Have you ever felt like you were speaking a foreign language? Or talking to a brick wall? The typewriter and the pay phone have been mentioned in recent conversations with our kids. “What’s a typewriter?” or “What’s a Pay Phone?” they asked. They have no concept of these strange, ancient technologies! In these moments we are reminded how quickly technology is advancing and how our children are living in a different world to the one we grew up in (not that long ago!) Sometimes it seems those different worlds speak different languages.
Similarly, our world is becoming more secularised and less familiar with the name of Jesus and the narrative of the Gospels. The Good News of Jesus may be familiar to us, but is increasingly like a foreign language to our neighbours who have not experienced these words before. Faced with this reality, should we abandon any hope of sharing the Gospel with our neighbours? Has the language barrier between the Church and secular Australia become too great? The story of Pentecost in Acts 2 answers these questions.
In Acts 2:3-4 we read of the Holy Spirit coming on Jesus’ disciples, some time after He had ascended. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability (NRSV). Gathered in Jerusalem at that time are Jews from all corners of the World, who exclaimed, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Despite a language barrier, religious and cultural barriers, and human cynicism (v.13), the Good News of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to this diverse crowd and many are saved. The evangelists were untrained, they had never been to evangelical rally before – yet were able to share the Good News by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The message of Acts 2 should give us great encouragement as we seek to share Relevant Faith with Our Community. Firstly, it reminds us that we are merely participating in the work of the Holy Spirit and it is not our evangelical prowess at work. Secondly, it reminds us that language or culture is not a barrier. We can share our experience of God’s hand in whatever words we have and know that the Spirit allows others to hear. Thirdly, no barrier, be it language or otherwise, can overcome the Spirit’s work. For the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 Jn 4:4 NRSV). So we have confidence sharing God’s love in any situation, knowing that God’s spirit is with us, and can give us the right words, in any language!
Grace and Peace
Church Council Chair
The Rock in the Road (A helpful old folktale)
For just a little longer we remain in this time of waiting. I sincerely thank you and commend you all on your perseverance and goodwill as we hang in there together - supporting and caring for one another, and carrying on the day to day life of our congregation here at Emmanuel.
This week I stumbled across this old folktale, which challenged me with a timely word!
“In medieval times, a King secretly organised for a large rock boulder to be placed deliberately in the middle of a much used roadway. Then he hid himself in nearby bushes and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.
Some of the King’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and, one after the other, walked carefully around the inconvenient boulder.
Many were heard loudly blaming and cursing the King for not keeping the roads clear.
As the days passed the grumbles became angrier, more animated and even louder – but still no one did anything to move the stone!
A poor peasant was also travelling the road carrying a heavy load of vegetables for the markets. When he came upon the boulder, he said not a word and quietly laid down his burden. Immediately he set about trying to move the boulder to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.
As he picked up his load of vegetables to be on his way, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.
Opening the purse, the peasant found a number of gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.
The King then came out from hiding and congratulated the peasant for passing the test, that many others had failed!”
Is this a timely word?
The peasant knew what many people never understand: Every obstacle (or rock in our road) presents a learning opportunity to improve our condition!
God often uses the challenging situations in our lives as opportunities to strengthen our faith, and give us invaluable learnings!
One more timely word?
“Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
Please keep praying, keep caring, keep supporting and loving one another in whatever practical ways you can and keep waiting on God – who never forgets or abandons his people!
(PS Thank you all for kindly welcoming me amongst you for these past few weeks! God be with you always!)
The (tough) Art of Waiting
Something in the human psyche seems to be pre-programmed to dislike waiting!
We want situations resolved yesterday, not tomorrow!
Some people impatiently TRY TO WAIT!
And the longer it drags on the harder it gets.
Are we there yet? Why aren’t we there? I WANT AN ANSWER NOW! I CAN’T WAIT!
We get frustrated, bad tempered, angry and unhappy!
Slowly Hope gets drained away….
But, no matter what, the WAIT still takes its own time!
There is an alternative way ….Don’t JUST TRY TO WAIT but add two more little words …
TRY TO WAIT … “ON GOD!”
