May 25

National Day of Thanksgiving

 

 

National Day of Thanksgiving

Tomorrow marks our annual National Day of Thanksgiving. The day is designed as a celebration to thank God, and to thank one another. It is endorsed by the Governor General, and has bi-partisan political support.

Thanksgiving is at the heart of the gospel; it is the spring from which our Christian life flows. When we see who God is for us in Jesus Christ, we can only respond with gratitude and thankfulness. All we are and do then flows from appreciating and experiencing the transforming power and insight of this eternal reality. We are not slaving away, hoping to please a critical, angry and easily offended God. We are sharing in the grace of God who is love – who has always loved us, and always will. For which our lives become a constant expression of grace and gratitude.

As one church leader put it, hopefully a day of thanksgiving can work as an antidote to the “culture of complaint, criticism and cynicism” that is so prevalent. We see the culture of complaint all about us every day; it oozes its way into just about everything we see and hear. It becomes “normal” that human beings are quick to believe the worst. To impute negative motives. It becomes accepted that it is always the most negative innuendo that makes its way so briskly through the rumour mill. That bad news sells, that good news rarely makes it into the public domain.

A culture of thanksgiving and gratitude, and a culture of affirmation, go together. Thanksgiving is a vital part of the blood flow of our Life Together. So, while giving thanks to God is an integral part of daily life, why not find time for special thanksgiving this weekend. And why not say, write, email, or text someone who has been a blessing to you and say “thanks” as well. (You just might change their lives for the better in the process.)

After all, our desire is to reflect Paul’s beautiful prayer to the Thessalonians: to always be a joyful church, a praying church, and a thankful church (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

John McLean

Mission and National Director

Grace Communion International, Australia

 

 

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=172

May 21

Pentecost Service: Ross Town Hall, Sunday May 27th, 11am

We are holding our annual statewide Pentecost gathering at the Ross Town Hall, Main St. Ross, on Sunday May 27th, starting at 11am.  There is a hot lunch provided.

We will be celebrating the beginning of the Church brought about by the Holy Spirit.  In particular we will discuss the Holy Spirit, and the results of the Spirit’s work on earth.

If you’d like to join us but need a lift, please contact Phil at 03 6243 1231.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=167

Mar 16

“God & Science: In the Pulpit,” March 28th

Rev Dr Graham Buxton is the Director of the Graeme Clark Research Institute, & Head of Postgraduate Studies in the School of Ministry, Theology & Culture at Tabor Adelaide. He is an ordained Anglican minister with extensive experience in pastoral ministry.

On Wed March 28th, he is doing a free seminar at St George’s (30 Cromwell St, Battery Point), titled “God & Science: In the Pulpit”.

3pm – “Pastors & church leaders”
7pm – “Principals & schoolteachers”
(Both aimed at leaders but open to anyone interested)

Christian leaders find themselves in a unique role as those who speak with authority in the congregation and come across questions about science and  faith they may not have the resources to answer. Christian leaders need to know how to respond to genuine questions from their congregational members in an informed and pastoral manner.

The debate about creation and evolution remains a contentious issue, and contemporary concerns coupled with technological advances often add to the dilemma for many Christians.

Science can be an uncomfortable topic within the church community but it need not be. Christian leaders need a framework for thinking through the hype surrounding these topics in order to identify the genuine core concerns.

This seminar series will assist in creating a conversation and dialogue on how to discuss these issues with your congregation in an open and honest way.

It is also being promoted nationally by both Tabor Adelaide & The Institute for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science and Technology (ISCAST).

Reverend Dr Graham Buxton is the Director of Postgraduate Studies in Ministry and  Theology at Tabor Adelaide and Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Fuller Seminary in the USA. He is an ordained Anglican (1983), with extensive experience in lay pastoral ministry.  He is the author of Dancing in the Dark: The Privilege of Participating in the Ministry of Christ (Carlisle UK: Paternoster; 2001) and The Trinity, Creation and Pastoral Ministry (Milton Keynes UK: Paternoster; 2005).

To read an excerpt from his book The Trinity, Creation and Pastoral Ministry click here

To purchase the above book click here

 

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=155

Feb 23

What on Earth is Lent?

“Lent”  What a strange, archaic and religious sounding word!

It is a forty day time of year in the Christian calendar.  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent] It isn’t a celebration in the sense that we normally think about celebrations like Christmas, Easter, anniversaries and birthdays etc.   It has to do with acknowledging our need of God and his love, help and guidance.  Many Christians give up something during Lent. Perhaps that is why Lent isn’t as well known or observed.  It is often chocolate or some other pleasure.  It has been suggested recently that we might try giving up one or more of our electronic gadgets.

Lent is an opportunity to take a look at our lives from the larger perspective, through God’s eyes.   To refocus on what is important, and clear away some of the clutter and distractions of our busy, technologically blitzed and overwhelming lives.  It helps us value who God is for us in his Son and his Spirit, that will be celebrated at Easter and Pentecost.

