Dear members and friends of St. Peter's,
“I begin by sharing with you a couple of contributions on the unfolding protests (and riots) in the US and elsewhere following the death of George Floyd. I do this following various conversations with members that I have been a part of and the obvious interest in this subject. The first is from Rev Matt Harrison, the President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) who a reasonable number of we Australian Lutheran Pastors know personally. It is pastoral in nature and I believe seeks to promote healing and humility. Rev Harrison is well qualified to speak on this subject as Lutheranism is the dominant denomination in the twin cities of Minnesota and St Paul and he is situated in St Louis which has also experienced its share of racial tensions and violence both recently and historically. He urges us all to practice personal repentance, oppose racism and to respect authority. Wise advice indeed! You can continue to read on here.
Secondly, I share this from Martyn Iles of the Australian Christian Lobby. I do not agree with Martyn on everything, but I do on many things, and what he writes here is something I believe we all need to be aware of and informed about, as there are cultural forces feeding lawlessness and destabilising society. An ideology that promotes tribalism, division and aggressive self-righteousness has been unleashed on and among us. If this is tribalism, then you may ask why are there many whites protesting and even rioting, looting and engaging in violence? Many such persons describe themselves as ‘woke’, meaning they view themselves as enlightened and alert to injustice. A ‘woke’ person is someone who identifies and empathises with an oppressed minority. In a sense, we should all be ‘woke’, but this is not to be at the expense of God’s ordering of creation, the respect for the life of all, for others property and welfare, for authority, the prohibition against covetousness, theft and whatever else is contrary to the 10 commandments which are summarised by Jesus’ call to wholeheartedly love God and neighbour! I am perplexed that such people, so angered at the killing of an innocent man are often pro-abortion (even to full term – a child in the womb is surely among the most powerless!) and how some are engaging in violence towards others, justifying it by stating they are attacking the oppressors. I encourage a careful reading of this and to keep in mind Rev Harrison’s article and his call for personal repentance while doing so. For those really interested in analysis you might also like to read this rather sanitised overview of Anarchism by an adherent as one can see some of the philosophies and fingerprints of Anarchists coming through on various websites behind the current destabilisation.
There are no doubt many angles to this. In last Sunday’s sermon, it was suggested this is also a ‘reaping of what we have sown’ for collectively largely pushing God and His Word out of the picture and pursing empty materialism and consumerism. We have an economic system's which, with accompanying technology, work far too well. However, we have failed to put the necessary checks, balances and limits in place, and have largely lost our soul and so much of value in the process. We have milked systems to the extreme, repeatedly kicked the proverbial can down the road, hardened our attitudes to others including future generations, while losing ourselves in the reckless ‘party times’. While God’s gifts are good, some of us, the privileged ones, may have also blinded ourselves to exploitation, neglect and oppression here and abroad. Rev Harrison’s call to personal reflection or introspection and repentance is timely indeed and requires us going way beyond many fake news narratives, propaganda and stereotyping of others which even our itching ears are so often eager to hear for our self-justification. Hurtful racial slurs, like smutty innuendo, are to have no place among us, for we are all made in the image of God!
Having said this we must always be wary of utopianism. There will never be a perfect system. Revolution is in the air and that does not always end well as the failed totalitarian experiments and regimes of last century remind us. We have a rich heritage in so many ways. Spiritual and social reform and revival could well bring us back to something solid, to ‘roots that refresh’! Regardless, Christ brings us life, now and forever, and we are called ‘to save ourselves from this corrupt generation’ (Acts 2:40) and through Christ to bring others with us! Violence was one aspect of the widespread corruption before the flood and Jesus repeatedly uses the image of the sudden flood as a picture of the end and a call to get ready for the coming judgment by embracing in repentance Christ crucified and risen for us and our forgiveness. You can watch last Sunday’s Sermon here.
TO THE POINT.
‘The Art of Ageing’ is the title for this Tuesday’s (9th of June, 7.30pm AEST) live streaming of ‘To the Point’. It will look at the challenges, opportunities, blessings and realities of ageing and caring for the aged.
The panellists are: Catherine Heidenreich; Registered nurse, aged care manager and worker. Alwin Schirmer; Retired Parish Pastor and Aged Care Pastor with a Graduate Diploma in Health studies specializing in loss and grief. Lorraine Semmler; Retired Registered nurse and aged care manager. Lance Steicke; Retired Pastor, Lutheran Radio and TV presenter and Bishop of the LCA with considerable experience of ageing and its challenges.
Be sure to tune in, promote and share the details of what promises to be another great broadcast! You can ask questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The sooner these are received the better!
Returning to worship.
Restriction's continue to be relaxed. We can now have 40 plus attendants at worship. We will keep monitoring the situation and keep you informed but we still plan to resume Sunday fortnight, 21st of June 10.00am as that enables us to get everything properly in place. Please ensure you register your intent to worship here or desire for home communion here. We are not allowed to admit people who have not registered their intent to worship and been allocated a confirmation advise. With community contagion seemingly almost non-existent at the current time and the sanitising, distancing and other protective measures we are putting in place we have every reason to believe that gathering for worship will be a safe experience. We will start to reply to those who have expressed interest next week once Parish leaders have further conversed.
