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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