Marriage is for holiness 
NOT happiness!

Marriage has always been part of God’s good purpose for humanity: Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”… So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:18, 21-25

From the first pages of the Bible we learn that men and women are different and marriage is a central part of the way God designed humanity to relate. It is through marriage and families that we are able to obey God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth“ (1:28). Marriage is different from the other relationships we have. It is different from our relationship with parents, brothers, sisters, children, friends, workmates. It is a life-long commitment, it is an intimate partnership, it is about oneness and unity as well as being the relationship in which you are most accepted as you—a unique individual.

Marriage is a life-long union between a man and a woman which is for:

  • mutual companionship, help and comfort,
  • children,
  • holiness.

What most people are slow to realise is that marriage is for holiness not happiness. People have all sorts of expectations going into marriage, many of which are quickly shown to be unrealistic. One of the major problems we have in our time is the expectation that marriage is for happiness. Marriage can indeed bring great happiness, but that is not what it is for. And so today if people aren’t happy in their marriage, they forget whatever promises they have made and leave their spouse. But leaving is not an option. In God’s good design the purpose of marriage is not to make us happy. Great happiness may well be the result of marriage, but it is not the purpose.

The marriage relationship is given to us as the place in which two people can seek to present not only themselves holy before their Lord on the last day but also their marriage partner. One helpful way of thinking about marriage is that it is an environment in which we can learn to love. Or in other words, marriage is a school of love.

In Ephesians 5 we read that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ loved the church self-sacrificially and with the purpose that he might present the church to himself holy and without blemish. Husbands are called upon not just to echo the method by which Christ loved the church (self-sacrificially) but also the goal (holiness). In part this is about marriage as the right place to express our sexuality, but this is only the beginning. Marriage is the place where we can encourage and help one another grow in Christlikeness.

One important implication of this is that we need to examine our expectations of marriage. Marriage is primarily an opportunity to love and serve, not be served. It is primarily a chance to change yourself, not your spouse. It is an opportunity to be yourself, not find yourself. The comforts and joys of a good marriage come as the, sometimes unexpected, result of our efforts. Happiness cannot usually be directly grasped or sought, or it will provide elusive. More often it comes as the wonderful by-product of not seeking our own needs but serving others.

Simon Roberts


Are you growing?

Are you growing in your Christian life? Sometimes we may feel that we have stalled or plateaued in our Christian walk, but the Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:17-18 and Heb 4:11, that there are only two directions we can head. We are either growing in our faith or we are falling away. I have heard it likened to peddling up a hill, we either go forwards, or we go backwards.

So how does growth come about?

1) God brings about growth in an individual (Philippians 1:6). His goal for us is to be conformed into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).

2) As our passion and love for Christ grows The Ephesian church in Revelation 2:1-5 is warned as they have forgotten their first love of Christ and are caught up in works, even though they are doing lots of good things they are at risk of falling away as they are not serving for the right reasons. We often move from a faith that is based on love of Jesus to one that is defined by responsibilities (rosters), activities, books and conferences.

3) We have a role in our growth Phil 2:12-13 ‘we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling’.  We are saved by Jesus alone, but our sanctification (becoming holy) is something that we work towards.

4) We grow as the church grows. We are all parts of the one body of Christ and we grow together (2 Col 2:18-19). God uses others to grow us and us to grow others. Think about times where you might have been challenged by what someone said in church or Bible Study. If the church is not growing, then it is much harder for us to grow also.

What things help us to grow?

1) Prayer. In Luke 11 we are told of the persistent man who goes at midnight to ask his friend for a loaf of bread, afterwards Jesus says to ‘ask and it will be given to you’. We need to be making big requests of God and be persistent- He can and will answer our prayers.

2) Reading our bibles and meditating on what we read. 2 Tim 3:15-16. God’s word has the power to save and bring us to maturity.

3) Through suffering. Romans 5:1-5.

4) Through confession of sin. As we acknowledge our sins before God, we recognise our need for His mercy and the grace that He has shown us in Jesus (Luke 22:31-34)

5) Evangelism. As we tell others the gospel, we are reminded of what God has done for us in Christ

6) Sharing our lives with other Christians. When we are open about our struggles and joys and share the truth in love it points us to Christ and encourages us in our Christian lives.

What stops us from growing?

