Archives

Reflections

Reflections

Today in the sermon we’re going to be thinking and learning about sex. I think one of the most disappointing characteristics of our society’s current attitudes towards sex is the limited understanding of what sex is for. ‘Why?’ and ‘when?’ (at least in terms of appropriateness) are seldom asked questions when it comes to sex.

 

As far as I can gather, generally sex is seen primarily as being about pleasure, gratification, and in some fuzzy sense love, though that last one in particular is becoming less clear. There’s a continued distancing of sex from its parental aspects, and maximising sexual pleasure has become a self-evident goal.

 

There’s something dehumanising about this philosophy of sex.

It portrays humans as if we’re just machines—we have ‘sexual needs’ that have to be satisfied, the way a machine needs fuel. Such a view of sex distorts not only the ‘how’ and ‘when’ and ‘who with’ of sex for ourselves, but also how we view others. Single people become deficient somehow, celibate people ‘weird’, monogamous people untrue to themselves.

This is why it’s so important for all Christians, not just those in a sexual relationship, to have a healthy, biblical comprehension of sex. Our idea of sex affects the way we relate to each other. It impacts our friendships and how we relate to our spouses. It characterises how we teach our young people. 

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.”     1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

Mark

Reflections

Welcome to St Clement’s.

Today we’re looking at marriage, as the second part of our mini-series on Love, Marriage and Sex.

I want to recognise from the outset, that as we look at marriage, it might be a painful subject for some here, whether married or not, for all sorts of reasons. Relationships of any sort can be joyous at times and challenging too, because we are sinful human beings. Then there is of course the contemporary debate on the legal definition of marriage.

With all this in mind, I want us to be calibrated in our minds and hearts, by what God says in the Bible about marriage in relation to two ‘poles’– Creation and the New Creation. We will see a little bit of what God says about his creation of marriage (Genesis 1 and 2), and then fast forward to see how human marriage points to a far more wonderful marriage, that of Jesus and us his people. God has prepared us the church, to be Jesus’ holy bride in the new creation (Revelation 19) through Jesus death on the cross. In between these two poles, we’ll see from Song of Songs, a beautiful picture of marriage.

It’s fitting that at all our services today, we will remember what God has done for us to prepare us to be his bride, as we take communion together.

May we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ today.

Andy

Reflections

Welcome to St Clement’s. I know it is the mid week of the school holidays and the snow is falling or Europe is calling but it is great, right and true to get together to worship the Lord in word and song today. We start a new series. We have new missionaries to interview and we have the wonderful news of the gospel of the Lord Jesus about which to be reminded.

New series: Today we begin a new series entitled ‘Love, Marriage, and Sex’ from the Old Testament book of the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon. I called the series Love, Marriage, and Sex because that is the order the Bible takes. [It is not love, sex and marriage but love, marriage, and sex.] Hence the title. You may well be wondering what right King Solomon has to say anything on this subject. After all he had at least 700 wives and 300 concubines. I hope you will see that indeed he has much to teach us and much that is relevant to contemporary life. Today we look at love and see its nature, purpose and passion.

New missionaries: Today we also introduce at all the services new missionaries. Well not so new really but new as missionaries in a formal sense. As you know we have been looking over the last few months for missionaries to take over in our commitment to give 10% to mission. Last month Parish Council agreed to adopt James and Britt Daymond as new link missionaries with St Clement’s. This is great news and we will hear how it is going in Bathurst Diocese and in the parish of Narromine today. While Britt and James are missionaries with the Bush Church Aid Society, our support in this regard is assisting the church in the payment of their rent. We look forward to hearing from them today.

Finally I will be away this week on a conference on Prayer. Graham Cole a lecturer during my time at Moore College and now the Dean at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois is doing a week at Sydney Missionary Bible College on Prayer. (James will be there also.) I am looking forward to seeing what he has to say, growing the prayer life of St Clement’s and growing in my own prayers. The pre reading has already been stimulating. I have allocated 3 weeks of sermons on prayer in the next holidays so you can see if the conference is of any value.

We introduced a new song at 10am and 5:30pm last week. It’s title is Good, Good Father. The central part of the song goes: You’re a good good father. It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are. And I’m loved by you. It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.

It’s a great truth to guide our worship today.                           Stuart Smith

Reflections

Welcome to St Clement’s.

