Today is a sad day as we farewell Leonie Dekker from our staff. I have found Leonie to be a faithful and friendly co-worker. There have been times of embarrassment for me, when I have been discussing something with Leonie and expressing a desire to have a poster that would depict something in particular and then have Leonie swing the screen around to me and ask, “Something like this?” It was exactly what I wanted. How could she do this so quickly? At times I worried in case Leonie was reading my mind, but she said she didn’t. In so many ways we were on the same page and shared one focus for the parish. So, I thank God for Leonie and wish her well in the future. I’m sure such a creative and energetic person will not be retired for long.
This provides us all with the task of a future without Leonie. What does God have in store? I am sad that Leonie is leaving, but I have a sense of excitement about the future. In the next edition of The Melbourne Anglican you will see an advertisement for a Children’s and Youth Worker for All Souls. This advertisement has been circulated widely. If you know of somebody who might be interested in this role please pass on the information to them.
Anglican clergy are expected to say the daily office (ie daily prayers and scripture reading). Each day I read the following and it excites me:
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.
When I consider the God whom I serve, how can I stay sad for long? May God set your heart on fire as you seek to serve him today and in the days ahead.
Thom Rainer published this during the week …
Baby Boomers Are Returning to Church
The rebellious generation may become the religious generation.
Baby boomers, those born between the years 1946 to 1964, are becoming more involved in church.
One of the most significant longitudinal studies (a study over many years) ever done provides a treasure trove of information for church leaders.
This discovery is the major finding from the latest wave of data collected from the Longitudinal Study of Generations, which was originally developed in 1970 at USC by then-assistant professor Vern Bengston. His successors have collected a ninth round of data in this 45-year study. The research was funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
Here is the gem in the study: One in five boomers have increased their religious and church activity in the past few years.
Don’t take that statement lightly. Among the boomer generation, 20 percent are becoming more receptive to faith and church. That’s approximately 19 million boomers when the percentage is applied to the entire generation.
The study cited three major reasons for this shift:
1 Boomers have more time, and they want to use that extra time pursuing a more meaningful life, including church.
2 Boomers are becoming more aware of the brevity of life and are seeking answers to questions they had not previously asked.
3 Boomers are more aware of the fragility of life. They don’t have the young and healthy bodies they once had. Such an awareness is driving them to find more meaning in the lives they do have.
Be ready to welcome them at All Souls.
Like me you must have been so pleased to hear that the boys in Thailand trapped in a cave had been rescued. On Wednesday last the Herald Sun had the headline “World’s Prayers Answered.” Prayer was mentioned on the front page of a daily paper. I had also noticed that many a TV news presenter had also said something along the lines of the boys being in our thoughts and prayers. In the emergency that these boys faced many people turned to prayer.
The cynic in me might ask what people meant by prayer – wishful thinking, positive thoughts – which might well be prayer, but to whom are the prayers addressed?
Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney wrote recently, “Prayer in the presence of God is the appropriate response of those made in the image of God, who know they fall short of the glory of God, yet who rest upon his promise of forgiveness when they stand before their Maker.”
I am certainly one who dreams of futuristic outcomes, wishes to understand the present and reflects on times past. Prayer for me, however, is communication with the living God. As I commence I seek to put my relationship with God in a positive place, which I do by confessing my sin, and then I feel free to go on and discuss various things with God and make requests of him.
I prayed for the safe evacuation of the boys from the cave and then upon hearing that all were rescued we offered thanks to God and prayed for their future good health.
God is always ready to hear from us, but our fallen state means that we have to confess our failings to him, seek is forgiveness and then proceed with adoration, thanksgiving and requests.
Bless you as you pray.
There are many aspects of the Christian faith that appeal to me, but the knowledge and awareness of a living God who is present at all times is a great comfort. We talk of God being omnipresent, which means that God is present everywhere at the same time. This knowledge blows my mind, but then I think that my thinking is limited by my human nature and realise that nothing is impossible for God.
During the Easter season we focus on the presence of the risen Lord Jesus. Hence today, a couple of weeks after Easter Day, we still have readings that focus on the risen Lord. Our Easter season in the Church continues until Pentecost (50 days after Easter). We might have a special focus on the resurrection for this season, but, of course, in truth, the risen Lord Jesus is with us constantly.