Kim says ‘Smile we are getting there’
Dear Members of St Peters,
I imagine many of you would have greeted our Premiers announcement of the relaxing of restrictions earlier than we first thought with some excitement. Many of you no doubt smiled at the thought of a slightly freer life and things starting to relax.
Philippa’s thoughts this week have also been on smiling. There is a new puppy in their household Buzz an Australian Shepherd and he is turning their life upside down and bringing with it much joy during this time. Her words are below.
The new puppy smiled at me so sweetly as I was just emailing you. So it made me think of the power of a smile. Both to give and receive. It made me think that we are perhaps more equipped to find some joy in the simple things such as a smile because of our recent experience and especially now that our difficult time in isolation is ending and the future is looking brighter.
The comfort of a smile from a stranger when we were all quite frightened was really noticeable.
Philippa then suggested the following Bible verses.
"A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly."
- Proverbs 15:13-14 ESV
"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
- Proverbs 17:22 ESV
"Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed."
- Psalm 34:5 ESV
I really don’t think I need to do too much convincing that we all feel better if someone smiles at you. I also recall reading once that it takes more effort to frown than to smile.
A smile costs nothing and can lift our spirits and the spirits of those around us.
So for this week lets smile at the thought we have no new cases, that restrictions are lifting, that we are planning to resume services with communion, that protocols are settled and can be put up on the website and that we have been blessed by Gods protection throughout this time.
Have a safe week.
Chairperson, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Thanks ever so much to all of you for your patience and ongoing support during this trying time and encouragement to be creative and use the opportunity positively with our various streams and other measures.
God bless you all richly and keep you safe in the palm of His hand.
St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Dear members and friends of St Peter’s Lutheran Church, Hobart.
We live with tensions. The Christian life is to be communal. Hebrews 10:24-25, which has great relevance for life after COVID-19 shutdown, states: 'Let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer'. There are various other similar biblical passages and passages that reinforce this sentiment or directive.
Having said this, the Christian community is not a right, but a privilege, something Bonheoffer articulates beautifully in his spiritual classic ‘Life together’ that I referred to some weeks ago, but do so again because of its relevance for us at the moment and in case some of you had good intentions of looking at it or even started it but got diverted. You can read it here.
We also live with the tensions of our responsibilities as citizens and to the State but also of our primary allegiance to God and his will as citizens of the eternal kingdom. Bonheoffer and many of his peers such as Martin Niemoller, Helmut Thielicke and Hermann Sasse, to name but a few, knew all about this and paid a costly price in various ways, although God used all of them mightily (even if in Bonheoffer's case it was through his example and writings) after the flood of the judgement of the war on all of the nations of the earth to powerfully rebuild and revive the Church and reinvigorate Western culture for many decades to come following World War Two. Alas, successive generations are so prone to forget the hard learnt lesson of the past.
We were hoping, with restrictions gradually starting to ease this week, to begin having people join us and offering Holy Communion on a very limited basis from this Sunday. Unfortunately, we seem to need to still work through a few more things to ensure we are fully compliant and can assure you that nothing has been left undone to ensure all are safe. I am proud of the way that our leadership has handled this. There are very strong views in society, in Christendom, in the LCA and even among us on these and related matters. I believe we have handled things in a most Christlike manner, something which we model to you and which collectively we can model to a society urgently needing it. The following article, which I cannot recommend highly enough, is proving to be very helpful. It is titled ‘Church, Don’t Let Coronavirus Divide You’. Please do read it. Those who are interested in understanding further where we are coming from can read the correspondence from Bishop John Henderson here.
Different Lutheran bodies internationally are in different positions. Here is a response from President Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), a Church quite similar to ours as far as their Confession goes. It makes for interesting reading. A publication from a Roman Catholic medical lay person’s perspective in the highly respected publication ‘First things’ also offers an interesting, alternative perspective, which you can read here.
We hope to be able to offer limited attendance at worship in accordance with government regulations and attendance at communion soon, but we just want to work through a few things more thoroughly first. Kim also addresses this in her report below. Please be patient. A number of people have already visited our website to register their interest. Please do so also by filling in the simple form on splchobart.org. You will be placed in the queue and notified of a Sunday on which you may attend once we do get going.
We are blessed to have Dr Jodi Johnson-Gladings among us to consult. For those who don’t know, Jodi is a medical doctor (among other things) and her current role is Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Tasmania, which involves her advising government and medical bodies. Jodi will be a guest on our next ‘To the Point’ which will be live-streamed on Thursday week, 28th of May at 7.30pm (AEST). Make sure you mark your diaries and email all questions to email@example.com regarding COVID-19. She will be joined by ALC lecturer and Church historian Tom Pietsch (to be distinguished from Dr Stephen Pietsch who appeared recently). Tom will share some of the great wisdom and insights from Christians throughout history who have battled with far greater plagues and challenges than what we are currently experiencing.
‘To the Point’ continues to greatly appreciated and widely accessed. If you missed our last edition with our Parish Chair Kim Baumeler and Dr John Kleinig, you really have missed something quite spiritually profound. You can be watched here. Some are watching these in two parts, so keep at it as it continues to deliver right through to the end!