Waiting is still hard; it will still be good when it’s over; there may still be emotional ups and downs … and some unanswered questions.
BUT there is one big difference.. people who WAIT ON GOD still have HOPE!
The WAIT still takes its own time – but the way to cope with that time changes!
Emmanuel Congregation finds itself in a difficult time of waiting at present.
We cannot change that – but we can change how we use this time!
Gently, I throw out a challenge to us all.
Let’s seize this uncertain time - to not only WAIT, but to WAIT ON GOD!
What might this mean?
• STEP UP YOUR PRAYING
Do a stocktake on how you ‘really’ pray and what you pray for. Do you ‘wait on God – or expect God to wait on you’?
Why not ‘wait on God’ by keeping a Prayer Journal through this time… (any old pad will do!)
Jesus is a good friend – so talk to him like friends do. Share what’s on your mind, don’t hold back.
Then WAIT ON GOD. Listen for the still small voice of God … trying to get it’s word in!
• STEP UP YOUR BIBLE LEARNING
Do a stocktake on how you listen for God as you read your Bible.
Do you wait on God openly, honestly – or expect God to endorse your own preconceived ideas and prejudices… Start with our Sunday readings, but don’t stop there…
• STEP UP YOUR SUPPORT FOR EACH OTHER
Do a stocktake on how you care for one another, especially in unsettling times. Look for Jesus speaking to us through each other. Make that phone call to check on someone? Or meet for that coffee? Just do something … and Wait on God to see where God takes it.
ALSO THIS WEEK – learn from Nehemiah.
The book of Nehemiah tells a remarkable story of God’s people waiting and waiting for over a century, before God gave them their chance to re-build their lives!
God never forgot them – AND GOD WON’T FORGET US!
Welcome to everyone reading this newsletter in print or online. It’s great to have you as part of our community – please do let us know if there’s any way in which we can serve you.
I can’t really let two world disasters pass without some comment . . . Notre Dame burnt down earlier this month and no doubt there are many of us who appreciated its beauty (as a building in one of the world’s favourite cities) and its enduring testimony to the worship and praise of God. But, I note this in passing – it took only a couple of days for two individuals to donate €300 million, (which is about A$475 million). Don’t ever let anyone tell you there isn’t enough money to solve the world’s hunger problem. The problem is not the money – it’s the people who have the money, and in some cases of course, that’s us . . .
Then there are the bombings in Sri Lanka and our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones. But the problem, again, is people.
People have often asked me over the years – why become a minister? This is the reason – I want to change the world! When lives are transformed by Jesus, the world becomes a better place. Not that Christians are perfect, but they are better than before they were transformed.
It’s this ministry of reconciliation that the Apostle Paul reminds us we have been called into.
2 Corinthians 5:11-19 (NIV)
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience . . . 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. . . . 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
So as we did on Easter Day, let us commit ourselves again to the ongoing task of reconciliation. And especially by introducing people to Jesus so that they can be reconciled to God and become a new creation. In our small corner of the world let’s work to see the Kingdom come!
In His grip and grace,
Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter, whether in print or electronic version online, or in our church app. Whichever way you are connecting, we’re thrilled to count you as part of our community. If there’s ever anyway in which we can serve you, please don’t hesitate to ask!
As Christians, when we worship God, we are taking the time to acknowledge who God is and bring Him our praises. The way that we choose to express our worship varies. Within the Christian tradition, and within my own experience, worship has generally happened together as a congregation with prayer and song. However, worship isn’t limited to prayer and song. There are many ways through which we can bring our praises to God and we find ourselves using our creative gifts as we create dances, dramas and visual works of art. Moving a step further, if our actions are a means of praise, then our everyday lives can continue to be an act of worshiping God.
While coming together on a Sunday is a wonderful expression of worship, it would be helpful to remember that each day is an opportunity to worship God. As we experience the presence of God throughout our lives, the presence of the opportunity to worship is also evident. For some of us it’s little moments of thanksgiving as we go for walks. For others we might find a chance to spend time with God in the monotonous moments such as people learning to worship God as they do the dishes. In all of these expressions there is a freedom in how we worship. Freedom as we spend time with God in our everyday lives. Freedom as we recognise that God is worthy of all we have to bring to Him, we just need to be willing to offer what we have.
