All Souls Anglican Church | 02 9569 2646
The Journal

He is with us !

Dear Friends,
The Christmas story is both ordinary and extraordinary. God takes an ordinary young girl and bestows on her an incredible privilege, namely to carry the Son of God in her womb. But equally he takes an ordinary young man, Joseph to be the one who cares for her. God uses Joseph extraordinarily also. Matthew’s account (1:18-25) focuses on how God helps Joseph to understand what is happening with Mary’s pregnancy. It was difficult for him to grasp. What is quite beautiful is that even though he couldn’t understand what had happened he didn’t want to expose Mary to public disgrace. We learn that Joseph was a righteous man meaning that he was seeking to honour God and be godly in the way he related to other people. This righteousness of Joseph is expressed in being gracious to Mary.The Lord sent Joseph a dream explaining that the child will be born through the power of the Holy Spirit alone. It is all about God’s grace. As I reflect on this last year it seems to me that there is a growing harshness in the public sphere in the way people address one another and treat one another. Of course wrong doing must not be hidden and must be exposed so that justice is done and victims can get closure but it does seem that our society has lost the ability to be gracious and merciful and forgiving. As we think about Christmas we see Joseph who is gracious to Mary and we see our God who is gracious and merciful to us - humanity. He comes to us and meets us at our point of need to bring hope and forgiveness. All of us are beset with sin. The birth narratives focus on the fact that Jesus’ name and indeed His mission is to save people from their sins and this is our greatest need. We need grace. We need forgiveness and we need a fresh start with God and with people. My hope and prayer is that the person of Jesus will so impact us and change us that His forgiveness of our sins and filling with His Spirit will result in us being gracious to other people. This doesn’t mean that we have to agree with other people over every matter. Being gracious means treating people with respect and with dignity because they are created in the image of God. It means facing them with difficult truths and doing so in love. This world needs grace because without God we do become very harsh and unforgiving and mean spirited and that is where our society is heading. In the Matthew reading it is also highlighted that the baby conceived in Mary’s womb didn’t involve human agents but was totally the work of God through His Holy Spirit. This is very important because this means that Jesus is without sin and so He can die for our sins as a pure offering and so achieve salvation. Truly Jesus is God with us, Emmanuel and this changes everything because God is with us and we are not alone and this means we have hope. May we rejoice in the goodness of the Lord this Christmas and praise Him for His grace and love shown to us by coming to earth and dying for our sin. Thank you for your support and friendship and may God grant you a holy and peaceful and joyful Christmas.
God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

Continue Reading..

Seek and you will find

Dear Friends,
One of the great themes of the Bible is that God goes looking for us to find us. Take for example the shepherds. They were minding their own business looking after sheep out in the cold. Suddenly angels sent by God appeared to them announcing great news of the birth of a Saviour, the Lord Jesus. The good news of Jesus brings great joy that God has come to this world to save us from our sins. In Luke 2:11 Jesus is identified as Saviour and Christ and Lord. As Saviour He rescues us from sin and judgement. As Christ He is God’s King who was promised in the Old Testament and has come into the world. As Lord He is the one who commands our obedience and is worthy of our worship. In 2:14 the angels give glory to God because it is incredible that He has left the glory of heaven and come to share our humanity and save us from our sin. It is too easy to take this message of Jesus birth for granted. This is huge. God has come to us ! After the angels have the left the shepherds decide to go and see this event. Many people have experiences of God but they don’t follow through or act on these and so the experiences are unproductive. The shepherds go and find the Christ and then they spread the word concerning Jesus. God’s message is so good that when it is properly understood and grasped it naturally spreads because those who experience the joy of the Lord want others to also experience this. In v19 Mary also responded to all these events not least the birth of Jesus but also including the shepherds and what they said. Mary treasured and pondered these things in her heart. Our life is incredibly busy and we need to spend time reflecting on Bible truths and seeking to understand them for ourselves and what they mean and apply them to our lives. Christian growth requires that we treasure and ponder and reflect so that God’s truth goes deep into our lives and brings life change ! At our evening service we have the story of the wise men. In particular we learn that their observation of the stars brought limited wisdom. They had a general knowledge about this King of the Jews and this bought them to Jerusalem the capital which is where they would expect a king to be born. The turning point for them finding Jesus was when Herod responded to the wise men’s request and asked his own religious leaders and they referred to the Old Testament and the book of Micah which states that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. They then went on their way guided miraculously by the star. God met them at their point of need and they saw Jesus for themselves and worshipped Him. The Scriptures were critical then and they are still today. Through reading God’s Word we find Jesus.
God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

Continue Reading..

