In Sunday’s Gospel reading (John 1:43-51) we had the question of Nathanael, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” to which Philip answered, “Come and see.” (v.46).
People today sometimes ask a similar question, “Can anything good come out of Elizabeth?” to which we probably should reply, “Come and see!”
Jan and I recently watched a recording of the ducu-movie “Working Class Boy,” which is the story of the life of Jimmy Barnes as told by Jimmy Barnes himself. I am not a fan of his music and certainly don’t condone his past “Drugs, sex and Rock ’n Roll” lifestyle. However it was interesting and enlightening to hear the story of how he struggled to grow up in Elizabeth, living initially in Heytesbury Road, not far from our church building. If I knew nothing about Elizabeth (or indeed Adelaide) I could easily form a very negative view of Elizabeth and Adelaide from watching the movie. My analysis was that it was not so much where Jimmy Barnes grew up that impacted him in such a negative way, but that his former dysfunctional Swan family had poverty, violence and alcoholism woven through it long before leaving Scotland to immigrate to Australia.
But even so, people still ask the question in various ways, “Can anything good come out of Elizabeth?” Like Nazareth, it is often viewed as a bit of a backwater where no one succeeds much in life. But when Nathanael met Jesus, his view of things changed radically. And we have Jesus. No matter where anyone lives, Jesus makes the difference.
There are many broken people around us who we may be unaware of. Jimmy Barnes was a very broken person in his youth. His story reminded me of a fellow named Greg who attended high school with me in my youth. I didn’t realize then just how broken he was until just at the end of last year. Greg was always in trouble at school and did a lot of crazy things. On a Facebook school forum I enquired about him from a man who had the same last name and who turned out to be Greg’s half brother. The half brother’s answer to my enquiry was that Greg had a very sad life, always on the wrong side of the law and died way too early from a drug overdose at Mobilong Prison. I don’t know how long ago it was, but I got the impression it was quite a long time ago. The half brother went on to say that at the age of 4 things began a downward spiral for Greg when he witnessed his uncle blow his head off with a shotgun. Broken, damaged and out of control. I was able to join the dots now. High school was the darkest time of my life and I was naive then and couldn’t see things then the way I can now. Could I have changed things if I knew then what I know now? Probably not. But it just goes to show that we just never know what it is going on the lives of others or why they behave the way they do.
So can any good thing come out of Elizabeth? Come and see! Jesus is here with us and He can change lives. Evie Tornquist used to sing, “There are so many things that money can buy, but it won’t buy peace of mind no matter how hard you try. Broken up people need brand new lives.” (Broken Up People – Daniels)
We may not be able to fix the lives of broken up people ourselves. They need brand new and eternal lives that only Jesus can give. Whatever negative perceptions some may have about Elizabeth, may St Peter’s Elizabeth be a place where people can be introduced to Jesus and put their faith in Him. Some good things can come out of Elizabeth because of Jesus and so the message from our church to our community should be, “Come and see!”
I have recently been reflecting on the first three words of Luke 2 : “IN THOSE DAYS...” Yes the context is following the birth of John the Baptist. But what were those days actually like? Someone has quite simply observed that they were days of chaos, violence, political unrest and - I would add - disease (ie leprosy). Does this sound at all familiar? We could quite easily apply Luke 2:1 to our present age – this Christmas of 2020. Caesar may not be taking a census today, but many people today are trying to get home (or find a home), if not for Christmas, then certainly to escape the trouble and disease that confronts them wherever they find themselves.
The good news is that there is still “A thrill of hope” - as the beautiful Christmas carol “O Holy Night” tells us – that this weary world can rejoice in. Jesus came to save a sinful world and sinful lives, not just In Those Days, but In THESE Days.
This year has brought a lot of weariness throughout the world with the “chaos, violence and political unrest” and of course COVID-19. We as a church have not been spared any of the weariness of it all (or is that just me?). However I am thankful for the way God has continued to work amongst us in new and different ways. Of course we still have a mission – or as Pastor Greg said in his report to the AGM, “God’s mission has a church.” And God’s Church has Jesus! So many in this “weary world” need to be introduced to Jesus – The Prince of Peace, King of Kings and Lord of Lords - the one who can bring rest to the weary. May we all find a time of rest this Christmas – In These Days – to find the rest that only God can give and then find new ways to introduce Jesus to others burdened by sin and sickness in our weary world.
