Telling our stories

ALL OF THIS IS US

2019 Sunday June 30 – Just another Sunday! We concluded Mission Month with our traditional and delicious ‘Soup Luncheon’ followed of course by sweet delights 🤗 This year the proceeds from Mission Month are going to Frontier Services specifically to assist with drought relief – so far we have raised $3,700 ☔️ Did you notice the flower with the bee on it🐝? We love to project some of the amazing photography captured by our very own Ruby McGrow #allthingsbrightandbeautiful #lifebeginsat80 during our services. We were also delighted to welcome Rev Peter Walker, the principal of the United Theological College who, not only delivered a thought provoking sermon but accepted a cheque from NRCCUniting which will ensure an annual scholorship for a student to continue their studies. This scholorship was made possible because of a bequeath from Bill Shearer, a much loved member of our congregation. #allofthisisus #🙏

Lent 5

Justice for Women

Prayer

We pray for the safety of unborn and infant girls.

We pray for educational opportunities for girls.

We pray for girls and women affected by female genital mutilation.

We pray for efforts to prevent child marriage.

We pray for economic opportunities for women and girls living in poverty.

We pray for access to clean, safe drinking water.

We pray for girls trapped in sexual exploitation and forced labor.

Spirit come, God re-create, Jesus convict us and our world.

Prayer points from World Vision. https:// http://www.worldvision.org/gender- equality-news-stories/ matthew-25-pray-for-women- and-girls

Lenten Journey

In case you’re thinking about the future, let me say that I’m with you. When I look to the future, I’m excited by the present, the young women leaders who are stepping up, to ministry, to membership of councils and committees, to leadership in their faith communities and workplaces, to study and training.

General Secretary – Uniting Church in Australia Assembly Colleen Geyer

Coming into our second last week of Lenten Studies, we reflect on Women’s Justice. We reflect on the opportunities and frustrations, the safety and danger of women and girls in our communities and communities around the world. In a country and a church where we are still not resolute, still not ‘there’, we consider ways to make the paths more straight, to follow the example of Christ in waiting and listening and acting on what Women say or do throughout our gospels. And we remember the women of the Old and New Testaments, though their voices are often drowned out by the volume of Male voices, we can spend intentional time in listening and watching the example of Miriam, Ruth, Esther, Hannah, Mary, and Martha, and so many other women of our tradition.

This week we open the reading from Luke 22:14-23 – 23:56

 

Actions/Readings

How can I prepare for Lent?

Luke 22:14-23 – 23:56

  • Read the readings
  • What knowledge / experiences do you bring to this topic?
  • PrayWhat is a practice that you could do for the next week that might help you hear a woman’s voice in light of theological or justice exploration?

    Is there a particular resource that you could share, or explore in your own networks?

    Is there more that you would like to explore here?

 

Reflection

At the last supper, Jesus models self-giving love. Here at the table he is, quite literally, among his disciples as one who serves. The story shifts scenes and confronts us with the trial and execution. Luke ends his account by returning to the faithful women. They have been with Jesus from the beginning, following him from Galilee. They have witnessed and supported his ministry. They have witnessed his death. They have witnessed his burial. Now they prepare spices; they rest, and wait.

Judith Jones – Professor of R eligion – Wartburg College and S t. Andrews Episcopal Church Waverly, IA

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx? commentary_id=4012

How do we listen to the witness of women in and of our communities. Throughout liturgies and prayers written for the church, and for our church, we have a vast amount of lost experience, when praying for the sick or dying, when praying for the baby poorly or new, when praying after a hard birth or before, when praying for the everyday and the special day, there is a whole heap missing on the in-between. When in exile, Miriam picks up her Tamborine and leads the people in a song of worship, praise and expectation. It has been rare for these expressions to flow through to our everyday like that of many men’s responses to witness and faith. Perhaps we should remember to look for an alternate voice, look for what different people say of different events and about life. Importantly though, we shouldn’t seek one example to prove our point, but look broadly for a range of voices. We never expect one man to name something on behalf of all men everywhere, in the same way we might not expect one woman to express the needs and experience of every women.

Rev Dr. Amelia Koh Butler says it is difficult to discuss women and men without falling into unhelpful cultural stereotyping. when thinking about gender, we need to critique our own worldview and cultural assumptions. One way of doing this is to consider perspectives from other cultures, examining alternate values and then reconsidering our own situation, enlightened by other ways of looking at things.

 

For Further Reading; there are plenty of resources to reflect on. One specific to leadership in the Uniting Church is: https:// http://www.insights.uca.org.au/features/ ministry-in-the-uniting-church- one-womens-response

And for further listening;

https:// http://www.nomadpodcast.co.uk/ nomad-64-nadia-bolz-weber-on- how-not-to-be-a-boring-christian/

Lent

Care for Creation

 

Lenten Journey 

Whoever you are, you are human. Wherever  you are, you live in the world, which is just waiting for you to notice the holiness in it. 

