Bishop David Robinson Letters


“ Peace with God came through the death of Jesus. God's grace does not come cheaply, reconciliation and forgiveness come at a price. The difficulty is that, for many people today, many Christians today, we want peace with God and peace on earth but we aren't prepared to pay the price ”

Vicar General

June to August 2017

“The Anglican Church of Australia will enter General Synod on 3 September.”

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“Vicar General’s musings”

Dear Friends,

As I write this there are about 130 days to Christmas. This is a reminder that we have moved through over half of this year. If you were to reflect on the hopes, dreams and resolution that you had as 2017 began, how have you done? Like many of you, I think I have allowed the busyness of life to overwhelm the many good intentions and hopes that I had.

The Anglican Church of Australia will enter General Synod on 3 September. This synod is held usually every three years. Representatives from every diocese will gather as houses of bishop, clergy and laity to consider legislation and motions that can/will impact on the life of the church.

When I started reading over the motions from the last general synod I had a fear that maybe there are parts of the church that have been so overwhelmed by business of life and survival that the wonderful hopes have been forgotten.

There were, amongst many others at the last synod, great motions about the environmental issues and refugees. There was general support for advancement of issues surrounding the viability of diocese and there were statements regarding the Royal Commission and the church’s response to child abuse. I know some of the issues have been progressed but I fear for some of the others

Reading the material for this year’s synod, it is apparent that an issue not forgotten is the one of child abuse. There has been enormous work undertaken by the Professional Standards Commission and Royal Commission Working Group. Under the leadership of Mr Garth Blake SC these two groups have tried to bring together the varying practices of the Australian dioceses into a nationally consistent approach to child protection in this church.

The Royal Commission has unveiled some terrible events that have taken place by members of the church or employees of the church over many decades. These acts can only be described as abhorrent and some of the responses by the churches to these incidents have been found to be equally as harmful to the victims. A line in the sand has to be drawn and we, as a church, must not let the issue of the safety of the vulnerable in our community be a hope that we let fade. General Synod needs to take this call seriously and work as a united church to promote this and to resolve to take hard and sometime painful decisions for the good of the victims and the protection of others.

So too does each diocese and parish. Yes it can seem tiresome to have to ‘do’ training; yes it can seem a nuisance to sign those forms. But all these are little steps that remind us that abuse has happened and can easily happen in the most unsuspecting places. Unless all of the members of the church take it seriously, it will happen again.

I pray that many of the other great hopes from last General Synod will have been advanced as well.

But on a completely different topic. I have only recently come across the writings of Symeon the New Theologian who was the abbot of an orthodox monastery in Constantinople. He was born around 949 AD. His burning conviction was that the Christian life must be more than just a routine or habit, but rather it should be a personal experience of the living Christ.

Symeon focused his reflection on the Holy Spirit's presence in the baptised and on the awareness they must have of this spiritual reality. "Christian life", he emphasised, "is intimate, personal communion with God, divine grace illumines the believer's heart and leads him to a mystical vision of the Lord". Along these lines, Symeon the New Theologian, insisted that true knowledge of God does not come from books but rather from spiritual experience, from spiritual life. Knowledge of God is born from a process of inner purification that begins with conversion of heart through the power of faith and love. It passes through profound repentance and sincere sorrow for one's sins to attain union with Christ, the source of joy and peace, suffused with the light of his presence within us. For Symeon this experience of divine grace did not constitute an exceptional gift for a few mystics but rather was the fruit of Baptism in the life of every seriously committed believer.

I share one of, what I think, is one of his beautiful poems which speaks of the intimate union with Christ to which God is calling us.

Christ's blessings       + John


Bishop David Robinson

March to May 2017

“Christianity is a religion of sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice being found in the cross.”

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“Christianity is a religion of sacrifice”

Dear Friends,

In our last issue, I noted how our society has changed and spoke of how it is now suggested that Western society, perhaps with the demise of the Christian faith which created and reinforced the guilt-innocence culture, is shifting into a pleasure-pain culture. A culture that no longer accepts the old concepts of sin and guilt or the need for salvation. *

This shift is having a significant impact on the way we do church. Perhaps the best way to test this impact is to ask why do you come to church? Is it because of the great teaching? Is it because the music is uplifting? Is it because your friends are there? Or perhaps you would put it more spiritually and say, you come to receive communion and be reassured that you are part of the community of the faithful. Note that in each these cases the reason for attendance is personal. Put bluntly we often attend church for what we get out it, for some personal gain.

