Sunday 12th July: Online Worship – Spiritual resources in the time of COVID-19

Dear friends,

Recent events have demonstrated clearly that COVID-19 is an aggressive virus which will not be easily thwarted.  As a people of faith, we have resources to support us through these days.

In our last worship video we reflected on the hope Jesus offers, summarised in the words of the great invitation   “Come to me all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

Today we will be exploring some more resources of the faith.

As part of this we will hear from Rhonda Dingle who will offer some guidance for stilling our souls and minds … and opening ourselves to God.

For singing this week, Beth recommends “Great is Thy Faithfulness” – you might enjoy singing along with this gently acoustic version from Maranatha Music:

To learn more about Christian Meditation, Rhonda recommends

“Mindfulness and Christian Meditation” by Tim Stead

available through The Wellspring Centre in Ashburton and also Book Depository.

Big thanks to our helpers this week:

Rhonda Dingle, Western Heights UC (Being Still segment)

Shaghek Qassabyan (Bible Readings)

Abigail and Zoe Hodge McAvaney (Prayers)

 

 

May the grace of Christ attend you,

the love of God surround you,

and the Holy Spirit keep you,

this day and forever.

Amen.

Sunday 28th June: Online Worship – Jesus was a refugee

A special welcome to the members of the Belmont Congregation of the Uniting Church who are sharing with us this week and next week, while Rev. Ikani Vaitohi is enjoying a couple of weeks of very well-deserved leave.

We are reflecting this week on the experience of refugees, asylum seekers, displaced persons, migrants … those who have left their places of birth and set out on journeys to new lands.

As part of this service you will hear the story of Shoghig Araboglian and her family.  We are very grateful to Shoghig for sharing her story so that we can all grow in our understanding.

Thanks to Sue, Shoghig, Marina and Shaghek for helping to present worship today.   Thanks also to The String Contingent for granting permission to use their evocative music in today’s video presentation – an amazing and generous group of musicians, some of whom have spent time in Afghanistan teaching music at the Afghan National Institute of Music in 2016.

For a song today you might enjoy this version of “The Blessing” sung by people from churches all over Australia, including some Uniting Churches and some Geelong churches – an ecumenical project!

If you would like to hear more stories from refugees in Australia, see these stories recommended by the Refugee Council of Australia:

 

Some local folk who have attended the Sacred Edge Festival in the past will recognise Mariam Issa, a “festival favourite” introducing a Global Storytelling night for Refugee Week 2020:

You might like to make this your “Family Movie night” this week!

And:

May the grace of Christ attend you,

the love of God surround you,

and the Holy Spirit keep you,

this day and forever.

Amen.

 

Geelong Churches UCA Celebration Service this Sunday 21st June 2020

Dear Friends,

Come and join the celebration.

This Sunday Uniting Church Congregations in the Geelong region will be sharing in a service to mark the anniversary of the Uniting Church.

The service will include an interesting conversation with Rev. Dr, D’Arcy Wood and Rev. Dr. Geoff Thompson on the significance of The Basis of Union.

The service will commence at 10 am on Zoom (note the link below which is different to usual St Luke’s Sunday service link).

Here is the order of service:

UCA Celebration Liturgy

The service will be available on Youtube after Sunday morning.

Grace and peace,

Paul

Sunday 31st May: Online Worship- Pentecost

Hello friends,

On this Day of Pentecost, Paul considers the ways in which the Holy Spirit is still forming and transforming the church today, shaking us up, clearing our heads, and pushing us to new understandings and awareness of God’s action in the world and where we need to be as part of that.

He asks the questions: What might the Holy Spirit be teaching us about witnessing to Jesus in our time? How are we being reshaped by the Spirit to be church in the era after COVID-19 restrictions ease?

Our prayers after reflection are underscored by an original composition shared with us by David Stephens https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQaC… who may or may not be related to Paul! Thanks to Colleen, Suroor, Hadeel and Shaghek for their contributions to today’s worship.

You can find today’s worship service on YouTube here:

A quick note today about the people pictured in the “Warm Wind” prayer – some of you may recognise the faces of these local leaders, psalmists and prophets.

Jacqui Bennet & Gabrielle Photo: Phil Hines, Humans in Geelong

Jacqui is the founder of Humans in Geelong – a citizen journalist project to tell the good stories that are happening in Geelong.  She is also a much loved primary school teacher here in Highton.  She is pictured with Gabrielle who works with the Red Frogs project, supporting young people during their schoolies experiences.  The head office of Red Frogs is located at the One Hope church in Barrabool Hills.

Kym Dillon Photo: Phil Hines, Humans in Geelong

Kym Dillon is an extremely talented local musician, composer and choral conductor.  He leads the “With One Voice” choirs in Geelong and Ashburton and is working on a project putting Psalms to music.

Monica Winston Photo: Transition Streets Geelong

Monica has been working to educate and support our local community to transition to a more connected, low energy, sustainable future, teaching Permaculture and nurturing the Transition Streets movement in Geelong.  Years ago she brought an inspirational workshop to St Luke’s for the Environment Action Group, Awakening the Dreamer.  She has never stopped working with community to build a better future for us all.

For singing today I couldn’t find a video of a Spirit focused song – send me your suggestions!  However if you join us on Zoom today we’ll share some more music from David that we can all sing to.  Here’s a great listening song from Leigh Newton in the meantime:

An update from UnitingWorld on how their work with our partners overseas is tackling the challenges of the Pandemic:

Please if you can do donate to their COVID19 appeal here: https://fundraise.unitingworld.org.au/actnow

A spark.

that is all we need on this day, Holy One God,

to light our quarantined aloneness

so that we can burst into bonfires

which signal to all those around us that

you are bringing to life and grace

to us, and to the whole world.

