Front and Centre
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. As a result of that however for a number of people Christmas can be a difficult time. There are families who have lost loved ones during the year. In the year following the loss of a loved ones there are a number of firsts. The first birthday, or Mothers or Father’s Day, or Christmas are all times where we feel more keenly the loss of those we love. The Service of Solace that we offer is a way of helping people acknowledge loss at this time. It is not just if something has happened this year, there are people who like to come every year and remember and honour those they love. This year COVID has changed many lives and families and for most of us our family gatherings will be different. Those with families overseas are learning to skype and connect electronically. It’s not the same but it a way of connecting. COVID has other effects. Some people have lost employment and though government assistance has helped many families are struggling financially and our Community Helping Hand is one way that we seek to assist people. Your continuing 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 Helen and the team. Through the hampers of hope and joy we have been able to reach to needy families who are a part of Community Helping hand or have sought assistance from our local school chaplains. Thank you again to Ross and the team who have facilitated this. There are many local families who will have a better Christmas because of the work that people from Emmanuel do. Thank you to Judy and her team who have sought to make life a better place for the people of Noro in Solomon Islands. We can rightly be proud of what we do but also be aware that there is still much need out there. 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 cannot 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.
for rest of the newsletter Click [here](https://mailchi.mp/1c251ed6680f/newsletter-1917727)
Front and Center
Hello and Happy Advent to you all. Yes, Advent. No, not quite Christmas.
This Sunday 29 November marks the start of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas during which time we pause to prepare our hearts and our homes for Christmas and Jesus.
I am sure that many of you have family traditions that you keep at this time of the year. Maybe you use an advent calendar filled with chocolate, or Lego, or scripture verses that you like to read each day. Maybe your traditions have more to do with decorating and putting up a tree and lights, driving around the streets to look at lights displays, shopping for food and gifts or maybe it’s about spending time with friends and family.
In the Pinkerton house, we have a few, and in the last week the kids (of all ages) have been excitedly preparing the house for the coming season. We own at least 5 different Advent calendars, a few trees and way too many Christmas decorations. This year though we aren’t putting all of them up. Instead, we’ll be following along the Advent Video Challenge.
Based on an idea from another ministry colleague, this year we’ve created an Advent Video Challenge that we’d love for you to complete it with us.
The Challenge is easy:
Watch a video (that will be posted daily on the church website, Facebook and YouTube channel),
Talk about the video (using the discussion questions as a starter), and
Complete a daily challenge.
In addition, you might also like to:
Share the video with your own friends and family (via whatever medium you’d like… Facebook, messenger, email etc.)
All of the videos, questions, challenge details and resources to help you complete them will be available on our app and website www.emmanueluca.org.au/dig-in-at-home and we’d also love to see photos and hear stories of how you’re going with the video challenge. Please share these with us via the Facebook posts or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve also created a physical Advent Video Challenge Resource Pack which contains some of the materials for the challenges that can be used to decorate and prepare your home for the season. This week we’ve already distributed these to our Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade, Playgroup and Tiny Town Families, and there will be more available after worship on Sunday for anyone who wants one.
Speaking about Sunday, this week we’ll be joined by our Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade families at our 9:30 service. They’ve been busy preparing some of the parts of the service and we look forward to celebrating and worshipping with them on Sunday.
If you’re planning to attend worship on Sunday, you’ll notice that the set up will be a bit different. So that we can fit extra people in worship, while maintaining safe physical distancing, we’ll be leading from the foyer with chairs facing inwards from the Auditorium and Hall. Please be patient with us as we trial this alternate seating and test the technology.
As we move into this season of Advent I pray that God will richly bless you and your family during this time as you pause, reflect and soak in the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love that He has for you this season, and all the year through.
to read the rest of the newsletter [click here](https://mailchi.mp/0b53a074fdb6/newsletter-1916123)
Front and Centre
A time to give thanks, and look to the future
Have you given thanks today? While requests and petitions might roll off the tongue when we pray, we worship a God who wants us to give thanks. Paul encourages us to ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thess 5:18). I’m sure there were times he was locked up in prison feeling miserable, yet he was able to focus on God’s faithfulness, His promises and look forward with hope to a future in Christ. It is no surprise that Paul exhorts us to ‘set your minds on things above’ and ‘be thankful’ (Col 3:2,15). A focus on God and His promises is an important pre-requisite for giving thanks in all circumstances, not just when we are feeling good.
