Dear members and friends of St Peters, Hobart.
Greetings in the name of our risen Lord Jesus; He who comes to ‘make all things new’.
Tomorrow we commemorate Christ’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in what has come to be known as Palm Sunday. We join with the crowd of pilgrims at that time and throughout the ages who embraced him by shouting ‘Hosanna’, or ‘Come and save us God’. We grieve to see another crowd which puts him to death, yet we see that Jesus was in control of His every step and willingly went to the cross not only because of their sin, but also because of our sin and for our salvation, triumphing over sin, death and the power of the devil for our sakes by his perfect and innocent life.
Tony and Sonia plan to place some palms in the St Peter’s Centre today in preparation for tomorrows 10.00 am live stream. Remember to put your clocks back by one hour.
I have been thinking just how relevant Dietrich Bonheoffer's spiritual classic ‘Life Together’ is for our situation. I managed to find a copy online which one can access simply by clicking here. It is very deep yet succinct. One can either read it through as we do any book or take small chunks of a few pages at a time and read it very reflectively as we would our devotional material. I highly recommend reading this short book at this time. If you want to go straight to the content of the book scroll down to page 17 in order to miss the introduction, although some may find that very interesting. Here is a short quote from chapter one titled ‘Community’ to dampen your appetite:
“So between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by a gracious anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live in visible fellowship with other Christians. It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God's Word and sacrament. Not all Christians receive this blessing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone. They know that visible fellowship is a blessing. They remember, as the Psalmist did, how they went "with the multitude ... to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday" (Ps. 42:4). But they remain alone in far countries, a scattered seed according to God's will. Yet what is denied them as an actual experience they seize upon more fervently in faith. Thus the exiled disciple of the Lord, John the Apocalyptist, celebrates in the loneliness of Patmos the heavenly worship with his congregations "in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev. 1: 10). He sees the seven candlesticks, his congregations, the seven stars, the angels of the congregations, and in the midst and above it all the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, in all the splendor of the resurrection. He strengthens and fortifies him by His Word. This is the heavenly fellowship, shared by the exile on the day of his Lord's resurrection.
The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer. Longingly, the imprisoned apostle Paul calls his "dearly beloved son in the faith," Timothy, to come to him in prison in the last days of his life...”
The leaders of St Peters are longingly looking forward to the day that our exile from regular Christian fellowship in the way that we are accustomed to is over and to meeting again with all of you around the Lord’s table and I am sure that it will be with tears for some of us when we again celebrate the Lord’s supper together. We are also wanting to make that time one of special celebration and festivities and are considering how best to do. Perhaps a very special meal together would be in order?
Would you like to see some familiar faces? We are planning a webinar tentatively scheduled for the Thursday after Easter (Thursday 16th of April, 7.30 pm) that you will be able to access simply through the click of a button. I will be joined by the Pastoral Assistants and we will discuss many and various things. We are hoping to even make it possible for you to briefly join in and ask questions or comments. This way we will hear various perspectives from familiar faces. Please keep reading these emails for more information.
Are you aware of the LCA COVID-19 Response Page? It contains news snippets and links to various resources. It gets updated regularly and can be accessed here.
If you have excellent online resources that you think would be beneficial to others please forward to me. These could be anything from devotional material for individuals or families, movies, articles, books, bible study aids, or something else.
We will be streaming the three days of Easter services over the Easter weekend. Maundy Thursday 7.00 pm along with Good Friday and Easter Sunday both at 10.00 am.
Kim complied a report for Church Council which would have met last Thursday evening. I share it for your information and interest:
“Isaiah 41: 10 ‘I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’.
As you would be aware church services have moved to live streaming. We had our first attempt at live streaming 2 Sunday’s ago and then last Sunday moved to no attendances at church and the service being available through live streaming only. I have only had positive feedback in relation to these services. They appear to be greatly appreciated and a wonderful mean of us still staying connected during this difficult time. A very large thank you to Harrison and Pastor for all the hard work that goes into these services. They are thoughtful and professionally presented with meaningful content.
We have also been plugging electronic giving on the website and can I encourage people if you are talking to anyone to encourage people to move to this means of giving so that even though we are not gathering together we are still able to collect money and meet our financial commitments which haven't stopped.
This week we registered our interest with the Jobkeeper site and we will keep you informed as this progresses. This was done on the advice from the district. We will also look at any other funding packages that might get released as time goes on so that we can ensure we keep running.
Pastor and I attended a meeting with the District last week via a phone hook-up. Mat Blunt, representing the College, also attended portions of the meeting. As a result of the discussions it became obvious that we would be unable to host the District convention in October as originally planned. It also became obvious that as a result of travel restrictions and the uncertainty of when they would finish hosting a Convention here in Tasmania in the foreseeable future was not a viable option. Accordingly it has been determined that the convention itself will be delayed and a mainland venue will be used. Tasmania will look at hosting the district convention after this next one, by which time everything should be back on track. This decision was voted on last night at the District level and a resolution was passed confirming what I have written.
In the mean time please pray for our church and each other. Please keep in contact with each other and help and support each other as we move through unprecedented time.
Rev 22:13: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End’.”
We might not be meeting in our normal ways but the Spirit is very active in so many other ways and opening all sorts of doors for the Gospel. Please pray that this continues and that many come to faith, come back to faith or grow and mature in the faith during this unique time for our generation. Please continue to draw strength from our loving and faithful God through His Word and promises and do keep in touch with one another. Again do not hesitate to contact me or one of the Pastoral Assistants if you need to talk. We are all in this together.
Warm regards and blessings,
Pastor Mike Steicke.
Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
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