You have probably heard that Greater Sydney (including Wollondilly) is under a ‘Stay at Home’ Order from tonight until Friday 9th July (https://www.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/covid-19-restrictions-extended-nsw). I’m sure this has frustrated many of your plans (as it has ours) and is difficult news to hear. We won’t allow these orders to stop us from fellowshipping together, although it will have to be online.
Here is the plan for tomorrow: 1) We’ll have only ONE Church service, 9:30am livestreamed from St Mark’s on our Youtube Channel: http://youtube.com/PWAChurches/. We will have a communion service (prepare your own bread and wine/juice to participate from home), a sermon, prayers and some music for your encouragement. You will be able to comment on the ‘live chat’ to interact with us and each other. However, please be mindful that this ‘live chat’ is a public space and we have no control over who else might be watching or commenting. If you can’t make the livestream at 9:30am you can always watch it later in the day.
2) At 5pm we’ll have an informal Zoom gathering, with the opportunity to chat in small groups and for the kids to play some games together in a ‘kids room’. There will be no sermon or music. We’ll assume you have watched the Youtube service from the morning beforehand. Please click on this Zoom link to join this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84252476839. If you’re unsure how to use zoom, it might be a good idea to try to join the meeting early and between 4:30-5pm we’ll be able to help you troubleshoot any issues.
NB: I encourage you to participate in both of these meetings if possible, rather than thinking of them as alternative options.
If this model works well tomorrow, we’ll probably do the same thing next week. We’ll be sure to communicate our plans as things develop. Thanks for your prayers and understanding.
Yours in Christ, Ben
PS: Our Holiday Kids Club Lego day is postponed. Hopefully we’ll get to run it in the next school holidays.
Job is a book that raises more questions than answers. God’s speeches in the final chapters of the book consist of a long series of questions. I counted 72 question marks in my English Bible. These questions range from ‘Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?’ to ‘Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?’ and ‘Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?’ One of the main purposes of the book of Job is to put us humans back in our place and to give us realistic expectations of life. We cannot expect to understand everything about life or the mind and purposes of God in his dealings with us. However, when Job is humbled and repents, we find his fortunes are restored. This reinforces our understanding of God whom Mary describes as ‘lifting up the humble’ (Luke 1:52). We can’t expect to receive this restoration of fortunes in this life, but we do know that God has promised us resurrection eternal life in Christ that will be more than we can ever dream of. We will not always understand the mind and works of God, but we can trust that he is working of our good, and we can in patience wait upon his faithfulness. If you’ve missed part of the Job preaching series, you can always catch up here: https://pwac.org.au/sermons/series/job/ Yours in Christ, Ben
I’m so excited to have Kevin and Karen Flanagan with us this weekend! What a joy and privilege it has been to partner with them as they share the gospel and equip God’s leaders in Tanzania. The most inspiring moment for me was when Kevin and Karen joined us for a Zoom prayer meeting in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. When asked whether they were looking to come home to Australia they shrugged their shoulders and said no. They were planning to stay in Tanzania, come what may. If God were to give them an early mark to heaven then so be it. However, we ought not idolise our link missionaries as if they had some additional calling or level of spirituality beyond ourselves. We too are called to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. We too are called to make the most of every opportunity and be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ! Mission is not something exclusive to Africa, or some other exotic place. Mission is our everyday life as Christians representing Christ in our families, workplaces, schools, soccer clubs, retirement homes etc… Join me in this prayer: ‘Lord, give me opportunities to share the hope I have in Christ, and give me the boldness and words to say. Lord, may my life and words bring glory to my Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen’ Yours in Christ, Ben
Recently, parish council voted unanimously to offer a full time assistant minister position to Scott Williams for next year! This is a very significant moment in the life of our Churches and I’m so excited about the opportunities for our Church and the gospel that this will bring!
Scott’s main roles will be to continue to develop our youth ministry and to gather a team to plant a new congregation in the mornings at Wilton.
