Loving the Liturgy

“Churches returning to physical services after the pandemic lock-down are having to be creative and adaptable under the present restrictions.

With singing not allowed, many are re-discovering the benefits of using liturgy in our corporate worship.

Is this something to be regretted, a backward step, or something to be grateful for?…”

– At Church Society’s blog, Andrew Cinnamond shares some reasons this can be a very good thing.

Hidden behind the bannered slogan

“Being truthful makes a person or a group trustworthy. To be trusted, an openness and honesty is required. To present a truism but then hide other agendas may attract listeners at first, but when what is hidden is exposed, trust will be lost, cynicism will grow, and the community will be wounded.

As a church leader I should know. I have felt betrayed by the hidden evils perpetrated by the groomers and paedophiles that have haunted the darker corners of church history.

Perhaps, naïvely, I thought such evil could not exist where Christian slogans were so righteous. While the slogan may be right and good, life offers evidence of the insidious nature of those who hide behind slogans with ulterior motives. …”

– Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers cautions against naïvety.

Where are all the senior ministers?

“Currently there are around 30 vacant parishes in the Sydney Diocese.

Generally vacancies last longer now, because there are fewer people putting their hands up for rector roles. That is seen across the Diocese. As Bishop of the Georges River, I certainly have had parishes that have taken more than two years to fill. …”

– Bishop raises some important matters for prayer – at SydneyAnglicans.net.

All Things to All People? The Gospel is the Issue

“I think most of us with any sense of awareness can recognize that we are living in one of those great transitional moments in human history. But there is one thing that must not change: the Christian task of bearing faithful witness to the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some would disagree and argue that the Christian witness, to be faithful, must change anything and everything to fit the culture as it changes over time and across locations. They might quote the apostle Paul: ‘I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some’ (1 Cor 9:22).

I propose, however, that far from a mandate to accommodate all things, Paul’s words here are a manifesto for ministry that puts the gospel above all things. …”

Encouraging words in dark times, from Albert Mohler.

Lennox

“The name Lennox means ‘From the field of elm trees’. It is Gaelic in origin and both the name of a character in Macbeth and the name given to my newly born grandchild.

He will not simply be a character in a play, he will be a life lived across a moment of time, a time that the more pessimistic of grandparents may consider concerning.

Who would think that a child born into an educated and materialistic western society would arrive at a time of such civil unrest, where historical divides and the anarchist heart of humanity remains and the atheistic humanist’s dream lies dead?…”

– Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers writes this article for his local paper.

Something more important than lighting a candle

Writing from Canada, The Anglican Samizdat points out that there are more helpful things to do during the current crisis than to light a candle.

Coronavirus and your workplace: Four reflections from a month travelling Australia

“I have spent the past six weeks travelling around Australia, running City Bible Forum’s annual Life@Work conference—a conference for Christians in the workplace. The theme of the conference this year was “Unmasked”, exploring how we might reveal more of who we are in the workplace to our colleagues, and not just our strengths.

However as the weeks progressed the conference theme took an unexpected twist…”

Melbourne City Bible Forum’s Andrew Laird shares some observations, and encourages Christians to hold out the hope of the gospel.

Is the end of handshaking the start of real fellowship?

“The latest recommendations for limiting the spread of Coronavirus include no handshaking.

For churches, where the handshake may be an informal, or sometimes official, type of greeting it may seem like a loss. I think it may be a gain and will cause us to rethink just how close our fellowship can be. …”

– At SydneyAnglicans.net, Russell Powell has a great suggestion for an alternative to a handshake.

It pays to hold your nerve in the Transgender Debate

“As Douglas Murray observes in his book The Madness of Crowds, we’re making long term decisions about people’s sexual and mental health based on untested ideas that have been around for the past twenty minutes.  And now people are starting to take a reality check. …”

– Stephen McAlpine sees signs that the tide beginning to turn. Image: BBC.

What Future for the Anglican Church of Australia?

“We’re in the middle of what I think is best described as a tentative ceasefire. Of course, with any ceasefire there’s opportunities for both sides to position themselves for the conflict that is yet to come.

