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SUNDAY 28    Oct 9-15


Mark 10: 17-31....        (Sermon 1: “Mainly Money”)

Hebrews 4: 12-16....     (Sermon 2: “Is God in Touch?”)

Job 23:1-9, 16-17....

Psalm 22: 1-15




The inclusive love of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

And also with you.


My fellow worshippers, we are not clones. There are many differences among us, including different ways and degrees of experiencing God.

Some feel God as always very close, some feel God as occasionally close, and others feel God as more distant. But our feelings are not the measuring stick of our faith, or the essential ingredient in our worship.

The crucial factor is God’s faithfulness. God promises to be with us whether we sense it or not.

God is here, let us worship with mind, heart, soul and strength.




Our purpose is awesome: Let us worship God.

God is in his holy temple: Let all the earth keep silence


We do not come before God like frightened supplicants,

but as those who are confident that they are wonderfully loved.

Our high priest is Jesus, tempted as we are yet without sin,

who is able to sympathise with our human weaknesses.


Let us then boldly draw near to the throne of grace,

that we may be welcomed with mercy

and obtain assistance in every moment of need.




Let us pray.


God our sublime Friend, you are far more majestic than human mind can ever conceive, and more loving that our deepest feelings can ever explore.

Yet we want to offer you the best we can do in thought and devotion, and offer the enthusiasm of our songs and prayers.

Holy are you, wonderful are you, awesomely humble are you, God of time and eternity!

Glory and honour, thanksgiving and praise, belong to you now and always.





Let us confess our complicity in the evil of our nation and world, and those personal sins which both frustrate and shame us.


Let us pray.


Merciful God, look kindly upon your human family, we pray. By your irrepressible grace, mend the brokenness that inevitably follows our sinning.


If we have been quietly wilful or openly rebellious, sending waves of unhappiness among the lives of those around us,

Come Saviour God,

come and reclaim us.


If we have become infected by the cheap values and selfish goals of the advertising industry and have found ourselves aping them:

Come Saviour God,

come and reclaim us.


If we have allowed our faith to be eroded by the endless chatter of critics who have nothing to offer except their own sour grapes:

Come Saviour God,

come and reclaim us.


If we have become so caught up in trivial pursuits that we have little time left for holy wonder and spiritual growth:

Come Saviour God,

come and reclaim us.


If we have been wounded by the spite of others, and have turned in on ourselves, nursing our injuries and brooding over revenge:

Come Saviour God,

come and reclaim us.



If we have participated in wrongdoing for so long that we no longer feel any regret or desire for repentance;

Come Saviour God,

come and reclaim us.


Jesus Christ, friend of sinners, please never let go of us. Forgive our failings and help us to make amends where we have harmed others. Call us back to the disciplines that flow from faith, that in loving you and one another, we may find that peace and joy for which we were built. Through your love and to the praise of your holy name.





It is written that Jesus is our high priest, representing us before God, knowing what it is like to be human and tempted.



My friends, Christ is God’s word of absolution. With confidence rejoice at this throne of grace, having received mercy grace to cover all your sin.





Please rescue us, loving God,

            from the stupid and wrong ideas,

            that like a computer virus,

            we sometimes let into our heads.


Please rescue us from believing

clothes are worth more than goodness,

            things are more valuable than friends,

            and that money is more important than love.


Please send the smart Spirit of Jesus into our lives,

            to trash all the tempting spam,

            to delete every harmful game,

            to cancel short cuts to sin,

            to install new pathways to happiness,

            and to programme us for deeper love.


With your help, God,

            we know we can be smarter and better,

            brighter and beautiful on the inside,

            and much more fun to be with.



PSALM 22:1-15

               See More Australian Psalms” page 144




Mark 10:17-22


One idolised wealth, another hungered for fame,

so they went sadly away.

One loved career, one the latest fashion,

and they went proudly away.


One lived through her children, one lived for his farm,

so they went busily away.

