I must admit, I entered the Alpha course with some apprehension considering that it would be done in the isolation of our own homes, online! Most courses I have been on or facilitated involve a heavy bias towards interaction and the fellowship of being together. These fears soon dissipated with the warmth of the people involved and the excellent way that Jamie and Verity ran the sessions.
There was a good mix of people in different stages of their journey with Christ. The course material is very well structured. The initial meeting focused on the solid foundation of belief. I found the presentation of the history and supporting evidence of the Bible and the session “Why did Jesus Die’ particularly compelling.
The narration from Nicky Gumball and his team is uplifting. This is followed by testimonies by some incredible people. They ranged from hardened criminals that had turned to Christ to personal prayer friends of the Pope! The common thread is the love of Jesus and you could see the gentleness and warmth these people exuded.
I highly recommend everyone to participate in an Alpha course, whether you have been involved with church for a number of years or just a few weeks. I am looking forward to my renewed journey with Christ. God Bless. ~ Rick
Don Reid will host an online workshop about contemplative prayer on Zoom on Saturday 11 July at 9am.This will cover topics such as its history, and its inevitable distractions, and is intended to be cheerfully interactive. It is planned to last no more than 1 hour.
The event is free and open to anyone, but only 20 participants maximum.
The Zoom link will be sent to registrants by email closer to the date.
Registration and questions to Don on mobile 0417948141 or email@example.com
The annual commemoration is marked by a variety of events in more than 100 countries, involving government officials, humanitarian aid workers, celebrities, civilians and the forcibly displaced themselves.
We recall that Jesus Mary and Joseph had to flee persecution to Egypt before safely returning to the North of Israel to settle out of harms way. We are encouraged in scripture to welcome and care for those who are in need.
Precisely how we attempt this can seem overwhelming to the point of inaction. Yet every small step we make can be multiplied in blessing. I have not always found the grace to welcome the stranger . Perhaps like me you can draw encouragement from Mother Teresa who said ‘If you can’t feed a hundred people , then feed just one.’
How our families continued in their relationship with God over the Covid isolation period – Melissa Cahill
Hello to all the members of St Nicholas. I have been asked to collate some of the Home Godly Play experiences of the families from St Nics with young children during the COVID isolation. As much as we were unable to connect at Church and at Godly Play, we still continued some form of Godly Play within our families at home. We wanted to share some of the activities we did with all of you, so we can continue to feel connected as a Church Family, even though we haven’t all caught up in person yet!
Leading up to Easter, although it was quite sad knowing we would not be able to attend church, it was also a little easier to arrange Godly Play with my family, as it provides a clear platform for our readings from the bible and enacting out the stories. Our first attempt was a little disorganised, though having a bit of a perfectionist personality, was more about too high expectations! Emily and Imogen were so excited to set up our Godly Play area. We set up candles on a plate on the floor, had my laptop ready to play worship songs the girls knew from school (YouTube is great for this!). The girls grabbed barbie dolls for our enactment of the bible story. We used a children’s bible so the girls could read from it easily. We also had a cup ready with water and rice crackers to do our own little ‘feast’. We said the Lord’s Prayer and then each of us said a prayer for our family and the community. I found it easier when we had set roles, everyone wanted to do everything the first time, which was too much. So we started with having set roles for the reading, the story enactment and also the asking questions about the story. My girls loved organising the Godly Play, which included, making more appropriate clothes for their dolls, dressing Jesus and the donkey, and making props. They also relished each having a lead role in the Home Church.
We also added from Verity’s suggestions and Carol’s, lighting coloured candles, and placing the various items such as the palm cross in the centre of the plate of candles. We also included standing in a circle, placing a hand on each others’ shoulder and saying a personal prayer for that family member at the conclusion of our Godly Play. Even though it was a difficult time, it’s been lovely to see my children’s development in their understanding of God and understand how they relate to Jesus.
Other families participated in more structured Home services, such as the online Zoom church services provided by a few other churches, which meant they could see other families and share a spiritual connection via online video. The Elliott family watched a lot of online ‘Bedtime Bible Stories’ which they found entertaining and perfect for primary and older age groups.
Karen and Logan enjoyed using the children’s Examen in the ‘Pray as You Go’ app. They enjoyed incorporating the Examen at the dinner table or as part of the bedtime routine. Karen and Logan explained how they loved the simplicity of the app and found the daily reflection helped them to focus on God and how he had worked in their day. Karen expressed how ‘it had been a great springboard into other conversations about school, their needs and wants and what was important to them’. Karen included the app which you can download from the App Store or access the website https://pray-as-you-go.org/.
