November 29, 2022

MESSAGE – First Sunday in Advent – A – 27 November 2022

MESSAGE – First Sunday in Advent – A – 27 November 2022

Thanksgiving Theme with BCA Deputation (Maroochydore 2022)

Slide 1

Thank you, Tania for the invitation to come and join you all today and for your welcome.

It is a real privilege to be allowed to speak on the day after the joyous official Grand Opening blessing of your new buildings.  And what I have to say later will be on the theme of thanksgiving as we continue on from what happened yesterday.

But before we get there …

As has already been said, my name is Mike Uptin and I am the Regional Officer for Bush Church Aid.  Some of you know me and some of you don’t.

Slide 2

I have been an Anglican minister for 20 years in this Diocese.  I am married to Sandra and have a son at university in Brisbane.  My current role as BCA Regional Officer is one which basically encourages Christians to partner with other Christians in the task of proclaiming God’s good news.

In this country, for me, part of that proclamation of God’s good news also includes an acknowledgement that God is the creator and sustainer of all things including this land on which we meet.  I recognise that He gave stewardship of it to our first nations people.  In his sovereignty he allowed other people groups to migrate to these shores.  I am thankful for the community we share now but acknowledge the culture of our first nations people and pay respects to their leaders, past, present and emerging.

Slide 3

I’m expecting that you know a bit about BCA because you are linked with the van’t Spyker family in Yeppoon but just in case, let me give you the Reader’s Digest (Twitter??) version.  One J, two N’s and three R’s.

J – The thing that has been the focus of BCA for 103 years is Jesus.  One of our foundational visions is reaching Australia for Christ.  We are convinced that every person needs the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news of his death and resurrection.  We are convinced that there is no other name by which we can be saved.  Every person we have supported and continue to support is a Jesus man or Jesus woman.

N – As part of our centenary celebrations a history book was produced.  The title of this book is Never Too Far; Never Too Few.

This is another of our foundational vision statements.  As a Christian Church we should never say to people who want to hear about Jesus or pray together or share the Lord’s Supper or meet for Bible study or gather for worship – we should never say, “No, I’m sorry it is too far for us to come.” Or “No, there are only 3 of you – it’s not worth it.”  As a mission agency we, at BCA, are committed to working with the Christian church to find ways of going the distance; no matter how far that may be.

R – As a mission agency, BCA is not focused overseas.  We are not focused on capital cities.  Our focus is primarily Rural and Remote Australia.  Sometimes we will support a ministry in a large regional centre which services rural and remote communities.

Slide 4

Now these are the people and the places that we are involved in my region.

I don’t need to tell you about the van’t Spyker family because they visited you earlier this year and they keep you posted with their newsletters.  Please continue to pray for them.  There are some big things happening over the next couple of months and they need strength and wisdom and guidance in all of it.

I could give you stories from other field staff but let’s save something to discuss over a cuppa after the service.

Slide 5

Now, in case you’ve forgotten let me give you a very quick whiz through how you can partner with people like Phillip, Jessica, Jasper, Tabitha, Otto and Corin – and others.

First thing is to get to know BCA a bit better.  There are information packs on the table, or brochures.  Feel free to take some and find out more.

Slide 6

The biggest part of partnership in the gospel is prayer.  Please pray for them, as I have asked.  But also pray for other missionaries around the country.  There are lots of ways you can pray – talk to me afterward.

Slide 7

Being a partner also means considering whether you can financially give – and at this point I want to say thank you to this church and many of you who give individually.  Over the last three years you have given nearly $12,000 to BCA to support the good news of Jesus going to rural and remote Australia.  I’ll say something more about that soon.

Slide 8

Finally, being a partner means considering whether you might go – as a gospel worker into rural and remote areas, as a nomad visiting and encouraging people out there, as a uni student on placement, as part of a career change.  Talk to me after.

Slide 9

So, there it is in brief.  Ask any questions afterward if I haven’t been clear.

Now let’s turn to God’s word so we might understand more of Him and more of us; and so that we can settle and focus our minds away from BCA and on to the scriptures, let me pray.

Prayer: Speak to us eternal God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Encourage and challenge us by your word this day.  And receive all the glory from these words and our thoughts and actions.  For Jesus sake.  Amen.

Slide 10

Psalm 122 Verse 1.

I was glad when they said to me “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

I wonder whether that is your experience?

When the weekly enews arrives and you’re reminded of what is on this week and that church is next weekend – are you glad?

When the alarm goes off on a Sunday morning so that you can get here on time – are you glad?

When Tania jumps up in front of you each Sunday and sings her “Good morning” – are you glad?

