Joy the the World

Advent 3 Joy Light and Presence

At this time there are some people to whom I would like to extend my special thanks for their service to the Lord in our community. These include the following:
Daphne -preparing and leading play
Allison – task of coordinating costumes
Michelle- organising and teaching the children
Congregation-Great participation in the play
Reza & Patty – tidying the op shop.

I would also like to extend my congratulations and thanks to Kathy for her successful application for a grant of over $4,000 to paint the ceiling above the front entrance to our church, and surrounding area.

As I said in a previous bulletin article, our collection is focussing upon assisting our struggling farmers in Longreach through the drought relief collection at Longreach Uniting Church, through their minister, Rev. Jenny Coombes. This money stays local community as it will be used to buy vouchers for local businesses to give to the farmers. A personal personal note written with each donation should hopefully warm the hearts of these farmers at Christmas.

Today is the Third Sunday in Advent! This time of waiting for the Birthday of Jesus is, as we have discussed, also a time of preparation, or getting ready for, Christmas.
At Advent, it is important to hear from a variety of people of great faith, about God’s promises to send the world a Saviour- who would show the way to God and teach us about God’s love and forgiveness. Today we have the blessing of listening to the sermon from Dave Bartsch, YWAM Gold Coast Base Leader.

Today is the third Sunday in Advent. We hear today of Mary’s song of praise that gives glory to God.

Mary’s humble words rejoiced at God’s blessing on her and his salvation plan for the whole world

A world where eyes will see, and ears will hear; where everyone will want to dance and sing for joy and in God’s presence

Like Mary, we watch and wait for these signs of God’s kingdom, to break into our lives

We rejoice in the coming of the King and we wait in hope and peace.

God prepares our hearts for the coming of Jesus. So, we light the candle of joy.

God of grace and truth, may our spirits rejoice as we look towards the birth of Christ, our Saviour. As we reflect on your mercy and grace, let us see your glory and experience your joy. Amen.

Yours in Christ
Debra

Advent (week one)

What does the message of today’s readings mean for us on the first Sunday of Advent, 2019?

In the Southern Hemisphere, we are now at a beautiful time of the year, Summer, having just experienced Spring, so the leaves of trees should be green and the flowers blooming. Unfortunately, with the terrible drought being experienced by all of us, but especially our farmers, some will experience immense, life changing difficulties during this time. For these people, it is difficult to think about this time after winter as the return of the light. We will be having a collection for the farmers through Longreach Uniting Church over the next couple of weeks

At Advent, we can seek renewal if we have strayed from God’s plan for us. Over two thousand years have passed since the Gospel of Matthew was written for a group people experiencing challenges to their faith. With the pressures of our daily life, in these times, it’s easy to become fatigued, somewhat cynical and even challenged in our faith. There’s also an element of anxiety with the global economic crisis, war and unrest in parts of the world.

However, the Gospel gives the message that with the force of God’s love in the world it is better to concentrate on or watch for the good things in life, celebrating God’s love and asking God to come into our lives, as the people did in the Old Testament reading. It is time for dealing with whatever misgivings may be lurking in the back of our minds, witness God’s love in our lives and showing love and compassion to our neighbours.

The period of the coming anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Christmas, is a time to prepare ourselves for God’s love to be a powerful force for good in our lives. As humans, we all have imperfections, so Advent can be a time to rededicate ourselves to being God’s art, and let God be the artist (potter).

Advent is a journey from hope to peace, joy and then to love, the ultimate human experience. This is a time to reflect the JOY, light of the presence of God in our lives and share the LOVE HOPE and PEACE with those who are in despair. It is important to consider why we can be a sign of hope for those in despair by working for greater justice for the poor and needy. Joy is not in how much we have, but in how we share.

Yours in Christ,

Debra

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