Stop Work on Roe 8 we urge Premier

The Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of Western Australia, Rev Steve Francis, and Rev Sealin Garlett, Chairperson, Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress have written to the Premier urgently asking that the preparatory work on the “Roe 8 ” site be stopped immediately.

They write: “In March 2016 the Social Justice Board of the Uniting Church Synod of WA wrote to your Environment and Transport Ministers about concerns regarding proposals to construct the Perth Freight Link known as “Roe 8” though culturally and environmentally sensitive areas which include the Beeliar Wetlands.

“We write again – this time to ask that preparatory work on the “Roe 8” site be stopped immediately.

“We reiterate with concern the comments previously made by Rev Sealin Garlett, Uniting Church minister at Coolbellup Uniting Church and Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress (WA).  Rev Garlett says that the area is culturally significant for Nyungar people.

“As an Indigenous man, the old people told us the story of the importance of that place. Not only of that area as a camping ground, but it also was a birth place. Women would go to that area and give birth to their children; they would stay there until the children were weaned. And the reason for that is the abundance of food in the area. There’s work been done and houses there, but there are pockets of the land that are very important and need to be left alone.” (Taken from: http://revivemagazine.org.au/2016/02/04/standing-together-to-save-beeliar-wetlands/ )

We further note that the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) have also issued a statement saying that the Noongar community is steadfastly opposed to the Roe 8 extension adding that it will destroy some critically important heritage sites and adversely affect others (http://www.noongar.org.au/news-and-events.html).

In 2006 the Uniting Church Assembly adopted a very strong resolution entitled “For the Sake of the Planet and All its People” regarding the value of protecting creation (http://www.unitingjustice.org.au/environment/uca-statements/item/481-for-the-sake-of-the-planet-and-all-its-people). In this resolution we find these words:

“Since its inauguration the Uniting Church in Australia has been concerned about the continued existence of all creatures and plant life and believes that nature is not to be plundered and abused.”

We note that the 2003 Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report Bulletin 1088, highlights the ecological values of North Lake & Bibra Lake:

“the EPA concludes that any proposal for the construction of the alignment of Roe Highway Stage 8 through the Beeliar Regional Park would be extremely difficult to be made environmentally acceptable.”

and that:

“the EPA is of the opinion that the overall impacts of construction within the alignment, or any alignment through the Beeliar Regional Park in the vicinity of North Lake and Bibra Lake, would lead to the ecological values of the area as a whole being diminished in the long-term. Every effort should be made to avoid this…”

“The North and Bibra Lakes are home to more than 220 plant species and 123 bird species including the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo and Peregrine falcon.  It is used by migratory water birds such as greenshanks, dotterels, plovers and sandpipers, which are protected by International Governmental Agreements (JAMBA and CAMBA). The Australian Heritage Commission and the National Trust of Australia describe it as “possibly the least disturbed of all the remaining wetlands in the Perth metropolitan area”.

“We are also concerned that the Supreme Court decided that the environmental approvals given to the Roe 8 project by the EPA were not in accord with its own policies.  We note that there will be a further court case this week about the nature of the environmental approvals given.

“We ask you to acknowledge that there are significant community concerns about this proposal.  There will be an opportunity for your government to seek the community approval it needs for this project at the election due in March 2017. We therefore ask in the strongest possible terms that the plans to build Roe 8 in the face of strong community opposition not be proceeded with at this time”

ENDS

A Christmas Sermon

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CHRISTMAS IS AMAZING

In fact its utterly beyond comprehension, which is probably why we do all the crazy things we do at this time of the year.

We eat too much, we put up lights everywhere, we bring trees into our houses, we buy things for people we see everyday, and wrap them in beautiful paper which we will just throw away anyway – whole forests disappear in December which is a real headache for concerned conservationists. All of this is just our feeble attempt to somehow celebrate something which is incredibly amazing, so big, so vast, so utterly unbelievable that we do these things to mark the occasion.

How do you get to grips with “Emmanuel” – God with us? Can you actually get your mind around it? God coming to us – the Creator within His creation. Its really hard to get the picture, isn’t it?

