He Gets (Some Of) Us

“Hello dear reader, been a while but here I am now all agitated about the recent ‘HeGetsUs’ advert that aired during this week’s SuperBowl. It’s already generated considerable discussion in evangelicaldom.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Well watch this…”

David Ould comments on a Super Bowl ad – and then shares an alternative.

Archbishop Kanishka Raffel’s Christmas sermon 2023

Archbishop Kanishka Raffel shared the good news of the Lord Jesus at the 10:00am service at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney this morning.

Speaking of the Lord Jesus, he reminded us, “There is no other Saviour. … No other has provided purification for sins.”

Watch here. (Link should go to the start of the sermon – or see the service from the start here.)

Related:

Two Ways to Live – a very helpful outline of the Christian message.

That You May Believe

“I feel so strongly that among those of us who have grown up in church and who can recite the great doctrines of our faith in our sleep, and yet who can yawn through the Apostles’ Creed — that among us something must be done to help us once more feel the awe, the fear, the astonishment, the wonder of the Son of God, begotten by the Father from all eternity, reflecting all the glory of God, being the very image of his person, through whom all things were created, upholding the universe by the word of his power. …”

– In this Advent devotional, John Piper prays that all Christians will be overcome with wonder by the gospel.

Image: JWST.

Course: Talking with Catholics about Jesus

Lionel Windsor draws attention to a very helpful course:

“An opportunity to understand Catholics and have great conversations together about Christ.

A new resource by Certainty4Eternity, distributed by Matthias Media. A course to consider for your church or small group 2024!”

Be better equipped to love your Catholic friends.

Image: Mark Gilbert.

Kanishka Raffel: We must not lose sight of this simple Christmas message

Archbishop Kanishka Raffel has written this editorial which was published in The Daily Telegraph today.

What can we say when people come face to face with evil? How can we make sense of this desperate world? We need a word from God, which is exactly what Christmas is. God has spoken through his Son, Jesus.

Full text below:

The beginning of this year seemed to offer a ‘fresh start’ as we came out of COVID. Yet, as 2023 unfolded, the cost of living rose beyond the means of many, we witnessed with grief and horror, man-made calamity in war and conflict, as well as natural disasters, tragic accidents, and terrible crimes. 

We in Australia were not isolated from the international conflicts. Many have family and friends in war-torn areas and watch helpless as the television news brings the horrors into our lounge rooms. In Gaza, Israeli hostages are held by the terrorists while civilians have been tragically killed or displaced. The salt in mothers’ tears is the same, whether they are in Ukraine, Sudan or the Middle East. In far too many places around the world, children suffer in wars and conflicts not of their own making. 

Neither have we been insulated from rising inflation and the consequent effect on interest rates. The price of grocery items soared as home-owners were hit by five increases in interest rates this year. According to the research by Anglicare in its Rental Affordability Snapshot, the crisis in housing security has deepened for those in low-income households and the most vulnerable family groups. Basic affordable housing is beyond the reach of single parents, or single people, on any of the various welfare payments. The crisis in affordability has been made worse by rental availability plunging to levels not seen for more than a decade.

During COVID, there was a rise in domestic violence and we continue to see cases resulting in the death of women of all ages. I am told that younger women, between the ages of 18 to 34 years, are at greatest risk. These are terrible statistics and I commend the work of services such as 1800 Respect (1800 737 732). No women should have to suffer any form of abuse or coercive control. This is not God’s way for our families.

The introduction, last month, of the Voluntary Assisted Dying laws is a backward step for our society. Although introduced with what many consider to be the strictest protocols, I believe this will create pressure on already under resourced palliative care and diminish our commitment to protecting and valuing every human life. 

We have seen this play out in Canada, a country not unlike our own. While euthanasia was introduced in 2016, initially only for the terminally ill, it now accounts for 4 percent of all deaths in that country. New measures next year will extend the availability of assisted suicide in Canada to situations where a person’s sole medical condition is a mental illness.

The idea that all human life is inherently precious was not generally affirmed in the world into which Jesus Christ was born (although it was a tenet of Judaism). It spread with the growth of early Christianity and finds expression today in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Laws create culture. Practices shape values and community expectations. For two thousand years, Christian teaching has asserted the inestimable value of the individual created in the image of God and precious by virtue of life’s sanctity, not merely life’s utility or quality.  We abandon that principle at our peril. 

The horrors we see overseas, reach deep into our society too, as the Middle East conflict has brought a rise in anti-semitic sentiment. Flag burnings and aggressive verbal incitements to violence against Jewish people have shocked and repulsed our city. The sin of antisemitism has a long and shameful history. It must be repudiated in the strongest terms, so in October, I joined other faith leaders in calling for national unity and harmony so that our multi-cultural, multi-faith community may continue to thrive without hate or violence.

What can we say when people come face to face with evil? How can we make sense of this desperate world? We need a word from God, which is exactly what Christmas is. God has spoken through his Son, Jesus. The Bible describes Jesus as the Word of God – he is God’s word to us in good times and in bad.

