This week, I have returned directly from leave to have the privilege of being part of the Anglican Futures Conference. All around the world and, indeed, our own country, the authority of the Bible is being attacked and sidelined. Many churches have had their property taken away as their denominations have wandered away from the Bible. Some have done so willingly. Others have tried to fight. It is heartbreaking to see what is happening in so many places, and the difficulties are closer to home than many realise.
This conference saw the official launching of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in Australia, a network to support and protect those who want to uphold the authority of the Bible as God’s Word to us.
And it is fitting that all of this is happening with Easter just around the corner. For the Bible tells us that Jesus has died and risen from the dead so that we can be forgiven from our sins. It is extraordinary that God has made such a sacrifice because of his love for us. It should be overwhelming.
Yet, it is so easy to get distracted. These days, life can get busy. Work hours are longer than ever before. The promises that technology would provide us all with more leisure time have evaporated as employers and people have just increased their expectations. And busyness itself is sometimes considered a virtue. One of the first things to get squeezed out is the most important – their relationship with Jesus.
Our encouragement is to make this Easter weekend a special time. To facilitate, will be conducting 3 different types of services over the Easter weekend – our suggestion is to come to all, and invite others to join you. We have organized our current series in Luke’s Gospel to culminate over Easter.
Our Maundy Thursday service will be at 7.30pm. It was the night before Jesus died that he gave his disciples a new commandment at his Last Supper. We will remember this in a deeply reflective time that speaks of love and service, and share communion together in a different way.
The following morning we will remember the world changing events of Good Friday. Again this year we will have two Good Friday services– 8am (in the Lower Hall), and a Family service at 10am.
Then, on Easter Day (Sunday), at our usual service times, we celebrate the death-defying resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
This Easter story is the one that our lives centre on, and the story that our world so desperately needs to hear. Please join us.
Are you a fan of politics who looks forward to leadership spills, policy tussles and state elections? Or are you more indifferent to such things and just can’t wait for the political advertising to stop?! Or perhaps you have grown tired of broken promises and constant bickering and are really annoyed at the whole lot!! Wherever you are on this spectrum, living in Australia it’s hard to get away from the fact that we live in a democracy with compulsory voting.
Have you ever wondered what God thinks of all this? With the upcoming state election there are a few principles from the Bible that can help us prepare …
Firstly, be a good citizen. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1) As followers of Jesus we are to be good citizens under our elected representatives. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t think about the policies they adopt, but it does mean that we need to avoid the cynicism and selfishness of the world and instead pray for and support our leaders. They really do have a very difficult job which not many people put their hand up for.
Secondly, stick up for biblical teaching. The current fight for the right to teach Scripture in our schools is an example where we need to be active in communicating the importance of this to our representatives. Jesus is the King of Kings and the world needs to know this in lots of different contexts, one of which our schools. Debates on other issues such as euthanasia and immigration policy equally need strong Christian input.
Thirdly, pray for good government. First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 1:4)
We can be very thankful for our peaceful democracy and those that serve us in government, a democracy which allows us to be Christians without persecution and to advocate freely for God’s will. Let us never take this for granted.
And while you’re thinking about election day why not come and support the one80 Youth Group’s BBQ and car wash? Encourage your neighbours to come and vote at Toongabbie Anglican as well. The BBQ/car wash is a fundraiser for One80 Camp later in the year, but more importantly it’s an opportunity to connect with our community and tell them about the love of Jesus.