Today we come to the end of our series looking at the Bible book of Ecclesiastes. Over the term, we’ve travelled with the Teacher, most likely Solomon, on his pursuit to find ultimate meaning in life. His endeavour began as he explored meaning in pleasures of all kinds, before he turned and pursued meaning in philosophy, as he sought to work out how the world worked.

So how did he fare? Well, he didn’t find what he was looking for in the pursuits of his journey. Time after time he found that in and of themselves, his endeavours could not hold up the weight of his pursuit – ultimate meaning in life. Last week as we looked at the first part of chapter 12, we heard the Teacher’s repeated catchphrase one last time, ‘Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher; all is vanity.’ (Ecclesiastes 12:8 NRSV)

So where does this leave the Teacher? The fleeting pleasures, and perplexing paradoxes of life that he so often saw and experienced, propelled him to trust in God, or to pick up on another of his catchphrases, to ‘fear God’. He’s left resting in the sovereignty and the mystery of God and his ways. God is God, our creator and judge, and we are his creatures. And so:

‘The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NRSV)

I pray that as we experience the fleeting pleasures and perplexing paradoxes of life, we might also learn to fear God.

Andy

Reflections

Welcome to church today, the second last in our series on Ecclesiastes and the last Sunday in the 2016/2017 financial year. We will be thinking on the need to remember our Creator, praying for the needs of the world and hearing about the CMS Lasting Hope Appeal.

In Ecclesiastes ch 12 we read that we are to “Remember our Creator in the days of our youth”. Solomon has come to his conclusion that there is no meaning in life apart from God. In these last few chapters Solomon is keen that we keep serving the Lord, knowing He is in control and remembering the One who made us. Mark will tell us more today.

Remembering your Creator in your youth is often a hard thing to do. There are so many other possibilities and suggested ways to live and yet Ecclesiastes tell us it is crucial for us. Why is that? The passage says this is because the days after youth are difficult. Things get broken, life gets more difficult and work seems ceaseless. What Ecclesiastes seems to be saying is knowing that he is our Creator during the good times will place us in the best place for the hard times which are sure to come. I find this to be true. Those who have hidden God’s word in their heart, though they struggle, know that he is in control and has all things in his hands.

 

Today I also thought I would bring before you the appeal for funds by CMS. CMS is the missionary arm of the Anglican denomination and other Christian churches. We have links with CMS Victoria through Andrew and Dom Gifford who serve in Barcelona and are currently back in Australia for furlough. They have missionaries throughout the world and here at home. CMS is trying to raise $1.4 million to continue and extend that work. They have already raised $600,000. We will see a video from them today.

All of us are created by God, whether we are a charity worker, a terrorist or a clergyman. All of us will one down bow the knee to Christ, some willingly, some because they realised they were wrong. We will do this because Jesus never forgot who he was, because Jesus never forgot that his Father was ruler and king and that He called the shots.

 

Do I remember my Creator? No not all the time. Too frequently I think I am in control. Jesus died that I might be forgiven my assault on God’s benevolent rule. In Christ and in his service I find the meaning of life.

 

Worship him with me today will you please.

Stuart

Reflections

At the end of Matthew’s gospel, before Christ ascended, he said “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to be obey everything I have commanded you and remember I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18 – 20). These are the verses that we know as the Great Commission and they tie God as Trinity and his mission together.
Last weekend Joanne and I visited Brittany and James Daymond out at Narromine. James is working for the Anglican church out there as an evangelist. He has divided up the local area into 6 or 7 different segments and he and Britt set about each afternoon to tell local people about Jesus. There are about 6500 people in that area and about 3500 or so in the town. It was great to hear about what he is doing and how the Lord is opening gates for them. It was also great to hear the encouragement that the people at the church (and even the Rector) have received from James and Britt coming among them. So here is one area of God’s mission.
Another area of God’s mission is the work being done in the Georges River Region via Peter Lin. Peter is known to many of you as the Rector of Fairfield. We supported the ministry in various ways and through various people. Peter is now the Bishop of the Georges River region. We support ministries recommended by Peter in that part of Sydney. At the moment that is the work at Chester Hill Anglican Church and the work Stu Woods is doing. I am sure Peter will let you know about both today. Chester Hill wrote to us last week with some prayer points. They gave thanks for a friend of their church who is translating the sermons into Mandarin, they asked for wisdom for a new ministry to refugees and new migrants through driving lessons and they thanked God for the number of people who have come to church through the Homework Club.
God is at work. He is at work as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Together their great concern is that people might come into a living relationship with our heavenly Father through Christ and by his Spirit. Today we will pray for God’s mission to succeed and be extended. We will hear of our partnership in Christ with other people and churches and we will rejoice that God is indeed Father, Son and Holy Spirit and what we can worship him. Now there’s a great thing to do on a long weekend.
Stuarelcome to church today. It is great to have you with us. We will in our prayers be praying for the people of London (given the events of the week past) and also for our organist George Bate. George’s mother Beverley passed away at the beginning of last week. We will also congratulate George because he and Claire are engaged to be married later in the year. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

