A reminder of Geri’s funeral tomorrow, 12.30pm, at Graham Family Funerals, Risdon Rd, New Town.
Please find below the link to access the live stream of the funeral service for the late Gerhard Bitt:
The stream will go live sometime shortly before the commencement of the service at 12.30pm, Thursday, 30th July 2020. In the event of internet service disruption or the inability to view the service, a recorded copy will be uploaded to view approximately 4 hours after the funeral.
Hopefully a number can make it. Our physical presence at such events is the preferred option, but failing that do please join, if you are able, by means of the live stream.
Also just a reminder of our ‘To the point’ episode next Tuesday 4th of August at 7.30pm. Tune in through our St Peter's website.
Great to see people at worship. Register through our website if you haven't already!
Pastor Mike Steicke
Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Dear members and friends of St Peter’s Lutheran Church, Hobart.
St Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19 ‘If only for this life we have hope in Christ we are of all people most to be pitied’. We are to be thankful for God’s gifts, providence, protection and many blessings here, but we know that we are only visitors and that there is much that is wrong with this world and with ourselves. It is a fallen existence with much that is in opposition to God. Perhaps various current circumstances are removing the false facades of our recent fleeting, unparalleled era of peace and prosperity which gave rise to the false promises and distortions of the prosperity Gospel and the new Churches that have peddled this. Unfortunately, this was often not countered by some of the older Churches that have languished in a ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ theology or gospel that is often no different to many of the distorted and failing values of the fallen world around us. Our greatest need as always and only boast is Jesus Christ and our deliverance by Him from sin, death and the powers of darkness. Christ centred Bible-based Christianity is again, and not surprisingly, proving the test of time just as it has for the past 2,000 years. This is what I have been and am committed to and this is what you will get at St Peter's!
St Paul wrote in last Sunday’s second reading from Romans 8, which was also the text for the sermon ‘For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently’. What Christ has in store for us, which his beyond our comprehension, is a sure hope, but we do not have it now. We only have a small part according to 1 Corinthians 13:12, or the gift of the Spirit who is like a deposit guaranteeing that the full instalment is yet to come (Ephesians 1:14). God has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), but this incredible, beautiful love coexists with our often cold and failing hearts. It is only in the age to come that not only we but all will be made new and we will be filled through and through with perfect love, joy and peace as we exist in a totally transformed new heavens and new earth where there will be nothing false, just perfect harmony in a realm where God will be all in all.
The departure of the following past members mentioned below and other recent deaths remind us that we all have an appointment that none of us can escape, and we do well to be prepared to meet our judge and to help others prepare for that day which will publicly reveal our ultimate destiny. None of us are worthy except for Jesus Christ. Let us persevere and continue to cling to Him, covered by his grace and, as disciples, follow in His ways through the leading and replenishing of His Spirit. ‘Behold’ this glorified Jesus says in Revelation 21 ‘I make all things new’.
Geri Bitt: Our deepest sympathies to Erika Plashke following the death of her brother Geri. Geri’s health deteriorated in recent times. Funeral details will be announced Sunday and placed on our website’s announcement Page once available.
Vera Hoffmann funeral link: Again, our sympathies to Sonia and her family following the death of her mother Vera. The funeral will be live-streamed. It will be held Monday, 27th July, commencing 11.30am Hobart time (AEST) or 11.00am South Australian time (ACST). The following information was provided by Charles Berry and Sons Funeral Directors:
When you click the link, it takes you to a title page that will show the name, time, day etc of the funeral.
This will have a start time also, displayed in the time zone of the country that you are watching the link from.
When it gets within an hour or so of start time, this automatically changes to a countdown timer.
When we go live the page will automatically change to the live broadcast, there is no need to log in or do anything other than click on the hyperlink below.
If people get lost with the link it is also on the Funeral Director’s web site berryfunerals.com.au where there is a box ‘View Services’ which takes you to a list of all their funerals. Click on Vera Maria Hoffmann.
