A Piece of Cake?
21st Birthday photo
My students were going out of their way to make me feel at home. When I arrived for work, I found a lovely surprise on my office desk: a beautifully tempting Aussie lamington! “How lovely!” I thought.
Knowing how much my children enjoy such treats, I decided to take it home where it could be shared.
It was just as well I did, for when the knife went into it, the tempting treat turned out to be sponge-rubber! I should have been awake to the old “iced rubber lamington” trick!
We tried to return the treat the next day, neatly wrapped in its original cling wrap, but found that none of the students felt like a lamington. I wonder why? Nevertheless, it was worth it to see the pangs of guilt on a number of faces when the suspect exhibit was presented back to them.
Our little encounter provided us with a good laugh, but also served to remind us how easily we can be deceived. Unfortunately, some of the real-life deceptions are no laughing matter!
My very first car was a sad story of deception. Because of my isolation
(I was teaching out in the bush), I allowed relatives to buy the car for me.
However, they were deceived by the car dealer and my shining new FJ Holden turned out to be an absolute “bomb”. I paid dearly for that experience and was constantly out of pocket. Something was always breaking down with the car. I replaced the engine, had the car completely de-rusted and repainted, and virtually rebuilt it in the space of a few years. What hurt most was that we had been deceived.
Deception is at its worst when it involves religion. Sadly, many have used religion as a means of control over others, exploiting trusting people for their personal gain, or distorting “truth” to suit their own particular interests. In a world of competing faiths and ideologies, the crucial question is whether they stand the test of integrity.
The question of integrity is one which Jesus passes without question.
His life and ministry has been examined from every point of view, and found true. Jesus accepted the ascription of “Son of God” from both his followers and accusers (John 5:17, 18, 19:7; Matthew 26:63, 64; 27:42, 43). Was he mad? Was he a megalomanic? Was he suffering from “delusions of grandeur”?
Was he simply a religious “con man”? As William Barclay noted, “Clearly the claim to be the Son of God was precisely the blasphemy with which Jesus was charged”.
(William Barclay, ‘Son of God’, Jesus as they saw Him, SCM, London 1962, p.44.)
Many have raised such questions in all seriousness, only to be confronted with an undeniably genuine Christ, whose life and teaching stand above the most severe scrutiny. His personal integrity and consistency are unquestionable. After all, what con-man would arrange for himself
to be cruelly crucified?
In all the bewildering maze of religions and faiths in the contemporary world competing for the allegiance of human persons, Jesus Christ stands solitary and supreme.
He was genuine through and through. He was what he claimed to be.
He has been subjected to human scrutiny for 2000 years and still stands unimpeachable!
His personal integrity remains unquestionable. He is worthy of our worship and trust.
We can only echo the words of the disciple Thomas, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
Rev Graham Warne
Jesus a man of Integrity Matthew 22:15-22
In an attempt to trap Jesus, there was an alliance formed between the Pharisees – who were strong Nationalists, supporting a Jewish nation and the Herodians – Jews supporting the Roman rule of the Herod’s. They visited Jesus and posed the question in verse 17;
“Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
As you can quickly recognise, this is a loaded question because, if Jesus says “yes”, the Pharisees will regard him as a supporter of Rome, and untrue to the Jewish Nation.
If he says “no”, the Herodians will regard him as a traitor and attempt to have him executed.
Jesus turns this attempt to trap him into a moment to teach the Pharisees and the Herodians.
He doesn’t advocate ignoring one or the other and gives a “yes and yes” answer in
verse 21 and says ….. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” In short, he reminds them that there are two kingdoms. There was the kingdom of Caesar with earthly rules, where all needed to give as required, or face the consequences.
Likewise, there is the Kingdom of God that is often ignored, and has its consequences for ignoring. One of the reasons we often ignore the kingdom of God is that we don’t understand the consequences of ignoring the kingdom of God. In many cases there is no immediate consequence, but eventually that catches up with us.
Jesus reminds both groups that Caesar had a standard, and God has a standard.
In this text, both groups of men were Jews that were there very knowledgeable of the Scriptures (noting that only the Old Testament existed at that time).
They were very familiar with and understood Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”. We are familiar to this because it is the foundation for Jesus’ statement “So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them. But, seek first the kingdom and his
righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”, Matthew 6:31-33.
In other words for Christians, seeking God is the standard to all life. Seek the Jesus ground. Seek the “Jesus Way” first, as Jesus was the representative of his Father in heaven.
The Pharisees and Herodians had to be courteous. “They had to admit, however unwillingly, that Jesus was candid, faithful in speaking God’s truth, fearless before any man, whether a mob or king.” (TIB Vol 7, pg 517-18).
In Matthew 22:16, The King James Version states “… Master, we know that though art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man; for thou
regardest not the person of men”. In the same verse, The Revised Standard Version says
“….’Teacher we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. ‘…. However, the New International Version shows it clearly in saying “….Teacher”, they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance to the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are….”
Here, the key is “a man of integrity”.
In this passage, the English word integrity is translated from the Greek word alethes.
The Greek word alethes, when it translates to the English word integrity, has five attributes or descriptions and they are True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid.
- True – Jesus was true. There is nothing false about Jesus. In John 1:6-9, The Apostle John wrote about Jesus, to distinguish Jesus from John the Baptist. The Apostle said “There is a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men mightbelieve.
He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The TRUE light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”
Who is the TRUE light? Of course, it is Jesus.
- Genuine or Actual – Jesus is true with nothing false about him as he was the ACTUAL Son of God. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternallife.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Who was the Genuine/Actual Son of God? Of Course, Jesus.
- Reliable – Jesus can be trusted because he is not only God’s Son but God’s agent. Jesus is reliable because his source isreliable.
In John 8:26 Jesus said, “I Have much to say about judgment of you. But he who sent me is RELIABLE, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
Who had reliable information because he had a reliable source? Of course, Jesus.
- Trustworthy – Able to be trusted to do or provide what is needed. Who can you depend on in a time of need or a time of joy? Who is there whenever you call on his name? Of course, Jesus. Have you ever depended on Jesus and He let you down? No!
