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
Front and Centre
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.
Front and Centre
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?
Front and Centre
“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
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.
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 email@example.com 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.
Grace and Peace
Front and Centre
As we continue reflecting upon on relationships, we were reminded last week about the need to put our relationship with God first. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment he replied ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ So how central is your relationship with God?
Like any relationship the more quality time we give to it the better it will be. Quality time does not just happen it takes intentionality and purpose (and of course time). How committed are you to your relationship with God and how is that reflected in the way that you live your life? Is there time to read scripture, to pray, to listen to God?
It is not enough to say we love God we need to reflect it in what we do and in how we shape our life around our values and priorities. In a culture which encourages busyness we need to invest into the things that are important. If you truly believe that your relationship with God is important then you will invest into it. Some people carve out intentional time, an hour sometimes more once a week. Some spend 30 minutes each day. Some go on a day retreat or walk once a month. Different rhythms work for different people but it is really important to develop a rhythm into all of the relationships that are important to us, including with God. There is also an overflow. As you invest in your relationship with God, you will find it has a flow on effect in your relationship with others. I John chapter 4 reminds us that God is love and that all love comes from God and is centred in God. It concludes saying how can you love God whom you cannot see if you do not love your neighbour whom you can.
Our love of God overflows into our love for others. As we focus on relationships our love of God, our relationship with God gives us the bedrock from which our love for others flow, so please do not neglect your relationship with God but prioritise your time with God and this will help put the rest of your life in perspective and balance.
Front and Centre
Last week we were talking about our need to focus on relationships. This week, as Brisbane moves into lockdown, with uncertainty about whether the lockdown will continue and therefore whether this weekend will be face to face or not, the issue of relationships remains front and center for us. COVID has dramatically reduced our face-to-face contact with people. Again, this week we need to work and operate from home. People are asked to stay at home to keep everyone safe. I know for me personally it has been a lot harder to get to know people because of COVID. Much of my time here has been in the COVID environment. I was only here a month before our first lockdown occurred. Our social gatherings have been greatly reduced. Many of our Engage groups have not re-started. Through technology we are providing better ways of connecting virtually. Each week we stream both services, there are daily devotions being provided, there are prayer sessions being streamed, Worship and dig in (Sunday school) material is provided each week. The Ministry team put a lot of time and energy into providing these online resources. However, the risk of people feeling disconnected is increasing.
Right across our society depression, anxiety and loneliness are on the increase. Those issues are also present in our Emmanuel community. We need your help and support. Please take the time and effort to stay connected. It would be great if people would take the time and effort to give a couple of people a phone call or video chat. If you can, try and connect with someone a little bit outside of your normal group. We talk about pastoral care at Emmanuel being for everyone by everyone. Now is a really good time to take that seriously and make a few phone calls and take the time to pray together. Now is the time to emphasise the importance of us all taking responsibility and playing our part.
Welcome to this first issue of the Emmanuel UC Families Ministry newsletter. The idea for this has come out of requests from parents and leaders within the Emmanuel Community who want and need easy access to information and resources to help them be the best disciples, leaders, and disciple-makers within their home, family, and community.
Each issue will have a range of links, tips, and recommendations for resources, articles, and new (or old) ideas to help support you and your family, ministry, and community.
If you find something that you think would be helpful to share with others, please share it with me so that we can share and others can benefit too.
Click here to view(https://mailchi.mp/b6ec883167c0/newsletter-7th-march-1934247?e=UNIQID)