Welcome to one and all – members, friends and visitors as we gather on this last Sunday of July 2016 to worship God as two congregations joined as ONE in Christ. I often ask myself what is the most important purpose of our coming together every 5th Sunday. Some will rightly point out fellowship as important, and it is the only time we get together for a nice lunch and catch up with friends. Whilst they are all important – what stands us apart from any other social organisation’s monthly or quarterly get together, whether it be Probus, Rotary, Lions is that the Church’s purpose of coming together is not to serve our own interest but to point to the kingdom that is to come. The church becomes the sign and symbol or the foretaste of what is to expect in the fulfilment of God’s kingdom. Each time we meet should remind ourselves and the world that as people drawn together as ONE it points directly to what to expect in the kingdom, we become a symbol of unity, of being ONE in Jesus’ name.
Uniting Care Geelong
You might recall that for most of the combined services in the past 4 years we have invited Guest Speakers from the community as part of our gathering to remind us of that ONENESS is not for us to keep but to offer and modelled that to our community and the whole of God’s creation. That is why we have invited and welcome to our service this morning the Chief Executive Officer of the UnitingCare Geelong, Mr Des Younghusband, to share with us the important work his organisation is undertaking for the benefit of the people of the Greater Geelong Region. UnitingCare Geelong is an agency of the Uniting Church and a partner in mission with all Uniting Church congregations. Together we are called into this ministry of love, care and support of those who are in the margins of our community.
The Gospel of Luke is often called by various names – the Gospel of Women, the Gospel of Mercy and Forgiveness are but two. Luke presents Jesus as a friend and advocate of those whom society ignores or turns from in distaste: the poor, handicapped persons, homeless and all who found themselves relegated to the fringes of the community. The portrait of Jesus we see in Luke is of one whose life and message are closely linked to the “outsiders.” In his own life, in his teaching, in his interactions with people, he showed extraordinary love, patience and compassion to those in the fringes. Our call then is to be Church in that space because it is only where we are able to see who are the real ‘poor and crippled, the blind, the lame, and those along the roads and lanes.” (Luke 14:21-22) Have a blessed week. Ikani.
On the front page of the Geelong Advertiser, Saturday 28th of May, the headline reads “Sick Kids Fizz Ban”. The picture of the pouring fizzy can with the word ‘canned’ initially caught my attention to read the whole article. Apparently, a decision has been reached by Barwon Health that it will soon removed all sugary drinks from its cafeterias and vending machines as their way of ’targeting obesity and diabetes.’ So if you are one of those whose excuse after a long visit to the doctor is to settled yourself with the aid of a sugary treat, be warned H2O with a Mars bars may just be as good.
The article is interesting, in my view, for two reasons. First, it highlights not only the alarming rate of people diagnosed with diabetes across our nation every year, it also hints at a society which becoming more at home with the notion that the corporate entity, be it government or organisation, knows best.Whilst banning sugary drinks from hospitals is a commendable part of the solution it continues to remove from the individual their right to make their own decision. The government’s own health website identified that the main cause of obesity is not just the choice of food people eat or drink, it is also their lack of exercise and physical activity. Banning the food without supporting the individual to make good life choices in food and lifestyle will offer, at best, a bandaid solution into solving this national health concern. Empowering the people to see the benefit to their lives and their community of making the right choices will enable a more prosperous community and a healthy nation.
Our Lectionary reading from the Hebrew Bible for this Sunday tells of Elijah’s triumph over the priests of Baal. It is a very captivating account of how Elijah challenged both the priests of the Israelite and them of Baal to make firm their choice of which God they will seek to follow. On the surface,the story may seems to be about the challenge laid down by Elijah and the favourable outcome he received from his God. In closer examination of the selected text, it allows the priest, and us, to see that the act Elijah performed was no consequence to how God has acted for and on their behalf in the past. Whether the sacrificial ritual of a full unblemished lamb or simply a ‘bull’ cut up in pieces, and water drenched the offering, is followed or not, God will act nonetheless. The God of their ancestors who remained faithful to them in the past and has ‘chosen’ them as his people will continue to be their God. The choice that they will now make was made easier when they can connect the dots between what confronts them now and that of their history. Through out their history, and even when they are in doubts, they will continue to be drenched by the faithfulness of their God against any other.
I hope that as you go about your daily activities this week be assured that God has chosen us in his Son Jesus Christ thereby making it bearable the choices we have to make in life what ever the consequences.
Cancer Council – Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea
Leopold Uniting Church – Wednesday 24th May
Mark the date in your diary to come and join with us here for a tasty & delightful morning out…