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 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 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!