Pentecost 7 – The Mission of God – God is in all places, at all times; and "godless" describes not a place where God is absent, but a place where God is present but disregarded. Mission is about looking around, seeing where God's presence is working, and joining in with his work. in this imperfect world. Evangelism, the bringing of good news, should not be a practice of imposing God, but rather of revealing that God is already here. And God can, and does, still reveal himself in dreams and visions. Genesis 28: 10-19; Romans 8: 12-25
Pentecost 6 – Something seems to be slipping. Attitudes that separate "us" from "them", absorbed unconsciously, are sweeping us more and more in the direction of ugly intolerance and fear – when as Christians we should be seen as shining lighthouses of God's love. God is love; Jesus is his embodiment on earth; and God's spirit is in all of us. We carry the seeds of love, justice, mercy, compassion, hope and forgiveness – these things will change our lives. Romans 8: 1-11
Pentecost 6 – "Time" – When time is mentioned in the scriptures, it can mean chronological time, 'chronos', measured using clocks and calendars; and it can also mean God's time, 'kairos', describing God's activity in history and personal affairs. In human terms, God's time might have little relation to clocks and calendars. God's spirit, like an erratic wind, blows us along in unexpected directions; it might take a long time to reach the destination that God intends, or it might happen all of a sudden. God is with us on our life journey, which can have rough patches as well as smooth; but with a companion like Jesus, who invites us to "come along with me", what could ultimately go wrong? Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8; John 3: 1-17
Pentecost 5 – “Responding to the music” – "Let us dream, sing and dance into the wisdom, love and mystery we name as God" – such was the theme of this church service. It was based on an interpretation of Matthew 11: 16-19, in which a generation of people were accused of failing to appreciate the beautiful and enjoyable, while condemning anyone who did have such an appreciation. The Early Word address, dealing with this topic, has been included in the recording. The sermon itself was based on the second part of the reading, verses 25-30, in which we are encouraged to share the loads and burdens of others, to be co-workers with Christ, and to join ourselves to God. Which could bring great recognition, but it could also bring rejection. Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30
Pentecost 4 – In the society from which Abraham set out on his journey towards a promised land, human sacrifice was a normal practice for trying to please God and prevent disasters; but in the case of Abraham, young Isaac was spared when God intervened by providing instead a ram to be sacrificed. Over a thousand years later, the Hebrew prophets were revealing that God does not require ritual sacrifices at all; what he really wants is for us to act justly towards one another, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God. And through the grace, or graciousness, of Jesus, we can find the freedom to live and love to the full. Genesis 22: 1-14; Romans 6: 12-23
Pentecost 4 – “Life begins at 40” – In the Bible, the number 40 is often used symbolically – 40 days of rain in the story of Noah; 40 years of wandering in the wilderness after the escape from Egypt; Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism. It is now 40 years since the foundation of the Uniting Church in Australia; and Psalm 40 offers some insights into looking back to the past; looking at the present; and considering the future. What happens next? Let us go forward as witnesses to the way of Jesus, bringing justice and kindness here and beyond, with open ear and humble heart. Psalm 40: 1-17
Pentecost 3 – 180 Years Anniversary Sunday – The most formative experiences of the Hebrew people were shaped by faith, hope and love during periods of powerlessness, suffering and loss – particular examples being slavery in Egypt, exile in Babylon, and crucifixion under Rome. But we are urged, even in exile, to know our neighbours; to bring blessing and good to all; to invest ourselves in our families; and to keep the rumour of God alive. Jeremiah 29: 4-7; Hebrews 12: 1-2; John 17: 20-24
Pentecost 3 - To understand the nature of God, look around you – resdiscover the ancient wisdom that sees everything in creation as wonderfully connected. God cares for sparrows, human beings, rocks, trees, seas, mountains and galaxies. According to Thomas Aquinas (13th c), the primary Book is the created world that we see, and the secondary Book is the Christian and Hebrew scriptures. But we humans are busily ruining our wonderful world, and everything in it; and unless we are relying on renewable energy resources within the next few decades, instead of burning carbon-based fuels, we will be responsible for a world-wide catastrophe. Matthew 10: 24-39
Pentecost 2 - Every Member Ministry - every member participating in God's reconciling mission in the world, embodying a Christianity where no one is left on the sidelines but everyone is invited to participate in the liberating work of God in the world. Reflections on the history of Stow Memorial Congregational Church and Pirie Street Methodist Church and the forty years together in the Uniting Church. Ephesians 4: 1-16
Trinity Sunday - Christ constitutes, rules and renews his church - celebrating 40 years of the Uniting Church in Australia. It reminds us that we aren't building a church - we are serving a church that Christ is building. It's about people, it's about love shared with neighbour and enemy alike. John 1:1-5
Day of Pentecost - Receive the Holy Spirit The Resurrection of Jesus means the whole world has changed and the Power of the Holy Spirit is the telling that the whole world has changed. The mark of understanding of what the true Messiah is was first understood by Thomas. Thomas was the one who spread the message of deep peace and joy across empires and cultures even to India.
