Easter Sunday 2018 Message by Morag Thorne

It’s always a challenge trying to decide what to speak about on Easter Sunday – it shines a light into so many dark places. Should we focus on the light or the dark places? I think we have to think about both.

The first reading, from John’s gospel, shows the dark places that fear, hatred and a love of power create when they compromise and collude with each other. Dark places allow evil to go unchallenged, and innocent people are sacrificed for wicked purposes.

Sometimes gullible or vulnerable people are sacrificed too, pulled into the plotting and scheming, used and manipulated by the more dominant voices or forces. Vulnerable does not always mean innocent or weak – it just means that somebody else holds some kind of power over you, and uses it like a lever to push you into a certain position.

Continue reading Easter Sunday 2018 Message by Morag Thorne

Advertisements

2018 Palm & Passion Sunday Address by Morag Thorne

Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday – it’s one of those strange days when you can’t help being aware of two conflicting events, one joyful and one sad, and feeling torn between the two. (Hold up two scarves, one colourful, one black, to suggest these). You know, it might be that you have a family wedding in the same week as the anniversary of a family death, and there’s a clash of memories and emotions, happy and sad. That’s Palm Sunday / Passion Sunday: celebration and suffering held in tension.

On the joyful side, (put on colourful scarf) we think of the mood of the people cheering Jesus into Jerusalem, because he was, or was becoming, a hero to many of them. There were people there he had healed from disease and disability, people whose family lives had been renewed because of this. He was a rabbi, and he could argue the scriptures with the Pharisees in ways that were much more positive and uplifting to ordinary people than the endless academic discussions the Pharisees engaged in. Jesus didn’t talk down to ordinary people. And here he was making a formal, ritual kind of entry into the city at Passover festival time, in a way that was loaded with symbolism for those who recognised it. The day was full of excitement, energy and anticipation that something really important was going to happen. And I always feel that it’s the kind of day, the kind of public acclamation that Jesus deserved – to be honoured by people who saw him as a focus of hope.

Continue reading 2018 Palm & Passion Sunday Address by Morag Thorne

Message 7th January 2018 by Bill Hearn

Hi, you have got me today, but Morag has used a different Gospel reading to the one set out in the Revised Common Lectionary for the start of Epiphany for this year. Both however relate in some way to the Baptism of Jesus. So I intend to speak on Baptism.

Last week Morag spoke of the genealogy of Jesus through both Mary the blood line and Joseph her husband, tracing back to King David, the branch of Jesse. Another of the ways where Jesus is the fulfilment of prophesies of old. Today we read how God the Father brought the deity of Jesus into focus through His baptism.

I want to start with a question:

how often do you think about your baptism?

Continue reading Message 7th January 2018 by Bill Hearn

Pentecost Message – Sunday 4th June 2017

Today is Pentecost, the church’s birthday – so, ‘Happy birthday’ everyone! I think we are going to have a celebration at morning tea, so I’d better not take too long with today’s message.

Now when Morag was arranging for speakers for the Sundays she would be away, she asked me which ones I would be here to do. I looked at my diary and said “well one could be the 4th June”. She then said; “You sure, that’s Pentecost”? I thought, ‘well so what, after all it’s not like Christmas Day or Easter or any of those type of popular celebrations, is it’?

In preparing for the message, I think I started to understand why Morag second checked with me.

Continue reading Pentecost Message – Sunday 4th June 2017

The way, the truth and the life – By Bill Hearn

The Acts reading (Acts 7:55-60) is very dramatic; the stoning of Stephen. It is also the first we read about Saul who later experienced a very miraculous change and became the Apostle Paul the servant of Christ.
But today we focus on Stephen. This tragic event follows on from Stephen giving a most articulate history of God’s involvement in the lives of men and women throughout the ages and simply includes Jesus as the natural continuation of that Godly presence in our lives. This was a very faithful and brave thing for him to do at this time, speaking as he did before people with strong alternate views.

The reaction of the people was violence towards the messenger. Continue reading The way, the truth and the life – By Bill Hearn

Death & Resurrection – By Bill Hearn

 

The readings today, from Ezekiel 37 and John 11, are magnificent but very dramatic.
I have been inspired by the writings of a Uniting Church Minister, a lady named Moira Laidlaw in preparing this message.
Nowadays, if you go to the movies or often even on Television, we get snippets or trailers of an upcoming film or TV Show. It gives you an idea of what is coming but refrains from giving you the whole story or what the critical climax might be.
Today’s readings are a bit like that. We are tracking towards Easter and the inevitability of Good Friday. We are on a journey with Jesus.
Continue reading Death & Resurrection – By Bill Hearn

Follow the Signs

‘Political correctness’ means not using words or actions that exclude or demean people by reinforcing some form of negative stereotyping or bigotry. It is sometimes a shallow attempt to appear more fair-minded and caring than we really are, but over time, it can in fact move us in that direction.
Stereotyping and prejudice are lazy habits, so taking care to use words that maintain a proper respect for others can feel pedantic or artificial. With repetition, though, it increases our awareness of people or disadvantage that haven’t previously mattered to us. This awareness makes it more likely that they will come to matter to us, and we will be more likely to support justice where it is lacking.
Being pushed to use the right words won’t change everyone, of course. Some people still harbour inner ignorance or hostility. The value of public political correctness is that it prevents us from taking up or reinforcing thoughtless ways simply by default. It acts like a guide or a sign-post, showing up a hazard we might choose to avoid.
In Galatians, Paul says that the Law was intended for the same purpose, to be a guide or guardian, to steer us away from wrong behaviour until we are mature enough to choose wisely for ourselves. In our knowledge and commitment to Christ, he says, we come to maturity and no longer need the Law. Bless his optimism and faith in us! Still, there’s no doubt that the world is changing. Self- interest and vices persist, but I am constantly cheered by learning of the efforts of good and godly people working for marginalised and disadvantaged people everywhere. Human hearts, when shown the options, turn so readily towards what is good, fair and kind.
Thank God, who made us that way.
Thank God for all that keeps us on the right track,
Go well,
Morag

Ascension: rising to a higher level

We often give only token acknowledgement of the event of Jesus’ ascension to heaven; yet every event in the gospels is worth attention and reflection.

Consider this:
Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus was carried into heaven. This isn’t an action that Jesus does to himself: it was something that God did to him and for him. Yet he was not a passive participant. He withdrew from them – a combination of action and surrender. It is what Jesus invites the disciples to do: wait to be clothed with power from on high. The power we can expect to receive from the Holy Spirit is not something inside of us, like super willpower. It is something outside of us that works in such a way that it transforms us.
Even while blessing the disciples, Jesus chose to leave it to them. The same ones who were capable of making inspired declarations of faith in one breath, and messing up badly in the next breath. Jesus chose to trust his mission to these disciples—just as he chooses us: this church that is capable of great acts of faith in one moment and messing it up badly in the next. Jesus trusts us with his mission.
Two thousand years later, we haven’t destroyed the church yet. And we won’t. Because God is God and we are not. We are trusted with a part of the mission, enabled by God’s blessing and power from on high. It is enough for us to bless God in return through the way we live our lives.
Encouraging words! May they encourage and reassure you,
Morag
Based on Rev. Ann Dieterle’s article on her website, “Modern Metanoia”.