Parish Council are so encouraged by the wonderfully generous financial response to our call to meet budget. We take that response as a pledge of confidence in our mission and plans to employ Scott, continue to grow God’s Church and our capability to proclaim his gospel!
In the midst of celebration, I must offer a word of caution. I have heard that over the past 15 years Sydney Anglican Churches have doubled the amount of staff they employ, but this increase has not necessarily corresponded with growth in those Churches. We are not paying Scott to do ministry for us, we are employing him to equip and inspire us all to minister the Word of God to each other, to serve our community in love and to proclaim the good news of Christ to a community in desperate need of hearing it. God gave pastors and teachers to his church to equip God’s people for works of service and God has gifted every one of us in unique ways as part of his body.
Would you join me in praising God for this great news, and praying that each one of us would steward our gifts and lives in service of our great King Jesus Christ!
Did you know if you miss Church you can always watch along later on Youtube? https://pwac.org.au/PWAChurches/ The full service is available only for a limited time, and then it is edited down to only the sermon. You can also check out a fairly comprehensive catalogue of sermons here: https://pwac.org.au/sermons/. Neither of these are as good as ‘being there’, but it can help to keep up with the sermon series, or to check out church anonymously .
Green shoots from blackened earth. Easing restrictions from COVID pandemic. Blue skies after flooding rains. These are symbols of relief and hope.
The green is greener after the fire. The singing is more joyous after the silence. The skies are clearer after the rain.
Through suffering grows resilience and gratitude. From endurance and perseverance springs hope. Through judgement comes salvation.
“the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Jesus in Luke 24:46-47
It is only through the suffering and death of our Messiah, Jesus, that forgiveness of sins can be won for us. His resurrection is the glorious moment of victory over death and certain promise of resurrection life to all who trust in him.
You may be spending your Easter long weekend playing video games, renovating the house, or camping down the coast. But don’t miss the opportunity to reflect on the glorious hope of resurrection that can be yours in Christ Jesus.
At Easter we celebrate that ‘He is Risen’ – and he promises resurrection life to you too, if you will trust and follow him!
“About two years ago, I went through a life changing trauma. At the time, it was the hardest thing that I have ever experienced. However, about 12 months ago, I began to reconnect with God and Christ. I recently undertook the Christianity Explored course with Ben. Through that course, I have been able to learn more about Christ and grow closer to him. To form a relationship with him, and to begin to know and understand his love. Ben and Kate have opened their arms to me, and you all know yourselves how amazing these two people are. Thank you Ben and Kate. Every time I read and learn the Good News, it just feels so right. I get that feeling inside, that feeling of Faith and I know that knowing Christ is the right thing for me.”
Steven made a declaration of faith at Bargo River on 18th October 2020, along with several others. Join me in praying that many more might put their trust in Jesus and be saved!
Finding Jesus has really changed my life. It was something I could never comprehend until I found Him. As my knowledge of Him has grown, my life has changed in ways I could never have imagined. Finding my brothers and sisters in Christ has been one of many blessings. Before turning to Christ, my life was certainly not something to be proud of. Through God’s grace, I have been able to let go of the shame and anxiety. I can never be perfect as Jesus was, but each day He is with me, encouraging me to walk in his image. It’s hard to describe this to a non Christian, but the feeling of a caring hand on your shoulder can be just what you need to get through tough times. One of many bible verses that has given me strength is Deuteronomy 31:6;
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
– Matthew Warnock.
Matt made a declaration of faith publicly at Bargo River on 18th October 2020, along with several others. Join me in praying that many more might put their trust in Jesus and be saved!
“After being diagnosed with cancer in May 2019 I knew I had a beautiful loving supportive family and friends behind me but also knew I was missing one thing and that was Jesus Christ. In my teens I turned my back on Jesus but knew he had never turned his back on me so today I declare my faith in him and praise him for all he has done.” – Belinda Jackson.
Belinda made a declaration of faith publicly at Bargo River on 18th October 2020, along with several others. Praise God with me for his work in her life, and join me in praying that many more might put their trust in Jesus and be saved!