Easter 7 - Forgiveness & Confession - gifts of God's Grace Reflections on Reconciliation Sunday by an unknown author suggesting that 'each of us as individuals and as a society and nation . . . be learning to dance together better'. John 17: 1-11
Easter 6 - The Role of the Holy Spirit - is to remind people about everything Jesus has taught and commanded. Ours is to dream the dream and feel His presence, listen to the message of the lyrics of the Gospel whispered to us, to see, hear, feel and discern what God is calling us to do, to be. John 14: 15-21
Easter 5 - Stones - A Call to Community "The stone imagery invites us to see ourselves as stones. And then to see ourselves as stones belonging to a structure built on Christ. Stones are all different shapes and sizes, old, young, brittle, strong, shiny, fractured, solid, small, large, differently shaped and oriented. There is room for everyone." 1 Peter 2: 2-10
Easter 4 - Beyond the Walls - New Beginnings "I dream of a church that joins in with God's loving as she bends to embrace the unlovely and lost - a church that can free by its sharing and daring, the imprisoned and poor and then shoulder the cost - a church that is winsome, impassioned, inspiring, lioness of your justice and lamb of your peace." Acts 2: 42-47
Easter 4 - Jesus as the Door - one of the "I am" sayings of Jesus, unique to John's Gospel. A door is an entry point. Jesus is the entry point to "life in all its fullness". The way to God or maybe how God's love gets to us is through Jesus. Psalm 23 is sung by the Pilgrim Choir and the message is from John 10: 1-10.
Easter 3 - On the Road to Emmaus - The Church is on the road. Jesus is met on the road. The Christian way of living is to be found on the road - on the way. Churches are not meant to be static and settled and comfortable. We are called to be part of that journey. Luke 24:13-35
Easter 2 – Thomas had been elsewhere when Jesus appeared to the other disciples, the ones who had been too scared to venture outside of a locked room; and because Thomas later expressed his doubts concerning a visit from someone risen from the dead, readers of this gospel narrative often give him the nickname of "Doubting Thomas". But he is not referred to as such anywhere in the scriptures, and there is nothing wrong with doubt. Thomas's doubt led to a desire to know; and the questioning led to a declaration from the heart – he believed. Will you believe, when you have not seen? It is the experience of many, that Jesus is as real now as he was back then in the locked room. John 20: 19-31
Easter 2 – “Holding Patterns” – "Truthiness" is the type of truth that gives the gut feeling that it ought to be right, in spite of all actual and verifiable facts to the contrary. But Thomas was not afflicted with that approach to truth; when he expressed his honest doubts about what the other disciples had seen when the risen Jesus had visited them in a locked room. He only wanted to see what they had seen; and when he too met the resurrected Jesus, he accepted what he actually saw, and believed. As for us, we need to progress beyond a faith in what others have told us, to a thinking faith, then a searching faith, and finally a faith of our own that promises even more to come. John 20: 19-29
Easter Day – This Choral Communion service was a special celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, featuring the Choir of Pilgrim Church accompanied by an orchestra. The Communion setting was Mozart's “Sparrow Mass”; and the recording is of the entire service.
Easter Sunday – The resurrection of Jesus is hard to understand. We need to trust, to have faith in, the carefully preserved testimonies of the people who were eyewitneses to the event and its aftermath. They saw, they witnessed, and they believed. It is by faith, that we know that Christ has been raised and is alive. For those with the necessary faith, resurrection can be felt, lived and shared. Matthew 28: 1-10
Rev Sandy Boyce & Rev Bob Hutchinson
Size: 24.5 MB
FRI 14-APR-2017 - 9.30 AM Good Friday Service
In this church service, as we were being led through John's account of the final hours of the life of Jesus, we were asked to think about how often we ourselves act unjustly in our interactions with others. Jesus was subjected to betrayal, violence, abandonment, humiliation and an agonising death; and yet he did not retaliate, but continued to show care for others. And we must remember that day follows night, hope replaces despair, and life conquers death.
