27 August, 2021

29th August Newsletter

Front and Centre

We are currently celebrating 28 days of thanksgiving. Our thanksgiving season has become a tradition over the last few years as we set aside some intentional time to give thanks for God's love, provision and protection in our lives. In earlier years we regularly celebrated 'Harvest Festival'. The church would be decorated with fruit and produce. We were encouraged to bring our 'first fruits' to God; not just leftovers. In a metropolitan centre with limited agricultural connections, sometimes we would bring symbols of our gifts or talents. This symbolised that our gifts and talents come from God, and that we could, and should, use them to further God's Kingdom. Harvest Festival and similar celebrations of thanksgiving are helpful reminders of God's provision, of our stewardship of our wealth and talents, and the importance of giving thanks.


You may well ask, "is this an appropriate time to celebrate thanksgiving?" It is a reasonable question. With the COVID situation in southern states rapidly escalating, we are as uneasy and uncertain as we've been in the last 18 months. The images coming from Afghanistan are heart breaking. Untold suffering in Haiti following the typhoon barely makes it to our TV screens. How can we come before God in an attitude of celebration and thanksgiving with these issues weighing on our consciousness?


I am reminded of Paul's message to Timothy.  What persecutions I endured! yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. (2 Tim 3:11, NRSV) In the midst of great persecution and suffering, Paul was able to recognise God's hand rescuing and protecting him. Elsewhere Paul writes, rejoice always... give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thess 5:16,18, NRSV) For Paul, 'all circumstances' meant suffering, persecution, physical ailment, imprisonment. Despite his circumstances Paul was able to look to God and give thanks.


If the current state of our world is causing you dismay, take it to God in prayer. Try and find something each day for which you can give thanks. Think about how God has blessed and gifted you, and how you can use your gifts for His glory. Many of the people you'll meet this week won't know God's grace in their lives - how can your attitude of thankfulness help them to encounter God in a life-giving way?

Blessings,

Nathan

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20 August, 2021

22nd August Newsletter

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Welcome to Emmanuel UC this week. We hope you will take the time to join us, either online or in person and join with us in celebrating and praising an amazing God. As we look at our world we can see a world in turmoil. Turmoil from disease and pandemic. Turmoil from armed uprising and war, turmoil from natural disasters. It is clear that we live in a world full of turmoil, and on our own we can not fix it. And if we focus on the turmoil and the problem we can easily become overwhelmed. Rather than succumb to the turmoils of the world let me encourage you to focus on the blessings and points of thankfulness that you have. We can and do make a difference in the here and now where we are and as we celebrate a season of thanksgiving at church I hope this will overflow into the other parts of your life. Each of us have so much to be thankful for and we are asking you to be quite intentional about that over the next few weeks. If you haven’t yet please pick up or print out and daily practice a time or activity of thanksgiving. This week we have been encouraged to think of Jesus as the good shepherd and those who have shepherded and encouraged and mentored us through life. I am so thankful for the part played by significant people to make me who I am and I do give thanks for that. So many people, so many good memories, and good people who have stood by me in troubled times. I know I have much to be thankful for, and I do give thanks. What about you? Who are the people that you give thanks for and praise God for. And if they are still alive why don’t you let them know how thankful you are.

Blessings,

Brian

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20 August, 2021

Elders Elections

The nomination process for the election of new Elders opens today. Nominations will close on Sunday 12 September.

Please see the link here to the information sheet and nomination form. Once you have downloaded and completed the form please forward it to the church office.


Brian


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17 August, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021

Dear Friends,

It has been an amazing 18 months since Claire and I arrived at Emmanuel. In that time, we have seen bushfires and floods and then the massive impact of Covid-19 on all of our lives. I am sure that, throughout the course of this year, our lives and, particularly, our prayer lives, have been dominated by our petitions to God – quite understandably - our “God-shopping list” for so much that needs His intervention and fixing. I wonder, amongst all that has been going on, whether we have taken the time, in our conversations with God, to give Him thanks for all that He has done and is doing within our lives. 

1Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  

 

So, I would encourage you to reflect upon all of the things for which you can be thankful for as you think of the events of the past year. Then, amongst all of the busyness and concerns of this year, we want to take time out to reflect, with thanks, on how God has heard and answered our prayers. 

 

To help in this, can I please invite you to be part of our season of thanksgiving. Using the 23rd Psalm as a focus we will be seeking to give thanks to God in all circumstances and situations, in the green pastures, by the still waters and even in the darkest valleys we will know that God prepares a place for us at his table where our cup will overflow. There is a calendar attached to encourage you to reflect daily with either a reading, or an activity through which we can practice showing our gratitude toward God, others and ourselves. In addition, our sermons over the four Sundays will reflect using the 23rd Psalm to focus upon ways in which we express thankfulness to God. 

