Dear members and friends of St Peter's, Hobart.
You are all invited to join the live streaming of the concluding College Chapel service which I will lead this Friday, April 3rd at 10.00am.
The live stream can be accessed by clicking here.
Bishop Lester's latest correspondence can be accessed also by clicking here.
Again, remember to contact and encourage one another, cry out for help if needed to myself, a Pastoral assistant or any other member, and walk closely with our faithful God, drawing hope, life and resolve from His sure promises and faithfulness.
Warmest regards and blessings,
Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Dear members and friends of St Peters Lutheran Parish, Hobart,
I share with you three items for your information and encouragement. Firstly the webinar, as you should probably book this as soon as possible as it will be live-streamed from 7.30pm tonight. I recently shared the following with our leaders and some others:
This looks like it could be very worthwhile both in helping us to further our understanding regarding COVID-19 and also to prompt us further regarding how to make the most of the present time to share the Gospel and care for God’s people. I have just booked mine and the process was easy. Click here to register: The Gospel Coalition Webinar (COVID-19)
Secondly, I include a message from our Parish Chairperson Kim who plans to keep in touch in this way in an ongoing way and finally, below that, is a mail-out to Pastors which I received from our District bishop Lester Priebbenow yesterday.
Remember our service will be live-streamed this Sunday at 10.00am (if you miss it you can on later to view). It has been fascinating and enriching working on the text for the sermon. It is deep, rich and profound and so I am sure it will make for engaging listening. I will be meeting via phone conferencing with our Pastoral Assistants tomorrow morning so if there is anything of a pastoral nature that you believe needs consideration or attending to please contact me or one of them. As a reminder, they are Gundars, Tony, Garry, Pauline and Juergen.
Warm regards and blessings,
Social Isolation without being isolated.
Dear Members of St Peters,
This is a time of unprecedented unrest in Australia’s history and many of us have never gone through such a period of uncertainly before. The leadership team is however committed to ensuring that while we are practising social isolation we as a body should not be isolated from each other. We have moved to online services, this way many are still able to experience church on Sunday, albeit in a form we have not previously experienced. We are still one body in Christ and though we are unable to worship together in one building we are still able to worship. We are also lucky that we have wonderful communication facilities here and though we can’t physically be together there is no impediment to us remaining in contact. Phoning members and friends or emailing is a wonderful way for us to stay connected and to keep encouraging and lifting each other up. Prayer and praying for each other is also vital throughout this time. I will be providing a weekly update message to members so that you are aware of what we are doing behind the scenes to keep us together as a community. We are taking the health warnings very seriously and will do everything in our powers to keep our members safe from this dreadful virus. Please feel free to contact me at any time with thoughts or suggestions on how we are able to keep our members better informed and together.
Yours in Christ,
From Bishop Lester
My prayers are with you at this time as together we adapt to the unusual times in which we find ourselves, both as citizens and as church workers. As we reflect on the Scripture readings for this Sunday, we may well ask, “What opportunities does this situation give us to ‘live as children of light’?” (Eph. 5:25).
I do not wish to overwhelm you with information in this communication but to share a few pastoral reflections and seek ways that we may serve one another.
Official communications concerning the church’s response are via the LCA/NZ COVID-19 Response eNews and via the obvious orange link on the LCA website homepage. Information on that page is frequently updated to reflect the most recent developments and responses. Please note Bishop Henderson’s communication of today, Friday 20 March, for pastoral guidance and advice offered by the College of Bishops regarding suspension of Holy Communion.
RESPONSES WITHIN THE DISTRICT
Thanks to those who have taken the time to inform District Office of what you are doing with worship services etc. Some have already suspended publicly gathering for services. Some have sent helpful resources including a copy and commentary on Luther's advice in his 1527 "Plague Letter".
If suspension of public worship is to become more widespread, it will be important to consider the wording we use. We are not ‘cancelling’ services or ‘closing churches’ but ‘suspending public gatherings’ and offering alternative arrangements for people to participate in services of the Word.
This is a time for us to be creative and adaptive in the way we serve our people and lead them to care for one another. In this vein, Gordon Wegener has offered the following:
“I am sending this to support you in these unique times. There are many ways that you will be impacted and disorientated by what is happening, how normal life is changing, what we trusted as normal. Our normal connections and systems are being interrupted, and words like “distancing” and “isolation” can have negative connotations. I offer this little reading, which is simple, but encouraging, and suggests a way of turning these words we are experiencing into positives. This is a short reading from Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky:
“Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place.
Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern.
Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another,
must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other should the need arise.”
It is a time to be creative in response, to be adaptive besides reactive, and to care for each other.”
I don’t wish to give you a whole lot of advice about things you can do, but rather to ask you to share with me some of the adaptive approaches that may be helpful for others in relation to:
As time goes by you will likely hear of more events cancelled across the church. District eNews has already circulated news regarding some events like Women’s Convention. I need to announce to you that one further casualty is our District CEP, scheduled for early in June, which has now been cancelled.
COMFORT AND HOPE
At times like this, Scripture passages offering comfort and hope come to mind. Yes there are anxious times, but God says, ‘Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you’ (Psalm 55:22), ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7). Creation is ‘groaning’, but our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us’… nothing ‘in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom 8).
These are words for the people we serve and they are words for us too. May God lead you in his comfort and hope as you serve.
Yours in Christ,
Dear loved members and friends of St Peter’s Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for our forgiveness, life and salvation.
