This morning’s in person worship service will be livestreamed for those of you who cannot be at the church buildings. In the coming weeks we will be working on linking you in live from Zoom for those who would like to join that way.
And the service will commence at 10:30am. We hope you can join us one way or another!
Third Sunday of Advent Helping refugees rebuild with joy in Sri Lanka Joy is that soaring feeling in your soul when Christ’s gift first enters your life. But joy is hard to find when civil war forces you from your homeland for decades and then a pandemic threatens your resettlement.
This Christmas, please help returned Sri Lankan refugees overcome their challenges and help them build a safe, happy future.
It’s been 30 years since Rashan* and his wife Pamodi* fled conflict in Sri Lanka with their eight-year-old daughter. But he’ll never forget their terrifying boat journey to India: “The boat was overloaded with people and so heavy it barely peeped out of water… We made our daughter lie on top of our luggage box. A boat ahead of us was damaged by gunfire. We were scared and doubtful if we would reach our destination.” The family found safety in India, but life was difficult. They spent 27 years in a refugee camp surviving on food rations. They longed to return home.
After peace had settled in Sri Lanka, Rashan and Pamodi travelled back to reclaim her family land. But they were starting all over again – with no jobs, no money and nothing to prove their rights to their land. People like Rashan and Pamodi were already struggling to rebuild in their homeland after decades of displacement. Now COVID-19 has made that task even harder. Through your gift to the Christmas Bowl, you will bring them the support they urgently need to build new homes, livelihoods and futures. Your kindness makes it possible for Act for Peace’s partner, the Organisation for Eelam Refugees’ Rehabilitation (OfERR), to support returned Sri Lankan refugees at this difficult time.
With help from OfERR and caring Christians like you, Rashan and Pamodi were able to take back their land and build a temporary home to live in. OfERR also helped them to install a bore well and water pump, so they could grow and sell food. Today, their thriving farm even provides work to other families.
After decades of fear, hardship and uncertainty, Rashan and Pamodi have finally found joy again. They are reconnecting with long-lost relatives, and hope their daughter and her husband and children will join them soon from India. Rashan summed up the difference you can this Christmas Bowl: “If I had stayed back in India, I wouldn’t have found this kind of life. There, we had to depend on the government for food. Here we have our land, our farm. The joy we got when we escaped with our lives to get here was unimaginable.”
*Names changed to protect identities as returned refugees.
This is the last in the current series of services specifically produced for watching online.
On December 13th we resume in person Sunday worship … go here for details … but we will be continuing to provide access to worship from St Luke’s online … so if online is your preferred way of receiving ministry do not despair!
This week is the second Sunday in Advent.
Advent is far more than a time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. The themes of the Bible readings for each of the four weeks of Advent challenge us to live the faith now as we await in hope the coming of Christ.
Today our theme is peace …
This week we light a candle to remind us of the peace we find in Christ. Peace that is far more than an absence of conflict. Peace in our hearts, Peace with God and others, Peace in our relationships, Peace in the world.
Christ our Lord, you are our light, and you fill us with peace.
As we light our Advent candles today, guide us to be peacemakers in all that we do.
Help us to strive to be healers of relationships,
May we see your face in the face of others,
We pray in your name,
Here is this week’s worship service:
What does peace look like for the Rohingya people? After fleeing violence in Myanmar, they now face the threat of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak in Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh.
Life in the world’s largest refugee camp was already tough. Families live in cramped conditions, in makeshift tents that can get swept away in the monsoon rains. With food, water and soap in short supply, sickness is rife. Now COVID-19 has reached the camp. There is widespread misinformation about the virus that is making it harder for doctors to stop a catastrophic outbreak. Act for Peace’s local partner is working with doctors, community workers and Rohingya religious leaders to dispel myths around the virus and teaching people how to stop it from spreading.
Your gift this Christmas Bowl will help give refugees in different parts of the world the long-term support they need to build safe, peaceful futures.
