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2013 Easter Sunrise Service – Valley Lake, Mount Gambier

Celebrating the resurrection life with Christians from across our city.

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Call Me Barabbas

Credit where it’s due: preaching Matthew 27: 15-26 at MGPC this morning, and this song always echoes in my head, as it does most Good Fridays.

Call Me Barabbas – Nathan Tasker

“Crucify Him!” they shouted so loud
The angry death wish from the rabble crowd
“We want Barabbas set free”.

The choice had been made the hands had been washed
The death of one man is all his freedom cost
But I can’t help thinking Barabbas is me
And Jesus set me free

So call me Barabbas ’cause that’s who I am
All I deserve has been given to Him
The guilty set free, the innocent must die
A lifetime of sin is all that I know
I should’ve been killed but Jesus let me go
And I can’t forget the death of that Man
It set free Barabbas, and that’s who I am

He is risen the disciples did say
ascended to heaven the price has been paid
the temple curtain now lays in two

The pathway to life is now paved by His blood
protected on both sides by the Father’s love
He wants to love me and you
because of nothing we do

So call me Barabbas ’cause that’s who I am
All I deserve has been given to Him
The guilty set free, the innocent must die
A lifetime of sin is all that I know
I should’ve been killed but Jesus let me go
And I can’t forget the death of that Man
It set free Barabbas, and that’s who I am

and I can’t forget
the look in His eyes as I passed by free
Jesus set me free, now I’m free

So call me forgiven ’cause that’s who I am
all I deserve has been given to Him
the guilty set free the innocent must die
a lifetime of love is all that I know
I should’ve been killed by Jesus let me go

and I can’t forget the death of that Man
it set free Barabbas and that’s who I am.

Copyright Nathan Tasker
From the album ‘life… this side of heaven.’

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Rise O Buried Lord – Reimagined And New Hymns For Easter

From their website:
Rise O Buried Lord is an album of new and reimagined hymns by Redeemer Church of Knoxville. It is a concept album that tells the story of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. This week, known as Holy Week, is the centerpiece of the Christian’s hope.”
Assured and engaging folk renditions encouraging a thoughtful and reflective Easter observance.
Have a listen here and the download is currently US$7 which includes lead sheets


To See The King Of Heaven Fall / Gethsemane Hymn – Sunday Songs

At the recent General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia we shared a time of worship at which we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. As the elements were being distributed through the large church an operatic baritone (seriously) sang verses from ‘To See The King Of Heaven Fall’, also known as ‘Gethsemane Hymn’. Another composition by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, the words and music work together compellingly to express an appreciation for the cost of Jesus’ obedience.
This is one to be used at communion times or particularly around Easter. What a song for Thursday night or Good Friday.
We’ve tried singing it at mgpc the last couple of nights, and once you master the fact that much of it is set very low, it works quite well for congregational singing.

The lyrics from the song’s page at Kingsway Music.
To see the King of heaven fall
In anguish to His knees
The Light and Hope of all the world
Now overwhelmed with grief
What nameless horrors must He see
To cry out in the garden
“Oh, take this cup away from me
Yet not my will but Yours
Yet not my will but Yours.”
To know each friend will fall away
And heaven’s voice be still
For hell to have its vengeful day
Upon Golgotha’s hill
No words describe the Saviour’s plight
To be by God forsaken
Till wrath and love are satisfied
And every sin is paid
And every sin is paid
What took Him to this wretched place
What kept Him on this road?
His love for Adam’s curséd race
For every broken soul
No sin too slight to overlook
No crime too great to carry
All mingled in this poisoned cup
And yet He drank it all
The Saviour drank it all
The Saviour drank it all

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
Copyright © 2009 Thankyou Music

YouTube of Stuart Townend from concert setting, with extended introduction.


The Canberra Declaration – A Call To Deistic Conscience

I received a group email last night that referred to a document of which I was unaware: ‘The Canberra Declaration’.
A quick search gave one reason why, the document had only been released on Friday, July 23, 2010. Still, it seemed a bit odd. I like to think that I keep up with what’s going on through online means and if a significant Christian statement was being drafted and released, I wouldn’t be expecting a call to tell me it was happening and a request for my permission, but I’d like to think that the process would be public enough to know it was occuring.
Anyway, the document has a nice website and claims to “follow from the 2009 Manhattan Declaration and the 2010 Westminster Declaration.”
I had written on the Manhattan Declaration when it was released (see links below), but was not aware of the Westminster Declaration.
These documents all share the aim to be ecumenically Christian documents expressing a position on three concerns: religious freedom of expression; dilution of the historic understanding of marriage and family; and the sanctity of life.
The Manhattan Declaration and Westminster Declaration have not been without their supporters, having gained the online assent of over 450,000 and 65,000 people respectively.
The Manhattan Declaration was criticised, not so much for its content but for its claim that:

Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person.

