Wednesday, March 26, 2008



An Easter Thought

Earlier this year, pretty close to each other, two people I knew very well died suddenly. The first was Bruce Grosser, who, with his wife Rosemary, often worshipped in the Sydney Parish with his kids and grandkids. Bruce collapsed and died on his daughter’s farm. He was 62. Shortly afterwards, Aimee Macgregor, who’d led work among young people for 10 years from Warrambui, died in a single vehicle accident near Yass.

We can ask ‘why’? We can ask ‘why’? till the cows come home. We can comfort each other with promises from scripture. But in the end we are left with hope only if the Easter Story is true. Consider the following:

It had better be true
Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and today I met a friend. I greeted him with, “He is risen!” “He is risen indeed!” He instantly responded, then added, “I must tell you what happened in church.”

He told me how he’d no sooner entered his pew than he recognized a childhood friend and playmate just in front of him.

In the moment for exchanging the greeting of peace, he eagerly touched her arm, then, as she turned, exclaimed, “He is risen!” To his surprise there were tears on her cheeks as she said, “He is risen indeed!” then added in a whisper, “AND IT HAD BETTER BE TRUE!” She then informed him of her husband’s recent death. Continued

Reflecting on our conversation. I recall my early childhood. What wonder-filled luxury Christmas presented in the happy procession of days, when seen from a child’s-eye view!

But years have passed, and now I’m old. Time has brought its gifts of joy, but heartache and sorrow, too.

I call to mind one special Christmas when the family news was bad. I had no heart for preparing with only a cloud-covered sky, but I knew that I must, and I did. Then I saw as never before what Christmas essentially is, not annual luxury, but daily, unrelenting necessity.

So with Easter.
It was fun, as a child, to bound down the stairs to find seasonal sweet-treats under each plate, but again, with the passing of time, and the shadow of death over our broken family circle, I’ve seen Easter as highest necessity. If hope is to flourish, IT HAD BETTER BE TRUE!
From Gerhard Frost “Reflections on Death and Resurrection”.

Something has always touched me deeply about that quote and that title. And it reinforces again and again the little truth – we believe it – can’t prove it – we trust Easter even though the terrible stuff happens to us to. We don’t have immunity. And therefore, for us, WORSHIP IS ALWAYS AN ACT OF DEFIANCE! Death is not the end. Easter says – Life is... because Jesus is... Jesus Lives!
Pastor Fred

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Stark choice of Good Friday

Hi guys…We’re just a few days shy of Good Friday and I’ve been hanging out to share the piece below which I’ve lifted from the best ever set of meditations for Lent that I’ve ever, ever read. In our Sydney Parish we bought enough of these little hard-back books from Koorong to give every family unit connected with us a free copy so we could go the journey together. Riches and nourishment aplenty for the soul and spirit. (IT’S CALLED ‘RELIVING THE PASSION’ BY WALTER WANGERIN. (PUBLISHED BY ZONDERVAN) Wangerin is a prince among Jesus Christ obsessed storytellers. He has a way of throwing graceful holy darts into the heart of his reader.

So try the following excerpt…It’s based on the choice a desperate and frustrated Pilate offers the troubling crowd surging restlessly before him…


Behold the people! Though they think themselves the force of the morning, in charge of things (by virtue of their numbers and their noise), they are in fact being put to a test which shall reveal the truth between their words, the reality beneath their self-assumption and all their pretense.

Behold the nature of the breed!

A crowd has gathered at the Praetorium, a rabble, an obstreperous delegation of Judeans whose presence complicates Pilate’s inclination to release Jesus. These crowds are volatile. Instead of a simple release, then, a choice is offered the people. Let the people feel in charge: let the people decide. The Governor will, according to a traditional Passover amnesty, free one prisoner. Which will it be-

Jesus of Nazareth? – whom they have falsely accused of treason against the empire?

Or Barabbas? – treasonous in fact, one who committed murder for the cause?