Next 'To the Point' 4th of August.: Due to the commencing of the Bible study, these will occur on a more ad hoc basis. We have one on ageing in the pipeline that got postponed due to my mother's death. It has been rescheduled for Tuesday 4th of August at 7.30pm and will feature Catherine Heidenreich, Lorraine Semmler, Pastor Alwin Schirmer, Rev Dr Lance Steicke and myself.
Bible Studies: By video conferencing commencing Thursday the 13th of August at 7.30pm. (This is a fortnight later than originally planned due to a clash with the College board meeting on Thursday 30th of this month). We have had a request to study the book of Revelation. Please click here to join the Bible study. Help with accessing for the first time available if needed on the night by phoning Pastor on 0417 811 706. If people do not have the technology they can arrange to go to a member's home who does. To be held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month during the school term.
Last Sundays sermon: I deliver a variety of sermon types depending upon the text, circumstances and other factors. Last Sunday's was somewhat extraordinary as it went for much longer than usual. It addressed a controversial subject matter that we need to be informed about. We have also edited the service so that the sermon stands alone for easy sharing. I have already shared it with some groups in the wider Church and will share even further in the near future. I have received some very appreciative feedback with one or two others saying it has prompted them to think deeply and ask questions, which can only be good. While addressing climate change it also addresses so much more and touches on other equally controversial subjects. While many have said it was fair, balanced and very informed, they were appreciative that it did not simply just come from a secular perspective, but offered the unique Christian perspectives that people want and expect from their Church and Pastor! You may watch the sermon here.
Thanks to Kim for another contribution along with some input from her work colleague Philippa. We need wisdom to know when to make waves and when not to, a subject she addresses in the following piece. Wisdom will also be the theme for this Sunday's sermon which will look at its great value and benefits, it’s broad range of application, where or how we get it, the limits of human wisdom and how ultimately Christ is our wisdom or how we are counted wise by God in Christ!
When to rock the boat and when to sit still
Dear members and friends of St Peter's,
This week I wanted to start with the often-quoted poem of Pastor Niemoller, (A Lutheran Pastor who was very outspoken against Hitlers regime during WW II spending years incarcerated in a concentration camp). Anyone who has visited my office might have seen the poem attached to the side of my filing cabinet. It’s a poem I look at often and it always reminds me that sometimes you just can't stay silent.
But how do you know when to speak up and when to stay silent? This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. It’s also something Philippa and I have been discussing in great detail this week.
This weeks Bible verse from Philippa comes from Psalm 19.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
- Psalm 19:14
I think here we have the answer. As Christians, it's not a question of should we speak up, but rather how we do it.
As we read in James 1:19 “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”. If something is wrong we should not stay silent, we should be prepared to listen to each other, and sometimes if something is wrong we have to speak up. But, if we do we need to make sure that what we say is acceptable to God.
If we see something that is wrong it is very easy to either ignore it, or to fly off the handle and creates a larger mess by our response. Each response has a consequence and risks us being judged by each other. But societies judgement isn’t what is important, only the final judgement matters. If our words and conduct are acceptable to God, then sometimes we need to have the courage to speak up.
I hope that you are encouraged by this piece, as I said at the start its a topic Philippa and I have been discussing over the week and one we wanted to share.
I hope that everyone is coping with our restricted existence. It has been good for us to be able to worship together again. We continue to discuss and develop the services in line with our requirements.
I wanted to extend the congregations sympathies to Sonia and family on the passing of Vera. Many of us will remember Vera and her devotion and service to the congregation for many many years. We wish Sonia, Max and Annalise safe travel as they head to South Australia for the funeral. We hope that you will be comforted by the certain knowledge that Vera has won the final victory.
I wish you all a safe and blessed week.
Chairperson, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Leanne, Harrison and I had some relaxing time away during the first couple of weeks of the school holidays, visiting the beautiful West and North West of Tasmania. It was refreshing to get out of our normal routines and enjoy some of God’s magnificent and fairly unspoilt creation that this State has an abundance of.
Also great to see people at worship in recent weeks. If you are registered but can’t attend please let us know. If you are not registered please do so before attending by using the online registration facility on the Home Page of the St Peters website. If you need help with registering contact another member or myself.