Jesus said: “Come to me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28 (NRSV)
A Merry and blessed Christmas to you all, in Jesus’ name.
Brenton Chomel - Chairman
Church Chairman’s Chatter
Christian/Gospel singer Sandi Patty recently wrote in reference to 2020: “Nothing this year has been what we expected. Nothing!”
How true that is. Do you remember how in January I had planned out the year with dot pointing events right through to New Year’s Eve? Well those plans got pretty much dismantled, piece-by-piece. So I asked God: “Is this how you are doing a ‘new thing’ amongst us?”
This doesn’t mean that I no longer believe in planning of course. On the contrary: I still believe that if we fail to plan, then we plan to fail! I also believe that God will bless our plans along the way, but sometimes He alters them for us. This year He has altered them – A LOT!!!
But this past week has tested everyone with all the Covid-19 outbreaks in Adelaide and the subsequent lock-down that was supposed to be 6 days, but ended up being 3 days! Whew!!!
So our AGM/Half Yearly meeting that was scheduled for November 22nd was postponed.
We are now planning for the meeting to be on Sunday December 6th at 1:30pm.(2020_nominations.pdf)
The Agenda and Nominations are printed separately.
Please also note the dates of our PLANNED Christmas programme, subject to any COVID-19 restrictions, are : Carols in The Car Park on Sunday December 20th at 7:30pm; Christmas Eve Service, Thursday December 24th at 7:30pm and Christmas Day Service, Friday December 24th at 9am.
Blessings to you all in Jesus’ name, BC - Brenton Chomel - Chairman
Church Chairman’s Chatter
“For I am about to do something new.” Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
At last week’s Church Council Meeting I shared these words from a book by Leighton Ford that I am currently reading:
Our highly organized religious lives don’t always help. The typical midsized to large North American church is densely programmed. One potential member said to a minister friend of mine, “Pastor, after looking at all the scheduled activities for this week I don’t think I’m physically fit to join your church!” He was only half-joking.
For some years the trend among growing “seeker-friendly” churches has been to offer “full-service” religious programming, one-stop opportunities for every age group and every family member (or every single), with lots of parking. Yet while these programs undoubtedly help many people, I wonder if there may be a deep and quiet counter-movement, a search for places that offer a space for silence, where people can say, “I can come and be quiet here.”
A teacher friend, who is busy lecturing at seminary all week and preaches most Sundays at growing evangelical churches, tells me that early each Sunday morning he has begun going to an Anglican church down the road. There he can quiet his soul in silence before venturing into the busyness of the “day of rest!”
Pastor Greg’s report was also along the same lines, with regards to fatigue in the church. He has observed that since the Pandemic there are some who are experiencing tiredness or fatigue. This is why it was suggested last month that it might be necessary to move to one service. That suggestion had nothing to do with worship style or age. It was to do with preventing burnout (or brownout) of people working (often behind the scenes) in the running of our services and other ministries of the church. Whilst we do have printed hymn books and worship books to fall back on if needed, it is necessary for the services to be done in good order in a manner that allows Pastor to simply lead the service and these days (and for some years now) they have been prepared and followed by electronic means. What would help, is for at least two extra people per service to be available to operate the power-point and/or audio. We will be seeking volunteers for this at our combined AGM/Half Yearly Meeting on November 22nd, but if you feel led to volunteer in this capacity in the meantime, please do not hesitate to speak to one of the Church Council members or Geoff Burls.
Nominations will be sought for church officers and should be presented in writing (forms will be provided) to any of the Nominations Committee (Chairperson, Pastor, David Lorke and Joyleen Tonissen). Besides election of officers, there will be other items for discussion, which will include another Plant Sale next year, the possibility of Sunday School and looking again at our Mission! We do have a “Mission Statement,” but what specifically is our mission here in Elizabeth? The last few words of our mission statement say,“...so that all may know and worship Jesus.”
I am reminded of the words of Daniel T. Niles who defined the work of the church being beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.
The great message of the Gospel is not one that we should just keep to ourselves. It is not a case of, “I have it, but who else needs it?” So please be praying and thinking about what our mission is here at St Peter’s Elizabeth and who the people are that we need to share “the bread” of the Gospel with. Who are the people we want to come to “Know and worship Jesus” with us? And how will we do that?
