It may seem that our church is dying…
What if our Church will never be the same again?
What if we no longer have the strength to serve as we did before?
What if when we return we can’t face the church rosters?
What if we can no longer travel outside on a cold winter night for meetings?
What if, as a church, we cannot sustain mission, outreach and hospitality any longer?
What if we don’t have the energy to save the old cocoon of traditional church, with all its structures and large leadership demands? And the old ways of doing things need to be let go of…
What if new ways of being church are being born?
What if we let go of the old ways of doing things… and instead chose ways of joyfully serving ?
What if we stopped forcing people to come into church and instead worshipped in the midst of people?
What if instead of catering fellowship group at the church … we took the church to the café and supported the local business post-COVID ?
What if we gave up all the mission programs we run … and instead told our neighbour why we believe in God and why God is so important to me? And let that story sit with them in the depths of all they are experiencing.
What if we no longer went out for meetings at night but zoomed each other?
What if we continued on-line worship as a meaningful cornerstone to our faith?
What if we sold our buildings that burden us and were a people of faith in our community?
What if we forgot the words to Holy communion liturgy and broke bread at the pub and gave thanks to God! What if this new way of doing church was lighter, simpler, and more joyful!
Rev. Linley Liersch, Presbytery Minister, Presbytery of Port Phillip West
Are you interested in exploring different ways of prayer? If you would like to connect with others who are interested in carving out some intentional time and space to connect more deeply with God and reflect with others, I am looking to join with fellow travellers focusing around prayer and using the Lacuna resources from the Uniting Church to guide our exploration. We would likely gather on Zoom but also sometimes in person as restrictions allow. Have a read of this article from Rev Sally Douglas, and if this interests you, let me know – firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Praise God for the many blessings that we have received, known by each of us in our hearts.
2) We celebrate the blessing that we live in a peaceful country where we are free to worship and share our beliefs, feelings and concerns openly.
3) We give praise and thanks for good news and times spent with family.
4) Our prayers and thanks are for the scientists who are developing the COVID vaccines, and for those who are tasked with administering the doses.
5) Praise God for volunteers who quietly work behind the scenes and for the team at St. Luke’s who are working on the way forward for our property and outreach programs.
1) We pray for those countries where COVID 19 is out of control and where the consequences are impacting on so many families. We pray that the vaccine will be readily available to those most in need both locally and for smaller countries who do not have the same access as bigger more powerful countries.
2) Pray for Paul as he pastoral cares grieving, hurting families, as he prepares for the funerals taking place at St. Luke’s this week and for families who are unwell, receiving treatment, undergoing tests or rehab.
3) We pray for young people who have recently arrived in this county as they face the many challenges of a different culture, language, schooling, and home environment. Give them strength and courage Lord, to ask for and seek help and we pray for those working with and encouraging them.
4) Our prayer is for peace in countries where there is conflict or disease. We pray for families separated and the anxiety of being unable to support or help loved ones.
5) We think of and pray for those who are under pressure with work, home, and community commitments. May they be granted peace of mind with time and space to serve you Lord as we are all called to do.
6) We pray for World Environment Day on June 6th and that preparations worldwide will showcase the possibilities for each of us as we take responsibility and contribute to the search for ways to combat climate change.
Here’s what some of the people of St Luke’s are praying for this week – you might like to add your own prayers too.
Praise and Thanksgiving.
Praise God for the many volunteers who are active in our community and church.
Thankyou Lord, that our buildings are again open, and being used by community groups.
We give thanks for new babies arriving in our community this week
Praise God that Shaghek has successfully started a play group for recently arrived mums and bubs, and for the ministry of advocacy and support she is providing to families as they seek housing in a very difficult rental market.
Prayers for others
For the health and well-being of everyone receiving the COVID vaccinations and for those responsible in administering the roll out.
For friends and family who maybe feeling emotionally fragile, also those we know who are unwell and receiving treatment. Our thoughts and prayers are with their caregivers and the professionals supporting them.
We pray for peace in countries where many suffer from cold and hunger. May the hearts of their leaders be filled with a desire for understanding and resolution rather than conflict.
