Dear members and friends of St Peters, Hobart.
May the presence, peace and joy of the risen Lord be with you.
We have much to be thankful here in Australia and Tasmania. We seem to have been spared, at this stage at least, from the very broad health impacts of COVID-19 that many parts of Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere have and are experiencing. However, as we know this is coming at a very significant economic cost. I have sat in on discussions with a very wide group of Pastors and laity discussing the subject of whether the economic costs we and the worlds poor are likely to pay are worse than the short term safety and health benefits many are experiencing. As is evident from protests in various places and political pressure this is a very hot subject. I have been a very slow and reluctant participant in this discussion, but finally penned a fairly comprehensive response for those groups and have also added it to our Pastor's Page for the interest and benefit of others. It is titled Some personal reflections on the politics surrounding COVID-19, the sanctity of life and the economy and it can be read by clicking here.
Continuing with the theme of we have much to be thankful for, we have and continue to experience so many answers to prayer here at St Peter's. We have a small prayer group that Lorraine Semmler coordinates that prays when notified for people with special needs. These are often health-related. If you have a special need please forward it to her and she will email the group. Privacy is ensured. Again and again, we see prayers answered. You can also request, through me, to be prayed for publicly in our Sunday services, and being prayed for in both forums is not mutually exclusive. Praise God for the gift and privilege of prayer and his many blessings.
Next Thursday, the 30th of April at 7.30pm we will have another webinar like the one with our Pastoral Assistants. You can watch the stream here or simply go onto our website at that time and click on the button to access the live stream. The theme is depression and related mental health issues. We have already received some very good questions. You can ask a question by emailing email@example.com well in advance. The panel will consist of ALC lecturer the Rev Dr Stephen Pietsch who has suffered from depression and who did his doctorate in this area focusing on a holistic approach including the spiritual as well as Lutheran Parish Pastor and part-time practising GP the Rev Dr Christian Fandrich. This promises to be another excellent night that you will not want to miss, so please mark your calendars.
Thanks to Kim for providing us with the following weekly update as Chairperson of St Peters.
This weeks Bible verse suggestion from Philippa is as follows:
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Philippa when suggesting it said she felt it spoke to her of the optimism we should be feeling at this time.
Yes, things are difficult at the moment, but we are not alone we have each other and we can build each other up and be there for each other during this time.
Throughout the weeks I have seen this verse played out time and time again. People are reaching out to each other we are building each other up and I thank all those who are doing so and encourage you to continue to do so. I am certain that your actions are helping our members get through this time. It doesn’t take much to make a call or to send an email and yet for the person on the receiving end they are so meaningful, and can be a great encouragement. We are part of a community and we should never forget that.
Over this last week, I have heard of many who have moved to online giving and I thank those who have done so and encourage others to consider this option. It has meant that we are not seeing a significant drop in our giving which is very encouraging.
I want to thank those who provided the Church flowers over the Easter celebration. I’ve had various discussions over the last week as to how we can ensure that we now have flowers on the altar in the coming weeks and we have come up with a plan which will be unveiled on Sunday. I won't let the cat out of the bag just yet, but any feedback on what people think of the flowers on Sunday would be gratefully received.
Thank you again to everyone who continues to support the Congregation throughout this time. Continue to pray for each other and those involved in leading. I wish you all a safe and healthy week to come.
Chairperson of St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Great to hear of people contacting and conversing with one another. As always cry out if you need help or simply a listening ear. Join us again this Sunday, 10.00am for the live-streaming of our service. The feedback continues to be very positive with around 200 again having viewed last Sunday’s service.
Take care and God bless.
Safe in the hands of our Lord.
St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Dear members and friends of St Peters, Hobart.
Good to hear that many of you tuned in to last nights ‘To the Point’ stream with our Pastoral Assistants and myself. Thankfully we were able to rectify the early glitch with the delay causing feedback relatively quickly and that the stream has been well received. Both I and many others thought that the Pastoral Assistants did really well.
Following some conversations in order to hear various perspectives, I am thinking that we might hold 'To The Point' fortnightly for the time being and vary the type of content and guests. I have tentatively lined up a classmate of mine who has suffered with and managed depression for much of his life. He lost both his parents before full adulthood, did his doctorate in the area, focusing also on the spiritual side to depression, and lectures at Australian Lutheran College. I hope to have him joined by someone from the medical profession and so focus in the mental health area, but with a holistic approach which incorporates faith.
For those who missed last nights episode, I highly recommend viewing it. It can be watched here.
