Lest I forget Gethsemane

we nawa gwen forget dem 

ANZAC Day 2015 marked 100 years since the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. Norfolk Island’s own contribution to both world wars was, per capita, the largest in the Commonwealth, which is proudly remembered by all islanders. This year the dawn service was held, not at the Cenotaph, but at the location of the first service in 1917, Emily Bay.

The fact that we remember the Gallipoli campaign as a great national day must be odd to people of other countries. The Americans have Independence Day, the French have Bastille, the British have Waterloo and Trafalgar, but ANZAC Day centres on an ignominious defeat in a side show theatre of the Great War. It sounds like foolishness, but of course we understand that this defeat symbolised something far greater.

The Bible speaks of a far greater defeat that stands at the epicentre of human history. A defeat which seems like foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved is the very power of God (1 Cor 1:18). The foolishness is of course the death of Jesus the Christ, which is still a stumbling block to so many in all their ‘wisdom’.

Last Saturday we will rightly say ‘lest we forget’, as we remembered the great sacrifice of others for out mortal bodies, but last Sunday we remembered the immeasurably greater sacrifice of Jesus for our immortal souls.

Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.

David Fell is the Chaplain of the Church of England on Norfolk Island, an Anglican Church that loves Jesus, loves each other and loves Norfolk Island.

Friends

In the 1990’s pub trivia was changed forever when ‘buddy sitcoms’ hit TV. Millions of people would tune in each week to see if Ross and Rachael would ‘finally’ get together, or for their weekly fix of Kramer-isms. In the 2000’s the trend continued with shows like How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, Scrubs and Community.

All these shows enjoy massive ratings. Each one starts with an eclectic bunch of young people with something in common – either their apartment block, New York City or their workplace. What they share draws them into a tight community, when otherwise they would have remained complete strangers.

What interests me is why these shows are so popular.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that the one thing that links them is community. We are drawn to community. We resonate strongly with the bonds of friendship. We laugh at the hilarity of the dysfunction, and cry when their love for each other overcomes any obstacles that threaten the group. We inwardly long to feel that sense of belonging that comes with community.

Of course as Christians this comes as no surprise. God himself is Trinity, a community – 3 persons in 1 God. So love, friendship and community are intrinsic to God’s character. People are drawn to community because humanity was designed by God to reflect his own nature. God created us in his image and so naturally we will also share his desire for intimate fellowship.

In Acts 2:42–47, we are given a glimpse into the life of the very first Christians. They were living life together, caring for and loving each other, meeting each other’s needs, eating together and hanging out every chance they could get. To emphasise this, the writer of Hebrews has this to say: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The community of God is a place that we can truly call home. Let’s take responsibility for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, continuing to live lives together for our good and God’s glory.

David Fell is the Chaplain of the Church of England on Norfolk Island, an Anglican Church that loves Jesus, loves each other and loves Norfolk Island.

UNIT Youth is almost here!

Next Friday night at the Parish Centre, the combined churches of Norfolk Island launch a new High School youth ministry called UNIT Youth.

UNIT Youth is a new initiative designed to provide excellent and intentional ministry to our young people – it’s an exciting program specifically designed for teenagers, where they can gather with other kids for fun, friendship, and Christian teaching. The first night of UNIT gets off to a fiery start with what we are calling Pyromaniac Craze Night. Why not join us for a relaxed BBQ dinner at 6.30pm before the night kicks off at 7.00pm.

10003925_624367047633863_414920252068855207_nMitchell Mahaffey has been employed to lead UNIT. Mitch is an experienced Youth Worker from the Sunshine Coast in QLD and holds a Certificate IV in Youth Work as well as a Certificate III in Outdoor Education. A team of adult volunteers including Mark and Jess Scott, Ashley and Grant Newman and even Rev. David Fell will assist Mitch. We are highly confident that your children will be carefully led and supervised by Mitch and his team. We are doubly confidant that they will receive teaching and mentoring that will greatly enhance their growth and development as young adults, es­pecially in the Faith. In fact, we believe that UNIT will become a genuine centre for counter-cultural influence, both protecting kids from negative peer pressure, and helping them to critically evaluate and navigate society.

But here is the thing – we need your support. We value partnering with parents in all of these things and we urge you to support this new venture by encouraging your kids to come!