I was reading about the Rev Robert Evans this week in Bill Bryson’s “A short history of nearly everything.” Rev Evans is (was) a retired minister in the Uniting Church in New South Wales, a writer on modern evangelical revivals and a part time astronomer. His claim to fame is that he has discovered more Super Novas than anybody else, even more than the great scientists in their huge observatories.

Now listen to this …

A Supernova is an exploding star whose light can outshine an entire galaxy for about a month. How it explodes is an interesting phenomenon. Over time, millions of years, its inner gravitational pull becomes so strong that initially it implodes, drawing everything into itself. Its gravitational pull is so strong that it sucks in everything, including light – it becomes a black hole in the universe.

And its core becomes incredibly heavy. Imagine a million cannonballs squeezed into the size of a marble. As Rev Evans says, just a teaspoon full of this imploded star could weigh 90 billion kgs … And then suddenly it explodes outwards sending all kinds of matter into space. It’s a nuclear explosion of such gigantic proportions that it makes Hiroshima look like a Christmas cracker. It would be the equivalent of a trillion hydrogen bombs all going off at once.

But you don’t need to worry about it. The nearest likely candidate to be a Supernova is a star called Betelguesewhich is a mere 50 thousand light years away. To put that in perspective, to get there you would have to travel at the speed of light for 50 thousand years. In contrast, travelling at the speed of light, it would take you a mere 1.3 seconds to get to the moon, or 8.3 minutes to get to the sun.

Its hard to fathom God’s creation – its mind boggling.

We see pictures in books of our own solar system but they can never be to scale. If the earth were the size of a pea, Jupiter would be 3 lengths of a rugby field away,and Pluto, the furthest “planet” from earth would be 21/2 kilometers away. The nearest star outside our solar system, Proxima Centauri,  would, on this scale, be 16000 kms away. There is absolutely no prospect whatsoever that any human being will ever travel to the edge of our solar system and our solar system is just a dot in the universe.

Amazing isn’t it…

And the God who made all this came right inside His creation. RIGHT INSIDE!

He who flung stars into space by speaking them into being, who spoke the separation of sky and earth, who announced light, and life.

This God came as a baby born of a virgin mother. The Lord of all creation, the master of the universe – God, made himself utterly dependent on man. Formed in the womb of a virgin girl, He came to us. It’s so hard to believe but it’s the real reason for the season.

This amazingly, fantastically big God became a child, a baby in a virgin’s womb – following his own rule for a nine month gestation period, and the years needed to be lived in order to grow to be a man – so that he could lay down the life He took up in order to change our destiny. To turn around everything that we had messed up in our life and history and to give us a new beginning.

Its no wonder that we do crazy things like coming to church in the middle of the week, and eating a roast lunch just a few days after the summer solstice.

I grew up on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. I haven’t yet seen the deserts of Australia but let me tell you, the Kalahari Desert is not a glad place. It’s dry and parched. In places its just moving sand, in other places, its hot sheets of stone, in still other places, the pebbles are the size of golf balls, black as the night and always shiny and hot and hard.

It does not rejoice. It drains the energy from you like a supernova. Despite everything it never quite has life – what life there is hides away, survives on little and blooms very seldom.

BUT, in God, the prophet Isaiah (Ch 35) tells us, the desert will be glad!

The wilderness will rejoice! It will burst into bloom and shout for joy! It is a metamorphosis! And its coming, says the prophet…so strengthen your hands, steady your knees, be strong, do not fear…

GOD IS COMING TO SAVE YOU!

Get up! Get ready! Get going! The eyes of the blind will be opened. The ears of the deaf unstopped. The lame will leap like a deer. The mute tongue will shout for joy. It’s a transformation! Deserts are blooming, invalid people are being restored. Have you thought about that… invalid people, in-valid people. Same word, different pronunciation, same meaning. People without worth, or value. The nothings of creation are becoming the somethings.

