Croydon Uniting Church is a community of all ages, called to follow Christ through worship and prayer; fellowship and support; and service to others. Our worship services are held weekly on Sundays at 10am, at our church on the corner of Tallent St and Croydon Rd, Croydon. The Croydon Uniting Church community is involved in a diverse range of missional, discipleship and fellowship activities.

All are welcome at Croydon Uniting Church.

Introduction to sermons

June 7, 2024 May 31, 2024 May 24, 2024 May 18, 2024 May 10, 2024

What sort of leader are you?

Category From the Minister

When we think of leaders, our minds naturally gravitate towards political leaders. But there are leaders in every walk of life from companies to churches, from schools to scientists, from hospitals to the home. Can you name all the leaders in the image and their field of influence?

Leaders come in all sorts of shapes and from all sorts of backgrounds. Some are inspiring, while others inspire terror. Some seek to serve those around them while others seek to dominate by eliminating rivals. What sort of leader are you, or what sort of leader would you be glad to follow?

In the reading this week from 1 Samuel, the people of Israel have become disillusioned with the leadership offered by Samuel and his corrupt sons. They want a different sort of leader – they want a king like other nations around them, a powerful military figure to lead the army. Samuel warns the people that such a king will be greedy and selfish and will not support the needs of ordinary people. But the people are adamant they want a king and God advises Samuel to grant their wish.

It turns out in Israel that a king may be brave and successful in battle yet be morally weak and paranoid in other respects. Over the centuries, the prophets paint a picture of an ideal leader who is identified as the Messiah. When Jesus comes along, he ticks several of the boxes of this ideal leader (filled with God’s Spirit, just, compassionate) but not the hope of a successful military leader. So as we think about leaders in the Bible as well as contemporary leaders, none seems to meet all our hopes and expectations. For Christians, though, Jesus has become the type of leader we admire most and seek to emulate. What leadership qualities does Jesus demonstrate that we could aspire to? How would our own leadership style need to change to become more like that of Jesus?

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2024 by Peter Mallen
Tags: 1 Samuel 8

Where to for reconciliation?

Category From the Minister

This week marks Reconciliation Week, the week where we are encouraged to reflect on the histories and cultures of Indigenous people in this country. The week runs each year from 27 May (anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum where Aboriginal people were counted as full Australian citizens for the first time) to 3 June (anniversary of 1992 Mabo case in the High Court that declared native title existed for all Indigenous peoples prior to 1788).

This year is the first time Reconciliation Week has been celebrated since the resounding defeat of the Voice referendum last October that would have created an Indigenous Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution. Hence the mood this year is rather subdued with many Indigenous communities feeling deeply hurt and disappointed.

Reconciliation is a theme that appears in several of Paul’s letters as one of the ways of understanding the cross. In Paul’s thinking, two estranged parties – God and humanity – have been reconciled through Jesus’ death on the cross with enmity and separation now replaced by friendship and restored relationship. Paul sees the church playing a key role in sharing this hopeful message with the world.

So where to now for reconciliation in Australia? Who or what is going to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians? Unfortunately the failed referendum has put a huge dent in the hopes and aspirations for reconciliation. Some Indigenous leaders see a focus on truth-telling as the way forward now. This too is a controversial journey to undertake as many non-Indigenous people remain apathetic or sceptical to hearing more about the dark histories of colonial settlement and present day injustices. May God give us ears and hearts to listen because it is only truth that will set us free.

Posted: Friday, May 31, 2024 by Peter Mallen
Tags: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, John 8:32

Knowing God

Category From the Minister

In the busyness of our daily lives with their routines, pressures and anxieties, we may not stop too often to think about how God may be present in our lives and indeed whether and how intimately God wants to know us. The invitation of Trinity Sunday this week is to do just that – to take the opportunity to slow down and reflect on these questions.

The concept of the Trinity – that there is only one God who exists as three persons, namely Father, Son and Holy Spirit – was an early and at the time controversial doctrine in the church. According to the laws of maths and science such a statement makes no sense, yet according to the lived experience of Christians down through the centuries it is how we encounter God.

The Bible readings chosen for us in the Lectionary this week reveal various aspects of God’s nature and God’s action. Each tears back the veil for a moment to reveal a deeper spiritual reality that is often hidden from our sight.