If you think all this language sounds combative then you’d be absolutely right. Both sides recognise that this is exactly what it is – a battle for the soul of the Anglican Church of Australia. There are clearly defined positions; one that seeks to uphold the orthodox view on human sexuality (but sees that as part of a wider issue – the authority of Jesus in the church through the Scriptures) and the other side that sees a liberalising of sexual ethics as a gospel imperative. …”

– David Ould shares his thoughts on what may happen in 2020 in the Anglican Church of Australia.

(Image adapted from the website of the Anglican Church of Australia.)

Progression or Regression?

David Cook writes:

On 1st December 2018, election night in Victoria, the victorious Premier, Daniel Andrews stated that ‘Victoria is the most progressive state in the nation.’

Having spent the month of February, 2020 in Victoria, progression is not the adjective l would have used.

How’s this for a ‘progressive list’:

All this in a State with some of our nation’s finest cultural icons, The MCG, The Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas, the finest collection of Australian art in the nation, more theatres per head of population than any other Australian city.

I am preaching in a Church in the central business district of Melbourne where my closest Protestant neighbouring Churches both unashamedly endorse the same sex marriage agenda of the state.

And the Premier, Daniel Andrews, who presides over all this, is a practicing Roman Catholic, one wonders when a Priest or Bishop will have the courage to place him under Christian discipline.

In Romans 1 the apostle Paul makes it clear that ‘the wrath of God is revealed from heaven’, he does not say it will be revealed in the future but it is being revealed now. (Rom 1: 18)

Why? Because humankind has exchanged the glory of God for idolatrous images, (Rom 1: 25) and worships and serves the creature rather than the Creator. (Rom 1: 25)

Idolatry is the lie (Rom 1:25) and God’s wrath is evidenced in that he gives mankind up to the fruit of that exchange.

Paul says, God gave them over

(Rom 1: 24) to uncleanness

(Rom 1: 26) to scrambled sexual expression

(Rom 1: 28) to debased mind

The mind, the attitudes, the worldview of humanity is thus under the judgement of God, the mind is counterfeit and incapable of making proper moral judgements. (Rom 1: 28-32)

Such a mind calls regression, progression!

The only hope is the new life, the new heart, which comes through the Christian gospel by the gift of God.

The moral man, Nicodemus, in John 3 must be converted to see or enter God’s  Kingdom and the same opportunity and need is offered to the immoral woman who is offered living water by Jesus in John 4.

Paul makes it clear that due to the mercies of God we are given new minds, from which the judgement of God has been lifted and by the renewing of these minds we are being transformed.

We are people of a new mind, minds which are able to ‘discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’. (Rom 12: 2)

Pray that Daniel Andrews will experience God’s mercy.

In one of the mid-week services here l preached on John 3, ‘Jesus and Nicodemus’ under the heading, ‘Why Daniel Andrews is wrong’.

Thankfully l am still free to preach in the Commonwealth of Australia if not, it is a quick car trip of 3 hours back to the border, to good old regressive NSW!!

– Rev David Cook 18.02.2020

(David Cook has served as Principal of SMBC and also as Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia as well as in parish ministry. Inset photo courtesy St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.)

Straw Men in the Religious Discrimination debate

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald (“Religious discrimination bill gives Australians ‘right to be a bigot’”, J Ireland, SMH 30 Jan 2020) sets up a number of “straw man” arguments so that it can knock them down and claim that the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill is harmful. I disagree.

The first paragraph offers some examples of things that the Bill ‘could make it legal’ to say…”

– Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia looks at the arguments used in an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald. Is it actually “an argument against free speech, and for authoritarianism”?

New concerns over Victoria’s proposed banning of ‘conversion practices’

“As a Victorian, I have a moral obligation to report to authorities personal knowledge of alleged child abuse. As a pastor of a church, I have both a moral and legal duty to report knowledge of or suspicions of child abuse. Mandatory reporting is a social good. Even without the legal requirement, one’s natural concerns for a child’s wellbeing would automate contacting the police.

In Victoria, under new laws being proposed by the Andrews Government, I can be imprisoned for 12-18 months, for speaking up against the psychological and physical trauma inflicted upon children by gender warriors and dangerous medicos who work to change a child’s gender or sex. …”

– Murray Campbell in Melbourne warns of proposed legislation in Victoria.

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