When God came into the world he came in the vulnerability of childhood. He was born, amidst whispers of scandal, to an unwed mother. His parents searched fruitlessly for a place to stay. The secular power of the day sought his death and propelled his family to flee their home. He was born, unmistakeably, into this world with all its threats and insecurities, especially for children and the poor.

Yet, Jesus came to bring a word from God. To those who received him he gave the right to become children of God, St John says in the majestic opening to his Gospel. To a world wearied by war, human wickedness, death and decay – Jesus speaks a word of life, light, hope and adoption into God’s family.

Rising costs may have forced a stripped-down Christmas this year yet when you strip away the tinsel you have the simple message of Christmas, so simple a child can believe and yet so substantial that its wonders and glories can fill our hearts and sustain us through life’s challenges. At its heart the message of Christmas is nothing other than Jesus, and nothing better than Jesus.

May I wish you and those you love a very happy Christmas.

____________________________

– See also the Archbishop’s shorter Christmas video.

(With thanks to Russell Powell for the text. Image: SydneyAnglicans.net)

A word from God to a desperate world

Archbishop Kanishka Raffel has released his Christmas video for 2023.

Great to share.

Posted, with some background, at SydneyAnglicans.net.

See also: Kanishka Raffel: We must not lose sight of this simple Christmas message.

Bathurst Christmas Reflection – Bishop Mark Calder on Finding Permanence in a World of Change

Bishop Mark Calder’s Christmas message for 2023:

“In a world where everything bears the label ‘temporary,’ the Christmas season invites us to discover the enduring permanence found in Jesus Christ.

Imagine labelling the items in your life – microwaves, cars, homes – as either ‘temporary’ or ‘permanent.’ The result is confronting: almost everything is temporary, except for Jesus.

As we celebrate his birth, we’re not just commemorating God stepping into our world as one of us; we’re affirming the timeless reign of a permanent King. Jesus is the exception in a world of transience, offering reliability, dependability, and lasting hope.

This Christmas, amidst the chaos of life, run to Jesus. In him, find not only help but a source of unwavering hope, strength, and inner transformation. Amidst the temporary, Jesus stands as the permanent promise of a Kingdom that never ends.

May this Christmas be a reminder that, in Jesus, we discover hope and help and strength in the face of our world – and our lives – which are often confusing and uncertain.

Bishop Mark Calder
Anglican Diocese of Bathurst, covering central and western NSW.”

See the video version here.

Words worth reading — from Richard Johnson, first Chaplain to New South Wales

“The faith whereby a sinner receives Christ, and becomes a partaker of all the blessings of the gospel, is the sole gift of God, wrought in the heart by his Holy Spirit (Eph. ii.8). This Holy Spirit produces an inward change in the soul, called, in the scripture, the new birth, regeneration (John iii. 3-7), or conversion, and thus enables a sinner, convinced of his sin and misery, to look to Jesus, and to believe on him.

But though repentance and faith are the gifts of God, which none can obtain by any endeavours of their own, yet we are encouraged and commanded to pray for them (Luke xi. 17).

All who have thus, through grace, believed, and are daily living a life of faith in the Son of God, shall be saved: but such as carelessly neglect, or wilfully reject this gospel, must be damned (Mark xvi. 15). Think, I beseech you, of this! Remember, that it is the solemn declaration of the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

Now is the time to obtain the blessings revealed in the gospel, and which are set before you when it is preached. Many have had these gracious declarations made to them, before we were born, and they will be repeated to many after we are dead. But this is our day. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation (I Cor. vi. 2.). Hurry — for you and I may not live to see tomorrow. Today; if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts (Heb. iii. 7,8). My brethren, it is your duty, your wisdom, and will finally prove to be your greatest happiness, to seek an interest in this salvation for yourselves. It is your personal, and must be your heart concern, to make your calling and election sure (2 Pet i. 10).

For death will soon put a period to all the overtures of grace and mercy, with which many, and particularly you, are now favoured. It is, as I have said, both my duty and my pleasure, to preach and proclaim these glad tidings. But to whom? Not to the dead, but to the living; even to you (Acts xv. 22). To you is the word of this salvation sent. But, alas! should you still put it from you, and should death at last find you in an unprepared state, it will then be too late for you to begin to cry for mercy. (Eccl. ix. 10).”

– Extracted from Richard Johnson’s “An Address – to The Inhabitants of The Colonies Established in New South Wales and Norfolk Island”, 1792. PDF here.

Photo: Moore College.

The Christmas Countdown: from Speak Life

Speak Life in the UK has released this year’s Christmas video – The Christmas Countdown.

It’s something you could share with a friend, and then encourage them to consider the 321 course –

“321 comprises of 8 interactive video sessions designed to be completed at your leisure. Each session is around 20 min long and can be played, paused and accelerated to suit.

Presenter Glen Scrivener leads each session and offers the opportunity to think, question and test different worldviews.”