Why does God want us to give thanks? Is it just another task or obligation we should add to our list, and then become demoralised when we don’t complete it?
Does God need our adulation or thanksgiving for His own reassurance? We know God isn’t like that. Could it be that God wants us to give thanks because it’s good for us?
Certainly a thankful, positive attitude, in all circumstances, does wonders for our wellbeing. If we let God shape our attitudes, it may help us become resilient in any circumstance.
We should give thanks to God because He gives good gifts to His children. By giving thanks to God we’re reminding ourselves who God is – a good God who loves us, cares for us and provides for us. We are also reminding ourselves who we are – God’s children who are loved and cared for. Reflecting on God’s provision in our lives by giving thanks is an important act in confirming our faith.
I can’t see why an attitude of thankfulness, and the practice of thanksgiving, should be confined to our relationship with God. Someone who takes a moment to say, ‘thank you’, or offer words of acknowledgement or recognition is always appreciated. We know the impact this has on us and we have the opportunity or responsibility to share this with others. This is such a simple but effective way we can be ‘Good News’ to those around us.
This week we conclude our season of thanksgiving, where we intentionally reflect together and give thanks to God for all He’s doing. This Sunday, as in previous years, we can give thanks via a freewill thanksgiving offering. We have much for which to give thanks as we come to the end of a challenging year. I hope you will be strengthened and encouraged as we journey together in the lead up to Advent.
Grace and Peace
the rest of the newsletter can be found [here](https://mailchi.mp/43598e7a7664/newsletter-1914959)
Front and Centre
We are in the midst of our period of 15 days of thanksgiving: a time when we intentionally, as a church, focus on being thankful to God for what he has done, is doing, and is going to do. One of the expressions of thankfulness will be a thanksgiving offering on the 22nd of November which can be sent either online or in person. Another expression of thankfulness is the reflection that is offered through the 15 days of thankfulness calendar. Throughout the calendar, not only are there Bible verses to reflect upon, but also activities of thankfulness.
Do you find thankfulness contagious? Do you find that thankfulness encourages more thankfulness?
The other day, I was really encouraged to think about this when I received a phone call from someone who was being thankful. It made me think about who I wanted to thank. It helped me remember how good it is to be part of a community where thankfulness is part of the culture. I believe a culture of thankfulness is important because it encourages us on the journey of discipleship. Thankfulness and thanksgiving is not limited to the 15 days, we have the opportunity, and capacity to be thankful daily. However, I think sometimes we get caught up in getting to school, getting the job/s done, or just plain stuck in a rut and forget to be thankful. As we continue to grow a culture of thankfulness, a culture where we thank God and each other, we are growing an environment where thankfulness is part of who we are and what we do.In all of our thankfulness, we can be encouraging others to consider being thankful as well. This can be people within the Emmanuel community, or people in our wider community. It might be in our homes, or perhaps with our friends. As we “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) may the light of thankfulness that we shine, encourage others to share their lights of thankfulness as well.
Grace and Peace
follow this [link](https://mailchi.mp/96f255430070/newsletter-1913411)to access the rest of the newsletter.