1) We don’t recognise that we need to be growing and the danger we are in if we aren’t. We can slip into a comfortable pattern of church and possibly Bible study attendance—we do our rostered duty on a Sunday and feel we have had our religious input for the week. We forget that God rightfully deserves more from us. He wants a relationship with us, not a once or twice a week appointment.

2) We get caught up in issues, maybe a relationship conflict with someone at church and that becomes our focus, rather than our relationship with God.

3) We are busy and God isn’t a priority. We forget the bigger, eternal picture, that this life is short compared to eternity and the fact that one day there will be a judgement day. Instead we are caught up with work, renovating our houses, running kids to activities or wasting time on the internet.

4) We want to look like we have it all together, so we don’t share when we are struggling in our Christian lives and instead stick to the superficial conversation topics of family, work or the weather or we avoid people altogether.

5) We aren’t sure what to say to people to ask them about their Christian lives and so it is easier not to ask

We won’t grow unless we want to, but remember if we aren’t moving forwards in our Christian lives, we are slowly and inevitably moving backwards.

So can I encourage you to be reading your Bible, pray for growth in yourself and others at church. Join a Bible study group if you aren’t already in one or meet with someone to read the Bible. Make conversations about Jesus and our relationship with Him a priority when we chat.

Decide on a spiritual goal for the next six months eg. invite my non-Christian neighbour over for coffee to build my relationship with them, read through a book of the bible, ask a friend at church how their quiet times are going etc.

Work towards achieving it and get someone to keep you accountable to it.

May we continue to grow in our love and knowledge of Jesus.

Alison Roberts. This article is a summary of the book ‘You can really grow’ by John Hindley.


4 Ways to Live

There are four authorities to which we can turn to establish the truth about God and how he wants us to live. They are the Bible; the church; experience; and, reason.

Of course, we cannot read the Bible apart from our experience and reason. And we are wise to listen to the voices of history and the church as we understand scripture. Often there is no conflict between the conclusions each of these ‘authorities’ lead us to, but when there is we must choose which ‘authority’ will win.

This is especially true when our culture is heading in a direction that takes us away from Biblical teaching. When it comes to issues such as the exclusivity of Christ as the way to relationship with God, the teaching role of women in church, marriage, family etc, there is a strong push to either reject the Bible’s teaching or to reinterpret it to fit what our culture is advocating.

In the end there are really only two authorities,

it’s God’s authority in the Bible against human authority in three forms (human experience, human institution and human reason). We are fighting one battle, on three fronts. It’s the assertion of God’s final and complete authority, against the desire of humanity to shrug off his rule and determine our own path.

So the Christian can’t (and doesn’t) blindly follow the Bible. We use all our abilities and knowledge and experience to come to the best understanding of the Bible we can. And we trust the Bible not despite facts but because of them and because of our experience of God’s salvation. But at the same time, having come to Christ in trust and obedience we do just that—we trust and obey his word. And when his word conflicts with the world we must choose. Will we listen to God and his Son the Lord Jesus Christ? Or will we listen to the world?

Simon  Roberts


Marriage

Is same-sex marriage really such a big deal? Are conservatives and Christians opposing same-sex marriage for no good reason? Are there any good arguments against it?

Christians are certainly opposed to same-sex marriage because it is a significant departure from the way God made us to live.  As Jesus himself said, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?”

Notice what Jesus says. ‘For this reason.’ The very reason for marriage is the difference between men and women. Marriage is the coming together of one man and one woman into a life-long union (as the context about divorce in Matt 19 and Mark 10 makes clear).

So Jesus defined marriage as the joining of a man and woman into this one-flesh relationship. Moreover, homosexual sex is consistently condemned as sin in the Bible. These reasons alone are enough for Christians to oppose same-sex marriage.

But because in the beginning (heterosexual) marriage is the way God created us to live, it should not surprise us that there are far reaching implications for departing from God’s good pattern.

Here are just two examples.

Marriage is a place for life-long commitment, for proper sexual intimacy and for the procreation and nurture of children.  In that sense marriage is about real and deep love. But it is much more than a malleable social convention based around a loose definition of love. For all the failures of particular marriages to achieve these goals, it is the bedrock of a stable society that children are born with a father and mother who raise them in a stable and loving family environment.  There is very clear evidence to show that households that are not stable are not the ideal way to raise children.  Children raised by a mother and father who love them are clearly the most ‘advantaged’ on average. The media keep telling people that there is no difference between children raised by a father and a mother vs a same-sex couple, but there is not good evidence to substantiate this claim. The claim is more often driven by ideology than evidence.  As the Australian Government Australian Institute of Family Studies reports, “most studies in this area are methodically flawed being based on small and homogenous samples of highly educated and middle-class participants. Many of the comparative studies conducted to date on children or young adults raised in same-sex parented families are based on volunteer samples of participants rather than random samples.”