Our season of Thanksgiving will end on Sunday 12nd September with our annual Thanksgiving Offering.  On this day you are asked to make an additional monetary offering to express your gratitude toward God. Although you can do this by bringing your offering in a marked envelope on 12nd September, in these Covid-19 times, we would prefer that this be done by direct deposit. The church’s account details are BSB: 334 040 Account Number: 553 839 228 Account Name: UCA – Emmanuel Uniting Church Enoggera. Please include the reason for payment as “thanksgiving offering”. 

Also, on 12 September we invite you to join us for a picnic so that we can gather as a church family following our morning worship services.  Keep your eye out for further details.  I pray that God will bless you spiritually, relationally, physically and emotionally as you practice being thankful during our season of Thanksgiving. 

 

Your brother in Christ 

Rev Brian Hoole 


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13 August, 2021

15th August Newsletter

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Intergenerational Worship, Relationship and Discipleship.

Hello from wherever you are reading this today.

Over the last year I have attended and been involved in several online Intergenerational Conferences and Huddles, with others working and volunteering in Uniting Churches and other denominations in Australia, New Zealand, UK, US and Canada. I have felt so blessed and encouraged by these experiences and am ‘thankful to covid’ for them as the cost and time required to attend them in person would usually have meant that I’d miss out.

Through these I have been able to learn from and share with others who have a heart for children, youth and families and are also working out how best to engage with, disciple and nurture them in faith. As I’ve listened and learned I’ve been able to put things into practice. Our Advent Video Challenge last year and aspects of our Easter and Pentecost Worship services, alongside other resources I’ve created and shared, have provided opportunities to implement and ‘test’ or ‘practice’ some of what I’ve learned.

In the most recent conference, I got to hear some of the leading practitioners and researchers in Intergenerational ministry share a bit of their heart and what they have learned over their many years of experience working in churches across children’s, youth, and adult ministries.

A common thread in their experiences is that “no one generation has all the answers and insights, and that we learn from each other and teach each other as we journey together in life and faith”. They stated things like “questioning is a sign of showing interest”, “every voice and generation should be invited to speak”, and that worship and discipleship “is a constant journey of inclusion”. I was so excited to hear these things and realised that we are further along a journey of intergenerational inclusion and community that I thought we were.

I also was excited to hear that “Intergenerational preaching is primarily an experimental experience” and remembered that when I have led you through such experiences, you have trusted and followed me. Thank you for being my allies and advocates here and for being willing to learn with me, as I continue to learn and practice too. My prayer is that everyone, of all ages and stages, feels like they are a valued part of our worshipping discipling community, and that what we do is more than just lead activities and provide resources, but model practices and develop skills that that help teach and guide and mentor our fellow travellers on this life and faith journey.

Thanks for journeying with me.

God Bless,

Jess

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6 August, 2021

8th August Newsletter

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As we face another week where the church building is closed, it is worth reminding ourselves that the church is more than a building, because we, the people, are the church. The pandemic, and particularly this lockdown, provide us with challenges. It is more challenging for some than for others. I would like to encourage you to think about how we continue to be the church in this time. How do we support each other and encourage each other. We are certainly being confronted with some challenges but it also provides us with some opportunities. How do we live out our faith in such times? How do we disciple others in such times? One of the really important things is to stay connected to each other. I would like to encourage you to ring at least one other person from our church community, ask how they are going and pray together. If you need help and support let us know. You are not alone, and the government restrictions allow for people to provide food and other essentials to those in need. 


As noted below we are providing opportunities this week to gather online for Sunday School (before worship) and for everyone (after worship) to have a chat and connect. Boys' and Girls' Brigade and Playgroup have also met online this week. At this time relationships are crucial. It is really important that people stay connected. Lifeline indicated that on Monday, they recorded their highest number of calls in 24 hours in their 58 year history, with over 3000 calls. Staying connected is just so important. Stay connected relationally but also stay connected spiritually. When you connect, take the time to ask people how their relationship with God is going. Take the time to share some scripture together. Pray together. The lockdown gives us a tremendous opportunity to spend time with God, and an opportunity I hope to slow down. 


The number of meetings for many has reduced. We have more time at home. More time with our families or significant others. Try and see this as an opportunity rather than a challenge. How do you benefit from this time? How do you help and support others to benefit during this time? There is a well known quote carpe diem meaning ‘seize the day’. What are the opportunities that you will seize today? What are the things you can try?

Blessings

Brian Hoole

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30 July, 2021

1 August Newsletter

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TUNNEL VISION

“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


Blessings

Brian Hoole



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23 July, 2021

25 July Newsletter

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. 

 

Blessings 

Brian Hoole 

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16 July, 2021

18 July Newsletter

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 dom@emmanueluca.org.au 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.

Amen

 

Grace and Peace

Dom Chan

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