Echuca Farmers Market

On May 4, I’ll be doing some busking at the Echuca Farmers Market.

Come along and discover some great local produce, and hear some great tunes. I might even throw in an appropriately themed “Weird Al” Star Wars cover for Star Wars Day.

Echuca Farmers Market
May 4, 8:30am-12 noon
Alton Reserve, Hare St, Echuca

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Colbinabbin Country Hotel

Friday, 5 April, 4-6pm. Ben will be at the Colbinabbin Country Hotel, playing covers for their “Bring on the Holidays” afternoon Drinks, and raising money for The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal.

Setlist will be wide and varied, including “Give me a home among the gum trees”, “Unbreakable” (Birds of Tokyo), and maybe even a ballad version of “500 miles”.

The Prodigal Story

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, The Prodigal Story, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday March 31, 2019. The Reading was Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.

Missing the Story

Our bible reading today is the Prodigal Son.

How many of you would switch off at hearing that? That you’re so familiar with the story that you don’t actually need me to read it out? I’ll admit that I did that. When I saw what was the bible reading for today, I initially skipped it and didn’t read it through.

We all know the story. The son asks his father for his half of the estate, goes and loses it all, comes back, and asks to be a slave, and the father welcomes him back into the family. In the mean time, the elder son hears there’s a party happening, and refuses to come back in, and so the father goes out to him.

And we’re so familiar with this story, that we’re probably very familiar with the interpretation. The Father is God. The prodigal son is the Christian. The elder son is the Jewish people.

But if we believe that scripture is the living word of God, and that it continues to teach us and continues to show us new insights into the nature of God, then we have a duty to read it and hear it through fresh eyes.

And so, I’m not going to read our reading for today. Not right now. I’m going to shake things up – give my sermon first, and then we will read the scripture. Because I want to give you some information about the three characters that may change the way you hear this story.

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God’s Kingdom is Mercy

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, God’s Kingdom is Mercy, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday March 3, 2019. The Reading was Luke 6:27-38.

Follow the leader

Our reading today follows on from the reading we had last week, so it makes sense that my sermon should follow on in many aspects. We still have Jesus speaking to his disciples in that level place. But we also need to remember that Luke is writing this gospel for his congregation, and as such, much of what he is writing here are instructions for his church. Just as Jesus is saying this is how I want you to live, Luke is saying to his church “This is how you need to be as a church”.

In Jesus’ day, many groups believed that not only did the individual need to imitate their leader, but the community needed to imitate their leader as well. Therefore, the values that Jesus and God showed and show as central should also be the values that the church holds as central.

For us, in our passage today, that grounding is found right in the center of our reading. It’s a short verse, but it sums up everything that comes before and after it in the passage, as well as being our guide for what we should be as a community. Verse 36 says “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

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Discipleship amidst the desolation

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Discipleship amidst the desolation, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday February 24, 2019. The Reading was Luke 6:17-26.

Placing us – Have you ever?

I want to start by playing a little game. I’m going to ask a question, and if it applies to you, I want you to raise your hand.

I want you to think back over the last week. Has anybody paid you a compliment? If someone has spoken some kind words about you in the last week, please raise your hands. (For those with their hands up, you might like to look to those with their hands down and see if you can repay that compliment).

Again, over the last week, if you can think of a time where you have laughed – either a little chuckle, or a full bellied guffaw, then raise your hands.

If you have food in your fridge, which is in a house that you are able to live in and gives you a safe place to sleep and to store the clothes that you are wearing, please raise your hands.

If you have money in your bank, some in your purse or wallet (either actual cash or accessible through a debit card), and some loose change in a dish at home somewhere, raise your hand.

Let me read this passage again.

Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Luke 6:20-26 (NRSV)

Did you know that if you have food in the fridge, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head with a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world.

If you have money in the bank, in your purse or wallet, and spare change in a dish somewhere, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthiest people.

In response to those statistics, how do you feel about this reading?

Continue reading “Discipleship amidst the desolation”

Teaching, Catching, Calling

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Teaching, Catching, Calling, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday February 10, 2019. The Reading was Luke 5:1-11.

Big Picture

There are plenty of accounts of boats throughout the bible, and many of them involve fishing of some kind. But do you know where there is strangely no mention of fishing? In Chapter 7 of Genesis. Now, if you’re not up to date with your bible reading plan, and that reference doesn’t come straight to your head, let me refresh your memory. Genesis starts with the creation of the world, of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They get cast out of Egypt, and Cain murders Abel, and then civilisation expands, and we get all the descendents from Adam through to Noah, whom we meet in chapter 6. Chapter 7, therefore, is the great flood. And there is no fishing there. Do you want to know why Noah didn’t go fishing while on the ark? He only brought two worms.

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Good News Is Bad News Is Good News

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Good News Is Bad News Is Good News, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday January 27, 2019. The Reading was Luke 4:14-21.

Back Handed Compliments

The English language is a wonderful thing isn’t it? Our words have so many different meanings, all depending on where we place the emphasis. When my mum was working with refugees, helping other people to teach them to learn English, she would use the example of this sentence to show how difficult our language was, as this sentence can have different meanings all depending on where we place the emphasis.

Do I know Elvis Presley? Do I know Elvis Presley? Do I know Elvis Presley? Do I Know Elvis Presley? Do I know Elvis Presley? Do I know Elvis Presley?

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Still others… still needs to happen

Well the big weekend is over. The Salvation Army in Australia is now one territory, and judging by the events that happened over the weekend, you could be given to thinking that everything was rosy, and the future of The Salvation Army in Australia is great and that this weekend is a once off event and now that it’s over we can go off and live our own lives.

But if you think that, then you are mightily mistaken.

Continue reading “Still others… still needs to happen”

Call and be called

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Call and Be Called, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday October 28, 2018. The Reading was Mark 10:46-52

Places of welcome

Last week, Liesl and I ran off at the end of the service. So I apologise to anyone who wanted to speak to us, but we weren’t available. Remember, you can always pop in and see us during the week, or call us and we’d be more than happy to come round and have a chat, if that’s what you need. But I wanted to share with you a couple of experiences that I’ve had this week.

As you know, our wonderful Davey has been diagnosed with Autism. And because of the way that his brain is wired, it means that we often don’t go out. We’ve got a few places that we’re familiar with – the playgroup at Nanneela, Gravity Shack at Echuca, Mainly Music, Church, etc. But taking Davey to somewhere new is often really difficult. On our holidays just recently, there were some Sunday’s where we didn’t go to Church, because going to a place where we have this unstated expectation that he sit down, be quiet, and not noticed is just sometimes too much for us. We end up stressing over what he might do next, that we don’t end up getting anything out of the service. And so there were some weeks where we just stayed home, or only one of us went, because it was better for our soul to do it that way.

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Who will you serve?

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Who will you serve?, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday October 14, 2018. The Reading was Joshua 24:1-15, (16-28).

Quotable quotes

In the Bible Reading we’ve had today, there is a bit of a “quotable quote”. That is, a short, memorable verse that people like to remember, or get printed up on coffee cups, keyrings, or decorative wall plaques. “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Very nice. Short, punchy, memorable.

I wonder if there’s any others like that which you can remember.

Phil 4:13 Coffee Mug

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.

Ps 23:5 Travel Mug

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Ps. 23:5. Good one for a coffee cup.

John 3:16 Tie

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16.

Ps 46:10 Coffee mug

“Be Still and Know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

“His father scolded him, and said “What kind of dream is this that you have had?” Genesis 37:10

Continue reading “Who will you serve?”