Australian Student Christian Movement
active – open – critical – ecumenical
ASCM National Appeal
Apologies if you have received multiple copies of this email.
Australian Student Christian Movement
Dear senior friends,
Our sincere thanks to members/senior friends last year for their support in helping us run programs around Australia, in East Timor and to send representatives from ASCM to ecumenical events.
Thanks to your support we were able to carry out the following activities:
Paid honoraria of part-time ASCM staff workers at national and state levels.
Sent Caity Cameron (ACT staff worker) to attend the World Student Christian Federation’s second Inter-regional program on Identity, Diversity, and Dialogue in Nairobi, Africa.
Held monthly Bible studies in Melbourne and Perth and regular meetings at QLD University.
In Canberra, held monthly discussions on social justice.
SCM Qld sponsored Bart to attend the Global Chaplaincy Conference at Latrobe University, Bendigo. Russell also attended.
After supporting East Timor SCM for the last year and a half, previously non-active, they are now back to being active. Please follow this link to see their activities: https://bit.ly/3438X1J
Sent John Biswas (NSW), James Maley (WA), Kingston Selveraj (SA) and Caity Cameron and Kate King (ACT) to attend the Voices of Justice Conference in Canberra.
Held our National Executive Meeting via Skype in February 2019 and Annual General Meeting in Canberra in July 2019.
Held our National Conference and National Senior Friends’ Reunion in St Margaret’s Uniting Church and Holy Cross Anglican Church, Hackett, ACT (Canberra) in July 2019, with the following speakers:
- Barrie Baker – ASCM across the generations
- Helen Rainger – Palestine and Israel: What’s at stake?
- Robert Tulip – Climate change, global warming, and the Christian response
- Tim Ngui — Human Rights and the law
- Sandy Yule and John Probhudan – Who or what is God?
- Ivo Goncalves – a history of activism in East Timor
After a year processing unclaimed money, we have received from NAB and CBA a total of $13,414.24. Thank you to senior friends who helped us with advice and providing information.
This financial year we will continue to run the same activities, with the following initiatives:
Help to pay staff in Timor Leste SCM, but we will reduce support from $3,000 per year to $2,500.
Send delegates to international programs and the WSCF 2020 General Assembly in Berlin, Germany.
ASCM will have a projected deficit of $5,800 (if we only receive $5,000 from our appeal letter) in this year’s budget. This means ASCM needs donations totalling $10,800 to support our programs and honorarium.
We rely on the support of our senior friends like you and thank you sincerely for your donations and support in other ways.
To make a donation:
- Via Credit card or PayPal: donate directly through this link.
Via Bank transfer: BSB 06 2000 Account Number 0092 2944.
Via Cheque: send to PO Box 4386, Melbourne University, VIC 3052. Payable to Australian Student Christian Movement.
If you wish to make ongoing contributions, we suggest you choose recurring (monthly, quarterly or yearly) so that the donation will be automatically debited from your account.
To go paperless
Please subscribe to our email newsletter to see what we have done and what we plan to do.
To make a bequest for the general purposes of ASCM:
“I bequeath (insert specific amount; percentage of estate; residue of estate; etc) to the Australian Student Christian Movement, to be applied for general purposes of the said organisation.”
To make a bequest to the ASCM Centenary Trust Fund:
“I bequeath (insert specific amount; percentage of estate; residue of estate; etc) to the Australian Student Christian Movement Centenary Trust Fund, to be applied for general purposes of the said Trust.”
If neither of these suit your wishes, your solicitor or professional adviser will be able to construct the right wording for you. For further information from ASCM, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
|Australian Student Christian Movement|
|Actual 2018/2019||Budget 2019/2020|
|Appeal letter (for National)||5,206.07||5,000.00|
|Total Revenue & other Income||43,167.61||37,403.30|
|AGM Last year||4,301.26||2,500.00|
|AGM This year||92.48||100.00|
|Voices for Justice Canberra||2,116.52|
|Justice Conference Melbourne|
|WSCF AP/Global Program||1,334.33||6,500.00|
|Visit to Indonesia SCM & East Timor|
|National appeal cost||708.42||750.00|
|PO Box Renewal||130.00||130.00|
|East Timor mission||3,000.00||2,500.00|
|State Expense non honorarium||47.67|
|Solomon Islands Mission||500.00||-|
|Total Expenditure & Others||32,849.83||37,139.95|
|Surplus and Deficit||10,317.78||263.35|
Upcoming ASCM and WSCF events
Melbourne Bible study – Monday 21 October
We conclude our series on the Letter to the Ephesians.