Front and Centre
Today begins a season of Thanksgiving, and over the next 15 days we will be reflecting upon God’s blessing and how we respond to that. You will receive a letter and thanksgiving calendar to help you reflect over the next 15 days. Over the three Sundays we will look at God’s blessings, from the sense of the past, the present and the future. As a part of this 15 days you are asked to consider making a special thanksgiving offering to continue your support of Emmanuel. The first week focuses on the past, looking at Creation, and the blessings that humankind receive and the responsibility to care for the world and be good and faithful stewards as a result. Next week we will look at the strength we receive from God and then in the final week and the guidance that God gives us. The whole of the biblical story is God seeking to restore what was damaged at creation. God wants to restore this world to what he made it to be, and so the story of creation and the gift of life can not be separated from the gift of Jesus and the story of resurrection and new life that we are offered in Jesus. What a blessing is the gift of creation but also what a blessing is the gift of resurrection in Jesus. And so it is with great joy that we share in that experience this week as e share in the baptism and confirmation of Caz James. This week I had the privilege of hearing Caz James share her faith journey and testimony. A story of excitement and new beginnings as Caz expressed her coming into the Christian faith and wanting to commit herself publicly to God and to this congregation. It was exciting to hear of Caz’s thankfulness to her family, and her church and girl’s brigade family who have encouraged and help her develop a faith of her own. Today will be a real blessing as we celebrate with Caz her excitement of recognising God’s presence as an important part of her life.
The rest of the newsletter can be seen [here](https://mailchi.mp/7051bb2bee33/newsletter-1912519)
Front and Centre
November is now upon us and the run to the end of the year. It has been an amazing year and as much as we have struggled with COVID it has also provided us with opportunities and things to be thankful for. This week I thought I would reflect upon some of those things that we have learnt. One of the benefits of COVID has been the increase in use of technology. We are now streaming church services and conducting meetings online. Some people are working from home, or working part-time from home. Our whole societal fabric of needing to be physically present all the time has been challenged. We have been forced to look at what is important and what are our priorities. As a church we are focussing on growing disciples, building and maintaining relationships and connecting with people. Each step we have taken has been with that focus. Our initial moves were about staying connected. Encouraging people to stay connected to God through spiritual disciplines and to stay connected to each other. It is my hope that as we have returned back we have continued with those spiritual disciplines. As we have resumed we have done so incrementally consolidating one step before commencing the next. We began by placing a worship menu online so that people did not just watch worship but were encouraged to engage with worship. When we were able e returned to worship, initially with one service. As we returned to worship we pivoted from a pre-recorded menu of worship to live streaming the one worship service we were able to host. From providing one worship service when saw us resume with Boys and Girls brigades, soon followed by resuming the 8am service. As these have bedded down we have started streaming the 8am service. Some small groups have returned but many have not. Hall rentals have not been allowed to re-start. They are not as important as our own worshipping community. The exception is the Sudanese church as we are keen to allow them to worship. The important messaging is still
1. stay safe
2. stay connected
3. Use the technology
4. Lend a hand.
This will continue to be our messaging. We will continue to provide support and connection with people who do not feel safe to return to face to face. However we do want people to stay connected. Telephone, emails letters please stay connected with the church, with each other and with God. Don’t forget those spiritual disciplines. The technology is there to help and you should use the technology that you are comfortable with and we can help with technology that may be new and strange. We do want to help you connect. Finally thank you to everyone who continues to lend a hand. The COVID requirements both at church and at work mean that many people are stretched. The more people that lend a hand the better off we are. Coming up to Christmas what events we run will be directly related to volunteers and their capacity to assist. It is important to be realistic and listen to your own body and needs. We want you to volunteer because you want to rather than you feel you have to. We would rather do less well rather than trying to do more and running people down. Please be realistic with your energy and capacity. Finally Claire and i are looking forward to spending our first Christmas with you. I do pray we will re-discover together the true reason for the season.
for the rest of the newsletter [click here](https://mailchi.mp/2447ab52e419/newsletter-1910795)
Front and Centre
As a church our vision is to be real people with a relevant faith for our community. That should never be more real or relevant than at Christmas time. Christmas is one of the great opportunities we have when people are more receptive to the Christian message. It is also a great challenge because of the way that Christmas has been overtaken by Santa, presents, feasting and so it is hard to get the real message across. Our message is about wanting people to meet Jesus and as followers of Jesus we are the people who can do that. Can I ask you to think about who you want to invite to meet Jesus this year and how you will help them do that. It sounds a bit daunting but we are the ones who are able to help our friends meet Jesus who is also our friend.