The pleasure/pain culture helps to create a fulfilment/sacrifice response. We attend church seeking personal fulfilment and when we don’t receive this fulfilment we move on to another church, another activity, perhaps giving up worship completely, because we find our spiritual fulfilment, our god in the garden, the bush, the seaside.

The impact of this change can also be seen in the number of churches that now advertise church attendance in terms of personal fulfilment ‘Live your best life’, ‘Become all you were meant to be,’ ‘Life change happens here’ are just three of the ones I have come across recently. There is an element of truth in each of these, after all faith in Jesus does enable us to become the kind people God wants us to be. Here is the key issue – the kind of people God wants us to be not who we or the world thinks we should be.

Christianity is a religion of sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice being found in the cross. Each believer is called to take up their cross and follow Jesus, called to put others ahead of themselves, to serve God and not their own personal ends. It is not a popular message but it's a message we need to hear if we are to be faithful in proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Good news that turns upside down so much of what passes for worldly wisdom, good news that reminds us that it is in giving we receive, that following Jesus is the path to fulfilment. It is in sacrifice that we find true fulfilment.

With every blessing       + David


Bishop David Robinson

December 2016 to February 2017

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‘Pain and Pleasure’

Dear Friends,

One of the challenges facing the Anglican Church today is how to do mission in a changed and constantly evolving society.

The world is constantly changing and yet, the ways in which we view the world, our worldview, can remain remarkably inflexible. A worldview provides security, helping us to make sense of our world; it provides a way for us to describe the nature of things. It tells us why things are the way they are and how to act. Worldviews are extremely resistant to change, ‘Our worldview buttresses our fundamental beliefs with emotional reinforcements so that they are not easily destroyed’. *

When we consider this information in relation to how we think and feel about church, about worship and mission, I hope we can begin to understand how difficult it is to change the way we do church and the ways we think about mission. This creates significant difficulties. Our culture has changed and is changing quite rapidly. But our worldview remains static. Put simply this means the old ways of doing things don’t work anymore. I’m reasonably confident that all of us at some stage or another have had to take a step back and rethink our understanding of the way things work, perhaps wondering why did that happen.

Cultural anthropologists claim there are a number of different cultures across the world. Very briefly, there is the shame-honour culture found in many Eastern, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. There is the fear-power culture that is found in tribal societies in Africa, and places where animism is the major religious belief, and there is the guilt-innocence culture found in Western societies.

At least this is the way it was. It is now being suggested that Western society, perhaps with the demise of the Christian faith which created and reinforced the guilt-innocence culture, is shifting into a pleasure-pain culture. People no longer accept the old concepts of sin and guilt and the subsequent need for salvation and a declaration of innocence. Pleasure and fulfilment, instant gratification and the hedonistic pursuit of all that makes the individual feel good is now the major driver of Western culture. Christian concepts like sin, sacrifice and suffering sound far too painful to many people in today’s world. Little wonder we struggle to connect with people in our streets and towns.

I don’t want to suggest, even for a moment, that we abandon the concepts of sin and the need for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Indeed these things set us apart, as does the Christian doctrine of sacrifice and suffering. We recognise life is not all about pleasure, there is sacrifice and pain. Even those who constantly chase pleasure eventually must come to a point of pain. Pain, like death, is part of life and it cannot be avoided. So we are left to consider how can we connect with them.

To connect with pleasure we can speak of the joy of being a child of God, an inheritor of the heavenly kingdom. Can I ask you to reflect on whether our gatherings reflect joy? Are we a joyful people or have we lost sight of the truth of God and the power of the Holy Spirit? The apostle Paul could speak of being joyful in suffering because he was convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38)

In pain we can connect by helping people to see what Paul illustrates so well in the passage above – God knows pain and while God may not take the pain away he provides the strength to go on. It is easy to forget the simple truth, to let go of the joy of knowing Christ that should be ours and to seek pleasure and fulfilment in the things of this world and not in the knowledge and love of Christ, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the assurance that we are God’s people.

Let us dedicate ourselves anew to being counter-cultural to finding joy, deep joy, in God. May His Spirit fill our hearts and minds and may we, filled with God’s Spirit, bring new life to all we meet.

*Transforming Culture, Hiebert, P.G., Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2008, p29.

