Preparing for Advent Wednesdays Nov 10, 17, 24

Looking for Advent ideas? Keen to be a bit more creative this Advent season?

If so, this FREE 3-session Preparing for Advent series is for you!

Suitable for anyone – including, but not limited to, ministers, pastors and lay preachers – multiple sessions of one hour in duration will be offered each day (Nov 10, 17, 24). To register your interest and indicate your preferred timeslots, go to 2021 Preparing for Advent.

For more information e-mail chris.barnett@victas.uca.org.au.

Advent: Something is Coming!

NEW Resource Something is Coming! is a fresh way to engage households, small groups and whole communities throughout Advent.

This new, FREE resource encourages us to pray, reflect, grieve and rejoice as we draw nearer to Christmas. Available as a downloadable resource, Something is Coming! includes beautiful printable characters to use in making your own Nativity scene and ideas for fostering engagement amongst those
you gather with.

May Something is Coming! be a special part of your Advent 2021 experience!
Check out and download Advent: Something is Coming! for FREE here: Advent: Something is Coming!

Pastoral Letter from the Moderator 29th October 2021

Vaccination and Reopening: face-to-face worship and COVID requirements

Dear Friends,

Over past weeks, questions around vaccination and reopening have been on the hearts and minds of many in our communities.

In Victoria, new public health directions include responsibilities for ministry agents, authorised workers and Church Councils. In planning for reopening of worship and use of congregational buildings, Church Council responsibilities include compliance with requirements relating to vaccination. Authorised workers, both paid and volunteer, must also provide evidence of their vaccination status to their workplace. The number of people who may attend religious gatherings in any part of Victoria depends on whether everyone present is fully vaccinated, and churches are responsible for how this is implemented.

What do we need to consider, as we plan toward reopening, in light of our legal obligations and other responsibilities? How does our faith inform our questions and decisions?

There have been many opportunities to explore these questions over the last few weeks, along with resources to answer or open up our questions along the way. The COVID FAQs help keep us up-to- date with the requirements: All you need to know: answers to your frequently asked questions – Uniting Church in Australia. Synod of Victoria and Tasmania (uca.org.au)

The Assembly has gathered together resources from across our Church, including from VicTas, to guide us theologically and biblically: https://uniting.church/the-question-of-reopening/

I would like to offer another opportunity to share insights, to learn from each other and with each other – in light of our faith. I have included with this letter an invitation to join with me in exploring these questions, with biblical and theological insights to help resource us in making decisions consistent with our faith.

The story of the Good Samaritan and Jesus’ call to love God and neighbour, is one guide that runs deep to our faith. It’s a call to focus on the welfare of others, and to give special consideration to those most vulnerable to risk of harm — beyond our usual circles of interest or personal preferences.

Throughout history, Christians have gathered together to hear scripture, break bread and pray, to be formed and shaped as a community, as the body of Christ. As followers of Jesus, we are called to be bodily present to each other in our worship and life, reflected in the deep desire of so many to return to physical gatherings. As open, welcoming and respectful communities, we have a responsibility for the safety and dignity of all especially the most vulnerable amongst us. As Paul reminds us in several of his letters, we are called to attend to the implications of our actions and choices upon others, and to be courageous in calling each other to account for this. In various ways, this means placing conditions on how we gather and relate to one another, and to consider the impact of our actions on those beyond ourselves. As Christians, we are also called to respect and uphold the law — for the sake of the integrity and well-being of our local and wider communities.

Sometimes we find ourselves trying to choose between two good things that don’t easily align. Many Church Councils are discerning the need to decide now, even though decisions are difficult, rather than waiting in hope of simpler answers which may not emerge. One aspect for Christian communities to consider, is how we might be asking others to bear certain costs on our behalf. These could include health, financial or other costs in relation to unmet legal responsibilities. And in all things, we seek a prayerful generosity of spirit as we sift and sort our way ahead together.

In the midst of this pandemic, the most vulnerable to serious illness include indigenous communities, those who are older or live with disability, have underlying health conditions or are immunocompromised. Where there are a significant number of vulnerable people in the congregation, including a Minister or other worship leaders, Church Councils may decide their safety needs to be prioritised.

