AS a retired minister who worked in rural areas, I am wondering why Victoria doesn’t now have a Rural Ministry Network. Maybe 15 or 20 years ago there was such a network which enabled those working in rural areas (ordained and lay) to meet together and share problems and helpful possibilities with one another. Where is such mutual support across the synod available now? There are such networks operating in other states and in other countries, in fact the International Rural Churches Association is meeting in New Zealand in April.
Do we have anyone attending? In 2000 I attended such a meeting in the USA (as a private individual) and saw how valuable such interfaith support could be.
Please, what are we doing?
In Christ’s service,
Rev Bill Clark
Lake Bolac Parish
IN the Letters section of the March Crosslight we were reminded, “…good ecumenical relationships with other Christians is known to be in the DNA of the Uniting Church.” While this may be true of the early vision of our church, I am less certain of our ability to make that claim today when the Uniting Church seems to be increasingly absent from many public inter-church initiatives. While I’m sure our church will promote and participate in the Palm Sunday Walk for refugees this Easter, I would like to think it will be just as ecumenical in publicly supporting and promoting the Franklin Graham meetings in Etihad Stadium planned for November later this year. An ideal opportunity for the Uniting Church to be seen as alive and proactive in today’s market place.
Rev Ted Curnow
There is now an opportunity in Victoria to incorporate a “values directive” in an advance care plan which would include the values a person would like to be taken into account when they no longer are able to make medical decisions about their care.
The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act which enshrines advance care directives into law came into operation on 12 March 2018.
This new legislation prompts Christians and their caregivers to reflect on this profound question. It is particularly relevant for people with progressive cognitive impairment conditions such as dementia. It raises such questions as how we honour God through our illness and what are our spiritual values at these confronting times.
The church too is challenged afresh by this legislation to consider how to meet those spiritual needs of members of their congregations who cannot make decisions for themselves, as well as for the needs of their caregivers. It is an opportunity for Christian leaders to remind our secular communities of this important question of faith and overriding values in our health and aged care facilities.
I am comforted by the words of Lamentations 3: 22 & 23.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Over the fence
HOW many of us are hemmed in by fences of our own making? You know, the type of self-created barrier that says there’s nothing over the other side that you will need or anything that will do you any good. So you stay within the confines of your perceived comfort and self-sufficiency. So it is with people who are happy with ‘Jesus the good example’ and feel that should be the limit. Anything beyond the fence is abhorrent or as necessary as a third spare tyre. Jesus the God is on the other side.
Both confronting and logic-defying is the message that he loved you so very much that he allowed himself to be literally ripped to pieces by a scourge and crucified unto death so you can find your way home. Here’s where people would put on gloves, pick up the message with a pair of tweezers and put it under the microscope. Here’s where the fences get pushed higher by hubris (who needs this redemption thing anyway?). Easter is an uncomfortable reminder God Incarnate went through the savagery of his sentence and death even though he knew rejection and unbelief awaits. That’s Truth and Grace in action.
Some quarters, perhaps, desperate to be seen to be championing ‘politically correct’ agendas promulgate the suggestion that the message of the Cross offends; it makes people feel unnecessarily ‘indebted’. But everyone knows you can accept it or walk away. It’s our choice. That’s how much He loves us.
The Cross never shackles or condemns. The Cross frees and frees so totally – if you’ll only let it. It tells you: you can rest, your battle is over. Jesus has won it for you at Calvary. The Cross is a living message of unparalleled love and resurrection power – if you’ll only let it. Place your faith on it and it becomes your ark when you don’t know how to swim, your fortress when you need unassailable ground. This Easter, why not take a chance and cross that fence. Warning: If you do, you might just end up changing your mind about many things the world has taught you.
Skipton St Uniting Church