Picton & Wilton Anglican Churches

Life, Growth and Love in Jesus Christ

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AGM Results + Lent

Thankyou to everyone who participated in our AGM meeting last Sunday, and particularly to those who nominated for positions of leadership in our Church.  That desire to serve is a noble thing and I am thankful for your willingness, whether or not you were elected.
Congratulations to our elected leaders:
Wardens: Glenn A (Wilton), Peter F (Picton), and Neil R (Wilton); Parish Councillors: Tony K (Wilton), Joan B (Picton), and Kate B (Wilton); Synod Reps: Charlie D (Picton) and Milton L (Wilton); and Parish Nominators: Milton L (Wilton), Tony K (Wilton), David P (Wilton), Glynis K (Picton), and Glenn A (Wilton).  
Please join me in praying for them as they take up these responsibilities, that they might live godly lives and make wise decisions for the glory of God.
Today (Ash Wednesday) begins the season of Lent. Traditionally, people give up something luxurious for Lent, not to earn favour with God but as a sign of repentance and of carrying our own cross, as we remember and anticipate the suffering of Jesus at Easter.  The traditional prayer for Ash Wednesday begins this sacred season beautifully:

“Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Growing Family

When I was a kid, family life was simple.  There was mum, dad and my three brothers.  We saw the grandparents and the cousins too, pretty regularly, until they moved away from Dapto (why would anyone do that!?).  
But as families grow they get more complicated.  At Christmas time now we travel between my family and Kate’s.  There are more and more kids to include and consider each year.  We have to make sure the diaries line up for the occasional birthday get together.  It won’t be long before our children have their own events they want to be at and we have to consult their diaries too.  It is truly wonderful to be part of a large and growing family, but sometimes I hark back to the simplicity of those earlier days.
I anticipate our Church might feel a bit like that as we grow.  It becomes more and more difficult to know everyone’s name.  We have to work harder and harder to make sure everyone feels included and cared for.  We might have to implement systems and strategies because doing it ‘ad-hoc’ just doesn’t work anymore.  
But isn’t it wonderful to see our family grow and flourish – as we strive to bring ‘Life, Growth and Love in Jesus Christ’ to as many people as possible.

Praying for you…

This week Greg, Matt, Phil and I (your pastors) spent a day and a half at Kangaroo valley.  We read the Bible together, prayed for every one of you by name, (all 200 of you), and gave thanks to God for how our Churches are growing and being blessed under God’s mighty hand.  We spent time preparing and planning for Easter and for the rest of the year ahead.  We are excited by what God is doing among us and thankful for the privilege of leading a Church of many and diverse members serving and building one another up in love and pointing one another to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Please pray for the election of good leaders in our wardens, parish councillors, nominators and synod reps next week at the AGM.  And don’t hesitate to put your own hand up in answer to those prayers by filling out a nomination form.  Finally, please take time to read through the AGM reports carefully in preparation for our AGM so that you can understand and engage fully in what is happening in our Churches.

Don’t give up!

Sometimes I’d much rather sit at home on the couch and watch a movie.  People are hard work.  Church is tiring.  And it takes effort to rally all the kids and get everyone out the door after a busy week and weekend.  Afterwards I’m usually glad I made the effort: challenged by the Word of God; uplifted by the singing; and encouraged by the fellowship.  But even if I don’t enjoy Church it’s still important to go along – because going to Church isn’t just about ‘me’ and what I get out of it.  Going to Church is actually about ‘us’ – it’s about God’s people gathered.  All encouraging each other and working together as a team, as the body of Christ.  When one part is missing, the whole body doesn’t function as it should, the whole body suffers for it.    
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching“. (Heb. 10:24-25)

Into the big wide world!

On Thursday I took a moment to pray for the 6 children connected with our Church who were experiencing their first day at Kindergarten. Perhaps it would be more pertinent to pray for the parents coping with the anxiety of sending their kids off into ‘the big wide world’. It’s so exciting to see a new generation of young people growing up as representatives of Jesus Christ.
This serves us well as an analogy for our Christian lives. We grow up and mature spiritually as we learn from God’s Word and as God’s Spirit works in us to make us more like Christ. We don’t grow up and mature spiritually so we can hide together in a little ‘holy huddle’, but so we can be sent out into ‘the big wide world’. We bear witness by our lives and words to all that God has done and is doing in our lives and we share the good news of forgiveness of sins through Jesus which is available to all. We don’t do this alone, but we love and support one another and we continue meeting together around God’s Word week-by-week.
Praise God for all he is doing among and through us at Picton and Wilton Anglican Churches!

A World that Knows Jesus!

