Front and Centre
Our Annual Stewardship Campaign commences this Monday 8 March and will run for two weeks culminating with Services on Sunday, 21st March. The Stewardship time is an important time to reflect. To reflect upon God’s goodness and and God’s provision and to ask the question how do we respond to that. That response is in terms of commitment to your relationship with God and the core spiritual practices of prayer and reflecting upon the word. Of asking ourselves the question what is God saying to me and saying to us as a community. Stewardship is also asking about where do we invest our time, our money and our talents. What am I going to invest into being a part of this church and the commitment that we have to grow disciples. As we are getting our heart and life in alignment with God’s purposes we also want to lead others on that same journey. As you reflect on your stewardship over the next few weeks how does this reflect your priorities. Matthew 6:24 reminds us we can not serve two masters. How does your commitment and giving reflect the master you serve.?
You will receive a letter and a card with ‘14 days of stewardship reflections’ to assist you with your devotions during this period as you consider your commitment and stewardship to Emmanuel over the next 12 months. During services on the 21st March you will be provided an opportunity to prayerfully make a pledge and these pledges will then be dedicated to God and his work through Emmanuel. I believe that Emmanuel is doing good things and that we can do even more with your support. Please consider carefully and prayerfully how you respond to this call.
Please consider the following statements:
- I give to Emmanuel because I believe that I am called, willing and able to financially support God’s vision for Emmanuel.
- I am committed to Emmanuel and its purpose to grow disciples who Exalt, Explore, Embody and Engage.
to access the rest of the newsletter click [here](https://mailchi.mp/a266c2f13b14/newsletter-7th-march)
Front and Centre
As we continue in the season of Lent it is worth reflecting on what Lent is about. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. The Season of Lent commences with Ash Wednesday which this year began last week. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ's sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities. The intent is that we focus away from ourselves and focus more intently upon God. So the challenge for each of us is what can we do to help us focus more upon God and our relationship with him. Here are some suggestions. If you have never done it start doing a daily devotion, even better do it with someone else, your husband or wife, a friend. Emmanuel provides a number of options because we believe this is important. I share a daily devotion everyday on our facebook and youtube page. We have a Lenten study with a daily bible reading and devotion. That will be attached to this week’s newsletter again. I can personally recommend the Lectio365 app (for iphone or Android) on which our daily devotions are based. Can I encourage you if you do not do so already to try and commit to a daily devotional through Lent running up to Easter. One of the really important things as we seek to develop real life disciples is developing a rhythm in our life that draws us closer to God. More on this next week but for now taste and see what a daily devotion may look like for you. It will draw you closer to God.
To see the rest of this weeks newsletter click [here](https://mailchi.mp/8e766c79b5f0/newsletter-1930551)
Front and Centre
2021 is panning out to be an exciting year in the Brigades. The pause that was forced upon us last year was a great chance to reflect upon the activities that we do and place a high emphasis on the activities that are important to achieving the aims and objectives of Brigade. I know that within BB, we have had numerous changes in the activities that we do over the years but the purpose behind the activities have not. This is the main reason that the movement has existed for so long.
Within our company it has been great to see the development of new leaders in the last few years. The most pleasing aspect is to see how they learn skills and can implement these practically through multiple areas of the program. This year we have seen significant changes in how the company operates, both in terms of people and structure.
This reminds me of Galatians 6:7 (parable of the sower) that tells us that we reap what we sow. While we are concentrating on sowing seeds, it is equally important to nurture the seeds that we have sown and that have had the pleasure to see germinate. Without any guidance and continual nourishment these germinations will shrivel and die off. This is a major factor as to why BB has been around for so long worldwide and a long-term program at Emmanuel.
Boys' Brigade Company Captain
for the rest of the newsletter click [here](https://mailchi.mp/b287e1a6d28a/newsletter-1929047)
Front and Centre
The church year is made up of a number of seasons and these seasons help give a rhythm to our Christian life. The Church year begins in late November with Advent which runs for four weeks leading into Christmas. Christmas lasts 12 days and leads to Epiphany which varies in length each year to accommodate Lent and Easter. Lent leads us into Easter which lasts 6 weeks and concludes with Pentecost. The post Pentecost season is known as ordinary time and takes us through to the end of the church year when we begin Advent again.