Thanks to you all for continuing to support God’s work so generously during this time.
Warm regards and blessings,
Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Dear members and friends of St Peter's, Hobart,
This mail out contains important news and information. Please do read carefully.
Bible Studies: I am proposing the trialing of the fortnightly evening Bible studies by video conferencing. We have had a request to study the book of Revelation, something which I am sure will benefit us all. There are a number of simple principles that make this enigmatic book accessible and prevent us from going off on some of the tangents some sects do while still opening for us the spiritual or unseen realm and enabling us to view aspects of the present and future from the perspective of God’s throne room and the heavenly worship taking place there.
Hopefully, this format will encourage more members to join in. There is no reason why children can not sit in also, and teens or our youth would be most welcome. Even if they do not fully grasp all of the content we should not underestimate what they do absorb and the seeds of curiosity that may be awakened and further explored down the track.
There is just too much happening in the world spiritually at the moment for us not to be better informed regarding our faith and to interact. These study nights provide us with the opportunity to segue or divert into all sorts of areas, to ask questions and discuss just about anything on our minds. If anyone needs help accessing the video link we can talk them through. If people do not have the technology they can arrange to go to a member's home who does. I suggest commencing on the evening of Thursday the 30th of July at 7.30pm and then on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month during the school term.
To the Point: Due to the commencing of the Bible study these will occur on a more ad hoc basis. We have one on aging in the pipeline that got postponed due to my mother's death. It has been rescheduled for Tuesday 4th of August at 7.30pm and will feature Cath Heidenreich, Lorraine Semmler, Pastor Alwin Schirmer, Rev Dr Lance Steicke and myself.
Worship: Great to have seen quite a number of you at worship these past couples of weeks. Last Sunday was certainly much more natural with only one seat gap between people so it is quite easy to speak to a family member if necessary. While we are stating that no one should feel pressured to attend and we do have the live stream, Christian worship is in many ways corporate and the sacrament a special, costly gift and means of grace. While we do not have community contagion of COVID-19, one would expect that most members would avail themselves of this even if interspersing it with accessing the live stream for the present. If you are registered but cannot attend, please let us know. If you are not registered and would like to attend please do so by clicking the button on our website and completing the very easy online form and clicking submit at the end.
Happy Holidays: After service this Sunday I will take some time off and Harrison, Leanne and I will do some further exploring of Tasmania’s highlands and wilderness. I have not had a break at all since January as COVID caused shutdowns before Easter, we had to work to transition to the live stream, organise ‘To the Points’, provide phone, email and in-person Pastoral care, etc. I will only miss the one Sunday which will be the 12 of July and be back on deck on Sunday 19th of July.
PJ to lead baptismal service: Pastor John Heidenreich will lead worship on Sunday the 12th of July. Nic and Sarah’s child Willa, who is also PJ’s grand daughter, will be baptised that Sunday.
Else’s death: Else Adamczewski died during this past week. Her funeral will be held Monday, 6th of July, 9.55am at Turnbull Funerals, North Hobart and members and friends are welcome to attend. The service will also be live-streamed and can be viewed here. I have passed on sympathies to Gunnar, Claudya and their family. Pastor Robin Stelzer who is quite close to the family will provide a sermon for the service by means of video from Brisbane.
Thanks again to Kim who has provided the following: Are we currently on the road to Damascus?
The Apostle Paul while traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus intending to arrest and persecute the early disciples of Christ was visited by the ascended Christ in a great blinding light. This experience was life-changing for Paul and saw his conversion to Christianity. It also saw the phrase the road to Damascus go down in history as a reference to an important moment of insight, typically one that leads to a dramatic transformation of attitude or belief.
Are we on a similar road at the moment?
Though we might not have been visited by a blinding light our lives have certainly been turned around at present, and in many respect our lives will never be the same again. How will this change us and our thoughts? What can we learn from what we have experienced?
