God-incidences

Last month, I had a phone call from my specialist; I was due for an annual check-up. It just so happened there was an appointment available at 8.30 the very next morning. After the test, I was talking to the young specialist – he was new, I hadn’t seen him before.

He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was a retired Anglican priest. “Is that like in a church?” he asked. “Yes” I said, “in the Anglican church”. He asked me how I got into a job like that and I explained that it wasn’t a standard career option that was discussed at school; that for me it was a realization later in life that God was calling me to ordained ministry. He got that! “Ah, so it’s like a vocation,” he said.

He continued, “Does that mean you found Jesus? A friend of mine found Jesus and his life turned around.” I asked him what that meant. He told me that his friend was severely depressed and on his birthday he had decided to commit suicide. He then had an experience of feeling at one with the world. From that day, my specialist told me, his friend started to live a healthier life, lost a lot of weight and wanted to find out more about what his experience meant. I asked how his friend was doing that and he told me that he was using the internet and reading the Bible. I told him about St Nicholas and Alpha and how important it is to find out more about Jesus in a safe group setting. I gave him the St Nic’s website address.

As a Christian I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in God-incidences. God puts people in our way for a reason. I encourage you to reflect on the ‘coincidences’ in your life. Could they be ‘God-incidences?’ How are we being asked to be ‘salt and light’ for others? Perhaps you might like to reflect on Matthew 5:13-16.

‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

We are so blessed with the vibrant community at St Nic’s. We can have confidence to invite people to deepen their faith with our community whether that is through prayer or worship, Wednesday dinners, bible studies or group discussions.

Let us pray (adapted from David Adam Complete themed intercessions)

Lord God, help us to be aware of the God-incidences in our lives.
Teach us to walk in your way and to rejoice in your truth.
We ask your blessing on all in this parish that we may be salt and light for others.
We pray for all who are new to the faith
and all who are growing in a deeper awareness of your presence.
May we all know that wherever we go and whatever happens
you are with us and ready to lead us. Amen.

by Carol Reid

Encountering Jesus now?

Last week, Paul wrote about the truth of God’s presence in our suffering. Jesus drank the cup of betrayal, rejection, physical torture, abandonment, tasting for a moment a profound separation with His Father. He did so for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2).

One of the hardest things for the disciples at the time of Jesus Passion was losing him. His promises of being with them seemed to die on the cross. Where was he now? Many people ask that question in the face of suffering and understandably so. The Psalms articulate the same question many times.

After rising from death Jesus appeared to a number of witnesses in the time between the Passover and Pentecost. See Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; He appeared to Simon, James, the apostles and then a crowd of 500 people at one time.

Jesus said he would not leave us or forsake us. He fulfils that promise through the Holy Spirit, the one who walks alongside us, comforts advises, guides (John 14-16 references this).

In returning to the heavens Jesus opened the way for the Holy Spirit to come and to make His presence, Immanuel, known to them and us. Learning to welcome the Holy Spirit of Jesus is welcoming His presence into our lives. We can live, literally, inspired lives!

As we now celebrate the resurrection, and look forward to the celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we are running another Alpha course beginning May 2nd. Alpha allows us to explore honestly the basics of the Christian faith and enables opportunities for encounters with the Holy Spirit. We share a meal from 5:45 pm and the course will start around 6:45 pm.

Will you be joining us?

Shalom,
Jamie

An Easter Reflection on Psalm 22: The Suffering God for Suffering People

On the cross Jesus cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

Jesus, the Son of God, had been rejected, tortured, insulted, humiliated and left to die. In the midst of excruciating suffering and approaching death, Jesus quoted Psalm 22. This is a psalm of suffering. An expression of loneliness. A pleading to God for help.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

However, it is also a psalm of hope. The psalmist is turning to God for answers in his time of need. It is a psalm which expects God to come. It expects God to act in times of suffering.

I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise him!

For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

On the cross Jesus revealed more than the depth of his suffering. He revealed more than his agony. Jesus revealed his trust in God his Father. He experienced the mystery of how God uses suffering to accomplish good. The cross is the revelation of the holy love of God dealing with the sin and evil of the world, and it is utter agony. But it brought life, healing and hope. We see this in the resurrection when Jesus conquered death itself.

Suffering is a problem we all face. It takes many forms. Rejection. Loneliness. Illness. Grief. Loss. Humiliation. Jesus shared in our suffering and invites us to bring our suffering to God and ask ‘why?’ Why are we suffering? Why is God not removing our suffering? Why does God appear far away?

We can ask ‘why’ because we know that our loving God is present in our suffering. He has suffered, he understands our suffering; he is never far away. We can expect God to act. But the deep mystery is the God can, and will, transform even our worst sufferings into good. His action may not be what we expect, it may be much more.

