A Holy Lent

Last Wednesday we marked (literally with ashes) the beginning of the season of Lent. There is a lovely phrase in the service where we encourage one another to ‘keep a Holy Lent’. Holy means set apart for a special, sacred purpose.

If you have been around St Nic’s for a while you will know that the purpose of taking seasons of focus in the church year is to realise God’s grace in our lives. We bless and receive blessings, we belong to Christ and to one another, we grow in our renewed belief, we see our behaviour change and participate with God for that transformation. As we live this out, we become increasingly the person God intended. Paul describes the process of putting of our old natures and putting on our true, new nature in Christ. This idea of putting something off is what lies behind the notion of denying ourselves certain things in order to develop certain things. Eg. take Facebook off your mobile phone and limit your social media to your laptop to create more mental space and time for a bible app a verse a day or simple prayer. Or just space!

If you live in solitude most of each day perhaps it’s putting on an additional social activity, joining a St Nic’s small group, visiting the craft group or serving at Little Lambs or in the Op Shop. Feel free to munch as much chocolate as you like. What is a Holy Lent between you and the Lord this year going to look like?

Working from Rest

January has been a month of slowing down for us as a church. Early in the month we combined services in the morning. The morning and evening daily Prayer Watch continued but our prayer and worship gathering on Sunday evening also stopped. Our mid-week groups paused. Sabbath originates from a Hebrew word that means ‘stop’. So, in a sense January has been for us a Sabbath. I certainly enjoyed this in my annual leave in New Zealand with family and friends. Stopping for what purpose though?

The commands to honour the sabbath are not to make space for nothing but rather to embrace the opportunity to rest and enjoy God and His creation. It combines well with our season of Epiphany as revelation often comes to us when we are sufficiently undistracted to be open to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit. We have time to reflect on a verse of scripture or for creation to speak to us of our creator. As I come back into the opportunities and challenges of ministry with all of you representing Jesus to our local area and beyond, it would be too easy to ‘get busy’. However, the greater fruitfulness in ministry is when we work from rest. I am looking to place sabbath more intentionally in my own week and life this year. Ask me about it! I wonder if we can do this together. It is a sign of freedom. We are no longer ‘slaves in Egypt’ unable to observe rest. (See Deuteronomy 5:12-15) What would doing sabbath look like for you?

Carols, Cappuccinos & Celebrations!

Today, Saturday 15th December, we gathered as a community to celebrate. We held together two historical narratives that though distinct relate to one another around the person of Jesus.

Did you know…

… it was because of his love for Jesus that John Allnutt offered gatherings for Christians originally in his own home (now called Henton Cottage). On 12 September 1850 having reordered the cottage across the street it was consecrated as a church building where he led services until his death in 1861.

A lot has happened since that time here in Australind

Did you know…

… that many people continue to gather around the person of Jesus? Families such as the Narroways, the Cliftons and others have shared life together in and around this little building. In 1914 the Anglican Church purchased it and renamed it Church of St Nicholas Australind and consecrated it in December 1915.

Did you know…

… that in the 1990’s the church grew to sustain life as an independent parish? Since then the church community has grown and new buildings have been funded by the congregations over the years through sacrificial giving. The same love John Allnutt had for Jesus has continued to be shared here in the community that is St Nicholas, Australind.

Community stewardship, a historical resource and a place for prayer…

Do you know why we have given sacrificially to restore the smallest church building in WA? Firstly we are stewarding part of our shared heritage here in Australind. This is advertised by our Shire and attracts tourist interest and commercial benefit to the area. Tourists go across to the retail park following a visit here. We have appreciated the shire’s support of the project in helping provide a protective fence. Stewarding this building is in part a gift from us to the wider community. As we want to bless those around us in Jesus name.

Secondly did you know it allows us to create a meaningful historical resource that we can share with local schools? Several of our parishioners are professional teachers and we will work with local schools to facilitate resource packs and visits in line with curricular needs.

Last but not least did you know that though too small for our current congregations it will again be a renewed sacred space for prayer, worship and blessing? Jesus is the reason for the season, but He is also the reason for the continuing existence of the building. Do you know Immanuel, God with us, in your life? If you want to explore life with Jesus try an Alpha course in 2019 or join us for our open meals on Wednesday. It was a great pleasure to welcome so many people here today to celebrate with us.

Carols, Cappuccinos and of course the Celebrations!

Our celebrations continued with a sausage sizzle, children’s entertainment, specialty stalls and an excellent Op Shop fashion parade. It was a pleasure to have our younger members with us, enjoying the bouncy castle, and participating in the service and fashion parade. We look forward to the next chapter with them following Jesus as part of St Nic’s.