Over the last few weeks we have been concentrating on the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection. We have celebrated his ascension, his gift of the Holy Spirit and his place in the Trinity. This week, and in the weeks ahead, we are going to think more on what it means to follow him, to know Him, to love and serve Him. Above all we will worship Him as our Lord and Saviour. The great truth is that God is bringing all things together in Him.

Our sermon today continues our series in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. We have seen Solomon (presumably at the end of his life) trying to find a cohesive principle, a way to live, a motto to live by. Time and time again we have seen these plans frustrated and any path, other than God, blocked. More and more frequently Solomon comes to the conclusion that what he needs to do is to Fear God and keep his commandments. Now of course this is what we need to do to. The truth is we don’t. Jesus is the only one who feared his Father keeping his commandments.  A good question for us, who are in Jesus, is whether we are tempted by similar paths away from Christ.

Also in the services today I want to highlight the needs of Anglicare as we draw near to the end of the financial year.  We have ourselves made budget to this point of the year but Christian organisations like Anglicare and CMS also need our help.  We will see the work of Anglicare today and CMS next week. Please consider their call.

Finally it is communion Sunday.  The Sunday once a month where we have the Lord’s Supper at all services.  I read a great truth during the week.  It said this “if [our] condition is such that we cannot come to the light and so join him in the bosom of the Father, he can join [us] where we are under the judgment of God and in his death ….. draw all men to himself”  (G  B Caird New Testament Theology).  Please worship our Saviour with me. Stuart

Reflections

At the end of Matthew’s gospel, before Christ ascended, he said “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to be obey everything I have commanded you and remember I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18 – 20). These are the verses that we know as the Great Commission and they tie God as Trinity and his mission together.

Last weekend Joanne and I visited Brittany and James Daymond out at Narromine. James is working for the Anglican church out there as an evangelist. He has divided up the local area into 6 or 7 different segments and he and Britt set about each afternoon to tell local people about Jesus. There are about 6500 people in that area and about 3500 or so in the town. It was great to hear about what he is doing and how the Lord is opening gates for them. It was also great to hear the encouragement that the people at the church (and even the Rector) have received from James and Britt coming among them. So here is one area of God’s mission.

Another area of God’s mission is the work being done in the Georges River Region via Peter Lin. Peter is known to many of you as the Rector of Fairfield. We supported the ministry in various ways and through various people. Peter is now the Bishop of the Georges River region. We support ministries recommended by Peter in that part of Sydney.  At the moment that is the work at Chester Hill Anglican Church and the work Stu Woods is doing. I am sure Peter will let you know about both today. Chester Hill wrote to us last week with some prayer points. They gave thanks for a friend of their church who is translating the sermons into Mandarin, they asked for wisdom for a new ministry to refugees and new migrants through driving lessons and they thanked God for the number of people who have come to church through the Homework Club.

God is at work. He is at work as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Together their great concern is that people might come into a living relationship with our heavenly Father through Christ and by his Spirit. Today we will pray for God’s mission to succeed and be extended. We will hear of our partnership in Christ with other people and churches and we will rejoice that God is indeed Father, Son and Holy Spirit and what we can worship him. Now there’s a great thing to do on a long weekend.

Stuart

Reflections

‘Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.’ (Romans 8:29 NIV)

Welcome to St Clement’s.

Last time I wrote about how as Christians God has designed us to grow. To grow as his children to be like Jesus. The verse above speaks of this too – the inevitability of being like Jesus, conformed to the image of God’s Son. But how does this happen?

Just think about how you’ve become who you are. No go on, stop now and think about it. Don’t we become, often little by little, like those we spend time with? I just need to look at my children and see that for better or worse they take on my characteristics, traits, and even phrases, as well as these things from others they spend time with.