Written by Paul King.

Receiving the Word

A few weeks ago at our Wednesday service our reading was Mark 4 the parable of the sower. I spoke about receiving the word into our lives like good soil and the harvest that comes.  The key word we receive is Jesus himself, described by John in his gospel opening chapter as the Word made flesh. In receiving Jesus into our lives we are receiving life, light, bread, the way and so on. We are reconnected, reconciled to God and, through the life giving presence of God’s Spirit breathing into us, become spiritually alive, new creations.

However when we talk of receiving God’s word into our lives I mean putting the weight of our lives on it, our trust, our mindsets. All of this became evident to me on Tuesday evening. Returning from All Saints Donnybrook after a lengthy PC meeting I was stopped at a road works traffic management point in Boyanup. I glanced in the mirror and noticed a car racing towards me, I glanced again and realised there was no sign of it slowing down, I braced and it crashed into the back of me at some speed.

The driver was DUI , heavily intoxicated. Sadly she would not stop to reason and pulling back and swerving round nearly ran over the traffic flow person as she ‘ made her escape. ’ Fortunately I had pictures on my mobile and the police swiftly identified her. I prayed for her and others on the road to remain safe and for her to be quickly apprehended. That did happen although she did have a second crash. Remarkably the driver of the car in front was one of our Nourish members, a nurse. She helped me sort out a tow truck and drove me to the hospital for a once over. She was grateful I was between her and the car that crashed into me. I was grateful for the  blessing of my sister in Christ being there to help.

As I waited in hospital I was aware of the underpinning of several scriptures, especially Psalm 34:19 ‘A righteous person( i.e. someone in a right relationship with God ) may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all.’ What scriptures are you placing the weight of your lives upon?

Shalom

Jamie

How do we follow Jesus?

A blessed and Happy New year to everyone. My hope is that you have gained refreshment and created some good memories over the 12 days of Christmas. I have enjoyed a blessed break with family and come into this year looking to Jesus to guide us. I want to know His purposes for His Father’s kingdom here and in our diocese and I want to walk in them. Do you? So that’s a goal and aspiration. New Year is often linked to resolutions and goal setting. However there is a growing body of research suggesting goal setting handled incorrectly leads to self defeat and actual avoidance of change!
We know here at St  Nick’s that growing things change and we are invited into ongoing transformation by God to bear the fruit of His Spirit and to do His works. Yet how we frame things impacts what we actually do i.e. setting goals can be good but we tend to forget transformation takes time and involves daily rhythms and choices. It’s easier to set a goal than make a daily change. So if I am serious about looking to Jesus to guide us what does that mean in practice?
Today I will be exploring a little of what it means to follow Jesus. The bottom line is recognising He wants to be close to us and then choosing to be close to Him, learning to look and listen for Him through the day. Beginning and ending the day with Him; pausing and inviting Him into the moments of the day, thanking Him, asking Him, praising Him complaining to Him, groaning with sighs beyond words ( on a bad day) . We don’t do this alone. We have the Holy Spirit who walks alongside us and is within us who can enable us to do just that. Looking to Jesus to guide us and walking in His purposes is the outcome of a series of small continuous steps…. That’s how we follow …steps, foot fall by foot fall, day by day, month by month until our last day here and then the glorious step into eternity with Him.
Shalom Jamie

Epiphany 2018

The Epiphany and Baptism of Jesus
The visitation of the Kings also referred to as the Wise men and also the Magis signifies Jesus universal claim to be the Messiah for all peoples of faith. For the Jews this was intolerable because they were the chosen people of God with sole access to Him.  For the gentile people (the rest of us) this claim was very hard to comprehend.
The setting of Jesus birth was to set the foundations for the Christian Faith for all history. The God of all creation chose a young woman to bring His only Son into the world. The birth in a stable reveals the humility of God.  Peace will only come to this world when people humble themselves and listen to one another’s point of view in love.
The Shepherds’ greeting of Christ’s birth reveals God’s embracing of all people no matter what position
they hold in life, Jesus Mary and Joseph become refugees in the foreign land of Egypt before His second birthday. These simple facts reveal the nature of God and His love for all.
The Baptism of Jesus
Jesus comes out of the wilderness to be Baptised by John the Baptist in the River Jordon. Following this great event Jesus goes out to a lonely place to face the temptations of life. Following this experience Jesus ministry commences which we all share in today.  It is through Baptism we all commence our journey with Jesus through life.
May 2018 be a year of growing in faith and unity for all who worship in St Nicholas Church. May it be a year of healing for the Christian church in general.
Yours in Christs Service. Ven. Brian Newing

How will you follow Jesus in 2018?

