From The Rector's Desk · Priest's Perspective

From The Rector’s Desk 7 April 2019

Greetings in Christ.

Two things before I share a reflection that I would like you to meditate on over the next three weeks.

One, our Parish is going through a very tough time financially and we at present are not managing to pay all the bills. We are working hard to resolve the problems, but it is only fair that I inform you of our situation. I pray that in these difficult financial times God will bless us and provide for us, I am very aware that it is because we are all struggling and that we, as a community, are having financial problems.

Two, over the next few weeks we will be having combined services of the Good Shepherd and St Mary’s, I ask you to please attend the services that are at the church that you are not usually at. Easter is a very intense time and trying to do double the services (as I have done in the past) is not a reasonable expectation of me. Please check the published dates and times and attend the services as per the roster. If needed, organize to travel together, parking at your usual church and car pooling to the other.

May God bless you abundantly.


An Easter Reflection on Walking with Jesus

Over the next three weeks we enter the most intense Liturgical journey of our Christian year.

Next Sunday we will cry Hosanna Hosanna as we “Walk with Jesus in His Passion.” A walk of courage and giving the clear message that He is the King of the Jews, the Messiah. We will walk along the road and lay down our palm branches, we will walk into the temple and see how sinful we have become , we will walk again in the Temple as Jesus claims it and clears it, fulfilling the expectations of the Messiah.

Then we will participate in a Passover meal – recalling the exodus from Egypt and how Jesus re-organized that festival to convey the message of His delivering of us from sin. On Thursday we will participate in a part of that occasion – the foot washing . St John wrote; “and now Jesus showed them the full extent of His love” , and washed their feet.

On Friday we will follow Jesus to the Cross and learn to carry the Cross of Jesus and that there were three crosses on Calvary, but only one saved us. We will journey with Jesus and in a great symbolic act renew our Baptismal promises on Saturday night. In the space so to speak – between the cross and the resurrection we will make our faith statement  – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live” and then we will walk with Jesus in Resurrection – “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Throughout this lent we have learnt that Jesus was establishing a new Kingdom – on Palm Sunday we will see Him riding into Jerusalem on a Donkey –  A symbol that the king was coming in peace, not to destroy men’s lives but to save them!

Its not an easy walk. We have discovered that in Lent, often been challenged to “be transformed by the renewal of your minds.”  We share the sentiment of the original crowds who followed Jesus with the disciples being astonished and the crowds afraid.  Even though we have recalled this story annually all our lives we still marvel and in the words of William Barclay “ anyone who writes about the death of Jesus  ( in our case walks with Jesus) about the cross and its meaning is conscious that although it is the greatest thing in all the world , He is walking into a realm of controversy and a battle ground of opposing theologies. Barclay concludes and I concur that “ without disregarding and without attacking the beliefs of others , (we) must  witness to our own.

My prayer is that as we walk with Jesus you will deepen your understanding of Him and of His love for you. That the cross and Resurrection of Jesus will provide the context for your life and that you will find the true meaning of life in serving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength.

As Isaiah writes   “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past, See I am doing a new thing,” he doesn’t mean ignore what has been but do not remain in the past – do not let Easter be a celebration of a past event, but see that God is working something new in you, this is your journey of death and resurrection, this is your journey of God delivering you from the Egypt of Sin into the promised land of salvation.

Many flee from the cross of Jesus and many hang around at a distance, but I pray that you will go all the way with Jesus! May this Easter be a time of great renewal in your life and may you walk in the joy of the Lord, for when we repent and return to the Lord our God, we once were dead but now we live, were lost but now we are found.

Be assured of my prayers

Fr. Andrew

From The Rector's Desk

From The Rector’s Desk, 8 March 2019

The goodness of God leads to repentance.

Each year we spend 40 days reordering our lives. But that is something that we do daily in our Christian walk. Our Anglican Spirituality is built on repentance, prayer and Bible reading. So what makes Lent different from any other day? Our Seasons and celebration of special days are like taking one aspect of our Spirituality and putting it under a microscope, so that when we step back with a deeper understanding of that specific thing, we have a greater understanding of the whole. During Lent we put our temptations under a microscope, we put our desire to please our physical selves under the microscope and our need to rely on God as opposed to the things of the World.

This year I have heard a lot of talk about Lent being not just about “not doing something” but about “doing something different” the idea being don’t just miss a meal – feed someone else! Don’t just not be judgmental – show kindness. I think that there is merit in that. Lent is a time when we consider the three main temptations or power, fatalism and self will. It is when we face the temptation to use God’s love and provision for our own gain as opposed to the gain for all that it was given for. As people so influenced by Western thinking, we would do well to change our hearts around issues of community vs. individualism, benefit for all as opposed to self interest.

So my prayer for you is that this lent you will experience a “transformation of your mind!”

One area where we need great transformation as the Christian faith, is in the area of judgement vs. mercy. As a faith we have been inclined to seek God’s mercy for ourselves and God’s judgment for others. While this is part of the human condition and there are many examples even in the Bible that show great people of faith thinking and acting this way – it is sinful. Moses, the great prophets, and Jesus always sought mercy for others and accepted judgement upon themselves. The Cross is the ultimate act of reforming the sinful practice of desiring judgement on others and mercy for oneself.     

Mercy is the outworking of compassion and compassion is the best way to translate the word love in the Bible. “For God had such compassion on the world that He sent His Only Son, so that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” Is that the kind of compassion that you have for others, such that they will feel your love for them and praise our God in heaven? The Pharisees demanded obedience to the Law – Jesus looked with compassion. This Lent let us deepen our understanding of what it means to be a community of compassion, a loving community.

May your “going hungry for a meal” feed someone.

May your “extra prayer” fill you with compassion for others.

May your “increased discipline” help you to gain the confidence in God’s love for you, so that you can share that love with others.

This Lent, may we walk with Jesus and grow in His ways and learn from Him so that we can do the will of the Father in this place as God requires of us.

Be assured of my Prayers.

Fr. Andrew Manning