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: email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 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 email@example.com 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 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,
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!