Teach Us to Pray – Sunday 28th July 2013

Here is the audio recording of the full service from Sunday morning’s service, 28th July 2013.

Listen from the internet 

Or download the mp3 file for your own device: 13072801-teach-us-to-pray

The readings for this week were: Hosea 1:2-10, Psalm 85, Colossians 2:6-15, Luke 11:1-13
The readings for next week are: Hosea 11:1-11, Psalm 107:1-9, 43, Colossians 3:1-11, Luke 12:13-21

You can find past and future readings here: The Revised Common Lectionary

During his sermon, Bradley referenced this video of Andrea Bocelli, with a beautiful choir and orchestra singing The Lord’s Prayer:

Please leave feedback to let us know what you thought of it 🙂

Disciples’ Way of Prayer

Disciples’ Way of Prayer, 28th July 2013    

Welcome to Worship at Ashmore Uniting Church today.  Over the past few weeks I have made some references to the Islamic faith and the current period of Ramadan, which concludes next Wednesday 7th August.  A number of people have been using the “30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World” which has given us an amount of information about people living in Muslim communities and something of the context that Christians living in these places find themselves.  This Prayer Guide is just one way of being more aware of “Our Neighbours” in this global community that is our world.

Ralph Reilly who works in the area of long term mission placement has also given us another way of directing our Christian focus through this period of Ramadan via the reflections of Dave Andrews and his reflections on inter-faith relationships.

As a result of these discussions and reflections by me in our Church services over these past two weeks there has been heightened level of discussion about our Christian faith and its relationship to other faiths.  A question asked by one parishioners this week was “Is Christianity the only true faith?”  I am thrilled that our Sunday worship has stirred up such fertile discussion.  Ralph has responded to that question as follows:-

What a great question! I’m glad you asked – I wish we could have more of a conversation around this because I’d love to hear your opinion too.

I think it is an important question and I think it will become more important as the years go on (if Jesus doesn’t come back). I think that the world is getting smaller (metaphorically) and more faiths and ethnic and cultural backgrounds are rubbing shoulders as never before.

My opinion, and from my experience and reading is that, the short answer is yes, but the long answer is not so simple.

I believe that there is only one true God, that we are his creation, and that Jesus is the only way to salvation / heaven / relationship with God / whatever words you want to use. I think that there is only salvation through God’s grace, through faith in Christ, and I hold that the bible is the inspired word of God.

I hope that is a “yes” to the question that you were asking. Is it?

My reading of bible, however, leads me to understand that God was revealing himself through his creation and by working in people’s lives and nation’s histories well before Jesus was a boy.

I understand that God expects people to be able to know him without having heard about Jesus simply by seeing and experiencing his handiwork and care through creation. I do, however, take seriously the biblical mandate to make Christ known “in season and out of season” as Paul says in 2 Timothy 4.

So I fully expect that there is SOME of God’s truth in the non-Jesus religions that people have developed over the years and centuries, based on what they have seen and experienced of God. So I would say that other faiths are partially true – they contain some truth. But that is NOT saying that they are true because I believe there are essential differences that stop more then one of them being true. More than that, and without accepting the beliefs of other religions, or changing what we believe about Jesus, I believe we can learn about ourselves, and the one true God by learning about other religions.

And while Jesus was very clear about there being one true God, and Paul in the epistles, and Moses and the prophets in the Old Testament were very clear about there being one true religion, when Jesus in the Gospels meets or talks about someone from another religion (Naaman the Syrian Lk4:27, Roman Centurion Mt8:10, Caananite woman Mt15:28, the “Good Samaritan” Lk10:37) they are held up as good examples for us to learn from and follow (!!!).

So I think it is appropriate, in church, to learn about the devotion of Muslims and any other group that we can learn about, while recognising, as Paul does of the Jews in Romans 10:2-3, “I can assure you that they are deeply devoted to God; but their devotion is not based on true knowledge. They have not known the way in which God puts people right with himself, and instead, they have tried to set up their own way; and so they did not submit themselves to God’s way of putting people right.”

I hope we can learn from them, and respect them, and love them (as we are commanded), while still holding firmly to the truths of our Christian faith.

What do you think?

Your brother, Ralph.

After the service today, Ralph and I would like to give people a chance to talk with us about our faith in Jesus Christ and how it sits in relation to other faiths etc.  Join us at 10.45 in the Church if you’d like to discuss this together.

May you continue to make time to sit at the feet of Jesus … this week.  Rev. Brad Foote

Learning, Doing, Being – Sunday 21st July 2013

Here is the audio recording of the full service from Sunday morning’s service, 21st July 2013.

Listen from the internet 

Or download the mp3 file for your own device: 13072101-Learning_Doing_Being

During his sermon, Bradley referenced this video of Malala Yousafzai speaking to the UN:

Please leave feedback to let us know what you thought of it 🙂

Learning, Being, Doing

Learning, Being, Doing – 21 July 2013

Welcome to Worship at Ashmore Uniting Church today.

How’s this week been for you as a disciple of Jesus?

As I reflect on that question for a moment, I find that there are many distractions that have got in the way of focusing on my relationship with God this week.  Having a holiday where I could make choices for myself for a few weeks and then coming back to a busy work environment has demonstrated quite poignantly the heart of the theme that we will be focusing on today:- Learning, Being, Doing.

How do we keep the balance of this vital aspect of our discipleship?

