Moving outside the private faith

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Moving outside the private faith, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Sunday May 21, 2017. The Reading was John 14:12-24.

The Joy of being an Introvert

A couple of years ago, I was able to go and do a study unit that involved spending a week at a Monastery over in Perth. And part of what that unit involved was taking part in the Monk’s daily routine, which included their six daily prayer sessions, and maintaining silence between their final prayers of the day at 8.15pm and their first prayers of the morning, at 5.15am.

Now I’m sure that some of you might wonder why anyone would subject themselves to such a life for even a week, let alone commit their whole lives to it. But I found myself bubbling with energy after just a couple of days. You might even say that I was overflowing with energy.

You see, I am an introvert, and that means I get energy from being by myself.

I love running… by myself.
I love reading… by myself.
I love having coffee… by myself.
I love going to the movies… by myself. Continue reading “Moving outside the private faith”

Prayer for Asylum Seekers

In Australia, Asylum Seekers has been a major, divisive issue for a long time. Just recently, following a High Court appeal, Churches around Australia are offering sancturary to Asylum Seekers living in the community, offering them protection from being deported to the regional processing centres in Nauru and Manus Island (Papua New Guinea). In response, I wrote this prayer, which is able to be used in congregations and in personal prayers, as need be. (For my own congregational use, I add a prayer from The Worship Sourcebook, but can’t reproduce it here. Second edition, pg 146. 4.3.27 if you have the book and wish to use it.)

You might also like to use this song alongside the modern hymn, Beauty for Brokenness (God of the Poor) (998 in the new Salvation Army Songbook). Continue reading “Prayer for Asylum Seekers”

End times?

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Worship as Lifestyle, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 15 November, 2015. The Reading was Mark 13:1-13.

end-is-nearHear Ye! Hear Ye! The End is near! War is upon us! Syria is rising up against the world! Russia and the United States are arguing. Israel and Palestine! Earthquakes all over the world. Famines through Africa. A shortage of Baby Formula in China. Donald Trump being an US Presidential Candidate. Starbucks not putting Merry Christmas on their coffee cups. Bunnings rising up next to K&D. These are the end times people! Jesus is coming! Look Busy!

As the human race, we seem to have an addiction to wanting to know when the end of the world will happen. The Great Fount of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, lists 168 Apocalyptic predictions, dates when various people have predicted the end of the world would happen. There are also 13 future estimates currently listed, including three scientific predictions over when the earth will no longer be habitable.

Some of these predictions, we seem to laugh at – such as Harold Camping, who had six attempts at predicting the end of the world. But others are from people that we respect, such as Sir Isaac Newton, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church from where The Salvation Army traces its lineage, and Martin Luther, the man who started the Reformation.

We want to know. We want to see Jesus. We want to know how much time we have left. We want to know whether it’s worth us doing the washing, or whether we’ll have enough clean pants to see us through… Continue reading “End times?”

Lament for Manus

Our God, Our God,
we have hit a low point in our nation.
In our fear, we have put people in situations
where they have faced the very thing they were fleeing.
In our fear, we have caused people to be hurt, we have caused people to die
and blamed it on the very people who were hurt.
In our fear, we will try to explain it away,
they came here the wrong way, they shouldn’t have protested
they brought it on themselves.

Lord God, shine a light on our misdeeds.
Help us to see that our actions born out of fear
feed only that fear, and do not offer the protection that only you can give.

Father God, protect those who are in need of protection.
Heal their injuries, and keep them safe from further attacks.

Loving God, accept us with all our frailties,
the mistakes that we have made
the mistreatment that we have endorsed
and the times when we stayed silent when we should have had a voice
to speak for those who had no voice.

Blessed are you, O God, who accepts us all
Praise be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost
Who is above all, in all, and through all things. Amen.

This prayer of lament was written by Ben Clapton, Salvation Army Officer, musician and activist, in response to the reports of violence at Manus Island. I release this to be used in any manner, as long as the entire text remains in one unit, and a reference to this post is included.

I’ve been feeling a lot of hurt over the reports coming out from Manus Island. Last year, at this time, I was over on Manus Island. While it is my understanding that the families are no longer on the Island, I believe that many of the men that I met are still there. I don’t know if they’re ok, or whether they’re part of those who have been injured – and I’ll probably never know. It pains me that our government put these people here, and have not done enough to fully protect them, in the name of protecting us. I know that I am, at times, guilty of not speaking up, feeling tired and not knowing whether my voice really adds anything. This fight has gone on for far too long. My prayer is that this tragic event, which I wish had never happened, might draw us as a nation into focus, and realise that our actions and the path we headed down was wrong, and that we would repent of our actions as a nation, and set up a process to assess the claims of asylum in a timely and humane manner.