Dinner from 6:30pm, Bible study discussion from 7:30pm.
ASCM and WSCF event reports
ACT Bible study – Uluru statement
Senior friend Robert Tulip led a Bible study on the Uluru Statement with seven in attendance on Sunday 18 August.
Melbourne – Universal Day of Prayer for Students
On Sunday afternoon, 25 August, the Victorian SCM held a Universal Day of Prayer Service at the Church of All Nations, Carlton. The service was led by Claudine Chionh, Zak Hanyn, Matthew Julius, Ann Ng and Sandy Yule, with 26 people participating. The service was based on the liturgy prepared by the WSCF, the theme of which was peace. Matthew preached on 2 Corinthians 5: 11-21, with its emphasis on our calling as ambassadors for reconciliation. Songs and hymns were sung representing different eras of ASCM.
Following the service, there was opportunity for meeting and sharing over afternoon tea, which was much appreciated. Nine people stayed on for a discussion of the future of SCM in Victoria. There was good support for hosting the next ASCM conference and AGM in Melbourne at this meeting.
Opinion and reflection
Sermon preached at Melbourne’s Universal Day of Prayer for Students
God, may my words be loving and true; and may those who listen discern what is not. Amen.
“… thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession …” (2 Cor 2.14a)
These words sit a few chapters before our reading from 2 Corinthians chapter 5 — one of Paul’s letters to the Christian community in the city of Corinth. With these words, Paul encourages his readers to attend to the ironic, parodic, even sarcastic bent in Christian proclamation.
This parody at the heart of the Gospel provides important background for our reading today.
The language of ‘Gospel’ or ‘Good News’ draws on traditions that proclaim victory in battle and conquest. ‘Good News’ was news from the front, from the victory of the King or Emperor over vanquished foes. Returning home in triumph, marching forward through the throng of adoring crowds: this is Gospel, Good News. Proclaimed as rulers parade in splendorous victory through the streets, carrying the spoils of their defeated foes. Leading the returning army in a procession of glory.
And this term ‘Gospel’ becomes the name for the core of Christian proclamation. Hear the Good News! The promised Messiah, the Christ, has come into the world!
The one in whom God will reveal the vindication of God’s people; the one in whom God will release God’s people from occupation; the one in whom God will restore the reign of God’s peace.
Hear the Gospel! This promised Messiah has come into the world! The Christ is here! Hallelujah!
And this Messiah has been put to death. By the very ones who hold God’s people in darkness, in bondage, and in violence.
The Messiah and saviour of the world has come and been put to death on a Roman cross. Hallelujah ~
“… thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession …” (2 Cor 2.14a)
Paul offers thanksgiving for being led in triumphal procession, not by a King victorious in battle. But by a King enthroned on a wooden cross with a thorned crown. Defeated by military might, opposed by religious leaders. Put to death. And as this dying King was led away his followers scattered and his movement seemed to end.
While the glory of resurrection should not be forgotten here, a fixed view of the ironic glory of the cross mustn’t either.
As Paul continues to develop the parodic image of being led by a Christ crucified by the military might of Roman occupation, Paul draws on other images of frailty, failure, suffering, and service. Recounting his own experiences of these trials as a sharing in the suffering of Christ.
Elsewhere Paul even talks about himself as a “slave.” A slave led in triumphal procession.
A slave led in triumphal procession does not share in the glorious spoils of the King at the head of the procession. The slave is the spoils of victory. Led along in chains. Imprisoned for the service of the victorious King.
And so even as Paul anticipates the resurrected glory of Christ he acknowledges that such hope is held within his frailty and weakness, expressed in service to others.
Resurrection hope is found in the low ebb of despair, the moments of failure. There the secret of the Jesus who we call the Christ is found. In the very midst of suffering, and struggle: when the community seems to be lacking in numbers; when Paul has felt the need to write a letter to get his own community back on side; when the vision seems to be fading, and the energy of the community with it … There the treasure of the crucified Christ is found, in jar of clays: fragile and cracked.