This brings us back to our Sunday services. If we recognise the importance of daily worship, and the freedom that we have in how we express our worship of God, we can come to the conclusion that freedom is also acceptable to God in our Sunday services. My encouragement is this: as we worship God in our day to day lives, and as we worship together as the body of Christ, we should remember that we have freedom in how our expression. So whether we want to dance, sing, draw, be loud, be soft, hands high, hands low, we know that the most central part of worship is that we are bringing God glory through what we do and who we are.
Grace and peace
Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter, whether in print or electronic version online or in our church app. Whichever way you are connecting, we’re thrilled to count you as part of our community. If there’s ever anyway in which we can serve you, please don’t hesitate to ask!
Thank you to all those who’ve been complimentary about the current sermon series. The bible is such a good read! And these passages in particular are so key to our understanding of who God is and how He wants to relate to us humans. We’re learning about Kingship, about Prophecy, about providence, kindness and forgiveness – and all in the Old Testament. What is clear is that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Old Testament. What the nation of Israel got wrong, Jesus always gets right. What was promised in the Old Testament is delivered unequivocally in the New. If you’d like to explore this in more detail, do join an explore group for exactly that purpose. (There are details inside).
We also seemed to strike a particular chord with the services on Sunday, especially in the area of finding ways to physically and otherwise creatively express our thoughts, feelings and other responses during worship. I forgot to say that when I first started to want to raise my hands or move about a bit I was so self-conscious that I sat down the back of church with a trusted mate so that nobody else could see me! I was so suspicious of those “crack-pot charismatics” I didn’t want to be identified with them at all. Now, as you can usually see, nobody will sit next to me down the front in case they get knocked out by my over-exuberant arm-extensions. At my rehab exercise session recently my instructor said “oh, you’re reasonably strong in the shoulders” to which I replied, “yeah, it’s all the power praising to Jesus!” (She’s a Lutheran and not sure she really understood). But the point is simply this; move or don’t move - it’s what’s in your heart that counts. None the less, the staff and I are considering what else we can do to foster creative responses to what the Spirit is saying during worship – watch this space . . . .
After the Annual General Meeting today I will be on holidays for two weeks (although I’ll be back next Sunday for Communion. I’ll be down in Geelong for the first week helping Mum clean out the back garage and then off to Mooloolaba the following week with Julie which will be great! Jess, Dom & Helen will all be on hand during that time and as usual any pastoral care matters can dealt with in the first instance by Bronwyn Kelly.
Thank you again to everyone who gives of their time and energy helping to make our church what it is so that we really can sense that we are, “Emmanuel”, because God is clearly with us!
In His grip and grace,
Welcome to everyone reading this newsletter, whether online or in print. We’re glad you’re a part of us and we’re a part of you – which is what makes God’s family so special. If we can ever do anything to help you and improve your sense of belonging, please do let us know.
- Our Annual Meeting is coming up fast on 31st March. We aim to do at least three things at that meeting:
- Receive the annual reports
- Begin to cast Vision for the short to medium term future
- Elect elders to oversee and steward all this process.
There are information brochures about the Elders’ elections available in the foyer of the church, at the church office or indeed you can contact Helen during office hours and she will get one to you ASAP. (Unfortunately due to my recent illness we are a bit short of time on this but if we all act swiftly and with good grace we should get there!)
On the day we will have a special morning tea, which will be provided, after our usual combined service at 9:30am. We hope to commence the meeting at 11:15am and be done in time to be home for a reasonable lunch! Please do come if you can – it’s so important that we are all informed and take ownership of our future together. If you’re worried about the kids, we will have some activities for them to do so please don’t let that stop you!
It has been an excellent 12 months and we have much to be thankful for as you will read in the reports. God really does appear to be doing something special amongst us and its only just beginning! I wonder how you can be directly or indirectly involved? Do come, find out and get inspired!