One fed on the adulation of fans, sport was another’s passion,

so they went impatiently away.


One had the gambling lust, another’s was sex,

so they went madly away.

One wanted to be waited on, one wanted to lie about,

so they went sluggishly away.


One was hooked on sport, one on the next drug fix,

so they went hurriedly away.

One lived for churchly honours, one for churchly clout,

so they went blindly away.

                                                            © B.D. Prewer 2002




Loving God, as we wend our way through this market place of life, may we keep our eyes fixed on Christ Jesus.

Let nothing tawdry distract us, no cheap value seduce us, no voice bully us, and no threat frighten us.

Inspire us to keep our commitment as unconditional as is humanly possible, and to draw nearer that goal which is divinely assured.

Through the same Jesus Christ, whose grace is made perfect in human weakness.





* Too wordy!  Reduce by one quarter!


Mark 10:25


 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”


If a man from Mars , or a woman from Venus  (O yeah!) arrived incognito amongst us to observe what each of the various earth religions regarded as the worst sins, what would they deduce from our Christian outbursts of moral indignation?


My bet is that they would record sexual sins as the most morally repugnant to us. Nothing is more likely to generate more heat from certain pulpits, and a torrent of letters to the editors of Church journals, than what is perceived as sexual permissiveness. For most of its history organised Christianity has had a “thing” about human sexuality, way out of proportion to other sins.


Should our ET visitors make a deduction about our Founder from this obsession, what would they expect Jesus to condemn most? Would not they expect our Founder, Christ Jesus, to be a person fiercely condemnatory of sexual laxity? What a surprise ET would get should a copy of the Gospels come into their hands!  There they would discover that Jesus reserved his gravest words, not for sexual sins, but for three other evils: namely, wealth, hypocrisy and self righteousness. Wealth particularly evoked his warnings.


It is the wealth factor that surfaces today in the Gospel reading. Not sexual laxity, not self righteousness and hypocrisy, but riches. In Jesus’ eyes, wealth poses a monstrous threat to the freedom and integrity of the human spirit.




We read of the rich man that ran up to Jesus, knelt in front of him and begged for the secret of eternal life. This man had tried zealously to keep the ten commandments, ever since he was a teenager. Jesus looked lovingly at this good person, discerned the one cankerous point in that man’s goodness, and said to him: “You lack one thing. Sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. then come and follow me.”


We then read this line of deep pathos: “His face fell, and he went sadly away, for he had great possessions.” The one thing standing between him and life with Christ was his wealth. He was not prepared to sacrifice that. His love of his rich life style was his nemesis. It was a case of money or your life, and he chose money.


The disciples were amazed. Who wants to be a millionaire? They did! Jesus went on to warn them in no uncertain terms: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”


Tough, huh? It would be a minimalist summary to say that Jesus was diametrically opposed to the general attitudes and values of the Australian populace. There is a yawning gulf between the two.




How are we to interpret this cartoon-like picture of a camel trying to get through the eye of a needle? Not surprisingly, many readers of the Gospel have been most uncomfortable with this saying of Jesus. They have looked for ways in which to soften the degree of difficulty. Two such are as follows.


1/  Some interpreters suggest that apart from the large gates into Jerusalem, such as the Golden Gate and the Dung Gate, there may have also been  one small gate. This narrow gate, just high enough for human entry, was called the “Needles Eye.” Maybe a camel might be able to squeeze through if the beast hobbled in on its knees. As you can see, this tames the words of Jesus a little, and would suggest that a rich man humbly on his knees might be able to enter the kingdom of God. The one response to this interpretation is that there is no hard evidence for the existence of such a gate.


2/   A second interpretation hangs on the undisputed fact that in the Greek of the New Testament the words for camel and thick rope cable are similar. Camel is “camelos” and rope cable is “camilos”. Maybe the later copiers of the New Testament got the words mixed up. This is a plausible theory. But it does once more blunt the words of Jesus, which makes my anti-self-deceit antennas twitch.


