About AshmoreUC

Ashmore Uniting Church (Kath Hilber)

Bad things happen

Bad things happen.

Sometimes really bad things happen. Sometimes they happen to us personally and sometimes to whole countries and even our whole planet.

This week we’ve seen horrific scenes of bushfires burning across Australia – so close our air was hazy, and we could smell them. Lives have been tragically lost. Many people have lost homes and all their possessions in the fires. Communities have lost schools and whole streets. And in the midst of this, our normal, individual, personal tragedies have been unfolding. May God have mercy! This destruction can feel like it is of “Biblical proportions”! Where is God in all this?

That question is never easy to answer, and glib answers are worse than none.

To those who see in this destruction signs of the imminent end of the world, Jesus gives us this answer: Don’t be fooled! (Lk 21:8) “No one knows, when that day and hour will come — neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; the Father alone knows. (Mt 24:36)

To those worrying about what might happen, Jesus gives us this answer: Don’t panic! Don’t be terrified. Don’t be alarmed. (Lk 21:9)

One day all crying will cease. The prophet Isaiah (65:17-25) promises us that God is redeeming the world. One day the promise of Christmas will be fulfilled: Joy to the World, the Saviour reigns! Let Earth receive her king! One day there will be no sickness, no cruelty, no manipulation and nothing to fear.  We live between Christmas and the second coming of Christ. We live in a world that is passing away.

Today, let us hold onto faith. Let us keep doing the spiritual disciplines commanded of us in Ephesians 6:11-18: put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth and carry the shield of faith. Our faith is something that we can practice every minute of every day. “Not a hair of your head will perish”, Jesus promises. “Stand firm, and you will win life.”

Yours in Christ

Ralph

The Question about the Resurrection

The Question about the Resurrection

Armistice Day is on 11 November and is also known as Remembrance Day. It marks the day World War One ended, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. Since Remembrance Day is next Monday, I would like to offer a prayer, at the end of the sermon on Sunday, to remember the people who have died in wars.

In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, we hear about an escalation of the tension and opposition that was in the relationships between Jesus and the religious authorities of the day, the Pharisees, or as in today’s reading, another group, the Sadducees. Like the many challenges the Pharisees posed to Jesus when seeking the opportunity and means by which to kill him, Jesus is now invited into a trap by the Sadducees, with a question about the resurrection.

Jesus took time to establish the validity and certainty of life after death. He was teaching that through faith, his listeners would have eternal life.

This Gospel reading is really about resurrection and whether the life in God has any meaning in the present. We are living in God’s presence. So, how then shall we live? Living our faith is most important.

God of love and liberty,

We bring our thanks this day for the peace and security we enjoy, which was won for us through the courage and devotion of those who gave their lives in time of war.  We pray that their labour and sacrifice may not be in vain, but that their spirit may live on in us and in generations to come.  We ask that the liberty, truth and justice, which they sought to preserve, may be seen and known in all the nations upon earth.  This we pray in the name of the one who gave his life for the sake of the world, Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen

Yours in Christ,

Debra

I Am the Bread of Life

I Am the Bread of Life

This Sunday, our service we will be based upon the “I Am” declaration in John’s Gospel, where Jesus identifies himself as “The Bread of Life”. In this statement, Jesus declares that “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”. Since Holy Communion feeds the Church, while enabling us to experience the Holy Spirit, I have designed this series of Holy Communion services around the theme of the “I Am” declarations of Jesus, to finish with the declaration “I am the Bread of Life”. The sermon will also extend upon last week’s reading in Exodus 3, where Moses was commissioned as the one who would lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

In the Gospel reading for today, John 6. 25-51, Jesus promises that he will never push away or ignore a person who comes to him in genuine faith for spiritual nourishment. He also offers assurance to the believer that he or she will be kept in God’s love by Jesus’ power.

However, the crowds in Jesus’ day (just like some people today) wanted Jesus to perform some miracle before they would believe and have faith in him. They forgot the miracle that they had witnessed just the day before! Jesus calls for faith before proof; but many human beings want proof before they will even consider faith.

