This is the text of my ministry message for the April 2017 newssheet at Lakes Parish UCA.
Several weeks ago, I read to you a prayer which I wrote in 2011, a prayer entitled “An Act of God”. As I write today Cyclone Debbie is pounding its way across the Queensland coast, and whole tribes of television Karlites and Kochies are battling the rainstorm and wind to provide up-to-the-minute reports.
In today’s Queensland storm, and yesterday’s 38 degrees in Lakes Entrance, I am reminded that while climate and weather can play havoc with our human plans, God’s plans are not thwarted. Whether your theology suggests that God sends storms, or allows storms, or that God has simply set the world in motion and lets the elements look after themselves, I am convinced that God remains in overall care and charge of the world. For me, as I prayed first in 2011 and then last month in the face of immanent fire and flood disaster in New South Wales and Western Australia, the assurance that God has all things in hand in the work of the Church is ever present. Remember, the Acts of God are not the storms themselves but the work of the local Christians in responding to the needs of neighbour and stranger in the aftermath.
As we move toward Easter in the next two weeks, through it in the middle of April, and beyond it as we head toward May, let us remember that we have a role in what God is doing in the world. The greatest Act of God was seen in the death of Jesus on the cross, but God is still at work amongst, amidst, and because of those who remain faithful to the call to call forward the Reign of God in the world. Our gospel is one of salvation, which implies that the world needs to be saved/salved, so we are conscious that we live amongst danger. The gospel requires a response, not just a “sinner’s prayer” that gets us a grace-based, forgiveness assured ticket to Heaven when the time comes, but that we resist evil where we see it and that we bring healing to those who have been laid low by it. That time has come.