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.

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.

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.)

We’re all building the plane while flying it!

“Hundreds of Sydney Anglican congregations have held church services via livestream or videoconference for the second week in a row, on a special day of prayer for the effects of the coronavirus. …”

– Russell Powell has a taste of what’s happening in Anglican churches around Sydney.

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.

Perplexed, Not Despairing

At Unashamed Workman, Colin Adams in Glasgow shares some encouragement for pastors in this testing time.

Some preachers will be pre-recording their sermons today or tomorrow – or live streaming them on Sunday. Here is what we can pray for ourselves, or for those who preach.” – from Preaching, Not Despairing (5).

And related posts on his website.

Special message from the Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers

Bishop Rick Lewers in Armidale has recorded this message about the COVID-19 challenge.

He says it is not a time for Christians to suspend their fellowship, even if they cannot meet in person.

He reminds everyone that the diocesan vision is to introduce people to Jesus, and to help them home to heaven. That saving message can speak into people’s anxiety and insecurity.

Also, Bishop Lewers has begun a series of sermons on The Lord’s Prayer. Pray that they will be widely viewed, and will be a great blessing and encouragement.

See also the Diocese of Armidale website.

God Be with Us till We Meet Again

“Can Christians and Christian churches remain faithful by not meeting together and all that is involved in congregational worship? Can Christians be faithful in this context?

The answer is yes – yes for some time with adequate justification.

Throughout church history, there are very rare instances where the people of God did not gather together regularly. These moments represented specific, overarching cultural situations that made it advisable for people in groups of any size to not gather together. COVID-19 is another example of a culturally singular moment that necessitates the decision for Christians not to hold their weekly church services and to do so knowing that they are not being unfaithful to the commands of Christ. …”

– Albert Mohler thinks through some of the challenges facing churches at this present moment.

Pastoral video from Bishop Mark Calder

Bishop of Bathurst, Mark Calder, has released this short video as an encouragement to trust in Jesus in these uncertain days.

‘Living with Uncertainty…’

“With concerns over the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the panic-buying of toilet paper that seems to have started in Australia, has now gone global. Apparently this panic buying signifies a human desire to be in control.

The reality of course, is that no one, for the present at least, seems to be truly able to control the spread of this virus. It is infectious and potentially deadly – especially for the older generation.

The reality is that it points us to something that we generally don’t want to discuss – the transient nature and fragility of life. …”

– At The Anglican Connection, John Mason reflects on Colossians 3:1.

One concrete thing all churches should be doing right now

“At this moment, we are – understandably – being flooded with information and reflections about the coronavirus. There is much helpful stuff for Christians to read, but I fear that one of the most obvious and critical things has not yet gotten much attention. …

If coronavirus is particularly dangerous to older people …”

– Tim Patrick, Principal of the Bible College of South Australia, makes a very important point which should not be overlooked.

Dick Lucas and The Proclamation Trust

Here’s an encouraging and enlightening video about the origins of The Proclamation Trust.

Next Page →