All of this sets the background to our reading for today. God in Christ meets us in the midst of difficulty. Revealing a world turned upside down. Offering a parody of power: proclaiming defeat as triumph, death as victory, and new life emerging from a rock hewn tomb — the place where corpses lay. And we carry this new life, not that we would continue the cycles of violence that crucified Christ, but that we would be called into something different … something, in a parody of our assumptions of greatness: something truly great.
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God …” (2 Cor 5.11)
As Paul gathers up his account of the ways we are caught up in the saving work of God in Christ, he turns in this part of chapter 5 to how we move from ourselves to others. How we move from our own participation in the death and fragile glory of a crucified and risen Christ, and move to proclaiming this message to others. Move to inviting others to participate in the ever expanding revelation of God’s reign of love, and service to the world. The reign of love in which Christ is King.
It is this relentless movement of God’s love towards the world, like the irresistible current of a raging river, that catches us up and pushes us ever outward to embrace the world in love.
“For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” (2 Cor 5.14-15)
These verses serve as the foundation for any attempt to move beyond ourselves and beckon those in the world back to God. With Paul we proclaim with a distinct boldness. We do not lose our nerve. Or reduce our proclamation to any narrow social or political project.
The Christian proclamation is that Christ has died for all, therefore all have died. And so we are called to live a new life. Not called to the timid proclamation that God may embrace you, may give you a share of the saving work of Christ – if only you would say some magic words, partake in some arcane ritual, or live a certain form of life. No.
The foundation of our Christian proclamation cannot be rooted or anchored in anything at all that we can do. The foundation of Christian hope is nothing less than the reality of God breaking in and breaking open the world, establishing the reign of a crucified Lord who is raised. Establishing a new life of glory that parodies all attempts to wield power unjustly, that establishes a community formed with bonds of love stronger than the bondage of oppression and marginalisation.
The German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured the radical core of what Paul is saying here in 2 Corinthians 5, that Christ has in fact claimed the world for God’s love and calls us to proclaim and enact this in word and deed. Bonhoeffer says:
“The world is not divided between Christ and the devil; it is completely the world of Christ, whether it recognizes this or not. As this reality in Christ it is to be addressed, and thus the false reality that it imagines itself to have, in itself or in the devil, is to be destroyed. The dark, evil world may not be surrendered to the devil, but must be claimed for the one who won it by coming in the flesh, by the death and resurrection of Christ.” (‘Christ, Reality, and Good: Christ, Church, and World’, in Ethics.)
We must attend to the two aspects of what Bonhoeffer is saying, and which captures what Paul himself said before him.
First, rooted in the reality of the saving love of Christ the world is the dwelling place of God. There is no doubt, no confusion, no qualification. This is the free gift of grace.
Second, perhaps more importantly: this does not mean that those who profess Christ as Lord stand in judgement over and against the world. As if we are addressing a world that has not already been set free by the all-embracing love of God.
“From now on,” says the Apostle Paul, “we regard no one from a human point of view … there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5.16a, 17.)
Our posture towards the world cannot begin with the assumption that anyone beyond our narrow community is currently beyond the reach of God’s love. To suggest that this is the case is to surrender the world back to the darkness and evil overcome by the cross of Jesus the Christ. Who took on that darkness and overcame it.
To share, then, in the ministry of reconciliation is not first and foremost to give the world back to the devil so that it can be saved again. Rather, to share in the ministry of reconciliation to which we are called means proclaiming that the reign of God is here.
To those who are captive to hate, we must proclaim that love reigns supreme. Rejecting all forms of bigotry, racism, sexism, and forms of discrimination.
To those who wield power to injure and oppress, we must proclaim that solidarity with the vulnerable is the way our Messiah died.
Rejecting the use of unjust imprisonment to deter those with legitimate claims to asylum.
We must discern and participate in the places where reconciliation is like a stream rising from the ground to nourish the earth.
Attending to the Statement from the Heart Indigenous leaders made at Uluru. Calling for: Voice. Treat. Truth.
We must do the work of caring for those that need it.