Next week marks the beginning of Lent with the celebration, or memorial of Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time of reflection, denial and preparation leading up to Easter. Though we are not particularly emphasising Lent we will be picking it up in our daily devotion and providing people with a daily bible reading plan to help people reflect during the Lenten season. After Easter we will be starting a whole of church study. For now the daily plan will help people focus upon discipleship and how to be a part of our journey as a church to grow disciples who grow disciples.
The material from the daily plan (see attached pdf) can be done as a daily devotional and the reflection questions, though the same each day, help us focus on how we allow God’s word to influence our Christian living. The Sunday readings are the ones we will be using each Sunday if bible study groups would like to focus on those.
To access the rest of the newsletter click [here](https://mailchi.mp/ebcc49ecaba3/newsletter-1928195)
Front and Centre
Last week I was reminded once again of why I am so glad to be here at Emmanuel. The strength of any church is its people, and last week as we commissioned our elders and our group leaders and our volunteers in our various ministries and groups I could see the strength of our church. It is great to work with amazing people as they respond to the call of God in their lives and express that through their daily living, and through their involvement within the Christian community. Last year was a challenging year and many things were put on hold. As a result many things were paused. As we enter this year it is time to hit the play button. The issues of COVID will continue to be with us, and I doubt that a vaccine will change that very much, as we will always be trying to respond to the latest variant or mutation. The result is that we are entering the new normal and as a church we want to tackle that proactively.
The Church Council and Ministry Team have met over the last 2 Fridays doing a disciple making seminar. The question we are grappling with is how we create a disciple-making culture within this new normal that COVID has given us. We want to re-launch our small group ministry through lent and will be encouraging people to form into groups either face-to-face or on-line or a hybrid of both.
As Sunday school resumes it is exciting that we have more children, and as a result need more leaders, what an awesome problem. The way we band together and work together and share ministry together is the strength and potential that we have. As we keep a clear sense of purpose and vision, as we remain focussed on developing a disciple making culture, as we seek God’s wisdom and direction, we will flourish and grow as the church God is calling us to be. This is not an unrealistic dream but it is grounded in our own experience of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.
As I said I was excited last week as so many people were affirmed and commissioned into roles, and our desire for the Holy Spirit to bless and lead us in those roles. Friends it will be an interesting year, and one that I believe that God will bless and use us.
Click [Here](https://mailchi.mp/11bc7bcb7f85/newsletter-1927299)to read rest of newsletter Front and Centre
Front and Centre
What an exciting week we have ahead. School has resumed and so this Sunday we have our Kickstart which sees the launch of our children and youth activities for the year. Combined with that will be the commissioning of all of our ministry leaders and volunteers. As the year begins we will be commissioning our elders and Church Council members, and the various leaders and volunteers in our groups and ministries. It is our belief that we do not do this in our own strength but rather that is about being called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Therefore the commissioning includes time to pray, asking for God’s blessing. As I think about Sunday I am again amazed at the amount of talent and commitment that people have and are prepared to contribute to make Emmanuel the community that it is. Paul refers to the body of Christ (1 Cor 12) and reminds us that every member of the body is important and has a role to play. If you haven’t found your opportunity yet please think about how you would like to be involved. What are the skills and gifts that you bring and how would you like to offer them. If you aren’t sure or you want to volunteer please talk to one of the ministry team. As a church we believe in every member ministry, and that God has a calling on everyone. Part of our role as a ministry team is to facilitate people’s engagement and involvement. My hope and prayer is that everyone feels 1. Connected and 2. Fulfilled as we move into 2021. As a part of our commissioning and commitment service we will be invited to share the words of John Wesley’s covenant prayer. I leave you with those words to reflect upon:
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you;
exalted for you or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty;
let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours, to the glory and praise of your name. Amen.
Click [here](https://mailchi.mp/fe83545f0fa0/newsletter-1925227)to read the rest of the newsletter
Front and Centre
Welcome to the New Year, it will be interesting to see what 2021 has in store for us.
This week sees the resumption of the newsletter and a return to our regular two services on Sunday. Next week is kickstart and the commissioning of our leaders, volunteers and ministries. I look forward to seeing you there either in person or online. Realistically the issue of COVID will be with us all year, and even with vaccinations, the current cleaning and other procedures and restrictions will remain. For 2021 this will be the new normal. With the possibility, as we found last week, that there could be the imposition of sudden changes and increased restrictions for a defined period. Friends this is the new normal and we are working on how we live out our vison and purpose within this new normal.
