Worship Roster for April 2018

The Worship Roster for April 2018 can be downloaded here.  If you are unable to fulfill your roster responsibility, please find a replacement.

Readings: Easter Easter2 Easter3 Easter4 Easter5

Prayers: EasterDay Easter2 Easter3 Easter4 Easter5

If you are unable to make your rostered duty, please organise your own replacement.

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Worship Roster for March 2018

The Worship Roster for March 2018 can be downloaded here.  If you are unable to fulfill your roster responsibility, please find a replacement.

There is a volunteer Roster for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday available at the church.  Please make yourself available.

Readings: Lent3 Lent4 Lent5 PalmSunday Maundy Thursday Good Friday

Prayers: Lent3 Lent4 Lent5 PalmSunday MaundyThursday GoodFriday

If you are unable to make your rostered duty, please organise your own replacement.


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Worship Roster for February 2018

The Worship Roster for February 2018 can be downloaded here.  If you are unable to fulfill your roster responsibility, please find a replacement.

Readings: 5thafterEpiphany 6th after Pentecost Ash Wednesday Lent1 Lent 2

Prayers: Epiphany5 Epiphany6 AshWednesday Lent1 Lent2

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Maundy Thursday – Food and Community

Most of you know how much I like food and exploring different kinds of food.  I put this down to my parents who, before Australia had become as multicultural as it is today, were always experimenting with food.  We were taught to sit and eat at a table, what we call table manners, so we could go to restaurants.  I never understood why McDonalds and Pizza Hut, when they came to Australia, were called family restaurants because every restaurant, for me, was a family restaurant.  It was at one restaurant I first fell in love with Chicken a la Orange and would order it whenever it came up on a menu.

It is no wonder I have a love of food and food from other cultures and my brother became a chef.  We have talked about it and we both think that it was this introduction from our parents that has given us a love of food.  I have to own, however, that including wine in that culinary journey was my own doing.  My parents drank that awful early Australian Moselle, which was reputed to have been made of sultana grapes, or a red out of a box.

Yeah!  I am a tosser.

Whenever I have travelled I have partaken in the kind of food they have in the culture I have visited.  I have eaten chili roti for breakfast in Singapore.  I have drunk kava in Fiji.  I have eaten taro cooked in coconut milk in Papua New Guinea.  I have eaten a seaweed called sea grapes in Fiji.  I have eaten snails in garlic butter in Paris.  I have eaten roast beef out of a Yorkshire pudding bowl in the oldest pub in England.  I have eaten kangaroo in a restaurant in Halls Gap.  At home I have cooked Italian, Thai, Chinese, French, Indonesian, Syrian, Mexican, Japanese, Indian; there are very few things I do not eat.

I list among those things I don’t like: okra, also known as ladies fingers, and a spinach like vegetable in PNG.  Both exude a clear mucous when cooked.  I don’t like the taste of okra, even in a tomato and onion sauce, but I can’t get used to the visual of a green leafy vegetable swimming in a wad of snot.

There is something about cultural identity and food and eating that food.  The Italians spend all morning as a family preparing and cooking and then, again as a whole family, spend the rest of the day eating it.  It is spoken of as the slow food movement.  The Chinese place all their food in the centre of the table and eat out of the same bowls using small bowls of rice to place the food on between mouthfuls.

However, in western culture we have allowed food to be something that just gives us energy.  We go into a store and buy prepared meals to quickly heat up in the microwave, or a drive through where we don’t even have to get out of our car and apparently eat as we drive.  We will sit and eat in front of the television with our food on our lap or tray.  Food has lost its place in bringing people together, creating and nurturing family and community.

I am envious of those cultures who continue to see food as a source of family gathering and community bonding.

Someone tried to define Australian cuisine some time ago.  Most people think that it is defined by using kangaroo and bush tucker foods.  In her recent book, Eat your History, by Sydney Living Museums resident gastronomer, Jacqui Newling, she confirms that, in the early settlement of white Australia, much of the English influence of our food was adapted by the available resources.  For example kangaroo tail was a substitute for ox tail.  However, I am in agreement with another argument that claims Australian cuisine may use bush tucker resources, but draws on the food of the multicultural society we have become.  Australian cuisine is the fruit of community and the source of community.

There are many arguments made regarding whether the meal Jesus shared with his disciples was a Passover Meal or was it was simply a regular agape, love, meal he would have with his disciples.  Participating in the sharing of food as the source of community is just what Jesus achieved with the meal he shared with his disciples.  Not only is sharing a meal part of the Palestinian culture it was also a part of the culture of a teacher with his disciples.  The important thing, however, is that he commanded us to continue to do it when we could.

Certainly we do it formally in the context of our worship whether we call it Communion, Last Supper, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Mass, Divine Liturgy, we share in the symbol of a meal with small piece of bread and a sip, or dip, of wine. This has significant meaning for us as we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, his presence with us in these elements of bread and wine as if we were with him back then when he instituted these words with his disciples.

However, I can’t help thinking; these elements of bread and wine were then a part of a larger meal, so they are also symbolic of our larger meals.  That every meal we have at home is a communion when we share it with others – after all, where two are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.

This is why I place a high importance on sharing in meals whenever we get together.  It is around food that we connect, converse, and bond.    We say grace, give thanks for the food and company, as a part of our meal time.  If this is taking place, when it is possible, every time we eat a meal, then every meal is communion and where these things are happening we are also obeying Jesus command.  In this sense our formal communion reflects the informal communion of our meals that take place in our homes around our kitchen or dining room tables.