Palm Sunday – “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” – When Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, a centre of wealth and power, he was demonstrating humility, sacrifice and self-giving – values quite contrary to those of the Roman occupiers and their religous accomplices, who maintained their positions, power and influence by exploting the poor and vulnerable. The good news of Jesus tells of a commnuity based not on the accumulation of wealth by exploitation, but on simplicity and generosity, of loving and being loved in return. Philippians 2: 5-11; Matthew 21: 1-11
Palm Sunday – A large and enthusiastic crowd was drawn to the spectacle of Jesus arriving on a donkey; and all around the city the question was being asked, "Who is this?" (A few days later, after his betrayal and arrest, the crowd had vanished.) "Who is this?" is a question we can ask of ourselves. Do we know him – have we got to know him? What do you think – was he a good man? A charismatic teacher and preacher? A misguided revolutionary who came to a sticky end? Can we trust his claim, that he was and is the way to a full life, an eternal life in all its fullness? Paul's response, recorded in his letter to the Philippians, is well worth considering. Philippians 2: 5-11; Matthew 21: 1-11
Lent 5 – The account of the raising of Lazarus is a story of grief and despair ahead of new life. Jesus himself was moved to tears. While God is the God of life, he is no stranger to deep grief and sorrow – he knows what it's like to lose a loved one. The place of pain and sorrow is a sacred place in the heart of God; it is where the Holy Spirit can reach us and heal us. Ezekiel 37: 1-14; John 11: 1-45
Lent 5 – Unbinding – This was a story of sickness, burial and life. Jesus again demonstrated his power to bring life to that which is dead, when he brought Lazarus back to life four days after the burial. But it was not Jesus who removed the bindings from Lazarus; it was members of the community who unbound him and set him free. We are partcipants in God's unbinding of that which binds, hurts and enslaves. John 11: 1-45
Lent 4 – When we judge each other not from the heart but from external appearances, the world can be a very hostile place. When we cannot see the actual person behin the facade, we are suffering from a spiritual blindness; and it is a blindness that Jesus can cure. With whose eyes do you see – your eyes, or God's eyes? 1 Samuel 16: 1-13; John 9: 1-7, 14-17, 24-41
Lent 4 – ‘Seeing with new eyes’ – We often define people in terms of their disabilities, shortcomings and challenges; and we are far more prepared to maintain a known problem than to accept a radical solution. That is how it was when Jesus healed a man of his life-long blindness – because the way it had been done was against the rules, the healing was dismissed as a hoax. We organise our way around problems because we fear the solutions. What might we be doing, as we try to move towards healing and wholeness, and accept people as they really are? John 9: 1-34
Lent 3 – Jesus was travelling through alien and hostile territory when he encountered a socially unacceptable woman gathering water at a well. An encounter between a respected rabbi, male, and a woman from the dregs of society, female, would normally have resulted in a very awkward situation; but when Jesus made the first approach to the outcast, breaking the barriers by politely asking for a drink of water, what ensued was a protracted, civil and respectful conversation. Today there are many polarised attitudes which lead to denigration, vilification and conflict. We need not to convince and conquer; but rather, we need to offer freedom to understand, to allow strangers to enter a common space and become friends. John 4: 5-42
Lent 3 – We live in a world of rapid global communication, thanks to technologies such as TV, Email, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Wikipedia. There is a huge amount of information waiting for us out there; all we need is the means and the desire to request it. But we also live in a "post-truth" society, with the possibility that the news we receive could be fake or distorted news; that the facts could be "alternative" facts; and that information might in fact be disinformation. With such a noisy and crowded communication jungle, how do we go about communicating the good news of Jesus Christ? We need to seek Wisdom; we need to learn how to talk about and be seen to live the way of Christ with confidence. That is when will have gained the insight needed for effectively communicating the good news to the world. Proverbs 1: 2-7; Luke 12: 54-56; Galatians 6: 2-10
