Pastoral Letter

Moderator's Comments - Posted 14 January 2016

Australia normally goes to sleep while we holiday for the five weeks after Christmas, undisturbed except by the latest cricket scores calmly delivered to us by Richie Benaud. That has not been the case this year, the standard of cricket has been poor, Richie is no longer with us and the following events have turned our minds to more disturbing matters: the resignation of two Federal ministers, Mal Brough and Jamie Briggs; the Chris Gayle interview involving journalist Mel McLaughlin; the ongoing drought in Western Queensland and NSW while NSW spends $7 million on fireworks on New Year’s Eve; the reports of widespread sexual harassment in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve; North Korea’s “hydrogen” bomb test, the beginning of the cyclone season with Vanuatu once again being in the path, this time of Cyclone Ula.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 December 2015

We celebrate the incarnation of God, Jesus Christ, the Word, become flesh, who made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). John says, “we have seen with our eyes, we have looked at, our hands have touched … we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard” (1 John 1:1, 3).

Paul put it in these familiar words, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich! (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The immediate context of these words is Paul’s urging of the Corinthians to be generous in their support of the suffering saints in Jerusalem. The gospel drives generosity, Jesus Christ rich as he was, became poor in order to enrich us, so Paul says, follow his example of generous giving and support the needs of the saints.

One of my eye opening experiences, since becoming Moderator, is to get to know the work of PresAid, the Presbyterian Church’s own aid organisation which was founded by the General Assembly of Australia in 2007. Since that time, PresAid has distributed $850,000 to aid projects in Pakistan, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, Bangladesh, India and Vanuatu.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 23 November 2015

I have noticed that articles on Facebook are often headlined:  “Three reasons why…..” or “Four ways to …. “ or 5 key thoughts on ….”.

So I thought I would finish this year in that vein:  Two big issues… A one word answer?

Having now been back in parish/pastoral work for four years, I find that there are two issues that often crop up and they are each answered by one truth.

The first is the issue as to whether Jesus’ life and work is enough to make us right with God, or, that His work needs to be supplemented by our good works.   The issue sometimes expresses itself as, are we saved through faith in Jesus’ work plus nothing or faith in Jesus’ work plus our faithfulness?

Moderator's Comments - Posted 10 November 2015

As a new Christian at Bible College, no subject impacted me more than Church History. The lecturer, Howard Green, was a superb lecturer. He made the past come alive and I knew nothing about the history of the church so every lecture was an eye opener.

Whether Hegel said it first is debateable, “history teaches us that history teaches us nothing”, the reality is that we neglect history at our peril.   It would be tragic to repeat the history of our denomination as it is being repeated in Scotland and the USA at the moment.

So here follows the personal history of Rev Denis Shelton, repeated here as a reminder, encouragement and a warning.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 30 October 2015

Christians need never to be on the back foot in answering the attacks of atheists and secularists.

The bankruptcy of their position is readily revealed when one examines their empty explanations given to life’s four biggest questions.

What I appreciate most about being a Christian is the Faith’s realistic assessment of the human condition, and its sure diagnosis and assured prescription for humankind’s ills.

Here are life’s four biggest questions:
Where did I come from?
Where am I going?
Why am I here?
How do I live?