December 15th – Save the Date!

We are going to celebrate the restoration of our historic church building with a service of dedication and thanksgiving including Carols on Saturday the 15th of December in the morning followed by a sausage sizzle and hospitality. Celebrations will continue with a fete around the Op shop with an afternoon tea and various other attractions! More details to follow.

This will replace our usual Carols and Cappuccinos this year.

 

The Good Gift of Power at Pentecost

You can move a car by pushing it or you can turn the ignition key and harness the power of the engine. It will travel for longer and with a great deal less personal effort from A to B if there is sufficient fuel. Using fuel and the car’s engine, is using the car as it was designed to be. It’s the same with being a Christian called to be Jesus’ witnesses. We can attempt to live out the Christian life in our own limited power (this will result in failure) or we can welcome God’s design for the Christian and the necessity of being clothed with power by the Holy Spirit.

In Luke 24:49 Jesus asks the disciples to wait in Jerusalem in order to receive what the Father has promised, clothing in power. This power is in Greek the same root word from which we get dynamite! It is the same word that describes Jesus in Luke 4 as he returns from his trials in the wilderness and begins His public ministry: Luke 4:14 ‘Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.’ Furthermore, it is something promised by the Father through the prophets as Peter later points out in his address to the cords on Pentecost in Jerusalem. Here, he begins to literally fulfil the call to witness to Jesus (Acts 2:16ff).

Not just an encounter, but on-going…

This is not just a one off. The scriptures testify that the Holy Spirit’s work and presence in us makes all the difference. As we trust in Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who helps us know and experience the love of God assuring us that we are his children (Romans 8:16). We often see this is the main thing that happens on the Holy Spirit day in our Alpha course. Likewise, it is the spirit who enables good fruit to grow in our lives reflecting the character of Jesus: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to be effective witnesses through transforming our own lives; equipping us to witness in our actions and words to Jesus- risen from the dead, saviour of the world.

We recognise this is an ongoing need. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled and continue to be filled with the Spirit. Consequently, in each Eucharist we pray ‘Renew us by your Holy Spirit,’ and conclude with a heartfelt prayer ‘send us out in the power of your Spirit to live and work to your praise and glory.’

Clothe us in power…

On Saturday, as part of the prayer movement ‘Thy Kingdom come’ encouraged by Archbishop Justin Welby, we waited upon the Lord for 8 hours, looking to pray in His kingdom in differing areas and across a number of issues . However, we were waiting especially for the Lord to clothe us as a church with His power to be effective witnesses here to the South West of Australia.
This past week in Alpha it was a delight for us to see someone come to that place of trust in Jesus and commit themselves to follow Him. That wonderful moment happened in part through the ongoing witness of Christians in her family and the witness of this church to her. Alpha has helped her think it through further and come to a decision. How beautiful is that? It is a literal fulfilment of what Jesus asks of us and enables us to do through the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:45-49).

Lord, may your kingdom continue to come in us and through us. Holy Spirit, clothe us with power that we might be your witnesses to the ends of the earth, even the South West of Australia.

Amen.

Encountering Jesus now?

Last week, Paul wrote about the truth of God’s presence in our suffering. Jesus drank the cup of betrayal, rejection, physical torture, abandonment, tasting for a moment a profound separation with His Father. He did so for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2).

One of the hardest things for the disciples at the time of Jesus Passion was losing him. His promises of being with them seemed to die on the cross. Where was he now? Many people ask that question in the face of suffering and understandably so. The Psalms articulate the same question many times.

After rising from death Jesus appeared to a number of witnesses in the time between the Passover and Pentecost. See Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; He appeared to Simon, James, the apostles and then a crowd of 500 people at one time.

Jesus said he would not leave us or forsake us. He fulfils that promise through the Holy Spirit, the one who walks alongside us, comforts advises, guides (John 14-16 references this).

In returning to the heavens Jesus opened the way for the Holy Spirit to come and to make His presence, Immanuel, known to them and us. Learning to welcome the Holy Spirit of Jesus is welcoming His presence into our lives. We can live, literally, inspired lives!

As we now celebrate the resurrection, and look forward to the celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we are running another Alpha course beginning May 2nd. Alpha allows us to explore honestly the basics of the Christian faith and enables opportunities for encounters with the Holy Spirit. We share a meal from 5:45 pm and the course will start around 6:45 pm.

Will you be joining us?

Shalom,
Jamie