Canberra Spanish Church – Iglesia Cristo Para Las Naciones (who meet at WCUC on Sunday afternoons) are having their annual Latin American Food Festival at Weston Creek UC on Saturday 2 November, 2013 from 11.30am-3.30pm.
It’s that time! (Only 2 weeks left!!) The Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes are now being collected for distribution to underprivileged kids in nations in the South East Asia/Pacific Region.
Each year we collect dozens of boxes and send them off through Samaritan’s Purse – Operation Christmas Child program. They become a small part of million of similar gift boxes that make an incredible difference in lives of children across the world.
Check out this link to get the picture.
We have only two weeks to get our boxes in. We will be dedicating them at church on 3rd November.
We still have boxes at the office for your use (50c donation).
If you have any questions about what goes in the box – just go to the Operation Christmas Child web site at www.operationchristmaschild.org.au or ask Kimberly or Robert Francis at WCUC.
Please make the effort to fill a box and make a difference in the life of a child!
From the very beginning of the Bible God’s people were blessed to be a blessing to others. God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen 12) clearly shows that the Israelites were to be a blessing to all nations as bearers of God’s saving message.
. The trouble was, the people wanted the blessing of being God’s chosen people without any of the responsibilities. So they constantly paid little more than lip service to their God. a regular cyclethat included invasion, defeat, exile and captivity before the people called out to God for help…and so it was in the time of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah lived about 600 years before the time of Christ and was commissioned as a prophet during the era of the godly King Josiah. Sadly, after Josiah’s death in battle against the Egyptians, what started out as a happy alliance quickly turned into imprisonment and doom under the rapid succession of Josiah’s successors – all vassal kings, firstly to the Egyptians and then to the Babylonians.
It was in this time of Nebuchadnezzar that Babylon ruled the region unchallenged for about 70 years. This was the period of Daniel and his friends who were taken as captives to Babylon.
Taken as captives to Babylon, the Israelites began to long for home and a better time. Their priests and prophets wanted to keep their hopes up, that they would be returning to the old ways soon – but God had other plans. Jeremiah writes them a letter and tells them to settle down and get used to their circumstances – to make friends with their neighbours – to seek the welfare of the city they are living in – to make it a better place – and by blessing it then they would be blessed. He said – stop thinking about yourself and remember the covenant.
Certainly a message that has relevance for the church in Australia in the 21st century.
Now, let’s fast forward about 600 years, to the time of Christ (Luke 17) – and the remnant of Judah live in Jerusalem, Judea and Galilee and are known as the Jews. They are the pure bloods; the ones who can trace their ancestry back – who have stayed true to their understanding of the Hebrew texts
But just up the road are the non-pure bloods. The remnant of the other tribes of Israel that created their own religion when they moved away from God…they are mixed race group –the Samaritans. The Jews despised the Samaritans almost more than the gentiles and to consider any of them good was beyond belief. I wonder how many of Jesus followers really took his parable about the good Samaritan to heart…to many it would have been little more than a fairy tale. However, the story of the ten lepers highlights that a good Samaritan was myth…in fact this Samaritan easily showed up the Jews when it came to faith and gratitude towards God.
Luke’s gospel is one that highlights God’s foreign policy. Aimed at a Gentile audience, it highlights several key non-Jews as recognising Jesus as the Messiah and who Jesus recognises as having faith. So it is with the Samaritan, whose actions and sincerity are acknowledged as faith, while the nine Jewish companions are shown to be cleansed on the outside, but inside, their lack of thankfulness highlights their ingratitude, which in reality is a greater disease than leprosy – which is only a disease of the skin, not the heart!
• The 9 Jews were clean on the outside, but had not received cleansing on the inside. They had missed the point.
• The foreigner was included in God’s blessing and he understood. While they ran home, he stopped because he had no home…even healed he was still and outcast with nowhere to go and no one to celebrate with. So, in that moment of recognition, he does the right thing and returns to Jesus.
• The 9 Jews saw Jesus as a healer who could help them with their immediate problem, while Samaritan saw Jesus as the answer to all of his problems.
• The 9 Jews saw Jesus as useful for them to get back their old way of life, while the Samaritan saw Jesus as the ultimate answer to his life’s questions.
• The 9 sought the blessing of a priest, while the Samaritan gave thanks to God and received God’s blessing.
Like Jeremiah’s message to those in exile – the exiled Samaritan saw things differently. He saw things clearly. He saw Jesus for who he is. He had seen God’s perspective and had left a changed man… still a foreigner,, still alienated from the Jews…but now he was a citizen of God’s kingdom, with a story to tell. On the other hand, the Jews had returned to their lives, overjoyed that they were no longer outcasts – but missing the point.
Be careful not to miss the point!
We are blessed through our encounter with Jesus– but we are meant to pass on the blessing to others and not just those who look and sound like us.
Sadly, many people give lip service to God.
We may come to worship and pray each Sunday, but do not let that impact the rest of the week. We seek the blessing of God, but do not allow Jesus to change us inside. This is why many of us struggle with inconsistency between our walk and our talk.
