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Friday fragments—15.01.10

I’ve decided to list stories I’ve found interesting during the week. Here are this week’s:

Lent is coming soon. If you’re looking for ideas for an Ash Wednesday service, you could look here.

Doug Chaplin has begun a new blog on worship called Jubilate. His other blog, Clayboy, is always worth a look.

The earthquake in Haiti has been on our minds. Scott Gunn traces the long-term moral disaster that is the dealings of the west with Haiti. Craig Guffman asks ‘Where was God in the earthquake?’; I found his words helpful in leading the funeral of a child earlier today.

Christians in Muslim countries use the word ‘Allah’ as the normal word for God. They are under pressure from some quarters in Malaysia to stop doing this.

Newsweek has an interesting article on the conservative case for gay marriage.

Finally, the wonderful Dave Walker looks at what may be seen from a church tower.

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Off to Sydney today…

…for a meeting of conveners of Theology and Discipleship working groups, the induction of Rev Dr Chris Walker as National Consultant of T&D, and to present a couple of things to the Assembly Standing Committee. I’ll be back on Sunday.

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CC Blogs

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth and I was studying medicine, I loved going into the old sandstone library in the university of Queensland to read the periodicals. One I always went for was a journal from the USA, the Christian Century. It opened a great new world of a faith unafraid to engage with the big issues, something which at that time was sorely lacking in my church experience.

I continued reading it years later in the Bronze Age, when I was a theological student, and took out my own subscription when we moved to my first placement in Biloela. However, with a growing family and money needed for it, I made the reluctant decision to cease subscribing.

Recently, I decided to resubscribe. I’m glad I did—it’s an informative and enriching read.

These days, it has an arm devoted to blogging, and I am delighted to become a ‘CCblogger’. Mind you, I’m not unique! If you want to know more click the CCblogs logo on the right.

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I’ll write about synod soon

I’m just back from the meeting of the 27th Synod of the Uniting Church here in Queensland. There’s something to say, but I’m unpacking it first!

One of the best parts of the synod is that it’s by the beach at Alexandra Headland. The meeting hall at the Alexandra Park Conference Centre was redesigned with the synod meeting in mind.

Here’s a view from the balcony of the unit I shared with Michelle, James, Zane (not to be forgotten!), Kerry & Anna (and people sometimes wonder why we came to Australia!): 


Fab view

Fab view

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John Lennon: “I’m one of Christ’s biggest fans”

From, on a 1969 interview with John Lennon:

John Lennon famously claimed the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, even predicting that Christianity would “vanish and shrink”.

But 28 years after his death, in an interview being broadcast for the first time, he claims that on the contrary, he hoped to encourage people to focus on the Christian faith.

Continue reading

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I know he died, but I don’t want change

Wow!! This article about a dead man winning an election is from the BBC.


Romanian villagers have voted to re-elect a dead man as their mayor, to prevent his living rival winning.

Neculai Ivascu – who led Voinesti for almost two decades – died from a liver disease on Sunday, too late to cancel the contest.

The village’s loyal residents still gave him 23 more votes than his rival, Gheorghe Dobrescu of the ruling National Liberal Party.

“I know he died, but I don’t want change,” one villager told Romanian TV.

In a controversial decision, the electoral commission declared the runner-up and rival Mr Dobrescu the winner.

Neculai Ivascu’s party, the opposition Social Democrat Party, has said it will contest the decision.

Some villagers have also called for a fresh vote.

A cynic might wonder how you’d tell the difference between a dead pollie and a live one!

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Spain wins Euro 2008

Strange. Now I have a daughter living in Barcelona, I feel my team won when underdogs Spain came out 1-0 against Germany.

This is the Guardian’s take:

33 min: SUPERB GOAL!!! Germany 0-1 Spain. Torres has deserved this, and what a finish. He goes tearing down the inside-right channel after a perfectly-weighted ball is rolled towards the German area by Xavi. Lahm chases with Torres but can’t get there; Lehmann comes out and can’t either. Torres dinks a beautiful chip over the advancing keeper and into the empty net. A beautiful finish.

Read about the match here. (Amazingly, Spain’s official football site doesn’t have a full report yet! May be there soon.)

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Would you vote for Jesus as PM?

The USA is gearing up for an election that seems at this stage to be pretty close. The cartoonist Mark Fiore asks, What if there were another candidate besides John McCain and Barack Obama? (I saw it first at Creedal Christian.)

Well, would you vote for Jesus?

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In the Name

Sermon for Trinity Sunday

Matthew 28.16-20

It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. You hear a loud knock-knock-knock on your door. A loud voice cries: “Open up in the name of the law!”

What do you do? Would you open up?

Or, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. You hear a loud knock-knock-knock on your door. A loud voice cries: “Open up in the name of God!”

What do you do? Would you open up?

Or, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. You hear a loud knock-knock-knock on your door. A loud voice cries: “Open up in the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!”

What do you do? Would you open up?

If someone knocked on my door in the name of the law, I’d open it and peer around. Very nervously. I wouldn’t want to run foul of the law’s authority.

If someone knocked on my door in the name of God, I’d assume they were in dire straits. I’d open the door expecting to meet someone in great need.

If someone knocked on my door in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I’d wonder what on earth was going on. I’d wonder it was a cross between the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Vicar of Dibley outside. I’d sneak a look around the curtains before I opened my door. (Or maybe I’d send my wife out…!)

It’s a strange name, “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” It sounds like it should be three names, but it’s not. It’s just the one name—the Father, Son and Spirit have one name between them. Continue reading

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The Spirit Season

Sermon for Pentecost

John 7.37-39; Acts 2.1-21

There are a few more people here this week! Last week, some of our number were at the annual tent camp at Bigriggen, just down the road from Rathdowney. (And turn right, and then a left, and continue down the road, and if you’re lucky, it’s just… Well, you get the idea.)

The Jewish people have an annual tent camp too. It’s called the Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths. It’s a harvest festival, and Jewish people are meant to live in a tent or a hut for the week of the festival. It’s not that easy sometimes to pitch a tent!—I read a fabulous book by AJ Jacobs earlier this year called The Year of Living Biblically. The author is a New Yorker who says that the book is

about my quest to live the ultimate biblical life. To follow every single rule in the Bible—as literally as possible. I obey the famous ones:

• The Ten Commandments
• Love thy neighbor
• Be fruitful and multiply

But also, the hundreds of oft-ignored ones.

• Do not wear clothes of mixed fibers.
• Do not shave your beard
• Stone adulterers

When it came to October, time for the Feast of Tabernacles, Jacobs was in a fix. Where could he erect a tent to live in for a week in New York City? On the roof of his building? Central Park? Neither place seemed like a good idea. In the end, he set up a pup tent in the living room of his apartment, and at bedtime he tried to get as much of his body as he could into it.

It was the Feast of Tabernacles in John 7, and Jesus was in Jerusalem. During this week-long festival, the high priest would pour out bowls of water at the altar. So it comes as no surprise that Jesus uses the image of water:

‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’

What are these flowing, sparkling, living rivers of water? They are the Holy Spirit… Continue reading

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