A service with a difference

Over these last few weeks we’ve been in a sermon series about global mission. We’ve looked at how God calls us to go and make disciples of all nations, and to be partners in the gospel alongside those who have been sent out from among us as we look forward to the day when every nation, tribe, people and language will be gathered around the throne, worshipping Jesus the lamb.

This Sunday we conclude this mission series with a special service. We’ll be moving from a focus on ‘mission out there’ around the world to ‘mission around here’ as together we explore how we are called to be on mission to our local community and those in our immediate networks. 

It will be a church service with with a difference!

Instead of one sermon we’ll hear multiple short TED-style Bible talks. It will be interactive with time to give feedback and valuable input into emerging plans and new initiatives for 2018.  We have incredible opportunities alongside real challenges in the inner west as we seek to proclaim the grace of Jesus so we’ll also take extra time to pray as together we lift our nation, suburb and networks up to our God of mercy.  

One exciting new initiative you’ll hear more about on Sunday is ‘Summer of Fun,’ a series of focussed outreach initiatives coming up in January 2018. You can find out a bit more about this by joining the ‘CCIW Summer of Fun’ Facebook group which you can do now online here.  

May God continue to convict all of us at CCIW of the truth of the gospel of grace and its wonderful significance for all people from all nations for all of life.  

With love in Christ,
Fiona
 

Encouragement and support for Gospel Partners

In our current sermon series we are exploring the nature of global mission and in particular this week about how we at home can support and care for those we send as Gospel Partners.

Toby and Mary Grace Anderson are serving in South Asia doing language development work. They packed up their three children and left us, (their home church), friends, extended family,  and neighbourhood in Ashfield to live with the T-people in a jungle setting, with new culture, language, community, church and friends. They are currently home in Sydney awaiting new visas to return to South Asia in the new year.

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This quote is Mary Grace reflecting on how our support is a real partnership and encouragement to them.

We need encouragement to persevere in mission. The encouragement of words, prayers and financial support. We are your representatives among the minorities of South Asia, being and speaking God's love with them as we help them in accessing the riches of God's word and world. 

When we send out our newsletter things happen - God answers your prayers, he really does. We remember countless times of weariness and difficult relationships when we sent out prayer points and God answered with creativity and breakthroughs in the community. 

Your practical provision so we can leave our jobs in Australia and live as guests and foreigners, offering our services free of charge to the disadvantaged, pushes us on in service when we miss home and find things hard. 
Thank you for partnering with us. 

When we are worshipping Jesus in the eternal kingdom we look forward to introducing you to those you have prayed for and sent us to. Keep encouraging us. Use your words, time, prayer and finances so we can be useful in God’s work in South Asia.

To every nation

Unique among all the major religions of the world, Christianity is a global phenomenon. It is not dominant among only one ethnic group or geographical region, but is spread out roughly evenly throughout the entire world.

And there’s a reason for that!

As the Apostle Paul exclaims emphatically in Rom 3, God is the one, true and living God, and therefore he is the Lord and God of the whole whole world, Jew and gentile, slave and free, women and men - everyone, everything. 

Which is why Christians going into all the world is one of the three ‘necessities’ of the risen Jesus - it was necessary that the Messiah should suffer, that he should rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all nations.

Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring how we at CCIW obey this Great Commission of Jesus, both through our gospel partners, as well as in our own immediate network.

Because the vision of the gospel is people from every nation, tribe and language, a great multitude that no one could count, worshipping the Lamb who was slain for them

Andrew

Puggles Playgroup!

Mocha playgroup ( MOther's CHildren Ashfield), has been a ministry of St John's for over 10 years. It is a playgroup for the local community to bring their toddlers and preschoolers to enjoy toys, songs, craft and bible stories. The playgroup involves parents too, with real opportunities to meet people from our community.

Mocha has undergone a few changes during that time and so has our neighbourhood.  No longer can our name include only mother's as many other carers come with children, notably dads. More importantly we have had so many families coming, up to 40 kids and 40 adults some weeks that we could not learn the names let alone remember them or have any meaningful conversation.

 It was time to make some changes. 

The group is now called Puggles playgroup. (A puggle is a baby echidna).

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Puggles meets every Thursday morning of term between 9:30-11:30am in the Ministry Centre. 