But secondly, and in some ways of much greater concern is that same-sex marriage will obliterate any meaningful definition of ‘mother’ and ‘father’. As Andrew Errington argues, “The success of same-sex marriage will not only marginalise the principle that biological parenthood is normal and best. It will mean that the discussion of whether children need their biological mother and father is over for good, because such a claim will be regarded as discriminatory against the necessarily non-biological parent or parents in a same-sex marriage. To be as equally married as anyone else requires that we never again question the various ways children enter these marriages, and whether these means of having children are best for children.” It is an unfortunate reality that same-sex marriage means the end of ‘procreation’ of children and the beginning of ‘procurement’ of children.  This process does not have any necessary connection to a ‘father’ or ‘mother’ who have an ongoing obligation to the child.  That is not best for children or families.


Moral monoculturalism?

In recent years, there has been growing tension in Australia and elsewhere between Churches, other faith groups and ‘equality’ advocates concerning the reach of anti-discrimination laws.

Originally these laws ought to protect historically disadvantaged groups. They were concerned with fixed characteristics such as race, gender and disability. Over the years the scope of these laws has expanded quite dramatically to cover an ever increasing number of attributes which include not only fixed characteristics but also personal choices and histories. The law in Tasmania is an example. Among the 20 different grounds on which someone can now sue for discrimination in that State are lawful sexual activity, relationship status and personal histories such as medical history or having a criminal record.

That is, in Tasmania it would be illegal to not employ a youth worker at church based on a history of sexual activity outside of marriage. Consequently there are significant issues for faith groups who want to employ people in positions where they have a leadership or teaching role but the person does not accept or seek to live out those teachings.

NSW law still protects the right of faith based groups to select suitable candidates for paid or volunteer positions based on adherence to moral standards consistent with that faith, but for how long? The news this week that a same-sex marriage bill may well be considered by the parliament is the latest, but certainly not the last, in a series of potentially problematic laws for churches.

Advocates of these changes argue that religious organisations should not be exempt from these ‘equality’ laws—that they should not be allowed to hide behind their religious beliefs as a justification for ‘discrimination’.

However, in a multicultural society, there need to be laws that prohibit discrimination; but the law also needs to allow minority groups (and this includes religious groups) to maintain their culture and identity. That involves an acceptance that culturally or religiously specific organisations should be able to select staff who belong to that minority group or, in the case of religious groups, adhere to the beliefs and values of the faith. No harm comes to the rest of the community by so doing because typically allowing such groups to select in accordance with the mission fit of the organisation makes no appreciable difference to the rest of the population.

The language of ‘equality’ is increasingly being used as a blunt instrument to force people to fall into line with a socially and morally ‘progressive’ mindset. No divergence is allowed from that mindset and the law is used to enforce compliance.

This push for ‘equality’ creates conflict with recognise human rights. The right of freedom to educate one’s children in accordance with parents’ religious values is strongly supported in international human rights law (see e.g. Article 18(4) of the ICCPR). The UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief affirms the right to appoint religious personnel according to the beliefs of the religion.

And yet these right will increasingly be under threat as ‘progressive’ groups seek to impose their understanding of ‘equality’. Even the communist countries of the former Soviet bloc recognised the right of churches to organise themselves in accordance with their beliefs and traditions, subject to restrictions and monitoring by these atheist governments. And yet there are members of our parliament that would deny churches these freedoms.

One of the problems that needs to be addressed in crafting a law on discrimination which will command broad community acceptance is how to balance the rights and interests of people who hold different beliefs and values in a multicultural society. That includes respecting people‟s beliefs and acknowledging that on issues of sex and family life, there is a range of views in the community.

It is not good enough to see this issue entirely through the lens of non-discrimination, for that obscures from view the other human rights and freedoms involved. In a multicultural society, it is very important to avoid moral monoculturalism – the imposition of one set of moral values on the whole community in ways which allow no tolerance for different moral values and beliefs.

