Category Archives: Pastor’s Blog

News and views from our Pastoral Team

Res Reflection 22/2

I remember spending quite a bit of time in my later high school years thinking through what I might do when I finish Year 12. I could not make up my mind! I think the major thing that turned me off the idea of any one career was that I couldn’t see myself being a journalist, or a teacher, or a lawyer or a human resource manager or anything else for the rest of my life. It seemed so boring!

I have the type of temperament that enjoys change. Of course, for others, the mere mention of the word ‘change’ creates feelings of anxiety.

Leaving the security of home for an unknown place is certainly up there with the more stressful changes in life.

For the thirty-two students joining our community today, there will be those who simply cannot wait for this change in their lives and there will be a good number who will be battling feelings of nervousness, uncertainty and perhaps even fear. Probably for most, it will be something like nervous anticipation.

We can probably safely assume that the vast majority of our students are coming from homes where they’ve experienced love, support and care. When the ancient Israelites left Egypt, it was a very different situation. Leaving Egypt meant a move away from slavery, a sense of homelessness and disorientation.

I remember a time many years ago now when I was lost in the bush and wandering around trying desperately to find something recognisable. With each minute that passed, I grew increasingly anxious and wondered about all the potentially horrible things that might beset me! When I finally heard the voice of someone I knew, I was overcome by sheer adrenaline-fuelled excitement.

I can only imagine that such feelings of joy, relief and expectation must have been all the more overwhelming for the Israelites as they finally left Egypt. To leave Egypt was the hope of coming home.
Home is not necessarily a place to be thought of geographically, and certainly not as a fixed, physical dwelling. The sense of coming home should be about coming to a place where you feel loved and accepted – a place of belonging. Home should be a place where you are able to be yourself, to have others take an interest in the real you. Home is a place where you are supported and challenged. It is the place where you are able to recharge. It is a place where you are secure enough to be able to grow and to flourish.

We know that the Res is successful if, by-and-large, our returning students feel that they are returning home today. For those who are joining us – excited, nervous, fearful or all three and more! – we hope that, with time, this will become a place that you think of as home. We want to welcome you today, not simply to a new address, but into a new community and a new sense of home.

Stephen Chatelier

Church. What’s the Point?

The church is irrelevant. It’s clearly corrupt. The church offers nothing of value to the world. These are fairly common sentiments. But have you ever heard anything positive about the church in the media? Can it be that bad? What do you actually know about the church? Actually, what’s the point of the church- or, what is it?

There’s a number of things the church, through its people, has offered the world:

  • Aid and Charity. For thousands of years churches have started, funded and run orphanages, homes for the sick and dying, food kitchens and many other forms of aid and charity for the poor and needy. Think of organisations such as St Vincent de Paul’s, Salvation Army, Brotherhood of St Laurence, World Vision. In fact, 4 of the top 5 Australian Charities are Christian organisations- and the 5th biggest, The Red Cross, was founded by a devoted Christian named Jean Henri Dunant. And what about the abolition of slavery which Christians fought tooth and nail to eradicate under the leadership of William Wilberforce?
  • The Gregorian Calendar– used worldwide, was developed by Catholic astronomers.
  • Scientific Advancement. The towering figures of modern science, Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Charles Babbage, Gregor Mendell, Louis Pasteur, Lord Kelvin, James Clerk-Maxwell were all theists and most Christian.
  • Social Activists and Reformers. Devout Christians such as William Wilberforce, Desmond Tutu, St Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther King, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oscar Romero and Mother Teresa have literally changed the world for the better for millions of people.
  • Theology and Philosophy. The intellectual history and tradition of the church is one of flourishing and advancement. Leading thinkers such as Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, Ignatius, Barth, and Kierkegaard, have shaped the intellectual landscape of the Western world.
  • Law and Jurisprudence. “Legal principles such as “good faith”, reciprocity of rights, equality before the law, international law, trial by jury, habeas corpus and the obligation to prove an offence beyond a reasonable doubt are all fruits of Catholic civilisation and jurisprudence.”
  • Education and the University System. Many of the major Universities of Europe, including Oxford and Cambridge, for instance, were founded my monks.
  • Art and Architecture. Think Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bernini; and in architecture think Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, High Renaissance.
  • Language and Literature. Latin, central to the church’s writings, is the most widely used alphabet system in the world. And think of the contribution to literature by Tyndale, Dante, John Bunyan, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dostoevsky, John Milton, Solzhenitsyn and Flannery O ‘Conner.
  • Music. a monk named Guido invented musical/staff notation. Imagine music developing without this? The hymn, oratorio, opera were nurtured within the church and artists such as Haydn, Bach, Handel were devout Christians.

But in fact, all of this pales into insignificance when compared to the greatest thing the church has given the world: Jesus. Actually, it was Jesus who gave the church to the world so that his life, truth, love and ministry could go on.

Over the next several weeks at NightChurch we will seek to answer the question as to what is the point of the church with a focus on:

  • The Message of Jesus
  • The Mission of Jesus
  • Human Transformation
  • A New Community

Nicholas Tuohy

Source for some material: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/features/2011/05/06/what-the-church-has-given-the-world/

Prayer

Tuesday’s prayer breakfast is a great time with a mix of people from 10am and NightChurch. It is so wonderful to gather as a church other than on Sundays, share life, prayer and breakfast. See you on Tuesday at 7am. PUT IT IN YOUR SCHEDULE NOW!

