Murder Mystery on Flinders Island

Joy cometh with the Mourning book coverEarlier in the year I visited the enchanting Flinders Island and met some of the Anglican community.  One of these people was Dave Freer who is the author of the book “Joy Cometh with the Mourning“.  I brought a copy of this e book and thoroughly enjoyed the captivating read. The characters are well developed and the lively plot has engaging twists and turns. I am told that the book is pitched to 30 year olds, and I can say that it is also enjoyed by this reader at double that age! Enjoy! :-)

The Bush Church Aid (BCA) recently published an article about this book, so I thought I would share this with you.  I encourage you to buy this book as you will enjoy it and the sale of which helps the ministry of the Furneaux Islands. The BCA (edited) article:

“As a fundraiser for our small Anglican Parish here of the Furneaux Islands, one of our congregation – Dave Freer, who is a professional author of 20 novels – has written a ‘Cosy’ Whodunnit and donated the book’s rights to the church.  The book is about Reverend Joy, who is a rather timid, urban priest, sent out to a little parish far beyond the black stump. Her predecessor was found dead in his own church under mysterious circumstances. Joy finds herself having to heal the rifts this has caused in a tight-knit rural community. The only way to do that is to solve the mystery surrounding Reverend Hallam’s death.

“It is a gentle, comfort-read about the quirky characters, the loves and the warmth of country people and has been described as somewhere between an Agatha Christie and a Miss Read novel. L. Jagi Lamplighter, an American children’s author, has said about the book, “It is the kind of book that one can share with one’s non-Christian friends, and yet the strength of the character’s faith shines through.”

“The cover was painted by Anne Davis, one of the artists in our congregation.

“So we offer you a good read with “Joy Cometh With The Mourning” (available as an e-book for $3.99, on Amazon, or paper copy for $11.99).”

To read the complete Autumn edition of the Real Australian, please select this link.

To find out more about BCA (Bush Church Aid) please see this link.

PS A note from the Parish of the Furneaux Islands:

“Our parish, without a Rector, is waiting, praying and hoping. However on the Furneaux Islands, the church is alive!  Exciting opportunities for engaging with the community have challenged us and lifted our spirits.

“Sadly, our congregations do not often include children and it is difficult to engage meaningfully with young families.  But twice this year we have been able to provide programmes for children when there have been ‘pupil-free’ days at the school.”

Let’s support the Parish through the purchase and gifting of Dave Freer who is the author of the book “Joy Cometh with the Mourning“.

St Patrick’s passion and ours

St Patricks Day Hat_+JohnHere is my article from the April edition of the Tasmanian Anglican.

St Patrick’s passion and ours

One of life’s highlights was leading the St Patrick’s Day parade through the crowds in Westbury, Northern Tasmania.

The organisers asked for me to dress in my full bishop’s kit and so with pastoral staff, mitre, and my cope flapping in the wind we set off. Part way through I exchanged my mitre for a tall green Irish hat emblazoned with a shamrock. What fun!

This year there was less fanfare as I walked around Hobart wearing my St Patrick hat. I received some waves from passing cars and a few anxious looks from oncoming pedestrians!

Why do I wear my St Patrick hat?

My grandmother was Irish. I enjoy the fun of the day. I admire St Patrick.

Imagine at about 15 years of age being kidnapped from your home and enslaved in a foreign land. Not much fun! This happened to St Patrick (387-461). He was captured by Irish raiders and taken from his home in Scotland to captivity in Ireland where he herded sheep as a slave.

During his time in Ireland he saw the captivity of the pagan Irish to wizards, spells and Druids. He spent much time in prayer and his Christian faith deepened over these years. He also came to understand the culture of the people who enslaved him. This would be invaluable later in his life.

When he was about 20 he had a dream and escaped back to Britain where he was reunited with his family, a Christian family: his father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. Patrick set to and studied the Christian faith.

Patrick’s passion for Christ and his heart for the pagan Irish impelled him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He preached the Good News of Jesus Christ with its power to gain freedom from slavery to Druid’s spells and freedom for life in Christ.

Patrick’s mission to Ireland was blessed by God and thousands of people were baptised, places of worship established and whole kingdoms converted to Christ.

And our passion?

You can read more of my article here

Tasmanian Anglican Articles – April 2015

The Tasmanian Anglican Magazine is a great way of finding out what is happening in our Anglican community.

Below are some of the articles you can find in the April edition.

Budget Bonanza for Corrupt Countries

Misha Coleman, who is the Executive Officer for the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce submitted the following press release earlier this week.  As a patron, I fully support this statement.

