Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas!

One of the great things about Christmas are the traditions. Doing the same things you have done every year since child-hood is comforting. It assures us that although the world is changing and sometimes our lives feel unstable and out of control – some things stay the same. There will always be prawns on the BBQ on Christmas day, grandma always brings those chocolate bar filled plastic ‘Christmas stockings’, you all slowly roll out of bed the next day to watch the Boxing Day Test on TV, or whatever the Christmas traditions are in your household.

But there are Christmas traditions that go beyond your family. Christmas traditions that transcend our generation and our nation. We celebrate the birth of Christ; God’s intervention into our world to bring peace; and the Messiah who came to save his people from their sins. In upholding these true Christmas traditions we become part of something so much larger than our earthly families. We become anchored in the family of God and secure in the peace and everlasting joy of being his children.

This year some people are celebrating Christmas without a home. Some are celebrating without grandma, or other family members. Whatever your Christmas is like, God invites you to share at his table. To join with his people around the world and throughout time. Come celebrate the Saviour born to us on Christmas day.

Yours in Christ,

Ben Boardman

PRESS RELEASE: Day of Prayer for Relief from Fire and Drought – Sunday 15th December 2019 @ St Mark’s Anglican Church, Picton.

In these unprecedented days of fire and drought we are reminded that we are very much not in control of our lives.  We need support, we need each other, we need our RFS heroes and our emergency services and others working heroically to keep our communities safe.  But even with all this, we need the one who controls the weather.  We are reminded in these times of our dependence on God who created and sustains us all.

St Mark’s Anglican Church is holding a day of Prayer for Relief from Fire and Drought on Sunday 15th December 2019 and all are welcome to join us.  We will be open from 8am – 2pm for anyone to come to talk, grieve, seek help, whatever is going to be helpful.  But most of all we want you to join us in crying out to God that he might send us drenching rain to relieve our land of fire and drought.  We pray that we might recognise our dependence and turn to him in faith.  We pray that we might find hope and joy in Jesus Christ at Christmas time.

A Service will be held at 9:30am of singing, prayer and hearing from God’s Word.  All are welcome to join us for the service, or at any time throughout the day.  Let’s come together and pray.

Yours sincerely,

Rev Ben Boardman

Picton & Wilton Anglican Churches

Mental Health Month

October is Mental Health Month and 10 October is World Mental Health Day (10/10), a good time to think through how we can support and care for those in our communities who are struggling with mental health concerns. At any one time, 1 in 5 people in Australia experience a diagnosable mental health condition.  During our lifetime, nearly 1 in 2 of us will experience a diagnosable mental health condition.  Mental health struggles affect all type of people across all walks of life. Being Christian and a member of church does not make us immune from mental health concerns.  
God is concerned for those struggling with their mental health. He is a God of extraordinary love and compassion and his heart goes out to those facing mental health challenges.  People struggling with their mental health need our support, not our judgement. We want to try and reflect God’s loving compassion and care.
The wonder of the Christian gospel is that we are saved by what God in his grace has done outside of us through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. God does not look upon us according to our feelings or how mentally healthy we are, but according to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Even when we are at the end of our resources, God loves us simply because he loves us, and we remain secure in him. He will not let us go.
Yours in Christ,
Ben Boardman
(This article is drawn from the Mental Health & Pastoral Care Institute

‘Living in the Land’ – Deuteronomy Sermon Series

Sermon Series – September/October 2019

Moses knows that life for the Israelites is about to get better.  He speaks to them in the wilderness on the Eastern side of the Jordan.  He is about to send them across into the promised land, a journey in which he himself will not participate.  He knows that as life gets busy and the daily routines of work and life set in, it will be easy for the Israelites to forget God.  To forget what he’s done for them and to neglect his Word.  To take for granted the wonderful blessings they’ve received from him.  So he warns them in Deuteronomy 4:9:
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
We too live in a time of prosperity and wealth in 21st Century Australia.  We very quickly drift into apathy towards God and his Word.  We easily forget all that he’s done for us in Christ and neglect his Word.  So I say to you (and myself), be careful, and watch yourselves closely.  Remember to give thanks to God for all that he’s given us!  Be regular and disciplined in reading your Bible and prayer, be consistent at coming to Church and Bible study.  Talk together and have a plan for how you will teach God’s Word and truth to your children and grandchildren.
Yours in Christ,
Ben Boardman

Wilton Anglican Church new Building Public Opening

As I reflect on our opening service at Wilton last Sunday, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and joy in Christ. 
We have such a wonderful team of God’s people at Picton and Wilton, serving Christ and one another in love.  Last Sunday it showed.  It was just amazing to be present with around 160 adults and 60 children to celebrate the opening of the new Wilton building.  From Bishop Peter Tasker, who remembers preaching at Wilton 60 years ago, to Rick and Loraine Miller who ministered here some 30 years ago, to Phil and Pamela Parker who only just left the role a few years back.  And amongst those present were many who have been part of the Wilton Congregation, and many more who have prayed for Wilton over decades.
It’s so beautiful to see God answering prayers and slowly building his Church (the people).  Last Sunday felt like a landmark moment in the life of Wilton Anglican Church.
Join me in praying that it will result in the spiritual fruit of salvation and glory to God!
Yours in Christ,
Ben Boardman

