Bracing for a new year!

Without knowing what the future holds, we can safely say that there is one thing we will need for 2016: godliness.

To weather all of the “we’re-not-in-heaven-yet” moments that are sure to come our way this year, we will need a high dose christlikeness! When Paul thinks of his own job description as an apostle of Jesus Christ, he describes it as being called to further the “faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness” (Titus 1:1). At the outset of our new series on Titus (and a new year together), I want to begin with this challenge:

Many of us have goals (there is nothing wrong with having goals), but is godliness one of them? Is godliness something we aspire to as a church? Is godliness a passionate pursuit for our church? Does the truth that we believe lead to godliness? Could a biographer, 100 years from now, write as our summary: “The Church of England on Norfolk Island: A Passion for Godliness”?

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Sometimes we think that progress in the Christian faith is simply the attainment of knowledge, but Paul says true knowledge leads to godliness. Right knowing produces right living.

Sometimes we can personalise sanctification to such a degree that it is all about “personal holiness”, as if godliness is something separate from the mercy, justice, charity and love that we ought to show our neighbours. Understanding good works as those things which benefit our neighbours, rather than those things which increase our inner, personal sense of “piety” (aka self-righteousness) is crucial if we ever want to make true progress in the Christian faith. What we often fail to remember is that loving our neighbour is the second greatest commandment (so it seems to me that if we want to become more like Christ, our focus, in large part, should be on loving and serving our neighbours). In his Small Catechism, Luther says:

“We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbour, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”

Boy, do we need more of that in our public discourse on Norfolk Island!

Elsewhere, Luther famously said “God does not need our good works, but our neighbour does.”

It’s great to be back on Norfolk Island and I’m looking forward to reading Titus with you!

Your friend in Jesus, David

Drifting…

D. A. Carson: “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

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Leadership

This quote from a sermon by Tim Keller has stayed in my mind ever since I heard it, and I believe every word:

My dear friends, most churches make the mistake of selecting as leaders the confident, the competent, and the successful. But what you most need in a leader is someone who has been broken by the knowledge of his or her sin, and even greater knowledge of Jesus’ costly grace. The number one leaders in every church ought to be the people who repent the most fully without excuses, because you don’t need any now; the most easily without bitterness; the most publicly and the most joyfully. They know their standing isn’t based on their performance.

That’s the kind of leadership we need.

Guest Post: “Yes, you were at this meeting” Al Stewart

Al Stewart

OPINION | Al Stewart

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

We all arrived in our cars that morning, much the same as we always did. We parked in the car park and wandered in the main door. I had done this many times before, but this morning I thought I would take a step back and have a real look at what was going on.

People milled around in the foyer outside the entrance. Most of them were fairly well dressed and polite as they made room for others at the main door. The staff members were well dressed, not overly dressed, but dressed in a kind of uniform to show they were running things. They were polite as they directed us to our seats. Those of us who were regulars had no trouble finding one. A few new people needed help working out where to sit. We let the staff help the new people – after all that’s their job.

There was some muzak playing for a while and then after a short delay one of the staff members appeared out the front and apologised that we would be a bit late getting started due to a technical glitch. People sat in silence mostly, some read the literature in front of them and others mumbled to the person beside them, if they knew them already.

Was this just another time of going through the routine?

Then there was some more music and one of the staff members stood up at the front and was speaking to everyone about some really important stuff – matters of life and death. At least, they said it was a matter of life-and-death importance, it was hard to tell that was the case; the staff member didn’t seem too emotionally involved or enthusiastic about the message. As I looked around, only a few people were listening and I figured they were the brand-new people. Most old-timers didn’t seem to be listening at all. They fiddled with their leaflets, stared at the floor or looked out the windows if they had a good seat.

After what seemed like a long time, we could finally get out of the uncomfortable straight-backed seats and walk around. Then there was morning tea on offer; tea or coffee in plastic cups and a couple of biscuits. At the end of it all, relieved, we politely filed out the main door. As we left, the staff members spoke to every person politely, said goodbye and thanked him or her for coming.

As I watched this little interaction, I wondered if the staff members or the people really meant it, or were they just being polite to one another?

Was this just another time of going through the routine?

As I left the inner confines and made it out the front door, I had the overwhelming feeling (which I usually have): I’m glad to be out of there. As I walked out into the fresh air again, the last words I heard were “Thank you for flying Qantas.” But of course, it’s obvious I was talking about an airline flight – what other sort of meeting could I have been describing?

 

– See more at: http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/yes-you-were-at-this-meeting?utm_content=buffer26b67&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.R8Dt6Mb6.dpuf

 

 

The three-minute rule

Ed Stetzer:

“The three-minute rule begins when the final prayer is said or song is sung. 

This is not the time to talk to your best friends. 

During those first three minutes, two things are going to happen: people who are familiar are going to talk to each other and people who don’t know anyone are going to leave quickly. 

This is where it’s crucial. 

If you take the time in those first three minutes to talk to the people who aren’t connected, you will have time afterward to talk to your friends who are more likely to stick around. 

You have three critical minutes to look immediately around for people who are not connected in the body.”

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A wasted life

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“And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives… and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”

~ Nate Saint

In honor of Plymouth Brethren missionaries, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully and Pete Fleming, who were killed by the Auca Indians, January 1956.

News and Views

Thanksgiving 2015

Here are some photos from Wednesday (photo credit Betty Matthews).

I’d like to thank all those who worked so hard, particularly those who worked behind the scenes in the days prior to get the church ready for the service. A special thank you to Arthur Evans who opened his home to us and refreshed us after a busy, but happy, morning. 