I have a question: Why should we need to soften the words of Jesus? Why should we want to make his saying more palatable? Given the insidious ability of money to corrupt people (even those who are comfortably well-off rather than very rich) I am extremely wary of interpretations which lessen the impact of that cartoon of a camel trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle.


Frankly, I think the saying as we have it is almost certainly as Jesus spoke it. Once more we have the hyperbole. Word cartoons. The dramatic language used by all of us at times, but used extensively by people of the Middle East to make their point. Jesus is saying that it is not impossible, by the grace of God, for a wealthy person to keep their spiritual integrity, but it is extremely difficult and uncommon. This camel and needle picture reminds me of another of his word-cartoons: That one about a fussy Pharisee drinking his cup of wine through a gauze strainer to make sure he does not accidentally swallow a tiny gnat, and yet swallowing a camel without even noticing.


The rich man who had just come to Jesus, who was indeed an earnestly religious fellow, still trusted his wealth more than he was willing to trust Christ and the new kingdom of love. Wealth was the barrier. Money and possessions were the insurmountable hurdle between the rich man and abundant life. He turned his back on Jesus and went sadly away.


Do not let us imagine that money is the only hurdle. There are others; plenty of them. For some it might be their ambition, or their favourite pleasures, or their desire to be accepted by their drinking mates, or their sport, and so on. the “one thing lacking” can take a variety of forms. Nevertheless, this warning about the dangerous power of money stands. Jesus’ outrageous picture of the camel trying to negotiate a needle’s eye is a grave warning to all of us.




In the subsequent chequered story of Christianity, the warning of Jesus about money and possessions has at time been ignored. It proved an uncomfortable subject. Offensive to those whose pockets were well lined.


Yet some did try to heed the grim warning. The first generation attempted to get rid of personal possessions and engage in a simple form of Christian communism. That first idealism broke down. But at least they tried to act on Christ’s words.


The following attempts, and the most notable, were by those who literally obeyed Christ’s advice to the rich man. They gave their possessions away to the poor and became nuns and monks. They took a vow of poverty and lived only by the charity of others. In one clean sweep they rid themselves of the temptations of possessions and the power of money, and tried to emulate the wandering son of Mary.


Two comments on this monastic way:


First, I have the utmost admiration for them and their single minded devotion to Christ. At first they did this solo, as individuals. Later many formed themselves in monastic, communities, living together under self-embraced strict rule. These women and men were “fair dinkum” about their love of God. Two of the most humble and compassionate of them, St Francis and St Clare, are still an inspiration to many of us today.


Secondly, it is a sorry irony, that some of these monastic communities, where personal possessions were prohibited, over the centuries became fabulously wealthy through the rich gifts of the secular world. They accumulated wealth and held on to it. The life style in many monasteries became much plusher than that of the ordinary, poor people in the countryside and towns around them. Some abbots lived like princes. They had got rid of personal wealth, only to be seduced by corporate wealth. Money and possessions has a way of doing that; even to the most pious among us.


Apart from the monastic ideal, much of the rest of Christianity became lax about the warning of Jesus. From the time Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and thousands of wealthy people became officially members, the danger of riches and possessions was played down. Some of the wealthy became benefactors, helping to build ostentatious worshipping places, and local clergy were reluctant to offend them. It was a case of “the man who plays the piper calls the tune.”  The warnings of Jesus about money and possessions, were too often played own.




That attitude can still be found among us. Money is not a popular topic in some churches. On one occasion, soon after my induction as minister to a new congregation, I was most politely warned by one kindly member: “I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but there’s one thing you should know. It may be best not to mention money or politics in your preaching. It might offend Mr and Mrs ‘X.’ They are among our largest financial supporters, you know.”


To a marked degree, there has been a consensus of silence within comfortable congregations on the whole theme of money and possessions. Jesus’ cartoon about the camel and the eye of a needle has been validated by the way the dangers of wealth/possessions have been tactfully avoided within the church.


