I was unable to attend church today so I am unable to write up the service. However I thought I would write a personal reflection and include something that I see as relating to the readings.
One of the first things we do on a Sunday in the service is to offer a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
I have a background in biology teaching and as a result I am very aware and thankful of the universe around us, from tiny bugs to great towering trees; from a pot plant in a corner to panoramic vistas.
I have looked through huge telescopes and down school microscopes and am always amazed at the intricacy, the microscopic engineering and the impossible processes that keep our universe and everything in it buzzing along. And I thank God for it. I take none of it for granted. At the moment I am crashing into things a lot around my home and have bruised toes, but they always heal. That is amazing! My body knows to send stuff to my toes to fix them. On a grander scale, this country we live in just knocks me out. I love this place. I relate to Dorothea Mackellar's line, "Core of my heart, my country". Travelling around Australia, I have seen splendours that I cannot give thanks enough for. What a gift! Just outside!
Then there are the people of this country. What a mix of God's children; what a mix of God-given talent! May we continue to be so different from each other, honing our particular skills and contributing the better part of each of us to make this world a better place. I didn't mean it to be, but this has turned out to be a bit of an Australia Day theme.
Then we have a prayer of confession.
My ongoing fault is lack of trust in God's ability to run his creation. I am always meddling, messing things up. But Jesus showed another way. I don't have to keep doing the wrong thing. And. God is merciful. He forgives. Thanks for that.
The bible readings for today were from Jonah and the beginning of Mark.
The Mark reading covered Jesus' calling of the disciples. For those of us who have never responded to that call, now could be the time. For those of us who have responded, it could be a time to renew our commitment or even check out whether or not we are following the example Jesus set as closely as we might.
In the Jonah reading, Jonah was sent to warn a people of their approaching destruction because they had ignored God. The people repented and God was merciful. It seems these people were pretty terrible, but God's mercy was greater. So, in case you are thinking you have really overstepped the line too far, God calls us all - as we are.
Then a strange thing happened. Jonah threw a tantrum. He wanted these evil people punished, it seems. It didn't suit him that God forgave them. Big lesson there. It is God who is in charge. (Note to self).
All people who have ever lived or who will live, are God's creation and his children. Sometimes we forget that and make judgements about who makes the cut and who doesn't. God's mercy is available to all who seek it. There is that catch, though. God doesn't push his gifts into people who don't want them.
It is the same with God's other great gift of love. Everyone on this planet is a child of God and is loved by God. It is not for any of us to call judgement on who can look to God for his love. But again there is a catch, That love cannot free us from whatever binds us unless we accept it and let it do its work in us. And it's not a once only thing, If my life is anything to go by there needs to be continual asking for God's healing grace which is free to us because of his great, boundless love.
To all of you - a blessed Australia Day. That we have so much to celebrate is a gift from God too.