- Valid – Valid is the quality of being officially acceptable. Jesus is officially accepted as God because He is God. John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John the apostle opens his gospel with a clarification of who Jesus is. Jesus is the official, factual son of God.
John said it, and the Bible consistently proves it.
A highlight of these attributes in Jesus gives us examples of how we as Christians can strive to be ‘Jesus Like’. Jesus is a True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid Jesus.
With the attributes of True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid, we can only reach one conclusion. Jesus on Earth, was definitely a man of integrity. The Pharisees and Herodians, in their attempts to be tricky, were more correct than they ever knew.
Psalm 118:29 says“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; and his love endures forever.” The integrity of Jesus is the source of honesty, the source of morality, the source of righteousness, the source of truthfulness and the source of sincerity. Jesus, the son of God was honest, moral, righteous, trustworthy and sincere. Jesus is the only one that Our Father God accepted as a “purification for our sins” (Hebrews 1:3).
He is Jesus; crucified, died, buried and arose from the dead.
“There is one Mediator between God and humans, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). The word “mediator” (mesistes) simply means “one in the middle”. Jesus Christ alone is qualified to serve as the intermediary or
“go-between” ourselves and God, as He alone can claim to have a “foot in both camps”. He has thus become the medium of communication between the two parties. With His Advent He built a bridge between earth and heaven, between us and God, between us and the world, between us and each other, between us and everything else!
As Christians, every dimension of our lives is filtered through the person of Christ: our values, our thoughts, our actions and our personal relationships. Bonhoeffer wrote that unless we acknowledge the mediatorial role of Christ in our lives, we cannot be his disciple. Everything, every area of our lives, must be seen though the eyes of Christ. He is our life-saving filter!
“Everything has (had) to pass though Christ!”
(Bonhoeffer, Cost of Disicipleship, 84-90). Now that is life-changing!
We are quite used to filters. Filters keep the oil clean in our cars, sift out dirt particles in diesel engines; in air conditioners they sift out dust and moisture, while face masks can sift out harmful droplets and vapours. Filters are important purifiers of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the engines we use. That which is bad or harmful is removed so that what is pure and good might be retained and used.
And so it must be with our lives. The only way to live lives worthy of God, is to allow every part of our life to be filtered through the mind of Christ, to let the light of God be refracted through our very person, our attitudes and relationships.
We will look at everything in the world differently!
Heaven above is softer blue
Earth around is sweeter green!
Something breathes in every hue Christless eyes have never seen.
(Loved with Everlasting Love, George Robinson, 1838-1877).
This commitment, however, will come at a price, for such commitment is absolute! We will need to reject all human inclinations and desires, for the sake of Christ. Even our closest human relationships will need
to come under Christ’s scrutiny, perhaps even creating tension or division among us (Luke 14:26).
To acknowledge Christ as Mediator is to allow Him absolute sovereignty over all that we are and have!
He alone must reign supreme!
God of the Christ, be in my head and in my understanding; God of the Christ, be in my eyes and in my looking;
God of the Christ, be in my mouth and in my speaking; God of the Christ, be in my heart and in my thinking;
God of the Christ, be at my end and at my departing. (TiS 549, adapted)
Rev Graham Warne
Dr Wayne Troyahn
I have decided to share a little about myself in the context of a Christian life. I was raised in
an Anglican household and my mum, who is 91 years old and going well, still enjoys getting up and
switching the church services on the television on Sunday morning.
I had virtually no connection with the Uniting Church before I met my wonderful, better half, Lynn
and she is still educating me each day.
All the way through my career and my life in general I have had a belief in being cared for by a
greater power than I, and that has been so comforting in the Christian heritage. As a school
principal, and school teacher earlier, there were some great times and some challenging times. I
probably did not focus on the good times enough in my prayers and tended to focus on difficulties.
However, I knew all the way through that God was there beside me. I think the basic Christian
approaches have been with me in all that I did in schools as I cared for and supported students and
teachers. This continues even now in my retired ‘relaxed life style’.
God continues to guide me to use my skills with one example being my mentoring of a young boy
diagnosed with ASD in a local school.
There were many times where I thought of others who had passed away or had left the area of
education and yet I was still going on and supporting people. I questioned why I was still here,
and they were not. That showed me that I was placed on this earth to do some important things. One
of the saddest times I can recall was when each year for about five years a student or some other
young person linked to the school passed away. I could not understand that and had a good
discussion with the chaplain at the time that helped me to accept and understand what was
I have a wonderful family guided by my wonderful wife. Her Christian beliefs certainly help us very
day. Her belief in the power of prayer is so strong and I see it each day in what she does.
Recently this was very important when her sister’s husband had a double bypass heart operation.
These times are sent to try us and test us, but I guess but we seem to continue on very strongly
and happily with the strength of belief.
Sameness and Change
Waterfalls have a magnetic attraction for me. If there’s one around,
I’ll search it out, tramping through the bush if necessary to find it.
When you come to think about it, the basic elements are quite simple:
water flowing over a rock face. Yet, the variations are endless. Some falls
may be simply a fine, wispy spray of water falling gently over a small cliff,
drawing a white curtain across it. Others may be roaring rivers plunging
massive torrents of water into deep chasms, such as Niagara and Victoria
Falls. The former provides a place of calm soothing refreshment, while the
latter inspire us by their sheer power and energy. Yet, whichever we find,
we never cease to be amazed at such beauty. I never cease to stand in
The elements of the picture are so simple: water and rock, but their forms
so radically different. Waterfalls are constantly changing, yet ever the
same. Perhaps that is why we are attracted to them. There is an eternal,
un-changeableness about them; the rock faces stand rigid and immovable.
And yet the water passing over them is in constant motion, whether moving
gently or thundering over them in a raging torrent. They are always the
same, yet they are not.
Human beings crave stability and security. That is why we cling to our
traditions, order and daily routines. Yet surely, we recognise that nothing
is ever the same. The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus (544-483 BCE) said,
“No one steps into the same river twice, for its not the same river, and
it’s not the same person!”
Today is not yesterday. Even the very cells which comprise our body’s skin
are in constant flux and being replaced daily. Time doesn’t stand still.
Every moment, we age a little more, grow a little greyer, become a little
more weary and worn. We find ourselves caught in the tension between a
craving for stability in a world of constant change.
