Encouragement comes from seeing God at work around us and within us.
Courage - quiet, understated and real - characterised her. A lecturer in theology in a two-third's world nation, formerly a resident of an Australian capital city, Judith was sharing her story. A love of people, so evident, so rooted in God, so confident in Him, draws forth her listeners' loves - may our loves be as selfless, courageous and life giving.
In beautiful Bicheno the Summerview Mission Conference took courage, confident in the God of Life.
One of the most well-known passages from Paul's letters is from his letter to the Romans.
I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, 'The one who is righteous will live by faith.'
The words almost seem unnecessary. Paul's passion for the gospel is surely self-evident and yet he feels the need to express his utmost confidence in 'the power of God for salvation.' His words earlier in the letter tell us why: 'so that we may be... encouraged.'
It's worth embracing. Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke in his Enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury 'What do I pray for in the Church of the future? Confidence; courage'
The missionary people of God need confidence in the gospel and a courage based on a restored relationship with their Lord and Saviour. Embracing mission means taking risks and contemplating humanly-impossible goals and that takes an utmost reliance on God.
And, as Paul realised, sometimes we need to be encouraged. Encouragement comes from seeing God at work around us and within us.
Two years ago I launched the ahealthychurch ... transforminglife vision for the Diocese. In early 2006 there is much to be encouraged about.
- Anglican Camping continues to be a vibrant vehicle through which God grows disciples of Christ. Gayelene and I visited the Huon Camp with Arthur and Jeanne Wherrett and were delighted by the enthusiasm and dedication of both campers and leaders.
- A promotional brochure distributed by the partners in the Hobart inner city mission conversations was greatly appreciated by people from Backpackers, Hadley's Hotel and motels, who were enabled to attend worship.
- Television coverage in the North of the State highlighted Anglican Christmas celebrations.
- The Christmas Day whole front page of The Mercury was given to a photograph of an Anglican couple and their newborn baby dressed in a manger scene at their local parish and with the caption, 'Unto us a child is born' Praise the Lord!
- Six excellent ordinands are preparing for the Cathedral Ordination Service this month.
- The West Coast is embarking on a new model of ministry and undertaking a building program in Strahan to facilitate their community engagement.
- Excellent appointments are occurring in Bellerive, Claremont/Chigwell, King Island, Kingston, West Coast, West Tamar and the Cathedral.
- At the Summerview Mission Conference the children and youth initiated local mission projects 'a culture of mission engenders both local and over there' engagement.
Encouragement comes as faith is exercised. Our diocese, parishes and congregations all face challenges:
- To work in teams of lay and ordained: prayerful activists.
- To grow in health love of God and neighbour hospitality.
- To take initiatives in growing new congregations.
- To review our ministries and commit to Christian education and ministry development.
- To give freedom to each other to try new models of ministry.
- To allow the clergy to be equippers, pastors and priests.
Immense courage and a confidence in God are required to meet these risks and changes. Yet as the Psalmist writes, it is in the here and now - Tasmania in 2006 - that we shall see God at work:
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!