Monthly Archives: August 2018

September 1 – John Thomas

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

John Thomas, Christian pioneer

 The Rev. John Thomas (1797 – 1881) and his wife Sarah were sent by the Methodist Missionary Society in Great Britain to serve in Tonga.  They were there from 1826 until 1850 and from 1856 until 1859.  Even though John Thomas was not the first missionary to arrive in Tonga he is regarded by the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga as the Father of the Church.

John Thomas, the son of a blacksmith and a blacksmith himself, was very aware of his academic limitations.  He wrote of himself in his personal journal,

my own rough and knotty mind . . . what a raw, weak and uncultivated wretch was I when I left our England.

This self-deprecation appears quite frequently in his personal writing.  Limited education he may have had, but he was an outstanding observer of life.  He may not have had a sparkling personality but he had great plodding persistence.  Those qualities enabled him to write an amazing chronicle of the history of Tonga which covers a period prior to the arrival of European influences.  He also records the establishment and growth of the Church.

He provides the genealogies of significant people, records the arrivals and departures of ships and geographical information about the Island group.  It is evident that John Thomas had the confidence of the people for they shared their stories and beliefs with him.

While John and Sarah Thomas were in Sydney preparing to go to Tonga there was a lot of pressure put on him to remain in Sydney, to serve in one of the circuits there.  He was, however, very clear in his own mind that the Mission Committee had appointed him to Tonga and to Tonga he would go. John and Sarah Thomas had tragedy in their lives when Mrs Thomas had a number of miscarriages.  At last a son was born and named John.  Nine years later tragedy struck again when the child died.  Later when they returned to England, Mrs Thomas also died.  When John remarried his new wife had a son but sadly that child too died when he was nine years of age.  John Thomas lamented there was no one to pass his written material to.  He thought he might destroy it.  Fortunately, he did not and his History of Tonga is a goldmine of information for Tongan people and for students of Tongan history.

John Thomas was a very spiritual man and a number of stories have grown up around his life.  A Tongan preacher told the story of John Thomas landing on an island to share the gospel of Jesus.  He knelt on the beach to pray.  Even though the water lapped around him his trousers were not wet.

Some people would be critical of John Thomas because he was pivotal in many people forsaking their traditional gods and becoming followers of Jesus Christ.  The value of that was indicated by a story written by John Thomas.  A King was gravely ill and one of his sons was strangled to appease the gods and to facilitate his father’s recovery.  Even though John Thomas worked relentlessly to bring change in Tonga and to have the people follow a new way, the way of Jesus, no one did more to record the beliefs and history and genealogy of the Tongan people.  He believed that there would come a time when people would want to know their history and about their culture.  When they did, John Thomas has recorded it for them.

He was truly the Father of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.

by Rev John Mavor

26 August – The Ten Commandments: Old Prescriptions in a Culture without purpose

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Pentecost 14
19/8/2018

Deuteronomy 5:1-6
Psalm 19
Matthew 5:17-20

Sermon preached by Rev. Bruce Barber


Confusing one’s own state of mind with the state of the world is one of the professional hazards of a certain sort of preacher. However, one is not alone today in asserting that, together with other Western cultures, we inhabit a world dedicated to a flight from truth. Some characteristic marks of cultures in decline are these: an ideology of relativism with regard to all claims for truth; inward self-protection from a questioning of the socially approved status quo; a secular religion which worships choice above everything; the cultivation of detachment from ultimate claims.

Why then bother with commandments from a world long gone?

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Deuteronomy 5:6:  “Then God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…..’

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More than one hundred years ago, the British novelist and poet, Rudyard Kipling wrote these lines:

“Ship me somewhere east of Suez where the best is like the worst, where there ain’t no ten commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst”.