In a federation of cultures, the law needs generally to prohibit discrimination in the commons, but to protect the rights of freedom of religion and association outside of the areas of community life where any differentiation would be discriminatory. To have such a sensitive multicultural policy is to promote diversity and respect different cultures equally.

——————————————————————————-

This article draws heavily from a paper by Patrick Parkinson AM, Professor of Law, University of Sydney

EXCEPTIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Paper for Conference on the Scope and Limits of Religious Freedom, University of Sydney, March 2013


Investing in one another’s holiness

What do you think of the power of speech? Do you think it has power to change our lives at all? We only need to think of some of the great speeches of the last century for this to be true. Millions have been won over by a word from people such as civil rights activist Martin Luther King, the 35th President of the United States of America John F. Kennedy, and Christian evangelist Billy Graham. I don’t even need to go into further detail about these people because you know what they are known for: great speeches they presented.

We can forget that our speech does have power, and power to change the course of history. Lives have been changed for good and for ill because of the power of the spoken word from our lips. This may sound a bit dramatic. But this cannot be closer to the truth. Our everyday relationships involve words. Some of our conversations are long, some of them are short. Some are meaningful, some are meaningless. Some thoughtful, some thoughtless. And it’s these last two things I would like to expand on here. This is because our speech comes under the idea of ‘holiness’. And our ‘holiness’ matters most to God.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul brings together this idea of ‘speech’ and ‘holiness’. In Ephesians 4:24, Paul urges the Ephesians to “…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” And it’s either side of this sentence that Paul describes what it’s like to ‘put on the new self’ in holiness. In the subsequent verses, Paul cites examples of holy action in response to the grace of God that are to be pursued day to day, and this includes things to do with speech. But it’s what comes earlier that also catch our attention.

In Ephesians 4:11, Paul teaches that God gives to the church people for certain roles. This is for the purpose of equipping the people of God for the work of ministry and building his church upward in maturity and outward in number. Maturity is earmarked as important, so that the people of God will be guarded against false doctrines and practices. And the process by which this all takes place is through speech. Paul continues by saying, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…” (Eph. 4:15).

The above Scripture sentence gives me cause for joy, but also cause for trepidation. This is because I like the idea of ‘speaking the truth in love’ to others, but not receiving the truth in love myself, or put another way, some sort of correction about my life. To give you some kind of comparison, I find it difficult to receive feedback from anyone. I find it even more difficult when it comes to receiving correction about me. Have a think for the moment if you, like me, could find it difficult to receive correction about your life. If you’re anything like me, it would be difficult.

However, ‘speaking the truth in love’ is important. And it’s important to God and our relationship with him. This is because it’s a characteristic of people who have been washed and declared ‘holy’ by the blood of Jesus. It’s difficult to expose ourselves to correction, and to love others enough to correct them. And also to speak it in love, in a way that encourages others, not in a way that dissuades them from maturing in the knowledge and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I issue you a challenge today to expose yourself to correction and to love others enough to correct them – in a way that builds others up in Christ. The great thing about doing this with one another is that it is irresistibly good for those who embrace it. This is because when done rightly, we “…grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…” (Eph. 4:15).

This can only be done with the power of God in us – by his Spirit, together with depending on God in prayer. What we pray to God for provides us with a glimpse of what matters most to us. I encourage you to pray to God about your holiness and our church’s holiness, specifically about what I’ve been writing to you about here. You may wish to pray to God now. Here is a prayer that may help you get started:

Dear Father. We thank you for showing us so clearly our need of holiness. And we praise you for providing it to us through the mercy of your son, and by the grace of your Holy Spirit. Please forgive us for valuing more highly lesser things than this. And please teach us to treasure holiness as you do, wanting it deeply for one another. Please make us a church that values truth and love, always together. For Christ’s sake, Amen.


Kids Holiday Club 2015

It’s one of the biggest announcements of the year! Children wait expectantly as July approaches. But the time has come and we are very excited to unveil this years theme.

“Follow the Clues” 

It’s a week of being detectives searching for the clues, to solve the mystery of the man who beat death! We’ve had some great themes over the years, from space, pirates, knights, even crazy scientists! There’s been puppets and skits and high tech videos (well sort of hi-tech). Each year has been jam packed with fun and creative ideas. And while kids (and leaders) always have the most amazing adventure, the best part is that each and every theme centres around our teaching about Jesus. This year will be no exception!

