The Non-fluffy Holy Spirit for the 21st century

19 May, 2024 Pastor Mike Pietsch

What is your experience or view of the Holy Spirit? How does the Holy Spirit unite his people by calling us to face our unity as fellow sinners? How are we also united by the Spirit in our baptism? As God’s brand-new people, how and where does the Holy Spirit lead and shape us in our congregation at St John’s? Where will the Spirit lead us in our AGM today? How are we to discern the calling of the Spirit in our daily lives? It has been said that “when Christian communities insist upon homogeneity, dressing or voting in the same ways, be worried. We are not called to sameness. We are called to be our own unique selves. Through the provocative power of the fiery Spirit, it is our biases and divisions that are burnt away (the actual chaff perhaps) so that we can live more boldly into Christ’s love for us and all things.” (Sally Douglas) What is your unique self that the Holy Spirit is shaping for ministry in the body of Christ? How concrete and real is that for you in your everyday life?

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Is the ascended, crowned, cosmic, crucified and communal Christ for me?

12 May, 2024 Pastor Mike Pietsch

Have you been looking up at our bright blue skies during these sunny autumn days? What do you see beyond the blue? Can you imagine Jesus standing around with his eleven disciples and then with his parting words, all of a sudden, his body starts to fly upwards, right up through the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere and then the thermosphere, out, out into space and out beyond the universe itself to wherever ‘God’s right hand is in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 1:20)? Jesus’ ascension is not only geographical. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, and through our baptism which ties us into Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are now intimately connected with Jesus in these higher realms. The Bible in a number of places talks about the sky being ripped apart. Heaven is truly open to all now. To you, and me, and to all whom we know and love, family, friends and enemies.

We are very privileged to live so close to the sea in Adelaide with views from the hills and suburbs over the ocean. In this last week it has struck me yet again how when we look at the sea, we see the sky and the sea meeting on the horizon. We know scientifically and geographically that they do not meet, and yet we perceive that they do. This reminds us of the way in which heaven comes down so close to the earth in Jesus. There is now an even smaller gap between heaven and earth because of Jesus’ ascension. Mark’s Gospel begins with the sky being torn open when Jesus is baptised. This breaking open of the division between heaven and earth is completed in the ascension of Jesus to be both at the righthand side of God, as well as present in all of the universe. The only Jesus that we know is the one who still has his human body with which he fulfilled all of the Father’s will by breaking open the barrier between heaven and earth through his death on the cross. His scarred, physical body throughout the universe is an eternal reminder of God’s sacrificial love for us, for all time, and for all eternity. There is still more as St Paul describes how we are ALREADY seated on the throne with Jesus in heaven. This is the greatest panorama of the big picture we will see this side of heaven. Are you taking it in, and are you living in it?

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Family Privilege

5 May, 2024 Anny Ferguson (Lay Reader)

Blood is thicker than water: it doesn’t matter what you know … It’s who you know that matters… These and other sayings highlight the reality that there are privileges that are often granted to family members. So what does it mean to be a part of God's family? How does that look for us, our church, and our communities? God calls us over and over again to love as he loves us.

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Abiding in Jesus

28 April, 2024 Pastor Steen Olsen

Jesus tells us that he is the true vine, and we are the branches. Abiding in the vine produces life-giving fruit, but it doesn’t guarantee that nothing will go wrong in our lives or that we won’t experience pain and suffering. In fact, Jesus promises that we will be pruned and that sounds rather unpleasant. Like Phillip whom the Lord sent to talk with the Ethiopian eunuch, our lives will be fruitful as we live in relationship with the real Jesus. The vine will sustain us in good times and bad. Our heavenly Father is the vine-grower and he is glorified as we abide in Jesus.

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The Good Shepherd

21 April, 2024 Eloise Quinn-Valentine (Lay Reader)

There is a stark contrast between humankind’s instinct for self-preservation and the will of Jesus, who willingly laid down his life for us. It is the difference between a hired hand who is employed to look after a flock of sheep and the Good Shepherd. This is why Jesus’ love is so amazing, even more amazing than the sacrifice of the soldiers we remember on ANZAC day. He knows us well enough to know that it’s not in our nature to willingly give up our lives for others, but he still does that for us. Not just as His friends, or even as a soldier fighting for His country. He laid down His life for the very ones who rejected Him and nailed Him to the Cross. That’s why he’s the Good Shepherd.

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Jesus opened their eyes, minds and hearts

14 April, 2024 Pastor David Christian

Jesus is a real eye-opener. He opens our eyes to see him, our minds to understand him, and our hearts to receive him in faith. Jesus does this as the Holy Spirit opens the Scriptures to show us the love of God as Jesus dies for our sins and rises again to bring us a new eternal life. This brings us great joy. The disciple’s hearts were glad when they saw the risen Lord, and so are ours. Our hearts are warmed with the fire of the Holy Spirit and are filled with a passion to share Jesus with others. Jesus’ call to make disciples is no longer just a command, but is above all a supernatural desire to share the love of God with others in our needy world. Come, Holy Spirit, and open our eyes to see Jesus, our minds to grow in understanding Jesus, our hearts to warm with the love of Jesus, and our lips to share Jesus. Amen.

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Seeing and Believing

7 April, 2024 Ian van Schalkwyk (Lay reader)

The sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter is based on the Gospel reading, John 20:19-31.

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God's Right Answer to our Wrongs

31 March, 2024 Bishop Andrew Brook

Remember receiving a test back from the teacher when you were at school. A red cross meant that you got an answer wrong. A tick meant that you got it right. The cross of Jesus seemed to all the world to be wrong. If Jesus was who he claimed to be, how could he die the death of a common criminal. But the cross wasn’t a mistake. It was God’s answer to the problem of our sin. Only God could solve the equation of divine justice, and the sacrificial death of Jesus was the way he did it. And Jesus’ resurrection was God’s tick of approval on Jesus’ rescue mission. All the promises of God: forgiveness, hope, eternal life, are yes in Christ.

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Journeying with Christ

24 March, 2024 Tick Zweck (Lay Reader)

Today’s gospel reading tells the story of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on what we now know and celebrate as Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. An excited crowd waved palm and olive branches to joyfully welcome, and appeal to, the One who they believed to be the prophesied king who would save them from their oppressors. But the path that Jesus chose to follow that day wasn’t the expected one, their king came not with a display of power and pomp, but in peace, riding on a donkey. As they celebrated, they weren’t aware at the time the journey he was about to embark on, the peaks and valleys of the week to come, the purpose of His divine calling.

But as we begin today to journey the whole way with Jesus through this emotional Passion Week, we can recognise why He took the path of humility and suffering - and in the light of His love and knowing we are reconciled with God, can celebrate too, and obediently respond to His call to continue to walk with Him and follow His example of humility, service, and love to others all year around.

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