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Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries

 

Eph 4:17-24

The Great Resignation

Have you heard of the so-called GREAT RESIGNATION? In Europe and the USA many people are choosing not to return to their pre-Covid employment situations. Some cite frustration with overbearing bosses, and abusive workplace conditions. Others, a sense of meaninglessness having reflected during lockdowns on the hard labour they gave for someone else’s gain.

One interviewee said recently, “Life is more than working for a few dollars in cold, heartless workplaces for someone else’s profit.” (remember that most of the world’s poorest labourers have no such relative freedom as to choose to leave their jobs.) Such words must send chills through the captains of industry who hope to see company profits rise again.

The pandemic has pressed a hidden reset button in many lives, leaving:

  • a latent frustration and anxiety that just won’t dissipate,
  • or a gnawing dis-ease about society’s wrongs and dysfunctions producing a deep yearning for something better; a return to “normal” isnot enough!

REFLECT: Do either of the above resemble your feelings at times? Have you felt a sense of futility or purposelessness, hoping for something more than this?  (I’m referring only to momentary and occasional experiences of existential anxiety. If you experience recurring feelings of emptiness or despair please do seek help from appropriate medical and psychological professionals.)

Seeking Refuge       Audio

Joshua 20

You may wonder what this short passage has to do with the conquest of the land. Is it just a bit of padding added in to make up the 250 pages requested by the publisher? Well, no, in fact it’s an important piece of civil ordering for the nation of Israel.

You often hear people complaining about the violence we see in the Old Testament. You may be one of those people. We cringe at the thought of an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” It all sounds so barbaric.

Yet, how do people deal with personal injuries inflicted on them by someone else in a world where there’s no police force, no criminal justice system, no courts? One way people deal with it is by the vendetta, seeking vengeance for an injury done to them. But a vendetta, as you probably know, soon becomes a blood feud. It’s often between two families or clans, begun because of an injury by one person to a member of the other family that needs to be avenged. But it easily escalates to the point where each injury is repaid by a greater injury. And the justice of the situation soon becomes irrelevant. You knock out my tooth and I’ll come back with my big brother and knock out two of yours. You kill my sheep and I’ll kill your cow. You kill my brother and I’ll kill your children. It’s like an episode from some crime series, except there’s no police force to help you. The only law is the law of the jungle. The stronger or the more organised will always win.

But what if you want to have a people who’ll live justly among themselves? What if you were God setting up a civil law for your newly formed nation? How would you do it?

Hope for the future - The Prophets

Isaiah 40:1-11
Mark 1:1-8

First Sunday in Advent

Reader: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness -- on them light has shined... For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:2, 6)

Reader: Today we remember the prophets of old, who demanded to be heard, who dared to speak of a child to come, unexpected liberator of the people, vulnerable incarnation of the Holiest of Holies, a new name for God.

People: Today we give thanks for the prophets among us, who bring to us surprising new visions of hope, who challenge us to think outside the box, who show us a future we never anticipated.

Reader: On this first Sunday of Advent, we light this candle as a symbol of the prophets who renew our faith and remind us of what may be. (Light a purple candle.)

 

Hope in confusion -Joseph

Luke 2:1-5
Romans 5:1-5

Second Sunday in Advent
Reader: "In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David" (Luke 2:1,3-4).

Reader: Today we remember Joseph, worn-out traveller and worried husband, doing what was necessary for the sake of his family, the burden of poverty stifling his hope in the promise of God. There was no room for him, yet he knows to whom he belongs.

People: Today we give thanks for the Josephs among us, migrating far from home when there is no choice, fiercely devoted to the ones they love, unwavering in their belief that there is room for all in the kingdom of God.

Reader: On this second Sunday in Advent, we light the second candle as a symbol of Joseph, who knocks at the door, ready to take his place among royalty. (Light two purple candles.)

 

Hope for the marginalised - Mary

Luke 1:26 – 38
Luke 1:46-55

Third Sunday in Advent
Reader: "And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name'" (Luke 1:46-49).

Reader: Today we remember Mary, innocent and powerful, sacred and scared, worried and waiting as the Savior of all grows in her womb. She sings boldly when she might be meek; she bears her role in history with the confidence of a warrior; she is the beginning of a mighty revolution as the proud are brought down and the lowly lifted up.

People: Today we give thanks for the Marys among us, who step out of the roles society has planned; unintended pioneers determined to do as God asks; fearless and fearfully stepping out in faith, and beckoning us to do the same.

Reader: On this third Sunday of Advent, we light this candle as a symbol of Mary, mother of Jesus, bearer of the Way. (Light two purple candles and one rose candle.)

 

Hope in the ordinary - Shepherds

Luke 2:8-20
Titus 2:11-14

Fourth Sunday in Advent
Reader: "In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people'" (Luke 2:8-10).

Reader: Today we remember the shepherds, workers for the common good, steadfast watchmen isolated and alone, far from the warmth of home, doing the job no one wants. And yet God saw them, God valued them, and God declared the greatest news of all to them alone.