During the stream, reference was frequently made to an interview Pauline had previously recommended by emeritus Oxford Professor John Lennox. This was also mentioned in my last email, but for those who missed it or whose interested was prompted by last night’s ‘To the Point’ stream, it can be found here. Another excellent interview with him on the same subject can be accessed here.
Here is a copy of a large Page of resources put out by the Gospel Coalition Australia, a cross-denominational, mainstream, Evangelical or Christ cantered, Scripture centred, Protestant coalition. It also includes devotional resources, recourses for families and for children.
I cannot highly recommend the following highly enough for those who want an aid to study the Scriptures in depth. Simply put in the chapter of the bible you want to study followed by ‘Thy strong word’ and it will take you to a podcast on that chapter on kfuo.org This is a faithful confessional Lutheran radio station in the US and the podcasts are excellent. I know some of you have been wanting to study the book of Revelation but are rightly concerned about some of the misleading ways it is interpreted. I could not think of a better way for you to study it with the aid of these podcasts. Feel free to speak to me further about this.
I also include a copy of Irma Baumeler’s much-appreciated poem 1.5 meters apart which was also read last night: 1.5 Meters Apart
1.5 Meters apart we are told to be,
The rule is good to stop the spread,
Of Covid 19 which the world beset,
No one must slip through the net.
The world has changed so we are told
I look through my window and I behold,
The grandeur of Mountains are the same
The flowers in the garden still remain.
The birds are singing still in the trees,
The rainbow follows the rain that’s still so
The air’s filled with scent and buzzing bees
So what has changed I ask do you know?
Nothing has change for those who believe
That Jesus died this world to reprieve
1.5 Meters will never keep us apart
He is the the bond that joins our hearts.
Pestilence come and Pestilence go
Our Lord is still in charge you should know
At times like this there is always a cost
But if you have Faith nothin is lost.
Kim has provided us with a message as Parish chair.
Dear Members of St Peters,
This week Philippa has outdone herself and given us 3 verses of encouragement.
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." - James 1:12
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." - 1 Corinthians 16:13
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." - Romans 12:11-12
All wonderful verses of encouragement and a timely reminder to be patient and to stand firm in the faith. Patience, if you are anything like me is not something that comes easily. Many of us are used to busy lives that go at 100 miles an hour and waiting for things to pass is for many of us unnatural. The feeling of not being in control is also difficult, but then we don’t need to be in control we just need to live our lives trusting in God and knowing that he has us in the palm of his hand no matter what happens.
I hope these verses bring you the encouragement that they brought me this week.
We also have much to be thankful for. For those who watched the services over Easter, you would be aware of how well presented they were. Thank you to all involved. They truly conveyed the Easter message in such a meaningful way. It was also good that we were able to have more involved.
We also had a live streaming event Thursday night. It is hoped that we will be able to do these regularly and have more people involved. It was good to watch and to see some faces that we haven’t seen for some time and to hear the messages that were shared. It was a good start and something we can build upon and continue to develop.
One question that was raised last night was whether there are plans in place for services to recommence with the congregation present. Sadly it is too early to be having those kinds of discussions. We are restricted by what measures are in place to protect our members and we need to comply with those strictly. I've spoken to several people involved in the management of COVID - 19 in the past week, and in Tasmania we seem to have in the main managed to limit the outbreak, especially here in the south of the state. It is vital that we continue to practice social distancing so that this can remain the case.
However as I said in my first email to you all, social isolation doesn’t need to mean we are isolated. We are a community and there are many ways now that allow us to remain in touch with each other and I encourage you all to utilise them. Last night as I listened to the live stream I reflected on the fact that through this virus God really has been let out of the box. Prior to COVID - 19 it was very easy to marginalise religion and have it as a part of our lives that came out mainly on Sunday in worship, but now we have so many more opportunities. We are communicating more with each other, we are able to watch services again and again if we choose to and we also have other means of staying connected. All of these allow us to be closer to God and to each other.
We continue to work on ways for us to stay connected. As was said last night many are making calls and sending emails, please continue to do this.
On a pleasing note, offerings appear to not be decreasing substantially. Can I again encourage people who have not moved to electronic giving to consider doing so. I also thank all those that have. Though we are unable to worship together the work of the church and expenses continue. It is really heartening that offerings are not diminishing substantially and I encourage you all to continue to prayerfully give to the workings of the church.
I thanks those who have contacted me saying they are enjoying my weekly updates, and I hope that members are encouraged by them.
Stay strong and stay healthy.