With every blessing       + David


Bishop David Robinson

October - December 2016


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‘For a child has been born for us, …’

“We need changed hearts and minds and to be challenged about our attitudes to one another”

Dear Friends,

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Dear Friends,

I wonder how many people over the Christmas period, will stop and reflect on these words and their significance for all creation.

It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of doing Christmas - family gatherings, gifts being bought, given and received, etc. - such things, nice as they are, often draw our attention away from the birth of Jesus, the birth of God’s chosen king. One of the most fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith is that in Jesus, God entered into human existence. This belief has shaped and transformed the lives of millions of people for two millennia; it has brought hope when all seemed lost; healing when the doctors had given up and it has restored relationships thought broken beyond repair. Such is the power of faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.

Our world is in desperate need of a King and Saviour. A king who challenges our ideas, a king who will call us to account both for the things we do and the things we don’t. Of course such an idea is not very popular in today’s world – it wasn’t popular when Jesus’ walked the streets of Israel either – but popularity is not the point. The recent election in the USA revealed the ugliness of human nature and a lack of respect for others that left many people shocked. Yet, such ugliness is all around us -on the large scale in Syria and the terror of ISIS; in our response to the plight of refugees, and, closer to home, in the acts of violence against complete strangers and against family members; in the rudeness often shown towards others and a selfishness that seeks only to care for number one. We need changed hearts and minds and to be challenged about our attitudes to one another, to learn to truly love not only our friends but our enemies too.

Jesus is Christ the King, a King born in poverty, a King born without any of the usual trappings of greatness, but a King none the less. A King who demands a response.

People may well say they don’t want a king who will judge and hold them to account but the issue is not what we want but what we need. As I look around, as I look at the news each day, I become ever more convinced of our inability to save ourselves, and of the need for forgiveness and salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. People need hope - hope based on faith in Jesus Christ, hope that comes through a relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit living within. As we celebrate the birth of God’s King, may we be filled with the Holy Spirit of God and bold in our proclamation of Jesus as Lord and Saviour. May we be bold in announcing that the prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled - a child has been born, a son given to us who is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace God.

May you, and all those for whom you pray, be filled with the hope and joy of Jesus’ birth.

With every blessing       + David


Bishop David Robinson

July - September 2016


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‘Arriving within the Diocese of Rockhampton.’

Dear Friends,

It’s now been a little over two years since Jan and I arrived in the Diocese of Rockhampton. In this time, we have managed to travel to almost every part of the Diocese and met many wonderful, caring people. We have been encouraged by the dedication, prayerfulness and the welcoming nature of the church communities that meet across the Diocese.

I have also been very mindful of the difficulties we face, as the Anglican Church, in providing a Christian witness in the more isolated communities that are spread across the region and I am most grateful for the support of the Bush Church Aid Society without whose help we would not be able to provide the kind of ministry we do in towns like Moranbah, Winton, Longreach and Barcaldine.

This year Bishop in Council has begun to look more carefully at our strategy for ministry in the years ahead, identifying some shifts in emphasis that will need to occur, as we seek to grow God’s Kingdom across Central Queensland.

One area of focus for the Diocese will be the introduction of a new training initiative. The Ridley Certificate in Theology. This course is available online and is an ideal course for those involved, or seeking to be involved, in Lay Ministry. It is hoped that we will be able to run some workshops across the Diocese for those wanting to take part in this programme. In which we will talk about the course units being studied and offer some further training for ministry. In a little while I hope to announce the creation of a Bishop’s Certificate of Ministry for those providing leadership in parishes. Of course each of these courses will be open to anyone who wishes to participate. If you would like to get involved please register your interest through the Diocesan office.

A second area of focus, next year, will be on the development of ministry hubs. While still in the development phase, it is clear that we need to do something differently as we seek to lead the church into the future. Ministry hubs will allow us to create centres for training and encouragement, places to meet and pray together, as we carry on the work of mission and ministry.

These changes along with a number of other strategies for the future are spelled out in the Diocese’s draft Mission Action Plan, which has now gone out to all parishes for comment. If you would like to see a copy please ask your wardens.

Can I ask you to offer prayerful support for these changes? There will be challenges, I am sure, but with prayer and in the power of God, all things are possible.

Let’s work together to be a people who love God and love others both in word and deed.

