Bishop David Robinson
It's hard to imagine that three months have passed since I was ordained Bishop of Rockhampton. Jan and I have spent these first few months settling into our new home and beginning to discover the many different aspects of life in Central Queensland.
So far I have been delighted to see so much life and vitality in the people I have met and in the parishes we have visited. There is a strong sense of seeking God's purpose for our lives together and a willingness to engage in the task of mission. This will be a challenge, especially in some of the more remote areas of our diocese, but my sense is that we are up for the challenge!
I count it a great privilege to have led three confirmation services over the past few weeks. In each service I have asked the question why are you here? What has led you to this place and this time in your journey with Christ?
It's a good practice, every once in a while, to pause and take some time to think about our relationship with Jesus - is it moving forwards, moving backwards, or is it simply the same as it's always been? It is helpful to reflect on faith to ask, what doubts and fears do we have? And to ask how much of our relationship with Jesus is simply habit? Have we been doing things this way for so long that we no longer stop and really think about what we are doing.
Over the next few weeks we celebrate Advent and Christmas; as we do our attention is drawn to the coming of a new kingdom under the kingship of Jesus. This is a kingdom that challenges and draws us ever forward, calling us to new ways of being, to living as Christ in the world today.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus it is good to reflect on questions like the ones above because it is important for us to know where we have come from in order to make wise decisions about where to go. Our past has shaped us and makes us the unique individuals and communities that we are - but we are not to be tied to the past, but rather to be active agents of change working, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to make God's kingdom present in the world today.
As I reflect on my journey to this point and the journey ahead I see three focal points for my ministry in the immediate future that will, under God, enable us for the task ahead. They are:
Each of these tasks brings its own set of challenges and I look forward to being in conversation with you over the months and years ahead as we seek to grow God's church in Central Queensland.
May the peace and joy of Christ be yours this Christmas,
Bishop David Robinson
At our recent clergy and lay retreats we took as our theme "The Kingdom and Change", asking questions about how we can be better witnesses to the kingdom of God in the variety of different settings in which we live. We considered some of the challenges we face acknowledging that change, while difficult, is essential if we are serious about bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ and seeing Christian communities flourish across the Diocese.
One result of our time together was to acknowledge that the central key to bringing people to faith in Jesus and to making the kingdom visible in our places of work and learning, our families and communities, was the need to remain true to the words of Jesus and to love one another.
It was Tertullian, writing in about AD 200, who appears to have been the first to note that one of the defining features of the early Christians was the love they had for one another. It was this care for others, especially those on the fringes of society, that left a lasting impression in the minds of non-believers, and led many to become followers of Jesus.
Sadly, in today's world, we have sometimes become indifferent to the needs of others tending to reflect the values of the society in which we live rather than the values that Jesus taught. In a world that is overly focussed on the individual and not the needs of others it is good to be reminded that at the core of our faith lies this command to love others (John 13:34).
The challenge that lies ahead of us is how to do this in the communities where we live, work and play. How can we make the love we have for others a reality in such a way that Jesus is known and lives are changed? This loving others will mean stepping outside of our comfort zones and becoming vulnerable for the sake of others. It may mean changing the way we do some things, it will certainly mean being more outward focussed, looking at the different ways that we can reach out into our communities.
Can I take this opportunity to encourage you to pray about how you might make the love of God visible in your community, to share with others how this might be made possible and to courageously step out in faith, loving others in such a way that people would look at the parishes and ministry units across this Diocese and say of us "See how they love one another".
With every blessing
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