The Alpha course we run here at St Nics allows people to join us and explore life’s big questions from a Christian perspective. As many of you already know it can be a transformative experience.
Alpha has impacted lives worldwide since its establishment in 1977 and has helped millions across more than 100 countries. Its effectiveness lies in engaging videos and open discussions underpinned by prayer. Participants embark on a personal and communal exploration of faith, in an environment where questions are welcomed, doubts are explored, and friendships are nurtured.
Each week’s thought-provoking video presentation delves into core topics of the Christian faith, covering subjects such as Who is Jesus? Why did He die? How can I have faith? Does God heal today? How and why pray? How and why should I read the bible? Who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? The videos serve as a catalyst for discussion helping participants go deeper in their own spiritual understanding.
The discussions will happen in breakout groups following the video with Vance and Chelsie helping me lead this course. It’s here that participants can share their thoughts, ask questions, and engage with the material presented. It is a place where genuine conversations occur, doubts can be voiced without judgment, and new insights can be gained.
Alpha covers the foundational principles of the Christian faith. Since we have run Alpha we have welcomed people each year into our church family who have renewed their faith or chosen to follow Jesus for the first time. Often people discover answers to long-standing questions, while others encounter a renewed sense of purpose and a deepened relationship with God. Alpha is a journey of discovery, inviting participants to explore their faith, encounter the love of God, and find belonging within a supportive community.
Are you joining us? Flyers are available from today. Please take some and make prayerful invites perhaps to the 5 people you are praying for. Register your interest via the firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 23 May was Pentecost. This is the time that we remember the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit in fulfilment of prophecy given by Joel and others many years before. It is the church’s birthday and so we celebrated with cake together afterwards and enjoyed the creativity of our brothers and sisters in art, gardening, ( see the flowers brought in especially below) music and hospitality. This outpouring was a validation of the authority and rule of Jesus fulfilling what He said as recorded in the gospels. The Holy Spirit is the life-giver in the most profound sense. The Holy Spirit precedes creation in Genesis 1, hovering over the waters. The Holy Spirit precedes the incarnation of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit worked in power to raise Jesus from death. The Holy Spirit is the one who brings the people of God to new life in fulfilment of Jesus teaching as recorded in John 3 and shared with Nicodemus. The Holy Spirit is the gift giver and it is the indwelling Spirit who bears fruit in the believer’s life. 1 Corinthians 12-14 and Galatians 6. Every believer is born again as the Spirit of God brings life to us. We are new creations 2 Cor 5:17
As we say each service We are the body of Christ
His Spirit is with us.
It was also the first of our ongoing joint services. We are now meeting together at 9 am for the next season and sharing life on a Sunday morning in one gathering. We had a most enjoyable celebration together and look forward to all the Lord will do in us and through us in the months ahead.
We have been attending the St Nic’s On-Line Zoom Growth Group meetings on Tuesday evenings at 7.30 pm to 8.45 pm with Jamie and Verity and have found them very interesting and easy to do. We were both skeptical at first, thinking that the flow of delivery would be slow or glitchy. However, we found this was not the case. After a short time of getting used to the system it was just about the same as if we were all in the same room. Logging in was quite straightforward and didn’t require any special equipment, user-names, pass codes or programs.
We have noticed how helpful it is for parents with children—they can attend the meeting while their kids are playing in another room, so no need for a baby sitter.
Personally though we have found “Zooming In” to be very efficient on time, especially for us, as we have a 40 minute drive to Australind to join the Connect or the Men’s Groups on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm. We have enjoyed the unity of the Online Group, listened to music together and discussed questions arising from the bible readings. We often take it in turns to read out loud and to pray together.
There are often a few jokes shared and laughs as you would get in a “normal” meeting. The only thing I think we have not managed to sort out is how to make a coffee/tea for each other or pass around the biscuits!
How are you feeling as we enter 2021 as a church family? Full of hope or rather anxious? However you feel, we know that the Lord is with us and He has gone ahead of us, showing us the way forward into the new year – a year which promises to be full of new learning and new growth.
Lent Programme – Faithful God, Faithful Church
The new school term coincides with the season of Lent, a time when we ask the Lord to reveal to us what is in our hearts and how He wants us to grow more like Him. This Lent, Jamie and I have sensed that the Lord wants us to grow in two fruits of the Spirit in particular – the Fruits of Love and Faithfulness – and growing in these areas will require us to step out in faith.
Have you ever had a Family Meeting?
A time when you gathered as a family to discuss plans, make decisions or try to find solutions to problems? This Lent is going to be a bit like doing St Nic’s Family Business as we ask the Lord to show us what’s really in our hearts – the good, the bad and the ugly – ask Him to pull out some weeds and co-operate with Him in growing more of the fruit of love and faithfulness in our lives. We will be starting our Lenten teaching a little early this year as the ‘Faithful God, Faithful Church’ programme lasts 8 weeks, rather than 6.