Lloyd also found a thought provoking video series produced by the Springwood Uniting Church – “The Rona Grinch” – find the episode on peace here:
And to round things off for this week, the Corner Uniting Church published this video made by young people in South Australia:
God offers us peace in our hearts and souls … And this has been done through Christ and at great cost. Through the cross of Christ, God deals with the brokenness within us, assures us that sins are forgiven, and makes clear how valued each of us is by God.
And God calls us to the path of peace in our relationships with others … this by the way does not mean allowing others to walk all over us … but it does mean seeking to bring a spirit of concord in our relationship with others and within communities of which we are a part.
I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
This video service focuses on the theme of hope as we mark the beginning of the season of Advent.
And Advent is the beginning of the church’s year which concluded last week with the marking of Christ the King.
Over the four weeks of Advent we will be reflecting on the four themes of “hope, peace, joy and love” and lighting an Advent Candle to mark each theme. On Christmas Day our theme will be “Faithfulness.”
As someone said to me the other day “hope, peace, joy and love” surely they are words that we need to hear in these times.
Today we return to that theme that I believe is central to the Christian faith and indeed for living a healthy life: “hope.”
Stay tuned for information about our first in-person worship services back at the church, with midweek returning on the 10th of December, and our first Sunday service to be held on the 13th of December.
For listening and singing along, you might enjoy this version of “O Come Emmanuel” – our waiting begins.
May Jesus Christ,
Whose coming again in power and great glory we await
So, a funny thing happened today. We decided to test out some of the new technology we will be using to stream our services once we are meeting again in person, and recorded today’s worship “live” at the church this afternoon.
We thought it went pretty well, but as often happens when you are trying new things and learning how to use new technology, there were glitches.
This meant that this week’s service will be – delayed – and delivered as a “podcast” to listen to, rather than a video, within the next day or so.
In the meantime, we invite you to visit another congregation for worship today – and there are so many places and people to choose from!
The Presbytery focus service will be live-streamed to YouTube from Leopold Uniting Church and led by Presbytery Minister Narelle Collas – you can find their channel here:
As we prepare to re-open our buildings for worship and community use, there are some extra requirements we need to put in place to keep the buildings COVID safe.
Spacing seating and setting out movement guidelines
We will need some fit and strong people to move furniture around the church buildings so that we can ensure people are sitting, standing, and moving in a way that allows them to keep 1.5 metres apart.
There are more complex cleaning requirements for the building, and we need to recruit and train volunteers in COVID safe cleaning practices. Volunteers will be needed for Worship and other church meetings held in the building, and people will also be needed to assist with cleaning for community use.
As people come together again, it is recommended that there are specific people present at events to ensure that people are signing in and out of the buildling, sanitising their hands and wearing their masks, and following guidelines for physical distancing. We are hoping to recruit and train a few Marshals so that the work is shared around.
Tech support team for video streaming of worship and other events
To ensure that everyone can be part of worship, whether in person or online, we will be streaming our services at times. We will need people who can set up and operate cameras, lighting and microphones, and who can operate streaming software. If you are interested in learning how to do this, please contact Paul or Robyn via the church office.
If you would like to find out more or offer your assistance, (or volunteer a relative – cheeky!), please contact Robyn through the church office ASAP.
Welcome to our online worship service. Last week we looked at the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids … one of the three parables towards the end of Matthew’s Gospel which share a theme of “faithful waiting.”
This week we explore another of these parables … the parable of the talents …
Here is this week’s service
Thanks to Claire for helping out with the reading and prayers this week.
Sisters and brothers, don’t hold things too tight … don’t bury your life … risk living joyfully as people blessed with the grace of God … sharing good news in all your living … in word and deed!
Adnythamathanha woman Rhanee Tsetsakos spoke about her journey with Dr Deidre Palmer on the Called by God webinar in October 2020.
Dismissal and Blessing
Thank you, Lord,
for all the gifts you have entrusted to us.
Help us to always remember
that all we have comes from you
and can be joyfully used for your good purposes.
In the name of Christ, Amen.