The Psalmist was.  Why? Because they were going to the house of the Lord.  Because they were going together.  Because there had been times when they couldn’t meet but now they could.  Because there would be people there that he didn’t see regularly but a couple of times a year he did.  Because he would be reminded of what God had done in their past and what God promised to do in their future.  Because, as he says in verse 4 – it is there that he and all the people of God would give thanks to the name of the Lord.  So, he was glad when they said to him – “Let’s go to church”.  Partly because it was a place where he and they would give thanks.

Are you glad?  Is this a place where you come to give thanks?

Sometimes it is hard to get up and get going on a Sunday but one of the things that coming together does, is give us an opportunity to give thanks for what God has done, is doing and will do.  Each Sunday service lifts our minds above the things that are happening up to our God who continues to provide us with all things good – both individually and corporately.  And to prove my point I thought I’d list a few things to give thanks for, for us this morning.

Slide 11

For the new building and those who helped over the years

Now you probably did this formally yesterday but it doesn’t hurt to do it again today.  We gather in these buildings this morning and they remind us to give thanks.  Give thanks to God for providing it.  Give thanks for those who have helped with this vision over the years.  Give thanks for those who gave so that this vision might be realized.  Give thanks for those who continue to give so that ongoing expenses can be paid.

I don’t know this place as well as you but I reckon as you look around you can see things made by past and current parishioners; plaques indicating things donated by past and current parishioners.  Every time you see them there is an opportunity to give thanks to God for them.

For the witness of this church on the Sunshine Coast

Sometimes it is hard to see whether you are making any difference here on the Sunshine Coast but I reckon if you put your mind to it you would see that there are new people who have come to Maroochydore Anglican over the years.  There are people who have heard about Jesus because of what you do each Sunday and what you do during the week.  Sure God hasn’t brought the entire population of the Sunshine Coast in these doors but let’s give thanks for those he has brought over the years and those who are here today.

For God’s provision

And in the midst of all of that we can give thanks to God that he provides.  He provides people and he provides funds for all of this to happen.  If you are like many other churches your leadership is going through the budgeting process for 2023.  It is easy to look at our budgets and see a deficit but maybe, in the first instance, we should look at them and give thanks that God provides the income that we have received and we expect to receive.  Rather than focus on the $1 we need to meet budget why not begin by giving God thanks for the $19 he gives.

For the Scriptures – our hope (Isaiah 2 and Matthew 24), our challenge and growth (Romans 13)

Every week this should be an item of thanksgiving.  God provides us with His word.  God provides us with what he wants us to know so that we can grow more like Jesus.  If we simply take our readings today we can give thanks for the hope that we find in the scriptures:

Isaiah 2 – there will be a time, says God, when we will all be joined together in worshipping God.  It won’t be like today where we are here and the Baptists are over there and the Catholics are over there.  There will be a time when we will all stream to the mountain of the Lord.  How that physically will happen I have no idea but God says it will happen.  And there will be a time when there will be no more war.  That is our future.  That is our hope.

Or Matthew 24 – that day is certain.  Jesus says that day will come.  There is no doubt that he will return.  That is our future.  And we can thank God for that.

We can also give thanks for the way in which God uses the scriptures to mould us into being like Jesus.  Matthew 24 tells us that the time is coming but no-one knows when so we need to be ready at all times.  Live like it could be today.  Romans 13 gives us help in being ready at all times – love; hold fast to what is good; serve the Lord; rejoice be patient, be constant in prayer.  Help others.  Show hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Every week, every day, thank God for the Bible.

For gospel partnerships around the country and around the world

We can give thanks for our partnership around the country and around the world.  We can give thanks for M and the fact that she serves Jesus with CMS.  We can give thanks for the va’nt Spyker family and the fact that they serve Jesus with BCA.  We can give thanks that we can be partners with them.

For BCA and our vision and God’s provision

Because I am here today and standing in front of you – you could give thanks for the 103 years that BCA has been going the distance to reach Australia for Christ.  You could give thanks for God providing through prayer and giving, over that 103 years, so that people can go out to rural and remote areas to help people know Christ and make Christ known.

For the gospel/Jesus

And maybe before any of these things we ought always to come to the house of the Lord in a state of thankfulness for the good news of forgiveness; for God sending his only Son; for the gift of the Spirit to guide.

I would think you could come up with many more but that is one of the reasons that the Psalmist was glad when others said to him – let’s go to church.  It was an opportunity to focus off himself and on to God and to thank God for lots and lots of things.  So it is with us.  As we gather this morning, let’s be glad, and let’s give thanks.

Slide 12

And let me ask God to help us as I pray this beautiful prayer from our prayer book.

Most merciful Father, we humbly thank you for all your gifts so freely bestowed on us.  For life and health and safety, for power to work and leisure to rest, and for all that is beautiful in creation and in human life, we praise and glorify your holy name.  But, above all, we thank you for your spiritual mercies in Christ Jesus our Lord, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.  Fill our hearts with all joy and peace in believing, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.