In Peter’s first letter, he says this, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Once you were not a people – you were in-valid, but now you are a chosen people, a people belonging to God. We easily miss the reference to the names of the unfaithful children of Hosea. God spoke through that prophet of starting all over again. The unloved became the loved and those without mercy received mercy – it’s the Message of Christmas!

God has transformed His creation.

He has taken a people made in His image, who through sin had made themselves in-valid, and He has, in His Son, born of a virgin, dead on a Cross, risen into glory, given us back the value we first had in Him. He started again.

Once you had not received mercy, now you have received mercy.

Christmas is the season of Emmanuel.

It is God with us and there can never, ever, be a better cause for celebration.

When John the Baptizer was becoming uncertain of his own future, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask the question, “Are you the One, or should we wait for another?”

Christ’s answer was simple – He quoted from Isaiah 35 – “Tell him what you see,  the eyes of the blind are opened, the ears of the deaf are unstopped, the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shouts for joy.”

In more words than were necessary He was saying, I AM THE ONE!

Observe the fulfillment of prophecy! Look at broken, in-valid people being restored!  My friends, water is gushing forth in the wilderness, there are streams in the desert, the burning sand has become a delightful pool, the land which at first sucked in the moisture is now a bubbling spring.

Its turnaround time. Its Christmas!

This celebration today says, “I believe this!”

We believe this promise is for everyone. This is the celebration of the greatest event which has ever, ever taken place. The Almighty entered into his creation to take sadness and sighing away from us and to overwhelm us with his gladness and joy.

Listen to the voices of those who discovered this in the beginning, when Christ was born amongst us:

Mary, the virgin mother. God chose to enter the world through her womb…

“My soul glorifies the Lord

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful

of the humble state of his servant.

 

Zechariah, the father of John:

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

because he has come and has redeemed his people.

 

The angels..

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests.

Simeon, the old priest in the Temple

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you now dismiss your servant

in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of all people,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people Israel.”

 

Because Christ has come, everything is different now!

God is with us!

 

Merry Christmas and God bless you all.

 

Rev David de Kock

General Secretary

Advent and Christmas Services

Advent

  • Sunday 11 December, 8.00am and 10.00am. Advent Services at St Aidan’s Uniting Church, cnr Princess and Chester Roads, Claremont
  • Sunday 11 December, 8.00am and 10.00am. Advent Service with Nativity Play, carols and tea at St Aidan’s Uniting Church, cnr Princess and Chester Roads, Claremont
  • Sunday 11 December, 9.30am. Carols Service at Ross Memorial, cnr Hay and Colin Streets, Perth
  • Sunday 11 December, 9.30am. All Age Nativity Service at Trinity North Uniting Church, Greenwood Worship Centre, 89 Marlock Dve, Greenwood
  • Sunday 11 December, 7.30pm. Fremantle Wesley Carol Service, Fremantle Wesley Uniting Church, Fremantle
  • Sunday 18 December, 8.00am and 10.00am. Advent Services at St Aidan’s Uniting Church, cnr Princess and Chester Roads, Claremont
  • Sunday 18 December, 9.30am. Spearwood Carol Service, Spearwood Uniting Church, Spearwood
  • Sunday 18 December, 10.00am. A Celebration of Nine Lessons and Carols at Wesley Uniting Church, cnr William and Hay Streets, Perth
  • Sunday 18 December, 10.00am. A Festival of Lessons and Carols at Trinity Uniting Church, 72 St George’s Terrace, Perth

Christmas Eve

  • Saturday 24 December, 5.00pm. Condingup Uniting Church’s Christmas Eve Service at Recreation Reserve Hall
  • Saturday 24 December, 5.00pm. Christmas Eve Service at Manjimup Uniting Church, Manjimup
  • Saturday 24 December, 6.30pm. Christmas Eve Service at Trinity North Uniting Church, Greenwood Worship Centre, 89 Marlock Dve, Greenwood
  • Saturday 24 December, 7.30pm. Service of Lessons and Carols at Scarborough Uniting Church, cnr Moorland and Northstead Streets, Scarborough
  • Saturday 24 December, 7.30pm. Christmas Eve Service at Trinity North Uniting Church, Duncraig Worship Centre, 29 Wandoo Road,
  • Saturday 24 December, 11.15pm. Christmas Eve Service at Wesley Uniting Church, cnr William and Hay Streets, Perth
  • Saturday 24 December, 12 midnight. Midnight Service at Manjimup Uniting Church, Manjimup

