God’s generous extravagance on display at Tuggeranong

God’s generous extravagance on display at Tuggeranong

On Sunday 16 July, the Moderator came to visit Tuggeranong Uniting Church (TUC).

Rev. Simon Hansford preached on the parable of the seeds and the sower—or the four types of ground onto which the seeds were sown (Matt 13). In his sermon, the Moderator called this “a story of God’s grace-filled, generous extravagance; a story that subverts our expectations and invites us to listen, pay attention, and be changed”.

The Moderator contrasted the story that Jesus told with the current business focus on KPIs (key performance indicators) and the need to measure, assess, and evaluate every aspect of work life—including the work of ministers within the church at large. In this view of work, no energy is to be expended on activity that does not produce results! Everything must be successful and achieve the desired goals; nothing should be “wasted”.

He then went on to insist that we should not focus on the fear of wasting the seeds we sow through our Christian life and witness. The story is not instructing us to measure how well we are doing. Rather, he invited the Congregation to hear the story as a demonstration of how God engages with us in Christ—generously, gracefully, extravagantly—and to model our own lives as disciples on this pattern. The story encourages us to live “a discipleship of gentleness and mercy, of grace and wonder”, he said.

The new mural on the large western brick wall of the Tuggeranong Uniting Church in Wanniassa, ACT

After worship, the Congregation moved outside to the western wall of the church, where Geoff Filmer’s wonderful mural—hope-filled, inviting, and generous—was dedicated by the Moderator. Geoff had recently painted this mural on what was previously a huge blank brick wall, facing the street and the Erindale shopping centre. Now, vibrant primary colours adorn the wall, with a set of symbols that were designed in close consultation between the artist and a small working group of the church. The mural is one way amongst many ways by which the Congregation is making connections with the local Tuggeranong community.

The Rev. Elizabeth Raine, minister of the Tuggeranong Uniting Church, with the Rev. Simon Hansford, moderator of the NSW.ACT Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia

The mural was the idea of the Rev. Elizabeth Raine, one of the ministers in placement at Tuggeranong. One of the mission groups that were established early in her ministry (in 2019) worked through the process of conceptualising the idea, fundraising to finance the mural, engaging the Congregation with the proposal, and negotiating with the artist. Some funding came from the Synod, other funding came from a community grant. The work was mostly completed just two months ago.

As a whole, the mural offers the community of the Tuggeranong Valley the symbols of the Gospel: hope and growth, an inclusive welcome and a resilient future. A large dove hovers in the sky, while rain falls to nurture the earth, symbolising the TUC commitment to environmental responsibility. The Uniting Church logo is surrounded by dots, representing a desire to seek reconciliation with First Peoples, whilst a rainbow signals the welcome extended to members of the LGBTIQA+ community, who participate both in the Rainbow Christian Alliance at TUC and in Sunday morning worship.

Members of the congregation complete the mural— much to the delight of Geoff Filmer, the artist who painted the mural

As people gathered on the grass, the Moderator prayed a blessing on the mural and the mission of the Congregation in the Tuggeranong Valley. To celebrate the occasion, members of the Congregation—young and old—joined Geoff Filmer in completing the bottom right-hand corner of the mural, painting sprouts of new growth which are now blossoming into life! The future looks bright; the seeds of God’s generous grace will continue to be sown throughout the Tuggeranong Valley.

John Squires is the Editor of With Love To The World. This piece originally appeared on his blog, An Informed Faith.


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