Friday, March 21, 2014

The Paper March 2014

Building Bridges
When in an argument with friends or family, and maybe you are right but the other party does not want to give in, the old adage says – “do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” There is a turning point between justice and grace – between holding-on and giving-in!  Justice demands that the “right” answer is acknowledged by all parties – grace allows that one party might give in for the sake of peace.  Relationships thrive not because the guilty are punished, but because the innocent are merciful.  Bridges are built when both parties reach out towards the middle; they are generally not just built from one side.  If a bridge is to be built the offending party needs to acknowledge the offence that has been committed, and the offended party needs to forgive. 
Here it is Easter again.  Easter is the holiday at the tail-end of summer - the last break before the winter starts to set in.  As such many try to get away and enjoy a few days off from normal routine.  To many people these days Easter is the Season of the chocolate eggs – a figure of new beginning; and we think of fertility (again new life and opportunities) through the Easter Bunny – all of which are more akin to the emerging spring of the Northern Hemisphere than the encroaching winter in the south.  But the thoughts are still there!
To Christians Easter is a time of building bridges.  In the Christian faith it was the time when God reached out to forgive people for the wrongs they have committed either by choice or through human frailty.  He has given us a framework of right and wrong in Life’s Handbook – the Bible.  Those who acknowledge that their life is not as it ought to be, and seek reconciliation with God, will start building from the other side.  In our life situations it is the strong who must make the first move to build the bridge, so too it was the Creator who made the first move at the first Easter.
Easter is a core time in the Christian Faith.  It is the time when Christians believe that Jesus was crucified and rose again.  There is a large volume of secular evidence to support this claim, but predominantly Christians believe it because it is in the Word of God. Easter is the time when Christians think about the fact that God reached out to build a bridge so that we can communicate with Him.  We don’t know exactly the process of how this works, but the bridge is there for us to seek to complete from our side.  Those who are Christians have experienced in their everyday lives an inward conviction and feeling that the things recorded in the Scriptures, which have been believed for generations and handed down to us in our society, are true.  For sure we have the right to question the events and the process, but it would seem that today many people dismiss the authenticity of the importance of the original Easter on the grounds of thinking that we in our generation are more enlightened than those of the past, and think that we may know better.  But the process of Easter is about building bridges and reconciliation – this has not and will not change.
The content of being a Christian may change from generation to generation but the process remains the same – putting faith and trust in something that we believe is bigger than ourselves, and which is by nature beyond our comprehension. 
We would like to invite you to visit us, or a Church in your local Community, to reflect on the events of Easter and to think about how something that happened almost 2,000 years ago is still important today.  See Church Notices in this Paper for times of Meetings at the Christian Israelite Church at 196 Campbell Street – we have been in continuous service there since 1853 meeting the needs of people in a changing society. 

Rodney Gray – Pastor Christian Israelite Church, 196 Campbell Street, Sydney ( or visit

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Outline of Service 23rd March 2014

My Sheep Hear My Voice  John 10:27

Hymn 123:  The Voice of the Heart 
The Lord’s Prayer from Luke 11:2-4
Psalm 143:1-2, 7-12  Deliver, Teach and Quicken Me

Bible Readings:                                                   
The Voice of Truth:  1 Kings 19:1-13
A Guiding Voice:  Isaiah 30:18-21
The Shepherd’s Voice:  John 10:22-42
Hymn 96:  The Good Shepherd

·        God speaks to us through our hearts and minds
·        His “voice” guides us in the right path
·        True believers hear and recognise the Shepherd’s voice
·        Jesus offers eternal life – “and they shall never perish”
·       Are we seeking not only spiritual life, but to be preserved in spirit and soul and body and truly never perish

Hymn 20:  Listen!

Outline of Service 9th March 2014

Obedience Through Love  John 14:15

Hymn 129:  Hate the Sin but Love the Sinner 
The Lord’s Prayer from Luke 11:2-4
Psalm 122:1-9  Peace be Within Thy Walls

Bible Readings:                                                   
God’s Covenant through Obedience:  Exodus 19: 1-11
Salvation through Faith:  Romans 4:1-8
Jesus Calls for Obedience:  John 14:1-17
Hymn 47:  Keep My Sayings

·        God has set out a life-style for people to follow in the Bible
·        Satan attracts the evil in people and turns them away from God’s instructions
·        Through Jesus’ sacrifice our sins are forgiven – even when we are not obedient to His commandments – ensuring the salvation of our souls
·        But Jesus said if you love me, keep my commandments
·        Through true obedience we can have the hope of being redeemed without (physical) death at Jesus Christ’s return
·       Let us ask God for the Power from The Other Comforter, through love, to work a work of obedience in us

Hymn 79:  The Light of Life