O for Advent

Published: Monday, 11 December 2017

This sermon was delivered by Geoff Pound to the Ashburton Combined Churches Advent Service on 3 December 2017 at the Ashburton Uniting Church.

My sermon tonight is one word. It’s the word: ‘O’. Can you say it? [‘O’]. Tonight’s sermon is, in fact, only one letter: ‘O’. Say it again: [‘O’]. A bit louder. A bit longer. A bit longer and louder.

If someone asks you what tonight’s sermon was about, you’ll say: [‘O’].

Today is the first day of Advent, this preparation period leading up to Christmas.

The word ‘O’ is an Advent word.

It occurs so often in the Advent Scriptures and stories.

Just like the word hiccup, or mumble or plop or belch, the word ‘O’ mimics its sound.

‘O’ has so many different sounds at Advent.

Read more: O for Advent

Doing Justice, Loving Kindness and Walking Humbly with your God

Published: Monday, 30 October 2017

This sermon was presented by Geoff Pound at ABC on 29 October 2017. It is the first in a series on Micah 6:8, in which we are reflecting on our ministries in the light of this biblical vision toward the celebration of our church anniversary and annual meeting on 26 November 2017. The manuscript is followed by questions for personal reflection and group study.

Scripture Reading: Micah 6:1 - 8

God Challenges Israel

Last Tuesday, family and friends gathered at a church in Warrandyte to celebrate the life of Peter Bentley’s father, Ed Bentley.[1] He died at the ripe old age of 99.[2]

Through the colourful tributes from Peter and his brothers, we learned how much Ed loved the word of God and believed in its power, so much so that he cultivated the habit of writing out verses of Scripture on cards.[3]

He kept these in his pocket and whenever people visited or he met people down the street, he’d give them one of these cards with the words, ‘Be Encouraged’.

When his family was cleaning up his room they found a box of more than 1,000 of these hand-written cards, so his grandchildren gave these out to the 400 people attending his funeral.[4]

It was a lovely thing getting something so personal as a hand-written card from the person who had died.

Today I want to give you a Bible verse so that you might ‘be encouraged’. It’s an important verse because it answers a question asked by genuine seekers down through the centuries: ‘What does the Lord require of you?’[5]

Read more: Doing Justice, Loving Kindness and Walking Humbly with your God

Faith at the test

Published: Monday, 23 October 2017

This is the eleventh and final sermon in the ‘Journey of Faith’ series on the life of Abraham and Sarah. It was presented by Geoff Pound at ABC on Sunday 22 October. The sermon manuscript is followed by some questions for personal reflection and Group Study.

Reading: Genesis 22:1 - 19

When we buy a new car, we trust that the manufacturer has tested the vehicle so that every part works and our car is deemed to be safe.

When we go to a department store we hope that toys we buy for children are safe and they won’t break when they are first dropped.

Someone bought a trendy looking teapot, took it home and when they poured their first cup of tea, the spout dribbled all over the table.

When was the last time you thought of buying a teapot and saying to the shopkeeper: “Fill it up with water, I want to see how it pours?” When did you last test drive a teapot?[1]

Today’s reading begins suddenly and without preamble:

22 After these things God tested Abraham. (v1a)

Read more: Faith at the test

Faith Recovered (Freedom Sunday)

Published: Monday, 16 October 2017

This interview was given on 15 October 2017 by Megan Barnett-Smith and Keren McClelland. It is the tenth in our series on Abraham and Sarah.

Small group questions/highlights in BOLD and articles/videos to look up...

K: This morning I really want us to look at some themes in this passage through a different person’s eyes. So I thought I’d interview Megan who came to me a few months back wanting to do a service on International Justice Mission (IJM). Megan has been part of the ABC community for a few years now. She has done Law/Arts (indigenous studies) and a Masters in community development.

A few years ago, ABC supported Lisa C (part of the Thursday night GROW/Hub community) when she went to Uganda working on the project shown in this video. She is now working in Sydney as a legal associate for the Chief Justice of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. In her new job she is looking at writing the court training manual for IJM in Uganda. (Lisa’s grandparents were foundation members of Ashburton Baptist Church 80 years ago.)