Chairperson of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Finally, keep close to our Lord and cry out if you need anything. Remember to tune in once again to the streaming of our service this Sunday at 10.00am.
Warmest regards and blessings,
Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Dear members and friends of St Peters, Hobart.
I met electronically with our Pastoral Assistants today to, in addition to other things, prepare for Thursday evening’s chat which will be live-streamed at 7.30pm. Join the stream by clicking here or go to our website and simply click on the button there.
Among other things we will be discussing ‘Trusting God in our pandemic world’; ‘Reflections upon our pandemic world’ and ‘Where is God in our pandemic world’? One Pastoral Assistant highly recommended the following interview with John Lennox, the emeritus Oxford Professor of mathematics, also a Professor of the philosophy of science and a highly respected defender of the Christian faith. He addresses this topic from both an intellectual, emotional and pastoral perspective. The interview is available here.
Other Lennox articles or interviews on this subject can be found here.
If you have a question you want asked, to make a comment or have a contribution of some sort (I already have received a poem) please send or email to this address in advance:
Hope things are going well with you. Please make sure you cry out to myself, one of the Pastoral Assistants or to other members if you are struggling in any way. Also, remember one another and others.
Looking forward to Thursday evening’s chat. Please invite others to join.
Warmest regards and blessings,
St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart
Dear members and friends of St Peters Lutheran Church, Hobart,
Greetings in the name of the risen Lord who says ‘I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades’ (Rev 1:18).
I hope you had a blessed Easter weekend despite the different circumstances in which we celebrated it this year. If we look back over the history of the Church we will find many periods where our Easter would not have been too much different and, in fact, compatibly and relatively safe for the bulk of us. Our Easter weekend services were very well received, averaging around 200 viewers each up until this point (we are finding the numbers viewing our services still continues to grow even some weeks after the live stream) with many positive messages of encouragement and appreciation. Thank you for this. They mean a lot.
I take this opportunity to invite you all to join us this Thursday evening, the 16th of April, at 7.30pm for the live streaming of the first edition of ‘To the Point’. To the Point will be an electronic chat session I will be hosting from time to time during our time of self-isolation. This first edition of ‘To the Point’, will feature a chat I will be having with the Pastoral Assistants. Simply go to our St Peter’s website splchobart.org and click the button there just as you would to receive the live stream of our Sunday morning services. The format will incorporate some Q & A (Questions and Answers). If you would like to send a question, comment or greeting please send it in advance by email to firstname.lastname@example.org I have already received a lovely and meaningful poem composed by one of our members to readout. While I expect most contributions will simply be typed, those who are tech-savvy are welcome to forward something in electronic format.
While I have your attention, I share for your interest and edification the following which I wrote, upon request, as a local Church leader, for the Good Friday edition of our local daily newspaper, the Mercury.
“That's how the light gets in”
"Our technological world has created the expectation of ‘the quick fix’. COVID-19, however, is reminding us collectively of our limitations and the fragility of life. What might God be telling us at this time?
"C.S. Lewis, the famous atheist academic who turned Christian, wrote the following at a time of national crisis and threat: ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world’.
"The late Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen creatively makes a similar point in his song ‘Anthem’.
‘Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
that's how the light gets in’.
"Good Friday and Easter show us the light of God in unexpected ways. God with us. God for us. God, in the person of Jesus the eternal Son, suffering God’s justice in our place for our forgiveness and suffering human injustice in solidarity with us. The God of rejection and of the cross. God triumphing over our mess out of deep love for us in order to bring us back to Himself and into a transformed, eternal new heavens and new earth under the perfect reign of the glorified King Jesus. No more pain, brokenness, loss, death or tears there! This enigmatic God, revealed in Christ Jesus, can be known and is utterly trustworthy!
"We kept trying to cover the cracks which were already evident in the unsustainable world we were constructing. Now the inevitable has happened. The walls have been torn apart. Will we, will I, use this opportunity and the extra time some now have to search out, stand in and receive the unexpected light, love, presence and triumphs of Christ that shines all the brighter in the darkness? To assist in this please access our past worship services and live streams at splchobart.org which also contain relevant messages."
Once again, mark your calendar or make an entry in your diary for 7.30pm this Thursday in order to join the Pastoral Assistants and I for the first edition of ‘To the Point’.
A happy and blessed Easter season to you all.
Warmest regards and blessings,
Pastor Mike Steicke,
St Peters Lutheran Church, Hobart.
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.
Keeping up to date?
This is the page for all the news and updates from SPLC. Pastor regularly sends messages of encouragement, especially during these uncertain times. Read on to keep informed about the community!