2 Corinthians 9: 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

The FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) Bishop

This week we have been giving thanks for the ministry of Bishop Robert Forsyth, our FIFO bishop!

What a blessing it has been to have experienced his oversight and friendship. I have shared with you (below) some of the kind words that were said about Rob and Margie’s ministry at the Sydney Synod last month.

Synod Thanksgiving

Noting that this will be Bishop Robert Forsyth’s last Synod, Synod gives thanks to God for Bishop Forsyth’s nearly 40 years of ordained ministry both in the Diocese of Sydney and beyond. As a curate in the parishes of Glenbrook and Holy Trinity, Adelaide, as Rector of St Barnabas Broadway, and as Bishop of South Sydney, Robert has proclaimed Christ, warning and teaching with wisdom, so that people might be presented mature in Christ. As Chaplain to the University of Sydney, and for over 20 years the Chairman of The EU Graduates Fund, Robert pioneered a model of partnership with the Sydney University Evangelical Union which continues to bear fruit today. As Bishop of South Sydney, Robert has overseen a revitalisation of gospel ministry throughout the Region, with many churches turning around and a significant number of churches planted. Through his membership of the Standing Committee, the Archbishop’s liturgical panel, and the renewing structures taskforce, Robert has served the Synod with creativity and wisdom. As he moves into a new sphere of ministry, Synod thanks God for both Robert and Margaret, and prays that he will continue both to bless them, and to bless others through them, so that Jesus Christ will be honoured as Lord and Saviour.

The Rev Andrew Katay 19/10/2015

Christmas Service Times

Combined Churches Lessons and Carols
Lessons and Carols @ All Saints
4.30pm, Sunday 20th December 2015

Community Carols By Candlelight
All Saints’ Compound – bring a rug, snacks and refreshments.
6.00pm, Wednesday 23rd December

Christmas Eve
Holy Communion @ St Barnabas Chapel
Thursday 11.30pm, 24th December 2015

Christmas Day
Holy Communion @ All Saints (this is a family service and will include a children’s talk and kids activity packs)
10.00am, Friday 25th December 2015

New Years’ Eve
Holy Communion @ St Barnabas Chapel
11.30pm, Thursday 31st December 2015

The Revd David Rogers-Smith BCA Visit 

One of the ways Bishop Robert Forsyth has endeavoured to support Crystal and I in our ministry on Norfolk Island, is to link us up with an organisation called BCA (or Bush Church Aid). In the bishops words “these people are the experts in remote ministry”. 

Accordingly, our next parish visitor will be The Revd David Rogers-Smith. David will be here Sunday week (December 6) which means we’ll be breaking our series in Genesis for David to preach a message on Jonah. David is the Regional Officer for Queensland / Northern New South Wales and started in this role in February 2015. This is probably the closest thing to a bishop in BCA. This means he prays and makes contact with me regularly, and along with his wife Julie, he will be here to refresh and encourage Crystal and I. Before being appointed as Regional Officer, David and his wife Julie served as BCA Field Staff for eight years in Tasmania, where David was the Ministry Development Officer for the Diocese of Tasmania and Ministry Enabler in the Parish of Riverlinks. He ran the Tasmanian Bible Forums for seven of those years and developed the Tasmanian Certificate in Theology and Ministry. 

It’s probably worth saying that although BCA is a “sending” organisation, Crystal and I are not being supported financially by BCA. Rather, they are providing us (and you) with prayer and pastoral support.

It’s a busy time of year, there’s no doubt about it!

Thanksgiving on Norfolk Island

Since the mid 1890’s the community of Norfolk Island have been decorating All Saints Church and celebrating Thanksgiving together (this year the festivities begin at All Saints from 10am). But how did the most American of holidays end up on a remote island in the middle of the South Pacific?

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According to current churchwarden, Mr. Tom Lloyd, the Pitcairners had always celebrated the English Harvest Home festival, but it was not until Isaac Robinson came to the island that All Saints Church was specially decorated for the service.

Robinson was an American trader who settled on Norfolk as agent for Burns Philp & Co Ltd., later becoming Norfolk’s Registrar of Lands and the island’s first (and so far only) United States consul. “The idea of Norfolk having an American consul does sound slightly absurd today” Lloyd says, “but in those days American whalers made frequent calls, and Robinson proposed dressing the church up American-style for Thanksgiving.”

Three of Robinson’s friends helped him decorate All Saints Church in the capital, Kingston, using only palm leaves and lemons, and though he died and was buried at sea the next year, his notion caught on. For Norfolk’s second Thanksgiving service, the parishioners brought down all sorts of produce to decorate the church. “The tradition became to tie corn stalks to the pew ends and pile flowers on the altar and the font. At first, each family took home its own fruit and vegetables after the service, but today they are sold to raise money for church preservation.”

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This year we are looking forward to welcoming back New Zealand Mezzo Soprano Lynne Anderson, who will be singing “Thanks Be To God” and Bishop Robert Forsyth will be preaching in what will be his last official visit to Norfolk Island ahead of his impending retirement. Everyone is welcome to join in the festivities at All Saints from 10am Wednesday, 25th of November (original families are encouraged to contact Ikey on 50376 to book pews).

See you at All Saints!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Be Grateful for Christian Fellowship

323Be Grateful for Christian Fellowship

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

“If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.

“This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. A pastor should never complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men.

“… let [the pastor or zealous member] nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God.”

Life Together, translated by John W. Doberstein, (New York: HarperOne, 1954), page 29.