The Anglicans have always been good at finding helpful words and prayers for times like these.   Take the following from their “Book of Prayer” for the preface to Lent;

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the
pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation
of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those
more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and
our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to
commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

[http://www.bcponline.org/SpecialDays/ashwed.html]

There are a couple of excellent articles you might want to read for further insights into the purpose and value of Lent, particularly concerning the communal benefits of worship that Lent and other Christian celebrations provide.

Why I Observe Lent

Lent Gives Way to Technology Fast

You are more than welcome to join us at any of our services and celebrations 
on Sunday mornings at 10am,  at Mornington Community Church, 
10 Binnalong Road, Mornington.

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=146

Dec 23

Science is About Explanation, Religion is About Meaning

Alister McGrath

There is an insightful article by Alister McGrath at ABC the Drum on Science and Christianity; the following is a summary.   I’ve listed some suggestions for further reading at the end.

In the article, McGrath comments on the “New Atheists” aggressive proclamation against belief in God, and goes on to talk about what Science can prove, and what it assumes about the origins of our wonderful universe. He writes, “Science is indeed one of the most successful and exciting ways of making sense of our universe.”   But adds that science is focused on method, “of making sense of things.” Which is an ongoing exercise with changing conclusions.

He makes the point that while many atheists put down Christians for believing in a supreme being without proof, “science regularly posits the existence of things whose existence cannot be proved to make sense of our observations.”   There are many things scientists presume without being able to see them or prove they exist, such as the existence of “dark matter.”  In fact outside of mathematics and logic, there are surprisingly few things that can be absolutely proven.  He points out how we ” mostly judge theories by how much sense they make of observations. Power to explain is widely regarded as an indicator of truth. Observations don’t prove theories; rather, theories explain observations, and are judged on the quality of those explanations.”

Theories are common in science, and can be held to for a very long time before “absolute proof” is found, if indeed it can be.   He uses the “big bang” theory as an example, which is currently accepted “mainly because it is more consistent with our observations of the universe than its “steady state” rival. It can’t be proved (after all, it’s a singular event). But it does make a lot of sense of things.”

Rather than running away from the reality of life, the universe and everything, Christianity looks to faith to find meaning and sense in the midst of all of lifes’ complexities, contradictions and perplexities; personal, societal and universal.  Some religious people use faith as an excuse to deny the realities of life, and the challenges of scientific discovery.  On the other hand, some atheists jump to unfair and distorted conclusions in their dogmatic refusal to accept that the existence of God cannot be disproven or proven.

McGrath writes, “For Christians, faith is not a blind leap into the dark, but a joyful discovery of a bigger and clearer picture of things, of which we are part.”  He quotes French social commentator and activist Simone Weil who talked about the judging Christianity as you do “the power of a torch… by its ability to illuminate the world’s shadows.”  McGrath points to how the apostle John wrote about Jesus being “light of the world” – and how as the Son of God he has “power to illuminate the dark matter of our soul and our world.”

He continues; “So how does the Christian faith light up the shadowlands of life? The Christian tradition speaks of God as someone who makes sense of the puzzles and enigmas of life, illuminating our paths as we travel.” McGrath adds that Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks made the point. that “science takes things apart to see how they work. But religion puts them back together again to see what they mean.”

Science explains and helps us understand how particular parts of the material universe function and work together.  Religion sheds some light on what it is all about, the meaning and “big picture” behind it all that helps us see our place in it all.

McGrath concludes, “The Christian vision, enacted and proclaimed in the Christmas story, is that of a God whose tender affection for humanity led him to enter our history as one of us.  At Christmas, we recall that God is one who tells us he’s there, shows us what he’s like, and accompanies us as we journey – even through the darkest and loneliest valleys of life.”

Alister McGrath is Professor of Theology at King’s College London, and President of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He is currently writing a new biography of the Oxford apologist and writer C.S. Lewis.

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=139

Dec 23

The Miracle and Mystery of Christmas

At this time of the year Christians celebrate what Karl Barth has called “the mystery and miracle of Christmas” – the incarnation – the birth of Jesus as a baby. God selflessly empties himself into his own creation, not for any externally imposed reason, but as a free expression of his own unconditional love. He does this because he wants to share his life, the Trinitarian life of Father, Son and Spirit, with his creation. He does this because he wants to be in fellowship, in relationship, with us. He does it because, as Barth again says, he has determined not to live without us.

Irenaeus said, “Our Lord Jesus Christ…through his transcendent love, (became) what we are that he might bring us to be even what he is himself”. Athanasius put it this way: “He became man that we might be made divine”. As theologian Michael Jinkins explains, he meant by this that through Christ we share the very life of God. He is affirming “our real participation by faith in the character of God (the self-giving, kenotic, love of other), which is revealed in Jesus Christ.”

