Vicar's Blog

Football finals seem long gone – but a mercurial feat of the Dingley Football-Netball Club seems to have slipped under the radar. The achievement of 5 premiership flags in the one season is testimony to huge determination, planning and skill. Well done to all at the club who contributed to this result! We residents of Dingley will bask in your reflected glory….

Sports clubs such as this one do much more than pursue a moment of glory however. They offer their members community, nurture, direction, mentoring, practical support, comfort and hope amid many of life’s ups and downs. The discipline and team spirit forged within a club are character building blocks for life.

 

In certain important ways this type of community reflects what Jesus came to bring into being. His purpose was to forge a community of people whose love for God would be reflected in the care they took of each other, and who in combining their various God given abilities would strengthen that community to achieve its

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‘The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.’

This quote is derived from the works of GK Chesterton.

He observed from numerous perspectives the paradox that those claiming to be free of religious belief and authority inevitably fall prey to less credible and enduring ideas and ways of determining life values. Indeed, the most oppressive societies of the 20th Century were those based explicitly on the rejection of Christian faith. In order to assess the value of anything we need a standard to measure it against. The standard for a human life has for successive generations across many cultures been the life and teaching of Jesus.

In this light it is disturbing to see Special Religious Instruction (SRI) being squeezed out of school time in Victoria. What ideological base will the new values have? And Jesus is more than an objective, historical model. He claimed to be ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’ and that through relationship with him we could know God.

He

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As I write I am sharing vigil with my wife’s family at the bedside of her father, 99 plus years of life and labour on this good earth. There is grace and dignity in his consideration and gratitude to those who care for him in his dependency, and in the frankness of his clear expression of will. Nothing can take away from the prize of a life well lived. The devotion of his grandchildren, and of course his offspring, are testimony to this.

The overwhelming feeling is one of tender affection and privilege, of gratitude for the cultural and spiritual inheritance that is ours through him. Here is a man of faith who knows where he is going. He has served Jesus all his life and faces his own passing with confidence in the One whose love he has grown to rely on.

I am confronted with my own mortality, but fortified also by his confidence at the end. It is thankfulness that sustains us and bonds us, and he is the master of it. His words echo the psalmist – ‘my cup runs over…. and I’m drinking from the

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There has been a recent shift in the media marriage debate which the recess in government sitting appears to have given space for. The Irish and US decisions have provided momentum for proponents of same-sex marriage and enabled their advocates to present the appearance of inevitability about such change in Australian law.

Discussion is turning to the importance and practicalities of preserving freedom of conscience and religious belief alongside acceptance in law of same-sex marriage. The possibility, even desirability, of a two tier system separating civil and religious definitions and functions concerning marriage has been raised by prominent church leaders.

While it is healthy to see the debate becoming more thoughtful of the implications that such a radical transformation of government law would mean, it is a disturbing trend to witness the concessions and air of acceptance within part of the Christian community to the propaganda of inevitability. It also seems to me highly

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Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman popularised the concept of the ‘bucket list’ in the movie of the same name. Two men dying of cancer escaped from their hospital ward to fulfil their life’s dreams of all the daring things they would like to do before they died. With nothing to lose and limitless resources this made for an entertaining movie.

It also raises the question – if death is certain, (as it is for 100% of the human race) then surely the issue of where we might spend eternity deserves some focus before our time runs out.

Pascal’s wager# puts the matter clearly. For a believer, if God exists they have infinite gain in heaven. If not, they have insignificant loss. For a non-believer, if God exists, they have infinite loss with eternal separation from God; if not, they have insignificant gain. In a two horse race, it seems fairly obvious which side to put your money on.

At the very least we owe it to ourselves, and to those who love us, to settle this matter as well as we can

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