I ask you again, to compare it with the way Christianity has thundered on about what it sees as sexual failings. A lot of Christians are still jumpy and condemnatory in matters pertaining to sex. Preach a fiery sermon on that topic, or lead a protest about a sordid film, and there will be plenty of supporters pumping the minister’s hand. But preach on money and its dangers, on it power to corrupt each of us, preach on the near-impossibility of the wealthy entering the kingdom of God, and the minister will stir up the proverbial hornet’s nest.


Without hesitation, I say that materialism, a trust in all that money can offer, is a far more insidious threat to authentic Christianity than all the sexual sins put together.  We are living and moving in a sea of materialism and members of the church allow themselves to be corrupted by it. We live for the things that money can buy.




As I speak in this manner, maybe many of you are thinking: “Okay, what he says may be true of the rich, but that’s not us.” 


To this thought I respond: “Are you sure?”  Wealth is relative. If you compare the life style most of us here enjoy, with the life style of the common people who flocked to hear Jesus preach, then the majority of us are fabulously wealthy. We would be classed with that man who went sadly away from Jesus, “because he had great possessions.”


Compared with the average person in a Fijian village, we are wealthy. Compared with most citizens in East Timor, we are saturated with possessions. Compared with two thirds of the world, nearly all of us here and rich beyond their wildest dreams. (I say ‘nearly all of us” because in most congregations there are a few who have far less than the rest ever realise.)


A niece of mine, with her husband and three children, spent some time on an overseas service programme, living in Zimbabwe. They lived in cramped quarters, with very few possessions. Yet as they made friends, and people felt at ease to visit them in their small quarters, some with wide eyes would say: “O what a lot of ‘things’ you have.”.


Why is it, that when we think about riches, we compare ourselves with those who have more than us, rarely with those who have less than us? I think I know the answer. It is because materialism corrupts us. It is every bit as dangerous as Jesus said it was. “You cannot serve both God and Mammon.”  He did not say “You should not serve God and Mammon.” Jesus said we cannot.  The camel finds it almost impossible to get through the eye of a needle.


Even as I say these things, I am sure their are some of you whose minds are working overtime, conjuring up thoughts that are doubting what I am saying, or manufacturing more excuses and self justifications for keeping oneself in the safe category of the non-rich. Possessions do that do us. Materialism grabs us by the throat and will not easily let us go. Our spiritual integrity is constantly under attack from the consumer society in which we spend our days.


I reiterate what I said earlier: “materialism, trust in all that money can offer, is a far more insidious threat to authentic Christianity than all the sexual sins put together.” 


If Jesus thought the matter grave enough to give us a number of warnings, should not we be prepared to regularly give ourselves a spiritual audit. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can only do that for ourselves. No one else can.  “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”





* Too wordy!  Reduce by one third!


Hebrews 4: 14-15


For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who was in every way tempted just like we are, yet did not sin.

Let us therefore, draw near in confidence to the throne of God’s free grace, that we might receive mercy and the enabling grace to help us when we most need it.


Is God in touch? Or is the Lord out of touch with what it is really like to be a human being? Out of touch with how hard it is to live as a moral being in an immoral world?


In detective stories, the chief superintendent is usually satirised as a man mostly out of touch with the lower officers, and completely out of touch with the lowly PC. This is of course a stereotype, which fails to do justice to those more accessible superintendents. But even then, maybe the gulf of understanding is too big to span?


(Maybe that is also true with the immeasurable gulf between God and earthlings?)


We get the same gulf with are Members of Parliament. The longer women and men spend in the elite “corridors of power” the more likely they are to lose an awareness of what it is like to be an ordinary citizen. The sight of a Prime Minister paying a flying, rushed,   two day, visit to rural areas, to become acquainted with the “grass roots,” is greeted with cynicism. As are the occasional visit of cabinet ministers to a factory floor or a steel mill. It is useless PR as far as most workers are concerned.


