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Thinking Space

Jul 11, 2017

Diversion or Rest?

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Imagine the following scene. You are in the town square. A group of boys and girls are playing a game, where they are enacting weddings and funerals. It is not a competition. It is more like a role play. The have a flute or a whistle and they start up a joyful wedding tune. The boys start a circle dance and they invite the girls to join in. They have seen their fathers do this at Jewish weddings. The music changes to funeral lament. The girls begin wailing and lamenting. They have seen their mothers do this at funerals. The boys join in. Then the music changes again. The children enjoy the roles switch and they exaggerate the responses.


Now imagine something is going wrong. Someone decides that they no longer want to play the game. Rivalry has broken out. The boys dance the wedding dance. The girls turn their backs and won’t join in. The girls begin the funeral lament, but the boys fold their arms and stand unmoved. Both are angry with the other for not joining in, but both are adamant that the other started it by not joining in first. “We were playing right, but they messed it up. They started it, and now it’s all ruined.” There is a tense stand-off as both groups glare at one another across the square, and everyone goes home unhappy and at odds with their neighbours.
This is exactly the scene that Jesus describes to make his point in the gospel reading.

One of my favourite Australian folk songs starts with the line, “Oh, the springtime it brings on the shearing”. It’s one of many that shearers sing to celebrate their contribution to the economy. Their job is to cut the national wool clip, which last year totalled 325,000 tonnes. That’s over 1.6 million bales, each weighing an average 200 kilograms.
    It used to be said that economically Australia “rides on the sheep’s back”. That mightn’t be so true any longer but the wool industry is deeply ingrained in our understanding of who we are as a nation. Indeed our most popular song, ‘Waltzing Matilda’, a kind of alternative national anthem, is all about a chap who stole a sheep when he was hungry.
    Our preoccupation with sheep is something we share in common with people in Israel and Palestine, for whom sheep-rearing has been a key rural industry since time immemorial. In fact ‘Hebrews’, the ancient name for the Israelites, is derived from root words meaning ‘nomadic sheep-herders’.
    Not surprisingly, sheep, shepherds and sheep-herding are themes that keep recurring in the Bible. It was King David, the one-time shepherd-boy, who wrote one of the best-loved scriptural passages of all — the 23rd Psalm, which famously starts with the words ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want’. David was only one of many writers of Biblical books who used the pastoral imagery of ‘sheep’ and ‘shepherds’, words that occur at least 309 times in the Bible.
    Jesus himself used these words on 44 occasions to illustrate the lessons he taught the audiences who soon gathered wherever he went. Some of his best-loved sayings were about sheep and shepherds.

Jul 4, 2017

The Bread of Life

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How do prefer to eat bread? Sliced multi-grain, lightly toasted and spread with marmalade? French baguette, thickly cut, with raspberry jam? Crusty loaf fresh from the oven, with melting butter and vegemite?
    Yes, bread comes in many shapes, sizes, styles and flavours. Many of us eat it every day in some form or another. No wonder it’s called the ‘staff of life’ — a staple food the world over. And little wonder that much of the world’s agricultural land is given over to growing the grain to make the flour comprising about 60% of the mass of any loaf of bread.


    Bread is one of the most ancient of foodstuffs. It was being made ten-thousand years ago in Egypt because querns that old — two grindstones for making flour —have been found in archaeological sites there. Not surprisingly, bread is frequently mentioned in the Bible, in which there are 395 separate references to bread. 
    Jesus himself often referred to bread, in both the literal and metaphorical senses of the word. For example in the prayer he taught his disciples, which we sometimes say at TUC, he told his disciples to pray “Give us this day our daily bread”. You can take that two ways and at two different levels of meaning. First and literally, it means “Please God, provide daily the nutrition our bodies need”. Second and metaphorically, it means “Please Lord, sustain us spiritually, intellectually and emotionally as well as physically”.
    Jesus used the word ‘bread’ over 30 times in the Gospels, often metaphorically. It’s in John 6 that he famously refers to himself as ‘the bread of life’; and he says it not once but five times. This sermon explores what he might have meant by calling himself that, but first let’s examine the context of his pronouncement.

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Quote for today

...But you know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you. John14:17

The Jesus Fatwah

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Wanniassa ACT 2903

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Erindale Centre ACT 2903 

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About Our Church

Our faith community began in 1975 as a small ecumenical gathering of people who settled in the new Canberra township of Tuggeranong. We have grown with the Tuggeranong Community, and our parish centre is the hub for our work, as a place of worship, of gathering and ministry.

We aim to help people have life to the full. We welcome people into a our Christian community where they can connect with God, with one another and with opportunities to make a difference in our changing world.

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