Christmas

  • Sunday 25 December, 8.00am. Christmas Day Service at Watermans Bay Uniting Church, Watermans Bay
  • Sunday 25 December, 8.00am and 9.30am. Christmas Day Services at St Aidan’s Uniting Church, cnr Princess and Chester Roads, Claremont
  • Sunday 25 December, 8.30am Afrikaans Christmas Service at Trinity Uniting Church, 72 St George’s Tce, Perth
  • Sunday 25 December, 8.30am. Christmas Day Service at Lockyer Uniting Church, Townsend St, Albany
  • Sunday 25 December, 8.30am. Christmas Day Service at Trinity North Uniting Church, Greenwood Worship Centre, 89 Marlock Dve, Greenwood
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.00am. Christmas Day Service at Scarborough Uniting Church, Scarborough
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.00am. Christmas Day Service at Fremantle Wesley Uniting Church, Fremantle
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.00am. Christmas Day Service at Spearwood Uniting Church, Spearwood
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.00am. Christmas Day Service at Esperance Uniting Church, Windich St, Esperance
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.00am. Christmas Day Service at Maylands-Mt Lawley Uniting Church, Railway Parade, Mount Lawley
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.00am. Christmas Day Service at Mundaring Uniting Church, Mundaring
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.00am. Christmas Day Service at Trinity North Uniting Church, Duncraig Worship Centre, 29 Wandoo Rd, Duncraig
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.00am. Christmas Day Service at Trinity North Uniting Church, Cousin’s Hall, St Stephen’s School, Doveridge Drive, Duncraig
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.30am Christmas Celebration at Ross Memorial Church, cnr Hay and Colin Streets, West Perth
  • Sunday 25 December, 9.30am. Christmas Day Service at Albany Uniting Church, Duke St, Albany
  • Sunday 25 December, 10.00am. Christmas Day Celebration at Trinity Uniting Church, 72 St George’s Tce, Perth
  • Sunday 25 December, 10.00am. A Christmas Celebration at Wesley Uniting Church, cnr William and Hay Streets, Perth

 

Looking for the Open Door

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Acts 16 gives us an account of an incident on Paul’s second missionary journey. The intent had been to reach further in to Asia Minor, but God had another plan. The vision given to Paul of a man of Macedonia calling out to them to “come over to help us”, is a constant challenge as we seek God’s direction in our personal lives and in the life of the Church.

Here are four thoughts for us as we think about where God might be leading us:

  1. Be Open to New Possibilities

Paul and his team set out on this mission shortly after the Council of Jerusalem, where it had been agreed that Gentiles could be followers of Christ without first becoming Jews. There had been some opposition to this; some were demanding fulfilment of the ritual requirements. The Council however decided that new followers needed to simply follow the moral law rather than ritual law. The outcome was that the church was encouraged to flourish in cultural contexts other than Judaism.

What event have we experienced which has created new possibilities for us? Perhaps it was a move to another place, or a new job. When these things happen we need to be open to the possibilities.

We are in the process of restructuring the Synod and Presbytery, and the final touches will take place at the Presbytery meeting on November. It came about because we had agreed in September 2015 for the Regional Committee of Congress to become a Presbytery.  That transition is not going to happen just yet, but it caused us the review our structures and to see the benefits of the change required to have a second Presbytery. The door was open to new possibilities.

  1. Be Ready to Change

The next thing is that we need to be ready to change.

In preparing for the second missionary journey it was intended that Paul and Barnabas, his partner on the first journey, would lead this second expedition. But Paul didn’t want to take John Mark along because he had deserted early in the first expedition. There was a disagreement and Paul and Barnabas parted ways.

