Easter message from the Bishop of Bathurst

Bishop of Bathurst, Mark Calder, has released this message for Easter 2020:

Anglican Bishop of Bathurst says the Easter message is exactly what we need

This Easter – we’ve all had enough!

Enough of staying home, enough washing our hands, enough of keeping our distance…

Enough of the financial pressure because of loss of work.

Enough of not being able to get away for Easter like we’ve always done.

We grieve what we’ve lost in the space of a few short weeks.

We crave normality – wondering whether we’ll ever see it again.

And of course for some of us – COVID-19 has come all too close – we know someone who is sick… or someone who has tragically died.

The rapid spread of this virus across the globe, shows us how fragile life is and the sheer number of lives lost, confronts with our own mortality.

What hope is there for us?
The Easter message is exactly what we need to hear.
The Bible says that our greatest need is to be forgiven for pushing God out of our lives.

Easter brings the best news ever – that because Jesus died for our rebellion, and rose again in power, we can be forgiven and therefore be confident of living for ever in the new world he’s promised – a world without sickness and death.

And if our most profound need has already been met by God, we can trust him, to be there for us in all our other needs – including all that we’re going through now!

Easter 2020 is a good time reach out to God and find the help you need.

And Easter 2020 is a great opportunity to check out our church services from the comfort of your own home – at https://www.bathurstanglican.org.au . Happy Easter!

Do share widely.

We ask Mark Earngey about ‘Common Prayer for Homes’

We asked Dr. Mark Earngey at Moore College about Common Prayer for Homes: Resources for Family Worship, released in the last few days. It’s a wonderful resource. Much of it will be familiar to our readers, and some if it will be new.

Our questions to Mark are in bold text:

What is ‘Common Prayer for Homes’?

Common Prayer for Homes is a flexible set of liturgical resources put together to help churches during the period of this present coronavirus crisis.

It consists of two classic-style orders of service for Sunday household worship, one modern order of service for Sunday household worship with children, an order of service for daily devotions throughout the week, a collection of occasional prayers (especially oriented to new family rhythms at home), and the classic seasonal arrangement of prayers, known as collects.

Who was behind putting it together, and what sources did you use?

In the week that it was announced that churches could not physically gather indoors, I observed our churches rapidly and rightly scrambling for ideas and resources.  David Peterson and I spoke together and agreed that providing churches with some solid liturgical structures might be a great help at this time.  I consulted with various ministers (from different denominations and locations) regarding whether such a resource would assist them, and the overwhelming response was that it would indeed help.

So, with David Peterson and a small group of Moore Theological College (MTC) trained clergy in our Diocese, we set ourselves to the task.  Since MTC mission was impact by the coronavirus and thus reconfigured around producing resources, we spent the week writing, editing, and producing these liturgical resources. Bishop Michael Stead was a solid encouragement along the way, and assisted with the process of utilising BetterGatherings.com to distribute Common Prayer in Homes.  

In terms of sources used, the main liturgical resources were the Common Prayer (2012) and An Australian Prayer Book (1978).  Other resources included: Common Worship (2000), the Book of Common Prayer (1552), the Church of England Catechism (1553), and prayers rephrased or newly written by ourselves.

These sources come unashamedly from the tradition of Reformation Anglicanism, with their strong biblical and evangelical themes arising from the genius of Archbishop Cranmer’s liturgical team.

Many churches are producing livestreams or recordings of services during the pandemic. Isn’t that enough?

It has been such a delight to see the leadership of local churches banding together with ideas, suggestions, and advise on how to produce livestreams and recordings of services.  But is that enough?

Well, the ministers I have spoken to have a great pastoral intuition and know that this crisis calls for something more than the ‘Pastor as CEO’ type of model.  That is, it calls for ordinary pastoral ministry – phone calls, writing letters, setting up practical care teams, hosting Zoom Bible studies, enabling and releasing leaders to help the pastoral work, and being creative about how personal pastoral work can succeed at a time like this.

Further, it seems to me that now is not the time for passive and non-participatory corporate worship (cf., the Singing-Sermon-Spectator service).  Indeed, I think that our consideration of corporate worship ought not start with the question, “what can the pastor and up-front team deliver to the screen?” – but rather, start with the question, “what discipleship practices do we want to encourage and see happen in household worship?”.  This may mean asking worshippers to pray a prayer of preparation before the livestream begins, or pausing the pre-recorded service and spend some time in prayer, or it may mean asking someone in each household to pray the collect for the day, or leaving some time after the sermon for households to share words of encouragement, or having someone in the household praying for God’s blessing at the end of the service, etc.