(What about God?  Could not the same be true?)


Is the church exempt for this grave failing? Some pastors, and numerous parishioners, vehemently believe that the church hierarchy is badly out of touch. I have heard priests mutter dark things about their bishop. Even in churches like our UCA, which is supposed to be a consultative organism, with interlocking and complimentary councils, all is not rosy. There remains the perception, frequently voiced, that our church bureaucracy that is supposed to implement the wishes of our councils has lost touch with the hopes and fears of ordinary Christians.




How can God escape that same perception? How can God be in touch with you and with me? How can God empathise with our little minds, with our fierce hopes and nagging anxieties? Isn’t the God gulf too big?


Many do feel that way. They feel it, even though they may ever be game to say it aloud, or even dare to frame it in the language of our private thoughts.


This is one reason why the veneration of the Virgin Mary is so popular among those who make up the majority of Christians on this planet. It is why bruised or lonely supplicants pour out their prayers to the Virgin.  Some put it bluntly: “She is a women and mother, she will understand.”


It also explains the custom of praying via the saints. Misunderstood men and women, neglected and abused people, sad or diseased folk, turn to the saints. They turn to them because such souls are able to understand what it is like to be a human being, struggling in this unpredictable and often unjust world. So they unburden their hearts to a favourite saint, and trust them (from their privileged place in Divine favour) to carry their prayers to the Highest Authority.


We cannot, we must not, underestimate the perception of a gulf between humanity and God. It is a sign of our times. That perception is widespread, not only among those on the fringes of the church. It also nags at the peace of many within our congregations.


As one suffering soul retorted when urged to “take it to the Lord in prayer,”

            “What does he understand or care! I might as well pretend to sweeten my bowl of             cornflakes with star dust, or make myself a cappuccino from the milky way.”




But....... it true? Is God out of touch? Is the gulf so large that men and women will of necessity find it too much to even try to bridge? How down to earth is God?


What does God know about what it was like to be a nurse in causally ward (ER) on a Saturday night?


Or how it is to be teenager in this permissive society, where drugs and wild and noisy diversions lure the young incessantly?


Can God appreciate how it feels to be 48 years old and to lose your job in middle management, where you have worked you guts out for years? A then find that in the job market people of your age regarded as “over the hill;” unemployable in the field in which you are skilled?


What does God know about being a police officer these days? To feel constantly at risk, or to be confronted with corruption, or find yourself being trapped into a small compromise by an unscrupulous colleague, to be muzzled from exposing graver ills?


Or how can God comprehend what it is to keep your balance within our money-manic culture? To be tempted by “big bucks” which pretend to offer so much? To face the plethora of gambling opportunities Luring you whenever you go down the street, or dine out, or when you sit at home watching TV.?


Or sexual temptations. How can God possibly know what it is like to live with the tumultuous sexual explosion of the teenage years? Or the desperate sexual longings of the middle years, when that cloud of aging  and the relentless threat of mortality threatens the libido and urges sexual excesses before it is too late?


How can a God be on our human wave length? It seems most unlikely.




The gulf is a fact. In more minds than we care to admit. God does seem far removed. The Hebrew Bible is brave enough to admit it.


Dear old Job (as in today’s reading from the OT) bemoaned the apparent gulf.

            Look, I go forward, but God is not there,

            turn backwards, but I cannot perceive him.

            On my left hand side I cannot find him,

            or I twist to the right yet I cannot see him.


            Oh, that I knew where to find God,

            then I could come to his throne.

            I would lay my case before him

            with my mouth full of arguments


God was not sufficiently down to earth for the man from Uz.


In the religion of the Jews, during the period leading up to the time of Christ, the gulf was acknowledged. Therefore they developed ways of trying to bridge the gulf.


The priestly caste, the Levites, where essential for this. Ordinary citizens could not expect to get near God.  However priests and their temple rituals might gain a hearing in heaven. Their prayers and their sacrifices might keep God’s attention focussed on our human needs. But even these ordinary priests did their priestly thing from a respectable distance from God; closer than the riff raff, but not too near; curtained off from the taboo place called the “Holy of Holies.”


