A Real Mother's Day

Written by Anthony Douglas on Sunday, 13 May 2012.

It is of course Mothers Day, the day set aside for us to think of our mothers, and thank our mothers. When mums have done well, we can be grateful to God and glad of how we’ve been cared for. And it’s nice to be prompted to offer a mum the praise she deserves: mothering is hard work and deserves recognition.

But in our haste to lionise the family lioness, do we risk sometimes going too far? Do we paint a picture of our mother that is too airbrushed, too glowing - as if to say, unless you reach this unreal standard, you aren’t doing it right? Worse, do we so exclude those who already struggle with the grief of infertility, or of children lost too young, that we pour salt onto their already raw wounds?

hannahIt is worth reminding ourselves that the Bible’s take on motherhood is unstintingly honest. For every Proverbs 31 wife there’s a scheming Rachel or unfaithful Gomer. The one who sets the benchmark, I’d argue, is not Mary, but Hannah (who Mary echoes in many many ways). Hannah is stricken, desperate, distraught, faithful, patient. She is in so many ways admirable...but she sees it differently. She calls herself simply the Lord’s servant; her glory is not in her ability, or her godliness - it is God who has raised her up. She is poor and needy; God is the one who can aid her.

Being a mother is hard. It means failing, over and over ... and getting up again, trusting in God to work through you and in spite of you. Today, let us honour those mothers who live and love in faith, for exactly that. Not for being Supermum, but for being simply a mum who rejoices in God.

The Well Worn Path

Written by Anthony Douglas on Sunday, 06 May 2012.

There are some parts of God’s Word that we tend to read more than others; we know John better than Judges, Mark better than Micah. This of course means that we are depriving ourselves of good things, but it isn’t always obvious how that is so.

Missing out on or even just tending away from Scripture is one thing, and we tend to be aware of it. It’s something we can address, if we put our minds to it. And it’s something that we try to keep an eye on at church, balancing our diet as far as what portions of the Bible are read and preached on over the years.

a-well-worn-foot-path-through-green-woodsThe greater danger is the one that lies hidden: our familiarity with those passages and books we know well. I’m not suggesting that it’s bad to know and love God’s Word! And yet, if we do not guard ourselves, we can fall prey to an arrogance that presumes that we’ve grasped a passage in all its fullness. Indeed, we can so love a chapter for the many great treasures that God has revealed in it that we may value it only for what we’ve found there, and beyond them it has no other use.

When we tread the well worn path through the Scriptures, we must do so in humility and confidence: honoured that we are again permitted to look into God’s heart, and eager to see what ‘new treasures as well as old’ we will find in his storeroom (Matt. 13:52). Think you know Genesis? It may be time to think again!


Matchless Creativity

Written by Anthony Douglas on Saturday, 05 May 2012.

The model of a galleon below was constructed entirely of toothpicks and wood glue by one Scott Weaver, a native of San Francisco. There’s no string, no dowel, no fabric - just toothpicks. Scott’s been building sculptures out of toothpicks since he was eight years old, and as you can see, over forty years of practice can make you pretty good at something.


He’s understandably quite proud of his work. This galleon is not his most complex construction; his magnum opus is a 9 foot tall abstract sculpture of his home town, through which it is possible to roll a ping pong ball along four distinct routes, to ‘tour’ the city. It took 100,000 toothpicks, around 3000 hours (he works fast), over a period spanning 34 years (or perhaps not).

But the measure of this creator’s love and pride is not the hours, nor the expense, nor the size: it is simply that he values what he creates. God took six days, used nothing more than his breath and some dirt, and created a universe. The thing that matters, though, is that he loves what he has made, so much so that he was prepared to die for it.

And no wood glue either: ‘in him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:17) I’m glad he decided to stick with us even after we turned our backs on him!

Chosen At Random

Written by Anthony Douglas on Sunday, 22 April 2012.

There’s plenty of fun to be had playing with oxymorons: pretty ugly, military intelligence, old news, Microsoft Works. The list goes on, and on, and on - from absolute possibility to zero deficit. Ain’t English grand?

But the headline above the last paragraph wasn’t what it says it was. I spend a little time each week on this front page, attempting to write something that’s interesting, edifying, and stimulating. I choose my words carefully, or I try to.

I don’t get together a committee, a panel of experts, or a theological faculty. And I’m therefore not disappointed that these bulletins likely help keep our recyclers in business once their usefulness is done.

All my labours are as nothing, though, compared to what brought us our creeds. Some, we know, were hammered out by scores of theologians, weighing each word, debating meaning, with their lives literally on the line. Others have their origins hidden in a gap in history. All, however, have stood the acid test of the passage of time, and that is due both to the providence of God and the power of their well-chosen words.coins

Take ‘the Father Almighty’. To the cynic, an oxymoron; to the believer, a profound statement of the compatibility of love and distance, power and service, otherness and connection. Such coins have two sides for a reason, and they are doubly precious.

Climb Every Mountain

Written by Anthony Douglas on Friday, 28 January 2011.

Fifty years ago, Tony Bennett and Shirley Bassey were both making money from a tune from a new Rodgers and Hammerstein musical called The Sound of Music. ‘Climb Every Mountain’ was written as the climax to the first act of the show, as an exhortation to young Maria to face up to her future. It’s a time of challenge and change, but Maria is to ‘climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow’ until she finds her dream.

Here at St Peter’s, we have a mountain (Coolangatta), a stream (the Shoalhaven), and … if not a rainbow, then the promise and command of God to serve him where we are, and he will be with us. Our ‘dream’ is to stand as a beacon, shining the light of the gospel into the hearts and minds of the people of this town, and this year is indeed the start of Act II for our church, now that we have become our own parish.

It will be a year of both challenge and change, but one that we are glad to face together. So, come on, strap on the hiking boots, and let’s get going!

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