Budget bonanza continues for corrupt states to lock up those who seek asylum

Speaking from Treasury after being released from the lock-up, Executive Officer Misha Coleman said that “the boats still haven’t stopped, but money keeps pouring down the sink for offshore detention. With images today of 8000 people sweltering in misery in boats in the Malacca Straits, how long can we continue the politics of deterrence, with a price tag of $811 million/year`”.

She said that “ using the latest figures from the Department of Immigration, which say there are 1707 people locked up in Nauru and Manus Island, this equates to a cost of $475 000 per asylum seeker per year. “ The estimated costs also appear to have blown out last year – this time last year offshore processing was supposed to cost $827 million, but the price tag has come in at $913 million, according to the budget papers.

Ms Coleman pointed out that “two weeks ago, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said he had to shut down aboriginal communities because some were costing up to $85 000/person/year, a figure he hasn’t been able to really explain yet. So my question to Colin Barnet and Tony Abbot tonight is whether they are happy that West Australian taxpayers, like the rest of us, are spending $475 000/person/year locking women and kids, mums and dads up in Nauru and Manus Island? Shouldn’t they be closed down too?”

In an ironic twist, the Budget Papers also states that it will cost the taxpayer $4.3million to gain efficiencies in the DIBP portfolio next financial year.

Ms Coleman said that “Norfolk Island will get $5.4 million to reform itself – although Norfolk Island has repeatedly said it would be an ideal location for humane and cost-effective processing of asylum seekers. Hopefully they can use some of this $5.4 million to bid for the next round of lucrative detention facilities contracts.”

“This government really has a playschool-level understanding of refugee flows – by cutting aid to countries like Vietnam, we only increase the poverty and misery that force people to flee from these. Vietnamese boat people are still coming, despite the illegal response by the Australia Government to send these boats back – as they did a couple of weeks ago to 26 asylum seekers from Vietnam. We still have no idea what happened to those people when they arrived back – we have to assume the worst”

She said that “Cambodia is one of the few countries that has escaped an aid budget cut, while neighbouring Vietnam, Laos and Burma were all hit with 40% budget cuts. I must say that the Cambodia Government are great negotiators though. By agreeing to take up to 10 refugees from Australia and Nauru each year for four years, the aid budget provided nearly $40/million. That’s $1 million/refugee, and that was only the original agreement, we’re now paying even more on top of the original deal”.

She closed by saying that “with all this cash floating around the immigration portfolio, it is highly disappointing that this Minister has again this year refused to fund the Refugee Council of Australia”.

The Press Release can be found here

The Australian Refugee Taskforce website is available here

My Intention to Retire

Today, I have communicated the following to the Diocese of Tasmania. I ask for your prayers for our Anglican Family of Tasmania as we bring a season of leadership to a close and toward a new season.

Pastoral Letter from Bishop John

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Following much prayer and consultation with family, senior colleagues and close friends, I believe God is leading me to draw my ministry as the 11th Bishop of Tasmania to a close mid-September.

Obviously, this has not been an easy decision, nor has it come lightly. But life brings the unexpected and so it is that we believe God has led us to a new season to be with our sons and families in Melbourne.

More work needs to be done before finalising any formal announcement, but I anticipate laying up the Bishop of Tasmania’s pastoral staff at our Cathedral Church on Saturday 12th September 2015.

Over the coming months I will continue to fulfil my ministry, including my forthcoming seminars, ‘Christian Voices in Public Places’ in Devonport, Bellerive, Burnie and Launceston.

In the week prior to the laying up of the Bishop’s pastoral staff, Gayelene and I will attend farewell functions in the North West and Launceston. The Southern Farewell will be at the Cathedral Service with the laying up the pastoral staff, followed by tea and buns (and possibly curried egg sandwiches J)!

On 25th July, St James’ day, I will have served 15 years as your Bishop – an amazing privilege. Gayelene and I (and our farmyard!) have been warmly embraced. Thank you.

Our love affair with the people of these enchanting islands of Tasmania is undiminished.

May the Lord of History guide, guard and bless all of us over these coming months, and the Holy Spirit move with power in building a healthy church transforming life.

Yours sincerely in Christ’s service

John Harrower
Bishop of Tasmania

You might like to view the following Media Release and interview:
Bishop Foreshadows Move to Retire
ABC Radio interview

No conflict: Christianity and Science

Chris Mulherin, who is the Executive Project Officer for (Christians in Science), spoke at the CMS Victoria Summer Under the Sun conference in January on “why there is no conflict between Science and Christian faith”.