How are we to make a difference in the community if we do not find ways to bless it? Where are the places in our community where we can make a difference? If our attitude is gratitude for God’s gift and generosity in passing it on, then there will be a consistency with our walk and our talk.
But what happens when God’s people are silent? God will not go without a witness. He will raise up others like the Samaritan who get it and gladly take the message where it belongs – away from the holy huddles and to all peoples, everywhere – that’s God’s foreign policy. We are blessed to be a blessing – we cannot keep it to ourselves, it goes against the purpose of the church.
’I wish I had greater faith’.
Ever thought that – or uttered those words?
You are not the first person to say that – and that was something of the sentiment of the disciples when they were faced with problems (as we read about them in the bible, especially in Luke 17: 5-10). The trouble with a wish, is that it something we hope for, without any assurance that the hope will be realised. While a prayer, is something we ask God for with the assurance from Jesus that when we ask in Jesus name and in line with the will of God we will get what we ask for.
We believe that God answers prayer – just sometimes the answer is yes; sometimes no; and sometimes not now!
I have often heard people pray – God make me a better person – rather than – God I choose to be a better person but I need your help – please help me change my thoughts, my actions – my heart – so when I am tempted to do the wrong thing – I will choose to follow in your ways.
So what did the disciples ask for Luke 17?…’greater faith!’
How do you get greater faith? Like other character areas that need developing…faith comes through use. God pushes and stretches us so that our faith grows. Jesus wanted to stress how a little bit of faith goes a long way, when used properly. He said, if you have a tiny bit of faith you can say to a mulberry tree, be uprooted and thrown into the sea. To the disciples that sounded like an impossibility – and it was from a natural way of viewing it. But through the lens of faith – all things become possible.
However, such a small bit of faith emphasises that it is not the size of your faith that is the problem – it is our ability to recognise the size of our God. It’s a matter of perspective!!
Recently I was in Goulburn during the Lilac city festival. At the market day, I came across a stall selling coins. Some were packaged up with prices, and were quite valuable. However, the man also had a box full of loose coins. As I rummaged through the coins from various countries, I saw an old Australian 1912 penny. It struck me because it was over 100 years old.
I asked the man, “how much for the coin?” His reply was “Is it significant to you?” I thought this might put up the price, so I said, “Not really, I just think that it is amazing that it is over 100 years old!” To that, he said “You can have it then – take it, it free. “ I was amazed. But he said “I just like watching people go through the coins and discover something special”. I thanked him and walked away with a new precious possession – one that had cost me nothing – but something that was beginning to gain in value to me, the more I focused on the gift.
Now, if I would have just put it in my bag and then thrown it in a drawer when I got home, it would have not gained any value – it would have lost its significance and become devalued. However, I started to think about the monarch George V, and found out about his reign from 1910-1932. He was the second son of Edward VII, who was King during World War 1 and was one of few monarchs to survive the wars and revolutions of the turn of the 20th century.
I also remembered that 1912 was famous for the Titanic.
It was the year that the Australian coat of arms was given royal ascent and the wattle became our official flower. It was the year my great grandparents James and Florence were married and set out for Australia from England. The more I looked at the coin, the more significant it became. It was a matter of perspective.
It’s a plain coin – not worth anything anymore. No longer currency – but it is a gift that has now been invested in some significance and I intend to give it a new lease life.
It reminds me of the gift that God has given to us all. Like the coin, the gift that God gives us can become devalued due to non-use. When Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 1, he was concerned that Timothy was allowing his ‘gift’ to be devalued. He reminded Timothy of the resources that God gives us when we receive the gift, resources of God’s power, love and the ability to be disciplined to live out our faith in our daily lives.
Like the disciples of Jesus – Timothy had a duty to perform – he knew that he needed to be obedient to his calling but his character flaws and his circumstances had gotten in the way.
How many times have you felt paralysed when you know you have a responsibility to share your testimony – your story of faith – through actions or words? Most of us find ourselves relating to Timothy on occasions.
At times like that we wish we had more faith!
But, how about exercising the little bit you have. It could do with a little more exercise. God never commissions a person to a task without imparting a special gift appropriate to that task. The trouble is the gift is given – but it needs developing – it needs to be exercise…we are told to fan the flame..if not, indifference or fear can cause it to burn low…and cause us to become overwhelmed by the size of the problems we face.
God’s Spirit gives us power and strength to deal with our fears each day, so that we can fulfil God’s purpose for our lives. But, we need to do something about it. We need to exercise our faith and fan the flame…
Biggest CRAFT SHOW ever!
The 2013 Craft show is on track to be the biggest ever with a record number of exhibitors already entered and some more to come! However help is needed to fill the duty roster. The Roster Sheet is posted on the Notice Board at the rear of the Auditorium, please see where you can help.
Advertising is also very important! Pamphlets are ready for letter box drops; please remember to mark the streets to which you will be delivering on the map.