‘Committing to what really counts’: Easter message of hope

“The Anglican Dean of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel, who will lead a service on the St Andrew’s Cathedral live stream at 9.30am on Good Friday and from 10.30am on Easter Sunday said many people were ‘dipping their toes into online church’ because they had nothing to lose watching it from home.

He said the COVID-19 crisis had challenged people’s trust and security in the material world. …”

– Story by Anna Patty in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Nine Network to broadcast Easter Sunday service from St Andrew’s Cathedral on 9Gem

Archbishop Glenn Davies has today written to Rectors in the Diocese with the news that the Nine Network will broadcast the Easter Sunday service recorded at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney.

He writes,

“Throughout the pandemic we have always encouraged Sydney Anglicans to support their local church and to connect with their local livestream (a listing of churches live streaming is available on SydneyAnglicans.net). However, not all churches have the capacity to live stream, and not all parishioners have access to the internet.

Yet a TV service is a great opportunity to reach an audience who would not normally attend our services, as well as those who are unable to do so.

The hour-long service will air on 9Gem [channel 92 in Sydney] at 9am on Sunday. Filmed in the Cathedral, I will lead prayers for health workers in Australia and around the world, Dean Kanishka Raffel will preach and there will be Easter music from Rob Smith and a trimmed-down Cathedral choir, with social distancing.

Even though this service will not air on the main channel, the TV news broadcasts have been reporting our activities including my televised message designed for the news media. I am grateful to the Nine Network for this opportunity. I hope Sydney Anglicans will show their appreciation by supporting it and giving feedback to Channel Nine for its initiative.”

9Gem can also be watched on demand, though a free account is needed.

Image of Rob Smith singing “I heard the voice of Jesus say” courtesy Anglican Media Sydney.

The decade-old ministry book that envisioned the Pandemic

“Colin Marshall and Tony Payne aren’t prophets or sons of prophets (so they say).

But in their book The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything (Matthias Media, 2009), they concluded with a mental experiment about a pandemic that sounds eerily close to what we’re currently experiencing …”

– Ivan Mesa writes at The Gospel Coalition.

Good news in the COVID-19 season

“This COVID-19 season has been intense. Everything is changing, anxieties are raised, people are suffering and death is having an impact on all of us. And significantly, it is not something that we can escape. In close to the last hundred years, there has not been a single thing that has plagued all of society without bias. COVID-19 does not play favourites or politics; it does not care about the first world or the majority world. There is nowhere on the globe that humanity can escape to where COVID-19 is not having an impact. And if it is not the case already, there will soon be no one who has not been negatively impacted by this disease.

But in this bleak reality, we who know the Lord Jesus Christ and the good news that he brings to a world in need of saving, have a real opportunity. …”

– At The Australian Church Record, Ben George has some encouragement for Christian believers.

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:

    a classic approach to Christian worship, easily modified for any household
    another classic approach to Christian worship, with various options to suit many households
    a simple approach to Christian worship which is suitable and easily adaptable for young children
    an all-in-one guide to morning prayers for each day of the week, for group or individual use
    a short collection of prayers which can be prayed in our homes
    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)


We ask Mark Earngey about ‘Common Prayer for Homes’

Places of worship will become workplaces for Easter

From the ABC’s report of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s briefing on 3rd April 2020

Good Friday is just one week away, and the PM gave an update on how Easter church services can operate.

He said places of worship will be classified a workplaces — so the same rules will apply for people conducting services as they do for other workplaces.

This doesn’t mean churches will open, services will still have to be streamed or similar.

“It means there can be additional people taking part in the celebration of those services,” Mr Morrison said.

“Not people going to church, it’s the priests and the others formally involved in the conducting of the ceremonies, that way they can be faithfully relayed to the faith groups around the country.”

Full transcript of the press conference here.

Pastors, there’s never been a better time to pick up the phone

“A number of years ago, an older Christian man took on the role of coordinating men’s ministry at my church. What he did next was both a surprise and an unforgettable example.

His time wasn’t consumed with organising men’s events, though these did occur. His priority, over the following 12 months, was to meet with as many of the men at church who would accept his invitation. …”

– Encouragement from Steven Kryger at Communicate Jesus.

Moore College, open for business: Joys and challenges during COVID-19, with Principal Mark Thompson

“Principal of Moore College, Mark Thompson, talks about how the College is faring in this season of Covid-19 restrictions.

Mark shares some encouraging stories of Christian love and mission amongst students and staff, describes how we have adapted our face-to-face learning to a temporary ‘online’ mode, and asks us to pray for Moore in the coming months as we seek to train even more gospel workers for the harvest.”

– The latest from Lionel Windsor at Forget the Channel. Encouraging.

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.

Southern Cross — April 2020 — now online

Southern Cross, the monthly magazine of the Diocese of Sydney, is available online in a digital version – while congregations are unable to meet.

From Archbishop Glenn Davies’s column:

“The sad reality is that the potential for infection could now be anywhere in Australia. The growth in community-to-community infection is of greatest concern as the origin of the virus is unknown, unlike those infected by contact with people coming from overseas. Therefore, more precautions are needed to combat COVID-19. More restrictions on our daily lives will become necessary if the viral spread is not contained.

What else can be done? Well, you might expect me to say that the missing piece is prayer – and it is. …”

– Read the whole column on pages 21 and 22.

Download Southern Cross from this link. (Depending on your device, the PDF file may end up in your Downloads folder.)

A choir decided to go ahead with rehearsal.

“With the coronavirus quickly spreading in Washington state in early March, leaders of the Skagit Valley Chorale debated whether to go ahead with weekly rehearsal. …”

– This story from The Los Angeles Times underscores the importance of not meeting, even though you feel fine.

And from the Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church, where the rehearsal took place:

“The article serves as a strong warning to heed the advice of health professionals and government officials to ‘stay home and stay healthy.’… ”

Photo: Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church.

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.

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