Last Sunday was our Annual Thanksgiving Day when we launched our Thanksgiving Offering. John Lewis from Baptist World Aid was our guest speaker, via Zoom from Newcastle. He brought an up-date on BWA’s ministry in various parts of the world, but especially in Bangladesh. Out Thank Offering will be used to help communities in that country deal with the devastating affects of Coronavirus.
John Lewis spoke on 2 Corinthians 1:1-17, emphasising that God is a God of comfort who “consoles us in our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God” (v4). I was particularly challenged by his quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others… not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.” The passage John spoke on was not actually one of the lectionary passages for the day, but still fitted in well with the themes in recent lectionary readings.
At morning prayers on Monday, Kristine guided our reflections on the N.T. lectionary reading for the day — Acts 27:39-44, Paul’s shipwreck on Malta. We noted how the inhabitants showed “unusual kindness” to them, and we prayed for those seeking refuge today, including the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya and Syrian refugees in Bangladesh.
When I was in my teens my family moved from the country to Wentworthville in Sydney. There were a lot of Maltese in our street and community. My brother ended up marrying a Maltese girl from a few houses up the street. At the funeral for her father, he was described as epitomising Maltese hospitality, a tradition they traced back to the coming of Christianity with Paul’s shipwreck. He and his family were also committed to hospitality in thankfulness for the hospitality Australia had extended to them, and as an expression of their Christianity.
Today (Thursday) is Ascension Day and the coming Sunday is Ascension Sunday. I’ll be preaching on John 17:1-11 on Jesus’ prayer for unity. The week following that, leading up to Pentecost Sunday on 31 May, is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. As it turns out, the theme this year is “They showed us unusual kindness”, based on Paul’s experience on Malta, and the focus is on refugees. The theme and resources were developed by the Christian Churches of Malta and Gozo.
I’ve been hearing some wonderful stories of “unusual kindness” in our community which have been greatly appreciated. Let’s all continue to do that as we have opportunity, especially during this time of restrictions and isolation.
There has been quite a lot of activity around the property this week even though the return of groups is still a way off. You will notice a big difference when you are able to return to the property. The re-roofing of the Hall is complete and the new solar panels and inverters have been installed and all the scaffolding has been removed. The painting required in the Church and Manse due to the hail damage and water leaks has also been done. Many thanks to Alan Williams for coordinating all that. This week the gardening team planted some 2,000 tulips, pansies and other seedlings obtained following their successful application to Floriade. Most are in the beds at the front of the Church and outside the Community Garden. Thanks to the gardeners, and especially to the Staffords for organising the project.