One of the beautiful things about traditional Anglican liturgy is the participatory nature of corporate worship.  It’s a real gift, and we would be crazy not to utilise that at the present time. This is where Common Prayer in Homes comes in. It can be printed or opened up on an iPad or Tablet and then modified according to what your church is providing.  And anyone can use it – mature Christians and those young in the faith.  It contains Creeds, Confessions, Prayers, Collects, and so forth – and it contains instructions on how to use them in a service like this.

If people in our churches have not been exposed to much classical Anglican liturgy before, then they will be introduced to the new and exciting world of Scriptural richness and carefully crafted words of prayer and praise.  Rather than slim pickings on a Sunday, we can offer a great spiritual banquet suited to different households.

So, to your question: are live-streaming and pre-recorded services enough?

Well, here’s my answer: if, in the production of our services, we do not expect much participation beyond listening to a short Bible reading and a long sermon, singing some songs, and saying amen occasionally, then I think it’s not enough.  It’s not bad (we could do a lot worse!), but it’s a bit of a thin diet, and it misses the present opportunity to help grow households in the faith.  Perhaps the present challenges might even prod some of us to consider whether we quite have grasped the riches of our own Reformation heritage adequately.  Why not try a few weeks with Common Prayer for Homes and expand your parishioners’ spiritual horizons with the biblical wisdom handed down to us in the Anglican tradition?

One household – reeling from screen-tiredness – used it in conjunction with their church service, and wrote to me last weekend, saying: “it was the special touch we needed this morning”.  For these brothers and sisters, it was a helpful offline complement to the excellent online provisions offered by the church.

What hopes might you have about this resource once churches are able to meet again?

It would be great if our churches enjoyed the biblical wisdom of Anglican liturgy, and grew spiritually as we corporately confessed our sins regularly, soaked up Scripture multiple times during our services, heard a solid Biblical sermon, sung the praises of God’s glory with scriptural and extra-scriptural songs, prayed prayers for all kinds of people, and appreciated the rhythms of the church calendar.  That is, it would be great to see our churches embrace a biblically richer, and more active and participational style of worship.  And it’s not that hard either.

For those churches which utilise online service planning software, it would be great to see these important elements of worship added to the online service templates (=‘liturgies’!).  I have seen one church do a good job of this by including the Collects every week.  It was as easy as copying and pasting the seasonal collects into the weekly prayer role, and having that emailed out to the relevant person who leads intercessions on Sundays.

Above all however, it would be wonderful to see the men, women, and children in our churches strengthened in their convictions about Christ Jesus, and thus strengthened in their worship and witness!

 

Many of our readers will be familiar with the wonderful Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present, the fruit of much painstaking work by Mark Earngey and Dr. Jonny Gibson.

If not, learn more here. Doubtless, that work has been of great benefit in producing Common Prayer for Homes.

See this pre-publication commendation of Reformation Worship from Archbishop Glenn Davies:

“In the modern church where so little attention is given to ‘entering his courts with praise,’ this collection of liturgies should inspire and correct much of the blandness of the assemblies of God’s people on earth so that they might truly reflect that festal gathering of angels at Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, to which we have already come.”

And another by Mark Dever.

Easter preaching online during COVID19 with Sam Chan & Mike Raiter

From Dominic Steele:

“The zeitgeist has changed profoundly in the last month. Our 2020 vision calendar has been ripped up. We can’t predict what will happen next week, or even tomorrow.

As we prepare online presentations for Good Friday and Easter Sunday in this tumultuous context, two of Australia’s leading Chistian communicators  Mike Raiter and Sam Chan join Dominic Steele to talk about how COVID-19 has changed our task.”

Watch or listen at The Pastor’s Heart.

Common Prayer for Homes — a new resource

From the Better Gatherings website (an initiative of the Diocese of Sydney), here is a very helpful addition to use when you can’t meet in church.

“A new liturgical resource has been completed which provides flexible forms of household worship to serve the churches, by complementing the spiritual resources already being offered during this difficult period: Common Prayer for Homes: Resources for Family Worship.

We trust it will be of some assistance to the ministry already taking place in homes, and ultimately we hope that it provides some good benefit to the spiritual lives of Christ’s flock.”

“Common Prayer for Homes” contains:

  1. HOUSEHOLD WORSHIP – 1ST ORDER
    a classic approach to Christian worship, easily modified for any household
  2. HOUSEHOLD WORSHIP – 2ND ORDER
    another classic approach to Christian worship, with various options to suit many households
  3. HOUSEHOLD WORSHIP WITH KIDS
    a simple approach to Christian worship which is suitable and easily adaptable for young children
  4. MORNING PRAYERS FOR EVERY DAY
    an all-in-one guide to morning prayers for each day of the week, for group or individual use
  5. VARIOUS PRAYERS FOR THE HOME
    a short collection of prayers which can be prayed in our homes
  6. COLLECTS
    this traditional name is given to short and beautiful prayers which cover the whole year, and special occasions.