The little school where I taught many years ago is still there, sitting
empty in the same paddock, deserted and derelict. There are no children’s
voices there now; it stands alone, empty, silent and vandalised.
There are elements which remain just the same as they always have been,
but there is no life there anymore. The world around, and the people who
were part of it (including myself) have all moved on.
So, I guess this is why I find waterfalls so refreshing. I am confronted
with a reminder of constancy in the midst of an ever-changing
environment. The perpetual flow has an eternal dimension to it,
yet it appears to stay the same. Here, then, is the enigma:
constancy within change, always different but always the same.
That’s the way it is with life!
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
Rev Graham Warne
Our Wedding Service (1966) included these words: It will be yours to ascend
the hills of God and walk in the highlands of life, and sometimes your
pathway will lead down through the valleys of disappointment and
How true! The “Path of Life” is never monotonous, even if some sections of it
may feel that way. Rather, it is full of variety. Sometimes we will ride a wave
of joy as we celebrate a new life, a little baby, a successful achievement,
a graduation, family reunion, catch a fish, fly a kite, or climb a mountain!
At other times we will find ourselves traversing a barren desert, with a sense
of loss, failure or lack of achievement, bereft of feeling. We were travelling
quite well until COVID stuck without warning. Overnight all our well made
plans came crashing down. We were stuck fast! The life journey is quite
unpredictable, despite our very best plans and precautions. At such times,
our heavy heart cannot see any end to our current experience:
we’re stuck on a roundabout that appears to be taking us nowhere.
Thankfully it is not always like that. We’ve found our life-path to be
incredibly … full of unexpected surprises as we’ve followed the gentle leading
of God into new and sometimes challenging territory. Every new day is like
coming round a corner on a road we haven’t travelled before, bringing with it
a sense of unexpected delight. There is that special sense that God is with us,
in this moment, at this place. Every stretch of the road brings something
beautiful, scenes that take our breath away, a quiet place to rest and catch
our breath, wonderful people who brighten our day, unexpected experiences
to lift our spirit.
Our pathway has led us to embrace the whole spectrum of human society,
from the poor and people on the street or the affluent; hard working
farmers, country people, itinerant workers, labourers, teachers, accountants,
executives; then there are those of other cultures, including Indigenous
Australians, Ni-Vanuatu, Indo-Fijian, Samoan, Tongan, Vietnamese, Italian
and many others. Each and every people encounter has enriched us and left
us with a deep sense of Thanksgiving for the way God has led our lives.
We thank God for every remembrance of them.
Indeed, our journey may sometimes be uncertain, unclear, taking
unexpected twists and turns, or it may take us along smooth unobstructed
freeways, but whatever track may be ours, it is our path and our journey.
Let us then open our hearts to each and every opportunity to experience
afresh God’s ever-present Grace in our lives.
“You will make known to me the Path of life;
in your Presence is fullness of Joy”
God is with us! Alleluia.
God will save us! Alleluia.
Rev Graham Warne
Seeds and Sunflowers!
Its Spring once again and nature is putting on her very best clothes. People will
be flocking to WA to see the wildflowers (but we have them here if you care to
look carefully), and gardeners are sharpening their tools ready for the busy
season. There is something addictive about gardening: as a child did you ever
watch a bean seed germinate in the bottle lined with blotting paper?
How fascinating to watch a seemingly dry, lifeless seed burst into life.
And how lavish is nature! A single kernel of corn can produce a cob loaded with
hundreds of kernels! Without such generosity we humans would not survive.
So, we not only marvel at the mystery of life locked up within a seed,
but the incredible bounty which nature provides us… beauty and provision
Of course, the first obvious lesson we can learn is the simple adage,
“From little things big things grow…”
A small bunya nut will grow into a mighty Bunya pine; a tiny acorn has the
potential to become a huge oak. After all, even we began our lives as a tiny cell
the size of a pinhead. We should never underestimate the potential of
something small. Many a large business corporation has begun with someone’s
dream in a backyard garden shed. Nature teaches us to start small, and grow!
Nature provides us with an infinite array of mysteries!
Take just one example, the Sunflower.
Did you know that sunflowers are more than just a beautiful flower?
They’re also a mathematical marvel. The pattern of seeds within a sunflower
follows the Fibonacci sequence (did your maths teacher show you how each
number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two numbers),
that is, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 ongoing …
In sunflowers, the spirals you see in the centre are generated from this
sequence. There are two series of curves winding in opposite directions,
starting at the centre and stretching out to the petals,
with each seed sitting at a certain angle from the neighbouring seeds to create
the spiral. How incredible! And, of course, even educated people will try to tell
you this is just a case of “natural selection”.
Some will even go so far as to attribute it to “Mother Nature”.
The ancient philosophers believed that the universe was built on mathematics!
For people of faith, however, it is simply another affirmation of the incredible
mind of God, which underlies and undergirds everything that exists.
But there’s something more. God has built into nature a promise of hope and the
flowering bulb becomes a sign to us of the qualitatively different life which
awaits us beyond this earthly existence. The Easter song puts it beautifully:
In the bulb here is a flower, in the seed an apple tree,
in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
there’s a dawn in every darkness bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
(Words by Natalie Sleeth, Hope Publishing, 1986)
So, keep on gardening, and look for signs of God’s amazing grace!
Nature is full of them!
Grace and peace, Rev Graham Warne
For further reflection, the Montville Reflections Gallery will have a display
of Rev Graham Warne’s recent photographs entitled “Pathways”
throughout September and October at the Montville Uniting Church.
The same display will also be presented at Nambour Uniting Church
on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th November (morning only).
God bless, Rev Graham Warne
This weeks Reflection from Pastor Phil Smith
John 20 is one of the Gospel chapters
I cannot escape in trying to understand
and perhaps encourage new communities
In this chapter, we meet four very
different people as they encounter the
risen Christ in ways that speak, to me
at least, of Jesus’s tailor-made love for
each and all of us.
We have Mary, who ‘wears her heart on
her sleeve’ and encounters Jesus with
all the emotions we experience.
Perhaps that’s you?
