Sunday 26th July 2020

26 Jul 2020 by O'Connor Uniting Church in: Reflections

Pentecost 8

Bible Readings

First reading: Genesis 29:15-28
Psalm: Psalm 105:1-11, 45b or Ps 128
Second reading: Romans 8:26-39
Gospel: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52


The priceless pearl, a small thing among the counterfeits and trinkets of life, has value far greater than everything we own.   But we must first understand that. Many people do not. For those of us who know and love the Lord, we acknowledge that our faith is the greatest possession that we have, adequate for all of life’s challenges.



  • the safety and good health of our congregation as we meet again for worship
  • for all those in our church family who are unable to come to church due to health concerns
  • for all our 3rd party hirers as they consider returning to our premises, and guidance for the development of their Covid safe plans
  • wisdom for the Victorian and NSW Governments and for all our national leaders to contain the latest COVID-19 outbreaks
  • patience, understanding and commitment by all to observe Covid-19 restrictions

We give thanks

  • that we were able to resume services in the church last Sunday!


Worship Service Changes

Our Covid safe plan sets out Uniting Church requirements for social distancing and hygienic practices.

Summary of Practicalities for Re-gathering

  • Please do not come to church if you are unwell, and no hugging or handshaking yet 😊
  • Entry must be by the front door and exit via the back (flower room) door. Anyone who is unable to negotiate the back steps may leave via the front door
  • hand sanitiser is necessary and will be provided by the church for all to use upon entry
  • The steward will record your attendance upon entry
  • our church can seat 18 people socially distanced
  • singing and morning tea are not yet possible
  • church bibles and hymn books cannot be used – you are welcome to bring your own bible
  • communion, the offering and passing the peace will be done in a non-contact way
  • Ventilation through the church is required to carry away any infectious droplets, which will be accommodated by the front and back doors being left open
  • touched surfaces must be cleaned before and after services. Synod requires that no person over 70, or over 60 with chronic ailments do any cleaning due to the greater health risk if the virus is present.
  • our hire groups must prepare their own Covid Safe plans for approval prior to meeting on our premises, and they will do their own cleaning.


Pastoral Letter from Rev Andrew Smith - Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures

What extra time/commitment is a Fresh Expression going to take?

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to the Godsend App. It’s an App for anyone helping to start and grow a new Christian community. These communities are sometimes called fresh expressions of church, missional communities, church plants, organic church, simple church, new worshipping communities, praxis communities, and more.
The App is free, and you can download it by searching for 'fx godsend' in the App Store or Google Play. 

When it comes to starting and growing a new Christian community like this, one of the questions people often ask is how much commitment/time is this going to take? That is a fair enough question given that many of us are already busy filling rosters at our church, or being on church council, other committees or ministry groups, not to mention the hobby or interest groups we are part of and the time we devote to extended family and friends.  When we ask this question, perhaps we are imagining that starting and growing a new Christian community will be something completely unrelated to anything we are already doing. That may be the case, but it is not necessarily the case.

The App sets out a manageable way to get going with starting or growing a new Christian community. The first video in the overview section of the App suggests: “first, find a friend or two and together find simple ways to love people around you – in your neighbourhood, work place or as you are doing things you love to do. Make friends with people around you”.

Notice that it is about loving people around you. In this way getting started with growing a new Christian community does not have to be unrelated to what you are already doing. In fact, the App suggests not to take on an extra commitment unrelated to your passion or interest. Rather, enhance what you are already doing.

This is what was happening in the scenario for a fresh expression around basketball that I invited you to imagine in this series of articles about a month ago (see Presbytery Notices of 10 June 2020 for the full scenario). In that scenario a couple of friends in the congregation are really keen about basketball. Between them they not only love playing basketball, but also enjoy helping others develop their skills in basketball. They meet up regularly at the local university courts for skills training and playing one on one games. As it turns out, there are others who come to the courts individually or in small groups to do pretty much the same thing. Often, they join in playing games with each other.

As that scenario develops the two friends see that they can enhance what is already happening by intentionally practising Mike Frost’s habits of blessing and eating with the people they are meeting through basketball (people who are not part of church). These habits are part of Frost’s five habits of highly missional people in his book “Surprise the World”, and are great ways to show love to the people around you. Notice that this is enhancing what the two friends are already doing. It is not extra commitment unrelated to their passion or interest.

Although enhancing what the friends are already doing is not extra commitment unrelated to their passion or interest (basketball), it will involve investing more time with their new basketball friends. That time will have to come from somewhere. Maybe it will come from the time on church rosters, committees or groups. Maybe it will come from time in other hobbies or interest groups, or with other friends or extended family. Maybe it will come from working less.

Sam Chan in his book “Evangelism in a Skeptical World – How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus more Believable” points out that investing more time with these new friends requires a lifestyle change. He talks about the need for our Christian friends to become friends with our non-Christian friends. That we need to be part of the same community. We need to live with our non-Christian friends – “not just visit them. Not just go out with them. But live among them so that they are part of our closest network of friends, and we are part of their closest network of friends.”

So, back to that question: how much commitment/time is it going to take to start and grow a new Christian community? It will be costly, but the good news is that Frost’s approach and the approach in the Godsend App offer ways to ease into it from where you already are. As we ease into it my hope is that we will be captivated by what we experience God doing, and that we will want to change our lifestyle to be caught up more and more in the mission of God through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.