10 Minute Message
Lectionary Sermons Podcast in advance from St Stephen's Toowoomba. Reformed, evangelical but not fundamentalist attempts to struggle with the meaning of the Bible, life and faith.

Yet Again this Year St Stephen's is involved in the Easterfest Gospel in the Chapel and Stations of the cross.

See the official Easterfest site for Information about Stations of the Cross and for the  Gospel in the Chapel Program.

Our own version of the Stations of the Cross Program can be found HERE

For the events at St Stephen's with artist bioographies, click HERE.    

St Stephen’s Easterfest Programme

(51 Neil Street Toowoomba CBD Oppostite the Empire Theatre)

Saturday (Ticketed Events Only)

Sunday                 ALL FREE EVENTS

11:50 AM - Maliaka Choir

12:20 PM - Toowoomba Male Voice Choir

12:50 PM - Sapphire

1:30 PM - The Promise

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross will run twice:
Good Friday at 9:30 AM
Easter Saturday at 10:30 AM

Starting Point St James Anglican Church Mort Street Toowoomba

Category:Church Info -- posted at: 6:04 AM
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Focus reading: John 9:1-42 Download Audio File

 

This is a reposting of a sermon from 2011

All of us have blind spots about people. There are some groups of people who we don’t like or trust or look down on. Often this is quite irrational. I sometimes joke to Heather that people who have designer wall rugs "will be the first people lined up against the wall when the revolution comes." I can not understand why anyone would think it was a good idea to decorate a wall with patterned carpet. It seems both mad and pretentious. Perhaps it is, but I should not condemn or reject any person because of any one trait. In the time of Jesus people were often rejected because of a disability. Both Jesus’ followers and the Jewish authorities assume the man born blind is blind because of his sin or his parents’ sin. They also believe that he is trapped in that sin. In the end the Jewish authorities can not see past the man’s blindness and sinfulness. Only Jesus and the man who was blind can really see. Jesus sees the man as a child of God. The man sees that he is loved and healed by God in Jesus. The authorities are blind to all this and can only see the designer rug.

 

Questions for thought or discussion.

 

What groups of people are commonly discriminated against? Can you think of an example where you have assumed something about a person and been pleasantly surprised when you got to know them? How easy is it to look beyond a person’s exterior to their heart like God does? What makes this so hard for us? In what areas do we need to be healed of our blindness?

Tags: John 9:1-42 Blindness sight Pharisees belief heart Jesus RCL advance sermons disability intellectual believe  lent year A

Direct download: Lent_4a_2011_repost_14.mp3
Category:Sermons in advance -- posted at: 6:36 AM
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Leichhardt Patrol

What is the Uniting Church doing out bush?
Join us next Sunday 23rd March for a special service detailing the work of the Leichhardt Patrol

With the recent and continuing drought in Western Queensland and the impacts of mining along the Leichhardt Highway, life out there is pretty interesting.
Come hear Rev. Graham Slaughter of the newly established Leichhardt Patrol tell his story, talk about his work and lead our worship.

9am St Stephen's Toowoomba Uniting Church 

51 Neil St Toowoomba Australia

Category:Church Info -- posted at: 12:39 PM
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Focus reading: John 4:5-42  Click here for audio file.

It’s hard to see just how amazing the events of today’s Bible story are. So what if Jesus talks to a woman at a well and tells her that she’s been married five times. If it was me I don’t think I’d run into town and tell everyone I’d met the most important person in history, the great Spiritual leader, promised to our ancestors. I think I’d be inclined to say "mind your own business". BUT we need to understand the times. It was against all the rules for a Jewish spiritual leader to talk to a woman of another faith especially one who might not have the best moral standards. Jesus breaks all those rules. He not only talks to the woman - he even asks her for help. By his actions he says to the woman "you are valuable", you are important to me and to God. For me it is in faith and the idea that God loves me as I am that I find my ultimate value. All the other stuff, money, gadgets, health, body image, university degrees, etc. come second or third or fourth. Even family, Heather, Eli and Parker, as important and wonderful as they are don’t give me the same value as God in Jesus saying to me "I am the living water, poured out to quench your thirsting soul."

Questions for thought or discussion.

What do people do or use to make value or meaning in their lives? What are Australians thirsty for? (Eg Beer, flat screen TVs, owning a home...) How much satisfaction can these things bring? What do you think of the idea that family doesn’t give us as much value as God’s love in Jesus? If Jesus is the water of life poured out for me, for you and the woman at the well, what does this say about how valuable your neighbour, your family and even your enemies might be in God’s eyes?

Image credit: c-foto / 123RF Stock Photo

Tags: woman well Jesus thirst desert water faith emptiness John 4 5 faith evangelism good news women men marriage value self God RCL sermons advance

Direct download: MONO-000.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:51 AM
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Google search

In his Faith and Theology Blog 

"Google it: 20 questions Google can and can't answer"

Dr Ben Myers says that the #1 question google can answer is "Which is cooler, Gangnam style or tattoos?" 