In keeping with my current thoughts, and in consultation with Philippa this week's Bible reading comes from various verses of Philippians 4. It has been said that Paul’s letters have been especially important at times of controversy among Christians, and this is especially relevant now.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Thanks for Their Gifts
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
- Philippians 4: 4-13
Can we honestly join with Paul and say we are content in our current circumstance?
On thinking of this I’m reminded of U2’s Rattle and Hum live album and in particular the song Silver and Gold. For those familiar with the album you will recall Bono’s monologue at the start of the song where he talks about a hotel room in New York City, where U2 wrote the song. He talks about apartheid. The subject of the song, as described by Bono, is a man sick and tired of looking down the barrel of white South Africa. This character is ready to take up arms against his oppressor. He is impatient with the peacemakers of the West, as they argue and fail to support a man like Bishop Tutu and his request for economic sanctions against South Africa.
“Am I bugging you?” Bono asks the audience. “I don’t mean to bug you.”
Well am I bugging you? Like Bono I don’t mean to bug you. Or do I?
Perhaps I do, but just a little. In Australia we are considered the lucky country. Growing up we have heard that time and time again. Until now we as a nation have never experienced hardship. Religion has never been suppressed. We can not even imagine what it would be like to live in a communist country where religion is not free. Imagine the 1500’s where priest holes were common in Catholic homes so that priest were able to hide if homes were searched. These are all concepts we are totally unfamiliar with. Yet at present we are restricted in how we worship.
What should our response be to this? Should we complain that what we have know has been taken away or should we join with Paul and be content regardless of our circumstance? Can I encourage everyone to be content. I know worship is different to what we are used to, but we do have worship. We have put in place practices to protect our members especially those that are vulnerable. It does look different but does that really matter? I’d suggest no it doesn’t. We are still church, we are still free to worship together, it might be limited but it’s not worship that is suppressed. Let us learn from this experience and grow stronger from it. Let us accept that our worship is different but let us be content that we are free to worship. Let us remember what is important that God has not changed.
We still live in a lucky country Pastor is not cowering in a priest hole we have freedom of religion we are not suppressed in out beliefs, we are somewhat restricted in how we worship, but those restrictions are ultimately for our benefit.
Let us not take for granted our freedoms and rejoice in our ability to worship freely. Let us rejoice in the word of God and our membership to the congregation, let us have a positive mental attitude and a confidence that God is in control. Can I encourage everyone in the words of C. A. Eberhart Professor of Religious Studies University of Houston Texas:
In chapter 4:1, Paul calls the congregation in Philippi “my joy and crown,” thus employing the term as a metonymy for what causes him to be cheerful. The list shows that “joy” is a central concept for Paul in this letter.
Is such a reminder necessary? Is it not somewhat odd to urge people to be joyful? This is probably true; however, if we could measure the “degree” of joyfulness in our Christian congregations, then we would probably have to admit that advice for more joy rather than less might be quite expedient.
We are too often focused on sin instead of celebrating that we are forgiven. We complain too often about the lack of holiness instead of remembering what we are as children of God. We are too often frustrated by feelings of weakness instead of being delighted about the strength of the Holy Spirit working in us. Yes, we too probably need a periodic reminder to “rejoice in the Lord.”
Let us too focus on what is important, let us not get distracted that worship does not look like what we are used to, let us be content and grow in our current circumstance. Let us rejoice that we are saved and can worship together even though it looks different.
I wish everyone a good week and look forward to continuing to serve you as Chair.
Chairperson, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Pastoral care: I have made quite a number of phone calls to keep in touch with some of our members, more particularly, but not exclusively, the elderly and more isolated. Thanks to those of you who also keep in touch with other members and particularly the more isolated.
Thanks to our leaders for providing strong, stable and unified leadership. I have been most impressed and thankful for the way that we have been able to navigate various challenges. It certainly does show spiritual maturity. All praise and glory to God! Please continue to pray for the strengthening of God’s people here, for the advancement of our mission, and for guidance and wisdom to faithfully negotiate further the challenges of living as God’s people in a fallen world.
Warm regards and blessings,
Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
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