That’s why Kids Holiday Club is so important and why I want to ask you to help. For what we are doing is not just giving kids a good time. For church families this gives your children one of their best holiday experiences. It makes Jesus a normal part of their life and holidays in a way that is extremely positive.

Meeting day after day means it’s easy to build a deeper picture from God’s Word as the week goes on. And for the many who come from outside our church, its a chance to introduce them and their families to Jesus – and to pick up from last years club, or from what they have learnt in scripture or Kids Plus.

Three things you can do:

1) Sign up your kids (and grandkids, nieces nephews neighbours) and sign them up early. Last year we were close to capacity and it always helps if the regulars are in.

2) Sign up yourself. One of my favourite parts of holiday club is working with so many others from Church. And whatever way you get involved you’ll be joining something of immense importance. From delivering brochures or preparing craft, to coming along during the week to lead a small group there is, as the saying goes, something for everyone!

3) Pray – in your Bible studies, with your families, in your quiet times. Pray that it’d be safe and fun and organised but most of all a clear message to the kids about Jesus their Lord.


A sacrificial care for one another

Why do we care? Why do we care about anything? Why not be indifferent about everything all the time! I think it’s easy these days to make excuses about not caring, even if it means that we’re indifferent to others. After all, we’re all very busy – we’re time poor – and don’t get around to doing things, even the things we want to do. Our own business these days seems to be a legitimate excuse not to care.

But ‘caring’ is something that Christians should care about. We’re told to care. But it’s not just caring that we are exhorted to undertake. It is a kind of caring that goes above and beyond, a care that features a sacrificial component to it, something that calls us to lend our lives to others who need it, and even to those who we sometimes find it difficult to care about.

Paul talks about ‘caring’, amongst other godly characters at the end of his letters: “Bear one another’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2), “…bearing with one another in love…” (Eph. 4:2), “And we urge you…encourage the fainthearted, help the weak…” (1 Thess. 5:14), “Do not neglect to do good, and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”  (Heb. 13:16).

Paul continues in his exhortation by way of example, mentioning those who have demonstrated sacrificial care to him: “I [Paul] rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me…I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Phil. 3:10, 18).

So demonstrating a sacrificial care for others, and in particular, for one another – those who belong to God through Jesus Christ – is a key characteristic of the Christian life. Christians are meant to do it. But demonstrating a sacrificial care for others is not something that is seldom or that is done at random. It is a key characteristic that should be shown often or frequently and with great intention.

He reason why we should demonstrate a sacrificial care for one another is because of who God is and how he relates to us. God himself shows to us that he cares for us. The Bible speaks of God, who cares for people deeply, even when it is not reciprocated. In fact, this is in spite of non-reciprocity.

Paul talks about this great characteristic and practice of God that he himself trusts: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

God cares for us. God cares for us in our times of need. God comforts us in our afflictions with his mercy. So we can come to him with our cares and frailties and find mercy. And most notably, God sacrificially cared for us through his Son, Jesus Christ, not weighing our merits, but bearing the burden of our inadequacies, even pardoning our offences. God went above and beyond with a care for us that responded to a need, and a deep-seated need at that. Something in which we could not rescue ourselves from, the mess we call our sin in this sin-scarred world in which we live.

But the text goes on to say that this care that God shows us is powerful. This is because it is a reason for us to mobilise our often shaky bodies, so that we can demonstrate the sacrificial care that God has for one another. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ – the way in which God has shown sacrificial care to us – is the message of comfort and the motivation to act for one another in love.

So carry God message of care with you, as the message of salvation and the motivation to sacrificially care for others in any time of need.

And when we sometimes fail at this, making excuses that appear legitimate so as not to care for one another, rest on God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, knowing that he claims you a one of his precious children in whom he sacrificially cares.

Below is a prayer that might come in handy, you may wish to pray to God now.

Our Father in Heaven.  We praise you as the God of comfort, love, and compassion.  We thank you because in your son, you have generously cared for us.  So please forgive us for those moments when we have claimed to love you, but we have been indifferent towards the needs of your children.  And in view of your mercy, we pray that you would strengthen us to care for another- with genuine love, in the strength of the Spirit, and with glad sacrifice.  May we love as you first loved us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Responding to Nepal

(Part One) – Where is God’s Love?