Wise people still seek Jesus

Dear Friends,
As we celebrate the baptism of Angus and Mathilde McGrath today our passage directs us to another child :- the birth of our Lord Jesus and the reaction of the wise men to His birth.
Our passage today is Matthew 2:1-12 and retells the story of the wise men from the East who came seeking Jesus, the King of Jews. From their star gazing they believed that there would be a special King born to the Jews. Whilst they had some general sense of where this special king being would be born they needed to travel to the capital and ask King Herod more details. Herod asked his advisors where this would happen and they referred to the Old Testament Scriptures in the book of Micah written in the 8th C BC. There was a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. This was a surprise because it was a small town. The significance of the wise men is that they represent great wisdom and learning and they bow down before Jesus acknowledging His greatness. In a sense they represent the best wisdom the world has to offer and they recognise one who is much greater than they. The gifts they give are very valuable and are fitting for a King. In the background of this passage we see King Herod who seems to want to know about this King so he can worship him. But the wise men are warned to not return to him. King Herod cannot be trusted. We know from history that Herod was intensely jealous and murdered his own wife and sons because he was worried about protecting his own power. The wise men show the proper response which is to bow down and worship Jesus and give Him honour. Today at this baptism we recognise that all wisdom is found in Christ and like the wise men God calls us to lay our life before Him and give Him everything. Only in Christ will we truly be satisfied because He is the source of all wisdom. Tonight we look at the parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16:1-15. There is a lot happening in this passage but generally we are being instructed by Jesus that life is a gift and we need to be good stewards. IN fact we need to take care of what God gives us including both material and spiritual blessings and be generous towards others. When we do this we will have displayed God’s wisdom because He is generous. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

 

Continue Reading..

Being found by Jesus

Dear Friends,
We thank the Lord for our UTS students who have come to our parish on Mission. It is wonderful to have them in the Parish again. I am also thankful to the Lord for our Carols event yesterday. To be able to serve together and declare God’s love to our local community is so important and I am grateful for people serving in this important ministry. I am sure there are many are testimonies of thankfulness as the students have given testimony at our Healing service, Thursday morning Bible study, Taverners Hill Anglicare Aged accomodation, Lewisham Nursing home and AllKids. Our passage this morning is from Luke 17:11-19. It is the story of the 10 men who were healed of leprosy. Jesus commented on the importance of faith in accessing healing but interestingly spoke about the need to thank the Lord for our blessings. Only one of the 10 lepers who were healed returned to thank Jesus. Interestingly it is to him that Jesus said that your faith has healed you. What does that mean ? It is more than physical healing. This one leper returned because he understood that the source of healing was Jesus and that it is right and appropriate to thank Him for every good and perfect gift we have - see James 1:17. The society we live in encourages us to think that we are the masters of our own fate and the source of blessing. We see that our society is more and more ungrateful and takes God’s blessing for granted. True healing comes when we are reconciled to Jesus and give Him the thanks and the honour which He deserves. In the passage tonight we are looking at Luke 15:1-10 the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin. This parable gives us more reasons to thank the Lord. These parables teach us that God like the shepherd and the woman is seeking something which is lost. That which is lost is us. We are lost because of sin. It is wonderful to see that God comes looking for us and His attitude to us when we are found, that is when we return to Him is that He celebrates with heaven. How wonderful to have a God who rejoices when we are found and that even more than us He wants us to be reconciled with Him. This is something huge for which we can thank the Lord.
God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

 

Continue Reading..

New hope from God

Dear Friends,
Today we conclude out short series on Isaiah 6-12. Chapter 12 is bursting with praise because of God’s graciousness in bringing new life to the people of God through the coming Messiah who is both a descendant of the tribe of Judah and also the one who is the source of Judah. This person is both God and human. God comes himself and creates a new community of peace and righteousness. So chapter 12 is a natural celebration of God’s goodness for this new society which Jesus will inaugurate. Obviously this society has not yet been fully consummated but as people come to faith in Christ and begin to live out their faith within the context of the church and the world we see glimpses of heaven and we have a foretaste of all that the Lord is doing ! The primary reason for praise is that God’s anger at our sin has been turned away 12:1. This means that we can enjoy the comfort of the Lord. Isaiah develops this theme and informs us that it is the servant of the Lord who is a tender shoot and root Isaiah 53:1-2 and who carried our infirmities and took the punishment for our sins - 53:4-6. This is of course is fulfilled in Jesus who has taken the punishment for our sin instead of us and this means we can enjoy a relationship with God through Christ. In Isaiah 12:2 the prophet uses the personal pronoun to speak of my salvation and my strength and my song. God has done this work of salvation but each of us needs to ensure that we have personally owned for ourselves 
personally received Christ. In Isaiah 12:2b it is a direct quote from Exodus 15:2 which tells of God’s victory over His enemies in setting the people of God free from Egypt. So the story of the Exodus is the backdrop for this Isaiah 12 and as God led the people out of Egypt he refreshed them with water along the way. It is the same with us - God refreshes us along the journey of faith so that we can draw deep from the wells of salvation. For the Christian we are refreshed when we repent of sin Acts 3:19 and also through the fellowship of God’s people 1 Cor 16:18. Christ also refreshes us through the work of His Spirit because out of Jesus flows springs of living water - John 7:37-39. Notice that this blessing we have received from the Lord is so that we will look outward and declare His glory to other people Isaiah 12:4-5 so that they may also enjoy the goodness of the Lord. At the 5pm service we continue our series on the parables and look at Luke 13:18-21 - the parable of the mustard seed and yeast. Often the work of God seems insignificant but God is powerfully at work in this world through the preaching of HIs Word. Don’t be discouraged when things seem small because God is powerfully at work & that will be evident when Jesus returns.
God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