From Luke 10:38-42 we have an appropriate follow on from last’s Sunday’s challenge by Jesus to “Go and DO the same” (Luke 10:37).  This week we find Jesus emphasizing the necessity of “sitting at His feet, listening to His Word” and cultivation that “Being” part of our relationship with God.

We are people who can too easily be distracted.  When we sit to meditate, a thousand things can flood into our minds and hearts, and our ability to focus on one thing can readily fly out the window.  Sometimes I have been on a Retreat where the stillness is available, but it has taken several days before I can “flush out” many of the distractions of my “outer world” before I have been able to refocus again on the centre of my “inner world”.  This is at the heart of our spiritual disciplines where the Holy Spirit seeks to live with us all the time.  Let’s share the journey together!

As we focus on Luke 10:38-42 we find Jesus and the disciples continuing “on the way to Jerusalem” (10:38).  Jesus and his disciples visit a home – curiously, Martha’s home.  A home would always be referred to in the context of the head male, unless such did not exist, suggesting that the two sisters live by themselves.  Mary sits at Jesus’ feet – with a desire to learn from the rabbi.  This is uniquely masculine behaviour.  In this context it is powerful that Jesus clearly affirms her choice.  Martha takes on a traditional and important role of hospitality.  She prepares a meal for Jesus and his entourage, and understandably is upset that Mary does not join her in this work.  It would have been assumed at that time that women sharing a house would also share the workload.  When Martha expresses her frustration, Jesus’ response would appear simply to affirm Mary’s choice – it does not suggest he is putting Martha down.  Perhaps he is inviting her to join them.

Sometimes we need to put aside some of the difficulties of a biblical text so that we can more easily extract truths that apply to us today.  If we can hear the affirmations of Mary without hearing Martha being put down, perhaps we can also hear the challenge to listen – really listen – to Jesus.  When have you found yourself drawn to listen – deep in your heart – to the word of God?  When you do, how are you challenged to let it change you, and use it to change the world around you?

This week we are beginning our Alpha course here at the Church on Thursday evenings from 7-9pm for the next 12 weeks.  Would you like to refresh your Learning, Doing, Being by committing to the new community that will be formed through this journey of Alpha?  Please let me know if you want to share this opportunity with me, by phoning Nikki (0400 209 020) or me on 0409 261 337 or leave a message on the Church Office phone 5597 2429.

May you make time to sit at the feet of Jesus … this week….Rev. Brad Foote

Neighbourly Love

Neighbourly Love  – 14 July 2013

Bula!!  and welcome to worship today.  Cheryl and I have had a wonderful holiday in Fiji and enjoyed the opportunity to have our first ‘long holiday together as a couple’ since being married almost 12 years ago.  We’ve been able to reflect on our journey together, learn something about another country and its people and we’ve built some new memories, which we will take into our lives for the future.  We’ve been reminded of the privileged opportunity that we have had in life and God has given us a number of experiences that will keep us “grounded” as Christians living in a world that is more and more becoming a ‘global village’.  The Fijians reminded us about the strength and value of God and family life.

We attended two different church services while we were away.  The first was with Semi and Liti’s Methodist Church in Suva on 30th June where everything was in Fijian (of course).  The service went for 2.5hrs and the unaccompanied singing was beautiful, rich and strong.  Some tunes were familiar which gave me a chance to pretend that I was singing along with them.  It was a pulpit exchange that day and we were invited to share in a Kava ceremony after the service for the leaders and other visitors.  We met Semi’s mother and a few of Liti’s family who treated us to a traditional Fijian feast for lunch, which we had in Semi and Liti’s home.  Last Sunday Cheryl and I attended a Church of Christ service in Nadi with some friends who live there.  Again all the singing was unaccompanied with beautiful harmonies, a mix of traditional hymns and familiar choruses.  This service however was in English and only lasted for 1.5hrs.  I’ve been told that Semi, Litiana and their family did a great job last week bringing God’s word to you here at Ashmore whist we were at worship in their home country of Fiji.  We’ve all had a share of Fijian spirituality haven’t we?

It was very sad to return home to the immediacy of the death of Laura Lewis this week.  My thanks must go to everyone who has supported Laura, Barry and Mark through this most difficult time of illness and loss.  To all those who contributed to Laura’s Funeral Service and lunch on Thursday I must say a big THANK YOU.  It was a beautiful service in every way. Laura’s sister said that it was just as Laura would have wanted it.  God reminded us that Isaiah 41:10 was His word for Laura throughout this ordeal – “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  I will help you.  I will uphold you with my victorious right hand”.  This was the verse that was printed on Laura’s prayer blanket, which was a gift from this church, and it was the verse that was in Laura’s devotional book that I read to her on the last day before I went on holidays.  May this also be of encouragement to you as well.

Today we are focusing on what some would say is the central tenant of the Christian Faith and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus:- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. And love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Luke 10:27).  Based on the Gospel reading from Luke 10:25-37 we will hear about Neighbourly Love from two families who have taken seriously Jesus words to “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:28).  Kristen Jack has spent 18years with his family in Phnom Penh from 1994 to Nov 2010 and is now based in NZ working with Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor.  The other family is Steve and Jane Wilson and their children Miriam and Henry.  They currently live in Kolkotta (formerly Calcutta) and are serving with Servants. We welcome them to this service of worship today.

May you “go and show Neighbourly Love” in all you do this week….Rev. Brad Foote