Kipling’s implication is that west of Suez, that is, in what we then called Christendom, there was no getting away from the Ten Commandments. Culturally, if not geographically, Australians, too, have been very much “west of Suez”. Then, if not now, nearly everyone throughout the Empire knew about the Ten Commandments, and a great many people could recite them by heart. They were included and explained in Church catechisms taught to children; they were read at the beginning of every communion service. And not only were they impressed on the ear, but also the eye as well. Many were the Churches in which the Ten Commandments looked everyone in the face as they sat in the pews. So it is that until about seventy years ago it was impossible for churchgoers to be ignorant of them, and even non-churchgoers who rejected Christian doctrine would largely not have dreamt of rejecting their moral claims, at least in theory if not always in practice.

Not so today. Even influential clerics pour scorn on them. Their purported irrelevance, and their virtual eclipse, is undoubtedly due to the increasing secularisation of our society, whereby everything to do with “religion” has been banished to the domain of a private experience. Another reason, perhaps more alive in intentional Christian circles, is the idea that “the law of Moses” has been superseded by “the law of Christ”. And there is truth in this claim. A well-known saying of Martin Luther that “each Christian must write one’s own ten commandments” has been understood to mean that Christians are free to substitute for those long received more or less what they like, whereas Luther actually meant that Christians are free to hear the commandments as gospel rather than cold, external law. In other words, Christians are free to obey the commandments rather than knowing themselves required to obey them.

It is indeed unfortunate that the Ten Commandments have come to be associated with the English word “law”, with its many meanings. If we use the word “law” in Christian language we should understand law as the Bible does, not as our judicial systems do. The word “law” has traditionally been the English word employed to translate the Hebrew word Torah, but Torah means the first five books of the Old Testament, not simply these ten commandments. The original meaning of “Torah” then is not so much “law” as it is “instruction”.  Torah really stands for the whole revelation of God – all that has made known the nature, character and purpose of God as the basis for what as a consequence we must be and do.

This is clear from the introduction to the Ten Commandments as we encounter them in this fifth chapter in the Book of Deuteronomy: “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb….” (Chapter 5: 2). We then go on to hear how this covenant, although made with a significantly earlier generation of the Hebrews, is still being made effective “with us who are all of us here alive this day” (v.3). The substance of this covenantal promise is then given in the preface to the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt and of the House of Bondage” (v.6). It is to this covenantal reality that the law is then unfolded in the shape of the Ten Commandments.

Although not present in the Hebrew text, the consequential sense for all the ten that follow this introduction is an implied: ‘Therefore…’.  For this reason, on each occasion in the future that we make our way attempting to mine the import of these ten injunctions, we must as a reminder insert this crucial word therefore between the promise and the command. The point is that everything that can go wrong will go wrong when this introduction is passed over as if it has no interpretive force. To detach the commandments from their grounding in this event of deliverance, which is how they are inevitably heard today, is guaranteed to lead to a devastating misunderstanding.  They are then required to stand without any context in all their forbidding starkness.

Of course, it is only common sense to grasp that for the protection of common life any society must abide by a set of agreed rules. In this respect there is nothing novel about the latter half of the table of the commandments, which can be found in similar form in the law code of the Babylonian king Hammurabi, at least six centuries before Israel’s founding. But there they stand without this liberating introduction before us today. Everything, then, hinges on its force: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out ….”

The fact is that the commandments exist to make clear to the people of Israel exactly what is involved in the covenant, and to maintain that relationship of God with his people. Through the commandments, a practice is appointed for a way of life for Israel different from that of any other people on earth. In other words, Israel’s God does not intend to leave this people to follow its own devices, nor to work out its own destiny.

This foundation to the giving of “the Law” has not been readily understood by us, and it certainly wasn’t understood by the people of Israel. Time and again, we hear how they gave themselves to ever new and more grievous forms of slavery than that which they had left in Egypt, that living symbol of the despots by which people then, as now, are enslaved. The commandments, therefore, are ingredient in the promise of the Covenant for Israel, and in turn for us:  that the God, who calls a representative people into being, has left neither nations nor individuals in a state of bondage, or of hopeless moral confusion.