Just on Prayer, it is my intention to start each term this year with a Week of Prayer. Similar format, but open to creative and imaginative ways of praying. If this is something you believe God might be leading you to be involved, have a chat to myself. I believe persistent, committed, loving prayer needs to be infused in our blood as a church; prayer needs to be the double helix of our DNA. Ok, enough metaphors, but I am very serious about this.

There can be a tendency in our sophisticated, technological and progressive society to see prayer as something we move on from, or grow up from. But it is more something we grow in to. And truly, it is a keystone practice that underpins the life of the disciple and the life of the church. As breathing is to a physical organism, so is prayer to our spiritual lives and vitality. We don’t run classes in breathing because we all know how intrinsic and fundamental it is to life. To not engage in breathing is to die. Prayer is the same for us individually and as a church.

Prayer is not a gimmick, not even a means to an end; coupled with faith in Jesus it is the doorway to walking with God and living by the leading of the Holy Spirit. As one author put it some years ago:

Whenever a congregation begins at any point to centre down in prayer, God engineers new developments which may loosen the constricting lethargy and make possible the deep breathing of the Holy Spirit into the soul of his church. Dr Charlie Shedd.

Nicholas Tuohy

 

Pastor’s Reflection 15/2

On Thursday 29 January, Anita and I returned from two and a half weeks in Western Australia, enjoying times of relaxation, refreshment and marvelling at God’s creation. Since then, this last week has been a flurry of activity; prayer breakfasts each morning, the prayer and worship night on Wednesday, the leaders’ retreat on Saturday, and a full set of services on Sunday!

Despite this potentially exhausting schedule, starting the ministry year in prayer and reflective planning has been invigorating, and set a refreshing tone for 2015. Since my natural tendency in my Christian walk is to seek outward service of God in action, this week of prayer has again reminded me of both my constant need and the benefit of seeking God through prayer and reflection.

Throughout 2014, this need for a combination of both inner nurture of faith and outward expression of faith became particularly clear. While some people felt spiritually drained through constant service activity, others felt disturbingly comfortable and restless for ways to live out what God was growing in them. Some people even experienced the feeling of swinging on a pendulum; in one season under-emphasising outward expression of faith, and in another season feeling drained by over-expenditure of energy in outward action, at the expense of personal development of faith.

On Saturday at our leaders’ retreat, we spent the morning in prayer, singing and solitude, and ended the day sharing communion. The middle chunks of the day were spent in planning, visioning and robust discussion. Despite the long day, this helpful combination of seeking God inwardly balanced with active planning and discussion ensured we were neither too drained nor inactive in our time together.

Jesus provides us with a similar pattern in training and preparing his disciples. In Mark 6, Jesus sends the disciples on mission, to preach repentance and perform miracles (Mark 6:7-13). On their return, Jesus then takes the disciples on a retreat (Mark 6:30-32), to enjoy rest in a solitary place with him. Jesus’ passion for mission and active faith is matched by his desire for us to have quiet time with him, growing in personal faith.

In 2015 at NightChurch, we will seek to follow this healthy model of balancing inward and outward elements of faith, particularly through our small group ministry. In March, we will be launching a “missional” vision for our groups, that they might both continue to encourage inward faith, and provide genuine, practical opportunities to serve. Please pray that, both as a church and personally, we might seek to know God more and grow in faith, and serve God as we are able, in practical action in the world.

Paul Pallot

Lent Resources for 2015

Lent is a word that Baptists have not used a lot; however, it is such a wonderful opportunity for people of faith to join with others all over the world in a season of devotion, prayer and personal reflection. We could imagine Lent as a course of enhancing our spiritual fitness and digging deeper into the life that Christ gives to us, and calls us to live. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (18 Feb this year) and leads into a 6 week preparation for Easter.

There are a number of resources and options that you might like to consider, and we have listed some below.

Common Grace

Common Grace,  in partnership with the Bible Society, would love you to join with us this Lent, as Christians from all over Australia unite to: PRAY the Lord’s Prayer each day, all the way till Easter.

Churches Together in the UK

This Lenten Resource is intended for ecumenical groups, church groups and individuals. It attempts to offer a traditional course that picks up on Lenten themes whilst at the same time praying with Christians of the Middle East.

Church of England App

N.T. Wright Lent for Everyone eBook

Lent for Everyone: Mark, Year B provides readers with a gentle guide through the Lenten season, from Ash Wednesday through the week after Easter. Popular biblical scholar and author N. T. Wright provides his own Scripture translation, brief reflection, and a prayer for each of the days of the season, helping the reader ponder how the text is relevant to their own life today.
Suitable for both personal and group reflection, Wright’s guide through Lent will make the Bible–and the season–come alive in inspiring new ways.

Winchester Cathedral Lent Guide

Lent is a time of reflection and anticipation. It’s a time to scrutinise ourselves and to ask what Jesus is saying to his church today: to ask what needs to die with Christ so that something new might also rise with him to new life.