Front and Centre
“Always remember, your focus determines your reality” George Lucas
As the clock inched toward midnight on December 29th, 1972, Eastern Airlines flight 401 on route to Miami, crashed in the Florida Everglades. It left 101 deaths. As aviation investors pieced together the events leading up to the crash, they found a loss of altitude was overlooked by the crew placing all their attention on a faulty lightbulb. During their descent, an audible warning should have been heard by all the crew, yet their minds ignored it, giving preference to the faulty light.
Church life is often full of faulty lights, which can easily distract us from other important tasks. One of the ways airlines now address this problem, is through Crew Resource Management. This is specialized training to ensure that the crew understands decision making processes, and are able to keep track of everything happening in emergency situations. Tunnel vision is not likely to cause deaths in our ministry, but decisions can affect people negatively, and can leave painful wounds. As a church we need to be careful to keep our eyes on the important things. We have named relationships and prayer as key areas for the next 6 months, which doesn’t mean we ignore other areas but does give us an important focus.
with acknowledgement to Peter Sewell
Front and Centre
If there are 2 foci (or should that be focuses) that I would like Emmanuel to have for the rest of the year they are relationships and prayer.
There are three areas that we want to approach in our relationships. Often called up in and out, or worship, fellowship and witness/mission. We are reminded that relationships are crucial with God (who gives us life) with fellow Christians as we build a people of faith to support and encourage each other and witness or mission where we engage with people who are not yet followers of Jesus. It is important that our relationships have this 3-part balance.
The other area of focus for 2021 is about prayer. Prayer is one of the key elements in our relationship with God. There are many creative ways to pray but the important thing is that we dedicate time and effort towards prayer. That it has a focus in our lives. As some groups are nearing the end of the studies around the Holy Spirit at work in people’s lives, our next series will be based around prayer and is called the Prayer Course. A great series which will be launched Monday August 16th. I hope you will be a part of it.
Front and Centre
During Term 2 I had the opportunity to work with the Worship Leaders and discuss prayer. One of the exercises we worked through and shared together was the paraphrasing of the Lord’s Prayer. I find intentional paraphrasing to be a helpful and fruitful exercise of comprehension and, in the case of the Lord’s Prayer, an excellent opportunity to reflect and meditate on the words that Jesus gave his disciples in response to the request “Lord, Teach us how to pray” (Luke 11).
A quick deconstruction of the prayer (as found in Matthew 6: 9 - 13) shows that we begin with the glorification of the name of God (as Jesse highlighted to us the other week). This is followed by the verse which reflects the heart’s desire for God’s will to be done. This, to me, is an incredibly important distinction in the prayer as it shows that as Christians we should strive to be in alignment with God as opposed to the other way around. Verse 11 shows the trust we place in God to provide our earthly needs and Verse 12 connects with our relational needs (specifically the repairing of relationships through forgiveness). Finally, verse 13 contains our need for God to rescue us from spiritual harm.
As we shared and listened to one another’s paraphrase of the Lord’s prayer I was encouraged by the different expressions of the same prayer. Through this exercise I was reminded that God gifts us in different ways and I was thankful that the gift that is the Lord’s Prayer was a means through which this truth was highlighted. Over the next few weeks I intend to share the paraphrases with the congregation (whether in the services or in the newsletter). I would encourage anyone who would like to contribute their own paraphrase to email me a copy at email@example.com Below is my paraphrase
God, who is above all creation.
Whose name is holy and sacred.
May the earth reflect heaven in its serving of you.
We pray that today we would have all we need to live,
That the brokenness of our relationships would be repaired
Both with you and those in our lives.
May we be protected from evil, and be your disciples for all eternity.
All the heavens and the earth are yours.
The one whose power and glory are above all else.
From the very beginning and throughout the ages.
Grace and Peace
Front and Centre
As we continue reflecting upon on relationships, we were reminded last week about the need to put our relationship with God first. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment he replied ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ So how central is your relationship with God?
Like any relationship the more quality time we give to it the better it will be. Quality time does not just happen it takes intentionality and purpose (and of course time). How committed are you to your relationship with God and how is that reflected in the way that you live your life? Is there time to read scripture, to pray, to listen to God?
It is not enough to say we love God we need to reflect it in what we do and in how we shape our life around our values and priorities. In a culture which encourages busyness we need to invest into the things that are important. If you truly believe that your relationship with God is important then you will invest into it. Some people carve out intentional time, an hour sometimes more once a week. Some spend 30 minutes each day. Some go on a day retreat or walk once a month. Different rhythms work for different people but it is really important to develop a rhythm into all of the relationships that are important to us, including with God. There is also an overflow. As you invest in your relationship with God, you will find it has a flow on effect in your relationship with others. I John chapter 4 reminds us that God is love and that all love comes from God and is centred in God. It concludes saying how can you love God whom you cannot see if you do not love your neighbour whom you can.
Our love of God overflows into our love for others. As we focus on relationships our love of God, our relationship with God gives us the bedrock from which our love for others flow, so please do not neglect your relationship with God but prioritise your time with God and this will help put the rest of your life in perspective and balance.
Front and Centre
Last week we were talking about our need to focus on relationships. This week, as Brisbane moves into lockdown, with uncertainty about whether the lockdown will continue and therefore whether this weekend will be face to face or not, the issue of relationships remains front and center for us. COVID has dramatically reduced our face-to-face contact with people. Again, this week we need to work and operate from home. People are asked to stay at home to keep everyone safe. I know for me personally it has been a lot harder to get to know people because of COVID. Much of my time here has been in the COVID environment. I was only here a month before our first lockdown occurred. Our social gatherings have been greatly reduced. Many of our Engage groups have not re-started. Through technology we are providing better ways of connecting virtually. Each week we stream both services, there are daily devotions being provided, there are prayer sessions being streamed, Worship and dig in (Sunday school) material is provided each week. The Ministry team put a lot of time and energy into providing these online resources. However, the risk of people feeling disconnected is increasing.
Right across our society depression, anxiety and loneliness are on the increase. Those issues are also present in our Emmanuel community. We need your help and support. Please take the time and effort to stay connected. It would be great if people would take the time and effort to give a couple of people a phone call or video chat. If you can, try and connect with someone a little bit outside of your normal group. We talk about pastoral care at Emmanuel being for everyone by everyone. Now is a really good time to take that seriously and make a few phone calls and take the time to pray together. Now is the time to emphasise the importance of us all taking responsibility and playing our part.
Welcome to this first issue of the Emmanuel UC Families Ministry newsletter. The idea for this has come out of requests from parents and leaders within the Emmanuel Community who want and need easy access to information and resources to help them be the best disciples, leaders, and disciple-makers within their home, family, and community.
Each issue will have a range of links, tips, and recommendations for resources, articles, and new (or old) ideas to help support you and your family, ministry, and community.
If you find something that you think would be helpful to share with others, please share it with me so that we can share and others can benefit too.
Our whole Church Bible Study Holy Spirit Dependence has started here is the study material is attached if you would like a copy.
Want to join a group? Here is a list of groups that are currently meeting.
Monday @ 1245pm
Tuesday @ 245pm
Wednesday @ 7pm
If you would like to join one of these groups please contact Helen in the office and she can give you the contact details. Also if these times don't suit contact Helen and we can sort something out.
Ways you can share with others in prayer:
Watch this space further resources and information will be shared soon.
Please continue to collect used postage stamps. There is a blue plastic container in the cupboard in the foyer. (this is a fundraiser for Qld Synod)
Thank you. Carole Simpson