Each morning, my kind mother-in-law sends me a text with a Bible verse randomly aggregated from an app on her phone. On Monday 6th February, as I took my seat at the Priscilla and Aquilla Conference at Moore College, I received a text that read “I delight to do your will, my God. Yes, your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8). It was an appropriate text for me - a reluctant complementarian - to receive at a conference that 'focuses on the application end of complementarianism". It has been slow work conforming my culturally-conditioned desires and thinking to God’s Word, and the reluctance sometimes gets in the way of living out delightful obedience.
We read, in Luke’s gospel, that when the baby Jesus was brought to the Jerusalem temple to be consecrated, or set apart, for the Lord, in line with the Old Testament law, He was met by two elderly people who recognise Him as the long awaited Messiah: Simeon and Anna.
Anna was the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. We’ll circle back to this point soon – but it’s important to note that Biblical references to genealogy and geography are rarely without cause.
On Tuesday 22nd November we held our final session of The Living Room for 2022.
Libby Leach and Tori Handel from Harbourside Presbyterian graciously shared their thinking about “Growing Disciples of Jesus”.
It is the most famous teen pregnancy in the history of humanity.
The quiet life of a village girl is interrupted when an unexpected visitor – an angel, in fact. Not the infantile, adorable, red cheeked cherubs that occupy the collective imagination, but a terrifying, holy angel who must constantly remind those he visits, “do not be afraid!”
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus’ origin story begins with an angel’s declaration – to an old man, a priest in the Temple. The angel promised that Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, would soon be pregnant with a son, who would be their joy and delight and “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” And although Zechariah was a righteous man, he doubted the promise (understandable, when you consider that he and his wife were past their childbearing years).
Earlier this year, the PCNSW Elders and Deacons Committee distributed a discussion paper for the Presbyterian Church in NSW & ACT, entitled Healthy Complimentarianism, which offers a range of ideas about how we might better live out God’s good design for men and women in our churches in biblically faithful, and therefore, healthy ways...
Unhurrying Your Life
A Book Review by Sarah Bell
“How are you going? How is work? How is the family?”
If you are familiar with these small-talk questions and your usual response is anything along the lines of the following, then this book is definitely for you.
Our whole church recently worked through the devotion book “Growing in Prayer: Learning to pray with dependence and delight” by Stephen Shead. It is a small book with 28 Biblical reflections and four small groups. We worked through the reflections individually at our own pace andworked through the studies in small groups...
Resolved by the General Assembly of NSW on Wednesday, 13th July, 2022
That the Assembly...
Imagine for a moment a church community that is real about serving each other. That is committed to each other in the muck and mess of life. Imagine for a moment if you can, the leadership of the church walking with and caring for the church community in deep, practical, costly ways for the sake of the bride of Christ. At the heart of this church community, is a group of servant hearted, godly, men and women loving the church deeply as they serve. Who are these godly saints? They are the unsungheroes of the church. The deacons.
As you may recall, in 2021, the PCNSW Women’s Ministry Committee (WMC) distributed a paper and accompanying survey to PCNSW Presbyteries, Sessions and Churches titled “The Engagement of Women in Decision Making Processes”. We received 120 responses- very broad and varying in nature.
Some churches provided multiple responses from individual members, whereas some presbyteries provided a collective response, or no response at all. We were surprised to hear from a significant number of women who contacted us, off the record, disappointed that their church leadership would not engage in the discussion with them, or allow for the paper to be distributed in their church...
Every July the Women’s Ministry Committee makes a presentation to the General Assembly. For the first few years of our existence our emphasis in this report was how best to employ and support our Women’s Ministry Facilitators (Anna Moss & Sylvia Siu). But last year we distributed a paper throughout the state, “Co-Heirs and Co-Workers: The Engagement of Women in Decision Making Forums of the PCNSW” and this year we are planning to discuss the feedback we received from that report with the Assembly.
I've been thinking, recently, about the tenor in our voices: the wide eyed curiosity that comes in the voice of a child; the outrage in the voice of a teenager who is discovering injustice in the world; the passion and hope of a better tomorrow in the voice of a young woman; the fatigue and concerns that weary the young mum's voice; the sensibility and perspective that resonate in the middle-aged woman's voice; and all those different experiences and seasons meddled with hard won joy and wisdom in the voice of an elderly woman.
As I'm sure you're aware, the Women's Ministry Committee has been working with the PCNSW General Assembly to work out ways in which we can engage women's voices in decision making forums. And for me it has posed the important question: do I listen well to women's voices in the every day? Or do I dismiss them, as too immature' too old or too traditional...
In 1903 the NSW General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church resolved “to make investigation into the question of providing further facilities for women to engage in the work of the church, particularly in regard to the institution and training of deaconesses”.
In the years that followed, a spectacular ministry began. The Presbyterian Women’s Mission Association funded, trained and commissioned deaconesses, sending them out into the poorest Sydney communities, including Woollomoloo and Kings Cros . These weren’t easy times or quiet places. Much of this work began in the early years of WWI, and the deaconesses assisted families coping with their husbands/fathers away at war. It continued as the men returned from war, many of them with PTSD, their trauma impacting their families and communities. They served through the Spanish Flu and through the Great Depression, and continued their service – now multiplying in number – through the Second World War. Even through these difficult years, the ministry was supported – both financially and through prayer – by the newly formed Presbyterian Women’s Association (PWA)...
Her name isn’t even mentioned in the genealogy. Bathsheba is simply referred to as “the wife of Uriah.”
Perhaps because, as terrible as her story is, she’s not even the centre of her own story. Bathsheba’s experience exposes the wickedness of man and our need for a good king.
A Moabitess, in the genealogy of Jesus?
It should be unheard of.
The Moabites and Israelites were enemies - and distant cousins (tracing back to Abraham). The book of Numbers recounts their military and religious conflict (famously featuring a talking donkey), and the book of Judges recounts the cruel oppression the Israelites suffered under a Moabite king, who eventually came to a crude and comical demise...
We first meet Rahab in Joshua 2: Two spies enter Jericho in the cloak of darkness, but are soon found out. They come to the home of “a prostitute named Rahab”.
The king of Canaan sent word to Rahab, calling her to bring out the spies. She had to make a decision: would she hand them over? Or offer them protection?
He had just convinced his brothers to sell Joseph to Ishmaelite slave traders when Judah, son of Jacob, married a Canaanite woman.
Together, they had three songs. Their firstborn, Er, was married to a woman called Tamar. But Er died – the Bible tells us that he was “wicked in the sight of the Lord” – before he and Tamar could conceive a child. Without a child, Tamar would be destitute. She had left her own family to be married to Er, and had no means to provide for herself.
In order to continue the line of Er, and secure Tamar’s place in the family, Jacob’s second son, Onan, was instructed to act as a surrogate for his brother. But Onan was too selfish to provide an heir for his brother’s wife, and he was also put to death (by God) for his wickedness...