This has become known as the great or wonderful or glorious exchange – that he became what we are that we might become as he is. James B. Torrance captures this cogently when he writes, “The prime purpose of the incarnation, in the love of God, is to lift us up into the life of communion, of participation in the very triune life of God”.

Christ-centred, Trinitarian theology is Incarnational. Not as one act among many equally important acts, but as the unique, central act in atonement, salvation, sanctification, fellowship and eternal life. More, the Incarnation isn’t just about action, but about who is acting – the Son, who becomes the human face of God, God-with-us.  But more importantly, Jesus is born, lives, dies and is resurrected for us.

Jesus is not just someone who comes along to fix things for us. He is not a “divine spanner” to fix the relationship with God. He is not a divine accountant who balances the books. He doesn’t oversee a business transaction to set us right with God. We are right with God, in fellowship, in Him. It’s a “who” question. It’s about relationships, not rules and regulations. It’s about fellowship, not formulas.

It’s no accident that Athanasius, who provides the first complete list of the New Testament books we have, and who articulates well the reasons for a Trinitarian understanding of God (against Arius), also believed the celebration of Christmas was very important. This is, after all, what it is all about – the revelation of the Father, his unconditional love (John 3:16-17; Phil 2:5-8), and his eternal plan of adoption and fellowship for all mankind. Christmas eloquently demonstrates who God is, and the hope for all human beings, even in the midst of suffering and sorrow.

Christmas also argues against the incomplete views of God that deny or minimize either his humanity (Docetism, Gnosticism in general) or his divinity (Ebionitism). Jesus comes as flesh and blood – as a dependant baby. The Master of the Universe, who created and holds it all together, becomes one of us.

This is why Athanasius thought Christmas was such an important part of the Christian liturgy. It really is the message of hope and joy for all mankind. A message which has never been needed more than it is now.

John McLean

GCI National Director

Finding God in Jesus

 

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=134

Nov 28

Mike Feazell video on YouTube

You can watch segments of Mike’s presentation in Hobart in October either on our Video page, or if you have any trouble playing it there, you can watch it directly on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaaUgDq61rU

I plan to add more segments later on.   If you would like a DVD copy of the entire sermon, you can contact us by responding to this post and providing your address.   (Your response will be kept private.)

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=118

Nov 14

Videos on Trinitarian Christian Faith

Rev. Dr. Elmer Colyer presenting at the 2011 Canadian National Conference (GCI)Dr. Elmer Colyer recently spoke at the Grace Communion International, Canada National Conference, in Ottawa on the topic of “Participatory, Trinitarian Christian Faith”

 

There are videos and transcripts at; http://www.gci.org/pastoral/colyerconf2011.

 

 

 

 

 

Session 1

The Resurgence of Participatory Trinitarian Christian Faith

Session 2

The Trinitarian Center of the Faith

Session 3
The Holy Spirit, The Lord, The Giver of Life

Session 4
Embodying Participatory Trinitarian Christian Faith

Session 5
Question and Answer

 

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=112

Oct 18

Guest Speaker: Michael Feazell

You are invited to come and hear our denominational Vice-President, Dr. Michael Feazell at a special 11am service, on Sunday October 23rd at our regular venue in Mornington.   

Mike is also the host of the regular You’re Included video program that features discussions with Trinitarian theologians from North America and Europe.

He is the Executive Editor of Christian Odyssey magazine.

He is also the author of a book on the dramatic changes in the Worldwide Church of God in the 1990’s, titled The Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God.

 

You can find an interview with Mike at; http://www.gci.org/GCIT025

A light lunch will be served after the meeting.

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=92

Oct 06

Forward together, through prayer

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As you know, I often close my Weekly Update letter with the reminder that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith. It is through prayer – both individually and corporately – that we go forward, together.

There are many ways to pray of course, but not many of them are in tune with what Christian prayer is all about. There is an old saying that goes, “Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes amiss.” Just the fact that we believe something or have always done something in a certain way, does not make that thing true or right. Many prayers are focused on people’s selfish wants and desires, not on the things God has shown us are important. How many people pray for the fruit of the Spirit, for example. How many people pray for the welfare and blessing of their enemies? How many prayers are focused primarily on giving thanks? On the other hand, how many prayers are focused on winning a game, winning a lottery prize, getting the car or house we have our eye on, or on getting someone else to do or see things our way? The Bible says, ”When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

The kinds of prayers that Christians pray have to do with Jesus command that we love one another (John 13:34-35). We pray for not merely for things, but for one another, because the primary thing Jesus has given us to do as his disciples is to care about, build up, encourage, strengthen, forgive, serve, and in any other way we can, to love one another.

That is why our prayers are focused on seeking God’s will, because God’s will is that we love one another. Through prayer, we listen to God as well as talk with God. In prayer our hearts and minds are intertwined with his, allowing us to discern more clearly his will and purpose. A good way to pray is to pray through a passage, listening to what God may have to say to us through the passage and talking to him about it.

In Jesus’s love,

Joseph Tkach

Permanent link to this article: https://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=66