Dear Friends,

Last Sunday we talked about smart sheep – the sheep who follow the shepherd because they know his voice, who spend time in silence (i.e. with the shepherd), who go on adventures with the shepherd – and over in the hall Family Church was also learning about smart sheep – and here is a picture of one!

It’s a sheep wearing a mask!

We are very mindful of what is happening around us, in Sydney, in Melbourne, in South Australia and even closer to home, and how we all need to look after each other; doing the right thing, protecting the vulnerable, being kind to those who are feeling anxious and praying for those who are most affected.

Next Sunday, 25th July, however, we are starting something new!

For the next six weeks, on Sunday mornings, we are going to be looking at the book of Ephesians. Cecelia tells me it’s her favourite book of the Bible! (Or it used to be before she studied the Old Testament, but she may just be trying to curry favour with her Old Testament lecturer!) She’s not alone. A lot of other luminaries have claimed Ephesians to be their favourite book of the Bible – or certainly their favourite epistle. English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it, “The divinest composition of man!”

What strikes me the most about Ephesians is that it is a book about how to live as a church. To go back to last week’s analogy; it is a book about how we, as smart sheep, become a smart flock – a flock that is clearly living as God has called us to live.

John Stott writes, “Ephesians is the gospel of the church. It sets forth God’s eternal purpose to create through Jesus Christ a new society which stands out in bright relief against the sombre background of the old world. For God’s new society is characterised by life in place of death, by unity and reconciliation in place of division and alienation, by the wholesome standards of righteousness in place of the corruption of wickedness, by love and peace in place of hatred and strife, and by unremitting conflict with evil in place of a flabby compromise with it.”

So in these six chapters, over the next six weeks, we are going to be exploring what it means for us to live as a gospel community, as a community that not only believes the good news, but lives it out, as a renewed human community.

Can I invite you to be part of this in a number of ways:

  • Read the chapter of Ephesians that we’ll be focusing on each week – before Sunday. (This week its chapter 1.) You may find it helpful to read through the book of Ephesians multiple times – its short enough that that isn’t too onerous – and think about adding it from different translations. At morning prayers we find that reading a passage through a second time from Eugene’s Peterson’s The Message interpretation gives a fresh perspective!
  • Pray that as we work through this series as a church, and as we move towards our Annual General Meeting at the end of August, God will show us how to live the gospel more deeply and fully in our own relationships, in our church community and in our community and society.
  • Then – go and live it! Don’t just read about it. Don’t just pray about it. Let’s live out the gospel together as the people of Canberra Baptist Church!

Amen to that! 😊


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