If we are Christians, Jesus is our brother, so how do we spend time with him so we become more like him? As we remembered last week on Ascension Sunday, Jesus ascended to be with his, and our, Heavenly Father. But we meet Jesus now, as we read the Bible. For all the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, is all about, Jesus. Do you remember last term we saw in Luke 24, how Jesus explained to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus ‘what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself’? The Scriptures then, the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms are all about Jesus.

That’s why at St Clement’s we read the Bible together on Sundays and during the week in our small groups – to help each other to see Jesus, that God might conform us into the image of his Son. Because we see Jesus in the Bible, it’s so worth reading a bit each day on our own, and if we live with Christian family or friends, reading it with them too. As I finish, just a word or warning as we read the Bible. We must be careful not to read it only intellectually, morally or as a self-help book. It’s a story of the most wonderful person Jesus, God who became man, to make us his brothers and sisters. Let’s read the Bible to spent time with Jesus.

Andy

Reflections

Welcome to Ascension Sunday, the day in the church’s calendar in which we remember that Christ has ascended on high, salvation is complete, victory has been won. We don’t make much of the ascension here in Australia but in some countries it is even a public holiday. Celebrating the Ascension and the next sermon in Ecclesiastes will be our theme today.

In Ecclesiastes 5 we read that we are to Guard our steps as we go near to the house of God. God, we learn, is in heaven and we are on earth. God is depicted as a great king. The access to His presence is understandably restricted, qualified and not easily given. We are therefore to be careful with our words, limited in our vows and watchful over our mouths. All of these are good things. The only problem is that they don’t get us access to God. It is only Jesus who gives us access to God.

When I first got interested in church, I went to confirmation classes. Somehow I got the notion that in order to take communion I needed to be sinless. I confessed my sins (using the prayer of confession) and then I needed to stay sinless until I received the Lord’s Supper. A tall task when you are young (even taller when you are older). I remember working hard at not thinking, trying to stay humble, working at not being distracted. But the fact is, it is not my sinlessness that allows me to come near to God, it is Christ’s sinlessness. Its not anything I have done: not my faith, not my innocence, not my confession, not anything of me. It is all of Him. Indeed the Prayer Book states that receiving communion is not even dependent on confession. What it is dependent on, is Christ. This is what makes the prayer of humble access, the most important prayer. I come to God with all my sin but with no pride, and in Jesus I find forgiveness and a reason to boast.

I sometimes wonder why people don’t take communion. Of course there are all sorts of reasons but it should never be that they consider themselves too sinful. No one is too sinful to come to Christ. No one is that far away that they can’t come near in Jesus. The only thing that should and would stop us is pride, that we are proud that we are going against God’s express will. The great truth is that Christ has ascended. He is seated at the Father’s right hand. Today let us celebrate all that Christ has done for us and humbly admit that we need his help.

God bless, Stuart

P.S. On a much lighter note Jo and I will be away next Sunday. We are off to see Britt and James.  It is time for their 6 monthly check up (I sound like the dentist). Please pray that the time will be an encouragement to them and to us, as we see what God is doing in Narromine and country NSW.

Reflections

‘But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever! Amen.’

(2 Peter 3:18 NIV)

Welcome to St Clement’s.

I like to get out and do a bit of gardening now and again. Well actually it’s more that I like to use garden tools to keep the garden neat and tidy. My most recent project was a bamboo hedge that was growing too much. A ladder and hedge trimmer soon got it back to a manageable size. But it’s growing again! And it will keep on growing, because it’s designed to grow.

It’s the same for you too, if you’re a Christian, you’re designed to grow. The apostle Peter tells us that in the verse above as he finishes off his second letter. We’re designed to grow as Christians, as we feed on the grace and knowledge of Lord and Saviour Jesus. It’s important to see this growth is not about growing in knowledge about Jesus, or growing in some skill or gift, but growing in our relationship with Jesus, growing to love Jesus more.

As I’ve been thinking about this, I remembered a new short book I’d not read yet called ‘You can really grow’ by John Hindley. He writes this: ‘Growing as a Christian means something very simple. It means growing into the person you want to be. It means growing into the person you were created to be. It means growing into a person who is like Jesus.’ Romans 8:18-30 tells us that God has called us to be his children, and is working in us by his Spirit that we will be ‘conformed to the image of his Son’. Isn’t God amazing!

Will you pray with me that God would complete the work he has begun in us, and grow us, his family here at St Clement’s, to see Jesus, that we would love him more, and so be more like him?

Andy

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers