Suffering, death and life

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2019 by Peter Mallen

Lent Studies 2019 - Commencing week of 4 March

Four studies based on reflections by well known preacher Barbara Brown Taylor on aspects of finding God in the midst of pain and suffering.

These studies invite new ways to think about the Easter story.

Currently, one group will meet on Thursday mornings at CRoydon UC and one group will meet on Friday mornings at Croydon North UC. Other groups may gather at other times, if these times do not suit you.

Further details from Peter Mallen on 0420 818 379 or at    mallen.peter@gmail.com

March 14, 2019 March 7, 2019 March 1, 2019 February 20, 2019 February 13, 2019

The compassion and courage of Jesus

A message From the Minister

As we continue our journey through Lent, we hear this week of Jesus’ determination to continue his ministry and continue on the path towards Jerusalem despite growing threats against him. Jesus likens King Herod to a fox, a cunning and often maliciously cruel animal that kills for sport. Jesus will not be put off course by Herod’s – or anyone else’s – threats, as he is intent on following God’s agenda. Hence he must be on his way and must continue on to Jerusalem where a prophet’s fate – death – likely awaits him.

Jesus also expresses his – and God’s – compassion for Jerusalem. He wants to gather the people of Jerusalem as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings – a tender and compassionate image that reflects God’s love for the city and her people. Jesus’ attitude and actions can teach us important lessons about courage and compassion. Will we continue to follow God’s agenda even when there is high personal cost involved? And will we continue to offer God’s grace and compassion to people, even when they threaten or reject us?

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2019 by Peter Mallen
Tags: Luke 13:31-35, Psalm 27

Who sets our agenda?

A message From the Minister

The journey of Lent always starts with the account of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. This feels slightly odd, as the incident occurs before the start of Jesus’ ministry and not as he turns his face towards Jerusalem and the journey to the cross. Yet in other ways, the temptations or testing described are typical for what Jesus faced throughout his ministry – desires to meet his own physical needs, to seek after power or to be popular.

As Jesus follows the path to the cross he will disappoint many, anger others and be rejected and humiliated. He will also demonstrate clearly that he is following God’s agenda rather than his own. I wonder who sets our agenda? Is it the expectations of others, our fears or our longings, or the quiet voice of God’s Spirit? What will give us the strength and courage to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and follow God’s agenda?

Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2019 by Peter Mallen
Tags: Luke 4:1-13, Psalm 91

Surprising encounters with God

A message From the Minister

This week’s Gospel passage is mysterious – not that it uses big or strange words – but because it describes an encounter with God that is foreign to most of our common experience. Jesus climbs up a mountain to pray, which is nothing unusual for Jesus. On this particular occasion he takes three of the ‘senior’ disciples with him, which is slightly more unusual. But while he is praying, some very unusual things happen: Jesus’ appearance becomes dazzling, he speaks with two people that the disciples somehow identify as Moses and Elijah, and a voice speaks from a cloud about Jesus.

Welcome to Transfiguration Sunday, the day when we hear this mysterious and profound story about Jesus and are reminded about its significance, yet often go away scratching our heads and wondering what it’s really all about. This is a story that invites us to pull back the veil that usually prevents us from seeing the spiritual dimension of the world, and asks us to journey with Jesus to a thin place where new insights will be revealed. What will we see? What will we hear? And what difference will it make as a result?

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2019 by Peter Mallen
Tags: Exodus 34:29-35, Luke 9:28-36

Jesus’ third way for communities

A message From the Minister

While much of our culture (and especially our advertising) focuses on the individual, as a society we can also be quite tribal. This can be positive – as when people band together in times of natural disasters – or can be negative – as when we pick on one group (e.g. African youth). Jesus offers a third way, which is to treat everyone as we would like to be treated. This is a blueprint for a new community, a new humanity where there is no distinction any more between people, or between tribes, or even between friends and enemies.

Jesus’ call to love our enemies, though, seems a step too far… enemies are the people who hate you, say mean things about you, abuse you or take what is rightfully yours. Our natural response to enemies is either to want to fight them or flee from them. But Jesus commands that we do good to our enemies, pray for them and generously share with them. Sound difficult? You bet! It’s only possible with the transforming work of God’s Spirit in our lives to give us the desire and ability to live this way. It’s nothing less than learning to embody and live out the very character of God, day by day.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 by Peter Mallen
Tags: Luke 6:27-38, Psalm 37:1-11

God’s upside down kingdom

A message From the Minister

Sometimes it’s good not to take Jesus too seriously, especially when Jesus speaks about matters that impact directly on our lifestyle. Many of us have experience with this approach. For instance, we are adept at ignoring much of Jesus’ teaching about money and power, for otherwise it would require us to do a major rethink about our priorities and practices.

This week’s Gospel reading is a case in point. It’s Luke’s equivalent to the Sermon on the Mount. As in that famous sermon it begins with a series of blessings for unexpected people – the poor, the hungry, those who weep and those who are rejected for associating with Jesus. But Jesus then ups the ante by also pronouncing woe on the rich, the well fed, those who laugh about life and those who are praised. These are startling and provocative words. Is Jesus really advocating the benefits of poverty, hunger and mourning over the alternatives? Yet these recipients of blessing reflect Jesus’ wider ministry and his interactions with both rich and poor. They also reflect the character of the God revealed in the OT prophets, who seems to have a distinct bias towards the needs of the poor. Where do we stand in relation to Jesus’ upside down kingdom? What might need to change if we take Jesus’ words seriously?

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 by Peter Mallen
Tags: Jeremiah 17:5-10, Luke 6:17-26

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