Good Morning Friends ,
Due to the unavailability of producers, there will be no livestream from St Luke’s Highton this morning. A recording will be put up later.
However if you would like to join another congregation online for worship, here are some others:
Christmas Lights at Horsham
Next service is Christmas Day Friday 25th at 9:30am
You can RSVP for that service here: https://stlukeschurchgeelong.churchcenter.com/people/forms/200445
See you then!
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.
The link to today’s livestream can be found here:
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.
Donate to the Christmas Bowl here: https://christmasbowl.actforpeace.org.au/donate
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
Empower you to be steadfast in faith,
Joyful in hope
And constant in love,
Our first ever Podcast is ready for your listening ears:
You might choose to listen while going for a walk, or doing the dishes, or weeding the garden – a more “active” way to worship and spend time with God!
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:
I’m not sure of the time there.
The Macedon Ranges partnership has their service ready to go here:
or if you want to stay closer to home, you could pop over and visit our neighbours at Belmont Uniting here:
And Terrigal Uniting is a congregation we are watching as a great model of how to include people at home with people at church in worship – their 8am worship service will stream here
So hopefully you’ll find some different opportunities to worship this Sunday.
Here’s the song that Lloyd, Deborah and Robyn sang today (but the sound didn’t record!) – you can sing along with another version here:
With thanks for your understanding and wishing you all the Blessings of the Kingdom for this coming week,
Lloyd, Paul, Christopher and Robyn.
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,
Good morning friends, Grace and Peace to you.
Jesus often taught by telling parables … short stories containing a message that have a capacity to transform us …
Sometimes the meaning of a parable while confronting is pretty straight forward, think, for example, of the parable of the Good Samaritan …
But today we are going to look at a parable which is not so easy to interpret … the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids …
I am going to argue that at its heart the parable contains a counter-cultural message … that in God’s kingdom there is a place for waiting … faithful waiting
Remembrance Day this Wednesday
Paul reminded us that it will be Remembrance day this Wednesday. The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne is hosting a virtual service – details here
A week of recognition and celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Here is a reflection on NAIDOC week 2020 written by Alison Overeem of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress in Tasmania:
There are many events planned for NAIDOC week and you can find out more about them here:
One of these events is the launch of a new song which you can listen to here:
And you might also enjoy this version of Amazing Grace by Paul Kelly and the late Gurrumil:
A blessing in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
Go in peace, and remember:
goodness is stronger than evil;
love is stronger than hate;
light is stronger than darkness;
life is stronger than death;
victory is ours
through Christ who loved us.
Today’s service is jointly presented by St Luke’s Highton and Western Heights Uniting Churches – the westernmost of Geelong’s Uniting Churches, straddling both sides of the Barwon River.
Today we encourage you to celebrate All Saints’ Day by remembering and honouring those who have gone before us, giving thanks for their love and leadership.
Thanks to Paul, Mike, Karen, Alison, Jan and everyone who helped prepare today’s service for sharing your gifts to help connect us all to God through worship and prayer.
Younger ones might enjoy this short summary of what All Saints day means to us as Christians:
Blessings go with you into this week!