When we think of resurrection we must not think solely of an event in history. It was set in history, but it has an impact today. We celebrate the resurrection every time there is a baptism, whenever we celebrate Holy Commun-ion. When I wake of a morning and sit on the edge of my bed I like to say, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps 118) and, for me, it is a reminder that the Lord Jesus is present and will be with me through-out the day.
All the above is about me! It is one side of the coin so to speak. The resurrec-tion was part of Jesus’ experience, who was willing to enter the world at his incarnation and share life with us. His resurrection declares his ultimate triumph over sin and death. (1 Corinthians 15.54-57)
Now, back to me – all this knowledge gives me hope that I am living the eternal life with God right now and I look forward to the time when I will enter his heavenly realm and experience an even greater closeness with God.
A friend and colleague sent me this cross. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Was it mocking the cross? Then I thought about crosses we wear around our necks. I thought of crosses studded with diamonds and pearls. They have come along way from the cross Jesus was crucified on. I thought of the crosses on hot cross buns. What have we done with the cross? Yet surely the cross can be something joyful to us, who know that Jesus’ death on the cross brought forgiveness to us and eternal life.
This particular cross reminded me that this year Easter Day, the day of the resurrection, falls on 1st April, which is April Fool’s Day. This cross is full of clowns, fools.
In Paul’s firsts letter to the Corinthians he said, “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1.18
Here Paul recognises that without God’s grace to understand the resurrection it is foolishness. God has granted us understanding. We can rejoice. We know that the doom and gloom of Good Friday is not the end of the story.
I do believe in the physical bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus. I know this is difficult for many people. For many it is a science/faith question. The resurrection might seem improbable and so it is not accepted as true. But I take comfort from Anselm of Canterbury, who said, "I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand"
The last time Easter fell on April 1 was 62 years ago in 1956. The next time the two holidays will converge will be in 2029 and then again in 2040.
In the meantime, I can smile at this cross and see something of the joy and fun that is the whole of the Easter season.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.
Is it easy to say what you believe? I bet we all have differing views, yet when it comes to the Christian faith there would be much that would overlap for us. For instance, in the prayer books there are creeds – statements about the Christian faith – that most of us would adhere to.
On the All Souls’ website we have:
“All Souls Sandringham is an Anglican church. We believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus Christ gives us the gift of life through his death on the cross and resurrection. This gift is given through faith in Jesus and lived out in community guided by the word of God.”
Then we go on to our focus “Together we go, grow and live in Jesus’ love.” Hopefully this will keep us motivated in our year of outreach.
It is interesting to go to Anglican sites to see what is listed. The Anglican Church of Australia lists the creeds. Go to Anglican Church of Australia, About Us, then What we believe?
On the other hand, if you go to the Church of England, then Our Faith, you will find What we believe? Presented very differently. It is worth checking out both sites.
The important thing is for us to know what we believe. Despite years of reciting creeds very often Anglicans get tongue-tied when asked to explain their beliefs. Spend some time looking at the creeds and ponder how you would explain to somebody the basis of your faith. Use your own words. Your words will be the most convincing, not the religious rhythm of the creeds.
Give the matter some thought and prayer.
Here we are in Lent, which began last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, and ends approximately six weeks later at Easter. It provides us with a time to reflect on certain Christian disciplines, which were highlighted on Ash Wednesday, namely Prayer, Giving (or works of love, as mentioned above) and Fasting. The absence of flowers is a sign that Lent has commenced.
Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured various temptations.
How might you observe the three disciplines mentioned?
Prayer – can you commit to daily prayer times or decide that church attendance will be weekly or twice a week during Lent?
Giving or Works of Love – when we think of the giving of the Lord Jesus we are reminded that there is much we can do to imitate him. Perhaps six weekly gifts to a mission agency or a charity of your choice.
Fasting – this can heighten prayer times for us. Some Christians give up certain luxuries in order to replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's journey into the desert for 40 days. Personally, I’ve never found giving up chocolate to be a serious sacrifice. What might I give up that would hurt and be a reminder of Jesus suffering?
Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God. Hence, I commend the Lenten study groups to you.
May this Lent be a time of deep reflection for you and may you be drawn ever closer to the Lord Jesus.