Dear Friends,

Thanks to Friday’s further easing of restrictions, everyone is welcome at church this Sunday! No more worrying about street names!

We will however ask that you continue to wear a mask (unless you have a medical exemption). The ACT Government still strongly encourages wearing face masks in public indoors gatherings such as places of worship, but we would encourage it even more because:

  • we are engaging in a higher risk activity (singing)
  • we cannot always maintain a social distance of 1.5 metres between people
  • there are vulnerable people – small children and people vulnerable to disease – present,
  • and because we are a church and we care for each other!

We are also opening doors and windows in the church to maintain good ventilation and it looks like Sunday morning will be cool, so please pull a jumper out of storage!

Speaking of belonging to a church family, last Sunday’s reading from Ruth also invited us to think ‘belonging’ and how God forms new communities – here in Ruth and in the New Testament – across ethnic lines and traditional hostilities. As Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The book of Ruth also speaks about the value and strength of intergenerational connections; Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi’s care and concern for her in return, and, in chapter 4, where Naomi, who has no biological connection to the new-born Obed, takes him and nurses him and the women of the village refer to him as ‘Naomi’s little boy’. Once again God’s family is formed by people who demonstrate faithfulness and kindness – not by people who are related. It is wonderful to see those bonds across generations and other cultural boundaries in our congregation.

It was very powerful then to have Keith Blackburn read to us the words written by the 3:16 Group, based on their study of the Book of Joel, and coming out of their care and concern for this earth and for future generations. I will include the text, for you to read and reflect on yourself, below.

Finally, as we think about belonging to Christian community, in the Baptist context of the priesthood of all believers, the autonomy of the local church and liberty of conscience, there is a second session tonight for questions and discussion about the deacon’s recommendation that the church sign the letter. To join – Click here for the zoom session

And here is the contemporary reimagining of the opening words of the prophet Joel, by the 3:16 Group:

The Climate Extinction
Hear this, you elders;​
    listen, all who live in the land.​
Has anything like this ever happened in your days​
    or in the days of your ancestors?​
Tell it to your children,​
    and let your children tell it to their children,​
    and their children to the next generation.​

Wake up, you consumers, and weep!​
    Wail, all you spenders on unneeded luxuries;​
wail because of your extravagances,​
    for surely they will taint your enjoyment ​
like suffocating smoke.​
A climate emergency has invaded our land,​
    a mighty force without limit;​
it sears with the unfettered force of the sun,​
    and blasts with the power of the hurricane. ​
It has laid waste our forests​
    and ruined the trees.​
It has incinerated their bark​
    and turned it to ash,​
    leaving their trunks blackened and bare. ​

Mourn like a scientist unheard​
    grieving for disregarded truth.​
Meaningful policies and necessary repudiations​
    are missing from your creation Lord.​
Those of spiritual discernment lament,​
    those who serve the dispossessed.​
The atmosphere is polluted,​
    the world is at breaking point;​
the climate has ruptured,​
    storm and fire destroy,​
    the seasons misbehave.​

Despair, you lovers of nature,​
    wail, you who care for the earth;​
grieve for the plants and the animals,​
    because the ecosphere is threatened.​
Animals cry for survival​
    and plants are dying;​
the curlew sandpiper, the pygmy possum, 

and the yellow-spotted tree frog  —  all creatures of our world —  

are stressed, facing extinction.​
Surely the people’s joy​
    is withered away.​

For the word of God in Scripture, for the word of God among us, for the word of God within us, thanks be to God! Amen!


Rev Belinda Groves

Team Leader, Canberra Baptist Church