Sharing a meal is more than providing our bodies with a source of energy, it is the catalyst for the fullness of life Jesus lived, died, and rose again, for us to have.  Sharing in this Holy Communion as Jesus called us to do is a symbol, a means, and a reminder for us to grow as a community in Christ Jesus.

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Amazement – the beginning of a creative end to conflict

Whenever I peel a ripe banana I am amazed at the seamless transition between the flesh of the fruit and the skin and yet it peels so effortlessly.  How does it become like that?  There are other fruit, of course, where the flesh and the skin are distinct, but more difficult to separate the two.

Whenever I think about the human body I am amazed that from two distinct cells, when they unite, become a living thing and as the cells divide they begin to take on their own function.  How do all these cells, dividing from the same single cell, become a kidney cell, a brain cell, a muscle cell?  And when, if some parts of the human body are damaged, it can heal itself.

When I look into the sky at night I am amazed by the concept of infinity, by the thought that the universe is expanding at an ever increasing speed – from what, into what?  Nothingness?  And in all this an ever-increasing realisation that the chances of another planet having the necessary characteristics to sustain a level of life equal to humanity is improbable.  The chances that we should even exist are so small that we ought to consider ourselves unique.

These are just a few of the things that I find amazing and led me, from my science background, to believe that God exists.  Jesus, by his life, teaching, healing and miracles, repeatedly caused amazement in those who witnessed these things to encourage them to respond to God in a new way.  Pontius Pilate was no exception.

‘But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed (thaumazein).’ (Mark 15:5)  Matthew puts it this way, ‘But [Jesus] gave no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly (lian) amazed (thaumazein).’  Matthew 27:14

Amazed, elsewhere in the New Testament carries a sense of doubt, astonishment, surprised by the charm and grace of Jesus, or surprised by the wisdom of Jesus’ answers.  But here Pilate seems to be amazed that Jesus does not defend himself against the charges that have been brought against him.  I find myself wondering what Pilate may have been thinking after his amazed response to Jesus’ silence.  Or, to put it another way, asking, ‘What is motivating Jesus to not defend himself?’  Clearly he expected him to.  Did he think that he was wise not to say anything?  Did he think that he had some sort of plan taking place?  Did he think he was being graceful, or forgiving, or compassionate to his accusers?   We don’t know, but Pilate seems not to be convinced that Jesus had any case to answer – the charges against him were spurious and malicious; based on the jealousy of the Jewish religious hierarchy.

We do have the sense that Pilate was either a coward or stuck between a rock and a hard place.  It was his responsibility to keep the peace in the place of his assigned protectorate.  So, he handed the decision on to the crowd, according to a custom that Mark records.  The crowd call for the release of Barabbas and Pilate acquiesces.

There is something in this idea of amazement that expresses an internal conflict, a moment of mental crisis.  What is seen or experienced does not match up with our expectations of what will happen, or should happen.

The interesting thing about this kind of conflict, or crisis, is that it causes us to rethink, to re-evaluate, what we originally thought or believed.  Or we can just bury our head in the sand and do the same thing we have always done; believed the same thing we have always believed.

As disciples of Jesus, these moments of conflict or crisis of thinking are the beginning of the process of repentance, of coming to believe in something new, or believe in something in a different way.  We have been calling, in our discipleship process, this moment of crisis of thought, Kairos, the God moment.  Kairos is the moment in our life experience where God breaks in and reveals something new about himself, about our self, or about the world in which we live.  Repentance is the process where we open ourselves to the possibility that there is a different way of believing.  Conflict and crisis, therefore, has the potential to bring about something new if we allow ourselves to respond creatively.

There was no conflict for Jesus in these things that were taking place.  He expected them.  So there was no need to change what he did.  Jesus’ silence was intentional.  He was not going to defend himself because they were correct.  The only question he answered was, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Of course he had a completely different understanding of what being the King of the Jews was all about and what the kingdom was.  Jesus had set his face to the inevitable suffering that would come.  And he did so with true human expression, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  I can’t think of a better description of the real pain he was experiencing.  Jesus’ response in the light of what took place, according to Philippians, led to him glorifying God and him being highly exalted by God.

We don’t expect suffering and we don’t wish for suffering, unless we have a substantial mental disorder.  Jesus didn’t want to suffer, but I think he knew that was going to be the inevitable outcome of his continued proclamation of the kingdom of God and challenge of the religious hierarchy of his day.  Jesus was a conflict for them and, instead of looking for a creative response to the challenge he presented, they chose to remove the source of their conflict.  They lobbied to have him crucified.  With our 20/20 hindsight this did not get rid of the problem; Jesus was raised from the dead to have a greater impact on the world than he did while he was alive.  It does not help us to deny the conflict – it only means we are postponing the inevitable.

When those who complain that there can be no God in the face of suffering that takes place in the world, they are making a statement that the conflict that causes suffering does not exist.  Suffering in the world is conflict and crisis at its greatest, but the problem is not that it proves God does not exist, it shows that in our sinfulness humans are unable to act creatively in the face of it; or to avoid it.

We are amazed by the level of suffering in the world, but, like Pilate, we do not do anything differently and so suffering continues.  As Irish Statesman, Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [sic] to do nothing.’  Our being amazed should lead us to consider how we need to act in new and creative ways in the world in which we live and by the nature of the God in whom we believe to bring an end to conflict.

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