We can’t wait to see you there! 

Stretching Our Heads Across Eternity

I hope you’ve been enjoying our sermon series on Ephesians. If you’ve missed any of it, let me try and re-cap for you!

Deep breath. Rub my hands together. Here’s my attempt at a short, to-the-point, yet helpful 100-meter dash through the first three chapters of Ephesians. Ready?

Ephesians 1 is our glorious introduction to the church. Church is not just a nice spiritual thing for us to do together. It was eternally purposed by God to be “in” King Jesus. From before the foundation of the world God thought of us, and thought of how to call us and join us together, inside of Jesus, along with all the rest of creation. Jesus is the great Ruler over everything, in this age and the next. Yet this great and glorious King has been given to us as head of the church, so that the church is “the fullness of him that fills all in all.”

We’re supposed to respond to this chapter with, “Woah! Wow! Amazing! We have been called into a glorious, cosmic, Divine purpose, planned by God before the foundation of the earth! Wow whee, my head is spinning.”. It sounds over the top, but I mean every word. That’s how we should respond to Ephesians 1!

Ephesians 2 and 3 brings in some details, but the effect is the same. We’re seated in the heavenlies in Jesus despite the fact that we were once all demonically influenced sinners (really, see 2:1-3). We are now citizens of heaven and part of a glorious mystery, hidden through all the ages, to join Israelites and Gentiles, all people, into a dwelling place for God.

Wow!

Talk about stretching your head across eternity and the universe – can’t wait to see you again this Sunday!

David Fell is the Chaplain of the Church of England on Norfolk Island, an Anglican Church that loves Jesus, loves each other and loves Norfolk Island.

Friendship

The most central image for church goes right to the heart of our identity, it’s that we are family; brothers and sisters in Christ; sharing the one heavenly Father.

In his book The Four Loves, CS Lewis shares a beautiful meditation on his friends [Charles Williams] death in an essay entitled ‘Friendship.’

In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out.  By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.  Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke.  Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald . . . In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God.  For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest.  That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah 6:3).  The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have.

Lewis is saying that it takes a community to know an individual!

How much more is this true of Jesus Christ? Christians commonly say they want a “relationship with Jesus”, that they want to “get to know Jesus better” but… We will never be able to do that by ourselves! “Only if you are part of a community of believers seeking to resemble, serve, and love Jesus will you ever get to know him and grow into his likeness” (Tim Keller, The Prodigal God, pp. 126-127).

David Fell is the Chaplain of the Church of England on Norfolk Island, an Anglican Church that loves Jesus, loves each other and loves Norfolk Island.

God’s Vision For Church

Last week marked my first morning in the Church of England pulpit, and I suppose the obvious questions were; WHAT is he going to be like? Or perhaps more importantly; WHAT is church going to be like, now that he’s here!?

And so I thought it would be good to spend some time examining Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and thinking about God’s vision for Church. How does GOD define church? I hope that doesn’t sound too pious, or like I’m avoiding those obvious (and good) questions, but that’s what REALLY matters isn’t i? What does the church mean to HIM!

In any case, I suspect that if we are united in the WHY of church, then the questions about WHAT it should be like, and the HOW we’re going to do it will only become more and more obvious…and we simply work those out together in time!

The book of Ephesians lifts our gaze. It enlarges our vision. God wants us to see the enormity of the change Jesus brings to the UNIVERSE and how THE CHURCH is at the very CENTRE of his plans for ALL TIME.

Admittedly, that can all seem a long way from everyday appearances. So we need to see beyond the EARTHLY. We need to see with SPIRITUAL eyes. To see our true identity, to see our true potential. So that’s what Paul PRAYS. Ch 1 v18

18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

We worry about decaying buildings, and who’ll fix the organ or whether someone will volunteer to run the Sunday School. We worry about dwindling numbers and tiring bodies.

But the King over every authority and power, past, present and future, visible and invisible, on earth and in heaven, head over governments, and media, and demons, and cancer, and natural disasters, and political uprisings, and army generals, IS FOR US, THE CHURCH.

That’s WHO we are. And WHOSE we are.