Lent 2 – There is significance in the fact that Nicodemus, a highly qualified religious leader, should meet Jesus after dark. Themes of light and darkness are found throughout the scriptures; and there are many stories of encounters with God out of the darkness. Because we have a saviour who keeps evening hours, night-time is a good time to be calling upon Jesus. John 3: 1-17
Lent 2 – “Between Holiness and Compassion” – Nicodemus, a member of the Pharisee party whose aim was to achieve holiness through ritual purity and social exclusion, was intrigued by the alternative approach of a very popular rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, who had a ministry of preaching and healing with all manner of unacceptable outcasts. During an out-of-hours meeting with Jesus, Nicodemus was told of the necessity for rebirth into a new order – an order not limited by custom and tradition, but where there is acceptance, welcome and healing for all. John 3: 1-17
Lent 1 – There is more in the story of Jesus resisting temptation in the wilderness, than to use it to teach that because Jesus resisted temptation, then so should we. In the traditional form of the Lord's Prayer we say, "Lead us not into temptation"; yet shortly after Jesus was baptised, God did lead him into temptation. This is more than a moralistic story, it is a story about the identity of Jesus as God's representative on earth. By experiencing temptation, we discover who we are; and so it was with Jesus in the wilderness. When we are tempted, is the spirit that leads us a good one, or is it a bad one? Genesis 1: 15-17 & 3: 1-7; Matthew 4: 1-11
Lent 1 – “Journey into Darkness” – In the story of Jesus fasting for 40 days and nights out in the desert, we are told of three significant temptations that he had to face – and he did not give into them. To be tempted is to be faced with an alluring opportunity for an improper gratification or indulgence; but temptation is not the same as sin. Giving in to temptation is a matter of choice; we are acountable for what we do ourselves; and God's grace will enable us to overcome temptation. In this season of Lent, let us engage in a discipline of prayer, that in the truth, grace and strength of Jesus, we may have help in overcoming temptation, and be forgiven when we fail. Genesis 2: 15-17 & 3: 1-7; Matthew 4: 1-11
Transfiguration Sunday – Climbing to the top of a mountain, and getting down again, can be a memorable, even a life-changing, experience. A mountain-top experience is a chance to pause and think; but you can't stay there, you have to come down again; and what you subsequently do is important. In the case of Jesus, the subsequent journey was far from easy. For us, too, it can be a rocky path as we move forward to live the life of Christ. And that is something we'll be thinking about, in the period leading up to Easter. Matthey 17: 1-9
Transfiguration of Jesus – “Where earth touches the heavens” – In many traditions, mountain tops are high places where the human can touch the divine. Jesus, with three of his disciples, had such an experience. When we have a shining, transcendent mountain-top experience, how do we come down to the valley to spread God's grace, love, healing and liberation, as Jesus did? May Jesus be revealed in our time, from the light that shines within us. Matthew 17: 1-9
Epiphany 7 – "Love your enemies" – Loving oneself is possible; loving neighbours can be difficult; but loving enemies? Enemies are those whom we fear and don't want to face up to, those who are not nice, who disrupt, disturb and distress. Hate, violence and toughness multiply themselves in a descending spiral of destruction, and only love can break the spriral into oblivion. Healing and freedom lie in a decision to forgive. We cannot forgive enemies in our own strength; but through the steadfast love and grace of God, we can do it. Matthew 5: 38-48
Epiphany 6 – In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus urges us not to judge others, unless we are prepared to judge the faults in ourselves. The set of judgements for which we are liable go beyond what we actually do, to matters of the heart – to desires, thoughts, attitudes and motivations that could result in harm, even if they remain unfulfilled. We are all the same; we are fractured beings; and our only resort for healing is to rely on the mercy and love of God. Matthew 5: 21-37