We have ‘boots and all’ Peter, who elbows John aside at the tomb and steps right in. He’s a bloke who grabs
this Jesus journey with calloused workman’s hands. Perhaps that’s you?
We see John – very much a Uniting Church fellow
– not rushing in, stroking his chin. He thinks this through and wants to understand the theology. Perhaps
However, in Thomas’ encounter, we meet each of us and all of us!
Have you ever felt like you were late to the party? Everyone else in the church is fired and enthused,
seeming rock-solid in their faith and discipleship.
Then Thomas finds the courage to doubt. He puts his cards on the table!
Notice verse 26: “A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.” THAT’S
a community transformed by the power of the resurrection! THAT’S a community I want to belong in!
That verse could have said, “So the brethren said unto Thomas, “Be thou dismissed from among us, doubter!
On yer bike, son!” What they said was, “Stay, mate. We know this truth and will wait with you and make
space here in our community for you, and your honesty, because we believe Jesus will turn up in His good
time and show Himself to you in the way He knows you need.”
By The Way… The Orthodox Church does not know him as Doubting Thomas. He is Thomas, the Believer.
If we follow the early church’s traditions, Thomas went further than any apostles – to India’s west coast,
beyond even the Roman empire.
Ps. Phil Smith, BELLS Faith Community.
IS IT SPIN OR NOT?
Today we seem to be bombarded with “spin.” I think it must be
the word of the twentieth century. How we use words seem to
carry a capacity to erode our belief in human integrity because
if language, any language, is a kind of cement that holds society
together then we must ask why we have become so cynical of
people from the highest level of government down. They either
avoid giving a clear, concise answer or they mix it up with so
much waffle one wonders if they even remembered the
question. I feel it’s fair to say cynicism has become like a
disease and we seem to mistrust what many say which makes
us wonder if the possibility of truth exists.
People came out to hear John the Baptist. Why did they come
and keep on coming? As a child I remember Mum taking quite a
detour around a “soap box preacher” on the corner of Low
Street in Nambour. Why did these Judeans feel driven to listen
to John? I don’t think it was because he gave the leaders a
“mouthful” or conjuring up fear in people. I believe they
understood in themselves he was speaking a truth, an eternal
truth which every generation can appreciate. When we hear
“Prepare the way of the Lord,” in effect it is saying, “Get ready!
Do some soul searching! Be honest about our situation!
By God’s grace do what is necessary to turn life around in
order to be prepared for his coming.
” HEAR THE TRUTH!
IS THIS HOME?
My son had a friend who lost his way in life sometime after
University. He was bright, passed all his exams, got a
reasonable job and was a gifted French Horn player.
However, because of his troubled background in life he got in
with a group and at one time I spoke to him as he sat in the
doorway of a closed shop in the city, smoking marijuana with
some of his mates; to say the least, it was sad. And at sometime
over those few wasted years before he got back on track, he
lost his horn. Was it stolen? Did he trade it in for money for his
habit or did he leave it in a place and just forgot it? He had
absolutely no recollection of what had happened to it.
This week we meet the fiery preacher, John the Baptist.
However, it made me ask a question as I think of this young
man: ‘What does wilderness look like to many people?’ This
young man was certainly in a wilderness; a wasted place; a dry,
useless place, a place of loneliness, searching and wandering
where no-one really wants to be. I believe I have known places
like that and I wonder how many of us can admit to having spent
time in the wilderness or even feel they are there right
Nevertheless, there is something remarkable! The word of
the Lord comes to us in the wilderness.
To all who will listen the
Word of God comes to us right there where we need it the most.
What might it be for you?
IT LOOKS A LITTLE BIT LIKE CHRISTMAS
In the book ‘A Search for Meaning’ by Victor Frankl he writes of observations in the prisoner
of war camps he was imprisoned in. Having not being sent to the gas chamber he noted how
over the years the men who survived and those who lost the will to live and drew the conclusion
that those who believed they had loved ones to return to or some higher purpose to live for had
a far greater chance of survival than those who believed they had nothing. He also quotes
a later study at the John Hopkins university where students were asked what they considered
most important to them now. 16% ticked ‘making money’ while 78% said their first goal was
‘finding a purpose and meaning to their lives.’
Added to this is a further radio discussion about construction workers this last week.
Evidently there is a great need for help, (whether workers realise it or not) as the only ‘deep
and meaningful conversations had at work were about the football. What’s to become of us?
During the Advent Season I am sure you and I all give thought to what is happening in the
community. You may find it hard to believe but one man seemed to share some ‘special
knowledge’ on talk back radio a couple of years ago by saying, ‘Why do Christians want to get
in on Christmas for? It’s got nothing to do with them!’ I couldn’t believe it but I wonder how
widespread his idea was. Then again Christmas is now all about lights, buying and supporting
the economy, plenty of food and drink and evidently a lot of peace and good will: though I
dispute that with police having to visit tens of thousands of homes suffering violence this year.
However not only is it difficult to have meaningful conversations, have a great
need to make plenty of money and a need to find meaning and purpose to life but we have
distanced ourselves from the One who came into this world that we might have the very thing
people seek: meaning and purpose! That we might have life and have it to the full. In effect it
seems we have exchanged the truth for a lie. Well, it’s not helpful to ridicule society but we do
have a place and perhaps opportunities to share something important. I don’t wish to talk about
the church for some struggle with that too but Christmas is a time when I believe God got very
personal with the world. It says ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ In fact, he
became very personal to me. You and I may understand that but many have no idea.
However, it becomes a little easier to appreciate that my life and yours has taken a
dramatic shift when Christ came into the world and into our lives. I know His presence has
given me real meaning and purpose to living. There is much said about Bethlehem, mangers,
cows, sheep, wise men, shepherds and stars but I find it far richer to ponder the words of the
hymn, “Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man? And why? Because
something happened; something we find hard to put into words but grace has been offered us
and the Lord seeks to have a relationship with us; such a relationship of love that offers hope,
meaning and purpose for every person who seeks. Christ has made such a difference.
May the Lord take you deeper into his Grace as we celebrate His coming.
God bless you all.
Nambour Uniting Church
Peacekeeping or Peacemaking
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a peacemaker as
“one who makes peace especially by reconciling parties at variance”.
