Letter from the Vicar and Notices

From the Vicar…
My dearest brothers and sisters,
What are we then to do?
Those who were hearing John the Baptist’s fiery message were worried. What can we do to be safe? How can we avoid being thrown into the fire?
John the Baptist had a certain understanding of what the coming Messiah would be like. He had heard from God while he was in the wilderness what the Messiah would be like; he knew from reading the prophets what the Messiah would do. John saw the Messiah as bringing a final judgement.
His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. But Jesus’ message is far more radical. Judgement as not an end, but rather a beginning. The fire that Jesus speaks of is not one of punishment, but rather purification, not annihilation, but redemption. Judgement is no longer the last crushing word of a failed life, but the first word of a new creation. Jesus lived this life with those whom the religious establishment had regarded as outsiders and sinners, those who were thought of as enemies of God. He did not wait for them to repent, to become respectable, or to do works that would redeem themselves or gain divine forgiveness. He just forgave them.
Radical. Everything is reversed. You are forgiven, now you can repent.
God loves you, now you can look upon God.
You were enemies of God, and God accepts you.
There is nothing you must do to earn this.
You need only accept it. This is radical stuff, and it is no surprise that John sent his disciples to ask if Jesus really was the Messiah. It is no surprise the religious authorities wanted to kill him. It is no surprise that billions of people have heard this message and have encountered the love of God in their lives, even when they were so-called enemies of God. So the answer to those first hearers of John the Baptist’s preaching, the answer to their question, “What are we then to do?” is simple.
You don’t need to do anything to earn your way out of the fire. It is easier than that. You only need accept the fact that God loves you.
Peace be with you all.
Father Chris

Parish Notices

  • Parish financial update for October:
    Income $13,546 Expenditure $21,473 Deficit $7,927
    For donations deposit into account number 03 0855 0263594 000
    Account Name St Michael’s Churchwardens
  • CWS Christmas Appeal Envelopes are available today.
    Please return in the collection at one of the Christmas services.
  • Service of Nine Lessons and Carols: tonight at 7:00 pm.
    Supper in the hall afterwards, please bring a plate.
  • Children’s Crib and Carol Service: Thursday 5:00 pm.
  • S. Michael’s calendars are now current, as they include December 2018. $20 each,6 for $110 or 11 for $200. Cards blank, 8 assorted or 8 Christmas for $10.
    Available after the 10:00 am Mass, or from the parish office during the week.
  • Vicarage Building Fund Christmas Raffle prepared by the Women’s Fellowship. Absolutely last opportunity to purchase your tickets in the hall after Mass this morning. Raffle drawn today. Please support the Building Fund and the effort that has been put into preparing the wonderful prizes.
  • The Oxford Terrace carpark will be closed for repairs Monday to Wednesday.
  • Christmas Flowers: monetary donations are now being gratefully accepted by
    Bridie (parish office) or Gloria Moyle.
  • Working Bee for brass cleaning etc: Saturday 10:00 am.
  • As we prepare for Christmas, ‘May we remember those who have no
    families, no place, and no-one with whom to share a Christmas dinner.’
    This Christmas the City Missioner is again appealing for generous
    contributions of food and soft drink for the Christmas Dinner,
    and for gifts (unwrapped please) for children, young people and adults.
    Some suggestions: toiletries, books, toys, playing cards, caps and sunhats, t-shirts, socks, bags. Small gifts may be placed in the box at the back of the church; larger or perishable items should be taken directly to 276 Hereford St.