Indeed we can go further and embrace these commandments as our best protection against all the unjust commandments that might be foisted upon us by unscrupulous manipulators, by despotic governments, by insidious media pressure groups of all persuasions who seek to control the lives of others for their own purposes. On the strength of these commandments we can say “No” both to the unruly passions and desires that seek to tyrannise over us from within, and to all dictators who seek to tyrannise us from without.

If this understanding of the commandments is news to some people, then it must surely be “good news”. To say again: to wrench the Ten Commandments out of their context, leaving them standing only in their cold authoritarian isolation, is completely to miss the point. It means that they will inevitably become graceless, and therefore destructive, because they will lead either to pride or despair. And then, probably at the same time, they will serve as instruments of silent judgement over others.

The truth is this. At no time does God ever intend that law without grace be a means of salvation for people. This must be one of the hardest conclusions for serious and sensitive human beings to accept. We have so often been told, and thereby assumed, that by trying harder, by erecting more and more safeguards against the infringement of the law, there is still hope for us. But this is the ancient heresy of Pharisaism, though it is not at all peculiar to the Pharisees.

Pharisees are simply the representatives of all forms of religious and moral legalism. Not until it sinks in how extraordinarily good the Pharisees were – and they are usually made out to be unpleasant – will we appreciate the difference between the hopeless justification that they represent on the one hand, and, on the other, a hopeful justification for all.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says: “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees you shall never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20).  How revolutionary is that judgement. “Exceed” here means not “more of the same”, but the need to run on quite different tracks. Only by such a fundamental diversion will the promise of the Sermon be realised: “I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets, I have come to fulfil them”. And what a fulfilment! For here is the old commandment made flesh. Here in dramatic concreteness is the law rightly lived, Here we find each commandment – inevitably in every generation either rejected or fired as a constrictive weapon – now beautifully and graciously embodied and lived.  Here is One whose being from beginning to end is marked by the law. Born under the law, he lived and taught under the law, and was crucified under the law ostensibly for the sake of obedience to the covenant between God and Israel. And it is by this perfect obedience that he shows the meaning of the fulfilment of the law, and therefore the meaning of life.  As the apostle Paul confirms: in Christ all the commandments of God are fulfilled as a resounding “Yes”.

As we approach each of these Ten Commandments in turn, it is in this graceful grounding that their meaning and fulfilment is to be found. To this end, we note how the Gospel of Matthew announces that Jesus teaches the Sermon on the Mount only to his disciples. Just as Yahweh of old calls his people out of the bondage of Egypt to the life of promise and destiny of which the commandments are sign, so the new “Israel” here is called on another mountain by a new Moses – called out of the bondage of the religious law to a life where the law becomes grace, active, fruitful, life giving.

But let us not overlook this. The sermon is uttered in the presence of the crowd. The point of this scenario is to make clear that literally any apparent outsider is free at any time to become a disciple. This should not be a surprise. Even before Moses and this covenantal pledge introducing the commandments, Abraham was promised a similar outcome: that through his obedience “all the nations of the earth will bless themselves”. The point is that the covenants, old and new, with their accompanying commandments, are for the sake of a world blessed. God and the world, here as everywhere, always belong together.

May it be so for our day too. Embraced by this promise, we will then find ourselves properly prepared to embark on this tenfold journey of freedom to a promised land.

MtE Update – August 24 2018

  1. A monthly series of sermons on the the Ten Commandments will commence THIS SUNDAY August 26. Some more details are given here, including some suggested background reading to the Commandments for the series. For a brief online commentary on the texts for this Sunday, see.
  2. Also Sunday August 26 there will be an open conversation following morning tea around the recent resolution of the UCA’s national Assembly on marriage. Some background papers on the resolution are available here.
  3. The latest Presbytery eNews is here.