As you would all be aware, gathering for worship, along with most aspects of our social life has been radically altered and curtailed due to the COVID-19 virus.
The Bishops of the LCA met yesterday to evaluate the emerging situation and we have just received an update from our the National Bishop, John Henderson. He prefaces the body of his message with these motivational words:
“This is an opportunity for us to step forward, boldly and confidently, as Christian citizens who understand how to practise care, compassion, and love. The hope we have in us is greater than anything this earth can offer, and God’s love strengthens us. Our Lord has been preparing us for this time for many years. Suddenly, being a church is not just talk, but action, as we are challenged to step out of our church buildings into the unknown. As we do that, we will feel some sense of loss, but it does not need to bother us unduly. Our true hope is not in bricks and mortar, or the things of this world. We will always have what we need for each day. This is what we repeatedly ask God for, every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer. We can use the gifts we have been given for the good of the whole world, serving God with joy in our hearts."
Regarding the required closure of Church buildings, Bishop Henderson states:
"Government directives are quite clear on this matter. We must close our physical church buildings and worship centres for the duration. Australia has a Christian, church-going Prime Minister, and he would not ask us to do this lightly. This means no Sunday morning, Lenten, or other church services, small group bible studies or prayer times in our buildings or on the church grounds."
"And yes, sadly, this means no Holy Communion for the time being. The bishops ask you not to trial any experimental practices in your congregation. Communion is not magic. It is the community meal of the church, instituted by the Lord of the church, not a private spiritual act. Returning to the altar for the bread and the wine, once this is all over, will be a sweet and special moment, a special celebration of God’s redeeming grace. While it is central to the regular life of the church, in times of duress our faith and salvation do not utterly depend on receiving Communion. God has many ways of feeding us with his word and the water of eternal life – let’s explore them and make use of them."
Bishop John then goes on to address various related matters and provides further important information and makes some excellent suggestions under the following headings:
"Gather however you can, without physical proximity. Keeping worship alive in your home. Thinking of others. Easter is coming! Keep up-to-date and share resources."
Please read his update fully and carefully after reading the rest of this message which also contains very important local information. The link to the full transcript sent by Bishop Henderson is at the bottom of this mail-out.
First live stream a huge success:
The first live stream of our service was a huge success and we have had widespread very positive feedback, most importantly regarding the content but also very importantly on the professionalism of the stream. As of late this morning we had over 100 unique or different visitors who watched the majority of the service (and we know that some of these were multiple viewers, eg couples and families) and a further 65 or so of those same visitors returned and watched the majority of it a second time. We also had another 70 who dropped by for a look, with quite a number of these being there more than long enough to view the sermon and some other parts of the service. These numbers are in addition to the around or just over 35 who were still in Church last Sunday.
God is indeed providing us with a unique and unexpected opportunity to share the Gospel. These numbers are likely to increase as the word gets around and we promote this service more fully in the wider LCA and our local community. Please keep the promotion of this opportunity and each week's preparations very much in your prayers. For any who have missed the news about our streaming of services, the service is available on the home page of our St Peter's website with no log in required. Just click the button that says "10AM Live Stream".
Comments Page now here:
Also, the Home Page of our St Peter’s website www.splchobart.org has a button you can press to keep connected with each other, make comments, share resources, ask questions and encourage each other. Be assured this will be a safe place to connect and talk. If any post is deemed to be aggressive, indecent or contravene our guidelines it will be quarantined. It is not that we are seeking to censor or stop important questions, but rather we do not want anyone to feel intimidated. Posts will appear immediately. In the unlikely case that your post disappears you may wish to rethink how you communicated and then try to make the point again more gracefully or tactfully. If you have concerns regarding a post that is allowed to stand for any length of time, or about a post of yours that disappears either phone or email me with a return phone number.
I must pay tribute to Harrison. One of the reasons we as a congregation are so ahead of the curb here and being so widely acknowledged and praised for our professionalism is him using the gifts God has given him tirelessly on our behalf. It is such a blessing to also have him in such close proximity with the scene changing so quickly.
The provider we have chosen to use for the comments is Disqus due to the facilities it offers, its simplicity and the widespread nature of its use, which means many of you will already be signed up to it. While easy to sign up to, if anyone has trouble contact either Harrison or myself and Harrison will talk you through the process. To post a comment simply go to the bottom of this email which will appear by clicking the ‘discussion’ on our comments page.
Go to the discussion page
We will keep providing updates. Please keep going to the comments page or button on our website to keep updated and in touch also. I envisage the conversation to flow at the Disqus comments opportunity under each post I send out beginning with this one. Please join the conversation even it is simply to say hello to begin with and to let us know that you are connected to and a part of the discussion group.
Pastoral care: The current environment is very testing for some of you. You may want reassurance, a listening ear, prayer or guidance regarding decisions that need to be made due to new circumstances. If you need Pastoral care please do contact myself, one of the Pastoral Assistants or talk to each other. Reach out no matter what, but especially if you are feeling desperate. We do not need to journey alone and with our loving God, there is always hope, always a way, even though what appears to be the most impossible of circumstances. I know as I have been there more times than I care to remember! God is great and God is good!
Here is the link to Bishop John's full transcript.
I close by using the same Psalm Bishop John cites in his email:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.
- (Psalm 121: NRSV )
Warmest regards and blessings,
Pastor Mike Steicke,
St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
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