For the duration of the COVID-19 shutdown our normal worship services have been paused and replaced by two online services each Sunday. All face to face group activities are paused as well.
Navigating the changes
I am writing this reflection with the knowledge that this Sunday will be the first day of my time as the Senior Minister at Holy Trinity. In many ways, we begin this new role in a position of strength, as we all already know each other well, and that may enable us to more easily navigate any changes that might occur. It is in the front of my mind, that, change is here, not just with my new role and Rob’s move to Strathfieldsaye, but because change has been necessarily forced on us due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
I have a reminder that pops up on my phone every few months, it reads “change is inevitable, transformation is not.” As I have been mulling over and praying over how God might lead us through these changes, transformation of heart and mind is one of the reoccurring themes that keeps emerging.
Transformation often seems scary, due to the lack of knowledge of what that transformation might look like. I think this may be why we so often avoid actively seeking the transformation that God might work in us, because we don’t know the outcome. Well friends, the transformation I want us to be pursuing is one that will only be for our good, because it will make us more like God, revealed in Jesus. Do you recall Paul said in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”? This is my prayer for us, but not just transformed mind, also heart, and what I pray will also emerge from this transforming is action that will renew our families, church and communities.
I was recently listening to a “Spirituality and Leadership” lecture by Dallas Willard and he prayed something for those listening that made me want this to be true for all of us. He prayed and so I do for you too:
“That you would have a rich life of joy and power, not just joy but also power. That you would be abundant in supernatural results with a constant and clear vision of never ending life in God’s world before you experience the everlasting significance of your work – a radiant life and a radiant death.”
May these things be known and experienced by us as we have our heart and mind transformed by God’s spirit.
Over the coming year there will be various new activities and focuses emerge in our Parish. I pray that these will excite you and then move you to action as they present themselves and I pray that each of us will, with conviction, continue to take up afresh the constant call of Jesus to come and follow him.
Peace be with you
We would like to put out a request for people who are not in an “at risk category” to consider being a part of the cleaning “dream team” in response to the governments cleaning and hygiene requirements.
After each group of people comes into church, we are required to do certain cleaning procedures. While these cleaning procedures aren’t difficult or dangerous, they need to be done diligently. We will provide appropriate protective gear, cleaning products and directions on what needs to be done. At this stage we think It is likely to take around 45 mins for two people, depending on the size and scale of the particular clean that is required.
We are also looking for people to consider helping out by being a COVID warden, these wardens will help ensure that we as a church are following all government guidelines whenever there are gatherings at our church.
The various roles of cleaning “dream team” and COVID wardens are required to be filled before we can think about reopening our spaces, and the amount of times we can open in the future will also be largely dependant on how many people we have willing to engage in these ministries. Please send an email to email@example.com if you are willing to be involved. If you wish to talk about the COVID warden role, please call Trev 0400748007
Book of Philippians
After this Sunday we will be starting a new sermon series working through the book of Philippians.
It would be great, if possible, if over the next week you could read or listen to this book in its entirety in one sitting. Originally this book was a letter that would have been read in one go. It is good practice to read the bible books as a whole when you are able to, as it gives us a sense of the whole message of the book or letter, and not just one small part of the writing.
What can we do now?
After this weekend, the church is permitted at times to open up to have up to 20 people in the church for worship (50 for a funeral). We are still considering some options.
One thing we have decided, however, due to the nature of our parish and the large number of people that we have is that until we are allowed to have over 50 in the church, we will largely be staying in the same pattern that we have with regard to Sunday services. As you can appreciate, we simply cannot move that many groups of 20 people through the church, as it requires thorough cleaning after each gathering.
Once we are able to have over 50 people, we will be in a much better position to restart some form of services in the building. We have recently rearranged our church so that only 60 places are available and social distance can be maintained. This is an important step, as it enables us to know, that until the 1.5m social distance requirement is removed, then this is the capacity of our worship space.
It is great to note that we are now able to gather with other people in less formal settings This would be my encouragement, that we find others in the church that we are able to meet with (while being vigilant about all the governments guidelines), and get together to pray, share the bible and encourage each other.
We recognise National Reconciliation Week
The Bendigo Winter Night Shelter
Commences on Monday 1st June.
As you are all undeniably aware COVID-19 is changing the way society operates. We’ve all had to learn new ways to interact and survive during these isolating times. Churches have been shut down making last year’s shelter format impossible.
For the last few weeks we have been urgently attempting to find a location that would check all the boxes to accommodate the program and in exciting news we have entered into an agreement with the Bendigo District Scout Association. This is very exciting to announce since it means we can and will be starting the program on schedule on June 1st.
How Can You Help?
Even though the location has changed this year, the volunteer roles are essentially the same. Can you help with one of the following volunteer roles:
- Team Leader
- Shift Worker
- Kitchen Hand (dinner time only)?
Volunteers can choose one of three shifts every day:
- evening from 5:30pm – 10pm
- night from 10pm – 6am
- morning from 6am – 8:30am
If you are able to assist, you can register as a volunteer at www.bwns.org.au
We are also looking for people who may be interested in some management committee roles. If you are interested in a role like this please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We also ask you to pray for the shelter as we commence in this new environment. Please pray that God will provide all we need and help the program to run smoothly.
What’s happening in your life?
In response to our request for stories of what is happening in your life, here is another story we received.
Have you got a story to share? Perhaps share some of the kindness and love that has been shown within your family, in your street or at work. Share something you have read that has encouraged you, and strengthened your faith. Email your stories to email@example.com so we can share them with one another.
Virtual prayer time
A reminder: Andy and Verity Nicholson are hosting a short online prayer time again this Sunday 31 May at 8:20pm. All are invited and welcome.
Keep connecting, keep praying
We would like to encourage you all to be intentionally calling and keeping in contact with people within our church community and your broader community where possible. These are strange times, but many of us have been gifted extra flexible time than we normally have and calling people to stay connected is a great way to use some of it!
We are aware that many people do not have phone numbers for our members. We will be working on this in coming weeks, but for now If there is someone in particular you’d like to connect with, please feel free to go through the ministry team. We can take your number and pass it along to the other person and connect you that way.
In addition to being intentional about contact, please use this extra time to be intentional in prayer. The prayer of a righteous person (that is, every follower of Jesus) is powerful and effective! The world needs our prayers and we have the time to give them! So pray each and every day for your home, for your street, for your community, for your work colleagues, for your government, for medical workers and other essential services. Pray also for the most vulnerable and in need, whether in Australia or around the world.
Prayer at Home
The prayer guide is updated every week and is available under the Prayer at Home menu tab on the HT website. Please use them as much as possible in your prayer life.
Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.