark and Ailsa. I know that many others worked hard preparing cakes; jams, craft etc., but these five, in the midst of already busy lives pulled the event together. By their own admission, there were mistakes made/ things that might have been done differently – but we are always able to build on the lessons we have learned. It was good to see people working, laughing and learning together because when we do so we are “the Body of Christ” at its best, witnessing to the wider community. I was saddened to discover that the support for the organising committee was not 100% and I am disappointed to hear of very negative feedback from some who have chosen not to be a part of the planning. It seems it is easier to criticise the efforts of others, after the event, than to be part of the planning. After all, in the light of recent horrendous events in the world – resulting in the desire of peoples of myriad faith traditions to work together for peace – the success or failure of our Car Boot Sale was of relatively little importance.

However our living and working together, in unity, is a major concern of Jesus in the gospel for today. Jesus prays for those he was leaving behind and those who would come after “All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” “So that they may be one, as we are one” – this then, is how we glorify the Christ.

Sixth Sunday after Easter Day – 21st May 2017

In preparation for this week’s sermon I read the following forwarded by preacher Billy D. Strayhorn

Mee Spousler of the Mount Hope United Methodist Church, in Aston, PA., tells how she was trying to put her three-year-old son to bed for a nap.

When she was unsuccessful, she put him in her bed and laid down with him to encourage him to rest. She fell asleep, but he didn’t. When she woke up, she saw him sitting on a chair at the end of the bed, and asked, “Luke, what are you doing?”

“I’m playing God,” he replied.

“Playing God?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m watching over you while you sleep.”

Children understand more than we do sometimes. God IS watching over us. Jesus gave that promise here in talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Not only will God watch over us but, through the presence and reminder of the Holy Spirit, we will be reminded of what it means to “Love Jesus and keep his commands.” And God will help us to create the environment of love, grace, faith and security that we need for our homes today. Our challenge is to listen to the Holy Spirit and to trust Christ.

I thought these words might tickle your funny bone – and also make you think. They certainly got me thinking and giving thanks to God.

Fifth Sunday after Easter Day – 14th May 2017

The story of Stephen that we focus on this week is a difficult one. Persecution and death are still realities in some countries, for those who courageously speak out in the face of injustices. One wonders what impression his words of forgiveness, as he died, made on those who had stoned him.

Does this story inspire you to witness and lead a life of faithfulness?

How can we continue to witness and spread the story of good news Stephen died for?

What is our good stewardship for? Surely it is for far more than building or program maintenance. What if we were to think of all of our stewardship in terms of how it supports the making of ways? Ways for people to hear the Good News in terms that are meaningful for them? Ways for people to live full, truly human lives? What if our ways produced programs and projects that make new ways and clear out ancient ways? What if we were to ask: how are we using all of what we have to be way makers?

Our prayer for this week might be “In all our giving, in all we do, say, and are, may we be witnesses of God’s way. May we go out to share the good news of God’s love and God’s way. Amen.”

Mega Car Boot Sale – Saturday 20 May 2017 from 8am

St Paul’s next car boot sale is our Mega Boot Sale on Saturday the 20th of May with setup from 7am for an 8am start.

There will be coffee, cafe, plants, cakes, jams, handmade crafts, books and jumble.

There will also be great entertainment throughout the morning.

Costs are $10 per site and you can hire a trestle table for $5.

We have 2 different sites:

  • 3m space between church buttresses for stalls without cars (you unload your things at your site and then park your car)
  • car-park spaces about 2.7m wide

If you are wanting to book a site please contact Mark on 0423 763 529 or markfaustin@gmail.com

For the site plan for 20 May, please click below:

CarBootSalePlanLine

Fourth Sunday after Easter Day – 7th May 2017

ReflectionAuthor, Chad Bird, stirred up many Christians through social media this week with a reflection titled, “Christianity is not about a personal relationship with Jesus”. He writes

“We talk about having personal things. We employ a personal trainer to help us shed pounds and get that coveted “beach body”. We open a personal bank account to manage our finances. And, please, keep your hands off our personal property and your eyes out of our personal diary.

Christians, especially Evangelicals, import this language into their faith as well. We talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus. Or working on our personal relationship with him. Or desiring that relationship to grow, to deepen, to become more intimate.

Here’s the thing: Christianity is not about a personal relationship with Jesus. The phrase is never found in the Bible. And the whole biblical witness runs contrary to it.

Our life with Christ is communal, not personal or private or individual. When the Scriptures speak of believers, they are part of a community, a fellowship of other believers.

Christianity is about a church relationship with Jesus.

I know this runs contrary to what many modern believers think. And even desire. In an age when we are more isolated than ever, when our worlds often shrink to the size of a phone screen, talk of community sounds like a radical departure from the norm. It is. But the norm of the Christian faith is not isolated believers, little islands of spirituality, but a continent of Christians banded together by the Spirit. We are baptized into one body, the body of Jesus. Our so-called personal relationship with Jesus is indeed with his person—his body of which all other believers are a part. Fingers don’t have a relationship with Jesus apart from the hand, the hand from the arm, the arm from the shoulder, and so on.”

The readings for today seem to support this idea “All who believed were together and had all things in common;”(Acts 2:44) and 1Peter 2 enjoins the believers to put aside envy etc. But I would suggest that if we are to be “living stones”, together with Christ providing a solid foundation for the building up of the body, we must first get to know Jesus for ourselves. How can we introduce Jesus to others if we don’t know him personally? It might seem trite but I was raised on the admonishment to “love Jesus first, myself last, and others in between.”