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In Melbourne at the moment, weddings are banned until we achieve an average of less than 5 new cases of Covid-19 in the entire state AND that no new cases come from an unknown source, for two weeks straight.
That means that if there is an outbreak in a country town somewhere, then even if there are no cases of Covid-19 in the rest of Victoria, then no Melbournite will be able to get married (in the eyes of the State).
Not even if the minister social distances and wears a mask and performs the ceremony through livestream.
Not even if the witnesses are viewing it via Zoom.
Not even if you only have a group of 5 and everyone involved come from two households, even though during Step 2 the DHHS website says you are allowed to have outdoor “public gatherings – up to 5 people from a maximum of two households”… Just not for a wedding apparently.
To put this in perspective, since the 16th of March there has been only 6 DAYS that achieved that benchmark. That’s right, in the last 176 days, 170 of those days would have prevented people from being allowed to marry under the Victorian Government’s current standards.
The DHHS website states that this could possibly go on indefinitely as we will only be able to transition to Step 3 (where small weddings are allowed) “once the thresholds are met; there is no set date.”
There is a petition going around asking Dan Andrews to change his mind on banning weddings. I hope it is effective.
But if it doesn’t, and the wedding ban in Victoria goes on indefinitely, at what point do Christian couples just get married and worry about the formalities later?
At what point do we remember that marriage is not created by the Government. It is created by God. The State acknowledges it, registers it, records it and grants it certain legal rights and privileges. But the State does not make people married, nor can it ban people from making vows before God, with people witnessing (even if remotely).
History tells of the Roman Emperor Claudius II, who around 270AD apparently banned weddings for the sake of the Empire. It was thought that married men love their wives and children and so don’t join the military to go off to war as willingly.
The legend goes that St Valentine defied the law and married couples in secret because he saw marriage as not a right granted (or forbidden) by the government, but a sacrament given by God.
I’m not saying we should disobey the law, even over this issue. But I do think we need something of a St Valentine attitude. Marriage is a good gift from God, and like the ancient proverb from Nike says… maybe we should “Just Do It” and worry about the paperwork after we one day meet the crazily ambitious numbers the State has currently set.
Sign the petition:
Amidst the crowd there is a man
Unique among the rest
To seek and find his funny face
Was always quite a test
You might search among the palm trees
In their leaves he might be hidden
Or behind a stack of papers
Of the poems he has written
Take a peek around the guitars
You can listen for his sound
For behind a tune and heartfelt words
He often can be found
You could look among the larrikins
He’s the best amongst those blokes
With his lightning wit and cheeky grin
And even cheekier jokes
Though if you a see a glorious sunrise
You won’t his find his face within
Cos he’ll be behind the cameraÂ
Capturing that which captures him
And you might not find him there at all
If he received an invitation
He would show he cared by being there
For a special occasion
But now my eyes are scanning
For his face amongst the crowd
Past palms and poems and old guitars
He now can not be found
Where’s Wally? He is missing
So I’ll take one final look
And entrust him to the Author
Of this sadly now-closed book
By Simon Camilleri
Dedicated to my favourite uncle, Wally Donovan
Who died unexpectantly on Saturday 25th April 2020
This is the Kid’s Talk that I put together for my church’s Easter Service.
It was maybe the second time I had done a kid’s talk for church (the last time being around 15 years ago), and it was definitely the first time I had done one on video.
It was a lot of work to put together, but I had the support and help of my wife Cat (who provided the voice of Mary) and my 4 year old daughter Dot (who voiced the angels).
This year is a particularly difficult time for kids as they have lost so much due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic. It is easy for Easter to be lost in the chaos and confusion of this time. So I wanted to acknowledge that and point the kids (and the adults watching) to the joy of the resurrection that we not only read about, but are invited to share in.
If you want to share this video on Facebook, you can do so by clicking here: SHARE
My 7 Steps:
Please leave a comment below and if you have a YouTube link showing you doing this trick using my method, please put it in the comments or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To see more of Simon’s magic and to keep an eye out for more online magic lessons, go to: https://www.facebook.com/simonsaysmagic
The miracle of the loaves and the fishes is the most useless miracle of all… and that’s the point.
