Box Hill Baptist Church Anniversary

This Sunday we give thanks to God as we celebrate the Church Anniversary.

Can you imagine what it was like for those who came to this area 115 years ago, to establish homes, a wider community and a Baptist Church as part of that community ?

The ancient prophet Jeremiah also challenged a group of people who had moved (not of their own choice) into a new community. He encouraged them in God’s name to settle there:

‘Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce.

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you in exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.’

(Jeremiah 29. 5, 7)

 

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The Moods of Prayer

“Prayer is the way we work our way out of the comfortable but cramped world of self and into the spacious world of God.”  Eugene Peterson

“Lord grant me the grace to have freedom of spirit; Cleanse my heart and soul so I may live joyously in your love.”  Anselm of Canterbury (1033 – 1109)

Exploring how prayer acts as a way to reflect on life, faith and our relationship with God.

 

The Humility of Christ

In Philippians 2.1-13 the apostle Paul demonstrates Christ as the example of humility and humbleness. He emptied himself and took on human form, although he was the Son of God. Christ Jesus didn’t claim his divinity on earth at all. He lived just like a human being amongst others. Yet he exhibited his absolute submission and total obedience to God up to the point of his death.

Paul encouraged the the Christians in Philippi to adapt and exercise Christ’s humility in their church. Their adaption of Christ’s humility can be demonstrated in the ways that they shouldn’t do anything out of their selfishness, ambition and conceit, but they should love and respect one another and look to the interests of others. And they should do all things without grumbling and arguing. These things would help the Philippian Christians to live in harmony and enhance unity amongst themselves.

Paul points out that it is God who enables and empowers us to will and work for his good purpose. He loves to see his children love one another and live in harmony and unity.

United in support for one another

This week Rev. Dr Oh-Young Kwon draws from Philippians 1:18b-30 to speak on the importance of unity with each other and the Spirit.

Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. Phil. 1:27-28

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 1Cor. 1:10

That there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 1Cor. 12:25 

I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself. Col. 2:2

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 1Th. 3:12

Sing to the Lord

We come together to worship God

Worship is the nourishment of the mind on God’s truth;

It is the quickening of the conscience by God’s holiness;

It is the enrichment of the imagination by God’s beauty;

And it is the enlargement of the heart through God’s love.

We come together to worship God—acknowledging all those who have gone before us in this place and this land, indigenous and settlers, all created in God’s image, all people of the earth and all invited into the divine presence.

So let us still our hearts, gather our lives and our community: and worship God.

 

Community

This week Eugene Peterson tweeted these words:

It’s so key to remember that following Jesus is a lifestyle “on the move.” We don’t stop to admire what we’ve accomplished.

This is our call to mission—a new community in the presence of the living God.

The Immanuel community, for Matthew and for us, is defined not by where we have been, but by where we are going.

It is defined not so much by our ancestors, may they rest in peace, as by our descendants.
It is defined not so much by what we are against, but by what we are for.
It is defined not so much by our past as by our future.

It is defined by God with us.

This is the vision of a Baptist kind of church: a people discerning together where we see God, and what we see God doing, and becoming part of that.

 

Struggle

If the Temple is gone, maybe there’s a God message and meaning in that. Where are we going to meet God now?

If there is no fruit on the tree, maybe there is a God message and meaning in that. To whom will we turn, now?

If we are confronted by confusion and ambiguity, in life and relationships, even people we have trusted and loved for a long time, maybe there is a God message and meaning in that.

Perhaps we are in fact still in the storm.

Perhaps we have not yet dealt with all we need to deal with, in the storm within.

Perhaps we need to learn, simply to trust.

 

Strangers

Saint Augustine

God speaks through strange events and strange people

August 28th is the ‘Feast Day’ of Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430).

The famous story of his conversion involves a strange experience in a garden in Milan. Torn between a calling to live a life of chastity and remembering his former life, he prayed for forgiveness and immediately heard the voice of a child singing from a neighbouring house, “Take up and read!” He picked up a book of St Paul’s epistles which had been left nearby, and the words he found there changed him forever. He moved to North Africa to pursue a monastic life, but was called to be ordained and later became bishop of Hippo, where he served for 35 years.

Augustine has been rightly criticized for some elements in his teaching, including passing on a harmful view of the human body. He was not perfect, yet his teaching and example have inspired millions of people over many centuries. He himself insisted that grace is the heart of our faith.

God uses strange events and strange people—even us—to invite us to new insights and new depths of community.

 

Storms

Backhuysen_Ludolf_-_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee_-_16951

 As we gather today, to discuss various things, and as we think about the storms we sometimes encounter, these words of Leslie Brandt, based on our Psalm, are encouraging:

How wonderful is our God

and how we love to sing in praise of God.

Whereas we are often frightened,

when we think about the future

and confused and disturbed by the changing events about us,

still our hearts are secured and made glad when we remember how God has cared for us throughout the past.

God has kept us through the stormy past;

God will secure and guide us through the perils of the future.

We need never be overcome by fear,

no matter how uncertain the months and years ahead of us.

 

Leslie Brandt, Psalms Now (Adapted).