First Day at School!

Finally the big day has come!!
It’s been years of waiting, culminating in the last several weeks of getting steadily more bored. Today we started College!

I have to be perfectly honest and say that, yes, I did feel a little bit like Harry Potter going to Hogwarts…

I was up early and caught the train from Wynyard Station. It hit home that every day I’m going to be going against the flow of all the Sydney Commuters. Probably a good daily reminder for a Christian.
As I rode alone down the long escalator into the station I was presented to 3 lanes of the escalated coming up. I didn’t have time to say good morning to them all…

I rode to Redfern then walked up the Hill to King St, Newtown – the illustrious throughfare on which Moore College is located. Considering that I was about an hour and half early, I decided to go for a coffee. (Do I sound a little bit too keen?)

Moore College has done a wonderful job of keeping completely secret anything to do with First-Years starting college – except the fact that the only place to drink coffee in Newtown is at Campos. There’s a decent chance that if the coffee turned out to not be that good, the entire reputation of the College would suffer.

Fortunately, it was up to scratch. Campos is very cool. Just a whole in the wall but jammed with people who take coffee seriously. I take it pretty seriously myself at 8:30 in the morning.Campos Newtown

Kate Nichol was sitting down the back – she seems to be a fixture in cool cafes. (She was practically rusted onto one of the tables in Tilley’s, Canberra). Dave Irving popped over later – he gets breakfast provided by the college, all for the achievement of not having got himself married. (which in Dave’s case is quite an achievement).

It was great to be able to walk to school together with 3 great mates. I took some of the nervousness off walking into the Quadrangle and seeing the big crowd of first years all waiting around and eyeing each other warily.

Everyone is very friendly but there are 110 friendlies. That’s too many to really get to know well.

We started the day with Chapel together. John Woodhouse, the principle, preached from 2 Corinthians 4:7-15. Dave and I had heard him preach the same sermon on the weekend at St Andrew’s Cathedral where we went to see Con Campbell get ordained. It was amazing how the truths in that passage suddenly hit home even more when they were being directed straight at me.

The Ordination Service at the Cathdral on Saturday was a great experience. (the proper name is “A Service for the Making of Deacons” – Anglicans are so quaint). I went along to support Con who has been a dear brother and pastor to me, but as I was walking down I realised that I was jumping forward 4 years or so to the end of the process that we are beginning this week at College.

The Cathedral was packed out, easily 1500 people. There were around 50 ordinands. It was wonderful to be in a Cathedral with a crowd of people who really love Jesus. The hymns were belted out. Everyone said the creed at the top of their voice. The Liturgy can really come alive when people mean it and care about it.

The service includes a section where the Ordinands make promises and are given a charge from the Archbishop. I was very solemn but joyful. As Peter Jenson kept reminding us, these young ministers were a sign of God’s gracious blessing to the Church. They are gift to us from God for our welfare and strengthening. Con has been a gift to many of us that have experienced his ministry – I was glad to say the ‘Amen’ to that.

If you ever get the chance to go to the Ordination service you should.

The text for the Sermon at the Ordination service, and at our Chapel service reminds us that God’s great power throughout history has been displayed in moments of great weakness. As Jesus hung in weakness and humiliation on the Cross, God was achieving the decisive victory over evil. Good triumphed over Evil in middle of seeming defeat.

The Apostle Paul, as he was kicked and beaten from town to town around the Mediterranean, appeared a weak and sorry individual. Even the Corinthian Church, which he had founded, started to doubt his credentials. But in his preaching God was beginning the spread of the kingdom that has continued to alter world history ever since.

The danger for me and the rest of us who are beginning at College is to see ourselves as powerful people. It’s too easy to accept the responsibilities and power that come from being in ministry and to see our power as somehow co-extensive with God’s power. Nothing could be further from the truth. This great gospel treasure has been put in clay jars so that the value of the treasure will be clearly seen without layers of pointless packaging.

The alternative danger is to see the human power of others and to feel weak and inadequate in our service to God. Both are equally our temptations at different times, and not just College students, all Christians who are in ministry together everywhere.

It was a great thing to be reminded of this morning. I think I will need to be reminded of it every morning. Don’t mistake God’s power for weakness. Don’t mistake human power for God’s.

“Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2Cor 4:7-10 HCSB)

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