There are certainly things that we are doing differently but now is the time to push into our purpose of growing disciples who exalt, explore, embody and engage. It has been great to explore this over the past 3 Sundays. COVID has disrupted some things but has also made us better at others. We now have a better online presence and are far better at doing meetings online if necessary. Our building is far cleaner and everyone is sharing in the responsibility with that. We have had to transition and a bit of changing of the guard as new people have stepped up into roles. All of this has been good. It is important that amidst all of the extra things we don’t lose sight of our vision and purpose. That we still want to be real people with a relevant faith for our community, and we want to grow disciples who will exalt, explore, embody and engage. As we continue into 2021 let’s not lose sight of the reason for our being both as individuals and as a church.
I am looking forward to a great year for us as a church. We will deal with challenges, we always have and we will flourish and grow through them. It will be a great year so please continue to uphold all that we do in prayer.
for the rest of the newsletter click [here](https://mailchi.mp/cafa79685a9c/newsletter-1923707)
Front and Centre
As we look back 2020 has been a long and challenging year. As a result of COVID nothing has been the same. It has been a fairly unique kind of year. Though we can not be certain what 2021 will look like it will at least initially contain more of the same. As much as it has been challenging I am grateful for what we have achieved in the past year. Several weeks ago we reflected on 1 Thessalonians which said ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.’ 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19.
As much as it has been a challenging year we also have much to be thankful for. As I look back to 2020 I am thankful to be here at Emmanuel with such an amazing group of people. I am excited about being a part of a church that wants to continue to focus on its mission and purpose, and as we head into 2021 that we will be re-emphasising what it means to be a church that focusses on growing disciples. I am excited that we have had new families join us in the past few months. We have made the transition to online services and hybrid services. People have collaborated and worked well together to deal with the various government and church requirements to keep everyone safe. At times it feels as though 2020 has been a year we have had to survive. But as we turn to 2021 it is time to turn from survive to thrive. We really want people to thrive in this coming year. To encourage people to continue to grow and deepen their faith. There will be an emphasis upon small groups as one of the most effective means to grow people as well as being more COVID safe. January will be re-visiting our purpose focussing on our four e’s of exalt, embody, engage and explore and unpacking what that means for us now.
2021 will continue to be challenging but we look forward with hope and promise to what God has in store.
To read the rest of the newsletter click [here](https://mailchi.mp/7dcb70d3658e/newsletter-1920735)
Front and Centre
Christmas is more than Christmas. You may wonder what I mean by that. As much as Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus some 2000 years ago, it is also far more than just that. Christmas has a past, a present and a future story to tell. The past we celebrate at carols and on Christmas eve and Christmas day. We come together to rejoice in the incarnation of God, in the coming to earth of Jesus and his birth in Bethlehem. But many of us stop there and if we stop there we have missed a good part of the story. Christmas has a present reality. It is also about the incarnation of Jesus every day in the lives of his followers. As we follow Jesus and seek to draw ourselves into his kingdom Jesus is being re-born or re-formed in us each day. So that means that every day is Christmas in the hearts and minds of those who believe. The incarnation, the God becoming flesh is ongoing as we follow Jesus and allow him to live in us.
But wait there is still more, because Christmas is also about the promise that Jesus will come again and our preparation for his second coming. There is a lot we don’t know about the second coming. We don’t know when or how, but we do know that the second coming will bring in the full expression of God’s reign and kingdom that we only see glimpses of now. The second coming will be the re-establishment of a new heaven and a new earth as God restores the creation to its full glory. How amazing will this be I can only imagine. But it is not something to be scared or afraid of. The second coming will bring about the fulfilment of God’s promise to restore his creation. For now we can only glimpse it dimly but soon we will see him face to face.
So Christmas has a past, a present, and a future reality that all speak of Jesus coming to earth. As much as the babe in the manger changed the course of history, Christmas is far more than a date in history, it is about a present and future reality. This Christmas have the courage to talk about the full expression of Christmas, of Jesus being alive in you, of Jesus coming again. There is so much going on at Christmas that we have to share. My hope and prayer as we celebrate Christmas that that you will experience and find comfort in the promises of God and the kingdom that he calls us into. God bless you all.
click [here](https://mailchi.mp/c6b0357d3072/newsletter-1919387)for rest of newsletter