Watch video of IJM Uganda https://vimeo.com/146071779

We are nearly at the end of this series on Abraham! 

El Elyon (God most High), Adonai/YHWH, El Roi (God of seeing), El Shaddai (Almighty God), and today... El Olam (everlasting God, 7 x 7…)

Let me encourage you to keep open the text of Genesis 21 in front of you. 

Read more: Faith Recovered (Freedom Sunday)

Prayers of Faith

Published: Monday, 09 October 2017

This sermon was delivered by Tri Nguyen. It is the ninth in our series on Abraham and Sarah.

Genesis 18: 16 - 33

The Lord be with you!

I made a mistake a few weeks ago by not looking at the text when I asked Geoff if I could swap the Sunday that I was down to preach. I’ve been kicking myself since I discover the text assigned for this week, with the added instruction to give an overview of the following chapters!

Overview of Abraham and Sarah series:

Today’s reading is part of a very complex section of Genesis, dealing with hospitality to angelic strangers,  the bargaining of Abraham with God, the destruction of Sodom, Lot losing the plot and the incestuous beginning of Israel’s neighbours, the Moabites and Ammonites, and Abraham making the same old mistake of deceiving a foreign king regarding Sarah.

Read more: Prayers of Faith

Faith Laughing

Published: Monday, 02 October 2017

This sermon was presented by Geoff Pound at the Ashburton Baptist Church on 1 October 2017. ‘Faith Laughing is the eighth in the ‘Journey of Faith series on the life of Sarah and Abraham. This sermon manuscript concludes with some Questions for Personal Reflection and Group Study.

Reading: Genesis 18:1 - 15

Several years ago, I was with a group of university students in Kolkata. In preparation for volunteering with some ministries we visited Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Kalighat.[1] This hospice helps the terminally ill to die with care and in company and with dignity. We saw Sisters from the Missionaries of Charity and volunteers feeding the patients, massaging them with olive oil and giving them medication. It was very confronting as our reflection time revealed. We pondered the words of Jesus that provide the motivation for the sisters and volunteers:

Read more: Faith Laughing

Faith Committing

Published: Wednesday, 27 September 2017

This sermon was presented by Geoff Pound at ABC on 24 September 2017. ‘Faith Committing’ is the seventh in the ‘Journey of Faith’ series on the life of Sarah and Abraham. This sermon manuscript concludes with some Questions for Personal Reflection and Group Study.

Reading: Genesis 17: 1 - 27

Many years ago, I was in a church that staged a weekend expo featuring the challenges and opportunities of global mission. The guest speaker was Oswald (Ossie) Sanders, who had been the director of the China Inland Mission.[1]

Just before the final meeting I asked Ossie what his next week looked like and what his commitments were. He said he was returning home to celebrate his 85th birthday with his loved ones. Then he rattled off his itinerary for the next month or two whereby he was going to speak at various conferences around the world. This was no chore. He was relishing the opportunities.

Then he said to me: “You know, Geoff, I think this last decade has been the most fruitful of my life!”

I was staggered. This man had been a lawyer, a College principal, a Missions statesman, a popular conference speaker and the author of more than 30 books. He was saying that this last decade, between 75 and 85, had been the most fruitful.

Today’s reading begins with a reference to Abram’s age:

Read more: Faith Committing

Faith Exposed

Published: Monday, 18 September 2017

This sermon was presented at ABC by Rev. Keren McClelland. It is the sixth in our series about Abraham and Sarah.

This is a story about the Willie Wagtail, Jitta Jitta…[1]

Long ago before the sea surrounded this land as we now know it the Raven and his wife, the Magpie, travelled here from far away.

They came here through the kingdom of the Eagle. On account of the Magpie’s beauty they had accumulated great wealth.

The Magpie had sung and the Eagle and his kingdom were spellbound. The Raven and Magpie, however, had deceived the Eagle.

Read more: Faith Exposed