Epiphany 6 – "That which we hope for ..." – Church leaders have commented that the situatioon facing the western church today is very much like that of the first generation of Christians who met in homes and were in effect underground churches. Resident aliens! How is that that there is ONE body given the circumstnces and diverse gifts and hopes that members are bringing? Ephesians 4: 1-7, 11-16
Epiphany 5 – We are the "salt of the earth", but are we good salt, or bad salt? Good quality salt enhances the flavour of food, it is a food preservative, and it has certain healing properties. If, as the salt of the earth, we remain uncontamineted and retain our flavour, we will be fulfilling the law by living out the mind of Christ with a full-flavoured passion for life. As for light, it is used for signalling, guiding, exposing evil and error, and brightening up the world. If we won't let others see our light, who is going to notice the work of God? Isaiah 58: 1-12; Matthew 5: 13-20
Epiphany 5 – As "salt of the earth", we are called to act in the community like a seasoning, a preservative or a healing agent. And ss "light of the world" we need to be out in the open as shining examples of love and compassion, not hiding away in case someone might notice God's light shining from within us. Isaiah 58: 1-9; Matthew 5: 13-16
Epiphany 4 – In the Beatitudes we see that, in contrast to the teachings of so-called "prosperity theology", God's favour rests in places of greatest need, among the poorest and the most vulnerable. We are called to help those who need help; and to see them not as nuisances, but as persons with marks of blessedness. At a national level we can see how little regard there is for these teachings of Jesus, when we encounter policies and attitudes that reject refugees, promote xenophobia, and reduce support for the needy. ?Matthew 5: 1-12
Epiphany 4 – “How then shall we live?” In everyday terms the Beatitudes turn worldly wisdom on its head. Worldly wisdom seeks the blessings of wealth and influence; whereas the Beatitudes seem to deal with the 'blessings' of the downtrodden and humbled and victims of injustice. But the message of the Beatitudes is about the blessings that result from actions and attitudes which ameliorate the causes for lament – right actions carried out with integrity and humility, bringing blessing to both giver and receiver. The Beatitudes are a job description for discipleship. Matthew 5: 1-12
Ephiphany 2 – Reflecting on experiences; finding a balance between theology, and putting our beliefs into practice. Because there are multiple ways of interpreting discipleship, we need to draw out our best gifts in order to see that our vision statements are actually fulfilled. Isaiah 49: 1-7; John 1: 29-42
"Breaking of the Ties" – This is a recording of the farewell service for Rev Jana Norman, who has been our Minister of the Word since late 2011. All three Sunday congregations participated, along with representatives of Presbytery and Synod. Jana is setting out on a course of study and research towards a PhD, at Adelaide University Law School.
Christmas 1 – What do you carry from the old year to the new? Who and what has carried you in the past year? Have you been gently carried to safety, or was the carrying rather more robust? In the year to come, who will carry us and whom will we carry? Some words from the late Irish poet John O'Donohue: "I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding". Isaiah 63: 7-9
The Joyful Celebration of Christmas Day 2016 – This is a recording of the entire church service held on the morning of Christmas Day. The service included Christmas carols and hymns, with choir, organ and orchestra; readings, prayer and a homily; and a children's spot.
Christmas Eve 2016 – "born to be ..." Celebrating Christmas through Worship and Communion.
The recording includes the 30 minutes of music and singing that took place before the service began. The pre-service music from 10.30 pm, and the service itself, included choral and instrumental music by a soloist and members of the Pilgrim community, together with congregational singing.
The service was constructed around the themes of "Born to be Peaceful", "Born to be Mindful", "Born to be Hopeful", "Born to be Compassionate", and "Born to be Fully Alive".
