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Permission to stream letter can be found here
LATEST UPDATE FROM SENIOR MINISTER JOHN GRAY
While COVID-19 continues on I am proud of our Archbishop, Bishops and their teams. They are in the thick of conversations with the NSW Attorney General, relevant parliament ministers, the Diocesan legal team and the Prime Minister.
They then “translate” information making it available to us all via sydneyanglicans.net.au. Their FAQ pages are updated daily, if not twice a day. In addition, Our Archbishop writes to all clergy weekly with further updates. He, and now our bishops, also send video messages to us. You can view Gary Koo’s video message here. Glenn even took time to contact me yesterday with respect to our live streaming of Matt Keller’s ordination (Tues March 31). He assured me what we did last night was in accord with Federal and NSW government guidelines as well as a personal call he had had with the NSW Attorney General. What he and they are doing is of enormous value to us.
I study the Diocesan updates once or twice a day, look at the Federal Govt COVID-19 app (free for all citizens to download), talk with our staff team and then, with them, figure out our next step. We will continue to, therefore, offer a 10am Sunday service and Crossfire on Friday nights via live streaming while all the sources we study grant permission. We’ll also continue to offer: two short devotions each week from our teaching team, devotions from our Youth and Young Adults teams, and our Generation podcast
We are trying to figure out how we might offer a children’s online program. Currently, Matt Keller has now moved to Melbourne, Naomi Pigot is in much deserved maternity leave, our tech teams are a little stretched but also getting into a rhythm. Stay tuned. In the meantime, we will list children’s resources for parents and grandparents to access. The first of these is from Compassion https://www.compassion.com.au/colin-buchanan
PLANNING FOR THE DURATION
The PM, Premier and others are right. COVID will not be over by Easter. I encourage you to, therefore, develop a serious 6 month plan. Purchasing jigsaws and games are a start – they are only a piece of the puzzle (to channel Keith Baker). Daily rhythms and weekly routines are vital to your whole well-being: physical, mental, psychological, spiritual and, let me say, social. Our spiritual ancestors knew this, as does our Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus. Which is why we read, for example, in Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy that our God instructed his people to observe certain rhythms.
There were weekly, seasonal, annual and even a 50year event to be engaged in. Each reminded God’s people their lives were intimately connected to the LORD, that his word is what sustains them, and that he was their provider, comforter, guide and Shepherd.
We even catch Jesus practicing these rhythms. Luke 4:13 tells us his habit was to be in synagogue (what we call church), each week; he rose early to pray; he clearly knew the Scriptures because he had been reading and meditating on them all his life, just as Psalm 1:3 called him to do; his mode of transport was shank’s pony (as my Pa would say. Shank’s pony means walking for you use your shanks …) which means he had plenty of exercise. Walking and resting meant he had time out from being connected 24/7. (If ever anyone “needed” to be connected to “run his world”, it was Jesus. But we see him taking time out to rest and pray and, I suspect, play)
With all this mind, if you want to be in a better, all-round condition in 6 months time, let me encourage you to:
Establish a daily appointment with our God.
This will feed your mind, sure up your heart and quieten your soul. It will also remind you that you are not alone. When we read God’s Word, meditate in it and pray, we are, in reality meeting with all three members of the eternal Trinity. You meet with our Heavenly Father, our Older Brother, Jesus, and the Spirit of God. You will then be able to weather whatever this next 6 months throws at you. My aim is to be much closer to our God in 6 months time. My plan is to meet with him daily to read, mediate and pray. REAP is my tool of choice.
Establish a daily catch up with your family/household
Plan to share one meal a day (or at least a few a week) with everyone or talk with them: Zoom in, conference call. Disconnect from everyone else and focus on your family/household. Our family shares the evening meal. My plan is to enjoy all the food Robyn and up daughter, Emma, cook up. My hope is they enjoy what I cobble together.
Establish a regular something else to fill your tank.
I have a stack of books to read, as Robyn does. Maybe for you it’s wood turning, working on your car, painting, tapestry, knitting, drawing…whatever fills your tank get into it.
Establish regular exercise.
All the guidelines for walking, running, body weight training are freely available. Find what suits you and engage. My goal here it to be fitter in 6 months time. My plan is to do body weight exercise three times a week.
Establish connections with others
I’ll do this with my small group, Wardens and PC, and staff and even extended family via Zoom (Mazda ought sponsor me here).
If you’re an extrovert: form an extroverts Zoom meeting! Really, connect with all the extroverts you know, and often. Of course, connect with introverts, but if I may be so bold, not as often. The intros value a little space. Mind you, intros do need an extro or two or three from time to time.
If you’re an introvert, be kind to the extros who value you. I suspect they value your (quiet) wisdom and take on life.
Drink more coffee
For those who imbibe…we have Malaccis coffee for purchase. 500gm bags of ground coffee are $10. 1kg bags of beans are $35. You can order by emailing my PA, Annette Duncan on firstname.lastname@example.org. Annette is in the office Tuesday through Thursday. She will be more than happy to receive and process your order.