Most of our group do not come to our church but some do. Most come from all sorts of places around the world including Poland and China, though predominantly we have a large group of families from the sub-continent.

Puggles playgroup still has toys, craft and songs and bible stories and a wonderful team of volunteers (from each the St John's congregations) who work very hard to make it a friendly and inviting place to welcome the neighbourhood into our christian community.

Please keep the team and this ministry in prayer, that the great news of God's love for all the nations is for them.

Megan Winch

Puggles Playgroup team co-ordinator

Ndabuko, Macha, and God's Goodness

Almost one year ago to the day, we had the privilege of hosting a ‘wedding' - and when I say hosting, I mean everything, from the invitations, to the service itself and the cake and food. The reason? The wedding was for a couple seeking asylum in Australia from their birth country of Zimbabwe.

Ndabuko and Macha reaffirmed their vows before people from multiple communities, in a wonderful celebration of God’s goodness. And afterwards, we had one of the most memorable moments of Jazz in the Graveyard, when hundreds of people from church and the wider community joined in a spontaneous bridal dance to classic African contemporary pop music!

Now, one year later, some more good news. The family has finally been issue temporary protection visas, which means that they are free to work and study, as well as rent a home in a location of their choice.

We continue to support this family. Please pray that they will find both work and good accommodation. 

And look out for them possibly to visit us at church for the 1 year anniversary!

Andrew

Synod

For five days over the last two weeks, the ‘parliament’ of the Anglican Church in Sydney met. Each parish is represented by its rector, as well as the Synod reps elected at the Annual General Meeting - for us, that’s Yvette McDonald and Gabriel Lacoba.

In all, that means around 800 people gather for a meeting! Necessarily, formal meeting procedure becomes a part of the experience, but important issues are raised and decided at Synod.

In particular, this year we passed several Ordinances (church laws) related to a national Anglican child protection system, as well as a policy on helping parishes respond well to situations of domestic abuse, and to gender identity issues. A new scheme for professional development for ministers was adopted, as well as a proposal to tax parish property income (although it will have minimal impact on us!). 

Lots of other items were debated and decided, and for the keen curious, a full report will be available on the Diocesan website.

Perhaps the most noticeable feature of the Synod, however, is it’s Christian character - little to no nastiness, back biting or antagonism, although plenty of engaged and robust debate and disagreement. 

Andrew

Lament

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears
Oh, hard times, come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door
Oh, hard times, come again no more

“Hard times” by Australian song writer Paul Kelly is a modern day lament. His opening line is a powerful reminder that our attempts to push on through hard times can be damaging not to mention dishonest about the harsh realities of life in this world.  And so "Hard times” is a protest not only against suffering but against our attempts to minimise it or move on quickly from it. We might be afraid of letting people see that we’re not coping. We might be scared of admitting to ourselves that we’re not holding life together. But Paul Kelly says “let us pause” and face the reality that there are times when life is devastating. Let us cry out against those times.

And yet “Hard times” doesn’t hold out much in the way of hope. Perhaps this is because it doesn’t show us who we can cry out to.

And this is one thing which makes the laments we find in Scripture stand out. They are no less honest about the realities of hardship. They give voice to fear and confusion. They cry out in pain and ask difficult questions. But most significantly they direct these laments - not to the universe - but to God. The Psalmist asks:

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?


He accuses:

You have put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves.
You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples… Because of you we are being killed all day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?


And as he creates for us a tradition of lament he gives us permission to do the same.

On Sunday 1st October St Alban’s 10am and 6pm held services of lament. This was an opportunity to pour out our souls to God. If you would like to listen to the talk from that Sunday it is online at this link.

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While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh, hard times, come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door
Oh, hard times, come again no more

'Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave
'Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
'Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door
Oh hard times come again no more
Oh hard times come again no more

Growing as Leaders

Each week there are over 45 leaders serving in children’s and youth ministry across CCIW.

This Sunday we’re gathering together for the first time as a cohort of leaders involved in ministries to the young across CCIW.  We’re running vision and training event to sharpen and align our convictions and focus as a leadership cohort.  Leaders who serve in everything from playgroups to Kids’ Church to Basecamp to teaching Scripture in schools to youth group will be there.