19 August – Conquering the world

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Pentecost 13
19/8/2018

1 John 5:1-12
Psalm 34
John 6:51-58


In a sentence:
Love conquers the world by
winning it over

We sometimes get the sense that theological specialists get a little het up from time to time on matters of precision and correctness in faith. I’m probably not immune to such a charge myself. Why bother with the language of the Creeds, with doctrinal precision, with correct liturgical structure?

As a way towards answering this, let’s consider the theological intensity in the middle of our reading this morning from 1 John: ‘[Jesus Christ] is the one who came by water and blood…not with the water only but with the water and the blood.’

If nothing else, this is dense theology. It is neither immediately clear what it means nor why it matters. At the same time, John insists on it, rabidly, foaming at the mouth: this really does matter. There was obviously some controversy in John’s community about ‘the blood’, and whether or not belief in ‘the blood’ had to be added to belief in the ‘the water’. Perhaps the most likely scenario is something like this: there was an argument about whether or not the redeemer – the Son of God – was present in the baptism of Jesus only (the water, or the waters of birth [cf. John 3]), or whether he has also present in the death of Jesus (the blood).[1] What seems to be at stake is the relationship between ‘Jesus’ and ‘the Son of God’.

That is, John defends here what we now call the doctrine of the Incarnation – the meeting of God and the world in the human being Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, if this makes sense of the statement, we must then wonder about the next thing: why does the Incarnation matter?

As far as John is concerned, the doctrine matters not for its own sake but for its crucial pastoral implication: it is those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (that is, who believe Jesus came ‘in the water and the blood’) who ‘conquer the world’.

‘Conquering the world’ is perhaps not the best way of putting it for modern ears anxious about histories of colonisation and so on, but we get the point if we invert John’s way of putting it: it is those who believe in the meeting of Jesus and the Son – in the ‘water and the blood’ – who are not conquered by the world. ‘The world’ is here anything which might constitute a threat to us – the fears in our love, as we considered them last week. To believe that Jesus was the Son is to get a grip on the world, rather than be gripped by it.

This is so because the world ceases to be a place which comes between us and God – and so between us and our true selves; the world becomes the place where God is met and embraces us. In the person of Jesus God meets with the real world, as lived by a real person in time and space, with all its joys and sorrows.

We declare this each week in our recitation of the Creeds: Jesus is ‘God from God, light from light, true God from true God’… residing in, coinciding with, ‘was born…suffered…was buried.’ This is not mere doctrine; it is a way of saying that true God and true world can meet. The Creed declares that such a meeting has happened, and it is the hope of all who say the Creed that this will happen again.

And so the Jesus of the gospel is not a solitary individual, a tool in the hand of God, a means to some divine end. He is a real person engaged with other persons. His death is not mere mortality or tragedy, and it is – again (see July 29 sermon!) – not something God demands. The cross is a failure of the world to bear God – a rejection of such a presence of God to the world.

A sad philosopher once observed that ‘hell is other people’. It would have to be said that this was the experience of the crucified Jesus, because it was only by other people that he found himself on the cross; the physical suffering of the cross represented the suffering of the conflict endured throughout his ministry.

But the point of his ministry, and the point of John’s preaching through this dense and circular little letter, was to declare just the opposite: that heaven, also, is other people. This is why – as we saw last week – the love of whatever in the world it is appropriate to love can be the love of God – our love of God and God’s love of us. Our presence to God and God’s presence to us ‘looks like’ loving one another.

We do not believe ‘in the Incarnation’ as a thing which happened. The thing which happened, we believe, is the defining instance of God’s en‑fleshing of himself in our very lives, and this matters for the continuing shape of our lives. To believe that Jesus was the divine Son is not so much to ‘conquer’ the world with right doctrine as it is to declare what the world truly is: a vessel – even ourselves – which God has created to fill with himself.

To believe that Jesus – even ‘in the blood’ of the cross – is ‘true God of true God’ in the world is to believe that there is nowhere in the world which is alien to God, nothing which cannot be raised from the dead.