The coffee you purchase will help us buy the freedom of whole families imprisoned in bonded, generational slavery.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
No doubt you are as across the latest COVID-19 news as anyone. Anticipating today’s news, our Wardens and Parish Council took decisions last night that affect Sunday Services and most, if not, all our ministries. Though this whole era is weighing on me/us, I am somewhat comforted by our Archbishop’s media release today and his accompanying letter to all clergy. All of us in agreement: Sunday services need to be suspended until further notice, ministry gatherings need to be limited, weddings and funerals will also be affected. Further There Is Hope is impacted.
I want to address each in turn. Feel free to skim though to the area you are most interested in.
A WORD TO SOME IN PARTICULAR
If you work in the health, care, police, ambulance, fire brigades, RFS, SES and the like: thank you! Your care for our vulnerable and needy is very God-like. I/we do not take for granted what you do. If you work in a supermarket or the like I hope you have not had to endure abuse. Though, if you have, and if you can, remind yourself that you are much loved by our Father and older brother, Jesus. Remember they have given to you the Comforter and so quieten your soul before our God – more on how we all might do this below.
Our sources continue to be…
- those either working on NSW Heath teams or in direct contact with them
- The Archbishop of Sydney
- Our Regional Bishop, Gary, who was a GP and is tasked with communicating with NSW Health
We will be live streaming a service on Sundays from this coming Sunday, March 22, 2020. It will be live at 10am. It will be available via video on Facebook, YouTube and via our website
This avenue will allow you to engage with your family/house mates in the comfort of your own home. We will offer this until further notice. We are throwing everything we have to make this Sunday work. Next week we’ll review what we did and then make improvements as we go. Thank you for your patience.
KIDS, YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS
The Archbishop has advised that these ought to cease meeting. Pat Jones and Matt Keller are working on online options. We’ll send you information as we are able. Sam Haywood is working on options for our Young Adults community.
At this stage I encourage you to use your wisdom. Taking into account social distancing as defined by NSW State health, if you, and those you meet with, think you can meet the criteria then you are free to meet. If you are unsure then there is freedom not to meet. One small group I know of met via Zoom last night and found it helpful…more info on zoom here
WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS
Sadly, these are also impacted. Congregations need to be limited to less than 100. This will be very distressing to many but we will do our level best to serve any and all.
As a church we want to ensure that everyone has access to care and support during this time. Most of the care will be coordinated through our Small Groups network. Small Group Leaders will be receiving additional resources to help them encourage and care for their group members during this time.
We are particularly concerned for those outside these support structures, and who are vulnerable or self-isolating during this time.
If you are in need of pastoral support or know of someone in this situation, please contact our Care Minister Jo Gibbs at the church office on 8858 1111 or email email@example.com and one of the care volunteers will be in contact by phone.
Additionally, our office will be staffed every day, and you can call us on 8858 1111. A minister will be available each day between 9:30-4pm, and on Sundays whoever is preaching will be available for pastoral support.
Our staff will continue to serve and minister to people in this very new day. We are working on ways to do so via social media and other online mechanisms as well as via phone and, where possible, visiting and other face to face contact. We also want to continue our support of our missionaries. With these things in mind, while your current financial position remains stable, can I urge you to continue with your financial commitments to SPCH? However if your financial position changes, there is freedom to adjust your giving accordingly. If you regularly giving by cash would you set aside your regular offertory each week and over the next week we here in the office will figure out a way to receive it from you. If you’d like to move to direct deposit please do so.
Our details are:
Name: St Paul’s Church Wardens Account
BSB: 032 173
Account #: 871 775
Thank you, in advance, for your ongoing generosity. It will help as we continue to minister and serve.
THERE IS HOPE MISSION 2020
After much discussion at our meeting today, all 12 church leaders have concluded that it is better to postpone There is Hope to 2021. For your encouragement, as we have commenced discussion with our speakers, the majority of them have told us they are prepared to speak again next year, and we are just waiting to hear from a few others.
Our Archbishop Glenn Davies has also kindly agreed to be part of a livestream on Easter Sunday, and we look forward to updating you shortly on what form that will take.
SOME FINAL COMMENTS
If you’d like to read the Archbishop’s letter you can access it here
Finally, with all this disturbance to life the best place to anchor yourself to is Jesus Christ. Maybe you might like to join me in a practice I’ve been getting into? I use an app called Daily Prayer (free) which is, in reality, the Anglican Prayer book online.
This morning before coming in the engage with all COVID-19 material I took time to prayer through and read morning prayer. The app splices in daily Psalms and Bible readings along with daily prayers and regular prayers. I needed to be led in prayer this morning. This app led me. As I read and pray mindfully I find my soul is quietened. I find I am fed and renewed. I find a renewing so I can enter the day. Using this app also reminds me I am praying with perhaps 10s of 1000s of other believers at the same time. There is no doubt they are also using the app. In a certain way, therefore, I am not isolated from others but am part of the world wide church of God praying together and reading God’s word together, I commend Daily Prayer to you. If you’d rather a real prayer book in your hand, let us know. We have some “green prayer books” you can take and use.
As we navigate this era now, together, join me in keeping your hope in Christ, prayerfully lean into him for he is still the Sovereign who loves us each beyond measure – even if we do not feel that right now.
Yours in Christ’s Service,