22nd August Newsletter

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20 August, 2021

Front and Centre

Welcome to Emmanuel UC this week. We hope you will take the time to join us, either online or in person and join with us in celebrating and praising an amazing God. As we look at our world we can see a world in turmoil. Turmoil from disease and pandemic. Turmoil from armed uprising and war, turmoil from natural disasters. It is clear that we live in a world full of turmoil, and on our own we can not fix it. And if we focus on the turmoil and the problem we can easily become overwhelmed. Rather than succumb to the turmoils of the world let me encourage you to focus on the blessings and points of thankfulness that you have. We can and do make a difference in the here and now where we are and as we celebrate a season of thanksgiving at church I hope this will overflow into the other parts of your life. Each of us have so much to be thankful for and we are asking you to be quite intentional about that over the next few weeks. If you haven’t yet please pick up or print out and daily practice a time or activity of thanksgiving. This week we have been encouraged to think of Jesus as the good shepherd and those who have shepherded and encouraged and mentored us through life. I am so thankful for the part played by significant people to make me who I am and I do give thanks for that. So many people, so many good memories, and good people who have stood by me in troubled times. I know I have much to be thankful for, and I do give thanks. What about you? Who are the people that you give thanks for and praise God for. And if they are still alive why don’t you let them know how thankful you are.

Blessings,

Brian

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24th October Newsletter

Front and Centre

For a while now I've been trying to understand what it means to lean into and emphasize the relational nature of our Christian Faith. It's something that repositions the way I think about God, and challenges me to consider how I can live out my faith in a way that reflects this understanding, while not compromising on the truth of who God is. On Sunday, one of the phrases that Peter James used in his sermon was "Bring Jesus with you" as he explored what prayer can be. As I used my imagination to continue this idea into everyday life I asked myself "How would I describe Jesus if I was asked to describe him without using his name or explicitly stating his identity?" "How would I excitedly talk about 'my friend'?" Below is what I thought of

My friend

He's great with kids, He always has time for them

He surprises people you know? Sometimes, when people THINK they KNOW he helps them see what they are missing

I'm amazed by his wisdom, he sees things as they are, and sees things as they could be

He has time and energy for people, even when they think they don't deserve it

In all things, he points towards the Kingdom of God

He's patient, He's kind, And he loves

He's the kind of friend who would put his life on the line for someone who doesn't even know how he is

What I've written is an incomplete picture of Jesus, because his Triune identity is central to who he is. I'm not saying we should ignore Jesus' divinity. However, for me, it's helpful as an exercise to describe Jesus' character without using his name and choose to focus on his characteristics that might help people relate to Him. It helps me to realise what it is that I think is important when I share who Jesus is with others. It's helpful because it helps me answer "how can I shine the light of Jesus as I share my life with people?" It's helpful because it helps me to feel closer to Jesus and helps me to "bring Jesus with me" as I build relationships and grow disciples who grow disciples. If you were to talk about Jesus the way you would talk about a friend, how would you do it? Feel free to email me your thoughts

Grace and Peace

Dom Chan

Worship Pastor

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17 October Newsletter

Front and Centre

At Church Council on Monday evening we were we were reflecting upon what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and a part of Emmanuel UC, and what we feel the next steps are. Paradoxically what was clear was that we were not clear. Emmanuel has done really well to weather the storm of the past few years with COVID and other things. As things start to return to the new normal, whatever that looks like, we were conscious that we need to enter a new season at Emmanuel. We have weathered the storm and though more storms will arise, at the moment we are in a place of calm. How do we use this space of relative calm well before the next speed bump comes? Though it would be nice to just stop and take a breather in the long-term that will not be helpful. However we also acknowledge that people are tired and fatigued, not so from church but from life. People are genuinely tired.

The continual pivoting around COVID have left many exhausted. At Church Council, as we shared this, the question that arose was what will help restore energy and vitality. How do we recapture momentum? We agreed on a couple of questions. The first is what does God want us to do? What is he calling us to do or who is he calling us to be? Until we work that out we will be working in vain. We need to be serious about seeking God in prayer and approach with a listening heart. The Prayer Course has been really good in this space.

The second is that though we are uncertain of the pathway we feel the next step involves building more strongly into the relationships we have. Our relationships need an up (with God) an in (within the body of Christ) and an out (the general community). Focussing on prayer and relationships is the start of capturing God’s purpose and hope for his church at this time. We do want to encourage those who can, to return to the building. We will continue live-streaming and it is a good stop-gap and a valuable ministry for those who can not come but it is not the same as being there in person. As more people return there is more energy, and people are excited to see each other. We do look forward to seeing you soon as we share together what God is saying to us.

Blessings

Rev Brian Hoole

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10 October Newsletter

Front and Centre

Our small group has continued to meet via video conference throughout the pandemic and participating in the Prayer Course (prayercourse.org) has been a real highlight of the last few weeks. The eight-week series is freely available online and each session consists of a 20-minute video and a few questions. It is highly accessible to people of all ages and there is something for everyone to learn. For example, I had never thought about the difference between intercession and petition before.

Intercession is praying for others and petition is praying for ourselves. It is such an important contrast – so often we muddy the two together and the focus of our ‘intercessory’ prayer can very quickly turn inwards. The acronym ‘P.R.A.Y.’ (pause, rejoice, ask, yield) was also a helpful guide for personal prayer. But the most impactful experience of the last few weeks was hearing powerful stories of answered prayer from other group members. To be honest it completely refreshed my personal prayer time and gave it a renewed feeling of purposefulness.

The pandemic has put a pause on several small groups and it’s understandably difficult to get started again. It is even more difficult to start a new group or join in for the first time. But it is worth it! The relationships formed as we learn together and pray for each other are life giving and life changing. Joining with a few others to work through the Prayer Course (prayercourse.org) might be an easy way to start or restart a small group.

Please continue to pray for our Elders. Church Council will meet next Monday (11 October) and has several important issues to work through. We have a very talented bunch who faithfully serve as Elders. Please pray that we will be gifted with wisdom and discernment, and a real sense of where God is leading His church in this time of great change

Blessings

Nathan Robertson

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