This is why we are to love not only the lovely but also those who it seems even love would do little good. Such love always seems wasteful, always appears as a throwing of good after bad. But this is not to say that such love is then an expression of kindness or compassion. As a throwing of good after bad, in the manner of God’s own work, our love of the unlovely is an experiment in resurrection. Is there really a passion stronger than death, as Solomon puts it in the Song of Songs (Songs 8.6)? A ‘Yes’ to this question is what marks the Christian.

The world, then, in its constant turn towards deathly things, is not conquered for the sake of the conqueror – whether us or God. It is conquered for its own sake. For the weapon in this struggle is love, and love conquers as much for the beloved as for the lover. God, then, does not conquer the world so much as reach out to gather it to himself; for the closer the world is to God, the more it is what God intended it to be.

This is the promise of the gospel.

And we ‘prove’ the promise – in the double proving of testing and demonstrating – in the love we show to those in need of it.

Once again, then, let us love one another. For nothing else will help.

[1] This occurs elsewhere in John; cf. John 3, where a contrast is drawn between being born of ‘water and the (s)Spirit’. There is also the reference in John 19.34f: ‘one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.)’ That is it necessary to emphasise the truth of this indicates that the matter was very important in the understanding (and debates) in Johannine community.

MtE Update – August 15 2018

  1. TONIGHT, Wednesday August 15, the online discussion group commences, looking at Northrop Frye’s The Great Code; for more on the book, see some of the reviews here. It is a challenging but very rewarding read! The quickest and cheapest way to obtain a copy is probably here (typically arrives in 7-10 days); electronic versions do not seem to be available. The experimental and online aspects of this group are that we will ‘meet’ via Skype or a similar video-conferencing vehicle — more details to come, and not as hard as it might sound (we think!). This means not having to travel in the evening for the group. The group will ‘meet’ online at 7.45pm on Wednesday August 15. Let Craig know if you are interested in joining; details on how to participate are here.
  2. The 2018 JD Northey Lecture: “Truth and Reality: An Ecclesiology of Resistance.” Thursday August 23, 7pm at the CTM; details.
  3. For those interested in some background commentary to the readings for this Sunday August 12, see the links here (we’ll hear Ps 34 and the gospel reading this week, in addition to our focus text from 1 John – 1 John 5.1-12 (cf. here), a reflection on the church’s faith in God as Trinity).
  4. Old News

  5. A monthly series of sermons on the the Ten Commandments will commence on Sunday August 26. Some more details are given here, including some suggested background reading to the Commandments for the series.
  6. ALSO on Sunday 26 there will be an open conversation following morning tea around the recent resolution of the UCA’s national Assembly on marriage.

Lectionary Commentary – Sunday/Ordinary 20B; Proper 15B (Sunday between August 14 and August 20)

The following links are to the Revised Common Lectionary commentary pages of Howard Wallace and Bill Loader, and are suggested as preparation for hearing the readings in worship for the Sunday indicated above.

Series I: 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 and Psalm 111 see also By the Well podcast on this text

Series II: Proverbs 9.1-6 (no link) and Psalm 34.9-14 (cf. here)

Ephesians 5:15-20

John 6:51-58

12 August – How to love God

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Pentecost 12
12/8/2018

1 John 4:10-12, 16b-21
Psalm 34
John 6:35, 41-51


In a sentence:
The love of God is always concrete and tangible – the love of our human neighbour

A few weeks back I preached on ‘God’s unnecessary love’, trying to indicate how there is nothing compelled about God’s love. Today, the shape of our love for God. Once again, John’s first letter informs this thought.

‘There is no fear in love’, John asserts, ‘perfect love casts out fear. The fear which might confound love is of two kinds. The most obvious is the fear of losing the thing we love. Trivially, this is fear for the new toy – fear of a scratch on the new car, shattering the screen on the new phone, or having our nice things burgled while on holiday. More significantly, of course, we fear losing the child, the parent, the spouse, the job, the house, the reputation.