Personally, I have rarely seen proper peacemaking. Most of what
I have experienced could be classified as peacekeeping, which is
“the preserving of peace especially international enforcement and
supervision of a truce between hostile states or communities”.
This means that a show of force
will deter conflict between two or more parties.
We see this all the time. Through peacekeeping, the actual reason for the
conflict is rarely resolved. International forces come in to protect the
innocent and keep the peace. After a very short time weaknesses appear
in the international forces and the local militia fighters take advantage
creating yet another war, which they call a ‘just war’ because in their
view it is against a foreign occupying force. Once the foreign forces
leave the conflict continues.
This example is on a large scale, but it happens on a small scale too.
Anyone who has a sister or brother has experienced it. Two siblings
start to fight until one of the parents enter the room. The fighting stops
so the peace is kept. However, the main issue that started the fight is
(still) not resolved.
Peacemaking, on the other hand attempts to resolve the issue that is
creating the conflict.
Jesus said “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth;
I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34).
It seems to me that the understanding of peace “shalom” was of
peacekeeping. The Jews were expecting a Messiah to come with a show
of force and get rid of all the enemies and they could live in peace.
But Jesus came as a peacemaker – to address the underlying
injustices, the underlying fear, hate and prejudices, to create the
things that truly make for peace.
Jesus was an agitator. He was not a pacifier. He was not showing
God’s might to make people knuckle under and live in peace;
otherwise God would throw rocks at them, or they would go to hell.
Jesus knew that no one could bring real peace without bringing
justice. For justice to prevail, those who have power will need to
share that power with those who do not, and share it equally.
Few people give up power willingly. Demanding justice brings the
risks of challenging those who hold power. Power is not only
political power. There are those who hold power in our communities.
There are those who hold power in our churches. Should I set aside
the call for justice and try to live in peace because I should not upset
those in power?
Gandhi is credited for starting civil disobedience. I believe Jesus was
the first to do it. The church in many parts of the world continues to
practice this act of bringing justice to the marginalised. Jesus could
not bear the suffering of human beings and no doubt that was
motivation for Jesus to disobey the constituted power of his time.
Once we address the underlying injustices, the underlying fear, the
underlying hate and the underlying prejudices, then we could have
There will be no need for those peacekeepers
who, by show of force, bring more injustice
than justice to our communities and to the
world. Then life together will be something
everyone can enjoy.
Levon Kardashian is the Minister at
Logan Central Multicultural Uniting Church
BETTY JENKINS – in the OUTBACK
As a young woman Betty trained as a nurse in Rockhampton and volunteered to work with
the Australian Inland Mission in outback Australia.
And this is her story as she remembers it –
‘My first appointment was at FITZROY CROSSING in Western Australia. It is 200 miles from Derby on the west coast and 200 miles from Hall’s Creek in the East Kimberleys. We spent 2 weeks getting there from Brisbane by train to Mt. Isa, bus to Tenant Creek, Padre utility to Darwin, small plane to Hall’s Creek and then with the
Padre to Fitzroy Crossing, calling in on all the stations in our network.
It was a community of 10 whites and lots of Aborigines. There was a United Aboriginal Mission at Fitzroy Crossing with Preston Walker in charge. The Flying Doctor came once a fortnight flying in from Wyndham although our contact base by transceiver was at Derby. On a couple of occasions Ophthalmologists flew in for treatment of trachoma in the Aboriginal population. I had 2 weeks training at the Dental Hospital and on occasions had to pull teeth.
Once at the hospital we had to conduct a Funeral for a person from a property in the district.
My next appointment was to RADIUM HILL, 80 Kilometres from Broken Hill. It was a uranium mining town with a population of 1000 people. It was an eventful trip just getting there, with the train from Brisbane to Broken Hill, and then, because the roads were impassable after rain, I was put on another train to go to a siding called Cutana.
Here the transport officer of the mine met me and drove over slippery roads to the hospital.
The hospital was very busy – with births and mine accidents, as well as other hospital cases. Some miners thought we [2 of us] shouldn’t have to do all the cooking and other work as well as one of us always being on call.
The Flying Doctor came once a fortnight. We also took Sunday School, played tennis and I taught dress making at the school.
It was here that Betty met Jack Jenkins, a pilot with the Royal Flying Doctor Service at Broken Hill. Jack & Betty were married in 1956 and made Broken Hill their home. Their two Daughters, Frances & Maree, grew up there. In retirement they moved to Nambour in 1981.
Her life has been one of giving – always thinking what she could do to help others.
THE REAL DEAL
Years ago I knew someone who received regular
discouragement in her attendance at worship from a
spouse who spoke of it as talking to her “imaginary friend.”
I feel it must have been a bit difficult for he was suggesting
her faith was all in her mind.
However perhaps it raises the question of ‘What is real?”
What gives life substance and purpose? We often hear said,
‘When life gets back to normal’ as if that which we had two
years ago, a so-called normal, was the only thing which
gave our life meaning. I could do what I wanted and when I
wanted. But is that what is real; only what I can touch or
see? Hebrews claimed the manna they received from
Moses in the wilderness was the real thing. It was tangible.
However, Jesus had to remind them it was given by God
and only a shadow of what was to come?
On this communion day we are hearing Jesus say, ‘I am the
real bread. I am the bread that came down from heaven.’
For me as someone stepping out in faith each day it says to
me, ‘I live in this world which is very real, with people I love
who are also very real and yet there is also a finiteness
about life which cannot give a person that deep sense of
who they are and why they are here. But Jesus Christ does.
He is the real bread that nourishes life.
What else does it say to you?
Blessings, Rev Glenn
MY DWELLING PLACE
While in school we learnt about LCD or lowest common denominator.
To add very different fractions like 1/2, 2/3 and 3/8, one must work with a
LCD of twenty fourths. However, instead of fractions how do different
cultures come together? There are different languages, backgrounds,
attitudes .. the whole cultural thing to contend with.
Do we look for a lowest common denominator? Or does the dominant
group say, ‘Well they just have to be like us? They have to give up
whatever they have in order for us to accept them?’
The whole issue of multiculturalism in Australia falls into this area.