The gifts that we bring to offer our King

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, The gifts that we bring to offer our king, was given at the Church of Christ Wembley Downs on Sunday 6 January, 2013. The Bible reading was Matthew 2:1-12.

Annabelle in Wrapping PaperToday is the last day of our Christmas season. I hope it’s been a good season for you. It’s been a very special season for me, as it has been Annabelle’s first Christmas, and it was very special to be able to spend it here at home. But that presented itself with some other challenges. Everyone wanted to give Annabelle lots of presents, but we had to remember that everything that we received, we had to make sure that we could fit it all in our suitcases to take back to Melbourne. Thankfully we didn’t receive many large presents, but we’re still hoping that we’ll come in under our baggage allowance. Continue reading “The gifts that we bring to offer our King”

Esther, prayer and planning

I’ve been reading through the book of Esther just recently, and it’s a fantastic book. It tells the story of Queen Esther, an exiled Jew who was made queen by King Xerxes. It came to a time when Haman, an Agathite that the King had elevated, took exception to Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, because he refused to bow down in Haman’s presence. So incensed was Haman that he decreed, via the King that all of the Jews were to be destroyed, killed and annihilated on a certain date. Continue reading “Esther, prayer and planning”

Coffee with God

I went to Chrysalis over the weekend – it’s a three-day non-denominational Christian retreat for young adults that I’ve been involved with for a number of years. At the end of the weekend, I was exposed to an idea that I absolutely love – having Coffee with God. Continue reading “Coffee with God”

Lord of Creation

Biblical Truth

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.

  God spoke: "Light!"
      And light appeared.
   God saw that light was good
      and separated light from dark.
   God named the light Day,
      he named the dark Night.
   It was evening, it was morning—
   Day One.

  God spoke: "Sky! In the middle of the waters;
      separate water from water!"
   God made sky.
   He separated the water under sky
      from the water above sky.
   And there it was:
      he named sky the Heavens;
   It was evening, it was morning—
   Day Two.

  God spoke: "Separate!
      Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place;
   Land, appear!"
      And there it was.
   God named the land Earth.
      He named the pooled water Ocean.
   God saw that it was good.

  God spoke: "Earth, green up! Grow all varieties
      of seed-bearing plants,
   Every sort of fruit-bearing tree."
      And there it was.
   Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
      all varieties,
   And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
      God saw that it was good.
   It was evening, it was morning—
   Day Three.

  God spoke: "Lights! Come out!
      Shine in Heaven’s sky!
   Separate Day from Night.
      Mark seasons and days and years,
   Lights in Heaven’s sky to give light to Earth."
      And there it was.

  God made two big lights, the larger
      to take charge of Day,
   The smaller to be in charge of Night;
      and he made the stars.
   God placed them in the heavenly sky
      to light up Earth
   And oversee Day and Night,
      to separate light and dark.
   God saw that it was good.
   It was evening, it was morning—
   Day Four.

  God spoke: "Swarm, Ocean, with fish and all sea life!
      Birds, fly through the sky over Earth!"
   God created the huge whales,
      all the swarm of life in the waters,
   And every kind and species of flying birds.
      God saw that it was good.
   God blessed them: "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Ocean!
      Birds, reproduce on Earth!"
   It was evening, it was morning—
   Day Five.

  God spoke: "Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind:
      cattle and reptiles and wild animals—all kinds."
   And there it was:
      wild animals of every kind,
   Cattle of all kinds, every sort of reptile and bug.
      God saw that it was good.

  God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them
      reflecting our nature
   So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
      the birds in the air, the cattle,
   And, yes, Earth itself,
      and every animal that moves on the face of Earth."
   God created human beings;
      he created them godlike,
   Reflecting God’s nature.
      He created them male and female.
   God blessed them:
      "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
   Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
      for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth."

  Then God said, "I’ve given you
      every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth
   And every kind of fruit-bearing tree,
      given them to you for food.
   To all animals and all birds,
      everything that moves and breathes,
   I give whatever grows out of the ground for food."
      And there it was.

(Genesis 1, The Message) Continue reading “Lord of Creation”

Respect your Mother and Father

Biblical Truth

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?”

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

” ‘These people honour me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honour your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Mark 7:1-13 (NIV) Continue reading “Respect your Mother and Father”