Hare Street Uniting Church

It's one of those run down industrial blocks you see along the main roads of the scrap suburbs, all diesel and dirt, with a few tracks worn between the weeds, and a bit of white metal spread around the sheds. I've barely registered the derelict shipping containers haphazard across the site, until today. Today, I saw more. There is an L shaped conglomeration, consisting of two barely converted containers, and two dishevelling demountables. Out of the wind, in the almost warm sun, wrapped in a winter coat, an old woman was sitting at a plastic table having her morning cup of tea.
 
People live here behind the chain mesh.
 
While the politicians of the rich entertain them with talk of tax cuts, this old woman shows us something about life's simple joys. I noticed on the way home that she has a profusion of geraniums potted into the space between the shipping containers.  Andrew

As Yvonne and I entered the platform at Mawson Lakes, a young woman rushed up to us in a terrified panic, and thrust her phone into my hands crying, "Please talk to my father!" She'd left the temporary bus service from Adelaide to discover she'd been followed across two buses by a man who had been standing far too close.

We escorted her to Salisbury, and things ended as well as something like this can end.

Yvonne and I debriefed each other a little on the way to her station.

"It's good that she had someone to ring," she said.

We talked about how hard it must have been to run up to another unknown man, even though being a man and woman together with pushbikes must have made us look a lot less threatening than other choices.

And then Yvonne said, "The trouble is, some people have no one to ring."

I thought about that as I rode home. Maybe that's what we are supposed to be about as a church. Not doctrine, not getting more bums on seats, and not fitting someone's idea of being successful. We're meant to be the family you can ring when you've got no one else to ring.

And it is a whole family thing, not just the minister. I had swung into action— told the Dad to ring SAPOL, identified the man concerned, tried to talk to her later about making sure she rang the police if she ever saw him again— all that stuff. But Yvonne talked about being scared, and children, and needing a dog to walk in the street. Woman to woman, and gentle and healing. We're meant to be the family you can ring when you've got no one else to ring.

Archived here

 

This is how we approached the reading in Matthew 25, although, to be honest, the minister never stays on script :)

Many years ago we were invited to a 21st birthday party. It was a big, glitzy, good fun occasion. Our almost 3 year old daughter had a fine time racing around, as rug rats do. Until, at around 11.30pm, she came up to me in some distress.

"Daddy, when are we having the birthday party?"

I was a bit confused. "What do you mean, Sweetheart? This is the birthday party!"

She said, "Not it's not. There isn't a birthday cake. The party hasn't started yet!"

So I explained that the party was more than just the cake, and she looked around wide eyed and silent. I could almost see the wheels turning as she worked through this new idea that the party had already started and been going for a long time.... Read on >>>>

Where we're heading this week:

What's happening in this confrontation in the temple?  Well…

if Jesus says it is wrong to pay taxes to Caesar, he can be charged with inciting insurrection— the Pharisees even brought some government stooges along just in case he did! (That's the Herodians.)

But of course if Jesus says you should pay taxes to Caesar… then all the religious folks will be upset because… well, that means he's saying that God is not God, but that Caesar is more important. And then the Pharisees can say (only not when the Herodians are around) that you should only give money to God so, clearly then, you shouldn't listen to this Jesus, because he thinks you should pay taxes to Caesar.

It's a very clever setup. But Jesus outsmarts them. He says, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's." So the Herodians can't complain. But then he says, "And give to God what is God's." So, neither can the Pharisees complain, because that's actually what they think, and what they want him to say.

But…  …   have you ever been somewhere when someone tells a joke and then, after a second or two there's a single laugh as it dawns on somebody what the person really said… and then, a couple more laughs, and then… slowly, as people cotton on, everyone starts laughing?

Well, something like that is happening here. Slowly, everyone starts to smile as they get the joke. Everything belongs to God so… what is there to give to Caesar?

