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.

Matt

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.

thumbnail.jpg

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.

12512694_910680652360400_4644289757223989959_n.jpg

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.

2.jpg

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