If they choose the latter, their loyalties to the empire ( which Jesus is supposed to have offended) are revealed a vile sham, and these are no more than temporizing hypocrites, pretending any virtue to satisfy a private end.

But the Governor will release only one prisoner. Which will it be?

Jesus – who is the Son of the Father, who is the Kingdom of God come near unto them?

Or Barabbas – whose name means “the son of a (human) father,“ flesh itself, the fleshly pretensions to god-like, personal power in the kingdoms of the world?

This precisely, is the timeless choice of humankind.

If they choose the latter, they choose humanity over divinity. They choose one who will harm them over one who will heal them.

If they choose Barabbas, they choose the popular revolutionary hero, the swashbuckler, the pirate, merry Robin Hood, the blood lusty rake, the law-flout, violence glorified, appetites satisfied, James Bond, Billy Jack. Clint Eastwood, Rambo, the celebrated predator, the one who “turns them on,” over one who asks them “to deny themselves and die.” They choose (voluntarily!) entertainment over worship, self-satisfaction over sacrificial love, getting things over giving things, being served over serving, “feeling good about myself” and having it all and gaining the whole world and rubbing elbows with the rich rather than rubbing the wounds of the poor-

The choice is before them. And they think the choice is external, this man or that man. In fact the choice is terribly internal: this nature or that one, good folks or people essentially selfish and evil. It’s an accurate test of their character. How people choose is who they are.

Behold a people in desperate need of forgiveness.



Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Temple as abattoir

No flies on Jesus…The Temple as abattoir

Hi guys. Thought I’d better start turning heart words to screen words. Since Good Friday is around the corner there’s a lot on which to ponder.

I’ve been thinking for some months about ‘conditions inside the temple’ in Jerusalem, especially as the sacrifices occurred. This was triggered by a statement I made spontaneously during Christmas worship that I’d been tempted to go to a local horse stable and get a bucket of the ‘good stuff’ to put behind the crib scene, with a fan running over it, to create a smell of authenticity.

So my thoughts ran to what would be authentic in the Jerusalem Temple at the time of the ritual slaughter of the lambs at Passover time. It’s commonly agreed among scholars that at least 100,000 pilgrims would add themselves to the normal population of Jerusalem when the Passover Feast came around. There had to be at least 10 persons per slain lamb so there might have been up to 10,000 lambs had their throats cut on a single day!

That’s an aweful (!) lot of blood flowing. Some is used ritually, maybe all of it. At some point it begins to run with depth through the channel which takes it out to the valley of Hinnom where everything that is corrupt and rotting, rubbish and dungish, forms a ‘lake of fire’ which is continually burned to keep all that is filthy under control.

Now think to yourself…what is the first thing that happens when any of us gets a bodily cut? First on the scene is the fly, or rather the flies. Bees might go for the honeypot but it’s flies to blood. Can you even begin to imagine the thousands upon thousands of swarming flies which might descend upon the temple and its surrounds, especially that lake where the blood collects? Now ask yourself ‘who is it goes by the name “Lord of the flies”’? Beelzebub…identified as Satan by Jesus himself…the accuser.

Now in your spirit (in the Spirit) go stand at the foot of the Cross and observe your Lord, beset by flies for the whole time he hung there. This you observe, and then comes the Roman soldier who forces his spear into the heart of Jesus, already dead, and out comes ‘water and blood’ as one last feast for the devil!

And it is Satan/Beelzebub’s one last feast. The scripture clearly says that Christ died once for all…and thereby ends, for once and for all, the need for blood to be shed. Forgiveness of sins is established …it is finished …no more sacrifices needed. Ever. Sin dragged into death and left there. Can’t come back with Jesus when he’s raised from the dead. No more flies on Jesus. Ever.

Paul the Apostle begins Ch. 8 of his letter to the Roman church with this declaration: There is …no condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus. No flies on Jesus…no flies on you and me.

May the Good Friday/Easter reflections find you ‘…in Christ Jesus’. And if you don’t know what that means then bloody well go and find out.

Bless even as you are being blessed.