At the top of the priestly hierarchy was the High Priest. Only he was permitted to go behind the curtain and stand in the terrifying Presence of God. And that only once a year. On the annual day of atonement, the High Priest, dressed in his elaborate finery, entered Holy of Holies to ask, with sacrificial blood, for the atonement of his people.


Did that bridge the gap? Not really. You see, the gap was considerable between High Priest and those ordinary priests. The gulf between the High Priest and the poor the people of the land, was huge. He was a privileged aristocrat. He was born into his high caste.


There was no way he could understood what it was like to be a carpenter in the province of Galilee, or a shepherd on the hills of Judea, a mother painstakingly grinding barely for the family bread or the peasant eking out a living and tiny plot of land, the defenceless divorcee who had to turn to prostitution to keep alive or a fishermen braving the storms on Lake Galilee.


The High Priest was pampered, powerful and wealthy.  he lived in a world of his own, untouchable by the masses. Yet this elitist was the man who was supposed to represent the common people!  Represent them? Long odds, huh? Buckley’s chance!




No wonder Christianity spread like contagious joy amongst the common people of Palestine, and then travelled across the Roman Empire. Notably it was the ordinary people who now believed the gulf between God and humanity was bridged. It was the common folk who flocked into the fellowship of the church of Jesus Christ.


Roman intellectuals ridiculed the worshippers of Christ, lampooning them because they were largely drawn from the unlettered, uncultured, lower classes.


It all began when Jesus, himself a commoner, preached his Gospel throughout the province of Galilee. It was said that “the common people listened to him gladly.” He taught them about a loving God who was near at hand. A God who treasured the name of each vineyard labourer or woman toiling in the home. A caring God who numbered the hairs on the head of even the lepers, prostitutes, and the unpatriotic tax collectors.


Not only did Jesus teach them that there was no gap, his life embodied that teaching.  The word became flesh. Slowly the disciples began to suspect that there was more to Jesus than met the eye. Slowly they took up the belief that Jesus was God’s Messiah. He as a person became even more wonderful than his teaching


After his death and resurrection they grasped the full and shocking and yet marvellous import: This Jesus was filled with God. God was not remote; God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. Some began to call him the ‘image of the invisible God” and the ‘effulgence of God’s glory’. Others came to confess faith in Jesus as the first born Son of God. Following the lead of Thomas, many came to fall down at his name and confess, “My Lord and my God.”


For them the gulf was bridged. Bridged forever. The non Jews, the pagans, latched on to this Gospel very quickly. Most, though not all, of the Jews outside the first circle of disciples, found the message more difficult to swallow.


Maybe the letter to the Hebrews was aimed at their doubts. This unknown writer expressed the core of the Gospel in terms of Jewish priests and their sacrifices. The old priestly sacrifices did not bridge the gulf. Jesus, who was the best and only High Priest with full access to the very heart of God, did. Jesus made God accessible to us all.

            For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses

            but one who was in every way tempted just like we are, yet did not sin.

            Let us therefore, draw near in confidence to the throne of God’s free grace, that we

            might receive mercy and the enabling grace to help us when we most need it.


The common people in Galilee had heard Jesus gladly. The common hoi polloi across the empire also very gladly heard the message of Jesus and the message about Jesus.  Among those first believers, from Syrian Damascus to Corinth in Greece, from Ephesus (in what is now Turkey) to imperial Rome, included some Jews. Some of these also gladly heard this good news. Such Jewish believers would have been delighted with the words from the letter to the Hebrews.


We are not Jews of course. But those words still can have an impact on us.

            For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses,         but one who was in every way tempted just like we are, yet did not sin.

            Let us therefore, draw near in confidence to the throne of God’s free grace, that we

            might receive mercy and the enabling grace to help us when we most need it.


