New Photos

See the new photos in the Multimedia Section.

Under Baptisms, John Hardie-Brown’s pics – at last!

More pics in the Wizard of Augz

And new ones from the Christmas Party and New Year 2011!

Enjoy!!

Photos

Look out for new photos which should appear on the site soon. John’s Baptism. More pics from the Wizard of Aug’z. More pics in the Christmas Part file. Finally, New Year 2011! Should be up on 3rd or 4th January! Enjoy!

Epiphany 2010

St Augustine’s  Epiphany 2010

Think of the disappointment these men must have experienced who through the night had travelled many miles by camel to discover that the star had come to rest over a stable. They had followed a star and found a stable. Surely they were expecting a palace. Or perhaps a stately mansion. Think how they must have felt. Their vast disappointment as they look down from some nearby Judean hill and came to the realization that their destination was a stable

Following stars and finding stables is a common occurrence in human experience. Who among us has not at some time in our life fixed our gaze on some high and lofty star only to find it leads to a stable.

Hundreds of examples could be given. A young person graduates from university full of great dreams and expectations about the future only to wake up one day and discover themselves unemployed or working far below what they would have hoped for. A common occurrence, these days!

A person comes to retirement age. They think of all the good things they’re going to be able to do. After a few weeks, or months, however, they begin to discover that retirement is not exactly what they thought it would be. There is often just not the sort of time they thought to be able to do what they dreamed of, or they just can’t afford it!

Or the wonderful holiday we looked forward to for months on end and it turns into disaster!

All of us at some time in our life follow a star only to discover a stable. The problem is how to turn that stable into a moment of salvation. What is it that enables wise men and women of every age to turn the stables of life into victory?

For one thing, they look for God in that stable. We could not have blamed those three men of old if they had just dropped their heads sadly and turned back toward home when they saw that their journey was to end in a stable. Perhaps, though, the thought came to them that the wonder and majesty of God and his purpose could be just as potent in the stable as in the palace.

The Bible is quite realistic about the stables that come to even God’s people. The difference between the Biblical person and other people is that the Biblical person never gave up on God. There are tons of examples if you think about them! Joseph and his dreamcoat is only one of hundreds!

The million dollar question is this….  Can you look at your own disappointments and see God’s power and purpose?

A man was justifiably proud of his beautiful lawn until one year a heavy crop of dandelions appeared. He tried everything he knew in an effort to get rid of them, but without success.

Finally in desperation, he wrote to The Royal Horticultural Society, listing the things he had tried, and concluded with the appeal, “What will I do now?”

Several weeks later, he received this reply: “We suggest that you learn to love them.” Maybe we can’t learn to love our disappointments, but at least we can ask whether some good may come from them. Look for God in that stable.

Secondly, wise men and women offer their best to God. The wise men knelt before the babe and offered him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The central problem with our lives is not that we have experienced more than our share of disappointments, but that we have not done the best that we could with what we have been dealt.

What do you do when you follow a star and find a stable? First of all, you look for God and His purpose, then you give your best to God.

But the crowning experience comes when you make your way back from that stable, back into the pattern of everyday living.

And so third, because of what happens in the stable, we need to take a new direction in our lives. The wise men took a different direction home because they were warned that Herod was going to try to learn from them where the new King lay, but we might see that this is always what happens when one encounters God and His purpose for life and attempts to give our best to God: rather than wallow in misery or disappointment, we need to change our attitude and be brave enough to try new things.

Disappointment can sometimes be the best thing that ever happens to us –  if it helps us to grow, to mature. The difference between mediocre folk and great folk is that great folk learn from their experiences -they learn and from their learning they gain new insights into their own needs and abilities. Thus, when they’ve picked themselves up, and dusted themselves off, they’re better people for their experience.

In 1951 some doctors in an Ohio penitentiary wanted to make an experiment. They believed that an operation on a man’s brain would change him and rid him of criminal tendencies. A prisoner in that prison submitted to the operation. But the operation was a failure. The man was released from prison, but soon he was back in again for forgery. In order for a man to be changed, he must have a changed heart.

How about your own life this morning? Is that what you’re needing most – a new direction?


That’s the glory of the gospel. That’s why the story of the first Christmas is called good news, because it has a way of transforming the coarse and commonplace into something significant and sacred.