Dear friends, Patiently endure. Use this quieter time (for some) to develop good habits and disciplines and turn away from those that are destructive. Our reward will be great and eternal, won in and by Christ crucified for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God. St Paul writes:
‘However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”--
the things God has prepared for those who love him--
These are the things that God has revealed to us by the Spirit’.
Here is Kim's report to us. Thank you, Kim, for this.
Dear Members of St Peter's,
I hope that you have all had a good week, and that you can slowly feel some normality returning to your lives.
This week Philippa has chosen 2 verses for us that are again a great reminder of Gods promises to us. They speak of renewal and restoration and the hope we have in God.
'As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.'
- Genesis 8:22
'Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.'
- Isaiah 38:16-17 (NIV)
The verse from Genesis appears in The Bible just after we are told of Noah and the flood. It is Gods promise that while the earth remains, seasonal cycles will continue uninterrupted. We see this now played out every day, though our lives may have been turned upside down and we see disruption everywhere we do still see the changing seasons, we continue to plant and harvest, some of us more so as people try and become more self sufficient and day and night goes on. Then the verse in Isaiah reminds us of the work God does within us. He is watching over us and he is keeping us safe and will continue to do so no matter what challenges life might throw up at us. Yet again they are wonderful verses to reflect upon and to remind us to persevere as Corona Virus will pass as will the current chaos. Once again thanks to Philippa for her choice. Her choices always give me plenty to think about and I hope they do the same for others.
This last week has been a busy one. Thank you for those who participated and assisted Pastor in the last 2 services. Uma and Diva made the Mothers Day service very special, and Daibing and Xinyu on Sunday did no less. I had been told that Xinyu would be reading a short verse, clearly my definition of short and Pastors differs somewhat. It was quite a lengthy verse and with a number of difficult words to pronounce in it, and yet Xinyu read it so beautifully. Well done to you all and thank you for taking part and making these services more personal by your contributions. It is lovely to see various members appearing from week to week and greatly assists in taking part from afar.
The next matter I wanted to raise is a meeting I had with Wendy. It was drawn to my attention that there were some inappropriate posts on Wendy’s personal Facebook Page. When I raised these with Wendy she indicated that she was unaware of these posts and when we searched they were no longer present on her page. Wendy denies posting them and is mortified and very concerned that such posts appeared on her personal page. The matter has been reported to Facebook and is being looked into. Wendy’s security has also been upgraded to minimise the risk of future hacking. Should any members see any posts on Wendy’s personal page or on the School Facebook page that are inappropriate or concerning please feel free to raise it with either Jodi or myself. Wendy wanted me to assure the Congregation that she would never consciously post anything inappropriate and is embarrassed that members might have seen these posts. This is also why we are eager for anyone with concerns to come forward as we want to ensure that what people are viewing are genuine posts and not something as a result of hacking. Wendy and the whole College community are committed to appropriate use of social media and to ensure this occurs please raise any concerns that you might have if matters are posted inappropriately. Social media is a very effective way for us to remain in contact especially at times like this but it also makes us vulnerable to abuse and hacking. I guess this is a timely reminder for everyone please ensure that you have appropriate security settings on any social media sites that you use.
The final matter I wanted to inform the congregation on is how we are working towards a gradual restart of church services. Pastor already mentioned this at the end of service on Sunday. Initially it was hoped that services would commence this Sunday, however on Monday I spent a significant amount of time reading through the protocols put out by Bishop Henderson and also speaking to Bishop Preibbenow and Stephen Mildred the Districts risk assessment officer regarding services. I have also looked at the Direction put out under the Public Health act related to gatherings. It became clear after doing this that at this stage we will need to spend some time putting in protocols before recommencing services. We will continue to work with the district and also the National office to ensure we are complying with all requirements. At this point in time our priority is keeping our members safe, we have done so well so far and we do not want to undo all of our good work by rushing into things too early.
Church Council is committed to ensuring that we comply with all requirements for the protection of members attending and to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19. To this end we are working on various protocols that need to be put in place, once agreed to I plan to have these available on our website so all can view them. We are also very conscious that anything we do might still not be sufficient to alleviate the concerns of everybody. These are unprecedented time and it is every members responsibility to do their part, as protocols and procedures can only go so far. We are implementing a booking system which is already available on our website to enable people to book to attend services once it is safe to do so. We are also implementing a booking service for home communion once we are able to do so.
A lot of work is going into ensuring all our members can stay well during this time, but we need everyone to cooperate for this to work, and we will continue to update the congregation as time goes on.
I hope that everyone has a good week, and I look forward to writing again in the next mail out.
Chairperson of St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
Great to hear so many are joining our live stream of Sunday services. Many friends, visitors and others. A few of these have made contact with us which is a blessing.
Warmest regards and blessings to you all,
Pastor Mike Steicke.
St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hobart.
P.S. St. Peter's has some new social media pages that you can access by clicking the buttons below. Please follow us on these pages so that you don't miss any important updates, events or news in the community.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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!