This might mean providing services for those who are fully vaccinated, which also allows larger congregations to gather together, and assists toward the responsibility to provide safe workplaces for Minsters or others who lead worship. Consideration will need to be given to how to care for and support COVID Marshalls in these situations, including where an unvaccinated person wishes to be included in a service. Clearly communicating worship arrangements ahead of time will help with this. It will assist people to make more considered decisions about attending worship, rather than finding themselves ‘put on the spot’.

Church Councils need to consider how to find ways to provide worship opportunities for those who are unvaccinated. Where there are known members of the congregation who are unvaccinated, pastoral conversations ahead of time will assist in finding ways of welcome and inclusion. These might be through specific pastoral care, or invitations to other ways of being included in community life and worship, including online. It might include a decision to have smaller worship services for those of unknown vaccination status, taking into account how to provide safe environments for those leading or assisting in worship and for all those present.

Church Councils and authorised workers also need to consider their significant legal obligations in complying with the directions related to vaccination, and the significant impact of not complying upon the safety and wellbeing of others, the reputation and witness of the Church in the wider community, and the financial implications of fines — not just for themselves but for others.

Over past months, we have been managing many new requirements which place conditions on how we can gather. Many of these have been challenging, yet we have found ways over time to adapt creatively and in astounding ways. And in the process, we have gained a renewed sense of what matters most in our life together.

As we continue on this journey together,

may we notice the small gifts and blessings around us each day, share our thanks with God and with others,

rest in prayer often,

and know ourselves loved of God and called to life in Christ. Grace and peace,

Rev Denise Liersch Moderator

20211029 Pastoral Letter

Worship online Sunday 31st October 2021

All Saints Day

Opening Prayer

Holy and Compassionate God,
Most perfect loving Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Through Christ you proclaim the way to life in all its fullness,
Through Christ you offer us the promise of sure and certain hope of eternal life …
In the life death and resurrection of Jesus you declare that your love is such that even death itself cannot overcome it …

We give you thanks that you do not leave us alone as we face the mystery and shadow of death…
As today we remember people who have been precious to us and who have died,
Hold us in your care …
Bless us with comfort and peace …

Creating and forgiving God,
We confess that we have not always loved as Christ has loved us.
Forgive us and enable us by your grace to forgive anything that has been hurtful to us.
Assure us that through Christ you set us free from sin and bring healing and wholeness.
And we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture readings:

Isa. 25: 6-9

(NRSV)

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

 

Rev. 21: 1-6a

(NRSV)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

All Saints Prayer

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
The saints gone too soon before the fullness of their grace was truly known by human minds.
The saints who were not lauded, but whose faithfulness bore generations of fruit.
The saints whose witness spoke truth to power and brought forth new creations.
The saints who died with doubts, questions, and hope in mystery.
The saints who held to the truth through it all.
The saints whose legacies are the history from which we learn how to do and be better.
The saints who are only remembered by God and who rest in light perpetual.
For these and so many others,
we give thanks to God. Amen.

Source: Rev Julia Seymour, posted on RevGalBlogPals

Prayers of intercession

On this holy day of memory, O LORD our God,
inspire our vision so that we might see with clear eyes
the hope and fullness of life that is found in you.

We pray for clarity and courage to see and live out Christ’s call for a world in which the poor are blessed, the hungry fed and your good news made known.

We seek healing and unfailing comfort for those persons (known and unknown) who are struggling, grieving deeply, in pain, in fear, with ill health and we name them silently before you . . .

By your mercy and grace, grant us wisdom
for these days of remembering,
and of living into the coming of your future,
strengthened by your witnesses in days past.

Based on a prayer by Rachel Hackenberg, RevGalBlogPals

 

Updates from Uniting VicTas

(Dated  1st  October 2021)

Dear Friends,

I do hope this email finds you safe and well in these challenging times!

I am writing to you to let you know that a copy of the Uniting Vic.Tas Spring Congregation Connect has now been made available on our website for congregations to access. In this edition, you and members of your congregation can read about Rachael, who was supported through the Victorian Government’s From Homelessness to a Home initiative, hear the difference our Winter Blanket Appeals have made and learn about the opening of a new facility for older women at risk of homelessness.

