The Bad News and the Good News at Christmas

Published: Tuesday, 26 December 2017

This sermon was preached by Geoff Pound on Christmas Day 2017.

Reading: Luke 2:1-20

A man was farewelling his wife one morning at Melbourne airport. She was leaving for a short holiday in England. But later that afternoon their pet dog died.

That evening when the woman arrived in New Zealand she telephoned home to ask how everything was. The man blurted out the news: "The dog’s dead!"

She was very upset. She was absolutely devastated. Through her tears she chided him for being so tactless.

"What should I have said?" he asked.

She said: "You should have shared the news gently, perhaps in stages. So, when I phoned from here in Auckland you could have said," The dog is on the roof.". The next day when I call from LA you could say, "The dog has fallen off the roof." The following day when I call from New York you could have said: "I've taken the dog to the vet." And finally, from London I could have been informed, "The dog has passed away."

Her husband was absorbing this advice when his wife asked: "By the way, how’s mother?" The man paused…and then he said: "She's on the roof!"

Read more: The Bad News and the Good News at Christmas

Stuff: Consuming as if God matters

Published: Tuesday, 19 December 2017

This sermon, the first in our series at ABC on Stuff and Consumerism, was given on 5 December by Nguyễn Hữu Trí.

Luke 12: 13 - 35                                                                                            

Today in the church liturgical calendar, we celebrate the beginning of Advent, a season of waiting to welcome the gift of God in the person of Jesus.

Our sermon series for this season is based on the small group study guide booklet from Baptist World Aid ‘The End of Greed: Consuming as if God, People and the Planet Matter’.[1] You can order a copy on the Baptist World Aid website. There may be a few available in the Office.

Today, we are going to be considering ‘Stuff - Consuming as if God matters'. Then next week Mark Purser of Baptist World Aid will look at ‘Generosity - consuming as if people matter’. Then Geoff will look at the theme of ‘justice: consuming as if the poor matter’. Keren will wrap things up before Christmas, looking at the theme of ‘care and kindness: consuming as if the planet matters’. Then at Christmas, Andrew Woff had suggested that we consume as if nothing else matters!

We live in a culture and an economic system that is based on consumption. We are told every day that we don’t have enough, that our lives are lacking, and that we need more. This time of year, our mail box is stuffed with advertising, suggesting all the stuff we could get for our loved ones this Christmas.

Celia, Noah and I visited JB-HiFi last week, to look for a gadget that would connect a microphone to Celia’s computer. As we walked out of the store, Noah was excited about something he had seen. He kept saying how his mind was “blown away”. What was it that had caused the eruption in his mind? It was discovering a new release of something called ‘Nintendo Switch Sonic Forces’! I reminded him that he received something of the sort for his last birthday, to which he replied, “This is different, this is new”.

Read more: Stuff: Consuming as if God matters

Stuff: Consuming as if people matter

Published: Monday, 18 December 2017

This sermon was presented by Geoff Pound at ABC on 17 December 2017. It is the third sermon in a series on ‘Stuff’ and consumption which is loosely based on a booklet and study guide entitled, The End of Greed’, written by Scott Higgins and sponsored by Baptist World Aid.[1]

Walking along High Street, Ashburton this month you can feel bombarded by the constant call to buy stuff.

This morning, we sit four kilometres from the largest shopping centre, not only in Australia but the southern hemisphere. It’s a merchandise mecca. It’s cool. It’s alluring. ‘Chaddy’ seduces us to shop until we drop.[2]

But when we drop to watch sport, we discover that cricket on television is made for selling stuff over and over.

The demise of clothing shops in Ashburton and the rise of online shopping through powerful sites like Amazon,[3] highlights that buying stuff now is as easy as the click of a button from our armchair.[4]

We’ve been thinking, during this Advent, about ‘Stuff’.

Read more: Stuff: Consuming as if people matter

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

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