These are words of confidence. They are full of the bountiful belief that through Christ Jesus, the gracious God about whom he taught is readily available to each one of us.


The one Person who represents us before God does know what it is like to be an ethical being in a largely unjust world. God knows. From first hand experience.  God is closely acquainted with the sexual temptations of the teenager and of the middle aged, with the pressures of work and opponents, acquainted with our health and our pain, our fears and our dearest hopes.


Paul’s’ general words to the Athenians: “God is not very far for any one of us; for in him we live and move and have our being” take definite bodily shape when we think of Jesus. Jesus in whom we come into direct fellowship with God. Through Jesus, by whom we all have free admittance behind all the Holy barriers and curtains, we step into the very into the Presence of the living God, without fear. I repeat, without fear. Awe, yes. Much awe, soul ravishing awe, but not terror. For the perfect love of God in Christ casts out our fear.




Not just once a year, as in the old days at the temple. Every day. Every hour. Not getting there via an aristocratic High Priest who has no idea about our joys and sorrows, but directly via Jesus our human brother and our Divine Lord.


This is from the heart of the Gospel.

            Trust it and you will discover in your own experience that it is for real. But if you

            distrust it, and cautiously keep your distance from Christ, and you will never know.


            Sadly there are some, who attend church, say payers, recite creeds, do good deeds,

            yet spend their lives on the back foot, keeping Jesus at arms length. Such people

            are to be respectfully pitied. They miss out on the awesome liberty: this loving

            intimacy through Jesus, whose embrace is warmer than all the other human hugs

            in the world.


            In his hugs we find ourselves in the arms of God. A God who is touched by our             human weaknesses, who really knows what it is like to be you, or to be me.



An illustration.


Military chaplains: I heard one army chaplain vehemently argue that the biggest mistake made was early in the 20th Century when the churches allowed their chaplains to be granted the rank of officers. That changed the whole dynamic. A gulf opened up between the ranks and the pastor. In many cases it was more in the minds of the men than that of the chaplain, Yet sometimes it was (shamefully!) cultivated by particular chaplains who loved their status in the officer’s mess.


But things changed in those terrible Japanese prison camps. The barriers were stripped away. Chaplains had to exist on the same sparse food, shared the same tattered clothing, received the same abuse, shared the same sleeping quarters, and endured the same cruel labour. Only in one way were chaplains now different: Most men schemed for their own escape. The chaplains did not: They knew their place was to stay with the rest of the internees to the very end.


To the very end.


In such prison camps chaplains could become a reflection of Christ and his God. No barriers. No gulfs. Sharing all griefs and sorrows. With the common men to the very end.


            For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses,         but one who was in every way tempted just like we are, yet did not sin.

            Let us therefore, draw near in confidence to the throne of God’s free grace, that we             might receive mercy and the enabling grace to help us when we most need it.





            * For 2 voices.


It is our happiness to give thanks, our Creator and Redeemer, for the songs of creation and redemption, the music of beauty and reconciliation, and for the privilege of standing here amongst it all.


We thank you for the songs that encompass the world and all that is therein.

Songs of the very beginning:  echoing throughout the universe, still sounding from galaxy to galaxy and from star to star.


Songs of planet earth:  of rippling streams, the wind through trees, falling rain and the voices of the restless ocean.

Songs of creatures great and small: chirping geckos, chortling magpies, ground larks, and the rumbling melodies of the migrating whales.


Songs of our common humanity: children’s nursery rhymes, lovers’ serenades, national anthems and the grief laments of funerals.

Songs of composers and artists: symphonies, pop songs and concertos; virtuoso pianists and pan pipe melodies.


Songs of a new age, of God’s good news for all people on this planet earth, songs of new hope and delight.

Songs of incarnation:  the chorus of angels, a lullaby sung by Mary over her firstborn Child, and the music of the psalms he grew to love in synagogue and temple.