As we prepare to begin another year it is a good time to reflect. I am asking some  questions . What kind of community are we going to be? What kind of community does God see us becoming?

We are a gathered community of people who meet on Sundays and in small groups through the week. We are gathered because of Jesus and many of us would say we are His disciples. How then should we live? How do we follow Him?  How do we love one another well? What does that look like? How do we handle conflict well? What does it mean to be people walking in step with His Spirit?

We have articulated some thoughts on this already:

We are a community growing in being a blessing. We understand that God has so richly blessed us and invites us to offer blessing wherever we find ourselves.

We understand that belonging to a community is good for all of us as God says many times in scripture and secular psychologists now articulate clearly. Belonging allows for blessings to flow in many directions.

What we believe about ourselves influences our actions ( Behave) I am loved by God therefore I don’t have to perform to win his approval, for example. I work from grace not work for grace.

As we live this out day by day we are becoming, God willing, the human God intended and the community that brings Him glory.

Are you someone determined to follow Jesus in 2018 in this community? I am.

Shalom Jamie

Carols & Cappuccino 2017

Immanuel

This Sunday is our Carols and Cappuccino service where we celebrate the birth of Jesus because of who He is, what He has done and what He is still doing to this very day. Jesus invites us into a relationship with Himself and through Him a relationship with God the Father. IF this seems a meaningless statement perhaps you will consider joining us next year on an Alpha course to explore that?

In the bible there are many names given to describe Jesus .  As Matthew writes in summary of what happened in Bethlehem ‘All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet

( Isaiah 7:14) ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’ which means ‘God with us.’ Matthew’s Gospel chapter 1v22-23

Our service this evening is more reflective than last year, an invitation to encounter Immanuel . To experience God with you in the trials and challenges of life, the joys and sorrows, the upsets and uncertainties, the times of confusion, despair as well as in celebration is what Jesus made possible. He came to us. Christ-mas…literally the anointed one sent. He continues to come to us through the Holy Spirit and we have prayed that if you have not experienced this before you will this evening.

May you be blessed. May you know that you are loved by God. May you discover the wonderful truth that the baby in Bethlehem went on to reveal the nature of God, to be the crucified Christ, the risen Christ, and He did that for each one of us so that we could know Immanuel.  God with us.

Shalom

Jamie

Being Blessed. Our confirmation candidates and farewell to Bishop Allan

This Sunday we welcome friends and family of our confirmation candidates. We pray you will be blessed. It is also our last opportunity as a community to welcome Bishop Allan and Tricia. We have been encouraged and enabled in our shared ministry here through his prayerful oversight. We are going to miss you both and will continue to pray for you over an intense time.  Simple words of thanks are inadequate.

To our candidates. Thank you for encouraging us through your public affirmation and trust in our Lord Jesus. We are so glad to share life with you here in Australind. It is a beautiful thing to receive prayer for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. I am confident you will be blessed!

Blessed, belonging, believing, living differently and becoming increasingly whole is all part of the reconciliation and new life we find in Jesus. It  is the Holy Spirit who breathes life into us as the body of Christ. So as always we pray….

Come Holy Spirit….today fill the hearts of your people renew in us the fire, the fire of your love.

Shalom Jamie

Who do you believe Jesus is?

This Sunday we join with Saint Peter in facing the most challenging question we will have to answer in our Journey of Faith with Jesus Christ. The question we must all answer is “ Who do you believe Jesus Christ is?” The response we make will influence every aspect of daily life during these difficult times.
 
Jesus has spent perhaps 2 years with His disciples. They had been with Him in every aspect of His ministry. They had shared in His teaching and miracles alongside the ridicule and rejection by the Jewish leaders . Sometimes they got the message but on the other occasions Jesus was filled with frustration with their responses.
 
On this day Jesus had set His face towards Jerusalem to face the cross following the transfiguration experience on the Holy mountain . Jesus looks directly into the disciples eyes and asks the question ,

Who do you believe the Son of Man is?

At first they dodge the issue by answering , some say John the Baptist risen from the dead, others Elijah, others Jeremiah .  Jesus says but  “Who do you say I am?” Peter almost cries out, “You are the Christ, the Son of
the living God.” Jesus then gives Peter the keys of the Kingdom.
 
Today we are challenged to answer the same question. It is no use answering, Jamie says this or Brian says that, or even Bishop Allan believes this. If we can answer Jesus is truly the Son of the Living God then life is transformed for ever. It means every promise Jesus made is vindicated.
We come to church every Sunday to learn about these promises and then apply them to our daily journey of faith.
 
Yours in Christ’s Service
Ven. Brian Newing