As we celebrate Christmas at Emmanuel Uniting Church this year, we are reminded that the carols we sing are an opportunity to reflect on the hope that we have received. At Holiday Club, and throughout the Christmas services, we are digging into the themes “Jesus is God’s Son”, “Jesus is Good News”, “Jesus is the promised Rescuerer” and “Jesus is the light of the World”. As we sing carols such as “What Child is this?”, “Go tell it on the Mountain”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” we will be exploring these themes together.
Written in 1865, “What Child is this?” is a poem by William Chatterton Dix who wrote it after recovering from a near death experience. His lyrics are a reminder to us that Jesus is God’s Son: the Savior of us all and the King of Kings. Jesus came to Earth in order to save us from our sins and to invite us to be in relationship with God. This relationship with God endures throughout our times of celebration and our times of struggle. While it can be difficult at times to remember the goodness of God during trying times, we are reminded that at all times Jesus is Good News through the song “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”
When the choir director John Wesley Work Jr. added “Go Tell it on the Mountain” to a songbook, people weren’t sure if it was an appropriate choice. Its place in history as a song sung by slaves who were being mistreated made people question John’s decision. However, his reply was to use these songs as a reminder that the fact that “Jesus is Good News” is a message that rings true not only the good times but also the bad. The Good News of Jesus is that he has come to rescue us. He is the fulfilment of a promise made long ago, and continues to fulfil that promise today.
The promise was that God would send a rescuer to save us from sin. The long wait for God to fulfil the promise meant that some people thought that it was a broken promise, but Jesus is the rescuerer that God promised. The lyrics of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” were written by pastor Phillips Brooks in response to his experience travelling the same road that the Magi travelled when they went to see Jesus. It speaks of the coming of the saviour, born in the town of Bethlehem, to cast out sin and enter into our hearts today. The good news that Jesus is the rescuer and is meant for the whole world, as he is the light that shines in the hearts of us all.
In Luke 2: 28 - 32 we read of Simeon’s response to Jesus being brought to the temple: a declaration that Jesus was the means through which God’s salvation would be revealed to the whole world. Interestingly, the music we sing also has a history of celebrating the communication of the good news of God to the whole world. When the melody most closely associated with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” was written by Felix Mendelssohn, the purpose of the music was to commemorate the invention of movable type printing by Johannes Gutenberg. The movable type printing press was the means through which the western world was able to explore the Bible in their own language. Just as the printing press helped people come to know God, Jesus is the light of the world who helps us to know God.
As we reflect on Jesus being God’s Son, Good News, the Promised Rescuer, and the Light of the World, I hope that everyone has a fantastic Christmas time! If you’d like to Dig In a little more into the Christian Christmas Story then may I encourage you to look at the Dig In Materials on the following page and also on our Church App and Website.
Merry Christmas Everybody!
Grace and Peace
Dom Chan (Worship Pastor)
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!
What an exciting few weeks we have had. The 9 Feb saw my induction and a great time of celebration as we formalized our commitment to each other. I felt very blessed by the mix of people from this congregation, this Presbytery and my old Presbytery. I particularly valued my friend Uncle Joe Kirk who came to do a welcome to country on behalf of the traditional custodians of the land. Thank you to all of those who played a part in the worship, and in providing nourishment for the supper after. It was a great celebration.
This Sunday is even more exciting as we share with two families in baptism. At 8am Sebastian McCreery-Rye, the grandson of William McCreery-Rye will be baptised and we welcome Sebastian, and Christian and Storm, his parents. Then at 9.30 Olivia Smith, Helen and Darren’s daughter has come to the decision that she wants to be baptised and become a member of Emmanuel Uniting. The journey for Olivia through Girls’ Brigade and Sunday School is bearing fruit for Olivia who wants to acknowledge her own growing faith. Personally I am very excited to be able to share and celebrate both of these with the relevant families and with our church community. As a part of baptism the congregation is asked to make a promise. ‘to maintain a life of worship and teaching, witness and service so that our young people may grow to maturity in Christ. I hope and pray that we take those promises seriously and do not just mouth them off. What do we do to ensure that our young people and their families feel welcomed and encouraged. It is something the Church Council and Ministry Team take seriously but it is for all of us. How do we ensure that we are a welcoming space for all people. That we prioritise meeting and talking with new people who may come and spending time with people who may feel on the outer. This is a good church and we need to keep on top of these things as God provides us with opportunities to minister and grow.
