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 Dear friends,

We will be uploading a church calendar on the website this week.  During lockdown things were too topsy turvy to fix dates in advance.  Now that things are a little more stable, the calendar will be comprehensive two months in advance.  It will assist you in ordering your private world through Aug/Sep and partially through Oct/Nov. I will update monthly.

The newcomers BBQ has 49 peeps signed up to come along, which means Drew Williams has just confirmed himself a spot as the church crier / live news reporter.

We will not be having responsive prayer this week, as it is a full week in the evenings, but will resume next week after I have had a chance to talk through prayer as a communal activity again this Sunday.

For many years I have had this nagging feeling around church that we are very prone to making idols out of certain things.  Generally, things in current affairs that overwhelm us to the extent that the bulk of our time, effort, thought and even conversation is wrapped up in these things.  In 2006 when I shifted my ‘tribal’ allegiance from the Anglican church to the Vineyard, it was (not in small part) due to the Anglican communion worldwide being consumed at that time with human sexuality, the LBGTQ+ conversation and everything surrounding it. There was scarcely a Synod, a conference, a regional gathering, or anything else I attended at the time that did not engage this subject at one level or another. I wrote more theological papers on the subject than it is helpful for anyone to do .

Please do not read this as me saying we should not be thinking through and discussing these things. We should be doing that, because they and others like them – BLM, Residential Schools, COVID, vaccine passports, colonialism, gender inequality, ‘cancel culture’, censorship etc. etc. are all current and important issues. However, when these issues consume us to the point that they render us missionally neutral, or useless they have effectively become idolatrous. Think carefully about ‘what consumes you’ currently and   whether what consumes you is healthy and beneficial to life in the Spirit with Jesus, or whether it is a distraction and diversion from that life?

Humanity, even Jesus following humanity, has a scary propensity toward idolatry. There is a short passage from the OT prophet Isaiah that reminds us of this.  On the one hand, the old prophet uses hyperbole and even sarcasm to drive home his point, and it is quite amusing.  On the other hand, it is a stark reminder of how easily we wander into this territory.

Is 44:14-17: He (the carpenter) cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. 15 It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread.  But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal; he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me! You are my god!”

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love, here's my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for your courts above…

Grace & peace