Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

A Prayer for Christmas and Epiphany

Blessed are you, Lord our God,
our eternal Father and David’s king:
You have made our gladness greater and increased our joy
by sending to dwell among us
the Wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace.
Born of Mary,
proclaimed to the shepherds,
and acknowledged to the ends of the earth,
Your unconquered Sun of righteousness
destroys our darkness and establishes us in freedom.
All glory in the highest be to you:
through Christ, the Son of your favour,
in the anointing love of his Spirit,
now and for ever and ever.
Amen

From the Prayer Book for Australia (p.436)

Opportunities in Your Church

Belonging at St Nic’s

At St Nic’s we love and follow Jesus and so love and serve one another in kindness. Kindness originally links to the notion of kindred, a family relationship. This is expressed practically as the church body lives out its life together.

We are the Body of Christ 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, serving in our homes, at work and at play. This calling is more than just gathering on a Sunday. We express being kind to one another by offering lifts, sharing meals, praying for one another, shopping for those in need, and alerting our pastoral care team to more specific needs. It can also mean serving in a more formal role within the Church community.

Sunday Services

  • Welcomers: Welcoming guests and regular members on arrival with distribution of newsletter and assistance as required.
  • Children’s Ministry: Godly Play has roles for Storytellers and Doorpersons (see Karen D.)
  • Eucharist Assistants: help prepare for Eucharist and assist in serving during the service and cleaning utensils afterwards.
  • Sound: setting up and running appropriate sound for the various services we offer (see Alf H.)
  • Overheads: running the visuals on the overheads for the service (see Dannielle B.)
  • Worship: vocals, keyboard, guitar, drums, or possibly another musical talent not listed?
  • Readers: for reading the various readings during the service
  • Intercessions: leading our public prayers
  • Preaching and teaching: this requires training towards Licensed Lay Minister status.
  • Hospitality: Ensuring the availability of beverages and biscuits, assisting with cleaning up afterwards.

Blessing & Outreach

  • Op Shop volunteer (see Judy B.)
  • Little Lambs volunteer (see Barbara G.)
  • Lending Library (see Jan C.)
  • Wednesdays Dinners (see Verity M. or Kate H.)
  • Nourish Kids (see Carli K.): providing childcare for the Nourish Women’s group is an incredible blessing to the mums who attend and study God’s word together.
  • Parish Council: nominations will open in October for our 2019 Parish Council.
  • Mission Secretary: we are still in need of someone who is called to this position.
  • Alpha and other courses such as Boundaries: prayer for those who attend, and for Holy Spirit led invitations to people beyond our church community. Provision of hospitality or as a small group leader.

Small Groups Ministry

  • involvement in small groups
  • leading small groups: this requires discussion and oversight from the parish priest.
  • youth ministry: soon we will have a real need for a youth ministry to nurture and grow the faith of our older children.

General Operations

  • administration/ volunteering in the office (see Sophie P. or Ian C.)
  • assist our Site Management Team with maintenance and repairs of the church buildings and grounds, including the Historic Church (see Tony W.)

As a community we want to celebrate and acknowledge those who serve in these roles. By listing them here we can pray specifically for those areas in our church. If there is an area that interests you or you feel called into serving please speak to Rev Jamie or a team member.

Adapted from Opportunities in Your Church by St Nicholas Minster.

 

Prayer & Praise: Blessing & Belonging

Sunday evenings are a joy for me. At 6pm at the church there is an informal, almost organic service of prayer and praise with members of our parish. I wish to encourage you to come and be a part of it. We are always blessed – and are becoming as a community of St Nicholas. The meeting fosters a real sense of belonging. We are greatly ‘lifted in Spirit’ in our praise and worship.

When I first went, I felt this was very good. I felt the Lord was calling me to be a part of it. Personally, I find it to be exciting. Something always happens- either then or later down the track. Every week we each receive a prayer from two people, without hearing what the other person is praying. This I find exciting as I wait to receive the results of those prayers.We pray for matters of the church and also the broader community. Sometimes we pray in pairs, at other times in smaller groups. We are seeing answers to prayer on various scales: personal, for the church and the ministry of the church. Hopefully, you have heard by now about the progress with the Shire for the Historic Church and the no parking signs.

We are able to believe that the Holy Spirit will move amongst us because we see it each week. Gifts of the Holy Spirit are being used as we pray – prophecy, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, speaking in tongues and healing.

Wonderfully, the children who are coming learn to pray and be prayed for. They are learning how to listen to the Holy Spirit; to believe that they too they belong in the church community, can behave in a spiritual manner – learn how to bless others, and be blessed themselves – and to become more mature in their faith.

Seeing answers to prayer is very exciting but for me, the best part of it is going there to pray with other people.

By Glory Kitson

Prayer & Praise, 6pm at the church. All Welcome.