Rev Brian Hoole
Welcome to a New Year here at Emmanuel. And welcome to a new face. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Brian Hoole and its my pleasure to be called as your new minister. I am 57, married to Claire with three adult children, Bec, Daniel and Matthew, all of whom are currently living in Brisbane though none live with us. My wife Claire and I are very excited to be joining you and to be sharing with you in the years ahead. This will be one of the opportunities to share a little about myself. I was born and grew up in Victoria, in a place called Sunshine. As the eldest of 3 children we were all sent along to the nearest church which was a Methodist Sunday School. Mum and Dad were not regular church goers. Involvement in the Sunday School and Youth Group, beach missions with Scripture Union kept me connected to this church community as I grew into wanting and committing to a relationship with Jesus. As I continued I trained as a high school teacher and taught for 3 years in Robinvale and then for 4 years with Uniting World in Vanuatu.
I sensed God’s call to ordained ministry and returned to Victoria to candidate and study for the ministry. In that time my continued involvement with Scripture Union saw me re-meet Claire (she literally was the girl around the corner in my primary school years) who I had not seen for 20 years. After a brief period we were married and Rebecca was born. Our first placement was Break O’Day on the east coast of Tasmania for 3 years. In this time Daniel and Matthew were born. We then moved back to Melbourne with 5 years in the Pascoe Vale churches. Then a big leap as we moved to Hervey Bay and commenced ministry there in 2004. Hervey Bay was a very fruitful time for us in ministry and a time when we were very connected into the community. Claire working as a pastor for the church, Blue Care and St Stephens Hospital at different times as well as raising 3 young people, with myself heavily involved in the community. 11 years later I responded to a call to become the Presbytery Minister of Bremer Brisbane.
I served in that role for 5 years while Claire looked after the needs of her mother who needed constant care. 2019 saw major changes for us. I discerned a calling back to congregational ministry, Claire’s mum passed away and Claire was accepted as a candidate for ordained ministry and we accepted a call to Emmanuel UC. We are still in a state of change. We are in the process of selling our house and moving to Emmanuel.
We are both excited about getting to know people and about our involvement with the Emmanuel community. We look forward to catching up with people in the coming weeks ahead.
Rev Brian Hoole
As 2019 draws to a close, and we begin to step into 2020 we would like to take the opportunity to thank the Emmanuel community.
2019 has been quite the journey, and as I reflect on the year I can’t help but be thankful for the way the people of Emmanuel have been “Real People, with Relevant Faith, for Our Community.” We’ve had people involved in being God’s salt and light in Schools through Chaplaincy, RI, and Kids Hope. Creating an environment for families to be welcomed into the community through Boys and Girls Brigades, Playgroup and Sunday School. Emmanuel has been a worshipping community supported by members of the worship team - not only those out the front, but the people behind the scenes doing things that others don’t see. We’ve had people working hard to ensure that the building is in working order, and the newsletters are able to be ready for Sundays. We’ve had fellowship groups, explore groups, and leaders that have run both. We’ve had the Church Council leading the church alongside the Ministry Team. There’s been a lot that we have done in the year. However, I realise that what we do is not the whole story of Emmanuel. It’s not the whole story, because our identity is not only in what we do but in whose we are.
We belong to Christ, and our namesake “Emmanuel” means that God is with us. God is with us as we go out being disciples. God is with us when we are with our families, friends, and workplaces. God is with us and I am thankful that we are a Christ following community who reflects this reality. It is an important distinction to make as we step into 2020, beginning with a time of rest over January.
- A time when we prepare for the year ahead.
- A time when we can intentionally make the time to listen to God.
- A time when we can breathe and be thankful.
In this time of rest, a time when a lot of our normal activities are put on hold, how will you spend time with God? How will you remind yourself that you are loved by God and can find your identity in Him?
As we step into 2020 together, I look forward to seeing how God works in and through Emmanuel, and I pray blessings and safety over all who are resting and travelling during this period.
Grace and Peace