It is hard to imagine the devastation in Nepal. People searching through rubble with their bare hands to find family members -injured, dying, dead. The survivors now huddled together throughout the rain filled nights, the dust and dirt turning to mud around them. There is no one to help them, no aid to reach these distant villages where all roads have been cut off. An occasional helicopter flies by to take the most seriously injured away. But nothing else. And as our TV screens are filled with these images our minds begin to reel. Not because we doubt God is sovereign but because we know he is. How can our knowledge that God is good stay standing in the reality of these earth shattering events.

Our knowledge that God does indeed love us must be grounded in something so strong that it can withstand the greatest of all tests and trials. And there is only one place we will find that security. Romans puts it like this: “ But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rms 5:8). That is our cornerstone. God knows what faces us in this fragile life. But such is his demonstration on the cross he asks what can separate us from his love, “shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness”,  and we might add earthquake?

The answer comes “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rms 8:35,37). You notice it says loved. It is past tense! Not that he doesn’t continue to love us, but that once-and-for-all act of sacrificial love stands in history as the undeniable demonstration of his love.

Responding to Nepal (Part Two) – Anglican Aid

Anglican Aid visited the church on Wednesday. We were but one of a number of churches that Anglican Aid visited. Anglican Aid sent representatives, who came to read the Bible with our group, as a part of their ‘Flawless Bible Tour’.

We read part of Nehemiah together. And our reading was couched in prayer to God. At first it seemed strange to read part of the Old Testament. But after a while this made sense. As the name suggests, they trust in and celebrate with thanksgiving the fact that the Bible is the flawless word of God – it shows us the way of salvation through faith in he Son, Jesus.

The ‘Flawless Bible Tour’ is a campaign that Anglican Aid is running this year in the Sydney Diocese. They wish to partner with churches to raise up prayer supporters and raise financial contributions for the work of training pastors overseas, particularly on the African continent. But Anglican Aid has numerous other people that they support. In March 2015, they launched their appeal for Vanuatu. And the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid has now launched an appeal to support emergency relief in Nepal. After consultation with CMS Australia, funds will be disbursed through INF and the Diocese of Singapore.

Please consider supporting this appeal. You will find details online and in the flyer insert.

http://anglicanaid.org.au/news/nepal-emergency


Sydney Floods

Disbelief and Inconvenience

One of the recurring statements throughout the storms this week was this: “I couldn’t believe how fast the water rose!” accompanied with images of dams overflowing, roads engulfed, cars and even houses washed away. While these events were not as  dramatic as floods to our north, for Sydney it was pretty much as bad as it comes. If you have ever been to an area after a flood, once the water has receded and all that is left is debris strewn in places where it shouldn’t be, it’s almost impossible to picture that this whole area was under water. The water marks seem impossible high. Where did all that water come from?Yet our incredulity is met with the stark images of reality and we struggle to put them together.

But our disbelief is not just something that happens in the aftermath. Even in the middle of a flood event people find it hard to believe what is happening. This time however it is because the truth is an inconvenient one. Imagine this was you – you are traveling down an on-ramp to the M5. There are cars behind you. The M5 is flowing surprisingly smoothly. But there is water across the road between you and your way home.

What would you do? Well for one poor motorist who had to be rescued from this situation, it didn’t matter how inconvenient the truth was, the water was still deeper than their car!  In the second night of the storms, after two days of warnings, 93 rescues were made from people crossing flood water.

The Genesis Flood

Now when I think about the flood of all floods as found in the scriptures, it is often met with similar disbelief. Firstly people just can’t imagine that much water in that amount of time. It’s something outside of their experience and so they put it in the doubtful basket. But that is the very nature of floods. Even this relatively minor storm cell in worldwide standards, shows that humanities grasp at power and autonomy is pitiful compared to God’s control over nature. Something we can’t even imagine is trivial for God to orchestrate.

But more significant is incredulity, not based on the occurrence of the Flood, but because of the inconvenient truth it poses. For Genesis records that it was God’s judgement that was the reason behind it. And that is something that we would rather not think about. I am not suggesting that this was the reason behind these floods, but rather that humans have a tendency to pretend that truths they don’t like aren’t real. But as so many motorists found out, you can’t do that in a flood. And many more on judgment day will find out you can’t do that with God.

“For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day…Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.”

(Luke 17:24–27)