We learn from Isaiah’s encounter with God in the Jerusalem temple that God is awe-inspiring and holy yet also full of grace. In the story of Nicodemus meeting with Jesus we learn that if we want to know God and God’s ways we need to be born from above through the action of the Holy Spirit. This is a little mysterious, with Jesus comparing the action of the Spirit to the wind, blowing where it will. And from Paul’s letter to the Romans we learn that through the Spirit, God had adopted as children into God’s forever family and promised us the privileges that come from this intimate level of relationship with God, whom we are invited to call Abba, Father.

How all of this works is something of a mystery, something to experience rather than something to try and explain or rationalise. May God bless us this week with curiosity and  insight as we ponder both who God is and how God wants to love us and treasure us.

Posted: Friday, May 24, 2024 by Peter Mallen
Tags: Isaiah 6, John 3, Romans 8

The challenge of Pentecost

Category From the Minister

Pentecost is the third great Christian festival along with Christmas and Easter. But unlike the latter two festivals, Pentecost has never really caught on in popular imagination. There are no special foods associated with Pentecost, no well recognised music and no extra holidays on offer. So Pentecost is just there for Christians to enjoy.

The story appears only in the book of Acts where it kick starts the witness of Jesus’ followers as commanded by Jesus in the opening chapter of the book (You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth).

The story begins with a violent wind blowing from heaven and fiery flames, both signs of God’s powerful presence. As Jesus’ followers are filled with the Spirit they praise God in multiple languages. All of this attracts a crowd and Peter talks about what has happened (the coming of the Spirit) and at length about Jesus. Many people come to place their faith in Jesus and a thriving new community emerges that is full of joy and generosity.

While it’s easy – and safe – to focus on the wind and flames at the start or the vibrant community that emerges at the end, the heart of the story is about previously afraid people now praising God openly and speaking confidently about Jesus. The Spirit has changed their outlook and given them new boldness.

Here lies one of the real challenges of Pentecost. If every Christian has received this gift of God’s Spirit, why do we find it so difficult and intimidating to speak about our faith and about Jesus? Perhaps it is our historical distance from the extraordinary person of Jesus. Perhaps it’s because our rational and logical ways of being stop us from experiencing God’s spiritual presence. Or perhaps it is that we are afraid of what people may think of us or say about us. The challenge is not just that we’ve lost our nerve to speak about Jesus, but also that we’ve lost much of the joy and generosity of the early Christian community that also derives from the Spirit’s presence.  How might we recover our boldness to speak of Jesus and our joy?

Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2024 by Peter Mallen
Tags: Acts 2

Jesus prays for us

Category From the Minister

Prayer is practised in many religions. We may pray for ourselves or our situation. We may pray for others and their situation. Often we stumble in trying to find the right words or the right way of expressing our prayer. In the Christian tradition of faith, prayer is seen as communication with God. There is no one right way to do this, but most often it involves both speaking and listening (which may include contemplation, meditation and silence).

In the Gospel tradition, Jesus is portrayed as spending much time in prayer, often early in the morning and sometimes all night. Very few of his prayers are recorded. Once the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, namely how to pray in a way similar to how he prays. His response is what we know as the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer recited every day by millions of Christians.

As is often the case in John’s Gospel, we find a different version of this prayer as Jesus prays for himself, for the disciples and for future followers. The so-called High Priestly Prayer completes Jesus’ long farewell address that covers chapters 13-17. Many of its themes resonate with earlier chapters (e.g. life, truth, love, glory, the mutual indwelling of Jesus and God the Father).

Three aspects of Jesus’ prayer stand out. First is the priority in praying for protection from evil. This is an ever present and serious risk according to Jesus, and is also captured in the Lord’s Prayer. Second is the request that all believers be one, one with each other but also one with God and with Jesus. This invitation into an intimate relationship with God is closely tied up with the notion of eternal life. Third is that despite the risks and hostility of the world, the purpose or mission of the disciples – and for us – is to go out into the world as witnesses of Jesus and to extend his mission (as the Father sent me, so I send you).

How does it make you feel that Jesus prayed for us and our situation … that he prayed for our protection, our union with God and our purpose in the world? When we feel uncertain which way to go or feel overwhelmed by events, it’s helpful to remember that Jesus is in our corner and wants us to know God’s love and presence and protection with us as we live as his followers in the world.

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2024 by Peter Mallen
Tags: John 17

Read more messages from the Minister

Gallery of photos

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Historic photos in memory of ministries in the former halls on Tallent St site