I have copied part of his talk below, but you can find the full article here.

In the early 21st century, Christians find themselves in a profoundly important cultural space as they defend the credibility of their faith. It is an increasingly global and secular scientific culture the cutting edge of Christian engagement is the conversation between science and Christian faith. It’s good that Christians preach the Bible faithfully (my first love) but while the Bible contains all things necessary for salvation it doesn’t give people the tools to deal with the cultural forces that want to write off Christian faith as fundamentalist, unscientific nonsense.

Globalisation and the spread of techno-scientific thinking are advancing a secular scientific worldview to all corners of the earth. This view, most aggressively championed by the so-called New Atheists, challenges all non-scientific thinking.

Today the right to be heard depends partly on getting along with mainstream science, and, in a sense, that is as it should be. But that means that the credibility of Christianity depends on the way people view its relationship with science.  And if people are convinced that there is a fundamental conflict then there are no prizes for guessing which side most will vote on.

In the minds of believers and unbelievers, a lack of integration between science and faith can be one of the destructive forces working against Christian belief.  We need to prepare people to talk with non-believers for whom science is the model of truth and knowledge.

So, in the face of this changing balance of cultural forces, and views about what is credible and what should be relegated to in-credibility, what are the options open to Christians?

One option is to give up: it is to allow secular norms to dictate the nature and boundaries of truth. This path would accept that science and faith are in conflict and that faith can make no serious truth claims.

A second option is to beat a retreat to the Christian ghetto, boldly asserting a naïve biblical literalism and seeing much of science as deluded and as the enemy of faith.

But there is another option: a way that has been the orthodox manner of engagement since the beginning of the Christian era.

It is to follow the path trodden by the great Christian scientists and thinkers of history and to thoroughly affirm that all truth is God’s truth. It is to affirm the two books of God – the book of his Word and the book of his works.  It is to affirm that science and Christianity are complementary: they answer different types of questions, look for truth in different areas, and neither can claim a total grasp on knowledge.

The time for simplistic belief and unbelief is over.  Fundamentalists of both faith and non-faith varieties must give up their ground to an understanding that keeps science in its rightful place, as servant of a broader worldview – Christianity in its fullness – which offers the framework out of which modern science arose.

There is no conflict between science and Christianity.  In the words of Galileo, “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

See also, Conference: Science and Christianity 2011  and  Science and Faith

An Eulogy for The Revd Gordon Hargreaves

The Reverend Gordon Hargreaves was my brother in Christ, friend and colleague in ministry and in mission, while we were both serving in Glen Waverley over the eleven years 1989-2000. I was asked to give a ‘Colleague in Ministry’s’ Eulogy for his Funeral Service today at Rowville & Ferntree Gully Anglican Church. I would like to share it with you.

Initially, Gordon and I served as vicars of our respective parishes, St Andrew’s and St Paul’s Glen Waverley .When our parishes, along with St James’ Syndal, were amalgamated into St Barnabas, Glen Waverley Anglican Church (GWAC), we ministered together for 5 years, Gordon serving as my deputy.

That Gordon willingly became deputy to a man who was his junior, both in age and experience, speaks of Gordon’s character. Like his Lord, Gordon did not grasp at his due status, his seniority, or count himself above others. Moreover, where his role as vicar of St Andrew’s gave him security of employment, the deputy role in the amalgamated parish did not carry job security. Gordon unhesitatingly put security and status aside in order to serve God’s people where God had called him.

It is indeed fitting that Gordon should die on Good Friday, when we recall our Lord’s death for us: “Christ Jesus who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant … he humbled himself and became obedient unto death – even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-9)

We all benefited from Gordon’s humility. Gordon’s self-effacing service allowed all of us to play to our strengths. Gordon allowed me, and all the members of this new church team, to flourish.

I could not have asked for a better partner in leadership, given the complexity of merging three parishes in tandem with a major $3 million building program.

Gordon’s eye for detail was legendary. When, standing on the site where the new church was to be built, Esther Cox enquired, “Where is the front of the church?” Gordon explained the building layout. Esther continued, “Where are the front pews going to be?” Gordon carefully indicated, whereupon Esther carefully placed her picnic chair and declared, “This is where I’ll sit!” Gordon thought it was marvellous. I don’t know how many times I heard him tell that story. It told as much about him as it did about dear Esther!