In this story, found in all for gospels, Jesus feeds thousands of hungry followers, multiplying just a small amount of food so that it not only completely leaves everyone stuffed, but so there are piles and piles of leftovers.
And yet… Despite this miraculous abundance, what will happen? Just a day later, the leftovers will go start going stale and the bellies which were so full, will be hungry once again. When you’ve eaten to the point of feeling sick, you may think to yourself that you’ll never be able to eat again, but it just takes a day and the hunger will return.
If the miracle was about giving people true satisfaction, it was an epic fail. Nice party trick Jesus, but it doesn’t solve anything. And that’s exactly what Jesus is wanting his followers to see.
In John 6, we read that a day after the miracle the crowds are back looking for Jesus. But weren’t hungry for Jesus himself, they were hungry for more fish sandwiches.
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:26-27)
And what is the bread that does not spoil? The bread that Jesus describes as coming “down from heaven and gives life to the world.â€ (6:33)?
He tells them:
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Jesus didn’t come to provide our need for daily bread – though he demonstrates in the miracle that he can and in the Lord’s Prayer he does instruct us to pray for that provision. No, Jesus came to BE our daily bread.
Jesus repeats this declaration in 6:48-51…
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.â€
The point of the miracle of the loaves and the fishes was not to show us that Jesus has come to fulfill our bodily desires. It actually fails to do that. The point was to show that no matter how much bread we eat, our bodies will always be hungry. And our souls are the same. We need bread that truly satisfies. We need bread that doesn’t simply help us stay alive for a few more days. We need bread that gives us eternal life.
We need Jesus – the bread of life.
The miracle of the loaves and the fishes is an amazing miracle. But it is also so clever. It is deliberately over the top, and at the same time, deliberately useless.
May we get the point of it and seek after Jesus, not for the temporal things he might give us, but for himself.
After Jesus explains that this was his whole point, many of his followers who were simply following Jesus for the free feed, were disappointed and offended.
John 6:66 says: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
Jesus then asks his 12 disciples: “You do not want to leave too, do you?â€
And Peter replies with an amazing answer that shows that they actually now get the point of the whole episode…
â€œLord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (6:68)
Today, a young sister in Christ died.
I didn’t know her very well, but it was impossible to miss her. In a church community in a denomination that some might expect to have strong gender expectations, I was always impressed by her wonderful bucking of feminine cliches, shaving her head to support cancer research and proving that a godly woman can be as bold and enthusiastic as anyone. She definitely was no wilting wallflower…
And yet, as God’s Word says, all flowers fall and in the end, everything is hevel.
This life is fleeting, even for the bold flowers that stick out from the bunch.
My comfort in the loss of this godly woman is the confidence that she trusted in the One who does not fade away, who could hold her soul secure in the joyful hope that one day these bodies that sometimes betray us, will be resurrected, restored and renewed in the New Creation.
Until then Suz Bell.
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior 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.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
If you don’t know, last year I wrote, designed and self-published my first children’s book, called “When Santa Learned the Gospel”. It has been a really crazy and wonderful journey resulting in 6,000 books being given away to children and a UK Publisher signing us up. This year I hope they will be able to take my book into the International market in ways that I never could.
To complement this book, I have been working on a collection of resources that churches can download and use for free this Christmas. Just in case you haven’t heard about it, I thought I’d share it on here.
Please watch this video to get an idea of what the Carols Pack is all about:
After just one week after launching this video, we already have 35 churches registered to use the resources. These churches come from Australia, the UK, the USA and Singapore. We are hoping many many more churches will get on board before the end of the year.
If this is something you think your church or a church you know might be interested in, please direct the relevant people to this link:
Also, we’veÂ found the best way for people to hear about it is if people share the video above on social media.
To share this video on Facebook, click: HERE
Thanks! And please be praying that God uses and speaks through these resources as churches use them to share the gospel with their community this Christmas.
When you see a photo like this, with a car stuck in a tree, you ask the obvious question, “How the hell did that get there?” It demands some form of an explanation. I think the universe is like that.
