By my calculations and going by the date above, we are just 84 days from Christmas Day! To add to the excitement, this weekend we get to push our clocks forward an hour! My dear wife explained it to me with American illustration: Spring forward – Fall backwards and I still get confused.
I have been calling my regular communiques a newsletter, but this week I find myself struggling to offer you much in the way of news. It has either been a quiet week or people are keeping things to themselves. For the winter sports fans the news is that it is finals time, even if a month late. It seems that there is an election coming up in the USA, which for Australia means that it must be Melbourne Cup time. Are they running the Cup this year?
It is springtime and that is always newsworthy as spring should be a great time for the church. Spring is a time of hope and new life. Some of you may now be tired of the Thornton’s gardening adventures through autumn and winter, but how exciting is it to see the surprising fruits of your labours? Neither Veronica nor I see themselves as having particularly green thumbs, and so the joy is magnified when you realise that despite your doubts and misgivings new growth happens anyway!
That has often been the story of my ministry life when I think it through. Often, I have been surprised when fruit has resulted from my fumbling best efforts. I have come to a place of realising that God often rewards your faithful tries despite your lack of experience, your mistakes, and your lack of theological understanding. As I say so often; it really is not rocket science. Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased we have wise theologians who can offer deep considerations on the ways of God, but, missing out on patience when it was being handed out, I just like to have a go and see what happens.
This way of course can be fraught with danger. Way back in my schoolboy days, my Dad worked shifts at a Brickworks in South Yarra, Melbourne. We lived close by and when he was on night shift the Thornton clan would wander over in the evening occasionally and have supper with him at his works. Dad was a kiln operator. His job was to make sure that those kilns were kept at a constant temperature to ensure a good finished product.
One night his second son – that would be me – was wandering around the place checking things out. I came to a big chain which seemed to be very finely balanced for some reason. As I yelled out, ‘Dad, what’s this do?’, I at the same time pulled on it hard, and my dear father’s face turned white as he cried out, ‘Don’t touch that!’ Too late. That chain was the emergency damper that when pulled, shut the whole kiln system down. Dad kept his job and I never did find out how he explained the situation to the bosses the next day. Sometimes you just do stuff and sometimes it can be a disaster.
The good news is that I was not thrown out of house and home and there was no lasting damage to the relationship with my Dad. Ironically, several years later I found myself working at a brickworks in Ballarat and the guy looking after the kilns there was my Dad. He never let me near those new-fangled buttons that had replaced chains and weights by then.
I have made some glorious mistakes in ministry over the years and yet the church has continued to nurture me and believe in me. There have been several saints who have come alongside and journeyed with me offering wise counsel and occasionally suggesting perhaps a slightly different path. Like a family we have not always agreed but the grace and wisdom offered has nurtured and sustained me through the journey.
As I read the Scriptures, it seems to me that God does not call Lone Rangers (even the Lone Ranger had Tonto!). Moses had Aaron and Miriam. Samuel had Eli, David had Nathan, Ruth had Naomi and the list goes on. If you do not have a spiritual mentor, then you need to be on the lookout for one.
Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. John 15:4
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT YOUR PLACE?
I like to give space to share mission stories from around our region and this week I offer the latest from Forster – Tuncurry and an example of subtle ministry through property enhancement. Some time ago the church had to do an asbestos clean up at the Tuncurry property and now the shed has been refurbished with a fresh and very innovative paint job.
Think about the possibility of a conversation starter should a local attending a community event there see only the single sheep and not the flock on side around the corner?
Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? Luke 15:4
For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost. Luke 19:10
ETHICAL MINISTRY REFRESHER
You will be aware that anyone in leadership within the Uniting Church needs to do regular Ethical Ministry refreshers to remain compliant. Our next Ethical Ministry refresher will be held on Thursday 22 October 2.00 pm – 4.00pm. Please contact Rev Cherie, our Pastoral Relations Minister, on email at: CherieS@nswact.uca.org.au or give her a call on 0400 725 201.
Don’t forget that you can worship Online if you are still in worship isolation and may be looking to connect with the wider presbytery family. Contact Rev Cherie Strudwick on the above details for more information.
Don’t forget that these services are recorded, and you can find them if you go to this MNC website homepage.
READINGS FOR PENTECOST 18
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20; Psalm 19; Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21:33-46
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?