 

Continue Reading..

Church Council and Minister’s Report November 2017

God can building something beautiful in our lives

Dear Friends,
In Isaiah 10:5-34 Isaiah has prophesied that God will chop Assyria down like a tree is chopped down by an ax. God gives this prophecy to Judah to show that God will use Assyria to bring judgement on his disobedient people but Assyria in turn will experience judgment for overreaching their hand and being arrogant. Indeed Judah will be devastated by Assyria but not wiped out completely. Isaiah 11 teaches us that even though Judah is humbled or cut down and a stump is left there will be a shoot of Jesse that will come up. By mentioning Jesse Isaiah is speaking of the Messianic King who will come. This King will be empowered by the Holy Spirit and will bring justice and unlike King Ahaz in chapter 7 who judged by what he saw and heard this King will be guided by the fear of the Lord and see things from God’s perspective. We live in an age where fear and anxiety is rampant because we live by sight only. We have lost the ability to see things from God’s perspective and trust that God is in control. When we live by faith and not by our circumstances this both builds courage and calms our anxiety. This coming King will be concerned to bring justice for the poor. This prophecy is of course a long way ahead in the future and God’s people had to be patient and wait for this righteous and good King to come. As we approach Christmas we do remember that our Messiah King Jesus identified with the poor by being born in a stable and He did not neglect the poor but brought them good news. Through God’s power Jesus will so transform people and the whole of creation that a wolf will lie down with a lamb and a child will play near a cobra and not be harmed ! This picture of the new creation gives us courage to live well now with confidence because our future is secure ! Luke 6:46-49 which is the passage at the 5pm service reminds us that if our foundation in life is solid then we can face whatever crisis comes and still thrive. In particular the crisis of the flood waters speaks of a coming judgement when God will put things right and if we have trusted in Jesus’ Word as our foundation then we will have confidence to face God when we die and be assured of entering into heaven. This heaven which Isaiah describes to us is worth the wait ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

 

Continue Reading..

Don't play games with God

Dear Friends,
We continue our series on Isaiah 6-12 looking at
God’s judgement on Assyria in 10:5-34. Last week we reflected on Isaiah’s preaching about Israel which was for the benefit of Judah so they would take the warning that just as judgement will fall on Israel it will also fall on Judah if they do not heed God’s warning. This time God is teaching His people how He uses nations for His big purposes. In particular Assyria will be an instrument of judgement to refine His people. We know that Assyria invaded and deported the people of the northern Kingdom in 722 BC so that this kingdom ceased to exist. We learn that God is in charge of the nations and what they do. But this doesn’t mean that God is responsible for their evil or the source of their evil. Rather God is absolutely sovereign or in control of the nations but they are also morally culpable for what they do. Unless you understand and trust in God’s total control then to think otherwise is a recipe for anxiety to grow. We can sleep at night because whether in in our personal circumstances or in the big issues happening across the world God has a purpose. God points out that Assyria thinks that it’s victories have been achieved by their own power and might 10:13-14. God explains that Assyria is like an axe in God’s hand. It has no power in itself ! God’s purpose with this particular nation is that His people,. the remnant will learn to rely on Him 10:20 and that they will return to Him or repent of sin 10:21. We learn that the havoc which the Assyrians have been wreaking amongst the nations will come to an end 10:24-26. God’s people not the nations are the centre of God’s purposes in the world and He works so that His people are refined and learn to turn from sin and depend on Him - 1 Peter 1:7. At the 5pm service we continue our series on Jesus’ parables. The parable tonight in Luke 14:15-24 reminds us that heaven is pictured as a great banquet where people have been invited. This parable is a warning to the people of Israel who have been invited to the feast but have refused His offer. The master of the banquet tells his servants to go out and invite other people but some people make excuses but some respond and accept. Eternal life and entrance to it is an invitation. It is a gracious offer. May the Lord strengthen us to resist the temptation to be distracted and make other priorities. A relationship with Jesus is what is most precious in life and most valuable.
God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

 

Continue Reading..