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

An Easter Reflection on Psalm 22: The Suffering God for Suffering People

On the cross Jesus cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

Jesus, the Son of God, had been rejected, tortured, insulted, humiliated and left to die. In the midst of excruciating suffering and approaching death, Jesus quoted Psalm 22. This is a psalm of suffering. An expression of loneliness. A pleading to God for help.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

However, it is also a psalm of hope. The psalmist is turning to God for answers in his time of need. It is a psalm which expects God to come. It expects God to act in times of suffering.

I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise him!

For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

On the cross Jesus revealed more than the depth of his suffering. He revealed more than his agony. Jesus revealed his trust in God his Father. He experienced the mystery of how God uses suffering to accomplish good. The cross is the revelation of the holy love of God dealing with the sin and evil of the world, and it is utter agony. But it brought life, healing and hope. We see this in the resurrection when Jesus conquered death itself.

Suffering is a problem we all face. It takes many forms. Rejection. Loneliness. Illness. Grief. Loss. Humiliation. Jesus shared in our suffering and invites us to bring our suffering to God and ask ‘why?’ Why are we suffering? Why is God not removing our suffering? Why does God appear far away?

We can ask ‘why’ because we know that our loving God is present in our suffering. He has suffered, he understands our suffering; he is never far away. We can expect God to act. But the deep mystery is the God can, and will, transform even our worst sufferings into good. His action may not be what we expect, it may be much more.

Written by Paul King.

How will you follow Jesus in 2018?

As we prepare to begin another year it is a good time to reflect. I am asking some  questions . What kind of community are we going to be? What kind of community does God see us becoming?

We are a gathered community of people who meet on Sundays and in small groups through the week. We are gathered because of Jesus and many of us would say we are His disciples. How then should we live? How do we follow Him?  How do we love one another well? What does that look like? How do we handle conflict well? What does it mean to be people walking in step with His Spirit?

We have articulated some thoughts on this already:

We are a community growing in being a blessing. We understand that God has so richly blessed us and invites us to offer blessing wherever we find ourselves.

We understand that belonging to a community is good for all of us as God says many times in scripture and secular psychologists now articulate clearly. Belonging allows for blessings to flow in many directions.

What we believe about ourselves influences our actions ( Behave) I am loved by God therefore I don’t have to perform to win his approval, for example. I work from grace not work for grace.

As we live this out day by day we are becoming, God willing, the human God intended and the community that brings Him glory.

Are you someone determined to follow Jesus in 2018 in this community? I am.

Shalom Jamie

Who do you believe Jesus is?

This Sunday we join with Saint Peter in facing the most challenging question we will have to answer in our Journey of Faith with Jesus Christ. The question we must all answer is “ Who do you believe Jesus Christ is?” The response we make will influence every aspect of daily life during these difficult times.
 
Jesus has spent perhaps 2 years with His disciples. They had been with Him in every aspect of His ministry. They had shared in His teaching and miracles alongside the ridicule and rejection by the Jewish leaders . Sometimes they got the message but on the other occasions Jesus was filled with frustration with their responses.
 
On this day Jesus had set His face towards Jerusalem to face the cross following the transfiguration experience on the Holy mountain . Jesus looks directly into the disciples eyes and asks the question ,

Who do you believe the Son of Man is?

At first they dodge the issue by answering , some say John the Baptist risen from the dead, others Elijah, others Jeremiah .  Jesus says but  “Who do you say I am?” Peter almost cries out, “You are the Christ, the Son of
the living God.” Jesus then gives Peter the keys of the Kingdom.
 
Today we are challenged to answer the same question. It is no use answering, Jamie says this or Brian says that, or even Bishop Allan believes this. If we can answer Jesus is truly the Son of the Living God then life is transformed for ever. It means every promise Jesus made is vindicated.
We come to church every Sunday to learn about these promises and then apply them to our daily journey of faith.
 
Yours in Christ’s Service
Ven. Brian Newing

Becoming Fully Alive

Over the past two years the framework for our community life has been expressed in the following Bless, Belong, Believe, Behave. At our recent Parish Council half day we decided to add a 5th B, namely  Become. In effect this will take centre as we recognise an ongoing process in all of us both individually and as a community. The other B’s contribute holistically to this ongoing transformation.

Become what?  Julian of Norwich wrote:

The greatest honour we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.

And Irenaeus wrote

‘The glory of God is a human being fully alive.’

As we are rooted and established in God’s love we begin to grow. (Ephesians 3:16-19.) We are like a tree planted in good soil. The fruit over time is love and patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Reconnected to our creator we can become the human being God intended with our unique personalities, gifts and talents, strengths and weaknesses. In community we can complement one another and together along with other churches in the area be the body of Christ in Australind. We can become people fully alive, we can become a people who live gladly. It’s a beautiful thing!

This takes time. The rescripting of our inner life is a process. There are various components to that. A significant one is the love of Christian brothers and sisters around us.  It was only after several years of following Jesus before I truly knew deep in my soul that I was loved unconditionally by God. Being part of a wonderful Christian community, surrounded by people who loved me was a significant part of that process. To my delight people are experiencing the same thing here among us, in this community, St Nicholas. With God’s grace let’s continue to become the church He wants us to be….

Shalom

Jamie