What is the meaning of the Gospel reading for Us? This reading focuses on Jesus as the centre of faith. Jesus gives us a wonderful assurance “All those the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (v37), which shows an emphasis on the individual’s choice. The forceful statement “I will never drive away” is an assurance that Jesus will always maintain, protect and care for us. In this reading, we are taught that for a life that satisfies our desire for spiritual nourishment, we need to consistently live through and draw upon Jesus

Yours in Christ

Debra

Jesus Heals Ten Men with Leprosy

Jesus Heals Ten Men with Leprosy

The service today is about the Gospel Reading “Jesus Heals Ten Men with Leprosy”. Good health is, of course, of fundamental importance to humans. Therefore, the lessons taught by Jesus in the Gospel reading touch the lives of all of us today.

There have been questions presented in recent years by health care professionals that are relevant for discussion of this gospel reading. One of these questions is “Is there a relationship between health and spirituality”? The answer to this question will be discussed in the sermon today. This will help us to understand and appreciate the immense impact on our lives of considering our health holistically.

The current understanding of health is not limited to physical well-being but includes spiritual, psychological and physiological well-being or wholeness. The biblical understanding of God is as a God of love, mercy and compassion and Jesus is demonstrated vividly in his compassion for the troubled in spirit (Mark 1: 23). This is extremely encouraging and when, ministers visit patients, we think about the implications for the spiritual life of the patient that are being raised in our conversations. (Becker Arthur H. (1985) “The compassionate visitor´, Augsburg Publishing House Minneapolis).

As we would expect, spirituality depends upon an individual’s personal interpretation or worldview. Spirituality plays various roles in patients during their illness. It provides a sense of direction, new hope and inner peace, allowing patients to accept and cope with proper problems that cannot be solved. Most patients acknowledge that spirituality is an important part of their lives, providing a source of strength, hope and well-being, especially during illness or loss. (Van Leeuwen Rene (2007) ‘ Aspects of spirituality concerning illness: empirical studies’  Nordic College of Caring Science, Scandanavia).

 

Blessings and good health

Debra

Money and Jesus

Almost all religious practices are designed to break you free from enmeshment with the world’s god: Money.

Do fish know that they are wet? They swim around in water all day every day. Everything that they need is in the water. Their experience of life is so completely wet that I’ll bet they don’t even know that they are wet. To understand that they were “wet” they would need to know what “dry” means. And unless something extraordinary happens to them, they never experience the open air. And most of them probably wouldn’t want to even if they could.

Money, in our society, is like water in the ocean. It is so important to us; it is present in almost everything we do. It guides our actions and our motivations, it can change how we think, what we see and what we know. And it can change who we are aware of and how we treat them. We need to become aware of when money is guiding us and give our money and our lives, again, to the loving arms of Jesus.

Our Gospel passage today (Luke 16:19-31) is a story that Jesus told to draw our attention to how important money can be in the way we treat some people. The rich man (no other name is given to him) lives a life of comfort, security and luxury. And if we’re honest, compared to many parts of the world, so do we.

Lazarus is a poor beggar at the rich man’s gate. One billion people in our world today go to bed hungry each night. Some are very probably covered in sores. Maybe they are also so weak that they can’t push the dogs away when they come to lick their wounds. I’ve been to some of those places. I know some of those people.

Jesus tells this story to drive home his point about the dangers of money that he has been making since Chapter 11 and only concludes in Chapter 18. Here is the thread for those who will see it: Luke 11:41, Luke 12:33, Luke 14:33, Luke 16:1-14, Luke 16:13,19-31, Luke 18:22, Deut 15:11. When you get some time, I encourage you to explore these verses. Read them in context and see the point that Jesus is making about money. It’s dangerous! Give it away! Giving money away is the best way to ensure you’re not worshiping it. We must use money wisely (we still have to swim in this ocean), but we can’t let it control us or it will take us to hell.

Money can’t get you to heaven. Only Jesus can do that. As Martin Luther King Jr said when he preached on this parable just before his death, “The rich man didn’t go to hell because he was rich; the rich man didn’t realize that his wealth was his opportunity. It was his opportunity to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother Lazarus.”

We need to learn to see those who are separated from us by poverty as our brothers and sisters. Dearly beloved. They don’t want all of our money. They just want us to see them, get to know them, and to ask how we can help.

And we need to allow God’s spirit to liberate us from being as mired in money as a fish is in water. God’s Spirit liberates us to share.

Yours In Christ, Ralph