People: Today we give thanks for the shepherds among us, back-breaking laborers on whom our economy stands, those we overlook or rarely see, yet rely on for our very survival, the ones who have much to teach us about watching for God in the darkness.

Reader: On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we light this candle as a symbol of the shepherds, agents of the gospel and redeemers of the world. (Light two purple candles, the rose candle, and the last purple candle.)

 

Hope is born - Jesus

Luke 2:1-7
1 Peter 1:3 - 9

Christmas Eve
Reader: "While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger" (Luke 2:6-7).

Reader: Tonight, angels far and near sing tender lullabies; well-worn fabric full of years holds in the warmth of parental love; animals and shepherds crowd in tight, glowing with adoration, while a muffled cry squeezes out to greet the world.

People: Tonight we give thanks for every child among us. Each new birth -- regardless of circumstances -- reminds us of the preciousness of life, the potential of tomorrow, the promise of God.

Reader: On this Christmas Eve, we light the Christ candle for the child-King, the infant-Redeemer, the lowly-Lord. And now we know . . . He is born and nothing will ever be the same! (Light all candles.)

 

What Happens When We Fail?       Audio

Joshua 7-8

Jericho has been destroyed. The people are no doubt rejoicing at how well the battle has gone and now the next stage is to climb the pass to where the city of Ai stands defending the entry into the hill country of Canaan. But things don’t go quite as well as they imagine.

If you skipped over the first verse of ch 7 you might think that Joshua and his spies have been a bit over-confident following the triumph at Jericho. After all they only send 3000 men to attack Ai without really knowing what awaits them. Some commentators suggest that the problem was that Joshua didn’t stop to ask God for guidance. That’s certainly the case in a couple of chapter’s time when the Gibeonites trick him into accepting them as members of their community. But it’s not the case here.

The text tells us clearly what the problem is. A man named Achan has taken some of the booty from Jericho, things that had been devoted to God, and as a result God’s anger has burned against the Israelites.

Joshua’s actions are those of a good leader. He listens to the advice of the spies and sends a small battalion to attack what appears to be a weak city. But they’re totally defeated! And he can’t understand it. What’s gone wrong?

 Hope for the future    Audio

Is 40

One of the major themes that have run through the media this year has been the sense of isolation and pain caused by such a long period of lockdown and disconnection. What we’ve longed for is some sense of comfort and relief. So where do we look for comfort? Well some of us have probably looked to food, as testified to by the daily recipes in The Age, not to mention our expanding waistlines. But we probably also acknowledge that that’s not the most positive way to seek comfort. The people of Israel, suffering not lockdown but exile, felt a similar sense of isolation and disconnection; not from one another but from their land. And so God speaks to them, offering comfort through a promise of rescue. His words are addressed to Israel but are equally helpful for us, struggling in a fallen world, longing for release. His words are gentle. He says “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” Literally, “speak to her heart.” The way lovers woo each other, speaking sweet nothings to one another, wooing, persuading, inviting a response of love. But it’s a cry that holds real hope: “Cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord's hand double, for all her sins.”

Sometimes we have trouble hearing when God speaks to us, but here the prophet is told to speak with quiet words of love and a loud shout of proclamation. Whatever it takes they’re to hear this message: ‘Comfort, Comfort!’ and believe that it’s true.

Overcoming Obstacles by Faith     Audio

Joshua 5-6

It’s interesting to reflect on the importance of symbols. I wear a wedding ring on my left hands as a symbol of the lifelong commitment I’ve made to love honour and cherish my wife. In your workplace you may wear a name badge or lanyard as a symbol of your right to be there. When I was growing up people would wear a symbol like a Mercedes Benz icon with an extra vertical line at the bottom as a symbol of their desire for an end to war. This week you may well have seen images of the 911 memorial on the World Trade Centre site set up as a symbol of the nation’s stance against terrorism and as a reminder of those who died in that attack 20 years ago.

Well, as we progress through the book of Joshua you’ll find that symbols play an important part in the telling of the story.

Two weeks ago we heard about the crimson cord used by Rahab as a symbol of her faith in the God of Israel; last week we heard about the pillars of stone set up by Joshua as a reminder of their crossing of the Jordan, as a symbol of God’s presence with them as they enter the promised land; and today we begin with two even more significant symbols for Israel.

Ambassadors for Christ Audio

2 Cor 5:14-21

Well, it’s a big day for these five ordinands as they commit themselves to ordained ministry in the church as well as for George as he takes up a pivotal role as Archdeacon, but it’s also an opportunity for the rest of us to be reminded of what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ.

As I read through the passage from 2 Cor 5 that we’ve just listened to I was struck by three statements that are particularly appropriate to an occasion like this.

No longer for ourselves but for Him

The passage begins by reminding us that Jesus died for all and that his death draws us in, so we too have died with him. The first thing that struck me was the conclusion that’s drawn from this. It’s there in v15. Jesus died so we could live; but not just live. The gospel has much greater ramifications than us simply being saved to new life. The gospel is much more countercultural than that: “He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” As I used to say to the kids in the youth group at church: “It’s not just about you.”

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