The claim that these traditions share a common faith does not stand up to intense scrutiny. The document provides a framework in which pursuit of these ethical concerns can either be understood as outworkings of the Gospel derived from Scripture, or essential parts of the Gospel determined by appeal to Scripture and religious authority.
The Westminster Declaration seems to avoid this problem by using this statement in its preamble:

As Christians we reaffirm historic belief in God the Father (who created us and gave us the blueprint for our lives together); in God the Son Jesus Christ our Saviour (accepting his incarnation, teaching, claims, miracles, death, resurrection and return in judgment); and in God the Holy Spirit (who lives within us, guides us and gives us strength). We commit ourselves to worship, honour and obey God.
As UK citizens we affirm our Christian commitment both to exercise social responsibility in working for the common good and also to be subject to all governing authorities and obey them except when they require us to act unjustly.

Absent is the reference to specific groups, replaced by the statement of belief. The Westminster Declaration is much more concise than its US counterpart.
The Canberra Declarion, by contrast offers us:

The Preamble to the Australian Constitution contains the words, “Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God”. As Australian citizens we continue to declare that we too put our trust in Almighty God.
For centuries, to speak of Western civilisation was to speak of Christian civilisation. The two were in many ways synonymous. The values that we have cherished and sought to strengthen are in large measure founded on the Judeo-Christian belief system. The many freedoms, advantages, opportunities, values and liberties which characterise the West owe much to the growth of Christianity with its inherent belief in the dignity of the human person as created in the image of God and the code of behaviour that flows from this belief.

The Canberra Declaration mentions Christianity, but makes no specific reference to Christ or his words. The usage of the phrase “Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God” does come from the Constitution, but was deliberately chosen for its non-Christian form. It is a poor choice to reference without further qualification or explanation in what is supposedly a Christian document. The theological acumen of the framers and their un-named consultants is questionable.
Its content from that point on mirrors the more concise form of expression used by the Westminster Declaration.
Personally I’m mystified by the lack of reference to any definition of Christian belief.
It is well-meaning in its intent, but gives the impression that if a certain form of social organisation is maintained then Australia could consider itself a ‘Christian Country’. This is not just unhelpful, from an evangelical Christian perspective it is un-Christian.
This document could be signed by a deist or unitarian. I think it could be signed by a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon. Any non-supernaturalist who simply believes the teachings of Gospels are a sound ethical framework for modern times could sign this. Given the reference to the “Judeo-Christian belief system” I wouldn’t particularly be surprised if Jewish folk supported its general contentions, though they’d certainly have problems with the notion of benefits having come to them through Christian dominance of Western Culture.
The document is styled “A Call To Christian Conscience”.
Well, it’s half right. It’s a call to conscience, but there’s nothing uniquely Christian about it that I can perceive, and, due to the imprecision of its drafting, the impression that it cultivates is one that undermines Gospel outreach.

My ‘Manhattan Declaration’ posts.
The Manhattan Declaration
The Manhattan Declaration And The Next Morning Principle
Some Final (maybe) Thoughts On The Manhattan Declaration


My Easter Interview On Local ABC Radio

To the polite inquiry of a few and the demand of no-one, here’s the mp3 of my conversation with our local ABC radio morning show host, Stan Thomson.
I returned a phone message left on our church’s machine on Wednesday morning, agreed to an interview for Thursday morning, arrived at the studio at 9.30am and was sitting down in front of a microphone at 9.34am.
Apart from being prepared for a ‘chat about Easter’, everything we did was spontaneous. Coming from the low-church end of town I had a few terrors about not knowing much about candles, days with funny names, curious rituals and the like. Stan was a very generous interviewer.
I am aware of the million little ums and arrs. This is my brain and vocal chord’s ingrained delay strategy against saying something glib, stupid, insulting or wrong. (Thanks again Mowbray Presbytery.)
I am also a bit jargony. My friend Chris is better at using everyday language for this sort of thing.
The beginning is missing. Stan opens by asking something about this being a busy weekend.
Somewhere over the course of the interview he also comes to think that my name is Gary Wade. Oh well.
Most people who listened seemed to like the exchange that took place around 7.30. The whole thing takes about ten minutes.