At times it will be challenging. We may have to confront our own sin or disappointments – but thanks be to God, thorugh Jesus sacrifice on the cross He has provided free forgiveness and has promised to cleanse us from all sin. At other times we will be challenged to step out in faith in ways we have not done before. And at other times we will just need to keep on doing what we have been doing – what Eugene Peterson called ‘a long obedience in the same direction’. That can be a challenge in itself. Yet the Lord doesn’t ask us to do anything He isn’t already doing for us daily , over and over again – and Jesus is our model. Learning to love and be faithful like Him is going to be a wonderful adventure!
Church membership can be a little bit like a gym membership. We join full of good intentions but we often do not make the most of the opportunities afforded. In order to grow together as a community, we need everyone to be involved wholeheartedly. We recognise that in our framework for the community. We aspire to Bless abundantly, Belong wholeheartedly, Believe increasingly, Behave with integrity and Become Good News. We don’t want to be merely hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word too – and not just a few of us – but all of us!
We would like to encourage everyone who considers St Nic’s to be their spiritual home to do the following:
Attend a Sunday service every week of the ‘Faithful God, Faithful Church’ teaching series, starting on Feb 7th and culminating in Easter Week. The family service will be following the same theme each week as the 8 am service.
If you are unable to attend a service each week, listen to the sermon that you have missed on line.
Do the Faithful God, Faitihful Church Study Notes each week either with a St Nic’s small group, a spouse or a friend. These notes and exercises will be much more productive if done in conversation and prayer with others.
Take time to do the personal reflections and responses each week in order to effect genuine change and/or perseverance in your life.
Does that seem like a tall order? Well the good news is, if you commit to each of these you will have your Lenten Disciplines all worked out for you! And what’s more you will have a family of supporters walking the same path with you, praying and encouraging you along the way. And, if you ‘drop the ball’ one week, just pick yourself up and get back on track, with no judgement or condemnation. We’re in this together – all hopefully trying our best, but none of us yet perfect.
For Parents and Children
An information and activity pack will be available by February 7th so our younger members can put some of our learning into practice too. These will be available on the table in the church building. Please ask Amelia if you would like it emailed to you.
I want to end with the famous words of the Three Musketeers – “All for One and One for All”! Let’s aspire to love and faithfulness that brings that kind of unity among us at St Nic’s!
(Please note the picture above was taken earlier in the year before COVID restrictions applied- it illustrates studying together in groups.)
Last Sunday we completed our teaching on the Armour of God. It’s His armour and He gives it to us.
However, that does not mean we now park it and forget all about it. Armour needs to be put on. We can readily incorporate this in our daily prayer as a helpful spiritual discipline. Combine that with the Lord’s prayer and you have a whole pattern of prayer to draw upon. As we explored at our 10 am service there are significant overlaps. This next three weeks we are following the lectionary and then beginning our series on the ‘God of Joy’ starting October 18th.
Thanks to those of you who have already given us feedback on the Armour of God series. (18 families so far on the 10 experience) along with informal comments along the way. We appreciate all of you taking the time to do this. There were many encouragements and some things to explore further.
If you did not participate in our group bible study written to support the sermon series on the Armour of God, you can ask Amelia via email@example.com. If you want to explore the teaching more fully our bible studies really are helpful in this. Working through a study with others brings alternate perspectives and insights.
When we think of our community life and learning together, my hope is that we understand our Sunday gatherings are only one part of our discipleship. We encourage as many of you as possible to join a small group as this is where we explore the teaching more fully, build closer links with one another and bless each other. Small groups and congregational gatherings are the two wings of the church. If you cannot commit to a small group, it may be possible to form a triplet. Do talk to me more about this if it interests you. We also need to consider our emerging youth and how we can support them in small groups in the future. Please pray about this with me.
Pray for all our families on holiday. Please uphold Alf, John, and I as we prepare for our diocesan synod. Pray that we will be a diocese that remains in step with the wider Anglican communion and faithful to His word. Remember it’s in prayer that we stand together, in Christ and see His kingdom come.
This Sunday is week 3 of our series on the Armour of God. We are thinking about the belt of truth with John bringing the teaching at 8 am. I am aware that people are listening in from other churches and you are most welcome. If you have missed previous weeks, our website recordings are available to you under the sermon tab.