I have serached for this a number of times and have not found an appropriate answer.

I therefore wish to present my own answer accross the internet.

Which is cooler, Gangnam style or tattoos?

Tattoos, especially the Edinburgh Tattoo because there are always bagpipes. 

 

Category: -- posted at: 2:45 AM
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Focus Reading: Gen 2:15-17; Gen 3:1-7, Matt 4:1-11 Click HERE for Audio File

Jesus is confronted by three temptations in the desert. He is tempted to look after his own physical needs, to serve himself but he looks to his relationship with God to provide. He is tempted to make a spectacle of himself, prove himself before others and all the world, but instead he trusts God rather than test God. Finally he is tempted to become a great ruler, a tyrant, to fit in with the way of the world, to worship power and strength. Perhaps this is the greatest temptation of all. It is the idol of idependence. We all want to be Kings or Queens or rulers. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden we want to say what is right and wrong for ourselves rather than accept that there is One outside us who is our ruler or accept that we need help from God or others. The most important thing in life is not power or independence, it is the power, providence, justice, love and mercy of God and the love and support of the neighbours he gives us. All these other things are idols which will consume our life. Only God gives and restores life and only God can be a subject or object of worship.

Questions for thought and discussion.

What do you find most tempting in life? What is the significance of Jesus’ rejectingtemptation?  Why do we give into temptation?

Image credit: Jonas Marcos San Luis 123rf.com

Tags: RCL Jesus temptation idol idolatry individualism lent wilderness

Direct download: Lent_1_A_2014.mp3
Category:Sermon not in advance -- posted at: 5:38 AM
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Focus Reading: John 3:1-17 Click here for   Audio File

The story of the snake being lifted up in the desert makes no sense. The story of Jesus being lifted up on the cross and giving us eternal life makes no sense either! Yet that is what this famous passage tells us is the truth of our life and salvation. Nicodemous finds it hard to understand and so do we. We think we have to do something like re-enter our mother's womb but that's not how it works. Being born again or from above is not about what we do it is about what God has done in us when we received Jesus by faith. This was the experience of the disciples, Paul and hundreds of millions of Christians down through the ages. It is my experience too.

Questions for thought or discussion.

What do you make of the story of the snake on the pole? What does it mean to be born from above or again? Describe your exerience of faith in Jesus? How do you understand the cross in relation to faith?

Direct download: Lent_2_A_2014.mp3
Category:Sermons in advance -- posted at: 6:42 AM
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Focus Reading: Luke 2:1-20       Click here: Audio File

There are variety of beliefs in our congregation about the Christmas story. Most of the members believe as I do that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a borrowed room, or to be more precise a stable. There are a few though who believe that the stories of the birth in the Bible are symbolic stories which like fable or fairytales tell us a symbolic truth. They are a reflection on what the second generation of believers thought about who Jesus was. I don’t share that view but I did just want to be a little brave today and mention that point of view with you all before doing talking about what I believe and how it can transform lives. For I believe that Love changes everything.

As I said a little earlier I have a much more conventional view of the first Christmas. I believe that from conception Jesus was both truly human and truly God. I believe in the Trinity - That God is eternally relational. The Son has always been the son of the Father and the Spirit has always been the one who stands alongside, the counsellor, or friend. The One who pours the love of God into our hearts and who brings Christ to mind as well as well as empowering and gifting the Church in order that it may be an expression or signpost to God’s presence. I believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus.]

[But] if you stop for a moment and think of the beginning of the Jesus story in human terms, it’s a remarkable story, but apart from the angels it’s not really a supernatural or magical story. A baby is born to a poorish family and laid in a feed trough in a small village. And the only other witnesses are some animals and some shepherds. This baby boy grows up to be a man, he becomes a rabbi, a teacher, and for a time has a significant following and then he dies alone on a Roman cross. We quite rightly think of the cross as something special, but it was a common means of execution. Anyone who was a murderer or a rebel against the Roman Empire could be put to death on a cross and years later under the Emperor Nero it is said that whole streets were lined with Christians nailed to crosses falsely accused of starting the fire that destroyed Rome.

The life of Jesus began with birth and ended in death and this happens to all human beings and will happen to us, our lives began with birth and will end in death. What makes the life and the death and the birth of Jesus different is that it not only reveals but it gives us the love, grace and forgiveness of God. More than that it gives us new life.

There is a Christmas carol which puts it like this. Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine. Straight after the sermon I’m going to get Heather my wife to sing a secular song, which says it another way. Love changes everything, nothing in this world will ever be the same. 

