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Message from the President

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Reflecting on welcoming

Whilst in the bush, visiting family, on the Sunday morning I turned up at the little St David's Ruffy Uniting Church. "Just a bloke visiting family".

What touched me was their careful welcome, the prayerful imagination with which worship was ordered and the kindly way parishioners shared news of those in need. A "careful welcome" is one in which the stranger is noticed and greeted, yet given space to be there without too many questions, yes?

The "prayerful imagination" was evident in the reflections on Bible Readings. It was also evident in the fact that the leader had asked her gifted family to sing the hymns onto a tape so our singing, thankfully, had their strong and tuneful lead. Singing, as the Wesley’s encouraged, "lustily and with good courage", is much easier with a strong lead!

In the sharing afterwards I learned more of their particular version of a familiar rural story: larger properties and less population; absentee owners like superannuation funds; kids leaving the district for higher education and employment. But, there they were on a Sunday morning, faithfully singing the eternal song. In the grace of Jesus, the love of God and communion of the Holy Spirit these good and faithful people are keeping the flame of faith alight. 

There are many such stories across our member churches. In other places, faithful people are experiencing current negativity more directly. This is not the first time in 2000 plus years that people have been negative or indifferent towards sacred worship on holy ground. 

Our signs may promise "Holy Communion" (in the various terminologies of our traditions), but people drive by on their way to something else. There are many reasons for this and many opinions. 

Pray continually for the rest of humankind as well, that they may find God, for there is in them hope for repentance. Therefore allow them to be instructed by you, at least by your deeds. In response to their anger, be gentle; in response to their slander, offer prayers; in response to their errors, be steadfast in the faith; in response their cruelty, be civilized; do not be eager to imitate them. Let us show by our gracious forbearance that we are their brothers and sisters, and let us be eager to be imitators of the Lord.   

(Ignatius, To the Ephesians 10,1-3)

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We are between renewals. Our prayers and faithful lives are planting seeds for a harvest we may not see.

In other places, faithful people suffer cruel persecution. Someone feeling all this deeply finds comfort and direction in this prayer of St Ignatius.

It is shared with you now.

 

Bishop Philip Huggins

NCCA President

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