Paul took Timothy with him instead. And what an advantage that was. His mother was Jewish and his father was Greek – he understood the contrast of Jewish/Gentile culture, and how they could co-exist far better than could Paul with his ultra conservative Jewish background.

We don’t need to always do things the same way. The experience of new possibilities opens the door for new opportunities. The falling out between Paul and Barnabas created the opportunity for two teams to lead the thrust of the gospel message. John Mark continued to be encouraged and later, in writing to Timothy, Paul asks him to bring Mark to come to help him.

Sometimes our vision becomes so focussed that we begin to exclude some people. Paul fell into this trap and saw John Mark as a hindrance to the mission. But he was not without grace. As the mission expanded, by God’s, rather than Paul’s, direction, John Mark was in the field, trained by Barnabas and able to help. Paul changed his attitude as he began to see God’s vision.

  1. Be Obedient to God’s Leading

So Paul’s team, with Timothy, set out for Asia Minor. Despite the fact that the Jerusalem Council had given them an open door to engage freely with other cultures they did not even realise that they were keeping themselves confined to the same (Mid Eastern) culture. Oh yes, they had branched out from Judaism to the Gentiles but apart from religious ritual, the culture was pretty much the same.

But, it seems, God did not want the gospel contained within a culture and so He closed the door to Bithynia and opened the door to Europe.

It is not always easy to change our ways. As I have said, sometimes our vision becomes so focussed that we begin to exclude people, but sometimes we also exclude God.

It is said that the words on the tombstone of the church will be “we never did it that way before.” We do need to be ready to change and to recognise the leading which God gives us.

  1. Be Optimistic

Finally, we need to be optimistic – to trust that God’s intention for His church will prevail in every situation.

It must have been challenging to enter into a new culture with the gospel, where the religious direction was vastly different. But trusting in God, Paul and his team crossed the sea.

They found a Jewish woman – Lydia from Thyatira – and she became the first convert. They cast a demon out of a young slave girl – the second convert, and her owners turned the town against them. Paul and his team were imprisoned. An earthquake had opened the door and loosened their shackles but they did not escape. They stayed until it was right to go and the surprised jailer and his family became the next converts.

Without hope, life can easily devolve into pessimism. But Christ offers us hope – we can be optimistic and hopeful of His leading.

In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat is threatened by a vast army. He prays to God” “Lord, we have no power, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” He marches out with his small army and finds the Moabite army already defeated.

We can trust God’s leading!

What’s wrong with a little sledging?

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Many decades ago, in the last century, I played cricket. I think they were short on numbers. I  batted for my school and post school. I tried to put bat to ball in the factory team where I  worked.

I loved the game. Beautiful green ovals, the bonding of being part of a team, the competitive edge  and the chance to develop one’s skills while learning from the skills of others. I never felt it was  the game they play in heaven but I did think it was lots of fun. Last year when Philip Hughes was  killed by a bouncer I felt the fun had gone from a great game. Like tens of thousands of  Australians I left my old cricket bat and cap outside our front door as a mark of respect for a great  cricketer. Accidents happen in all sports; this was one of the most tragic.

In reviewing his death, discussion has begun about the role of sledging in cricket. Some argue it’s harmless and all part of fiercely competitive sport. Others claim that Australians are among the worlds worse ledgers. I guess the idea behind the sledge is if you do it often enough and deep enough you will gain a psychological advantage and put your opponent off their game. I once got sledged while playing Poole. It had the opposite effect. It made me try harder. This suggests to me that sledging is misplaced and also unsportsmanlike. Every coach should teach their team members to play the ball not the person. Sledging today often involves the use of gutter language and personal threats. It does not enhance a game but it diminishes it. I would even suggest that sledging in cricket somehow legitimises the verbal abuse of others. When I watch Parliament on television it sounds like off the field sledging.

The biblical letter of James reminds us that words matter; they can heal or hurt, they can build up  or destroy. Verbal abuse is unacceptable in a family or in a marriage, in an office or in a playground and dare I suggest in a sporting contest. Personally I would give sledging the red card. We are better off without it.

Bless people rather than curse them.

In Christ,

Steve Continue reading