I think one of my favourite parables of Jesus is the one about the farmer sowing the seed in Matthew 13. In these days of economic rationalization and catchy electioneering three word slogans, such as ‘jobs and growth’ and ‘stop the boats’; I thank God for the stories that Jesus told that make little sense in todays mean-spirited society.
The farmer in Jesus’ story scattered seeds indiscriminately. He threw it on the path, he threw it on rocks and he tossed it among thorns. It was no way to make a dollar or get the budget in surplus! But, there was a but. Some of the seed fell on good soil and didn’t it flourish? A hundredfold, sixty and thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!
In a slightly reversed story we see a father honouring the son who went out and wasted his inheritance on all kinds of loose living. He covered the whole gamut of sex, drugs and rock and roll I imagine, and at the end finished with nothing, except the idea that he might as well go home.
His dad welcomed him home with the best robe, a ring for his finger and new shoes! He even called for the fatted calf to be prepared and threw a great party. The eldest, responsible son was less than thrilled when he heard the news. The father reminded him that by his little brother’s return, he himself had lost nothing; but one that was dead was now alive and a child lost had been found. Good reason to celebrate.
Author Robert Schnase, in his book, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, identifies extravagant generosity as the fifth of these practices. How is your community of faith going on this one?
A few weeks back Veronica and I were privileged to share in the celebrations of the Woolgoolga congregation, as they marked the 20th anniversary of their Lay Ministry Team. A key mark of the life of this congregation for me over those twenty years has been that of extravagant generosity.
As I get around congregations of our presbytery one of the things I always take note of is their level of generosity. You don’t need to know the bank balance or the level of giving to measure this you know. It is a spiritual thing.
Jesus was extravagantly generous! It wasn’t just his stories. He touched the untouchable. He lifted the downtrodden. He welcomed the marginalized and the abused. He took outrageous and courageous risks for the good of his Father’s kingdom.
It is a great joy to welcome our Past Moderator, Rev Myung Hwa Park to the Mid North Coast Presbytery, as she takes
on a three month ministry supply role with the Lower Macleay congregations.
Myung Hwa is a highly gifted leader who brings with her a depth of spiritualty, compassion and grace that was uplifting and inspiring in her Moderatorial years and we hope her time with us is fruitful for the Lower Macleay, the Mid North Coast Presbytery and herself. While it will only be for a brief time we do look forward to Myung Hwa’s time with us and are very excited to have her among us.
From July 8-14 our National Assembly meets in Melbourne for the triennial meeting. Our new Assembly President, Dr Deidre Palmer will be installed as part of the opening celebration On Sunday 6th July at the Box Hill Town Hall. Members of the Uniting Church from all over Australia will gather to celebrate in worship, learn and be inspired
together and discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church today.
A major focus will be proposals going to the Assembly meeting in regard to the recent national plebiscite on same sex marriage and possible changes to the Uniting Church stance on marriage.
This of course is a subject that brings with it a great deal of emotion and a variance of views. It is also a discussion that will be given a deal of exposure by secular media. It is very important to make note of the fact that on occasions the press will write what is deemed to be newsworthy, even if it is not necessarily accurate! Please follow news of our Assembly meeting on the Assembly website https://uniting.church/, or if you have questions to ask, be in touch with your congregation or presbytery leadership.