Do we appreciate people of a different language living next door
to us? How accepting are we of anyone who is in any way different
to us? Are we building an Australian society that’s accepting or do we
exist like different fractions?
David wanted to build God a house we read in Samuel.
With his mindset, I might ask;
‘What sort of house would you or I build that many people may come
as one to worship our Lord and Creator?’
We might instantaneously reflect in human terms and from a human point
of view. But the Lord has something quite different in mind.
The Lord says ‘I have not dwelt in a house
….the Lord himself will establish a house for you.’
To this point the Hebrews have used a Tent as the meeting place but
what house did the Lord have in mind?
Who were the people He would build it for?
What would be the purpose of this place He would establish?
Questions worth pondering!
Blessings, Rev Glenn
EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK
I am constantly amazed at what some people take on
holidays. Occasionally one sees a cyclist in the middle of
‘nowhere’ with two saddle bags strapped on the bike hoping
to make some distant town by nightfall. That’s as light as he
Then there are the families who hook up the trailer and
(pack), for want of a better word, everything which they think
they just might use on the holiday. With a well- worn tarp
trying to hold most of it on and a few bicycles and skate
boards strapped precariously on top for good measure they
head for their favourite beach. I often wonder how much of
it will ever get used.
Jesus never got a very warm reception back in his
hometown. Everyone seems to be of the opinion they know
him, warts and all. They’re disinterested and even angered
by what he says and does. However, it’s about now he calls
his disciples. The work ahead will not be easy and He gives
to them the authority to share the same message and do the
same things He has been doing .. to preach and to heal in
the surrounding villages. They are sent out two by two.
But what do they take on their journey? It would be easier to
ask what they were not to take.
Of all the things that Mark could have included in his Gospel
why was memory of their travel needs so important in
Blessings, Rev Glenn
WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES
David’s lament over the death of Saul and his son Jonathan is our
Old Testament reading for this Sunday. His respect for Saul
certainly did not lie in him as a person. He was dangerous but
respect lay in the fact that he was God’s anointed king. But in
Jonathan he had lost a true friend. The New Testament stories also
touch on grief. A woman has lost 12 years of wellness before she
seeks out Jesus. Jairus however is struggling with the impending
death of his daughter as he humbles himself before Jesus.
Altogether they set me reflecting over the death of my mother.
It was 48 years last Wednesday since she was tragically killed by
a drunk driver, and in the following months I can distinctly
remember playing my guitar and singing the old Negro song
‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless child’ over and over again.
Why was I doing that?
We all deal with grief differently. Some ways help us to process
the pain of loss even though memories can bring emotions to the
surface very quickly after many years. ‘Bottling it up’ on the other
hand only make it harder and harder for us as time goes by because
we’ve never given ourselves permission to grieve. Grieving is a
part of life. We may not like it but it’s real and it hurts.
However, what part does faith play in our grieving? What part
has faith played in your own times of grieving? I have a small
book called “Good Grief.” What might help make a time of
loss a good grief for you?
Blessings, Rev Glenn
PENTECOST AND BEYOND
As a young Christian in the early 1970’s I was moving in circles where the conversation
of a few revolved around terms like ‘The anointing of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, slain
in the Spirit, speaking in tongues’, and some time later ‘laughing in the Spirit.’ I was very
impressionable but nonetheless some of it seemed like ‘fads’ to me. However, while I
was caught up in some of these experiences, at the same time I was struggling to
understand it. So, I went to ask one of my lecturers. Without being negative in any way
he simply said something to the effect that it was important for me to grow in God’s word
and seek God’s understanding in my life.
However, the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts is an intriguing event with tongues of
fire, disciples speaking in the languages of other people and Peter bursting forth with that
first sermon. While it has not happened to me in the same way I’ve certainly known people
who do have what they call a prayer language and don’t display the judgmentalism I have
also felt from others.
Still, as I look at Scripture and grow in God’s Word I find an important theme: one which
you may remember encourages us to ask what it means to live as Easter people today.
What does it mean to be born of the Spirit? How important are our choices? What does
it mean for us to abide? Is pruning about being broken? How do I overcome the
temptations and ‘pulls’ of our culture and world which tries to shape us in a specific and
acceptable mould? Yes, how can we face a world which in some ways is becoming more
and more anti-Christian?
When I reflect on Pentecost, part of it says to me, “This is where we are going to find the
fire and passion and courage and wisdom and faith to do the things God will be calling
us to do. Up until Easter we see somewhat blind, scared disciples. Then at Easter they
were astonished, overwhelmed and elated disciples. But wait for it! This is what will
happen as we abide in the vine. After Easter the spiritual depth and strength to face what
they would face in the world came to them as they abided in that living relationship.
As Jesus said, ‘I in you and you in Me.”
Thus the church was born. Believers devoted themselves to one another and the
teaching. They stood as God’s anointed before the Sanhedrin. Though persecuted they
still came away rejoicing in the Lord. They confronted the standard teaching of the age
with regard Gentiles. The power of God’s Spirit moved men and women who Abided in
Christ even though some like Saul had very chequered histories.
The power of God’s Spirit lay in the Joy of Abiding. I called this ‘Pentecost and Beyond’
because we are living in this ‘Beyond.’ It’s where the Church asks, “How will we find the
courage to go on?” How can we face this modern world. Perhaps we need to consider
more fully the depth of our Abiding in Him.
Blessings Rev Glenn
REV RON POTTER’S WEBSITE
Of Bravery and Sacrifice
Today, Anzac Day, we acknowledge the bravery of those who faced the enemy in defence of those they cared for. We acknowledge the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives in the armed services of Australia. Using not the image of the Aussie Digger but rather the image of a Palestinian shepherd, we, today, also acknowledge the courage of a man who laid down his life for those that he cared for. As Anzac Day has very personal associations for those who remember family members, friends and mates who died in the hostilities, the bravery and sacrifice of Jesus links his brothers and sisters even today in an intimate and personal way with himself. As he said, “I know my own and my own know me.”