Continuing to support the work of welfare organisations and advocating for a society of true justice and true mercy.
We must claim this world as the world in which God’s reign of love has come, the new life of God is sprouting all around us.
And we cannot let this world be overcome by environmental degradation, for it belongs to the living God who says that it is good.
As ambassadors of Christ, each of us, we are called to carry the message of God’s hope even as those who are fragile. Even as the message seems to parody all accounts of power and success.
“No abyss of evil can remain hidden from [Christ] through whom the world is reconciled to God. But the abyss of the love of God embraces even the most abysmal godlessness of the world. In an incomprehensible reversal of all righteous and pious thought, God declares himself as guilty toward the world and thereby extinguishes the guilt of the world.” (‘Christ, Reality, and Good: Christ, Church, and World’, in Ethics.)
Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Because the deep well of God’s love, mercy and justice has already overflown in the life, and in the death, and in the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
This we proclaim.
Hear, then, these words of scripture:
“For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5.21)
Our sins are forgiven
Our hopes are restored
Our lives have been caught up and called on
to proclaim and to enact the reign of God’s love in word and deed
and in the world that is God’s.
Justice and salvation
Internationally renowned Christian theologian Matthew Fox has written a commentary on texts from the great medieval Christian, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179).
In his commentary, Fox writes that “Salvation means justice for Hildegard”. He then quotes her words:
When the salvation of good and just people is progressing favourably, justice is active through the Holy Spirit so that such people…accomplish good deeds.1
The passage is admittedly succinct, and does not explore the societal and community-focussed vision that the word ‘justice’ has now for us.
But that wider vision is present a number of times in the gospel pages. Economic distribution, and redistribution, is a key element in any practice of social justice.
Those who encountered God in Jesus, in several incidents mentioned in the gospels, were challenged to share their economic power and possession with others.
Did you know that the only time the noun salvation (Greek – σωτηρια)2 occurs in any of the gospels in regard to Jesus using it of a person’s response to him, occurs in the story narrated in Luke 19:1-10? This passage contains the famous account of Jesus’ encounter with Zaccaheus, a chief tax-collector.
Zacchaeus is described in economic terms. He was “very rich” (19:2). He was also “trying to see Jesus”. However, he was a short bloke, so he had to climb a tree to catch sight of Jesus.
But Jesus caught sight of him and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house! And Zacchaeus hurried home and welcomed Jesus (19:5).
After the welcome, what Zacchaeus said to Jesus is recorded in this gospel account. It was not an utterance about religion. Or an intention to become a pious believer. None of these things! Instead, Zacchaeus talked about economic re-distribution.
“Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay four times as much.”
And what does Jesus say to this declaration that Zacchaeus will distribute his wealth, so that half of it will go to the poor, and that, if he has been unscrupulous in collecting his riches, he ‘will make restitution fourfold’?
According to the gospel account, Jesus sees this intended action as a clear indication of salvation. He declares:
“Today salvation has come to this house”.
If Christians are keen on experiencing salvation, then this passage clearly indicates that, as far as Jesus is concerned, their experience of salvation encompasses economic sharing and redistribution to the poor. And thus salvation means the pursuit, and practice, of economic justice for Jesus’ disciples.
Meet an SCMer
David Hale – Queensland staff worker
The important people in my life both of faith and no faith helped my faith journey greatly. I had Catholic, Church and Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the family, no faith friends, Muslim neighbours and friends, and loving local Catholic and Anglican churches that all helped me have a faith that encouraged loving and accepting people. My work with SCM on campus has brought me to ideas and people that I may never have encountered. There is constant motivation to do the work because the theology behind the SCM things like caring about the environment, equality and fresher looks at the Bible are very meaningful to me and to others.
SCMers in the media
‘Can’t we just get along?’ – David Hale’s commentary on religious tolerance for On Line Opinion.
We want to hear from you
Do you have news about friends of ASCM and WSCF or other items of interest? Contact us at email@example.com.
Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, Text by Hildegard of Bingen with commentary by Matthew Fox, Bear & Company, Santa Fe, 1985, p. 64.↩︎
The verb ‘to save’ occurs a good number of times in the gospels in regard to Jesus’ response to those who encountered him. Here I am simply noting the use of the noun ‘salvation’.↩︎