And by that time, even if the government agents want to find fault with Jesus, it's too late. The crowd is on Jesus' side.... Read on >>>

Andrew: My colleague Carolyn has written a sermon for today, which I've exchanged with her. She's written the first part, and I've written the last part. Carolyn says:

         As someone who just preached last Sunday about God taking our transgressions, our sins, and casting them into the deepest part of the ocean, I’m struggling with what God will do, will say to the man who, later that evening, fired hundreds of rounds into a crowd at a concert in Las Vegas, killing some 59 people and wounding nearly 600 more.

         Corrie ten Boom forgave the guard from her death camp, but the man had repented and asked her forgiveness. What about the shooter? Just before he killed himself, did he regret what he had just done? If so, perhaps, just barely, we might be able to accept that God forgave him.

         But what if he didn’t? And, of course, we will never know.

•••

         So what if he didn’t? Did God … could God … would God, looking down on the devastation, on the bloodied bodies scattered in the crowd, the terrified survivors huddling behind whatever protection they could find, what would God feel? 

Certainly, the pain of the people below. 
Certainly, a great sorrow at such loss of life and ability and future. 
Certainly, the tragedy of the moment must overwhelm even God. 
Certainly, God’s tears mingled with those below.

         But then God is called into the judgment chamber, and the man who appears before him is the very man who committed those atrocities.

         According to the news, he was not a religious man. No ties to any particular religion. In our scenario, we’ve already determined that he is not repentant. Standing before the judge, he shows no remorse, even though his lawyer suggests that to show some such feeling might make his sentence lighter. No, he simply stands there, no pleading for mercy, no phony tears of regret. He just stands there, waiting for the verdict.... Read on >>>>

Here's where the sermon is going this week...

To really hear what's going on in Matthew Chapter 20, we need to back up to the story of the rich young man who asked Jesus, in Chapter 19, "What good deed must I do to have eternal life?"

Eternal life is not about getting to some place called 'heaven' when we die. Eternal life is life in the presence of God… now.  It is life listening to God… now, and seeking to follow God… now.  It's a life which pays attention to God. And we either pay attention to God… or we don't— we may not even have noticed God. Or, like the rich young man, we may find something is blocking our relationship… that something is missing, despite all our riches.

Dying makes no difference! Where we are now, is where we will be then. Dying is not the end; it's just a biological marker which does not change our relationship with God.

So the man was not asking Jesus how to get to heaven. He was asking Jesus, "What good deed must I do to be alive with God— relating with God— now."

Jesus said to the young man, "If you want to be complete— to find life coming together— that's what the word "perfect" implies, then sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.

Get rid of your possessions— the things that are stopping you following me—  be free of them, and you will enter the life of the kingdom, the life that lives with God, which we call Eternal Life."

When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions which he didn't want to give up. So at that moment, he chose not to enter into eternal life, but to continue a life separated from God....

The sermon does get to the vineyard... :-)

Here's the thing: Like the landowner, God has given me what is right, and what is just. But the landowner was not God. The landowner could have paid more to the men who worked harder and longer! Why doesn't God do this?

It's because God gives "to each of us the whole of what there is to give." (Michael Hardin) There is no more that God can give us than giving us relationship with God.  All of us will sit at the right hand of God, at the table, because that is what salvation is. That is all God can give us, for relationship with God is everything.... Read on >>>>  (Not that we'll necessarily end up just in the same place as the sermon draft!.)

I learned in Council this week that Needle and Thread Group, during June and July, made 15 skirts, 66 tops and t-shirts, 14 pairs of shorts, 13 bags, 9 rugs and 8 dresses. They also knitted 16 Beanies, 5 scarves, 3 set of slippers and a poncho.. awesome work!

The Gospel reading this week is Matthew 18:15-22. Here's where the sermon is heading...

I want to be loved… I want to be cared for, to be safe. I want to be happy. I want to matter, I want to be worth something.

And Jesus says, "I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly… in all its fullness." (John 10:10)

The trouble is that my whole learning… our whole learning and indoctrination…  says that we get love, and happiness, and worth, by putting ourselves first.  In our house the cat, who is, frankly, needy, jumps up on our lap mewling for love and attention. And when she does, the dog often flies into our lap and pushes the cat out… and not gently. The dog is just like us. It doesn't believe that we still love it… if we love the cat; and we can't believe we are loved if we are not at the centre of things.