Not at the behest of governments, but in obedience to the One who is God and Parent of us all, Jesus faced the enemy, the wild animal, the power that is opposed to all that is good, true and beautiful in the world. He faced it, not with sword and chariot, but with his great self-giving love, and he calls us to defeat the Evil One, not by physical force, but by the sheer weight of genuine, caring love – love to God and to neighbour. To this end we have been equipped with the Holy Spirit, the power that empowered him, the indwelling of the risen Christ himself. While we affirm, “We will remember them,” let’s also do as he said, “Do this in memory of me.” Let us be challenged by our own memories to live today the way of brave, sacrificial love.
• In what way is the bravery and sacrifice commemorated on Anzac Day like Christ’s own bravery and sacrifice commemorated in the Lord’s Supper?
• What do you think Jesus meant when he said, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice, So, there will be one flock, one shepherd”?
• To what extent are bravery and sacrifice distinguishing marks of your Christian life?
• What adjectives, apart from good, can be fittingly applied to Jesus as the Shepherd?
Rev Ron Potter
1 John 1:1–2:2 John 20:19-31
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” With those words we hear Christ’s commissioning of the Church to fulfill its mission in the world. But who is the
one who sent him? Not a Pilate-like political ruler. Not a Caiaphas-like religious leader. But a God who, in love, gives of himself to create and to re-create the
world which has been damaged. God who serves and cares and loves. Since the messenger is part of the message, the Church too is meant to be the Church that loves when loving means giving of oneself for the healing of the nations.
Any study of history or society tells us that organizations and communities seek to defend themselves, to uphold their honour and to hold onto the power that they have gained. The Church has been no different. Yet it has never lost its calling to serve the world with love. In our day, society itself has risen up to challenge the church in its ways of self-preservation and protection.
The Church is equipped with God’s own Spirit to remind it of who it is that has sent the Son, who, in turn, has sent the Church into the world. As we hear of our commissioning, we are reminded that we are meant to be a servant people of a Servant God, to give of ourselves for the salvation of the world. That is the challenge facing us today. What does it mean for the Church to live by faith today?
• What is your understanding of the Church being sent by Christ just as Christ was sent by the Father?
• What would the Church look like if it gave itself wholeheartedly to the healing of the nations?
• How has society risen up to challenge the Church in its ways of self-preservation and protection?
• How does our understanding of God shape the life of the Church?
Rev Ron Potter
1 John 1:1–2:2
The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life,
which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,
and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors
locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with
you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when
they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with
that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their
sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus Appears to Thomas
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus
came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails
were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors
were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to
Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop
doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have
not seen and yet have believed.”
The Purpose of John’s Gospel
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this
book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and
that by believing you may have life in his name.
I have fond memories of being a child and going to Mt. Morgan to
visit some of the extended family. We all have those treasured
memories of past times. However, it was the mine that intrigued
me: watching the molten copper being poured, the huge stack and
of course the enormous hole in the ground.
I remember standing on the edge with my uncle watching the
euclids make their way round and round the narrow road to get to
the bottom. The busy mining days are now a distant memory and
left behind for all to see is a huge hole filled with toxic waste which
periodically runs into the Dee river whenever there is a lot of rain.
On my last visit there were even a few dead birds floating on top.
The end result of our desire for gold and copper.
It will take more than our lifetimes to clean up…if it ever could be.
That, along with the waste heaps is an environmental scar on the
landscape of Mt Morgan. For many people the town is
remembered by this scar.
In today’s reading, Thomas has his doubts.
How could his friend’s testimony be real?
Jesus was dead! How could they have seen Jesus alive?
Today I want us to reflect on Jesus holding out his hands
… his scars and saying to Thomas,
‘Put your finger here and believe!’
A MORNING WALK WITH GLENN
The full moon was hanging low in the West. The sun was rising in the
East and one small, dark cloud trimmed with the rays of the sun spoilt an
otherwise perfectly blue sky. But what held my attention was the small
portion of a rainbow draped across the cloud. How interesting!
A rainbow, the sign of God’s promise and God’s covenant with Noah.
As Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, ‘All earth’s crammed with heaven
and every common bush afire with God but only he who sees takes off his
shoes…” However, it is Easter and we are reminded not of the covenant
with Noah but the New Covenant God made with his people through Jesus
Christ. We left Palm Sunday with the words ‘Even death on a cross’ but
we are greeted today with the unbelievable witness of Mary Magdalene,
‘I have seen the Lord!’ and of course the ongoing experience of each
disciple. God made a New Covenant. He established a new relationship
with humanity which is incapable of saving itself or even deserving of
being saved. What a gift of grace.
Yet what a God & Saviour who offers forgiveness, love and hope to all
who look up. And the cross; a sign of what He has done. Within Catholic
churches a sign speaking of the sacrifice made for all. Within the
Protestant tradition, an empty cross: He is risen indeed! Altogether
however, calling us to become a new, holy people In Him.
Liturgy Of The Palms
Please make very welcome our attending minister
Rev Glenn Ingram
I had a friend once who fell from a ladder. He’d just retired and looking
forward to travelling with his wife. However, he was helping his elderly
neighbour cut tree branches and the ladder twisted. He fell backwards on
to a fence. Sadly, he died from his injury. I am told that the golden rule
is at 60 we can take two or three steps off the ground but when we’re
seventy it’s time to sell the ladder and keep both feet planted on the
ground…even though it’s not always easy to follow when I’ve done this
all my life. It is worth reflecting on the ladder and each of its rungs as a
picture of what it means to say,
‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’
To wonder at the love of God coming down that ladder; Jesus, riding a
donkey into Jerusalem, crowds around him shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed
is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’
I have heard it spoken of as the Glory Ladder in Philippians 2 as Jesus
lays aside or empties Himself of all that is His in order to come to earth
to bring life and hope to a world in darkness. And of course, God exalts
him to the highest place and every tongue will confess Him.
But this is God’s story. However, it also asks us to consider ours for it
says, ‘Your attitude should be same as Christ Jesus.’ What is our daily
response to His Grace?
THE SPIRITUALITY OF FOOD
Many of you will not know that I have a passion for those who are ageing; and in particular those who are ageing and living with Dementia! This is not idle for me as I have worked for
many years with people walking through life in the confusion of what is Dementia – that is; those with the diagnosis and those caring for them. You might wonder at the title of this
piece, but have you ever wondered why people get so worked up about food in aged care places or for that matter even when living at home? I would say, it’s because what we eat, how we eat and who we eat with is loaded with meaning.