Our special prayers are with families who are separated by distance and for those who have come to our shores for protection and safety. Lord bless them with reassurance as we support them.
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.
Each week in our prayer time and sharing time, we share the concerns and joys on our hearts at that time. A group of people at St Luke’s have a special call to the ministry of prayer and these are the ways they are upholding the congregation and our community to God in prayer this week. You might like to join these prayers too in a quiet moment.
Praise and Thanksgiving.
Praise God for each new day and the dramatic changes we see in nature during Spring time, when the birds are nesting, the gardens are lovely, the weather reveals its diversity and beauty.
A vision of God’s renewal of creation.
2) As we recognise Mental Health week, we say thank you for those people who work in this area, may they be strong as they support those who are struggling at this challenging time.
3) Praise and thanks for all people who care for and support our elderly, single parents, homeless, unemployed, business owners who are losing hope, those who have lost a loved one and the sick, that they will be granted patience and a caring heart for all they serve.
4) Thanksgiving for the return to school of students and teachers, that the joy of reunion will be a blessing and encouragement for all. Pray for the energy required to readjust to school life five days a week.
5) Give thanks for celebrations of new life, special birthdays and positive COVID 19 results in the state.
1) Pray for all students doing VCE as they return to school for these two weeks. Give them the time and clarity to review work done at home and to ask those questions that they may now have. Pray that they will be virus free before and during exam time.
2) Continue to prayer for all of those we know of who are unwell, having treatment or are recovering from operations or lost a loved one. May they know God’s peace and strength for the journey ahead.
3) Pray for families who are caring from a distance at the moment. Those in lockdown in Melbourne who have families living interstate or in other cities in Victoria. Pray for single parents who don’t have family support and those for whom English is a second language.
4) Prayer for peace in the world. For those citizens living in war-torn countries. That as they approach winter and the suffering that brings, they will find relief from the stress and worry they endure. Pray especially for the children and older people who have no escape.
5) Pray that talks involving many Middle Middle-East countries will bring stability and peace to the area, and for those where the virus has surged again
6) Pray for the USA during their up-coming elections. Guide people toward a peaceful response post-election.
7) Pray for the upcoming Church Council meeting and elections. That those approached will pray-fully consider serving God in this capacity.
In this video we are again delving into some of the themes of Tom Wright’s book, “God and the Pandemic: A Christian reflection on the coronavirus and its aftermath.”
And the theme for this video gets right to the heart of things from a Christian perspective … the place of the man from Nazareth …Jesus … and in particular what we learn through him about God and suffering, God and the Pandemic.
For music today, an encouragement to keep hope from Audrey Assad with a beautiful lyric video of “How can I keep from Singing?”
This week is anti-poverty week – and here’s a message from Bronwyn Pike, COE of Uniting VicTas:
And reminder of the beautiful prayer from this week’s service:
Holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you bless us in so many ways.
We praise for you the beauty of creation … for the wonder of spring … for bud and flower … for the song of the Magpie. But most of all, we praise you that you come to us in the person of Jesus, the crucified and risen One.
Compassionate God, we are lost for words when we consider the cross of Christ … the extent of your love made clear on Calvary … we give thanks that through the cross we know you share in the worst that this life can bring.
We celebrate and pray for the witness of Your church throughout the world, in all its colour, diversity and difference.
We hold before you those who have been wounded by life … all who suffer because of hardships, illness, injury, unkindness or abuse. We pray for all who work in caring professions: for the services which seek to sooth and heal the sicknesses of body, mind or spirit.
In these difficult times when we can hardly bring ourselves to watch the news, we pray for our country and the world … particularly remembering before you places of conflict, confusion, oppression, poverty, hunger and thirst. Help us to be some way a part of the answer to this prayer.
We give thanks for and remember the people who have encouraged us in your way … particularly holding before you those who now share in that great cloud of witnesses .. . the saints in light.
And we offer this prayer in the name of Christ, Amen.
From our Zoom prayer gathering on Wednesday 24th June:
Paul shared a portion of Matthew 25: 35-40. “I was hungry…. “ Please read it for yourselves. If we help someone in need, we are really serving Jesus.
