W O W !!!
from Rev. Dr. Des Parker - April 2016
in News First — our monthly churc newsletter
What an experience. Like a party, throwing coloured streamers, celebrating the resurrection…a real celebration!
This year we travelled from before Good Friday to Easter day with wood, hammers, lights, songs, flowers, paper, talking, welcoming the sunrise, meeting and greeting each other.
Easter came alive because we thought about the meaning of the events. Who we are and how we live today…the realities of our time and place. In some ways we became part of the story...or better still, part of the meaning of the story. It became part of who we are and want to be. The challenge and privilege to live in the light of the resurrection. The light of God, the love of God, the presence of God for each one of us. This light, love and presence calls us into a deeper relationship with each other and God. Thankyou Bruce.
Where had I been the
last 17 months?
What have I been up to???
In October 2014 I was called by the Presbytery of Gippsland to a half time supply position as Presbytery Minister: Mission and Education following the conclusion of Rev Philip Liebelt’s ministry in this role. I retired from this ministry on 31st March this year.
Essentially the task was to encourage and support congregations to think about how they can reach out into their community as a response to God’s call to be a missional church. This involved thinking about current involvement and how this was being effective or not effective, planning different approaches to mission and worship. It also involved walking along side congregations that were ageing, tired, no longer financially viable and feeling dispirited. Also, challenging congregations that had become complacent to be renewed through a wider vision than looking after themselves.
It has also been about reminding the church about the significant role that congregations, church councils and elders play in the life of the church. Also, dealing with membership matters, developing a Presbytery Mission and Strategy, significant seminars on being the church in the 21st century…that business as usual is no longer an option.
A personal reflection which relates to all of us.
It is easy to be and feel overwhelmed, physically and spiritually. So many voices calling, so many needs, so many meetings etc. Where do we hear the ‘still small voice’ that advises us to take time to relax and reconnect with what is important and not to feel guilty about doing this? We just do not have time to spend on contemplative/reflective self-care. I think that we often acknowledge that it is important to make these times a priority and see them as ‘places’ (maybe the special places where we feel a special closeness to God) that reconnect us with who and whose we are, wellsprings of regeneration and re-creation. They can be re-centring times and places. I need to remind myself of this constantly and am not very good at making time for this reflection.
Both Mark (14:38+) and Matthew (26:41+) emphasise that the calling and purpose of Jesus is linked with the Biblical record of God revealing himself in word and deed. The story of the transfiguration contains the statement ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ when Jesus refers to the disciples’ inability to remain awake. I wonder if we miss out on the important, deep connections with God and each other, not only as a matter of will, but of tiredness. What do we let go of to take on something else? Is what we have ‘let go of’ (or sacrificed) more important that what we have ‘taken on’? Have we lost the balance in doing and reflecting taking on more and more? How often do we reflect deeply on this?
I continue to feel and experience a strong and vibrant sense of God’s call to Ministry in his church and beyond. There is some sense of guilt when I am now saying ‘no’ to offers to take on other tasks, supply ministry in particular but I recognize that physically I need to take on less. I am excited about the future of God’s church, whatever that may be and whichever forms that may take.
(Des Parker is a member of our Warragul congregation.)