Pastoral Letter 114

Dear Members of St. Andrew’s Uniting Church, Friends and Adherents,

Grace and peace to you all.

On Easter Sunday, we celebrated the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, proclaiming His resurrection and the good news that “He Is Alive!”.  We celebrated with great joy and glorified God with songs and praise, worshiped and gave thanks to God the Father, who raised His Son to give us hope for eternity.

This Sunday we dedicate our service to the memory of the ANZACs, as well as the Armenian Genocide. We will remember, honour and pray for them and promise to keep remembering them for the great sacrifice they did.

If you will not be able to join us to our face-to-face service, you can worship with us at home. Please light a candle and follow the attached Order of Service.

Be safe and well, continue to pray, remembering those who need care, support and love and let us know if any member of the congregation that you know of needs our help and prayers.

Here are some more prayer points for this week:

  1. Pray for all those who have gone before us and especially the heroic ANZACs.
  2. Pray and remember the one and half million Armenians who were brutally killed and massacred.
  3. Pray for the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, the struggling and the stressed.
  4. Pray for world peace and ask for God’s blessings.
  5. Pray for the hope that God gives.

Please let me know if you or anyone else has prayer points.

Best Regards,



Life and Hope

Romans 8:18-25

On 25 April, we collectively remember those who served our nation bravely in wartime; we reflect on their commitment, courage, dedication and to willingly sacrificing their lives for peace. 107 years ago, on 25 April 1915 Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed at the strategic location on the shores of Gallipoli. We know the history well. About 8000 Australians and 2700 New Zealanders were killed in action, but their spirit stands for impulsive boldness, comradeship and service; so, these qualities of the ANZACs are celebrated every year on April 25. It is right to honour and remember those who fought, those who died and those who survived consistent with this spirit. It is important to remember that freedom is never won without cost. There was a huge loss and sadly, the battle of Gallipoli was lost.

Today, with sorrow and thankfulness, we remember before God all those who in the time of war offered their service and who gave their lives that we might live in freedom. We remember their bravery, courage, tenacity, heroism and dedication. We remember all those who were ready to lay down their lives for a justified cause. It is good to pause, ponder and remember each ANZAC Day those who have served the cause of freedom.

We also remember the Armenian Genocide that happened at the same time. The commemoration of one and a half million Armenians who were brutally massacred by the Ottomans. 24 April 1915 is the day when 300 community leaders were captured and killed in Istanbul to leave a whole nation as a headless body.  Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were driven into the Syrian desert to die of thirst, hunger and exhaustion. They were marched to their deaths.

This year marks the 107th anniversary of the ANZACs and the Armenian Genocide, therefore it is a solemn day, a day to remember. It is a day to think about the dead.

But life is a path, a way forward. Even if life seems to be full of pain and suffering, in God’s presence we can have joy, the joy of salvation, the joy of hope for the future and eternal life.

To say, ‘I am hoping that I am hoping’ is to make hope itself the object of our hope. To say, ‘I don’t know if I have enough faith to believe’ is to make the power to believe the basis of our faith.

Today as we commemorate, let us remember that it is possible to live forever, though physically we die.

Sorrow and pain are unbearable. As humans we suffer, hurt, grieve and have pain.

C. S. Lewis wrote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

What’s the idea?

God gets our attention very well when we’re in pain or are experiencing troubles and suffering in this life.

Romans 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Hebrews 5:7-9 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Can suffering cause us to become more obedient to God as well? I think so.

Suffering brings a person down. We know God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Suffering humbles us and makes us more submissive and obedient to God, which is something we all need to do more of.

Paul tells us why we must not let our present suffering get us down. In the passage from Romans that we read today:

1- We recognise that suffering is a part of this world

2- We relish our hope of something better

3- We receive help for our weaknesses

1. Suffering is part of life (Vs. 18 – 23)

When suffering comes our way, we need to be like Job. After losing everything he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:21-22)

There is no escape from pain. It is part of life. Women at childbirth go through pain. But they do it with great joy as they welcome a gift from God, a precious child and a blessing to the family. Accidents happen, minor or major; from cutting a finger when preparing food or slipping and breaking an arm or a leg. Facing a challenging illness and undergoing surgery, fixing a medical problem or even fighting a terminal illness, when the odds of winning the battle are scarce.

Pain, suffering and dying is inevitable. We all go through them until the day we die and cause pain and grief to our loved ones.

2. We relish our hope for something better (Vs. 24-25)

In our struggle in life, we look forward with hope and anticipation. There is something better waiting for us. We have a beautiful life ahead of us and in some ways; we have no idea how beautiful!

II Corinthians 4:16-18 reads: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Philippians 3:20-21 reads: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

This is so, all because of what our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, did for us on the cross. He gave His life, so that we have hope and live forever. The Christian faith is based on this great truth. Jesus died for us; He gave His life so that we live forever with Him.

Something far better is coming to us!

3. We receive help for our weaknesses (Vs. 26-27)

Is it possible to receive eternal life and joy without facing pain and suffering?

Why do we need to suffer?

Why doesn’t God give us eternal life from the start, without having to face such challenges of pain and suffering?

Remember, God created everything good, but sin and disobedience resulted in condemnation and pain, suffering and death became part of life. God gave the freedom of choice. And men made the wrong choice.

Someone asked C.S. Lewis: “Why do the righteous suffer?” “Why not?” he replied. “They’re the only ones who can take it.” I think we can take it better than those who don’t know the Lord because we have Him on our side to give us grace to endure.

Why can we take it better than someone who doesn’t know the Lord?

Because we have the help of God’s Spirit who lives within us! There are times when we hurt, suffer and don’t know how to pray, other than perhaps saying, “God, help me!” But this is when God’s Spirit intercedes on our behalf to the Father. He makes known our deepest pain and desires.

Then what? Then God goes to work to help, to bless, to sustain and strengthen us.

We find our blessing, help, and strength in the Lord. If we never experienced any hardships or suffering, we would never reach up to Him!

We recognize that suffering is a part of this world, we relish our hope of something better and we receive help for our weaknesses.

As we commemorate the ANZACs and the Armenian Genocide, let us remember and honour all those who died for a reason.

Let us vow that we will not forget them.

Let us learn from them and the sacrifice they made.

Let us have hope, that there is life after death. Life of eternal joy, with no more pain and suffering.