13/06/2021

As you would know, on Saturday last week (the 5th June), I was elected by the Lutheran Church of Australia Queensland District Convention of Synod to serve as the full-time First Assistant Bishop.

This 3-year call from the church is deeply humbling. While I allowed my name to go forward as a part of the nomination process, to have the support of my fellow pastors from across the district to the level that mine was the only name to go forward still leaves me somewhat in disbelief.

The questions of ‘why me’ and ‘what have I got to offer’ though quickly dispel as I read through the scriptures of where time and time again God takes people, and uses them despite their faults and failures and feelings of inadequacy.

To be honest with you, I am both excited, but also a little bit daunted about the task that is in front of me, but I know that whatever that is, the Holy Spirit always goes with me guiding my way.

It was only when I was at the podium sharing some of these things with the delegates of Convention when I realised that this election means that I will be leaving this wonderful church in Ipswich where both Kelly and I have loved and been loved for 8 years.

I have built many relationships and friendships, and have been blessed to each and every one of you.

In terms of how this all plays out, in the email I sent I spoke about the transition happening over the coming three months. As I encounter the lasts of many things.

My final service is on the 18th July, which will be a combined farewell service at Bethany, Raceview at 9am. From there I will go on 3x weeks holidays, and be starting in the District Office on the 9th August. We are planning for my ceremonial installation service to happen on the 22nd August – but I will keep you informed.

Thank you all for your ongoing prayer, love and support. Not just during this time of transition, but across the many years of my service to you and our wider community. It is deeply appreciated, and I truly am grateful.

In His Service

Pastor Ben

06/06/2021

Advertising, really, if you dig underneath the surface a little bit, you could say that advertising is in the insecurity business.

The premise is simple enough: walk past a billboard, or bus stop shelter, or bus, or in the corner of your favourite website and there is an image of some A-list celebrity holding a can of engine oil alluringly, using the latest cashback shopping app, or drinking a new brand of high-energy sports drink, and the response it is trying to illicit from us is a “Where has this been all my life, I need that now!”

Within seconds, we scan the QR code and are counting the hours until we can relish the vast improvement to the speed of our Mitsubishi Lancer, see how much we’ve saved on our shopping, or waiting to take off with our new wings.

Advertising expresses the gap in our lifestyle while promising satisfaction and wholeness via the new product. At least until the new upgrade, or innovation, or until we realise that the old version was actually better.

And a lot of this is brought about because of our insecurity.

Many movies, well, maybe the movies that I like to watch, have the scene of an injured character, propped up against the warehouse wall. The hero then decides that they need to hunt down something to help them, and despite any pleas to the contrary, they leave the injured character alone. Meanwhile, the baddies, aliens, killer bees are at large.

This tension is bought about because of our common fear we have when we feel helpless, that we will be left behind.

Sometimes we wonder if God has done the same. Perhaps we wonder if he has better things to do with his time? Maybe we fear we have done something so terrible that we have blown it with him?

Paul in his letter to the Colossians reassures us that we do not have to be insecure, that we are not alone, we are not left behind. Paul does this by reminding us that we have been brought to Christ, and we are in Christ, and he does this by turning the thoughts of the Colossians, and our own thoughts to Baptism.

If all that Christ has done to this point were not grounds for confidence enough, this idea of us being buried and raised with Christ through baptism takes our union with Christ to a whole new level.

Paul points us back to our baptism, back to the public expression of what God has already done in our lives.

The logic we can follow is through our baptism we are united to Jesus. Therefore, where Jesus goes, we go.

He went to the cross, died and was placed in the tomb. Maybe this seems a bit ridiculous. You might be thinking, “I’m old, but I’m not two millennia old. I wasn’t there. I’m not dead.”

However, “through your faith in the working of God” we went with him so that we were indeed ‘buried with him’ through our baptism. Each one of us.

But like him, despite the stone and the Roman guards, we did not remain there. We too were ‘raised with him through our faith in the working of God’. If that seems unlikely, then remember that nothing could possibly be as unlikely as Christ’s resurrection in the first place.

So because God ‘raised him from the dead’, we can be sure that we are united to Christ. We can be assured that we are secure. We can be assured that we are not helpless or left behind.

The good news also is that it did not hurt when water was poured over your head (well I hope not), and the pastor pronounced your name in the saving name of Jesus.

But if we think more deeply about what Paul says, we are buried with Christ. And being buried with Christ means we must crucify our sins with Him. Any form of crucifixion is a painful experience, and it takes all the faith God can give us.

If our Baptism is to have everyday significance for us, reminding us that we are united to Christ, that we are secure, that we are not left behind, then there will be some spiritual sweat on our part, as we ask for an unwavering heart and a steady mind to live in our heavenly washing.

But because we get to begin and end each day with Jesus, it is also exciting, as we live in our baptism promise of Christ knowing that we are united to Him, that we are secure, and we are never left behind.