Silver anniversary

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24 May, 2019

We’re celebrating 25 years of ministry together. I was installed in this parish on Mothers Day 1994 and we’ve been privileged to serve the community together for all those years.

We’re not the same as we were in 1994. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy Gandalf goes from being ‘Gandalf the grey’ to ‘Gandalf the white’ and something like that has happened to me over this period of time.

As we look back over the 25 years or part of that time, what stands out? We might all have different answers but we can be sure of one thing: God has been gracious to us throughout this time.

We’ve shared God’s gracious love as we conducted 526 baptisms, 248 confirmations, 340 weddings, and 250 funerals. If we could've spread those out evenly over the years we would’ve celebrated one or the other of those events every week with some to spare.

If we compiled a list of highlights it might include:

· Triple C, ministry to children

· Christmas and Easter services at Faith Chapel

· Adding a third Sunday service

· Seminars with Geoff Bullock and Tim Hein

· Establishing “Cross Roads family ministry”

· Grow Love Garden

· The visit of Nadia Bolz-Weber

·  Having combined services with the Baptists (and HC!)

Your list might be quite different and you might like to take some of those off the list. With the wisdom of hindsight we might’ve done things differently. With God’s help we did our best.

We’re not finished yet, there’s still work to be done. And when I retire at the end of 2020 the ministry of this parish will continue with the blessing of our gracious, loving God. To God alone be the glory!

 

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A faithful stake

This is a picture of a stake and its tree. Or is it a tree and its stake? The stake was once a pine tree and even now you can see signs of the way it grew. It was sacrificed to become a support stake for a little gum. This gum tree will never be a giant but it has completely outgrown the stake. The stake is now redundant but it remains there as a reminder that this tree was once little and in need of support. Can you imagine someone coming across this stake and its tree many years ago and noticing the tree was getting taller than the stake? What if that was considered disrespectful and the tree lopped just short of the height of the stake? It might have killed the tree and if it didn’t it certainly would’ve stunted its growth. The past is like a stake which has done its job and has often done it well but the present is where we live and wouldn’t it be sad if the past killed us or held us back and restricted our growth. We celebrate the past and learn from the past but we can’t live in the past. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) but he speaks to us in today’s language. God is the God of the living not of the dead. (Matt 22:32) His truths are timeless but they are also timely. We read and study his word not so we can live like the ancients but so we can discern how we are to live today. I think if the stake could talk it would tell us it is very proud of what its tree has become. Are we doing our forbears proud by who we are and what we’ve become and will become as God’s people in this time?

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2020 - Destruction and Death or Goodness and Grace?

As we begin 2020 large areas of our land are still in the grip of drought. Fires have been ravaging our land and destroying the homes and livelihood of people and animals. We might like to ask is 2020 going to be a year of destruction and death or a year of goodness and grace?

Some will say that because it’s begun so badly it can only improve but others might say this is just a foretaste of much worse to come. What about us?

What is our vision for the year of the Lord 2020 and can we claim to have 2020 vision to explain the current circumstances?

If we want to throw Bible verses around to prove our prediction or our version of the truth we’ll easily find them. But that’s not what the Bible is for and not a very helpful way to proceed. It’s much more important and helpful to have a holistic view of the Bible and the nature of God and to allow that to inform our thinking.

We know that

· God is love and nothing can separate us from his love.

· Our lives are in God’s hands.

· God will never leave us or forsake us.

· No matter what happens God’s always doing his best for us.

· We live in a broken and sin-filled world.

Therefore if you say 2020 will be a year of destruction and death, I’d say, you could be right. And if you say 2020 will be a year of goodness and grace, I say, you’re absolutely right because we’re children of God. Our hands are prayerful and we’re holding hands with our loving God.

In 2020 - Lord, teach us to pray.

Whatever 2020 brings - Lord, teach us to pray.

At the end of 2020 - Lord, let us look back and thank you for the privilege of prayer.

Amen!

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Relational Prayer

Prayer is conversation with God and therefore all prayer is by its nature relational. Some prayers are more relational than others and sometimes we’re more aware of the relational aspect than

other times.

When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray he gave them an example and model for prayer which we call the Lord’s Prayer.

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This amazing prayer is relational from beginning to end

but we can rattle it off rather than relate to our God

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Not only is it addressed to our heavenly relative, our Father (Dad) but Jesus taught us to pray ‘our’ Father rather than ‘my’ Father.

As God’s children we’re related to God and to all God’s people. We’re all brothers and sisters. The Lord’s Prayer focusses on both of those relationships.

We pray for God’s name, kingdom, and will. We’re at the same time asking for and committing ourselves to a good relationship with God. We praying to the God of the universe and therefore the prayer has a universal focus.

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There’s no ‘I’ in the Lord’s Prayer.

It protects us from selfishness

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We pray for the daily needs of the world-wide family even though we might be thinking about what’s in our own pantry.

We pray for good and lasting relationships. Because we often muck them up we ask God to forgive us so we can keep on

forgiving others.

We pray we’ll neither lead our neighbour into sin or be led into sin by our neighbour.

Our prayer for God to deliver us from evil applies equally to ourselves and our neighbour. We desire as much good for our

neighbour as we do for ourselves.

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Lord, teach us to Pray!

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