Neighbourly Love – 14 July 2013
Bula!! and welcome to worship today. Cheryl and I have had a wonderful holiday in Fiji and enjoyed the opportunity to have our first ‘long holiday together as a couple’ since being married almost 12 years ago. We’ve been able to reflect on our journey together, learn something about another country and its people and we’ve built some new memories, which we will take into our lives for the future. We’ve been reminded of the privileged opportunity that we have had in life and God has given us a number of experiences that will keep us “grounded” as Christians living in a world that is more and more becoming a ‘global village’. The Fijians reminded us about the strength and value of God and family life.
We attended two different church services while we were away. The first was with Semi and Liti’s Methodist Church in Suva on 30th June where everything was in Fijian (of course). The service went for 2.5hrs and the unaccompanied singing was beautiful, rich and strong. Some tunes were familiar which gave me a chance to pretend that I was singing along with them. It was a pulpit exchange that day and we were invited to share in a Kava ceremony after the service for the leaders and other visitors. We met Semi’s mother and a few of Liti’s family who treated us to a traditional Fijian feast for lunch, which we had in Semi and Liti’s home. Last Sunday Cheryl and I attended a Church of Christ service in Nadi with some friends who live there. Again all the singing was unaccompanied with beautiful harmonies, a mix of traditional hymns and familiar choruses. This service however was in English and only lasted for 1.5hrs. I’ve been told that Semi, Litiana and their family did a great job last week bringing God’s word to you here at Ashmore whist we were at worship in their home country of Fiji. We’ve all had a share of Fijian spirituality haven’t we?
It was very sad to return home to the immediacy of the death of Laura Lewis this week. My thanks must go to everyone who has supported Laura, Barry and Mark through this most difficult time of illness and loss. To all those who contributed to Laura’s Funeral Service and lunch on Thursday I must say a big THANK YOU. It was a beautiful service in every way. Laura’s sister said that it was just as Laura would have wanted it. God reminded us that Isaiah 41:10 was His word for Laura throughout this ordeal – “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand”. This was the verse that was printed on Laura’s prayer blanket, which was a gift from this church, and it was the verse that was in Laura’s devotional book that I read to her on the last day before I went on holidays. May this also be of encouragement to you as well.
Today we are focusing on what some would say is the central tenant of the Christian Faith and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus:- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. And love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Luke 10:27). Based on the Gospel reading from Luke 10:25-37 we will hear about Neighbourly Love from two families who have taken seriously Jesus words to “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:28). Kristen Jack has spent 18years with his family in Phnom Penh from 1994 to Nov 2010 and is now based in NZ working with Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor. The other family is Steve and Jane Wilson and their children Miriam and Henry. They currently live in Kolkotta (formerly Calcutta) and are serving with Servants. We welcome them to this service of worship today.
May you “go and show Neighbourly Love” in all you do this week….Rev. Brad Foote