So: have you followed a star only to come in the end to a stable? If you have, then, look for God there. You may be surprised at what you find.


Then, offer your best gift to God. He will use it in his Kingdom.


And when you leave, go home by another way. Don’t do what the Herods in this world ask you to do. These are the secrets of wise people of every age when they follow a star and find

Christmas 1 2010

St Augustine’s   Christmas 1  2010

It’s hard not to feel a little let down on the day after Christmas. A few days after Christmas one year I couldn’t help noticing that all the Christmas decorations and stuff at a local card shops had been removed. These decorations already had been replaced with Valentine’s Day trinkets and cards. Red boxes of chocolates, teddy bears with big hearts on them, red candles for romantic lighting.

The girl behind the counter was complaining to another of her co‑workers, “I hate Valentine’s Day,” she said. “I never have a boyfriend and I hate Valentine’s Day.” Happy Christmas, hen!

But in lots of ways that’s a wee parable!

“Nothing is as over as Christmas when it’s over. The empty boxes, the pretty paper on the floor, the stray tinsel from the tree with which the cat has played and left abandoned on the sofa. The bins are full of rubbish. Life has come back to normal, whatever that is.

Well, we haven’t moved that far from Christmas yet. We’re just one day away from celebrating Christ’s birth. But there is the inevitable letdown. So much was packed into the four weeks of Advent

We can talk about keeping Christmas all year long, but who could handle it? We don’t want Morrisons to be mobbed all year. And who could keep up the pace of eating? In fact, many of us you are already thinking of going to the Zumba or  planning our diets to begin January 2. The Slimmers lot do well in January!

Actually, we need a little respite from all the busyness, don’t we? Mary and Joseph weren’t allowed to reside permanently in Bethlehem and neither can we. It’s back to the real world. 

You know what happened to Mary and Joseph and the babe after Christ’s birth. After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. And they had to get moving!

But as they return to reality, there is a deep trust there. A deep trust in God after the days of the Shepherds and the Magi and all the rest!

The first thing we need to do after Christmas is to keep trusting God. 

The second thing we need to do is to take care of those we love. That was Joseph’s primary concern. He loved Mary and he loved their son Jesus and he was committed to doing whatever was necessary to keep them safe and to provide for them not only to provide for them materially, but emotionally and spiritually.

That is what we do when Christmas has passed. We keep trusting God and we take care of those we love not only materially, but emotionally and spiritually. We love them, listen to them, encourage them. We understand that they are God’s gift to us and we treat them with love and dignity. 

Jesse Jackson, one American I admire greatly, tells the story of a visit he made to the University of Southern Mississippi. While touring the campus with the university president, he saw a towering male student, six‑feet, eight‑inches tall, holding hands with a fidgety wee student, barely three‑feet tall. What a contrast, six‑feet, eight-inches tall and only three‑feet tall. His curiosity piqued, Jackson watched as the young man, dressed in a track suit, tenderly kissed the tiny student, and sent her off to class. 

The president said that the student was a star basketball player. Both parents had died when he was a teenager, and he made a vow to look after his sister. Many scholarships came his way, but only Southern Mississippi offered one to his sister, too. 

Jackson went over to the basketball star, introduced himself, and said he appreciated the way he was looking out for his sister. The athlete shrugged and said, “Those of us who God makes six‑eight have to look out for those he makes three‑three. Don’t you wish every young person could have that kind of love for his or her siblings? We live lives of faith and we look out for those we love. 

And that brings us to the last thing. What do we do when Christmas has passed? We remember the world to whom Christ came and for which he died. 

Why did Christ come into the world? One reason and one reason alone: Because, “God so loved the world.” That’s it. Christmas is centred in love. We want to keep the Christmas spirit all year long, because the Christmas spirit consists of loving our neighbour and loving God not just one day of the year, but all the year round. 

I want to tell you a haunting story told by author W. B. Freeman. 

A man was walking down a dimly lit street late one evening when he heard muffled screams coming from behind a clump of bushes. “Alarmed, he slowed down to listen and panicked when he realized that what he was hearing was the unmistakable sounds of a struggle heavy grunting, frantic scuffling, and tearing of fabric. 

“Only yards from where he stood, a woman was being attacked. He froze in his steps, hardly daring to breathe lest the attacker should notice his presence. But then a strange thought occurred to him: Should he get involved? 