The very fact that we and everything else is here rather than not, demands some form of explanation. I’m not talking purpose (although that may be related). I’m talking origins. When you look at the world, when you stare up at the stars, when you look at your own hand, you can not ignore the obvious question, “How the hell did all this get here?”
Now I am absolutely no expert in science or quantum mechanics, but it seems to me that there can only really be three options for the origins of the universe. Each option is in it’s own way whacky and unbelievable. Each one involves an idea that is bigger and weirder than anything we can see or experience or test scientifically, but all scientists still fall into one of three camps in how the explain the ultimate question of origins.
These are the 3 options:
Option 1. Magic Gun Theory – The material reality had a beginning that was from nothing and caused by nothing.
Option 2. String Theory – The material reality is eternal and had no beginning.
Option 3. Creator Theory – The material reality had a beginning that was caused by an eternal, non-material reality (God).
Now, I’ll explain what I mean by these three option in a moment, but as I see it, every theory imaginable must fall into one of these three. Consequently, every person must chose to side with one of these three options if they are to answer the “How did it get here?” question. You could, of course, go with Option 4. which is “I have no idea” (this by the way is my answer to the car in the tree) but if it really is the case that there are only 3 mutually exclusive options for the origin of the universe, then you still would have to conclude that one of these three options must be the answer, even if you feel there is no definitive way of discovering which one is true.
The terrifying thing about the idea that we can never know the answer is that the implications that stem from each option are vastly different. If there is a non-material (or spiritual) reality and if that is in the form of a personal deity then a mountain of questions arise and the relevance of theology and philosophy about the nature of God and spiritual reality becomes incredibly important. If on the other hand, there is no spiritual reality and that the material reality is all the is, then that has great implications for the irrelevance for all religion and raises many questions about the origins of morality and the claims of those who have experience of the spiritual. This is of course only skimming the surface of the implications that arise on both sides, but hopefully the point is clear that trying to work out which of the three options is true is a vitally important and practically relevant pursuit.
Let me now try to simply describe each of the three options:
Option 1. Magic Gun Theory
This is the theory that claims that the material reality (including all matter and energy that exists) came into existence as some point in history, exploding on to the scene with the Big Bang. This is supported by what we observe about the universe – that it is expanding – giving the impression that it had an origin at some point. The reason why I call this the “Magic Gun Theory” is because it states that this event somehow created matter and energy out of nothing and nothing at all (non-material or otherwise) caused the bang to happen in the first place. It all just magically happened and appeared for no reason. This theory seems like an easy way of combining what we observe about the universe with an atheistic view of the world. The problem with this view is that it is completely unscientific. No modern scientist would claim that matter and energy can all of a sudden just appear from absolutely nothing, with nothing causing that to happen. It is simply a theory that defies all we know about science, for the sake of marrying evidence (that there seems to be a beginning) with prejudice (that they want to believe in nothing spiritual).
Option 2. String Theory
The material reality is eternal and had no beginning.
Option 3. Creator Theory – The material reality had a beginning that was caused by an eternal, non-material reality (God).
Now in the end, although this theory seems quite ridiculous, I guess I have to admit that each theory has it’s element of wackiness. In this case, you either believe in a magic universe that can defy scientific logic or you believe in a magic deity that defies scientific logic. I personally think that
The Origin and Fate of the Universe – Steven Hawkins
According to this theory [strong anthropic principle], there are either many different universes or many different regions of a single universe, each with its own initial configuration and, perhaps, with its own set of laws of science. In most of these universes the conditions would not be right for the development of complicated organisms; only in the few universes that are like ours would intelligent beings develop and ask the question: “Why is the universe the way we see it?” The answer is then simple: If it had been different, we would not be here!
There are something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty zeroes after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe. Where did they all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle parts. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.
Now twice zero is also zero. Thus the universe can double the amount of positive matter energy and also double the negative gravitational energy without violation of the conservation of energy. It is said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But the universe is the ultimate free lunch.
One could say: “The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary.” The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE.
The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started – it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwood and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundaries or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?