Congregation Connect Spring 2021

Our Spring Supporter Newsletter, which features stories of hope in the face of crisis has also been made available online. On page 5, there are examples of just some of the ways our dedicated teams have kept our support going during these challenging times. You can also read about the difference your giving has made this past winter and discover new ways to get involved.

Supporter Newsletter Spring 2021

This year’s Coffee Cup Challenge officially launches today (1st October) however It is still not too late to get involved.  All funds raised from the Coffee Cup Challenge will support people experiencing crisis, vulnerability and disadvantage. For more information or to register your congregation to join the Coffee Cup Challenge, please visit our Coffee Cup Challenge page.

It might seem early to be talking about Christmas however I wanted to let you know that our Uniting Christmas cards are now available to order with 4 new additions to the range. Each design has been thoughtfully selected to reflect the joy and hope of Christmas and all proceeds will support people in crisis. As current restrictions have once again made it too difficult for many of you to complete orders for your members by consignment this year, I have attached a copy of the Christmas Card poster and a PDF order form you can pass on to your members. Please note we have made the order form fillable for anyone wanting to complete and email it back to us without printing. Alternatively, they can pre-fill the details prior to printing and mailing it back to us if they prefer this to manually writing their details.

Cards can be also be ordered by calling our Supporter Services on 1800 668 426 or visiting our Christmas Card site.

We are always seeking feedback on how we as your community services organisation is performing and are keen for your thoughts on how Uniting can work better as part of the Church to respond to Christ’s invitation to serve humanity by creating an inclusive, connected and just world. To help do this, we invite you to offer your reflections here and encourage you to share this link with your congregation members so they also have the opportunity to share their thoughts on how we are performing.

If you need to update your contact details or wish to amend the number of hard copies you are mailed in the future, please contact Ida or me on 1800 668 426.

Kind Regards,

Dale

Dale Barker-Harrington (he/him)  l  Church and Community Relations Coordinator

Australian Red cross – Community Visitors Scheme

The Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) is a free program where volunteers get matched up with an older person for social companionship and friendship on a weekly or fortnightly basis. You might have a cuppa, do puzzles together, reminisce or otherwise enjoy each other’s company. At the moment, connection is limited to phone calls, video calls and letter writing but we hope to return to face to face visiting soon.

CVS is available to older people who are living in a public aged care facility or receiving a home care package. It is an initiative funded by the Australian Government.
Red Cross are currently seeking male volunteers in the Geelong Region as we have male participants who are waiting to be matched.
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with CVS please email  or phone Rose Jackson, CVS Program Officer 0419 151 830

Positions available: Reformed Theological College

 

Cleaning Position Available at the RTC (Reformed Theological College) Waurn Ponds

A part-time cleaning position exits for a person to commence Mid November.  The role encompasses cleaning of classrooms, amenities, student accommodation rooms and reception areas.  The position is 20 hours per week Monday to Friday 7am to 11am.  For more information https://rtc.edu.au/jobs/

Part time Cook Position available

RTC Support Services is looking to hire a Part-Time Cook (25 Hours per week) at Barkley Hall in Waurn Ponds. Barkley Hall is the student residence of the Reformed Theological College (RTC) and aims to provide a friendly, secure, and harmonious Christian community for students who are studying at the RTC, Deakin University Waurn Ponds or other tertiary institutions in Geelong.

The important role of Cook will commence as soon as possible and involves preparing and serving well prepared, tasty meals to our student residents, 3-8 pm, Monday to Friday. The role will also involve interaction with residents during mealtimes and opportunities to share the gospel, especially with the residents rostered to assist in the kitchen.  The applicant doesn’t have to be a professional chef, but someone who knows there way around a kitchen and is able to handle working in a commercial kitchen and cooking on scale (maybe they’ve served at church camps, school camps, etc.)

Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to the aims and ethos of a Christian institution.

For more details, please call the RTC office and ask for Anita, a position description and application details are available at www.rtc.edu.au/jobs.