Don't ignore the Lord

Dear Friends,
In Isaiah 9:8-22 & 10:1-4 the focus is on God’s judgement against Israel which are the northern tribes. Isaiah 6:1-13 was called as prophet to Judah, the southern Kingdom and now he shows Judah what happens when people reject God’s Word. Their hearts are hardened and God’s judgement falls. We see this lived out in what is happening to Israel :- despite the signs of deterioration in the land evident in natural disasters and invasions by traditional enemies the people still believe they can overcome their problems by their own efforts. For example in 9:10 the people say that even though the bricks have fallen they will rebuild and even though the fig trees have fallen down they will replant. The attitude of the people is arrogant and proud 9:9. These people are pushing on in life without reference to God. We must remember that God had sent prophet after prophet to urge his people to turn back to him but He has pronounced that judgement will fall 10:4 on Israel. This is a warning to Judah who are heading down the same road. Today God calls us to hold out grace for people but there will come a time when it will be too late for people and judgement will fall and people will receive the fruit of their disobedience. It seems that one aspect of the judgement which falls is that God withdraws his restraining hand of evil. In Romans 1:24 God’s Word says that the Lord gave people over to their sinful desires. One aspect of the judgement which comes on people in this age is that God gives them over to what they want and they find that this destroys them. Sin is never good for us. The great remedy which God brings is the Cross and this is accompanied by the call to repent of sin - Acts 2:38-39. Repentance of sin and the power of the Gospel brings freedom sin and peace and joy. At the 5pm we have embarked on a short series on the parables. Tonight we look at Luke 12:12-21 and the Parable of the rich fool. It is very interesting how this parable opens :- a man is asking Jesus for arbitration over a dispute with his brother. It looks like a call for justice but Jesus uses this as a warning to guard against greed. In the parable the rich fool looks to his own counsel and believes that he has achieved all he has. He is greatly mistaken because all he has is a gift from God and he has failed to be rich towards God. The great temptation of greed is preceded by forgetting God and deceiving ourselves that we are the masters of our own lives. We will all give an account to the Lord - 2 Cor 5:12. May we be ready !
God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

 

Continue Reading..

Jesus is the great light and shines today.

Dear Friends, 

One of the great truths of the Bible is that God never leaves you without hope.As we have been reading through Isaiah we have learnt that God sent Isaiah to bring a message of judgement because of the hardness of the people’s hearts - see Isaiah 6:1-13. In chapter 8:22 we learn that there will be gloom and darkness and distress because the people of God have turned away from the Lord and have consulted mediums and spiritists. God’s people have effectively turned their back on God. There is no doubt that they deserve judgement but chapter 9 reminds us that with God there is always hope. We learn that God has a future when gloom will be removed and the people who walk in darkness will see a great light 9:1-2. This great light who dispels darkness is a child who is also mighty God 9:6. This is a picture of the Lord Jesus. Isaiah was writing in the 8th C BC and so God expects that in the meantime His people will hang onto the promise of God as the means to sustain them and build resilience. Nothing has changed. God expects that we will still learn to live by faith - 2 Corinthians 5:7. Of course forus the promise is more certain because Jesus has come and has died for our sin. But we like our OT brothers and sisters are waiting for the Lord’s return when God will cast evil away forever. In the meantime we can rejoice and celebrate because Jesus has loved us and forgiven our sins and give us a foretaste of heaven. Today we have Erin with us who is being sent out by CMS to Asia to bring the light and hope of Christ to people. She takes a powerful message of God’s love to people and our prayer is that she will see people respond and rejoice in God’s love. In our evening passage we look at the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. This parable reminds us that at the heart of the Law is to show compassion to our neighbours. They are whoever God brings into our life regardless of their ethnic or social or sexual diversity. Loving people doesn’t mean we automatically agree with them but it does mean that we treat them with dignity and respect because they are created in the image of God. We can only have this type of love when we allow the power of the Gospel of Jesus’ death to soften our hard hearts as His Spirit is shed abroad in our hearts - Romans 5:5
God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

 

Continue Reading..

Calendar

SuMoTuWeThFrSa
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031