As we plan the Christmas events our main outreach is the Christmas Carols. So the planning team asked the same question. How do we use the carols event, that is an outreach to help people meet Jesus. Just having people attend the event does not do it. But the carols event provides an opportunity for us to talk with, and build relationships with, people in the community. Our hope this year, despite COVID, or maybe because of it, we want to try and build relationships, and talk with people who attend our special events. A mantra you will often hear from me, is that mission occurs when we establish and build relationships. Relationships is the key. So to run the carols well we need a whole range of people, from those who will help set-up, those who will perform, those who will serve food and those who will talk with people. If we are going to run the carols, and run it well we need to know now that we have the volunteers, so we are seeking your commitment now. I realise it has been a tough year so we are asking now before we are fully committed. We do not want to burn people out by having too few volunteers. We do think the plan is a good one but need your support and time and energy to make it work.
To read the rest of the newsletter please click [here](https://mailchi.mp/8eab5813b097/newsletter-1910631).
Front and Centre
Last week was an important week for the church. Firstly we welcomed the Fisher family (Martin, Janine, Anna, Lou and William) into church membership. It is important to recognise people becoming a part of our church family, and celebrating that. We want people to feel that they belong.
Then we joined for a congregational meeting. Due to COVID it had been delayed. Thank you for your participation as we accepted the reports from last year and elected new elders. All of those nominated were elected with two new elders Ross Wakem and Noel Pinkerton being elected, confirming Bronwyn Cox and Peter Coombes who were co-opted earlier in the year as well as Rosemary Costello, Kristy Johnson, Christine Manning and Nathan Robertson were re-elected. Thank you for those offering to lead our church going forward. We are at a critical stage in the life of Emmanuel. The Church Council has a good balance of experience, and skills, but more importantly it has people who are active disciples seeking to live this out better in their life.
There are two key attributes needed in our leadership team. We need people of Character and people of competence. Character comes first. Our elders need to be people who are committed to their relationship with God and seeking to deepen this. They need to focus on spiritual disciplines. This is true for all of us, but especially true for those in leadership. As well as spiritual character they are people who have the competence to deal with the increasing complexity of being a church in today’s age. I am excited about the newly elected council and the capacity we have to deal with the issues that are before us. But please remember that you have an important part to play. As a church that want to grow disciples we need you to be committed to that journey. That you too are seeking to know Jesus better and committed to that. As a part of that we need your prayers and support. Please uphold your Church Council, and your leadership team, in prayer. You are an important part of this church, and your prayers are essential. This is not about how much we can do in our own strength but rather what we can do in God’s strength, and how we continue to connect to God’s vision and purpose for his church. With our new Council I am excited about being on this journey together.
Follow this [Link](https://mailchi.mp/24579b09e854/newsletter-1909555) for the rest of the newsletter.
Front and Centre
As we meet for a congregational meeting today. I am reminded of how blessed we are as a church. The Annual report provides a snapshot of what the church was like in 2019. Life in 2020 is quite different to that. However there is a common thread. The most important thing that Emmanuel has going for it is its people. It’s you, and I and everyone else who is a part of the Emmanuel family. As much as we have been affected by COVID 19 and the different requirements by government and the church. Its you, as the people that are the most important part, and the strength of Emmanuel.
I am impressed and amazed at the continued commitment of people top their faith and to their church. We have amazing people at Emmanuel. There are many people who go above and beyond what they have to do and as such make Emmanuel a great place to be, and a great community to be a part of. We have great staff but it by no means stops there. There are the volunteers each week that help with Sunday Worship, Community Helping Hand, Boys and Girls Brigade, Sunday School, all of the bible study groups, those doing maintenance each week, serving at Tiny Town, involved in pastoral care, those on church council, people helping with cleaning. The list seems endless. Thank you for all that you do.
As much as we have great facilities, including Tiny Town, and a great hall etc, without the people it would be useless. The focus of Emmanuel is about growing people to be the disciples God has called them to be. Our role is to grow people. We have facilities and activities and programs because they allow us to connect with and grow people. We must always keep our sight upon the big picture, and that big picture is people. We are so glad you are here, thank you.
To access the rest of the newsletter [click here](https://mailchi.mp/5176679d6a28/newsletter-1907227).