Over the past few weeks while we have been looking at the book of Philemon, I’ve been struck by just how radical the fellowship of the Christian church is. Within Christian fellowship, people who have wronged each other and were once enemies are reconciled, and very different people who have very different self-interests are joined together as one family. This was true for the church of Philemon and Onesimus, and it is true for us!
But at the same time I wonder if this fact is somewhat lost on us, or if we take it for granted. Indeed, I’ve been wondering if I myself could be more actively enjoying Christian fellowship in my own life. That we are one family in the Church is a great comfort in a world where people are often hard and cold to each other, and it is something we should all make an effort to enjoy!
Take some time this week to ponder on the remarkable unity and fellowship we share at Berwick Anglican Church, and across the worldwide church as a whole, because of our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps take some time to also enjoy getting to know your brothers and sisters more, either after our worship service or other Church activity, or maybe by invite somebody out for coffee and prayer.
By the time you read this, Australia should have a new federal Government. Across different political issues, we each at BAC will of course have different views from one another on some things, which is how it should be in a large and diverse community such as ours that lives in a democratic country. But this also means that it is possible that roughly half of us will not have got the result we may have wanted!
But whatever the outcome of the election, as Christians we have a responsibility to pray for whoever forms Australia’s next Government. As Paul encourages us his first letter to Timothy:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV).
God is pleased when his people pray for those in authority! And he desires that we do so, in order that the church may enjoy peace, and that our mission of proclaiming the salvation of Jesus Christ is not impaired. So let us pray often for the men and women who will sit in Australia’s parliament and form the next government. May they have wisdom, uphold righteousness and justice, and be a blessing to the people that they serve.
We are rightly thankful to live in a democratic nation. The freedom we have to peacefully choose and change our government is precious. Christians have had a significant role to play in the formation of democratic nations. There is a great cost made by those who stand up to serve in political office in order to serve us. We are greatly blessed by democracy.
However we must be sober enough to realise democracy has many limitations. CS Lewis wrote of the assumptions behind Western democracy:
‘A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government… The real reason for democracy is: Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows.’
The Bible commands we pray for and honour those in governing authority. God often uses elections to give us better than we deserve. The perfect system of government has not yet arrived – the full and visible kingly reign of the Lord Jesus Christ over a transformed creation with a redeemed sinless humanity. Come Lord Jesus come!
Academy Youth Ministry has been going great this first semester. We have grown a whole bunch in our faith and study of God’s Word, particularly as we have analysed John’s Gospel.
Each week we have some games and engagement of something stimulating followed by a time of Worship and hearing God’s word read and preached. Afterwards we break into groups to discuss our questions about what was talked about and create an opportunity to pray and support each other.
Over the past six months I have seen some powerful growth and conviction in several of our young people’s lives as they wrestle with the Biblical text and work out their salvation’s with fear and trembling. On the other hand, I have seen God be most gracious in spiritually feeding us as we seek him corporately, professing him as our Lord and Saviour.
Please continue to pray for our young people, for they are surely the future Church and need our every investment to be equipped with the power of the Gospel to shine it bright and proud in their schools, neighbourhoods and circles of friends. I have high hopes for many of our kids who are showing strong signs of faith. Some will need encouragement for future years as they look to us to continue firm in our example of strong Christian character and loving examples for all to follow. May Christ continue to grow our youth to be tomorrow’s evangelists, teachers, preachers and godly men and women in our Church community and beyond.
This week Berwick Anglican Church is pleased to announce some very exciting news; we are going to launch our 5pm congregation this August! Our season of prayer and planning for the new service has been very fruitful, and we have, under God, now decided to go ahead. So our first 5pm service will be held on Sunday 7 August 2016, and from then onwards 5pm services will be held weekly.
From the very first 5pm prayer meeting that we had back in January, a common overarching hope has emerged among those coming together to plan the new service. I quote from that first meeting’s minutes: “Above-all else: we hope the new service will grow the church at BAC and in Casey, with many new people coming to faith in Jesus Christ”.
The growth of the church and the glory of the Lord Jesus is main reason why Berwick Anglican is launching this new service! We hope that the 5pm congregation itself will grow, offering a new afternoon time for people to gather around God’s word and worship the Lord, and also that by people moving from 8:30 and 10:15 into the new service, that we will create new room for growth in these congregations as well.
So please continue to pray for the 5pm service, and also for our Thursday, 8:30 and 10:15 services, asking God that we and all of Christ’s church across our region of Melbourne would continue to grow and flourish.