As we have the children with us each week at our 10 am family service, we are presenting some of the same teachings in two quite different ways! Last week Verity had us putting on the helmet of salvation with the words,
“I belong to God – God keeps me safe
I am a child of God”
1 John 3: 1
The first challenge in our spiritual battle is on our identity and standing. Jesus experienced this in his time of testing in the desert before beginning his ministry. This morning we are considering the belt of truth which is the antithesis of all that the devil brings. From our gospel reading today Jesus describes him as,
‘the devil…..a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’
As I continue as a disciple of Jesus I am still growing in my understanding of His teaching and the truth that is in Him. As I do that I am knowing by experience greater freedom just as Jesus says in John 8: 32. One prayer for us all this week could be that we would be a church community that knows the truth in Christ and grows increasingly in His freedom as the beloved sons and daughters of God.
This Sunday we begin an 8-week series on the Armour of God. Tragically, conflict is part of our world and the scriptures give us a ‘behind the scenes’ explanation and understanding of this. Scripture also tells us how God works to overcome all evil. Genesis 3: 14-15 frames the conflict where enmity is placed between the serpent and the descendent of Adam and Eve. We know this is fully realised in Jesus. (1 Cor 15: 20-21) It is Jesus who reveals the nature of the conflict in more detail and exposes the usurper the devil. Jesus goes on to disarm and expose him (Col 2:15), overrules him (Eph 1: 20-23), masters him (Phil 2: 9-11), and ultimately renders him powerless (Heb 2: 14-15). John declares ‘the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8).
The fall that occurs in Genesis is form our position in relationship to God, angels, including the devil and the creation. The fall exposes us to the lies and deceit of satan, his accusations and desire to destroy all that is good. In Christ we regain our standing and God given authority to partner with Him in pressing His victory increasingly on Earth until Jesus’ final triumphant return.
As we looked at last Sunday with the parable of the weeds, there is a reason for the in between period from Jesus’ victory on the cross and the final renewing of the heavens and earth and destruction of all evil. This period is time for people to be restored in relationship to God, born again into his family and enabled to live as His body on Earth. we form a ‘triumph’ for Christ Jesus.
Bible study notes will be made available each week for our groups and anyone else in our community who wants to lay hold of this teaching and apply it. There are of course overlaps with some of the teaching we brought in our ‘Living Free’ course. The most significant thing I have realised in my preparation is the corporate nature of this warfare and that the sphere is primarily in prayer. Paul clearly declared our battle is not against ‘flesh and blood’, yet that is how we tend to think. In fact our battle is spiritual and in the heavenly realms. I am looking forward to sharing it with you and pray this will be a further equipping of our community in realising God’s kingdom in us and through us into Australind and beyond. To God be the glory.
Please read through the scriptures I have referenced here. Pray for all of us as we work through this teaching that we would be lay hold of it. If you cannot be with us in person, listen to the teaching online if you can. it is important for us as a community going forward.
Greetings fellow St Nicholas-ians! Thank you so much my lovely church family and wonderful sister & brothers-in-Christ for your patience and understanding as I’ve journeyed through this process—the initial part, until my appointment at a school, waiting to be informed of what and when I could do things and let you know.
The role is so much bigger than I thought or anticipated, not only at the school but also with the connections to the YouthCARE District Council (of which our own Jan Capp is a rep) and with the church community, all of which has been made a little more challenging with the current pandemic. However, God is gracious in surrounding me with support in all areas and in reminding me that it is still early days. The need is big, but our God is bigger!
I love my role as a Chaplain at Parkfield Primary School on Tuesday and Thursdays. I am now fifteen weeks in and things are settling into a lovely routine. My key roles are; providing pastoral care for students and staff; supporting and building upon our existing Virtues and Wellness programs and providing a link between the school, the community and local support agencies. I have always had a heart and love for others and pastoral care. As many of you know chaplaincy too has always been a focus of mine, although I thought it was to be a support person with prayer and fundraising or donations! The main message(s) of our training were: we are called and equipped—we are appointed and anointed; we are the most valuable resource, and be you. As most of you who know me would know the ‘be you’ part I can’t help but live out and the being called and equipped is the ‘wind in my sails’! I do know that I am called and equipped and know when I have my eyes set on God I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
YouthCARE’s theme this year is to ‘be Peacemakers’. This follows their previous themes of being a ‘light on the hill’ and ‘salt of the earth’ people. We have been celled to reflect the light of Christ by living out our lives with hope and, in our encounters with others, through our words, actions and deeds, to demonstrate peaceful confidence as we go about engaging with all in our school communities. I pray as I answer God’s call that I may be an encouraging peacemaker, an instrument of peace, looking at everyone through the eyes of Jesus and all in God’s strength and in, and for, His Glory and that everyone sees Him in me and my actions. I am so grateful for you all, for your amazingly insightful words for me, your encouragement of me and mostly for your love of me just as I am, and that is what I take with me. I would appreciate your prayers, especially on Tuesday and Thursday, for me to ‘walk the talk’ and ‘practice what I preach’ through God’s strength and with His Holy Spirit breathing through me—especially on the ‘tricky’ days and with the ‘tricky’ parts.
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
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.’