Life in our time and place

My wife Deb and I moved to Como and joined South Perth Uniting Church just before the first Pandemic lockdown in 2020. Typically, such a transition would have involved spending time adjusting to our new neighbourhood and faith community. Instead, we had the unique opportunity to be part of a congregation that rapidly adopted to new ways of meeting online, on-site and adjusting to an influx of new people.

The challenge has been navigating through different expectations, styles of communication and age ranges that includes four generations. We experimented a lot, in order to deepen and grow fellowship together as followers of the ways, works and words of Jesus. The pandemic constricted all of us to local places, as well as accelerating a bunch of societal changes. How are we meant to think, talk and act as followers of Jesus in our ‘new normal’ time?

I often remind myself of Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit will teach and guide us at the right time with what needs to be said and done (for example, in Luke 12:12).

As I look back over the past 18 months, I’m struck by Bible stories, set in a very specific time and place, that we explored – and which became meaningful to us – in our time and place. Using the Godly Play material’s ‘core stories’ we started with Creation, Noah’s flood and Tower of Babel, before exploring the journeys of Abraham, Jacob and the Apostles, and finishing with the stories of saints like Eric Liddell, Amy Carmichael and John Wesley.

We have discovered that each of these witnessed to God’s presence, protection and provision and have acted like anchors in our own stormy season of change.

Is it strange that the unique experiences of people in their place and time can help us in ours?

Generation after generation have discovered and rediscovered the Bible as a valuable “light unto our path” (Psalm 119:105) with its ability to “equip (us) for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). One claim for the Bible’s power to bring peace and hope is that it’s God’s overarching revelation and explanation of history to humanity. We are the beneficiaries of that slow and intentional unveiling that culminates in Jesus, and is unpacked in the early church and subsequent disciples by the Holy Spirit.

Suppose when you die, you come to God with a list of questions regarding the point and purpose of creation and  specifically humanity. You might ask God:

  • why did you create us, particularly if you knew we were going to rebel and be so destructive? or
  • why did you not just wipe-out all the bad people and start again? or
  • why are there so many languages that makes communicating so hard between people? or
  • why didn’t you choose a good family to be your spokespeople on the earth? or
  • why didn’t you send someone to tell us directly what we are meant to do? And so on and so forth.

All these questions and many more are answered in the Bible. Of course, we might not like the answers and in that case we might want to read Job Chapters 38 to 41 and find God’s response to such a disagreement.

I wonder what stories from distant places and long ago times encourage, comfort and challenge you?

Its winter here in the Southern  Hemisphere, making it an ideal season to curl up with the mostpopular book in the world, the Bible, and refresh yourself for the days ahead.

You must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. Many of you have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true, and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (1 Timothy 3:14-17)

Rev Mark Illingworth

Day of Mourning 2021

On the Sunday before Australia Day, Uniting Church congregations across the country hold worship services to reflect upon and lament the effect of the invasion and colonisation of this nation upon First Peoples.

The observance of a Day of Mourning was endorsed by the 15th Assembly arising from a request of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC). All Uniting Church in Australia congregations are invited to hold worship services that reflect on the effects of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples and our identity as a nation.Continue Reading

The Spirit of Christmas

Rev Dr Christine Sorensen, Uniting Church WA Presbytery Minister – Formation and Discipleship, asks what does the ‘spirituality of Christmas’ have in common with ‘the spirit of Christmas’?

Spirituality is a word that has gained such currency in our modern world it means everything and nothing. One of the ways we can give parameters to spirituality is to think of spirituality as being a capacity for self-transcendence, and then more narrowly define human, religious and Christian spirituality. Continue Reading

Be inspired to act this Sustainable September

Rev Gordon Scantlebury, Uniting Church WA minister and member of the Social Justice Commission, has prepared this year’s Sustainable September resources. The Uniting Church WA, through the Social Justice Commission, resources the church for Sustainable September each year as part of the World Council of Churches’ Season of Creation.

Gordon invites you to reflect and take part. Continue Reading

Anniversary of John Wesley’s conversion

This Sunday marks 282 years since John Wesley’s often called ‘conversion’ experience where he uttered the words: “My heart was strangely warmed.” This change in his understanding of faith eventually led to the formation of the Methodist Church. The Methodist Church in Australia is one of the three Australian churches that came together to form the Uniting Church in Australia in 1977.Continue Reading

Sharing the joy of Christmas: Why do we do it?

What does Christmas mean for Christians, or Christ’s ones? Is the celebration of Christ’s birth central to our faith or can we do without it?

Two of our four Gospels do not include the story of Jesus’ birth and Matthew and Luke – which do – tell the story from significantly different perspectives. It seems that the celebration of the birth of Christ in a special day or season only commenced two or three hundred years after the time of Christ and the earliest church. Continue Reading

Seeking eco-justice for Earth in the Bible

During September, the Uniting Church WA supports the Season of Creation through Sustainable September. You can get involved by downloading and using resources, available online at ecochurcheswa.net/worship.resources

As one of the Biblical scholars intimately involved in The Earth Bible project, Rev Dr Vicky Balabanski shares her thoughts on Christian faith and its connectedness to all of creation.Continue Reading