Tada – Wilton Church was built in a Day (kind of)…

On Wednesday 27th March, I left home early for a training day in the city.  When I left, there was an empty paddock next door, but when I returned home an entire Church and Sunday school building had magically appeared (see the process below in a time lapse video).
It is truly wonderful to see the answer to decades of planning and prayer for this next phase in the life of God’s Church in Wilton.  Bob told me on Tuesday that he remembers plans for a new demountable Church on the wall in Wilton more than 20 years ago.  The women’s Bible study have been faithfully collecting coins for years towards this project.  This is a project that has been underway since the time the Boardman’s arrived in Wilton in early 2016.
Now we have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure that a faithful ministry of the people of God can continue to grow and flourish in this place.  We each need to take responsibility to commit to proclaiming new life in Christ, to growing others up in him, and to living in love for our brothers and sisters and our community.  We each need to commit to praying that these facilities will be a platform for gospel ministry and the growth of God’s kingdom to establish and build the next generation of God’s Church in Wilton.

Timelapse video of installation of Wilton Anglican Church building (approx 1 minute)

Pioneer Cemetery Restoration Celebration

On Thursday 21st February, we celebrated the progress of the Pioneer Cemetery Restoration works after the June 2016 storm. About 60 people attended. Aswell as celebrating the restoration works, we launched an Audio Tour of the cemetery, unveiled a new sign, and thanked our sponsors, including major sponsors, Veolia-Mulwaree Trust and Picton Rotary Club. The event was a great success, with approximately 60 people attending and an afternoon tea provided by the Picton CWA. Particular thanks goes to Lyn Davey for her oversight of the fundraising and restoration project, along with the celebration event itself!

Centenary Remembrance Day

This Sunday, bells at Anglican churches across Greater Sydney and the Illawarra will ring to mark 100 years since the signing of the Armistice which ended World War One.

Archbishop Glenn Davies has requested bells ring for one minute up to 11 am, which was the time of the signing and cessation of hostilities after four years of what became known as the Great War. It’s understood church bells will ring out in other parts of Australia, as they did in 1918 to communicate news that war was over.

From a population of fewer than five million, more than 400 thousand Australian men enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.

At St Mark’s, Picton, we’ll conclude our regular Sunday service with a brief service of remembrance, followed by the ringing of the bell and two minutes silence at 11am.

We do this to remember and say thank you for the great sacrifices made in order to preserve our freedom.  May we never take this freedom for granted.  We also give thanks and praise to God – who not only gives us all good things, but through Christ, has promised to carry us home to our eternal rest with him.

2 years on…

Yesterday marked 2 years since the Picton flood, which devastated many peoples homes and a majority of Picton businesses.
For the first few months after the flood I was nervous about any rainfall. Now, I find myself rejoicing at a mere sprinkle, and dancing in the streets (metaphorically) for a genuine downpour to drench our parched land.
As we continue to read through Luke chapter 8 this week in Church, we encounter scenarios that are out of our control: a wild storm swamping the boat, an encounter with an out of control demon possessed man, a Father whose daughter is dying and a woman with permanent bleeding. This is life.
Life in this broken world is full of scenarios that are out of our control, of suffering and pain alongside the joys and successes of life. In the midst of the crisis we can be driven to despair by the helplessness of our situation, or to anger and frustration at God for allowing it to be so.
But we see in Luke 8 that Jesus has power and control over every situation we might encounter. We can have confidence that he understands and sympathises with our trials and our suffering. We can also have confidence that he has power to overcome those situations or to give us strength to endure them, as the case may be.
I’m thankful to God for the resilience and resourcefulness of our Church congregations in facing this and other challenges together. It’s a great blessing to be able to look to Christ for strength and to support one another as family in the midst of the joys and trials of life.
Let’s pray for a continuation of this rain (but not too much)…

Faith over Fear

It is amazing what faith can do for a person.
If I have someone with me who I trust can help and will stick it out with me, I can cope with all sorts of fears and dangers.  It’s no co-incidence that psychologists trace our anxiety or other mental disorders back to our relationship with our parents.  If we are confident that we are loved by our parents, if we grew up knowing they were always there for us and we could always rely on them, then external fears or dangers didn’t trouble us as much.  We had faith that we could always fall back on mum and dad.
When the disciples are filled with fear because they are about to drown in Luke 8, Jesus links that fear to a lack of faith.  It’s not that there is anything wrong with being afraid, its an important mechanism to motivate us to get to safety, to fight or flight.
But if we trust in Christ, if we have faith in him, then all the external fears of life are put into perspective.  We know that whether we are rich or poor, popular or friendless, in safety or danger, in life or even death – nothing can take God’s love in Christ Jesus away from us.

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