Karen also described ‘how they held a special blessing for their puppy ‘Jack’, the newest member of their household. They lit Logan’s baptism candle as a reminder to him of God’s light and that we are responsible for looking after God’s creation. They sprinkled water on Jack to bless him from his dog bowl to remember that water is vital for God’s creation’. Karen and Logan described this as ‘a very memorable ‘service’ and one they won’t forget as a family’.
The Lotufo family read Bible story texts and watched YouTube videos of Bible stories with a discussion afterwards as part of their Godly Play at home. Julieta provided one of the stories here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYO_382TpCc the YouTube story on The Good Shepherd which she recommended to watch and discuss.
Julieta described Levi’s two favourite stories.
The Easter Story – the story of Jesus dying and being resurrected and what this means for us today – His great sacrifice, which shows God’s love for us. They also discussed the bread and wine and what this means and why we partake of them. Julieta explained, “Levi does not like the part in which Jesus is arrested by the soldiers, he thinks this is ‘bad’ and would like to stop them from taking Jesus. However, Levi knows that happens next and the outcome. He likes the part in the story in which the tomb is empty and understands that Jesus has risen to heaven”.
The second favourite story is David and Goliath. Julieta expressed, “Levi has a great interest in how David was able to defeat Goliath with only the use of rocks.” She explained, “they begin the story by talking about how God looked after David and received God’s favour”. Julieta added, “I secretly think he likes the story because a giant was killed by a boy who used rocks instead of the swords that the army had. Every time we read this story he always says that if he had to fight a giant he would do the same thing – I do love how his little mind works. Only 5 years of age and such innocence.”
So as you can hear from our stories, we have all found a way to continue our relationship with God and share this with our families. It has been a wonderful time for sharing and interacting together and gaining a greater insight into how our children are building a relationship with God and learning from them.
While we have not been able to gather on our site we have managed to complete several different projects. Here are some pictures of recent more visible developments. Our thanks to Tony our warden and Mr Kerry and others in the site management team for ensuring our site serves our mission.
One of the glories of the church is that each person can bring and share differing gifts for the building up of the body. Following St Paul, here at St Nics, we use the language of a body made up of different parts with each part essential to the well being of the whole. For someone like me who is not naturally handy to watch our site team at work is always a reminder that each of us can bring a blessing to one another in so many ways. Once again our thanks to them all. I wonder what gifts you can share both with us and in our wider community?
We have completed our COVID Safety Plan and a number of us have already completed the tier 1 training in Hygiene as directed by our state government. Lois and Barbara have worked to label and sign as much as we can to make it work for all of us in this transition period. We have established a number of sanitising stations, worked out how many people can be in each space/ room and labelled accordingly. Barbara has kindly taken the level 2 training and is willing to act as our hygiene coordinator. Registration is necessary when entering the building.
In order to avoid turning people away at the door it is necessary to register beforehand. I am asking for the following next week.
Wednesday morning June 3rd communion at 9 am. If you have normally attended this service you are welcome to do so next week June 3rd. I will be calling people directly about this and would ask that nobody attend who has not been directly contacted.
To attend our additional Friday communion June 5th at 9 am please register here: the listing will close at 20 attendees.
Communion will be in one kind, the bread, as directed by + Ian.
Sunday 7th June at 8 am is by registration only although I will be contacting those who are not accessing information online. Our family service at 10 am on June 7th has been worked out by e-mail contact and those attending will be confirmed by e-mail. To register for the 8 am service follow this link below.
The following week we will review and build on this with small groups being able to take communion as they meet in church. This will require a decision to be made with you in your groups and confirmed to Jamie by your leaders.
I am sorry for the inconvenience and limited opportunity that faces us currently but remain committed to ensuring we keep ourselves and our wider community as safe as possible and support our state government in doing so. It may well be that our participating numbers will increase within a few weeks.
My thanks once again to Lois, Barbara and Tony for their help in ensuring we can gather again and to all of you for your patience and understanding.
While many people are finding grace in abundance in this time of retreat and social isolation others are understandably impatient to gather again, especially those who are not online. Within our diocese, we have a variety of churches with differing demographics and numbers. Consequently, our openings are not based on a one size fits all approach. Due to the size of our own church community and demographics and the necessity of compliance with current legislative requirements, we will not be opening to public worship on Sundays until June 7th. However please read the newsletter online here and next week for updates on this. We will require a system of booking for our services which is why I will be running additional mid-week communion services after Pentecost.