Size: 27.7 MB
SAT 24-DEC-2016 - 6.00 PM Readings and Carols
Advent 4 – When Jesus was born, Joseph adopted him into the family line of King David; and it is apparent that the genealogy that Matthew put together was rather more symbolic than genetic. Matthew divided the family history into three groups of 14 generations each; and he included among the ancestors five women involved in sexual scandal of one sort or another. What we have from Matthew is not the unblemished, exclusively patriarchal genealogy of a powerful king. The kingship of Jesus is of a different kind; it turns power upside down and inside out. He is not a Messiah set over people, he is a Messiah among people. He is truly "God with us". Matthew 1: 18-25
Advent 4 – Compassion – Mary's song, the Magnificat, is a song of oppressed people longing to be liberated. In Bethlehem, as in other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, there is continuous oppression of ordinary people by Israeli officials and military. But at checkpoints, demolition sites and ruined family farms there are volunteers, be they Christian, Muslim or Israeli, standing in solidarity with the oppressed. We are called to be the embodiment of Christ, to move into the neighbourhood to engender hope, peace, justice and compassion. Luke 1: 46b - 55
Advent 3 – Of Hope and Hopelessness – Hope is a form of ambition, and it is linked with hopelessnees, despair and the fear of failure. But when everything seems hopeless. our guide is wonder. Wonder is more than an emotion; it is our opening into the heart of the universe. We are only a speck in the universe, but with the gift of wonder, we are beings with the capacity to feel comprehensive compassion for every being and every thing in creation. Isaiah 35: 1, 3-4a, 5-8
Advent 2 – Over the last few hundred years, we have been enchanted by the dream of the tremendous good that results from technological progress – but such progress has also resulted in many unintended and ongoing disasters. The prophet Isaiah has recorded an ancient dream of a peaceable kingdom, based not on the struggle for mastery over nature and each other, but on wisdom and social justice, and an interdependancy with nature. Isaiah 11: 1-10; Matthew 3: 1-12
Advent 1 – In the Christian year, the season of Advent has been set aside as a period of reflection and repentance, much the same as Lent before Easter. It is a time to unlearn war and learn peace; to be ready for changes that are coming, and not be left behind; to be open to and aware of the world as it is, and not succumb to its evils. Isaiah 2: 1-5; Matthew 24: 36-44
Christ the King – A test of leadership is how we treat the vulnerable among us – orphans, widows, foreigners, the possessed, the socially invisible. Every act of love is an act of resistance to the forces of darkness that we all have within us. We are called to orient our lives and our communities to the way of Christ, who showed a leadership not self-serving and self-aggrandising, but self-emptying and committed to humble service. Jeremiah 23: 1-6; Luke 23: 33-43
Christ the King – Through the stories of Jesus we see light shining through darkness. It is a light of love, not of fear; of giving, not of greed; of inherent worth and dignity. In the kingdom of Christ the King, all things in heaven and earth are valued as ends in themselves; and persons are not treated as economic objects to be exploited for the benefit of the rich and powerful.
Pentecost 26 – In Luke's gospel, Jesus told his followers that at an unspecified time in the future, terrible things were going to happen and it was going to be the end of the world as they knew it. We appear to be in a similar situation today, with worsening unemployment, shattered dreams, poverty and despair. In contrast, the prophet Isaiah had a vision of multi-faceted prosperity in a society that is inclusive, kind, and anchored in the common good. Holding to such a hope is the core business of the followers of Jesus. Isaiah 65: 17-25; Luke 21: 5-19
Pentecost 25 – We are told that in the end times, before Christ returns, there will come a person, a human, who exalts himself to such an extent that he will declare himself to be God. This Antichrist will have the sort of values that are part and parcel of current Western society – greed, manip;ulation, deceit, bullying, and so forth – all of them contrary to the peacefulness of the leadership of Jesus. We are encouraged not to withdraw from the world, but to resist the values of such a nation-state in favour of the values of the reign of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-5, 13-17
Epiphany 2 – What kind of lamb is Jesus, that he should be described as "The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world"? The sins from which we are saved are the sins of the world itself as we try to get even with each other. But God has modeled the way out of the initial problem of sin begetting sin and violence begetting violence. Jesus was crucified at Passover time, when sheep were sacrificed to commemorate freedom; and God has given us Jesus, the gentle, non-violent, non-retaliating Lamb who invites us to follow him into the promised land of life, love and freedom. John 1: 29-34
Pentecost 25 – Darkness and Light – Jesus was confronted by a group of nit-picking religious pedants, members of the privileged Sadducee class who could not accept the idea of resurrection from the dead. They set him a trick question, and in his response, Jesus explained that the idea of resurrection is that we remain alive to God, no matter who we are or what we are. “I am alive, it's all I know; and some days it feels like resurrection.” Luke 0: 27-38
Pentecost 24 – In the well-known story of Zacchaeus, the wealthy tax collector who climbed a tree in order to catch a glimpse of Jesus, a careful translation of the text will show that Zacchaeus was in fact an outstanding philantropist and an honest man. He was not a "sinner". We need to follow Jesus' example of accepting people as they really are, not rejecting them because of what they might appear to be. Luke 19: 1-10
Pentecost 24, for All Saints Day – This short talk, one of several presented by various members of the congregation, concerns St Martin of Tours, a patron saint of France who lived during the 4th century. His life was inspirational; he was hospitable; he practised advocacy, fightng for justice for all people; and he showed great humility, always working in kindness for the poor.