Gordon had an eye for detail and a heart for people. The worship service sheets noted in brackets the time allocated for each section. Why was this detail important to Gordon? It was important because he had a high view of the pastoral and liturgical duties that he had taken on. The scheduling skills he had applied in his engineering days were applied to bring out the best in our time of gathering for worship.

Do you know Gordon’s nickname? Yes, it was ‘Abe Lincoln’! You can picture him, can’t you? Tall, slim of frame, slightly stooped, bearded. All Gordon needed was a stove pipe hat! Like Abraham Lincoln, Gordon was a leader, a man of vision, of dedication, of carefully chosen words―of the people and for the people.

Gordon had a sense of occasion but did not stand on occasion. He was understated, softly spoken, not theatrical. When things got tough, Gordon held his composure. He was a dignified man. Not for him stifling formality or rigidity, but rather dignity. He respected the traditions and ways of other people. Hence he robed for the 8am Worship Service.

Gordon had an engineer’s eye for process and precision, which identified needed improvements in our performance. Interestingly, his desire to keep good relationships with people led at times to indirect ways of saying things. In our own relationship, he was always loyal but in private he never held back. I benefited from his incisive observations and wise counsel. Some of these conversations were held at Macca’s Glen Waverley at midnight, when we were free of our parish work and the additional work created by the amalgamation. They were special times in our friendship.

Gordon was a pastor. One parishioner observed, “Gordon was always just quietly there: caring, not interfering, interested in people.” Another recalled her family’s distress at losing contact with a teenager, and Gordon “sitting with the family, quietly, gently – a compassionate presence.”

Gordon was thoroughly Christian in his love for and trust in God. This was transparent in his prayers. A parishioner commented, “Gordon was a great one for praying. He would say, ‘keep you prayers simple. Don’t waffle on! Just a couple of points and keep it focussed.’”

Gordon was a great one for jokes. He had a dry wit and had an innate capacity to link a sermon to a recently heard joke. The link was at times tenuous (to say the least) but at other times was quite clear. At a wedding, Gordon recounted how in the Garden of Eden, Adam was talking to God and complained that he was very lonely. God asked what he would like and Adam said, “Someone who was beautiful, highly intelligent, compassionate and a good cook.” When God replied that such a request would cost an arm and a leg, Adam asked, “What can I get for a rib, then?” – I can only say that we men admired Gordon for his courage in publically telling that particular joke!

Speaking of married life, we cannot speak of Gordon without speaking of Gordon and Ann! Their married life was one based on love: their love for each other and for God, and God’s love for them. Gordon never tired of telling me of Ann’s care for him and their children, Elizabeth and Brad. I thank God for Gordon’s unabashed love for his bride. I thank God for Ann’s unabashed love in her care for Gordon, especially over these past eighteen months. Truly her wedding vow “to have and to hold … in sickness and in health … till death do us part” was lovingly kept. Thank you, Ann, from all of us for what you did for Gordon ― and the loving example it is to us all.

Ann and Gordon had a shared calling to serve God through bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to men and women and boys and girls. They served in Parishes in Ferntree Gully, Healesville and Glen Waverley (Victoria) and in Paraburdoo (Western Australia) as Bush Church Aid (BCA) Missioners. Their commitment and creativity shone forth in their myriad ministries.

Creativity was part and parcel of their shared ministry. I vividly recall one Good Friday morning being startled by a large procession carrying three large crosses to the top of the amphitheatre behind the church building. I asked Gordon, “What’s going on?” He languidly relied, “It’s Good Friday morning and we’re getting the crosses ready, up on a hill far away.” You had to love the guy!

On our last visit with Gordon and Ann, I asked Gordon what he would like us to pray for him. He replied, “A good ending.”

After the completion and opening of the Glen Waverley Anglican Church (GWAC) building, Gordon was interviewed [Church Scene, December 5, 1997, page 5] and said,

“At the end we were weary perhaps, but also deeply grateful to God for his amazing goodness in so many ways.”

Dear family and friends gathered here today, I suggest that,

At the end Gordon was weary, but also deeply grateful to God for his amazing goodness in so many ways.

Moreover, today,

We may be weary, but also deeply grateful to God for his amazing goodness in so many ways, in and through the life and ministry of a good, godly and loving man: Gordon Hargreaves.

Today, we thank God, and Gordon, we thank you, dear brother.

For a PDF version, please select the following link: Eulogy Revd Gordon Hargreaves

Easter Message: Oh My Lord Jesus

ya Rabbi Yesua, “O, my Lord Jesus” were the last words spoken by an Egyptian Christian before he was beheaded two months ago in Libya.