In fact, the doctrine of Original Sin might be understood this way:  in the fact that we are almost unable to conceive of being worthwhile without winning, or without putting ourselves first, without being at the centre of things. All the other stuff we call sin flows from that.

This stuff is insidious. For a while, I worked very hard at being better than everyone else …. by putting myself last, and by being more humble than everyone else! My love was actually all about me. And… I used to work at doing things really, really well. And had to learn I was not really serving God with excellence, at all; I was proving to myself, and to God, and to other people, that I was better, and that I was deserving.

This stuff is what is called a "wicked problem"; that is, it is seems almost impossible to get a solution to it. How can we not be at the centre of our universe? It's not as though we can step out of our self and walk away, is it?...   Read more here >>>

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Going Deeper...
Some UCA Resources

One Man's Web
Rev Andrew Prior
Old Testament Lectionary
Rev Dr Anna Grant-Henderson
Lectionary Resources
Rev Dr. Bill Loader
Sarah Tells Stories
Rev Sarah Agnew
The Billabong
Rev Jeff Shrowder
Stepping Stones
Rev John Maynard

 

A place where we try to live the life lessons of
Jesus of Nazareth

with food
Sausages on the barbecue

and new friends
and love
Woman preparing communion
Join us
Church Building
10am Sundays
GPdI Filadelfia meets at 3.00pm
 
 
 

 

ABC Religion News

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A lack of female-only showers at a popular Sunshine Coast beach prompts a Muslim organisation to call for councils to consider religious beliefs when designing infrastructure after a family used private amenities without permission.

Millions dip into icy cold rivers for Indian Kumbh Mela festival

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US judge blocks Trump's rules allowing businesses to deny women contraceptives in health insurance

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'McJesus' exhibit featuring crucified Ronald McDonald sparks violent protests

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Detention of Melbourne-based refugee in Thailand 'a major screw up' says rights defender

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Saudi women are controlled by male relatives — here's how the guardianship system works

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The case of Rahaf Alqunun, which has exploded on social media and made headlines around the world, has drawn attention to Saudi Arabia's strict guardianship system. This is how it works.

Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy on the asylum case of Saudi teen

- - 09-01-2019 The plight of Rahaf Alqunun is a microcosm of the guardianship system and "gender apartheid" in Saudi Arabia, Ms Eltahawy says.


 

ABC Religion and Ethics Report

Is Liberalism dead?

- - 16-01-2019 In his latest book author Patrick J. Deneen writes that of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth century—fascism, communism, and liberalism—only the last remains. In an in-depth interview, presenter Andrew West asks the author of the provocative book ‘Why Liberalism Failed’, whether liberalism supplanted religion as the organising principle of the West.  What then were the consequences?

What could replace religion in the West?

- - 09-01-2019 As religion withers in the liberal west, what takes its place? The provocative Canadian writer Jordan Peterson confronts this question.

An extraordinary life  

- - 26-12-2018 A special program about the martyrdom of civil rights leader and Baptist preacher Dr Martin Luther King. He always tried to reach across the colour line, comforting whites who feared black empowerment. But King also had a message about the poverty and violence that propped up racism, and that made the powerful very uncomfortable.

The history of the Bible in Australia

- - 19-12-2018 Author Meredith Lake on why an understanding of the Bible is incredibly important in understanding Australian history and identity.

Labor challenges, the AMLO factor in Mexico, and how to deal with an anxious Australia

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Defamation laws, violation of human rights, and the white Christian vote in the US

- - 05-12-2018 As major media companies push to liberalise Australia’s defamation laws, what are the ethical problems in running stories that can damage the reputations of innocent people? And, 70 years after the world’s leading powers signed the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, why are almost every one of its rules violated somewhere every day? Also, the white Christian vote is the key to Donald Trump’s survival. But with some fancy footwork by the Left, could this vote be up for grabs in 2020?