I believe that lots of things in this world have changed because God truly became one of us in Jesus. I believe that things such as free education, the abolition of slavery, the notion of the equal dignity of every human being that there is no distinction between jew and gentile slave or free male or female for all are one in Christ Jesus and various civil rights movements that have followed it, all began in Jesus. I believe that when this baby grew up and touched and healed the leper and ate with the tax collectors and the prostitutes that God was touching. sitting and eating with people like us.

More than this I believe when he confronted the crowds and the religious authorities and said you must love your enemies, turn the other cheek, have compassion on the needy and do not serve yourselves it was God saying it. Saying it to them and to us - we are all sinners, condemned for our lack of love. We all need forgiveness. In a profound way on Christmas Day compassion entered the world, in a way it had not been there before. I believe that when he said from the cross father forgive them God was saying it, saying it for all of us whose sin brought the Son to the cradle and to the cross.

Love changes everything. We remember the shepherds in the story we just read as good figures but there would have been some Jewish people who would have been shocked that they were the first witnesses. Shepherds had to work on the Sabbath, they had to work away and could not get to the Synagogue, they could not get to Jerusalem for the major festivals as good Jews were required to do. They were unclean. Yet they witnessed God in a feed trough. The creator of the universe become part of creation. They witnessed the Love of God in human form. Today instead of despising them we honour them as the first evangelists. Dirty grubby shepherds witness the glory of God. A feed trough becomes throne, a cross becomes the sign and instrument of our forgiveness and God’s love and a tomb becomes the place where we receive new life. Love changes everything.

I don’t know about you but there are times when I feel like a fraud. I feel like the grubby shepherds or the like a run down stable. I see all my faults and all my failures. I see the struggles I’ve had over the years with self esteem. I see that by worldly standards I have not been a great success. Who am I that God should trust me with this message of reconciliation. I’m sure there are some of you, even some of you who have been very successful in work or life who sometimes feel the same. The message for you, is that love changes everything, the stable is a palace, the feed trough is a throne, the dirty shepherds are the first evangelists and you and I are the bearers of the Good News - we, all the members of the church from the pew sitter, to the leaders and elders, ministers pastors and priest , sinners though we are, are the Children and the temple and the messengers of God. For every person who has faith in the baby in the manger, love truly does change everything.

Direct download: Christmas_2012-13_pod.mp3
Category:Sermons in advance -- posted at: 12:43 PM
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Readings Isaiah 7:10-16, Romans 1:1-7, Matthew 1:18-25

For King Ahaz in ancient Israel facing invasion from the Syrians and for Joseph living under Roman occupation with a fiancé pregnant before marriage there may not have been much hope around. Into the middle of this uncertainty both Ahaz and Joseph are promised a child. The child will be God’s sign of hope and presence with his people. The Syrians never captured Jerusalem, and today the baby born to Joseph and Mary 2000 years ago is revered by at least a billion people. Any birth, but especially a birth in troubled times is a sign of hope. Our times have their own troubles but Heather & I have chosen to have children. Because of the Child born 2000 years ago we believe there is a real hope for Parker & Eli as well as ourselves and our church.

 

So whatever it is you are considering doing that may have long term implications - if it’s a good thing like planning to have a child... buying a house... starting a business... or doing some study... don’t let uncertain times stop you - there is a future. There is hope. God is with us. God saves. And the child who was promised and born 2000 years ago and the grown Man who has promised to return - Jesus, is the sign and promise of that future and that hope.

Direct download: Advent_4A_2010-13.mp3
Category:Sermons in advance -- posted at: 12:22 PM
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Readings Isaiah 35:1-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11        Click for: Direct download of audio.

The Uniting Church is a Bible based church. The church’s foundation document puts it like this: When the Church preaches Jesus Christ, her message is controlled by the Biblical witnesses.

                In other words our speaking about Jesus, life for him, and worship of Jesus must be based on the Bible. Jesus must be the Jesus first of the Bible, not the Jesus of our experience, or the Jesus of our expectations.

                In today’s reading from the Gospel (Matt 11:2-11) - we hear that Jesus didn’t fit John’s expectations. Jesus mixes with people who do not obey the Law like prostitutes, and tax collectors, and he touches lepers. He works on the Sabbath. There is a real contrast between John and Jesus in their personal life styles. John was a tea-totaler- perhaps even a bit of a wowser. Jesus drank wine and enjoyed a meal.

                This sort of Jesus and the God he re-presents won’t always make us comfortable and do what we want or expect but he will always love us. He won’t fit into the box we make for him - he’ll break it and re-make it. But this is the God, (and for most of us the Jesus), we worship - the Jesus of the Bible.

 

Questions for thought or discussion.

How does your image of Jesus fit with the Jesus of Matthew 11:2-11? In what ways is your image of Jesus one which is “too comfortable”? What would the world be like if we generously welcomed all to our table as Jesus did? What would the world be like if we shared Jesus’ invitation to the table with all whom we meet?

Direct download: Advent_3A_as2010_repodcast.mp3
Category:Sermons in advance -- posted at: 5:26 AM
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