With every blessing       + David


Bishop David Robinson

April to June 2016


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‘Sharing God’s Blessing – How to renew the local church’

Dear Friends,

In a few weeks the clergy of the Diocese will gather for their annual conference. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Sharing God’s Blessing – How to renew the local church’. (The book of this title by Robin Greenwood can be ordered from the Diocesan office.)

As a consequence of reading the book and preparing for our time away, I have been reflecting on what it might mean, for us, to be a blessing in a community that is increasingly divisive and destructive.

The rise of individualism, where my rights, my opinions, my desires, are more important than others raises some interesting challenges. I note that following the recent Federal Election it has been commented that the likelihood of a hung parliament and the increase in independent and non-aligned groups is due to the rise in individualism and a reduced sense of communal good. Each person acts on what they perceive is best for themselves and not necessarily the greater good.

The Church has not been immune to this rise in individualism. Questions of faith are seen in personal and individualistic ways with little concern for the well being of the whole community. My faith, my way could well be the mantra for many Christians today. Such thinking, however, is far removed from scripture and perhaps one of the key reasons that in many places the Church is seen as largely irrelevant in people’s lives.

From the calling of God’s people in Exodus (Exodus 6), to Jesus’ calling of disciples in the gospels (see for example John 8), and to Paul’s description of the Church (1Cor 12), Christianity has been about community, groups of people bonded together for worship, for support and encouragement, and as a witness to another way. It is as witness to another way that we are most able to share God’s blessing in our communities. We are called to model love and care for others, a lifestyle that values community, that seeks to serve others and not ourselves. Only then will people be able to look at us, to look at the church and say ‘see how they love one another’, to see ‘loving God and loving others’ in action.

With every blessing       + David


Bishop David Robinson

January - March 2016


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Easter, a celebration of hope

Dear Friends,

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!!
  Easter, a celebration of hope, of the power of God to bring life out of death.
  We were very fortunate, this year, to be able to celebrate Easter services in the far west of the Diocese. Easter Eve we shared in the Lighting of the New Fire at Winton and then on Easter Day we took part in Easter services at Boulia and Bedourie. It was a joy to be with the people of God in each of these communities and to worship with them, recalling the power and grace of God revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Anglican Diocese

  The journey out west was one of contrasts. The drought persists in large parts of the Diocese with many families suffering great hardship. How frustrating and demoralising it must be when your property is in drought while others, just a few kilometres away, are lush and green. The images below help show this contrast. Still, there is no doubt seeing green grass lifts the spirit and brings a hope to others that the rain will come and the drought will end.

     As I reflect on the journey of faith, I am conscious that we can all go through periods of drought – spiritual drought, times when God seems distant and uncaring and then times of drenching refreshing and renewing rain – a fresh out pouring of God’s Holy Spirit.   During the times of spiritual drought we need hope. Hope can be provided by our sisters and brothers in Christ – those who are the green fields reminding us that our drought is not unending, that the water of life continues to flow and refresh those who put their faith in Jesus.   Jesus speaks of himself as living water (John 4), a referral to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all who believe. It was an outpouring that came about only after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many Biblical images of water – rivers flowing out of God’s kingdom – are images of the consummation of God’s kingdom. Images of renewal following times of hardship, times of drought.   As we begin our journey towards Pentecost and the celebration of God’s spirit poured out on all creation, we pray that God would fill us anew with the Holy Spirit. May we become like fields of green grass, filled with hope and living witnesses to the truth of our Easter proclamation: Christ is risen. Alleluia!

With every blessing       + David


Bishop David Robinson

December 2015


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Peace on Earth

Dear Friends,

The message of Christmas is 'Peace on Earth'. The images of a baby in a manger, of angels and shepherds rejoicing at the birth of Jesus create a warm and marketable picture. It's also a message we long to hear in this broken world, but are we being realistic about how peace is achieved?

Simeon in Luke's gospel, speaking to Mary, comments, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed - and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34f) These words sound, to me, like a warning. Yes, the salvation of the world has arrived, yes, there will be peace, but that peace comes at a price.

Peace with God came through the death of Jesus. God's grace does not come cheaply; reconciliation and forgiveness come at a price. The difficulty is that, for many people today, many Christians today, we want peace with God and peace on earth but we aren't prepared to pay the price.

As we reflect on the world around us, there are many conflicts and acts of terror that are changing the way we think and act. While we struggle to find solutions to these issues (there are histories and complexities we do not understand) we can and should pray. Pray for peacemakers, for governments and leaders who are trying to seek solutions to these difficult issues, remembering that with God all things are possible.