For friends and family members struggling with ill health
For friends transitioning from independent living to supported care in distant places
For those families who find themselves suddenly bereaved and grieving the loss of a beloved family member
Pray for those struggling to understand the language and the requirements of COVID restrictions. Many are despairing, confused and insecure. Pray that ethnic communities will not be victimised. Pray also that they will receive support they need.
Pray for the family and Pacific Islands communities mourning the murder of Solomone. Praise that the family was able to publicly forgive the perpetrator.
Pray for all the homeless people in Geelong and elsewhere and for the agencies who are offering support of food, warm clothing and shelter.
Pray for all those who are depressed and despairing at this time of protracted isolation and restriction, as the weeks drag on and with the realisation that there is still a long way to go.
Much to pray about today and every day. How blessed we are to have a loving Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who hears our prayers, spoken and unspoken, and we are never abandoned. Jesus is our Forever Friend.
From the 17th of June:
For your times of prayer, these are the points raised from Wednesday the 17th of June:
Paul shared with us Psalm 86, where the psalmist is praising God and asking for his help in need (thanksgiving and prayer). A great psalm to read again.
Paul reminded us that those on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus, but he is with us at all times, and hears our prayers.
Prayers of Thanksgiving:
Praise that William was found alive and well.
Praise that a drug being tested in UK is showing favourable signs of reducing effects of COVID.
Prayers for others:
Prayer for Church Council as it discusses the protocols for safely coming out of COVID, and the work and ministry of the church.
Prayer for bereaved families
Prayer for those known to us who are unwell
For young people with mental health issues – those who are broken-hearted and broken-spirited – may they find the help and resources they need to relieve their mental pain
You can find our Palm Sunday worship on Youtube here:
In our second episode of Worship online, Paul shares a reflection on what Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem says about the kind of leader he is – a servant leader. In the turmoil of the COVID19 pandemic, what kind of service are you called to?
Linda leads us in prayers of the people and gives thanks for the people serving our community now, despite the risk to themselves and their families.
We meet Shaghek Qassabyan, our new Community Ministry Worker for St Luke’s.
For some music listening, please enjoy “From a Still Small Voice” performed by Leigh Newton, with thanks to Craig Mitchell for sharing!
As the COVID19 pandemic ripples through our UnitingWorld’s partner countries, we are more conscious than ever of the need to support our neighbours who have much less than we do.
The future of our world depends on people of all faiths and backgrounds being able to work together for good. In Maluku, Ambon, Rev Jeny is working with high school students to train up leaders for our region who embrace difference, respect each other and have a passion for peace.
Today we’ll meet the students and hear about Rev Jeny’s inspiring work.
Please visit www.lentevent.com to help it continue. UnitingWorld continues to stand alongside people in Ambon and far beyond, and they need our help.
Please keep praying for Rev Jeny and her team, Mary, Attika, Petrus and Nyoman.
Resources for home
Linda Salamy has gathered some multi-sensory activities you can download and do from home in your devotional time.
Karen from Western Heights Uniting Church shows us how to fold our own paper palm crosses:
We hope you have a peaceful and reflective Holy Week – may God give you the wisdom and insight to discern how you might continue to bring light and hope in troubled times, and may you be well, may you be happy, may you be safe in Christ’s love.
Stay tuned later today for a special Kid’s Church edition of online worship!
Paul shared a thoughtful reflection from Alistair Pate, who is the minister at Chalice Uniting Church in Northcote and who leads a cafe church which until recently would meet weekly at a local pub in Northcote.
“These are very difficult times. The challenge for us is to drink deep from the well of faith. To ground and root ourselves in God’s unchanging love for us, in God’s complete commitment to us, which we see made visible flesh in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That, at minimum, seems to be our task just now. Perhaps there is an opportunity here, amidst the stress and anxiety, to treat this as a sort of compulsory spiritual retreat? To develop a daily discipline of prayer, work, and recreation? I know that I have experienced significant spiritual deepening in difficult times, when I was really forced back into what is most profound. Perhaps this might be all of our experience through these difficult days ahead?”