Monday, 8 December 2014

A celebration of God's goodness

Well, it has been a little over two years since I started irregularly attending St Judes in Parkville (St Judes). I must be honest and say that even though I am a Christian, I always find attending churches to be a somewhat harrowing experience, and even churches that I have been to for quite a while I sometimes still feel quite uncomfortable attending on a Sunday morning (or afternoon). However, for some reason, St Judes has had an effect upon me which has kept me coming back time and time again. Granted, I am a bit of a loner, and I understand that that is the way that God has made me (and I'm sure he has made me that way for a purpose), but for some reason, despite my apprehension, every time I walk through that door I feel like I am part of a family.
I probably shouldn't say that St Judes in Parkville is a new church, it is around four years old now, however it was a church plant from the main church located on Lygon Street in Carlton. We meet in the dinning hall of the Ridley Theological College in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Parkville, a 10 minute tram ride from the city centre (for some reason, Parkville reminds me a lot of North Adelaide).
Ridley Melbourne
Not what you would expect from a church

Normally the church has two services, one at 10:00 am (mostly catering to young families) and one at 5:00 (for those of us who don't have children to put to bed early), however once a year we all come together for a combined service to celebrate the year and the blessings God has poured out on us. Okay, maybe there are a lot of us who are going through a difficult time (I know I have at times), but what I have discovered is that it is good, even when one doesn't feel like celebrating, to sit down and try to put things into perspective. This is certainly something that I have learned over the two years that I have been attending the 5:00 pm gathering, and I have come to understand that there are always things that we can celebrate, even if it is that we have just survived another year.

Deb Sugars and James Hornby - These two have been such an encouragement.
This year James Hornby (the pastor, who by the way has just been fully ordained) spoke on Psalm 66, which helped us reflect on what God has done for us over the year. However, the psalm goes beyond that, encouraging us not to reflect inwardly, but outwardly to others, calling them to see how God has worked in our lives. In fact, it is not just the good things, but the struggles that we face as well, because even the psalmist is exhorting the people to see how God was with him, despite everything seeming to be against him.
Psalm 66: 5-15
Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
My Buddies
Here are five good friends that I have made here.
So, much has changed since I first nervously walked into the door that first time (and didn't return for about two months). I have since been invited to participate in a regular Bible Study Group, and I also spent a week wondering around the streets of Melbourne with a small group, learning about the various ministries operating therein. I also cannot forget to mention the two camps that I also attended.
It certainly has been a year (or rather two) of change and growth, and I am certainly grateful that God has led me to this wonderful community, and while we can never truly know what the future may bring, I shall certainly be looking forward to my continued fellowship in the new year.

Come and See what Good has done: Copyright Jonathon Hoevenaars. Used with permission.

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