Songs of salvation:  parables and healing deeds, truth and forgiveness, the exquisite love song of his suffering and death, and the trumpet themes of Easter.

Songs of the church:  through infancy and growth, the blood of the martyrs and the love of the saints, and all the music of wonder and praise that the Spirit has evoked in the church.


Most wonderful God, we thank you for these gifts and a host more, and we pray that you will keep us in tune with your Spirit, hour by hour and day by day. Through Christ Jesus, your ultimate theme song, and our Saviour.






We thank you, Holy Friend, for the compassion you have placed within our hearts, for our ability to empathise with those who days are fraught with struggle and pain. If the magnitude of the world’s needs seem overwhelming, save us from closing our minds and hardening our hearts. Let us put our trust always in you.


We pray for those who sufferings seem to be the result of their own folly or sin. Those who try our patience and maybe offend our sensibilities. Please bless them, with our help or without it, as you think best, for you understand them with a love which never wearies.


We pray for those whose misery is the result of the wilfulness and sin of others. The victims of hatred and violence, war and persecution, crime and apathy, greed and exploitation, road rage, or drugs and alcohol. Please bless them, with our help or without it, according to your overriding wisdom and love.


We pray for those who are on the front line in serving others. Police officers and social workers, overseas aid workers and peace keepers, nurses and doctors, ambulance officers and counsellors, pharmacists and parents, teachers and magistrates. Please bless them, with our help or without it, that they may be kept from chronic weariness or cynicism.


We pray for those who work hard to keep the church wide open, both to the Gospel and to the world’s needs. Committee members and hospital visitors, secretaries and editors of church newspapers, theologians and treasurers, parish ministers and evangelists, youth workers and street priests, denominational leaders and social justice campaigners. Please bless them, with our help or without it, that the witness to the word and way of Christ may never be dimmed.


We pray for those among us who feel burdened or distressed today. Any who are dealing with bad news, poor health, tense relationships, suffering, sorrow or any other hardship. Please bless them, with or without our help, that they may find the extra resources and guidance that they need.


Most holy Friend, we thank you that our prayers are heard before we even express them. May our deeds embody our prayers, and our prayers become more aware because of our deeds. Through Christ Jesus our teacher and liberator.





It’s time to start moving back along those separate paths from which we have come.

None of us can predict what this week may bring, but there is one certainty:

the resources of the God, who engineered the whole universe, will be there for you.

You may be tested, you may suffer, you may waver and become weary, but you will not finally be overcome. God is your strength and salvation.

Amen! God is our strength and salvation!


The blessing of God all-loving, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you today and evermore. Amen!




              BY ORDERING ONLINE

My Best Mate,  (first edition 2013)

ISBN 978-1-937763-78-7: AUSTRALIA:

ISBN :  978-1-937763-79- 4: USA

Australian Prayers

Third edition May 2014

ISBN   978-1-62880-033-3 Australia

Jesus Our Future

Prayers for the Twenty First Century

 Second Edition May 2014

ISBN 978-1-62880-032-6

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Although this book was written with young people in mind, it has proved to be popular with Christians or seekers of all ages. Through the eyes and ears of a youth named Chip, big questions are raised and wrestled with; faith and doubt,  unanswered  prayers, refugees,  death and grief, racism and bullying, are just a few of the varied topics confronted in these pages. Suitable as a gift to the young, and proven to be helpful when it has been used as a study book for adults.

Australian Prayers has been a valuable prayer resource for over thirty years.  These prayers are suitable for both private and public use and continue to be as fresh and relevant today as ever.  Also, the author encourages users to adapt geographical or historical images to suit local, current situations.

This collection of original, contemporary prayers is anchored firmly in the belief that no matter what the immediate future may hold for us, ultimately Jesus is himself both the goal and the shape of our future.  He is the key certainty towards which the Spirit of God is inexorably leading us in this scientific and high-tech era. Although the first pages of this book were created for the turn of the millennium, the resources in this volume reflect the interests, concerns and needs of our post-modern world.