Last Sunday’s Old Testament reading gave us a great promise in Exodus 33: 14: “My Presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” God is working and fighting for us and in the words of a contemporary gospel song, “Oh Jesus! Your presence is Heaven to me!” What rest and reassurance to know that Jesus is with us.
Also remember what Jesus said:
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 - NLT)
And all of God’s people said – AMEN! PRAISE GOD!
I wasn’t present at the last Church Council meeting, so I am still catching up with things.
However, one of the items that was presented (and some have contacted me about), is the matter of moving to one Sunday Service due to the lack of resources to run 2 services. Currently we are averaging a combined attendance of 60. As was expected, numbers have dropped since we were in lock down.
I am not pushing any agenda of my own on this, only God’s agenda. Remember that since before the pandemic, God gave me Isaiah 43:19, “For I am about to do a new thing.” God has been doing some new things in our church since the pandemic. We have had to think and act differently in a number of ways, including in our worship patterns. So we are faced with the challenge of not looking so much to our own preferences in music and style and times of worship, but rather what God would want and what would best lift up the name of Jesus in our midst.
Worship has always been a bit of a contentious issue in the church, going as far back as Genesis 4 (verses 3-5), with a squabble about an offering to God. The actual word “worship” was first mentioned in Genesis 22:5. So it is nothing new. Music is a great communicator, but music for music’s sake is not worship. Music is a wonderful means of human expression, but God wants us to engage our hearts. We have some beautiful music and liturgies in the church, both traditional and contemporary, but as marvellous and grand and brilliantly theological they may be (God gave them to us anyway), He wants our hearts. As someone has said, “The heart tips it from music to worship.”
All that I ask at this stage, is that you pray and consider this as a possibility. Change can be scary for all of us. We will listen to you and discuss this in council. I don’t see this as a business decision, but an opportunity to be led by the Holy Spirit as to how He would want us to worship and lift up the name of Jesus in Scripture, song and sacrament into the future. Please be praying:
“Jesus be the centre of my life...From beginning to the end it will always be, it’s always been You Jesus,.. Jesus be the centre of Your Church. Jesus be the centre of your Church And every knee will bow And every tongue shall confess You Jesus... From my heart to the Heavens, Jesus be the centre, It’s all about You, Yes it’s all about You.” (Darlene Zschech)
Brenton Chomel - Chairman
Church Chairman’s Chatter
“For I am about to do something new.” Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
Church Council met on August 9th for the first time since we resumed services back in the church sanctuary. Again a BIG thank you to all on council (and others) who have kept things going during the lock down and worked to reopen again with all of the Covid-19 compliances. Colleen Hage will be keeping an eye on any changes to Government requirements one way or the other and will advise us accordingly. Anything we do or plan in the future will be subject to those requirements.
You may recall that we had planned to have Assistant Bishop for Mission Stephen Schultz, visit us in July. This of course was not able to occur. We hope to have Stephen meet with us at some time in the future and live stream it on the website. We have the camera and equipment needed for video live streaming, but just need to get it set up. In the meantime, we are looking at planning to reach out into the community with the love of Jesus via our Christmas programmes – particularly the Carols In The Car Park. It’s not too early to be planning now. In fact planning normally starts in June-July. So please be in prayer for Pauline Hill and those working with her for these events. Also be available to serve Jesus in this way.
Our AGM was also supposed to be held during the lock-down time, but will now be combined with our Half Yearly meeting. The date of this congregational meeting is now planned for Sunday November 22nd at 1:30pm, one week before Advent Sunday. We will be calling for nominations for church officers closer to that time in accordance with our Constitution, but please be thinking and praying now.
During our absence from services, the weeds in the garden plot have gotten a little out of hand. George Graff, Peter and Kathy Anderson have tried to keep on top of them, but will need some added assistance from others in the congregation. If you can help, please speak to John Kuhlmann to volunteer.
The recyclable drink containers for Peachy Place can still be collected, but for health and safety purposes Ian Nitschke has urged us to wash them thoroughly and remove the lids. Alternatively, you can cash them in yourself and place the money in an envelope marked appropriately and left in the offering bowl.
We have agreed to allow the Playford College to park one of their buses in our car park behind the Op Shop, whilst they have some work done on their property.