Download “Common Prayer for Homes” from Better Gatherings. – and do share widely. (Note – 06 April 2020, a slightly updated version is now online.)

Here is some encouragement from the back cover:

Read the Holy Scriptures humbly with a meek and lowly heart, to the intent that you may glorify God, and not yourself, with the knowledge of it. And read it not without daily praying to God, that he would direct your reading to good effect.

– Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556)

Therefore, confident in your holy teaching and promises, and all the more since we are gathered here in your presence and in the name of your Son our Lord Jesus; we fondly plead with you, our good God and Father, that in the name of our only Saviour and Mediator, by your infinite mercy, you would freely forgive our transgressions and so draw and lift our thoughts and desires to you, that from our whole heart we may seek you, and that according to your good pleasure and will, which alone is reasonable.

– John Calvin (1509-1564)

The Almighty Lord, which is a most strong tower to all that put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, in earth, and under earth, do bow and obey: be now and evermore your defence, and make you know and feel, that there is no other name under heaven given to man, in whom, and through whom, you may receive health and salvation, but only the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

– from the Book of Common Prayer (1549)

Related:

We ask Mark Earngey about ‘Common Prayer for Homes’

Daylight Saving in NSW ends on Sunday 5th April

In NSW, Daylight Saving ends at 3:00am on Sunday 5th April.

Seven Hints for Speaking to Camera

Karl Faase has seven commonsense – but often overlooked – tips on speaking to camera.

Helpful for church webcasts – and for videoconferences.

What’s wrong with Gospel-Centered Preaching Today?

“What’s wrong with Gospel-Centered Preaching Today?” – The latest 9Marks Journal has plenty of challenges for preachers.

Phillip Jensen on how COVID19 changes evangelism

“This week on The Pastor’s Heart we talk big COVID changes: individualism and community, autonomy and submission, free press & censorship, materialism, wealth and its assumptions and the seriousness of life.

Plus the massive advantages for ministry and evangelism in a society which has much more time on our hands and is much more aware of the reality of death.

Plus we ask Phillip how Christian leaders can honour Jesus, loving the flock and reach the lost in the Corona season.”

– A very helpful episode of The Pastor’s Heart.

Gentleness: A crucial virtue in stressful times, with Peter Orr @ Moore College

“As measures to contain Covid-19 are put into effect, many of us find ourselves in stressful situations. Some need to live in close quarters with others for long periods of time; for others, social contact is almost exclusively online. As a result, the Christian virtue of gentleness is more important than ever.

I have an in-depth discussion with my fellow Moore College lecturer Dr Peter Orr, who has been thinking long and hard about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, including in the area of gentleness. We chat about what gentleness is, why it matters, how God works this grace in our lives, and what it means to be gentle in these stressful times.”

– From Lionel Windsor at Forget the Channel.

Locked Down Alone

One third of the world’s population is now in lockdown. Across the globe, people everywhere are staying at home with their families and trying to find a new normal behind closed doors (while trying not to drive each other crazy)!

But what about those living alone? They are dealing with the lack of physical touch for weeks on end and have no one to keep them company in-person.

If you or someone you know is living alone and is about to go into lockdown, you’ll benefit from hearing wise words from those who have been living alone in lockdown for 10 days or more. From strict lockdowns in the Middle East, to tiny apartments in Paris or Rome, here are some thoughts about how seven single believers are handling this reality. …“ 

Tim Challies shares some pointers from Lauren Moore in France.

See also:

Culture shock: Why everyone’s feeling it, and how to cope, with Margie and Simon Gillham. – Forget the Channel.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral Service 29 March 2020

Here’s this morning’s service from St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney.

Coronavirus and Christ

“It matters little what we think about the coronavirus. But it matters forever what God thinks. He is not silent about what he thinks. Scarcely a page in the Bible is irrelevant for this crisis.

Our voice is grass. His is granite. ‘The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever’ (1 Peter 1:24–25). His words in Scripture ‘cannot be broken’ (John 10:35). What he says is ‘true, and righteous altogether’ (Psalm 19:9). Listening to God, and believing him, is like building your house on a rock, not sand (Matthew 7:24). …”

– John Piper shares Biblical truth at Desiring God.

That page also has links to related resources on their website.

Archbishop Glenn Davies’ video for the special Day of Prayer on Sunday March 29

Archbishop Glenn Davies speaks about praying through the Coronavirus pandemic and a special day of prayer on Sunday March 29th.

Download to play during your ‘virtual church’.

“Prayer is our best weapon against the forces of darkness, and this virus, as part of the fallen world, is exactly that. God’s in control, but this virus is doing a deadly work around the world.”

The Archbishop encourages us all to devote ourselves to prayer (Colossians 4:2) – and to be specific in our prayers. A very helpful video.

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