Front and Centre
Well this brings us to the last newsletter for 2021. As I look back I want to thank you everyone for an amazing year. We have done well in challenging times and maintained a focus on growing disciples who exalt, explore, embody, and engage. On being the church that we are called to be in this place. We have done this because of the amazing people and I want to acknowledge the amazing and talented people that are a part of this church family. In doing so I will apologize now because I will inevitably leave some people out. Not deliberately but because there are so many people who help make this church family what it is. First I would like to acknowledge the ministry team. You are so fortunate to have gifted and talented people like Jess and Dom who are passionate about their calling to serve God in this way. We must also acknowledge Helen’s work and service over the past 10 years and give thanks for the way she has served the church over that time. Thanks for the leadership that is offered by the Church Council Executive, by Nathan, Chris and Ross and the extra time and effort that they have put in is huge. We are so blessed to have them. The leadership offered by the rest of Church Council and the oversight, particularly Spiritual oversight they offer, thank you. Then we have the leaders and volunteers in the various ministries that we offer and come under the Emmanuel banner. They aer many and varied and come out of the passion and commitment of many of you. In no particular order we have those involved in Community Helping Hand, Boys and Girls Brigade, Play group, Sunday School, Youth discipleship, any of our schools ministry, teaching RI, Kids Hope, supporting chaplaincy, supporting our ministry in the Solomon Islands, those leading or supporting our worship each Sunday, our musicians, worship leaders, bible readers, prayers, Dennis our COVID expert, our cleaning volunteers, those in our explore Groups, those discipling others and providing pastoral care that encourages people to grow in their faith. Those helping with the ongoing maintenance of the property, volunteers offering support i the office, particularly since Helen finished. You see what a massive list this is, and I am sure there is more. The strength of this church is all of you, serving the church and seeking to be more like Jesus in our everyday lives. My hope and prayer is that we have helped and encouraged you on that journey. That we are helping people to be more like Jesus everyday. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to lead you and encourage you on that journey. As we look towards 2022 may we have more opportunities to develop as disciples who help others to become disciples as well. Thank you everyone and blessings over this Christmas and New Year period and into 2022.
Grace and peace
It is a week before Christmas and the time of our Community Carols. Carol singing gives us such a wonderful opportunity. On a personal level singing has been proven to be good for our health, our mental well-being, even our immunity system. To sing with joy and hope the message of Christmas is so healthy for each of us. But carol singing is also good for us as a community. It unites us as a Christian community and provides an opportunity to invite friends, neighbours, work colleagues. In essence who are the people of peace, the people who are open to you that you can invite and encourage to hear the Christian message. Make no mistake someone coming to carols (or to church) does not make them a Christian. However inviting someone to carols (or church) provides an opportunity for you to share your life and faith with them. At Emmanuel we are on about growing disciples who grow disciples. This is you. If you come to Emmanuel we hope you are with us on the journey with Jesus. How do we help and encourage you to be a disciple who shares your faith and helps other people to know Jesus and to grow Jesus in their own life. Christmas is such a wonderful opportunity to understand the real reason about Christmas. The challenging part is to help people see past the decorations and distractions to the real meaning of Christmas. The message of God’s love and grace and forgiveness is hard to grasp when God is not a part of your normal everyday life. We have to get past the almost fairytale story of a baby in a manger with shepherds and wisemen to the truth behind the story. The truth of God’s love. And it becomes even more important for us who know the truth, to live it and celebrate it. Christmas is about celebrating God’s love. John 3:16 reminds us so powerfully of the true meaning of Christmas “16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Christmas is more than a baby born 2000 years ago its about Jesus and the Holy Spirit born in us each day. Let’s try and share the truth of Jesus with someone this Christmas.
Grace and Peace
Christmas is a beautiful time to remember how thankful and grateful we are. It is a great time of celebration as we prepare to celebrate both the birth of Jesus, and the truth that he will come again. A time when families get together. Join us for the prayer night this Tuesday either in person or online as we gather as a church family with our Father in heaven. Please don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of this important event in the life ofour church. The last two years COVID has changed many lives and families and for most of us our family gatherings havebeen different. Those with families overseas are learning to skype and connect electronically. Its not the same but it a wayof connecting. COVID has also affected our church family and we would like to encourage our church family to re-connect with each other. Our relationships across the congregation have been affected by lock-downs, limited social events, social distancing, so we are hoping that these events, the family picnic, morning teas, carols etc will encourage us to mix together and provide opportunities to invite friends and others along. COVID has had other effects. Some people have lost employment, and though government assistance has helped families, many are struggling financially and our Community Helping Hand is one way that we seek to assist people. Yourcontinuing support financially or with time and skills enables this ministry to continue and people’s lives to be changed for the better. Thank you to Ros and Jo and the team. Through the hampers of hope and joy we have been able to reach to needy families who have sought assistance from our local school chaplains. Next week’s lunch for those who are a part of Community Helping hand sees us reaching out to those in our community. Others have suffered bereavements and our service of Solace next week provides a gentle, reflective way to honour those we have lost. This is also an opportunity to invite friends or others who are more on the edge of our church community. They are welcome as we gather andcelebrate. Take some time this Christmas to pray for those who are in need. For those refugees and those seeking asylum, for those in quarantine waiting for permission to go home, for those who live rough on the streets. Though we can not meet everyone’s needs we need to start somewhere and make a difference. Thank you to those members of our congregation who do just that. In this Advent/ Christmas season think about how you can enrich and bless the life of at least one other person. Share with them the truth of Emmanuel, meaning God with us this Christmas.