Pentecost 22 – Are we the people of the law of Compassion, loving God above all and loving our neighbours as ourselves? Do we have an inner wisdom nurtured by practices such as silence, contemplation and prayer? Or are we like the parable's unjust judge, with no compassion for the needy? Jeremiah 31: 27-34; Luke 18: 1-8
Pentecost 22 – “Stop The Traffik” – The psalmist sees a mountain as a symbol of the divine – stromg, ever-present and a source of help. And in the gospel parable, a persistent widow confronts an indifferent, unjust judge in her search for justice. Perhaps we might be the unjust judges, bothered by the insistent pleas of the vulnerable calling attention to their plight? Let us listen, be a source of help, and be justice makers. Psalm 121; Luke 18: 1-8
Pentecost 23 – For the Hebrew people, as for many present-day indigenous societies, time was not regarded as a linear sequence of facts, events and episodes. Rather, time was experienced as cyclical, with overlapping and intertwining cycles of seasons and tides; full times and empty times; blessing and calamity; joy and sorrow; praise and complaint. The prophets have assured us that in the cycles of time, hope lives on even when things seem at their most desperate. Joel 2: 23-32
Pentecost 21 – The prophet Jeremiah advised his fellow countrymen exiled to Babylon, to “Seek the welfare of the city”, even though it was not their own country. In the welfare of the city you will find your own welfare. If forced away from the place you've called home, don't give up and stop living. Be a sign of hope, and bloom where God has planted you. Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-7
Pentecost 20 – Faith is hard to quantify – what does it do, what does it fix? Faith shows itself in attributes like persistence, trust and courage. Don't simply have faith, but use your faith. Faith can change things, when you actually do things. Luke 17: 5-10
Pentecost 19 – Money can make us comfortable, but wealth, by itself, cannot bring well-being and contentment. Happiness does not increase in proportion to the value of one's possessions. Be rich in good works; and consider the moral questions that money forces us to grapple with, 1 Timothy 6: 6-19; Luke 16: 19-31
Pentecost 18 – Season of Creation: Earth – In the parable, a shrewd manager did the right thing, when he got himself out of trouble by reducing the debts owed to his employer. It's time to relieve ordinay people from accumulated debt, by stopping money from going just one way, from the poor to the wealthy. A particular example of exploitation of the poor by the wealthy can be seen in the clearing of tropical rain forests for agricultural land. Luke 16: 1-13
Epiphany 3 – Patterning our lives – When four fishermen responded to Jesus' invitation to become his first disciples, they were uprooting themselves, disentangling themselves from familiar surroundings and occupations, to follow him and take part in the kin-dom of God. We Christians today need to be visible examples of that kin-dom, not only as good citizens, but also as people with a practical concern and care for the disadvantaged, the poor and the vulnerable, concerns that were central to Christ's teaching. Matthew 4: 12-23
Pentecost 17 – Jesus was accused of breaking the rules of decent society by consorting with extortioners and other persons of ill repute, stooping so low as even to share meals with them. In response he offered a couple of parables, pointing out how all individuals are precious to God, whether from "nice society" or from the fringes. How do we welcome people in – do we expect them to confirm, or can we be enriched by our differences?. Luke 15: 1-10
Pentecost 16 – In this week's gospel passage, Jesus declares that we have to give away all our possessions, in order to be one of his disciples. Which seems extreme, when compared with other teachings which extol the joy and pleasure to be found in sharing. A deeper meaning is suggested – that by giving up being possessed by things, we will find ourselves open to the unexpected and unknown presence of God. All great spirituality is about letting go. Luke 14: 25-33
Pentecost 18 – The parable of the shrewd manager – An irresponsible manager was commended for getting himself out of trouble, by taking it upon himself to alter the accounting records and reduce the amounts owed by debtors. Which is the more important, the creation and acquisition of wealth through economic progress, or well-being and happiness? Economic wealth does not automatically lead to well-being. Through his generosity, the manager had brought good news to the poor. Luke 16: 1-13
Epiphany 3 – When Jesus called the first of his disciples, their lives were interrupted and disturbed as they set out following their new leader. It's the same today; Jesus is still seeking out and calling people to follow him. The call is to get involved in peoples' lives, to be a caring community; the call is not to erect buildings and institutions, or to proclaim promises of wealth and prosperity. Matthew 4: 12-23