Take a moment to think about the place of food in your own life. Cast your mind back over the years.
What is your ‘comfort food’? When, where and how were meals eaten that created a deep feeling of
home? What are the flavours of belonging, for you? When did you realise that what you ate and how
you ate was different to others? What type of food, or aspect of eating with others, would you never
give up? In this Lenten time many of us initiate the giving up of some food or other consumption; but
when it comes to food and giving it up do you choose something that is of little value or meaning for
you (if I was to give up a food on this basis it would be Brussel Sprouts! I do not like them); so is this
really an effective participation in giving up or sacrificing.
Food in our life and in ageing has an incredibly significant role to play in our day-to-day living. It’s a
role that cannot be separated from the role of food and it’s eating in the meaning in our every day.
When we take a broader view of the purpose of food in our every day, we must not lose sight of how
food and dining as a place reinforces our social and cultural life, it’s place as an opportunity for dignity
and well-being, as a place of rituals coated with implications such as comfort, caring, celebration and
family ties. It speaks to our need for connectivity: with others, our faith heritage, nature and Yes even
our relationship with God. What we eat gives us a chance to exercise power over what constitutes our
very being. Food preparation and dining is a complex web of formal and informal rules that have been
worked out in each person’s particular life. People’s preferences are not merely one flavour over
another as if choosing a sweet in the store window. Food preferences are driven by a powerful system
of cultural beliefs, traditions, values, practices and socioeconomic circumstance. As with spirituality,
food beliefs are highly personal.
Ilsa Hampton CEO of Ageing Australia writes from an adapted definition from Michopoulou and
Jauniškis’s literature review of food spirituality, ‘An innate sense of connection that a person can
experience to and through food in regard to personal and social identity, culture and ritual, nature and
the environment, body and soul, the mundane and the universal’. For me this identifies with my faith
walk, as I have an innate sense of connection with Jesus whereby I believe as He sat with people over a
meal it built a sense of personal and social identity; it set cultural rituals, it allowed people then and
now to connect body and soul.
May you connect with Jesus as you walk this Lenten journey.
Pastor Margaret Niethe
The Way of Submission Luke 1:26-38
Submission, that’s a hated word! We hear of people being beaten into
submission. It suggests servile, humiliating defeat. It implies weakness.
It reeks of insincerity when we see people using apparent submission as a ruse
to get what they want. But Mary’s words of submission in Matthew 1:38 have
been highly extolled throughout the years. She is pointed to as a model for us
to follow for she was submissive to the will and word of God, ready to serve
God’s purposes in whatever way it was asked of her, irrespective of the cost.
Voluntary submission to the will and word of God lies at the heart of Christian
discipleship. We are called to place ourselves in the hands of God, ready for
service. This is powerfully voiced in John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer which he
encouraged his followers to pray at the beginning of each new year.
“I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with
whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by
thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be
full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely
and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious
and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified
in heaven. Amen.”
• What do you understand submission to mean?
• Under what circumstances would it be wrong for a Christian to be
• To whom should we, as Christians, submit?
• Perhaps you would like to reflect further and meditate on the words of
The Covenant Prayer.
Rev Ron Potter – piulapublications.com
My Faith Journey – Lyn Metelerkamp
As most of you know, I grew up in South Africa but have lived in Australia for the last
I now hold dual citizenship. Most of my life in South Africa was spent on the
east coast in a small town called Amanzimtoti (it is the Zulu word for sweet waters),
about 40km south of Durban.
I was the youngest of four siblings, two older sisters and a brother. My faith journey
started as a small child, when every night I would kneel beside my bed with my mother
and say prayers.
I would thank God for all my blessings and ask for protection over all
of my family referring to each by name. So from an early age, I felt a deep relationship
From birth to the age of 5 years we lived in a very small inland town,
Bergville, not far from the Drakensberg Mountains. The only church within close
proximity was an Anglican church, and I was baptized there as an infant.
However, when at the age of 5 years, our family moved to the coast at Amanzimtoti,
the church within walking distance was Methodist so that is the one I attended while
When I met and married my husband, Tim, who was then a very active
practising Catholic, I attended conversion classes and became Catholic and duly
brought up both our daughters in that faith.
For many years I used to teach catechism
which is the equivalent of Sunday school. I also taught maths in Catholic High Schools
for much of my teaching career.
The schools had a chapel attached where the whole
school would worship regularly.
I continued to worship in the Catholic church for
41 years, attending mass every weekend and sometimes in the week during school
holidays and also when I retired.
For personal reasons and after much heartfelt and prayerful reflection, I made a
decision, which was not taken lightly, that I would find another church when we moved
So that is my explanation of how I started to attend Nambour Uniting
Church, where I have been made to feel very welcome. I have now attended for the
10 years since we arrived.
When recently I was asked to become treasurer, one of the criteria was that I had to
“belong” to the Uniting Church. My reply was that in my heart I felt that “I belonged”.
Noel and Lyn Park responded that as I had attended for 10 years, they felt that I could
be considered as “belonging”.
Rev Ian then offered a seminar for those who wanted to
“belong”, and he very generously gave up a whole Saturday to lead a seminar on the
beliefs and history of the church.
Daphne Heaton provided the local history of our
church. Those of us who participated enjoyed this fruitful broadening faith experience.
I thank Rev Ian so much for this enriching experience.
Now, I fully belong. Thanks be to God.
Everyday, I read a passage from an inspirational book called “Bread for the Journey”
written by Henri Nouwen.
The following is a passage that bears relevance to a
The Mosaic that shows us the face of God
A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some yellow,
some green and some may be gold.
When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone.
But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a
beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself.
This is what life in a community is about.
Each of us is like a little stone but together we reveal the face of God to the world.
As an individual, it is not as easy to “make God visible” as it is for us as a group to do so.
Community is where humility and glory touch.
As one body, we become a living witness of God’s immense desire to bring all peoples
and nations together as the one family of God.
Those who choose, even on a small scale, to love in the midst of hatred and fear are the
people who offer true hope for peace in the world.
Thanks be to God. Lyn Metelerkamp