See also the Speak Life Christmas Video Rewind where Glen Scrivener and Nate Morgan Locke take a look at Speak Life’s previous Christmas videos.

The blood that brings peace

“As the Israel-Gaza war rages, with all the tragic death and suffering it entails, many pressing concerns naturally spring to our minds.

Why is the situation so dire?

Who is to blame for the suffering?

And what are our political leaders doing about it?

I can’t begin to answer all these questions in this short article. But I want to point us to something that will help us: the cross of Jesus Christ. How does it help? I’m convinced that the message of the cross gives us a deep foundation and a vital framework for making sense of issues of conflict in our world as well as in our lives. …”

A timely reminder – from Lionel Windsor at The Australian Church Record.

Australia: Meet Jesus!

“In 2024 the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES) is prayerfully embarking on a national mission; the theme is ‘Meet Jesus’ and the focus is John’s Gospel.

The AFES will, of course, be focused on proclaiming Christ on university campuses. But they have invited churches, Christian organisations, and individuals to join them, where possible, by using the same Gospel (John), the same strategy (reading John with others) and the same branding (Meet Jesus). …”

– From The Gospel Coalition Australia.

“Jesus has come to invade the realm of darkness”

“Archbishop Kanishka Raffel has visited the Diocese’s newest Anglican building, Leppington Anglican Church, celebrating ministry to what has become known as the ‘new southwest’. …

The church’s opening was disrupted by COVID and the service was the first opportunity to mark the event. …”

Leppington opens as ‘new SouthWest’ emerges.

Russell Powell writes of Hope Anglican Church at Leppington.

Embedded in the article is the video of the service, including an interview with the Archbishop, and his sermon. The Archbishop reminds us, “Jesus has come to invade the realm of darkness”.

“To know and love the indigenous people of this land”

In his response to the Voice Referendum result, Archbishop Kanishka Raffel says there should be renewed effort towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ministry.

“The people of Australia have now spoken on the Voice to Parliament,” the Archbishop said in a statement. “Whatever your reaction to the outcome it is timely to remember what the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee affirmed this year – it is God’s voice that is sovereign over all peoples and lands.”…

Read Russell Powell’s report at SydneyAnglicans.net – complete with a brief video message from the Archbishop.

Full statement below:

Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney Public Statement

The people of Australia have now spoken on the Voice to Parliament.

Whatever your reaction to the outcome it is timely to remember what the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee affirmed this year – it is God’s voice that is sovereign over all peoples and lands.

The conversation around the referendum highlights the need for reconciliation with the indigenous people of this land and should spur us on to the true work of reconciliation through Jesus.

Our ministries of care and education for and by indigenous people, through Anglicare and our schools, are an important part of this.

I was encouraged by our last Synod warmly welcoming and listening to the voices of our indigenous brothers and sisters. I recall the words of the Rev Michael Duckett who challenged us to spend as much time as we have spent talking about the Voice, talking about the spread of the gospel among first nations people.

“Put your efforts and your prayers,” he said “into the spread of the gospel among my people here so the Sydney Diocese can showcase to the world what it means to be reconciled to the First Nations peoples through Christ Jesus.”

What a wonderful and humbling vision! To know and love the indigenous people of this land. To direct our prayers and our efforts into helping to raise up the next generation of ministry leaders. To pray for First Nations people, young and old, to know the Lord.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us, so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. PS 67:1,2

Archbishop Kanishka Raffel
15 October 2023.

John Anderson in conversation with Glen Scrivener

From JohnAnderson.net.au:

“In this interview, John sits down with author, minister and director of Speak Life, Glen Scrivener for a conversation on how the Christian worldview has shaped our society.

Glen does a fantastic job communicating how thoroughly the Christian ethic has shaped and still continues to shape our culture today. Most remarkably, Glen highlights how even many of Christianity’s biggest detractors’ arguments are based on presuppositions that are fundamentally Christian in nature.”

– Fascinating and worth watching. This would be a very helpful video to share with anyone who wants to know that Christians believe.

At JohnAnderson.net.au – or see YouTube for a version with time markers to jump topics discussed.

See also:

Want to Reach the World? Evangelize the Church — Glen Scrivener at The Gospel Coalition.

Speak Life.

Richard Dawkins asks an important question and here is my answer

“I can imagine Richard Dawkins sitting in the back row at the Areopagus, stern-faced and shaking head, and leading a small chorus of sceptics.

Richard Dawkins is continuing his mission to evangelise people out of Christianity (and religion altogether) and to secure his message of a world without hope.

Today in a video message, he asks, ‘Do you want to be comforted by a falsehood?’

It’s a good question and an important one. Does anyone want to find consolation in a fabrication? Does anyone want to pour all their hopes into a dead end? For Professor Dawkins death is of course the dead end, with nothing beyond and no light to give hope to either the dead or those who are left behind. …”

– Murray Campbell shares his answer to Richard Dawkins.

Next Page →