News from next door at Enoggera State School is that they will be receiving a new Principal at the beginning of term 2. This feels hard – things were starting to settle down after so many changes over the last few years. And of course very tough for Angela the outgoing Principal having to find a new placement. But let us redouble our prayers for this next season for her and the school, especially for a smooth transition and continued good relationship between our two communities.
By the way, I don’t know if you’ve been to check out the newly refurbished office space – it’s wonderful and all those who use it are very grateful for a warmer, more welcoming feel and a far more efficient use of space. Thank you for allowing it to happen. Likewise the new playground work at Tiny Town looks stunning - the committee are to be congratulated.
I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting if not before.
In His grip and grace,
Welcome to Emmanuel!
We hope you find both a place to belong and launching place from which to do mission. We are Real People with Relevant Faith for Our Community and we’re glad to have you with us!
It’s good to be back with you all after such a long time. Thank you for all your prayers, thoughts and well-wishes. I think God has granted me a “re-boot” for which I am very grateful. My Grandpa Weaver died at 52 from a heart attack and this genetic influence seems the most likely contributor to mine. I’m on a bunch of tablets each day now to keep my blood thin and coupled with a high protein, low carb diet and some decent exercise should see me right for another 20-25 years, at least!
Inevitably, I suppose, it has given me a chance to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going to in life. It was sobering to think that if medical knowledge had not advanced in the 70 years since my grandpa died I would have already joined him! So I’ve been giving thanks to God for all that advancement. But I’ve also been asking Him how best to use the extra time now given me. The answer has been unequivocal - “Follow Jesus and help others to find and follow Him also”.
This is what the essence of Missional Discipleship is – it’s all about knowing and following Jesus with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. It’s not that complicated!
Writing on Discipleship, Jim Packer wrote, “we can see what sort of thing Christian simplicity is - not naivety or dim wittedness, but sincerity and straightforwardness in facing the moral and spiritual demands of being Christ’s person . . . simplicity was seen supremely in Jesus, and is a mark of stature in his followers. If ever you have met a genuinely holy person, you know that already.”
The two most helpful questions I’ve found in my own discipleship are these: What is God saying? & What are you going to do about it? In other words (and let’s make no mistake about it!) – God is speaking to us all, if only we would learn to listen. He is calling us all into a life following his Son – learning to imitate his words, works and ways.
2019 is our year of “Digging into Discipleship”. May I encourage you also to take stock.
Do you hear from God?
How can you trust what you hear?
And if it is trustworthy, what are you going to do about it?
In His grip and grace,
Emmanuel is a community filled with various expressions of Christian faith.
We have fellowship groups to encourage community and friendship in a Christ centred context, and Explore groups which exist to foster a passionate growth in Biblical literacy and faithful discipleship to Christ. We have worship lead out the front by people with gifts and talents in performing arts and communication, as well as technology focused individuals and the many who manage and share the responsibilities of the offering and the celebration of communion, working behind the scenes. We have men and women who are the “front page” of our worship services as they warmly welcome all who enter into the building and those who faithfully serve morning tea as the services end. Emmanuel is a faith community that ministers to children and youth through our Sunday School, Brigades, and Youth Band and shows Christs love to our community through Tiny Town, our dedication to community helping hand and our continued support of Enoggera State School.
As we launch into the new year as a church family, we’ve decided to take time in each of the services until March 3rd to commission our leaders of the groups we have a Emmanuel. Each of these groups listed as well as more that goes on through our expression of faith to our community is ministry and it is helpful to remember that it is both a privilege and a responsibility. Thankfully, as we partner with God in His ministry we have the honour of receiving the Holy Spirit who we work alongside as we minister to people in our various capacities. While we recognise our groups we’d also like to recognise that our faith need not only be expressed in the church building but also in our homes and into the rest of our lives. We recognise that there are many whose expressions of faith are most clearly seen in their relationships and one on one conversations with people.
As we commission our various ministries throughout February, and recognise the amazing things that God is doing through the people who make Emmanuel we, the ministry team, would like to say thank you. Thank you for being a community of Christ. I look forward to seeing what the year has in store as we continue to learn to discern where God is leading us.
Grace and Peace