This past week Lois Eckersley in particular, and I along with Barbara Gore have worked hard on drafting a legislatively required COVID Safety Plan. This is now complete and as part of this, I have requested 27 of us to complete the tier 1 training on COVID safety and hygiene made available by AHA sponsored by our state government. I am hoping to establish an online facility for booking next week along with many phone calls and e-mails no doubt!
When we gather we are all going to have to exercise diligence for the sake of our whole community and especially those of us who would be considered more vulnerable.
It will not be as it was but it will be lovely to see more of you face to face ( 1.5 m apart minimum )
I would like to encourage everyone to consider sharing some of their isolation experiences. Today I will set the ball rolling.
I have been blessed in many different ways. I’ve shared with you before the wonderful results since I started surrendering my prayers to Jesus and asking him to take care of everything. Last month, I was praying for Kelvin who had throat cancer. He wasn’t eating and was rapidly losing weight. I told him that I was surrendering him to Jesus during my daily prayers. he’s not a believer but thanked me anyhow. Then, out of the blue, he told his wife that he fancied a lamb chop. It was grilled and cut into the smallest pieces and he got it down. Since then, his appetite has returned and he’s put on weight. Last week, he was told that the cancer has gone and that they don’t need to see him until six months time!
Another friend who had survived prostate cancer was told he had pancreatic cancer and the prognosis was very dire. He had no idea that he was being surrendered to Jesus everyday, but the cancer has miraculously disappeared. Thank you Lord!
My sister, who had sunk so low into depression that she had convinced her family and herself that she was dying, has been reading the daily Novena and surrendering herself to Jesus. She has since completely recovered. her husband mocks my claims of answered prayer and attributes her recovery to the drugs, but I tell him the doctors were guided by the Holy Spirit.
Our friend, Patricia, sent me a chain mail with a difference. I was asked to send a poem or story to the name at the top of the page. I thought of a short poem exchange I had with out second son who was meddling with drugs nearly forty years ago. I sent it and the stranger responded saying, “it was inspiring and deserved a bigger audience”, so here you go! I wrote,
Moth dancing around a flame
Fascinated, flirting with death
Don't ask me to join your game
Don't ask me to watch you play
But when you've had enough
The blighter cheekily answered his distraught mother,
I don't want to cause you pain
To see the tears etched on your face
One day I will find my place
And when I do I'll shout Home Base
Thank God he did, and is now a wonderful self-employed family man.
We were the first Anglican parish in our diocese to engage with the Thy Kingdom Come prayer movement in 2016. Prayer is a key part of our life together .
Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray from Ascension to Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus.
Since its start in May 2016,just three and a half years ago, God has grown Thy Kingdom Come from a dream of possibility into a movement. In 2019 Christians from 172 countries took part in praying ‘Come Holy Spirit’, so that friends and family, neighbours and colleagues might come to faith in Jesus Christ.
During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come, 21 May to 31 May it is hoped that everyone who takes part will:
Deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ
Pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
Pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness
After the very first Ascension Day the disciples gathered with Mary, constantly devoting themselves to prayer while they waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Like them, our reliance on the gift of the Holy Spirit is total – on our own we can do nothing.
Through the centuries Christians have gathered at that time to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ picks up this tradition. Over the past three and a half years more and more worshipping communities have dedicated the days between Ascension and Pentecost to pray ‘Come Holy Spirit’.
This year at St Nicholas I am encouraging you to consider some of the many resources available online for free to download or as families to explore the suggested app. I am also wondering about organising a 24-hour prayer vigil in the heritage church with individuals or people from the same families taking time to pray there based on one-hour slots. If you would like to do this, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we have sufficient numbers we’ll do it.
On Wednesday and Sunday morning here at St Nicholas, I have continued to celebrate the eucharist. Eucharist means literally the good gift, upholding our parish , our nation and our world in prayer, giving thanks for Jesus and for all the grace that meets us each day. Worship and prayer continues in our community with the Prayer Watch , Sunday evening Prayer meeting on Zoom, and our own devotions .
As I blew out the candles this morning wisps of smoke rose up to the ceiling reminding me of the Psalms where it says ‘May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.’ Psalm 141:2. John writes of this in Revelation 8:4 ‘The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.’
Our gospel reading last Sunday spoke of Jesus the Good Shepherd and that His sheep would know His voice. He hears us and we can learn to hear Him. Our prayers are heard even if at times the answers are not as we expect or hope.
May you experience the grace of God today, may you hear His voice. If that’s something that interests you maybe join us next time we run Living Free where we teach more on how to do that.