Father, I pray that the eyes of our HEARTS may be enlightened in order that we may know the HOPE to which you have CALLED us, to know the riches of your GLORIOUS INHERITANCE, and to know your incomparably great POWER for us who believe. AMEN

David Fell is the Chaplain of the Church of England on Norfolk Island, an Anglican Church that loves Jesus, loves each other and loves Norfolk Island.

That Incredible Christian

I was talking with someone recently who described Christians as being “like everybody else, except that they are forgiven and on their way to heaven”.

“I’m just a sinner saved by grace” is a common refrain among many Christians today; however, Christians haven’t always talked this way about the life of faith. It’s not that my friend was being trite in her description (no, she was very sincere); however, it does tend toward a shallow view of Christianity, especially to non-Christians.

We are not just sinners saved by grace. We are saints indwelled by the very Spirit of God!

AW Tozer in his famous article, “That Incredible Christian,” captures this idea well (note the contradictions):

  • The Christian believes that in Christ he has died, yet he is more alive than before and he fully expects to live forever.
  • He walks on earth while seated in heaven and though born on earth he finds that after his conversion he is not at home here.
  • Like the nighthawk, which in the air is the essence of grace and beauty but on the ground is awkward and ugly, so the Christian appears at his best in the heavenly places but does not fit well into the ways of the very society into which he was born.
  • The Christian soon learns that if he would be victorious as a son of heaven among men on earth he must not follow the common pattern of mankind, but rather the contrary.
  • That he may be safe he puts himself in jeopardy; he loses his life to save it and is in danger of losing it if he attempts to preserve it.
  • He goes down to get up. If he refuses to go down he is already down, but when he starts down he is on his way up.
  • He is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong.
  • Though poor he has the power to make others rich, but when he becomes rich his ability to enrich others vanishes.
  • He has most after he has given most away and has least when he possesses most.
  • He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest and most sinless when he is most conscious of sin.
  • He is wisest when he knows that he knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge.
  • He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest when standing still.
  • In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his heart glad even in sorrow.

The paradoxical character of the Christian is revealed constantly.

  • For instance, he believes that he is saved now, nevertheless he expects to be saved later and looks forward joyfully to future salvation.
  • He fears God but is not afraid of Him.
  • In God’s presence he feels overwhelmed and undone, yet there is nowhere he would rather be than in that presence.
  • He knows that he has been cleansed from his sin, yet he is painfully conscious that in his flesh dwells no good thing.
  • He loves supremely One whom he has never seen, and though himself poor and lowly he talks familiarly with One who is King of all kings and Lord of all lords, and is aware of no incongruity in so doing.
  • He feels that he is in his own right altogether less than nothing, yet he believes without question that he is the apple of God’s eye and that for him the Eternal Son became flesh and died on the cross of shame.
  • The Christian is a citizen of heaven and to that sacred citizenship he acknowledges first allegiance; yet he may love his earthly country with that intensity of devotion that caused John Knox to pray “O God, give me Scotland or I die.”
  • He cheerfully expects before long to enter that bright world above, but he is in no hurry to leave this world and is quite willing to await the summons of his Heavenly Father. And he is unable to understand why the critical unbeliever should condemn him for this; it all seems so natural and right in the circumstances that he sees nothing inconsistent about it.
  • The cross-carrying Christian, furthermore, is both a confirmed pessimist and an optimist the like of which is to be found nowhere else on earth. When he looks at the cross he is a pessimist, for he knows that the same judgment that fell on the Lord of glory condemns in that one act all nature and all the world of men.
  • He rejects every human hope out of Christ because he knows that man’s noblest effort is only dust building on dust. Yet he is calmly, restfully optimistic. If the cross condemns the world the resurrection of Christ guarantees the ultimate triumph of good throughout the universe. Through Christ all will be well at last and the Christian waits the consummation.

Incredible Christian!

David Fell is the Chaplain of the Church of England on Norfolk Island, an Anglican Church that loves Jesus, loves each other and loves Norfolk Island.

Norfolk Island Church of England | Love Jesus | Love Each Other | Love Norfolk Island

Our prayer is that God is shaping us into a community of disciples who:

  • Love Jesus (1 John 4:10)
  • Love Each Other (1 John 3:16)
  • Love Norfolk Island (John 3:16)

We’d love for you to pray with us!

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