Barbara Brown Taylor

We move to week 4. A week that we in this study turn toward creation on our discipleship journey. Throughout the stories that tell of God in our history, the Old and New Testaments we hear of God’s part in creation, promises made in stars, rainbows, the parting of great waters, the lilies calmly standing in the field, the oak tree, the mustard seed, the lost sheep, and many many more. 

Perhaps it is this week through the lens of justice, that we might look for the holiness in creation, and wonder what the story it would tell of God, or the people of God. It would be good if we could find a place to be, near the sea, in the grass, under a tree, or looking out the window. But it would also be good to find a practice that might contribute to living out a more sustainable use of the resources that we are using up, far too fast. 

We might also consider that living in extravagance, and beyond our environmental means, is impacting directly the oceans, the great and small fish of the sea, lands that lie low, the sky and our own health. This week of lent is a time to explore creation with discipleship and justice in mind. 

Prayer

Magnificent God, 

when we think of awe, 

our mind stumbles. 

We are too busy for awe. 

We know too much to be in awe. 

We are too jaded for awe. 

We ignore the spiritual gift of awe. 

We feel awe, yes, before a moumtain, 

a sparkling lake, 

a humming bird. 

We do not feel awe before the blessings of everyday. 

Forgive us, Magnificent One. 

Help us to experience awe this week. 

in washing the dishes, 

in our office colleagues and challenges, 

in an evening stroll. 

For we would be deeply faithful to you. 

Amen. 

© 2010 The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ca. Any copy must include this notice.

This week we open the reading from John 12: 1-8. 

1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

NRSV

“Sometimes inequality feels like an indominable foe, especially when we recognise that we are fighting entire network systems – and we are not just fighting those systems, we are fighting the deep set values that constructed the problem and continue to contribute to them.” 

Lindsey Trozzo https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3993 The use of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointing Jesus’ feet, and then Mary wiping them with her own hair, expresses an extravagance that is beyond comfortable, beyond safe and is definitely a vulnerable and courageous action to both give and receive. To step into this action of gracious extravagance is hard. But when we consider the world, creation and all that lives in it, we might consider this action. 

You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me. Jesus says, when we balance the needs of people all over the world and in our own communities, and when we consider the needs of stewardship and care in our creation, when we consider our needs to worship and enjoy God’s holiness, it can be hard to balance which one might be more important, which one might be higher or lower in their need. But even though we can successfully check our phone, maintain a conversation and take part in a meeting at the same time, we are not often able to argue that with all of our gifts and skills together, we might be able to consider all of these needs together. 

One of the considerations that we might make is that whilst it is good and important to consider acting as an individual, this journey calls us to work together to consider the network and systems, values and constructs which hold creation at arms length and beyond our care. 

 

Actions/Readings

How can I prepare for Lent? 

John 12: 1-8

  • Read the readings
  • What knowledge / experiences do you bring to this topic?
  • Pray 

What is a practice that you could do for the next week that might shape our understanding of being a carer for creation. 

Is there a particular resource that you could share, or explore in your own networks? 

Is there more that you would like to explore here? 

For groups of like minded people you would like join the facebook group; NSW/ACT Uniting Earth Ministry Group

And for further reading; there is an article about Eco-theology in the Church times; https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/13-september/comment/opinion/eco-theology-is-not-new-it-s-foundational-to-faith

Lent week 2

Refugees

Actions/Readings

How can I prepare for Lent?

Luke 13:31-35

  • Read the readings
  • What knowledge / experiences do you bring to this topic?
  • Pray

What is a practice that you could do for the next week that might shape our understanding of being a refugee or caring for refugees? 

Is there a particular resource that you could share, or explore in your own networks?

Is there more that you would like to explore here?

For further reading this week if you would like; https://www.unitingjustice.org.au/refugees-and-asylum-seekers

A great blog to be informed about individual stories and groups from around the world: https://www.refugeesinternational.org/blog

 

Lenten Journey

“It is important to step back from the prevailing public debate and draw guidance from our identity as Christians.”

Shelter From the Storm – A Uniting Church in Australia statement on asylum seeker and refugee policy – 2015

A women named Mary and a man named Joseph, went looking for safety, refuge and a place to birth their son, Jesus into the world. It so happens the core of our ‘Christian’ Identity starts with the One who comes into a family seeking refuge and safety. When we read this weeks reading, which ends ‘blessed be the One who comes in the name of our God’ we might step out of the public debate, and despair and wonder how we can love and care for those who seek safety and refuge in our society and in the world. 

This week, let us be aware of the refugee, search what it means to ‘queue’ for UN status, the distance one might walk to find safety, and the journeys faced by those seeking refuge. We might pray safety for those journeys, for an end to war, famine, and climate change, and for the hearts of those who maintain policies of harsh and inhumane treatment. 