For those of us who hold that there is a just God, it is the loss of the object of love which gives rise to the questions of theodicy – is God righteous, given that such loves, such valuable things can be lost? How can injustice and disorder like this – such contradictions of all we thought God promised – be ‘allowed’ to happen?

The fear to which John refers in his ‘no fear in love’ is not quite the fear of loss, but it is related. This is the second fear associated with love: the fear that we might be found to have loved the wrong thing. Here the emphasis is not as much on the loving as on the being found – being dis‑covered, exposed, judged for loving what is not the final object or goal of ‘true’ love. Those who love truly, John says, do not fear judgement.

(As an aside: This connection of fear and love is quite different from fear of losing what we love. We lose our beloved for ‘natural’ reasons, for reasons beyond our control: accidents, theft or simple mortality. John’s fear of judgement is a fear related to our choices – what we bring about, not what happens to us. This is the fear of having contravened some kind of implicit or explicit commandment, of having misunderstood or deliberately chosen against the order of things.)

Again, there are greater and lesser versions of this love-fear. At the softer end, this might be fear of judgement because I dress differently from the masses, or that I believe in God when most don’t (or the other way around), or that I refuse to eat meat (to the unhappy inconvenience of my omnivorous family and friends).

More substantially, it might be that I refuse to answer a conscription call up because of pacifist convictions, or the fear of retribution when I become the whistle blower. The particular concern of John is the question of judgement before God: love does not fear God’s righteous judgement for having done the wrong thing, for having loved the wrong thing.

With this second reference to righteousness, we can now see the relationship between the two love-fears. In the first love-fear we fear the absence of justice, the loss of what we love. In the second love-fear, we fear the presence of justice, the loss of ourselves if we have loved wrongly.

Love, then, is not the simple thing we often imagine or declare it to be. The pathos of human love is that it fears both the absence and the presence of the justice of God, as we seem usually to understand that justice. Love – the most natural thing to arise in us, and so the thing most naturally expected of us – turns out to be fraught. Our loves and our fears constantly pose the question, Is this right, Will it be right, Does love end?

If love as we usually know it is fraught in this way, what does John’s ‘perfection in love’ look like?

Surprisingly, perfected love doesn’t look like ‘loving’ God in any internal or spiritualised sense.  John never calls us to love God. In fact, he seems to back away from saying this:

4.10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.

That is, John does not say here, ‘we ought to love God,’ which would be the more natural complement to the declaration that God has loved us. He does recognise that it makes sense to speak of loving God (e.g. 4.20f, 5.2) but there is no imperative to love God as if this were in any way separable from the love of others, or even prior to such ‘neighbourly’ love.

Perhaps more to the point, John does not allow that our love of God is a kind of invisible ‘spiritual’ counterpart to visible ‘embodied’ love in human relationships. God’s love is entirely concrete: the sending of the Son and the rehabilitation of the cross (on this ‘rehabilitation’ see the July 29 sermon). Our love for God is also entirely concrete: loving the brother, the sister, the neighbour. Love always looks like something – even the love of God. Love is always embodied. The perfected love which does not fear looks like the love of those in need of love.

If there is fear in our love, then, John implies that it is because we do not yet love in this concrete way, and not because we have not yet sufficiently trusted God. That is, our love for God is incomplete, and so our sense of safety in God, because we do not yet love the ones close to us: ‘If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us’, John says.

Yet, even this can be too abstract. Perhaps strangest of all here is that love might look like coming to church. This is not because at church you ‘learn how to love’; such basics are learned elsewhere. It is because ‘church’ is a concrete and specific community which ties us down. For love, in being embodied, is also tied, bound. It is often noted, in critique, that in the letters and in the gospel of John, the focus of human love is not on the ‘neighbour’ (as in the synoptics) but on the sister, the brother, of the Christian communion. This looks embarrassingly ‘in house’ and self-interested. Yet John’s focus makes love very specific and concrete – not the love of anyone who might or might not cross our paths, who might or might not be the person I’m supposed to love, but the person to whom God binds me – the one who also claims to be claimed by God.