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It will be a diverse group! Some of the leaders are in their retirement, seasoned leaders who serve a morning each week in our children’s and family ministry.  Others are in junior high school, just starting to discover their gifts as they take their first steps into serving in ministry and teaching God’s word to others.  Some are in their first year of serving at CCIW.  Others have been part of serving on a particular ministry team for almost a decade.

Amidst the range of ages and experiences, these leaders are united by their heart to reach young people and see them grow into maturity.

They are a wonderful group of leaders motivated by God’s grace and shaped by His word.  Can I encourage you to give thanks to God for them this week.  Pray for an encouraging and fruitful time together at our vision and training day on Sunday.  Ask too that God will continue to work in our youth and children’s ministries and give these leaders the joy of seeing much fruit from their labours.

End Slavery

Last Sunday CCIW joined more than 2,700 churches across the world in Freedom Sunday, as we spent time together in prayer calling on God to end slavery. Today, more than 45 million people are estimated to be in modern day slavery. It is a current reality that is vast and brutal.

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It was a privilege to hear about the work of International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org.au) and their vision to rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible. IJM seek to protect the poor from violence by partnering with local authorities to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.

If you’d like to learn more about the work IJM does there are a couple of next steps you could talk:

TED Talk: Gary Haugen: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now
This is a fabulous TED talk worth watching.  IJM Founder and International President Gary Haugen explains why IJM’s approach is so powerful as he addresses some of the hidden systemic problems that keep poverty alive.

Pray with IJM
IJM sends regular prayer updates with praise points, specific requests and current needs to bring to God.  If you’d like to pray for the work of IJM and join them in the fight to end slavery you can sign up to receive their prayer updates here.

In the Psalms we’re reminded that God's righteousness is like the mighty mountains, his justice like the great deep (Psalm 36).  By his grace and mercy may we see an end to slavery.

Fiona

Basement!

Basement launched last Friday night and it was a great first week!

Basement is our new kids club for kids in Years 3 to 5 and it involves hanging out together, playing awesome games (like blindfolded snakes, ask the kids for more details!), talking about the Bible together and finishing with a BBQ dinner (one of the top reasons to come, according to the kids!).

It’s great to get to connect more with kids who we see every week at Kids Church, as well as to welcome their friends who don’t know Jesus yet. It’s also very exciting to finally have something for kids from every age group available across CCIW, reflecting our belief that God can work in kids’ hearts at any age to welcome them into his family.

If you’d like to serve at Basement, there are a few ways you can.

Pray!

  • Please pray that we’d get more kids coming along who we met at Basecamp
  • Thank God for the amazing team of leaders we have
  • Pray for Miles as he coordinates Basement, that he’d continue leading the team with wisdom and for him to connect well with the families who are coming

Dinner helper

We’re having dinner together every week, which involves someone helping cook on the BBQ from around 5.30pm and helping serve dinner from 6.30pm. If you’d like to help with cooking or serving dinner one week, or more regularly, please contact Ali Warren (Director of Children’s Ministry, St John’s) via ali@cciw.org.au.

Ali Warren

Growing in the grace of generosity

“For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”  
2 Corinthians 8:9

Last Sunday we started a new mini-series at CCIW on ‘Grace and Generosity’.  Over two consecutive weeks we’re exploring what it means to be good stewards of the wealth and resources that God has given us as we work through 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.

In preparation for this series we did an online survey.  Thank you to the many of you who responded.

The results were really fascinating.  One particular question asked how confident we felt that our financial stewardship mostly reflected a wise and biblical model.  Around 2/3rds of us are unsure of whether our stewardship reflects a wise and Biblical model, with lots of us asking great questions about how to grow in this area.

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In response to this series the fellowship group I’m part of has decided to spend some time sharing and talking this through together.  It’s a chance to be a bit more open about our financial values and decisions, and as brothers and sisters in Christ, consider them in the light of God’s word.  It is quite counter cultural to have an open discussion about money, but as we do so we are hoping that God will grow us in this important area of discipleship.   You also might like to consider intentionally sharing and praying together about your stewardship, perhaps with a friend or your fellowship group.  

And as we do so may God continue to soften our hearts and change us in all areas of our life, including our finances, by his wonderful grace in Jesus.

Fiona