This week January 9, 2020 January 2, 2020 December 23, 2019 December 19, 2019

Learning from our indigenous brothers and sisters

A message From the Minister

Picture by Sammy Ray Jones depicting massacre at Murdering Creek in 1869

We will again be having a Day of Mourning service in the lead-up to Australia Day, as suggested by the UCA Assembly. President Deidre Palmer writes, ‘the service encourages us to pause to remember the violence and dispossession inflicted on our First Peoples, and to lament that as a Church and as Second Peoples, we were and remain complicit. It is an opportunity for us to listen and learn of the hurt that has been passed down through generations of First Peoples and the ongoing disadvantage and injustice they still experience. Importantly it is an invitation to us to follow in Christ’s way of justice, healing and reconciliation, building relationships of truth and healing in our own communities and in our nation’.

Will you join me in continuing to pray for justice and healing in our nation?

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2020 by Peter Mallen

Tags: John 14:15-17, Micah 6:6-8, Psalm 85:8-13

The heart of baptism

A message From the Minister

This week we jump from stories of Christmas and the birth of Jesus to the account of his baptism by John. This account is quite brief and doesn’t address the questions we may have about baptism (e.g. why was it necessary for Jesus to be baptised? what is the ongoing significance of our baptism?). When this reading is placed alongside the reading from Isaiah 42:1-9, however, we begin to see some common threads.

First, baptism is about being named and affirmed by God. In Isaiah the people are named as God’s servant in whom God delights. Jesus is named at his baptism as God’s Son with whom God is well pleased. Similarly for us, we are named and affirmed as God’s children at our baptism.

Second, baptism is about being empowered or equipped for ministry and for our vocation in the world. God’s Spirit is placed on the servant in Isaiah and descends on Jesus at his baptism in the form of a dove. Similarly for us, at our baptism we invoke God’s Spirit to bless and equip us for living a godly life (in the baptism liturgy this is marked by the several responses that begin ‘With God’s help…’).

Following these commitments by God towards us, the third thread is our commitment to God, or our purpose in the world. For the servant in Isaiah it is to bring justice and light to the nations. For Jesus it is to announce and establish the kingdom of God. As followers of Jesus, our baptism calls us to join Christ’s ministry in the world. This involves loving our neighbour as ourselves, striving for justice and peace, respecting the dignity of and seeking Christ in every person, and proclaiming the good news of God in Christ by word and example.

These commitments are ongoing and apply to every Christian, irrespective of our age or stage of life. This is a high calling that is only possible with God’s help and direction. So this week, and every week, let us remember our baptism and be thankful.

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2020 by Peter Mallen

Tags: Isaiah 42:1-9, Matthew 3:13-17

The Christmas road less travelled

A message From the Minister

This week is Epiphany when we hear the ‘other’ Christmas story from Matthew’s Gospel. It’s much darker, grittier and more dangerous than the family friendly Christmas story from Luke’s Gospel. Wise men from the east (non Jews) come seeking Jesus to worship him, while the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem either ignore the one born to be king or plot to kill him.

How are we to hear this story? Is it a story of God calling the stranger into the fold of blessing? Is it a story of evil that tries to squash any threat to the status quo? Is it a story of resilience in the midst of adversity as the family flee as refugees? Is it a story of God’s grace, or a story of grief as the innocent children are murdered, apparently forgotten by God?

The Christmas story as told by Matthew contains all these elements and more. It shows that those in power will fight to hang onto their power. It also shows that God’s blessing is not restricted to any one group or culture. Perhaps Matthew is telling us in stark terms that the gospel is always heard in a contested space. The question for us is whether we are helping or hindering the spread of this message of good news.

Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2020 by Peter Mallen

Tags: Isaiah 60:1-6, Matthew 2:1-23

What is the significance of the Christmas story for you?

A message From the Minister

Christmas is here! For many of us this means a time to gather with family and friends and share a sumptuous meal. For others, this day brings sadness as we remember those no longer with us, or loneliness as we have no place to go. For those newly arrived in Australia, from various religious backgrounds, Christmas Day is a confusing experience as a secular country stops for a religious festival.

The four Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus are equally split in how they present the story and significance of Jesus’ birth. The earliest Gospel, Mark, makes no mention of it at all. Matthew and Luke in their own way address this omission. Both these Gospels stress God’s pivotal role in events, with Matthew telling the story from Joseph’s perspective and Luke from Mary’s perspective. The final Gospel of John takes the story way back to creation to stress the divine nature of Jesus.

For those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus, it’s difficult to free the Christmas story from its cultural and materialistic wrappings. At its heart, though, the story speaks of God acting to bring light and love into a darkened world through the person of Jesus. His birth marks a new beginning, offering new possibilities. How has this story shaped your life? What is its significance for you?

Download the Christmas Eve message to read here:

A Christmas Meditation

Download the Christmas Day message to read here:

What is the significance of the Christmas story for you?

Posted: Monday, December 23, 2019 by Peter Mallen

Tags: John 1:1-14, Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph’s role in the Christmas story

A message From the Minister

The main human players in the Christmas story are Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Yet Joseph is often a secondary character, off to the side as it were, as if we are uncertain what to do with him. After the birth stories, Joseph disappears entirely from the narrative, while Mary has several more appearances.

In Matthew’s version of the Christmas story, though, Joseph has a more major role than Mary. He is the one who has to respond to Mary’s unexpected news about her pregnancy, he is the one who organises their escape to Egypt and he is the one who brings the family back to Nazareth. He is also the one who names the child Jesus. How much of this is historically accurate we don’t know, but Joseph is presented as someone who is upright in character, who stays calm and who is practical.

Joseph is a good example of a support person, the quiet behind the scenes person who gets things done and who serves in a no fuss way. So often in history, it is women who fulfil such a role, but here it is Joseph. What might we learn from his example, his trust in God and his practical action?

Download and read the whole message here:

Unpacking the image of Immanuel

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2019 by Peter Mallen

Tags: Isaiah 7:10-17, Matthew 1:18-25

Read more messages From the Minister

Advent 2019 Newsletter is available

2019 Advent wreath

The Advent Newsletter is now available for download. It will provide an important update on the building program, especially the proposed long-term lease of the Hall to ElishaCare and other implications of the lease, including relocating Playgroup. The newsletter also provides an opportunity to share a little of what is happening in other parts of our life together.

Download the Advent Newsletter

2019 Advent Newsletter
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