For, if nothing else, coming to church binds us strangely to each other. We are not natural family here, not tribal connection. And so this is a place where love’s fears might be challenged in learning to love those we would not normally love, simply because they refuse to go away. It is only in this way that love grows and thickens, and the fears in love begin to diminish because we see that love finds a way.

There is no fear in love. Or, put positively, love is fearless – God’s love, and so the love to which we are called. The fearlessness of love is not in its courage but in its indiscriminateness. Love is not a choice, it is a call which takes the form of the person sitting next you to, or who lives behind you, or who shares your office.

John’s declaration that ‘We love because God first loved us’ is not an explication of how we have come to love God. It is a statement of mission, of how to love God: we become God’s love for us in the love of sister, brother, neighbour.

To say it then, for the umpteenth time in our reflections on John’s letter, Let us be fearless in our love another, for this is what it means to love God. Amen.

MtE Update – August 10 2018

  1. THIS SUNDAY August 12 Anja & Zlatna invite you to their annual concert ‘Music without borders’ – in support of ‘Befriend a Child in Detention.’ This is to raise much needed funds for educational resources for these unfortunate children. Location: 4 Elm Street North Melbourne, Hall of Congregation of Mark the Evangelist, 1pm. The programme will feature beautiful and intricate music from the Balkans and beyond. The programme will run for an hour without interval. Entry by donation to the cause but if you are not in a position to donate, please come and enjoy our music and community.
  2. Next Wednesday August 15 we will begin an experimental online discussion group, looking weekly at a chapter of a book. The book will be Northrop Frye’s The Great Code; for more on the book, see some of the reviews here. It is a challenging but very rewarding read! The quickest and cheapest way to obtain a copy is probably here (typically arrives in 7-10 days); electronic versions do not seem to be available. The experimental and online aspects of this group are that we will ‘meet’ via Skype or a similar video-conferencing vehicle — more details to come, and not as hard as it might sound (we think!). This means not having to travel in the evening for the group. The group will ‘meet’ online at 7.45pm on Wednesday August 15. Let Craig know if you are interested in joining; details on how to participate are here.
  3. The most recent Synod eNews (August 9) is here.

Old News

  1. A monthly series of sermons on the the Ten Commandments will commence on Sunday August 26. Some more details are given here, including some suggested background reading to the Commandments for the series.
  2. ALSO on Sunday 26 there will be an open conversation following morning tea around the recent resolution of the UCA’s national Assembly on marriage.

 

Connecting to the online discussions

The group will use the Google Hangouts
Google’s own instructions for using Hangouts is here but you might find the following enough.
If you already have a Google account set up on your home computer or phone, that will to the trick. If you’ve not got a Google account, it’s easy to obtain one; follow the instructions here.
Work out whether you want to use your phone or home computer — chances are your phone might be better suited to the task, but make sure it’s charged up!
Your phone or computer will need the Hangouts app. This is probably already on your Android phone or, if you’re with Apple, there’s an app here. In the case of the home computer, the app may be an extension to your web browser.
The ”hangout’ link for the conversation will be sent to you from us in an email; clicking on the link will take you to the location for the group.
It will be best if you test all this with another in the group before the first meeting; we’re keen to make it work but it might take a little effort!
If an issue with connection arises on the night of the meeting, check your email for an another address for linking in.

Lectionary Commentary – Sunday/Ordinary 19B; Proper 14B (Sunday between August 7 and August 13)

The following links are to the Revised Common Lectionary commentary pages of Howard Wallace and Bill Loader, and are suggested as preparation for hearing the readings in worship for the Sunday indicated above.

Series I: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 and Psalm 130

Series II: 1 Kings 19.4-8  and Psalm 34.1-8

Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2

John 6:35, 41-51 see also By the Well podcast on this text

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