I was invited by the Moderator to say a few words before we watch the video Uniting Communities prepared for the closing of Maughan church building. The link to the Memories of Maughan video is at the bottom.
We live in a time where joining organisations is in decline. This social phenomenon has affected many – Scouts and Guides, Rotary and the like have all experienced loss of membership.
Many of us are sad today. What saddens me most is that in my time at Maughan I saw good people, generous caring people, chairpersons, elders, clergy, Synod officers who made their best contributions but were still damaged by arguments about how to arrest the decline. Whether consciously or subconsciously many good leaders were affected by the question “Who is to blame?”
Social anthropologist and theological Rene Girard wrote about ‘the sacred” and “violence”. He noticed a pattern in society and its re-presentation of violence. (aside – But don’t worry – you don’t have to be a critical theorist to understand it). Girard observed that societies scape goat people when things go wrong. (aside – well theres an insight!) And one can find this represented in many sacred texts. A number of Hebrew stories come to mind but the most obvious is that of the life of Jesus in the gospels.
I hope you agree with me that the resurrection of Jesus means we don’t need to scape goat any more.
I’m asking you to keep a commitment in your current congregation, That we focus our attention on discernment for the present and the future – in other words replace the question of “Who is to blame?” and its powerful cousin … “Let me justify my actions because someone else is at fault” with
“What is God calling to us now?” or “How might we see God in this current situation that is before us?”
So how might we see God in this moment? Well you may not be aware that Uniting Communities, in cooperation with the Synod, are in the process of preparing a ministry profile for a new placement and faith community that will continue to be part of the new building and community space.
It has been really interesting digging into the archive. Thanks to all who responded to our request for photos. I wish to thank particularly Cherry Wong who has assisted me in the production of the presentation we are going to show in a moment.
The pictures you are about to see include three film clips from which I have digitised for the today. The film itself is up the back on the display table next to Eriwn’s gown. They are clips from the final service of the previous Maughan church, Erwin touring the new building with journalists and then the opening service of this worship space – all without sound.
The archive also contains three hours of audio as each of these events were broadcast on 5KA (including the narration of the procession) . I wanted to provide some of the audio today but in spite of our best technological efforts it is too muddy.
So instead I”m going to finish by reading to you the words from Erwin Vogt’s sermon at the closing service (the first short clip you will see in a moment). Where Erwin, at the closing of the previous building, reminds the congregation of whom we worship…
And now this will be out last act of worship in this place on December 14th, 100 years from the day of its commencement exactly, its demolition will begin. They’re giving us a week to move out. We are going to try and do it tomorrow. In this very act however, we will honour the faith of our fathers, for without us, their work cannot be fulfilled. They do not choose that we should retrain what they build as a museum piece that it no more adequately services God’s purpose and will, but the new building will be incidental to the total mission of the church. These old walls have made possible new walls now being erected and one day, to please God, our children’s children, when I think of the steel and concrete that have gone into the new building, perhaps their children will renew what we now build that the church of Jesus constant will remain. Our abiding faith is God is with us. And the best is yet to be’.
Our forefathers did not choose that we should retrain what they build as a museum piece… but the new building will be incidental to the total mission of the church. These old walls have made possible new walls now being erected and one day, to please God, our children’s children… will renew what we now build that the church of Jesus constant will remain. Our abiding faith is God is with us..
And the best is yet to be’. Rev Erwin Vogt