Our next Church Council meeting will be on Sunday September 13th at 12:30pm.
In the midst of so much uncertainty, disappointment and the fear that Pastor mentioned in last week’s sermon, it is good to be reminded to give praise to Jesus and be encouraged and have our spirits lifted from scriptures such as these:
“Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good.” – Psalm 90:14-15 (NLT)
God never disappoints us. Always trust him and lift up the name of Jesus, as He continues to do a new thing amongst us.
“For I am about to do something new.” Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
Over the past several weeks now the church has been able to operate in absentia. The doors to the church building may have been closed for those Sundays, but the Church is far from being closed. What it has meant is that there have many “home” churches opened for worship instead. God has been doing a New Thing. Thank you to Pastor and the team who have worked so hard at printing, distributing, recording and posting on the website, the Sunday services and sermons for each Sunday. We haven’t as yet been able to organise the video side of the streaming from the church website.
A reminder that your offerings can be made via direct deposit to:
Account name: Elizabeth St Peters Lutheran
BSB# 704 942
Hopefully by July we may be able to meet together again in the church with up to 100 attending at a time. This gives us a glimmer of light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, but let’s wait to see how things pan out in the meantime.
Church Council has not been able to meet together, but I have been staying in touch with council members via e-mail. Here are a couple of matters of interest to everyone.
God’s blessings to you.
“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; there is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not. As thou has been Thou forever wilt be. Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!” - Thomas O. Chisholm
(Based on Lamentations 3:22-23)
John 21:9 “When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them – fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.”
Jesus had been crucified, he had risen from the dead and appeared to the disciples on a couple of occasions. So now what? Things had gone quiet and some of the disciples were getting restless. Peter was especially so and said “Well I’m going fishing!” Sounds a bit like us sometimes – well me anyway. I’m not going to sit around here and stagnate. I’m going to work. I’m going to the shops. I’m going for a drive, wash the car, or mow the lawns.
From my count there were six other disciples with Peter, seven of them in total. So out in the boat they went. We are not told whose boat they took – maybe Peter had his boat moored by the Sea of Galilee – but they set out on a fishing excursion. Peter was a fisherman by trade and maybe he thought that he might as well get out and earn some money, along with his companions.
The story is very familiar however – a bit of déjà vu if you like. Out fishing all night and guess what? Not one fish. Sounds a lot like Luke 5: 1-11 when Jesus tells the disciples to go out deeper and what happened? In spite of not catching one fish the night before, the boats were so full now, that they nearly sank.
But here they were again, out all night fishing and not one fish. Dawn breaks and Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognise him. How was that? Mary didn’t recognise Jesus at the tomb. The friends on the Emmaus Road didn’t recognise him and now once again these magnificent seven fishers don’t recognise him – well not until they follow His instructions and the nets were so full… That’s when the penny dropped for John. He remembered the big catch from before and he recognized Jesus. When he told everyone else that it was Jesus, Peter jumped ship (maybe attempting to walk on water again) and headed for the shore leaving the others to haul in the net full of fish.
So, being only a hundred yards from the shore they arrived finding breakfast waiting for them; fish cooking over charcoal - and where did he get that fish? If he was like me, he did his fishing at the local fish market. Or maybe Peter grabbed one of the fish as he jumped out of the boat? In any case there was more déjà vu here. “…fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.” (v.9). Remember the feeding of the multitude and the boy with the loaves and fishes (John6)? Remember the denial by Peter in the high priest’s courtyard - warming himself by the charcoal fire (John 18:18)?
Jesus had his subtle little reminders that it was him. Fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread!
Does Jesus do that for us sometimes? He has been with us in the past and helped and provided for us. Then other things happen in our lives. Jesus appears. We may not see him or recognise his presence with us, until… until we see something familiar again and we know the Lord IS with us.
What ever we may face today, look to the shore. Jesus may be there cooking breakfast for you, whatever the fish, the charcoal fire or the bread may be for you.
Thank you, Lord, for always being there for us, whatever we face today in our world, in our homes, at our workplaces, at our schools and in our church. Forgive us when we do not recognise your presence or doubt that you will be there for us. Help us always to remember you and be reminded of your presence with us no matter where we are. May we always call on your name and follow your leading.
In the wonderful, holy name of Jesus, we pray.
And all of God’s people said… Amen! Praise the Lord!