Fair Trade Online Shopping Catalogue

Greetings Fair Trade Supporters,
With slavery on the increase, more children in child labour and Covid-19 devastating communities in poorer nations it is good that the Fair Trade Association has produced a shopping Guide where the proceeds of sales go directly to helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world.
I hope you will enjoy perusing this Shopping Guide. It would be wonderful if you could share this link with others.

Thank you

All the best.
John
*****************************
Rev John MartinFair Trade Advocate,
Member, Executive Committee, Fair Trade Association ANZ

Worship online Sunday 24th October 2021

Wisdom

Welcome and notices

Please go to our website https://stlukesuca.org.au if you want to find out more about the life of the congregation.

Opening Prayer & Confession

Lets look to the Psalms as we come to God in prayer

Drawn from Psalm 37

 

(1-4) Do not fret because of the wicked;  do not be envious of wrongdoers,

for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.

Trust in God, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Delight in everything about God, and God will give you the desires of your heart.

 

(5-7)

Commit the way you live to God; if you trust God, God will act to show where you are right,

and bring justices to your case, like the bight noonday sun.

 

Be still before God, wait patiently for her response.

Do not fret over those who seem to be getting their way despite evil desires and motives.

Trust in God to show you how they will be stopped, and truth and grace will prevail.

 

(27-28)

Run from evil, and do good; so you shall be at home with God for ever.

For God loves justice and will not forsake his faithful ones.

 

(30-31)

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom; they speak for justice.

The law of their God is in their hearts; they don’t slip as they follow in God’s footsteps.

 

Opening prayer

God we recognise that we do slip.

We strive to be faithful to your love and grace to us, but too often we focus on ourselves:

  • we want to be as successful as others in our careers, families, sports or talents
  • we become frustrated and angry when others don’t understand the world the way we do
  • we hold on too tightly to beliefs that make us comfortable – when you challenge us to see things from your point of view.

Forgive us God.

Help us to learn from the wise ones – from the scriptures, from your Saints through history and today, and even from the insights of the young.

Today open our ears and our hearts to listen and learn from you, to hear again the questions and guidance for us from your Son Jesus, and the wisdom and courage offered through your Holy Spirit.

Teach us to spend more time listening, asking questions to understand and act positively, than in preaching, prosecuting or politicking others to get things our way.

Amen

Family of God, through God’s Spirit we can always draw on the fountain of wisdom and love, even in the darkest of times and when our actions (or inaction) shame us so much. There is enough mercy to cover all your sins, and not yours only, but those of the whole world. Take up the challenge then – live as Christ showed us, as he called you and me to serve in the world.

Live as forgiven people, for in Christ, such you truly are!

Thanks be to God! Amen.

Gospel reading: John 1: 1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”’)

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Prayers of the People & Dispersal (by Rev. Ann Perrin, UCA)

Ever-living, ever-present God,

You are with us.

We come before you this day

knowing we’re are to be dispersed,

sent out into your world

to be your church in new ways.

 

If we are resistant to this change Lord,

hear our prayer of confession

and bless us with forgiveness,

patience and resilience

for we are committed to care for each other as we care for ourselves.

 

So help us to discover new ways to share

why we live our lives committed to sharing the promises of the gospel.

 

During these times of change, we will remember those whose groups are still unable to meet together in our buildings, or new challenges to gathering,

and the new ways we will need to navigate to be community.

 

We remember planned baptisms, weddings and celebrations

And pray times for rejoicing will not be too far away.

 

We remember those for who this time is one of uncertainty and challenge

those who now live with fear and in isolation,

and those for whom this time is one of anguish and death.

Hold all those in need of your love at this time.

 

Holy God, you encourage us when doubtful to draw closer to you.

Allow us to recognise your Holy Spirit as our guide, comforter, and companion.

 

And so with the hope you instill in us

and when the time time is right and this season of our church is over

we will return as your gathered community

with the joy of Easter Day,

celebrating our resilience, knowing our communities are stronger then ever

to continue your work to help build a flourishing world where ever we find ourselves.

 

AMEN.