This Christmas, I want us to think closer to home. Consider what it would take to bring peace to our homes, our communities, our church. What would it take to bring peace to families torn apart by domestic violence; peace to communities that are split because of race or faith; peace to those suffering mental illnesses? Are we, as followers of Jesus, prepared to pay the price of peace?

We live in a society that has largely turned its back on God. Individualism, freedom to do 'my thing my way', self-satisfaction and the idea that 'I am the most important person in the world' have distorted our frame of reference. We no longer see each individual as a loved and valuable child of the one true God. Rather we have made the individual the centre of all that is. The difficulty is that, once an individual assumes that they are the most important person in the world, all other persons, by definition, are second in importance. In many cultures and countries, this has led to an attitude of superiority of men over women and an attitude of superiority over those of different colour, ethnicity, and culture. In such an environment, peace with God and peace with others is squeezed out in favour of protecting our own interests.

As we draw closer to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Christ, can we stop and think about the price of peace? The price that Jesus paid in coming to earth, living and dying so that we might have peace with God.

Then can we ask what price we are prepared to pay to bring peace, real peace, into our communities, our churches, our families. Are we able to put others ahead of ourselves, to serve others as Jesus served? Are we able to hold our tongues and not gossip about others? Can we hold back the sarcasm and hurtful words we use? Can we build one another up rather than tear down?

It's time to take the 'me' out of Christmas and make God the centre of our lives; to see others as Jesus sees them; to be willing to die to self and lay down our lives so that Jesus may be seen in and through us.

Peace on Earth is possible when we, in humility and faith, put our trust in God and love the people around us.

With Jan's and my love and blessings for you and your family this Christmas time… may it be a celebration of love and peace.

With every blessing       + David


Bishop David Robinson

June 2015


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The Challenge of Transition

Dear Friends,

The Challenge of Transition

The Anglican Church of Australia is in a time of transition. Last year the Viability and Structures Task Force opened its report to General Synod with the words 'The Anglican Church of Australia is at a crossroad. For over 30 years it has been slowly declining and the time has come for a revolution if it is to be a strong and sustainable church for the future.' These are strong words pointing to an urgent need for change.

In this Diocese we too are faced with a number of challenges if we are to remain a strong and sustainable church in Central Queensland. We too are in transition as we seek to discover God's next stage in our journey together.

For Jan and I there are the transitions to being in a new place and of constant travel, most weekends see us on the road visiting different parts of the Diocese. This has been a good experience giving us the opportunity to experience the warmth and hospitality of the many parishes in the Diocese, to hear stories of hardship and of hope, and to worship and pray together. It has helped us to see the diversity that exists across the Diocese and the willingness of so many people to try new things - to enter into transitions that will help bring people to Jesus.

The Bible tells us that faith in God is filled with transitions. Abram leaves his father's home to travel to a new and unknown destination. The Israelites leave Egypt for the land of promise. The story of salvation, of the fall in the Garden of Eden, of the forgiveness made possible in Jesus' death, of new life promised to all who repent and believe, a life empowered by God's Holy Spirit, is the ultimate story of transition.

While all of us are familiar with the idea of transition and a new beginning - starting school, commencing work, meeting that special someone, the birth of a child or grandchild, moving home, retirement, illness, the death of a loved one - we know times like these are difficult. All transitions present their challenges. As Jesus reminds us, in Mark 2:22, 'no one pours new wine into old wineskins, otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined'. Transitions are a bit like putting new wine into old skins, they are tricky, they can burst and make a mess. Transitions need new wineskins - a revolution perhaps - and so they come with a mix of fear and excitement, pain and joy.

As God's people we, like all those who have gone before, are called to transition - to new beginnings - to change. Many people are already experimenting with new ideas - Mainly Music, Messy Church to name but two. Some people will be concerned about the change - some will want to hold on to the old wineskins that are familiar and comfortable, some will embrace the new skins and wonder why they didn't try this years ago. When I think about myself and my role I wonder - am I an old or new wineskin, am I willing to change myself in order to better serve God or would I rather keep things the way they've always been?

As Christians I think we face this challenge in a number of ways - as individuals, as parishes and as a Diocese - will we be old or new wineskins? My prayer is that we will be open to the transitions that God lays before us, open to new ways of being Christ's presence in the world around, open to the Spirit of God who calls, guides, strengthens and sustains us.

With every blessing        + David