“Frightened for his own safety, he cursed himself for having suddenly decided to take a new route home that night. He had family responsibilities; what if he became another statistic? He instantly had the urge to run to a safe place and use his cell phone to call the police. But he could hear the struggle becoming more desperate. 

“An eternity seemed to pass as he argued with himself. The deliberations in his head had taken only seconds, but already the girl’s cries were growing weaker. He had to decide and fast. How could he sleep at night if he walked away from this? 

“So he finally resolved that he could not turn his back on the fate of this unknown woman, even if it meant risking his life. 

“Known neither for his bravery nor for his athletic abilities, he nonetheless summoned up all the moral courage and physical strength he could muster. And once he had finally determined to help the girl, he became strangely transformed. He ran behind the bushes and pulled the assailant off the woman and wrestled with the attacker for a few minutes until the man fled. 

“Panting hard, he scrambled upright and approached the girl, who was crouched behind a tree, sobbing. In the darkness, he could barely see her outline, but he could certainly sense her trembling shock. Not wanting to frighten her further, he first spoke to her from a distance. ‘It’s okay,’ he said soothingly. ‘The man ran away. You’re safe now.’ 

“There was a long pause, and then he heard these words, uttered in wonder, in amaze­ment. ‘Dad, is that you?’ Out from behind the tree stepped his youngest daughter.”  

What if he had passed by that night? What if he had decided not to get involved? 

What I want to say to you on this Sunday after Christmas is this: We will only have the true spirit of Christmas when we understand that every child on this earth is ultimately our son, our daughter, our brother, our sister. It’s good that we take care of those we love.

However, as people of faith, the babe in Bethlehem’s manger calls us to expand those borders, to understand that the good of every person on this earth is our concern. 

So, Christmas is over, but living for Jesus may just be getting started for some of us. Trust God. Take care of those you love. Expand your love to all for whom God sent His son into the world.

And you will be rewarded. A hundredfold!

Christmas Day 2010

St Augustine’s – Christmas Day 2010

Once upon a time there was a little boy who was given the gift of a tin soldier for Christmas. For a while it made him happy. But then he thought it would be fun if the toy soldier came to life. Suppose he could really bring him to life? Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real person! It would involve turning the tin into flesh.

But then the boy wondered how the tin soldier would take to such a change? Suppose the tin soldier didn’t like it? Suppose he didn’t like the idea of becoming flesh, because to become flesh would open himself up to all sorts of hurt, and of course the greatest hurt of all. Death. No. The little boy decided that the tin soldier wouldn’t want that. He would think that you were killing him, and he would do everything to prevent that happening.

But this is what happened at the Incarnation. Jesus, the Son of God, became flesh like us.. Not only that, he became a baby,. And even before that a human foetus inside a woman’s body.

There you have the Incarnation. That’s the pattern of redemption. That’s the way of Atonement, At-One-Ment,  (God being at one with us in the babe of Bethlehem).

God entered the world on our terms. He wanted to feel the pain of our humanity. Here was no safe remoteness. Here was closeness, here was involvement at the deepest level.

Now we have a God who understands us when we speak to him about our pain.

In the Hindu Tradition, for example, Krishna and Rama are regarded as incarnations of God, but they are not described as having suffered and died. God does not really become human. He only appears in human form.  Behind this earthly appearance, he remains purely divine and unaffected by human vicissitudes.

However, the manger in Bethlehem speaks to us of something much more powerful, much more shocking, and much more use to us! In the Incarnation we celebrate today, God made himself present to us in the life of one who walked this earth.

Not a prophet, but God Himself!

When the Son of God came to earth, he clothed himself in the cloak of our weak, fragile, mortal humanity.

And by doing that, God has shown us that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that humanity! In that humanity he lived and suffered and died. And by rising from the dead, he clothed that mortal humanity with immortality.

The result for us is that, though we are made of flesh, we have a divine dignity.

As we look at the Baby of Bethlehem today, we need to thank God for joining us where we are, for becoming one of us, for becoming one with us! He does so in order to raise us up.

He humbled himself to share our humanity so that we can share his divinity, and that’s what makes Christmas so special.

This is the great joy announced to the shepherds. So let us open our hearts to receive it as we come to adore him, in the Christchild, and in the sacrament which he left for all of us.