The Islamic State (ISIS) voice over on the video recording of this beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians triumphed, “recently you have seen us … chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross delusion”.

For the murdered Christians, however, “The cross delusion” was rather “The cross certainty”!

Indeed, the brother of two of the murdered Christians thanked their killers for including the men’s declaration of faith in the video as this demonstrated that they were “a badge of honour to Christianity”.

This brother, when asked what he would say if he were asked to forgive ISIS, related what his mother said she would do if she saw one of the men who killed her son.

“My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [him] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.”

Invited to pray for his brothers’ killers, he prayed: “Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught.”

From where does this mercy, this power to forgive, come? Surely from – “O, my Lord Jesus!”

Mercy and judgement meet in the cross of Christ.

God’s judgement is due because humanity was in rebellion against The One from whom humanity comes.

And God’s mercy is dramatically demonstrated by His taking upon Himself the judgement due to humanity because “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

The cross declares God’s, “You are forgiven, Come on home!” The cross is the certainty of God’s power to forgive, to bring reconciliation.

In the words of Jesus concerning His persecutors, “Father, forgive them”.

Likewise, the cross of Christ is our certainty of eternal meaning, hope, mercy and life.

May the example of the Egyptian Christians, living and dead inspire our works and words of mercy and forgiveness – “O, my Lord Jesus!”.

You can view the video here.

Easter TV Media message

Easter is about life – life in Jesus Christ.
Easter eggs symbolise new life.
From an egg, new life comes.
Easter eggs remind us of the new life that Jesus brings.
Jesus brings life.
Jesus’ story does not end with his death.
Jesus rose from death to life.
Easter is a celebration of new life in Christ.
Enjoy your Easter egg and remember that it celebrates the new life that Jesus brings.

The Lord’s Prayer is the Disciples’ Prayer

I was reminded recently, via Facebook (where else!) that some sons know their fathers quite well. In the following I have deleted names to protect the innocent!

Son walks into the garage and tells his father the date proposed by his fiancée and himself for their forthcoming wedding. Father replies, ‘Bathurst (car racing) isn’t that weekend, is it?’

Son, ‘Good one, Dad!’

I smiled as I imagined the sigh from the son and expressions on their faces. Such is the stuff of a warm father and son relationship!

There is one Father and Son relationship that has existed from eternity. In this eternal relationship the Father and the Son know each other intimately. How precious the Father’s heart that speaks at Jesus’ baptism, ‘this is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3:17)

When the Son is asked by His disciples how they should pray/speak to the Father, we can be sure that the Son knows exactly how they should address God: ‘Our Father who is in heaven . . . ’

How astounding that the Son includes the disciples as members of the family of God!

Jesus’ teaching through this prayer is radical with far-reaching ramifications: radical in its prayerful intimacy addressed to the Transcendent Creator, Sustainer and Judge of the entire world; far reaching in its scope of ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.

Significantly the Son, Jesus, knew He was leaving the disciples with a job to do and their preparation included Jesus’ answer to, ‘How do we pray?’.

Jesus replied with the Lord’s Prayer – which both Matthew and Luke place in the context of Jesus teaching his disciples.

In some ways, the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ could also be called the ‘Disciples’ Prayer’ as it was to be prayed by Jesus’ disciples.

Jesus’ prayer surely reflects His heart for His disciples’ life and ministry. Can we consider the Lord’s Prayer to understand and live more fully our discipleship in the world today? How do the phrases of this prayer help us how to view God and God’s world and to view our discipleship in God’s world: discipleship that will hallow God’s name and serve God’s kingdom purposes?

During this year I will be leading a seminar around Tasmania on Christian discipleship shaped by the Lord’s Prayer. The Seminar, ‘Christian Voices in Public Places’ will be an opportunity to grow our ability to engage with family, friends, work colleagues and community groups about contemporary issues.

Please keep your eyes out for details of the times (Saturdays) and places of the Seminar.

I was struck afresh recently by the early disciples adding a concluding phrase to the words of Jesus. The phrase is a great exclamation of praise: ‘for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours, forever and ever. Amen.’

The early disciples effectively ‘bookended’ this wonderful prayer with God: from Jesus’ commencement of intimacy, ‘Our Father’, to the disciples’ concluding exclamation of God’s power and glory. Our daily life is to be ‘bookended’ by God.

In this New Year may our days be ‘bookended’ with God!


John :-)

Note: This article first appeared in the February 2015 edition of the Tasmanian Anglican.