This weeks newsletter comes to you from the Blue Mountains, where the Boardman family have been attending the Church Missionary Society’s (CMS) annual ‘Summer School’.  It has been a huge encouragement to hear from missionaries about their work of proclaiming the gospel around the world, and to hear from the preacher, William Taylor about the universal need for forgiveness and salvation from judgement from the book of Genesis.

This year 18 new missionaries are being sent from CMS NSW and they need our support, both in prayer and in money (https://goo.gl/3Ybuw9).

Although we’re not all going overseas, we’re all part of God’s mission proclaiming the good news of our risen Lord Jesus.  Let’s pray that God will be at work in Picton and Wilton and around the world calling people to trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

Yours in Christ,
Ben

Juggling Life

It’s nice over summer to have a few less balls in the air…  To slow down and smell the roses.  We went hiking down at Kosciusko National Park last week, so it was more like slow down and get bitten by the March flies, but anyway, that’s another story!
January is traditionally a time to reflect on the year that’s been and prepare for the year to come.  It’s a time to reconsider our commitments to our workplaces, sporting teams and social clubs, Church ministries and Bible Study groups.  These commitments that we make often lock us into and out of certain things.  We don’t always realise that saying yes to one thing, means saying no to another.  Saying yes to Sunday morning sport, means saying no to Sunday morning Church, and saying yes to teaching scripture means saying no to working an extra shift at McDonalds.
It’s important at this time of year to step back and reflect on the big picture and make some decisions about what our yes’s and no’s will be this year.  To be careful to not overcommit ourselves and get a good balance between work and family, Church and community. 
But balance is the wrong word.  We live all of our lives for Jesus: ‘Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him’ (Col 3:17).  The question isn’t have I got enough ‘Church’ stuff to go alongside my ‘other’ stuff, but does everything I do and commit to this year bring glory to Jesus?

Translating Christmas

So much of our Christmas traditions are designed for the northern hemisphere.  Like Christmas lights that we have to keep the kids up way past their bedtime in order to actually see.  Or Santa working out alternative entry points for the lack of chimney and wearing a big furry coat in the middle of summer (good thing most malls have air-conditioning).  We’re forced to live with or translate these northern hemisphere traditions into our own culture.
The good thing about this process is it forces you to consider what’s really essential and what are just cultural trimmings. 
You won’t be surprised to hear me say that Jesus, the Christ, is at the heart of Christmas.  And it’s pretty hard to argue when it’s both a celebration of his birth, and it has his name in it.  He’s come to bring peace to a messy world – peace with God by forgiveness of sins and then peace and restoration to the world which he’ll bring about on the last day.  All across the world, Jesus offer of forgiveness and peace bursts out across cultures to everyone (even ones that don’t traditionally celebrate Christmas).  Have you put your trust in Jesus, have you received his forgiveness and peace? 
And then do your Christmas trimmings help you celebrate this peace and this Saviour Jesus, or are they just a messy distraction from it.  Christmas trimmings are a great chance to celebrate Jesus and have fun.  But don’t miss the heart of Christmas – don’t miss Jesus!

Advent – Preparing Your Heart for Christmas

As we prepare for Christmas you’ll be madly shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning and much much more.  But how will you prepare your heart for this wonderful season?  Advent is a great time and Christmas is a wonderful celebration – but its easy to get distracted from the real meaning of Christmas – the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ who has come to bring peace with God through forgiveness of our sins.  Perhaps you could pick up an advent reading plan and spend some time reading the Bible and praying each morning and/or evening to re-orient your heart and your life towards Jesus Christ.

There are lots of free resources to help us prepare our hearts for Christmas during Advent.  Here are three that you can choose from (but there are many more out there):

We had the great joy and privilege of sharing this good news with Wilton Public School SRE students on Wednesday at our Christmas assembly.  Our Scripture teachers have done such a great job all year and it was great to be able to finish off with a bang.  Pray for a refreshing break from teaching and for the message to sink into the hearts of those who heard it.
Ben

Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming!  Christmas is coming!  
You might be delaying the decorations and side-stepping the shops, or perhaps you’re Christmas tree has already been up for a month.  Either way, at the heart of Christmas is the good news that ‘a Saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord’.

Christmas is one of the best opportunities all year to share the great news that sins can be forgiven, hope found and eternal life secured by trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord.  Please be praying for the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with your family, neighbours, friends and workmates.  Then be brave and take those opportunities as they present themselves.

I just received 5,000 postcard invitations to our Christmas festivities.  Starting this Sunday, will you help me pop them into letterboxes and into the hands of those who might join us to celebrate Christmas?  
Yours in Christ,
Ben

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Sunday Service Times: 9:30am @ St Mark's, Picton and 5pm @ Wilton