Prayer


God of Abraham. Sarah and Hagar,
God of travellers, migrants and refugees.
Thank you for the beauty and uniqueness of this southern land which we share.
Grant your protection and grace to all who shelter here.
Forgive the racism and destruction that have been part of our history,
and our disregard for the pain and oppression within the Australian community today.
Help us shed our provincial expectations. Take away our cultural tunnel vision.
Open our hearts to be caring neighbours to each other.
Direct our lives to just and peaceful action.
God of a thousand faces, help us also to acknowledge you are worshipped in many
languages, in different songs and rhythms of life from our own.
May we respect these religious insights in each other and
assist each faithful expression of you.
We rejoice in you, God, in whose image we are brothers and sisters.
and by whose example in Jesus Christ we know the breadth and depth
of your universal love. Amen
Mission Prayer Handbook 1991, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, p. 7

Notes for Reflection; 

This week we open the reading from Luke 13:31-35, The Gospel Reading from Lent 2 in our Lectionary.
Ruth Anne Reese states that; ‘healing and deliverance are central aspects of Jesus’ message and daily work (citing Luke 4:33; 8:27-39; 4:41; 9:1; 10:17; 12:20) She asks preachers to think about the need for healing and deliverance within the church as well as those who are not yet part of God’s people. She goes on to suggest during this season of Lent, as we contemplate the ministry and passion of Jesus, we must also remember that rejection of his ministry comes with consequences of our own choosing. Jesus’ longing is to have compassion, but his longing must be met by our own longing for salvation, deliverance, and healing.’ ( https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2770 )

When we consider this reading alongside this week’s topic of Refugees; we might consider how the aspects healing and deliverance are reflected in the media and dialogue around those seeking refuge within Australia, it’s borders, it’s detention facilities and within homes all over our country waiting for VISA’s and documentation. We might consider how we relate to those who seek refuge in light of the questions asked in Matthew 25:44-45: Then they will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘ Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

There is no one answer to this multifaceted dilemma. But there are petitions we could sign, there are groups that we could join, there are letters we could send to our local and federal politicians, and when we consider throwing furniture and clothing and house wares out, we could take them to a local drop off point for recently placed families in our communities.

 

Blessings as you continue your Lent. 

James 

 

 

Lent / Ash Wednesday

Throughout Lent we will upload prayers, and reflections and further readings according to our lectionary and reflecting on the topics of Refugees, Indigenous Justice, Care for Creation, Women’s Justice, Culture and Diversity & The Holy Days. Check in each week for an update;

A prayer for ash Wednesday

Blessed are you, God of all creation. You are eternal, we are mortal, formed from the dust of the earth. On this Ash Wednesday we remember you sign upon us, as a sign of repentance and returning to you. Breath into us again the breath of life. Blessed be God forever.

Amen.

Taken from Uniting In Worship II

Introduction to the Lenten Journey 

Disciples watch, they remain alert, attentive, watching symbolic acts as well as listening for instructive words; watching the actions that give the clue to how reality is being reorganised around Jesus. (Rowan Williams, 2016)

As we re-orient, and re-organise ourselves, toward and around Christ Jesus, we will pray, reflect and discern justice, through the exploration of revised common lectionary readings, and topics around justice. Each week we have a reading and a topic to be introduced to and share about.

Lent is a time of turning ones feet toward the cross, and being discipled further into Christ. In your praying, and reading and stretching I hope that you are confronted, drawn near, and oriented well for the death and resurrection, but that you might see signs of Christ in our humanity and creation on the way.

 

 

Introduction to Topics

As stated, each week we will open to a new topic and a new reading.

Each of the topics selected are those which are already popular topics within our social spheres. It would be good if you brought some of your own questions to the table, seeking to explore socially and biblically our experiences and expectations.

Vulnerability is definitely at play here, so give yourself some breathing space if you need it. No one person has all the answers, and no one reading will help inform fully, so the only way that this will work is if we seek conversation rather than answers.

Our reading as introduction is the Gospel reading in our Ash Wednesday service readings. Matthew’s Jesus says; “beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (NRSV)

Before starting Lent, what are the things that we might want to keep in check before each topic/reading, how might we share our experiences and knowledge respectfully?

Actions/Readings

How can I prepare for Lent?

Matthew 6:1-6, 16:21

  • Read the reading/s
  • Look at the topics ahead
  • Pray

    What is your understanding of Ash Wednesday? Lent?

    Do you have a practice that you would usually do or have done in the past around Lent?

    Is there a particular topic that you are excited by? and why?

    Is there something that you would rather cover instead?

Suggestions for further resources:

 

 

For further reading this week if you would like;

there is a book about ‘being Disciples: essentials of the Christian life’ by Rowan Williams.

 

A great podcast about ‘lent’ : Nomad Podcast 1 March 2017 – Brian Draper – Lent and the Transforming Power of Stillness