We pray in the name of the crucified and Risen One, Jesus Christ, the Lord. Amen.

http://lectionaryliturgies.blogspot.com/

Pastoral Letter from Rev. Paul Stephens

Dear Friends,

Grace to you and peace in these strange and, let’s be honest, worrying times.

For most of us the things that used to mark the rhythm of the week have been stopped: no longer can we go to the local cafe on Monday mornings to meet friends, nor can we gather on Sunday for worship.

Even going shopping which once was a necessary chore has become a stressful experience.

Of course, there are some blessings.

People are making an effort to keep in touch via the telephone or online technology.  I have heard lots of stories about this taking place amongst the members of this congregation.

Suddenly there is space in week which to catch up with matters which for too long have sat on the “we will get around to that one day” list.  At the Stephens’ residence I have finally tidied out the garage and Jenny has found a couple of unfinished craft projects that she now has the time to complete.

We are in Lent … a time for spiritual renewal.

The enforced isolation creates more time to reflect and pray; to tend to the care of our souls.

Perhaps you might seek to be more intentional about reading the Bible each day using a resource like With love to the world.

The Uniting Church is offering some excellent resources. The following link leads to a series of prayers including daily prayers prepared by the President and Moderators: https://assembly.uca.org.au/component/k2/item/3150-prayers

St Luke’s will be offering resources online and via other means.

Each Sunday morning there will be a new “worship service” available on Youtube.  The link is on the frontpage of the website.  We will post extra “services” over Easter.

On Wednesday evenings at 6 pm we will hold a short prayer time which will be accessible via the St Luke’s Facebook Group.  There will be an opportunity to share prayer requests at this time online, but even if you are not technologically savvy why not commit to praying at this time each week as a sign of being one in Christ.

We are also exploring how we might do a version of small group gatherings online or via linked phone calls.

I am concerned that we hold all those who are offering direct assistance to those who are ill or in need in our prayers, as well as all those who find themselves without an income because their source of employment has been forced to close, and those employers who have had to make the very difficult decision to stand people down.

We should not forget the work of “Uniting” in our region as Des Younghusband and his team seek to support those who even in the best of times struggle to put food on the table.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need someone to talk to.

Blessings to you in the name of Christ,

Paul

Weekly update Sunday 15th March 2020

Dear friends,

We hope that you are managing to find that magical balance between sensible precautions and open hearted compassion as we enter these very uncertain times.

In times like these, we are reminded that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…” (Ps. 46: 1-2).

We encourage you to stay in touch even if you are unable to come to worship – we will be exploring ways to share worship “from a distance” using online technology and the good old telephone.

A reminder from the previous post:

Please let us know if you are unwell or if you have a diagnosis of COVID19 – information is treated confidentially – or if you have had to stay at home (self isolate). We will support you as best we can!

Contact  Robyn at the office on 5244 2997

If you are well and able to pick up and deliver supplies among our community members who may have to stay at home, please let Robyn know, as many of our usual helpers are in the high risk age demographic, and more support may be needed in the coming months.

Prayers – St Luke’s has a network of people who pray for others.  If you would like to be part of this group of prayerful people, please contact Robyn at the office on 5244 2997 and she will put you in touch with our Pastoral Connections team.

And here is the weekly news sheet!

Weekly Update Sunday March 15 2020

And this week’s Lent Event video:

And a little tune from one of Australia’s Singer Songwriting Treasures, Kavisha Mazella:

Grace and Peace to you all and remember to shine the light of Christ’s compassion in these challenging times – don’t let fear take hold, have courage and care for those around you.

Robyn.

 

 

 

Precautions for COVID19 at St Luke’s Uniting Church

Church Council Executive met on Wednesday, and has considered how St Luke’s should manage the impacts of the COVID19 virus on our community.

We are sure you have seen in the news, that the situation is changing daily. The government is setting rules to mimimise the spread of the virus, and ensure the health system can focus on helping those most in need.. One of those rules that may be used is called “social distancing”, which involves the cancellation of large gatherings of people and the likely closure of schools and workplaces.

Until we receive further advice, normal activities of St Luke’s will continue, but we’ll apply these basic precautions from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to limit the chance of infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Dry with paper towel or hand dryer.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put the tissue in a bin. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Stay at home if you feel sick. If you take medication, now would be a good time to check you have adequate supplies.
  • Don’t wear a face mask if you are well.
  • Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol.
  • Shaking hands is optional (some people have taken to patting on the shoulder)!

For the normal activities that are part of our faith community life, we will take the following precautions:

  • Avoiding hand contact – no handshaking at the door or during the passing of the peace
  • Communion will be served in a way that restricts the number of people handling the elements.
  • Hand sanitiser (while we can source it) will be made available in the foyer for use on arrival and as needed.
  • Handwashing facilities upstairs and downstairs will be stocked with soap and paper towel as usual
  • Video recordings of key parts of our worship services (e.g. readings, prayer and the sermon) will be posted to the church’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJAL8289CyXTVBd-Y8dvT6Q, along with other video communications.

Pastoral care and Practical help:

  • Please let us know if you are unwell or if you have a diagnosis of COVID19 – information is treated confidentially – or if you have had to stay at home (self isolate). We will support you as best we can!

Contact  Robyn at the office on 5244 2997

If you are well and able to pick up and deliver supplies among our community members who may have to stay at home, please let Robyn know, as many of our usual helpers are in the high risk age demographic, and more support may be needed in the coming months.

We do want to emphasise that if you are feeling unwell, or simply uncomfortable about attending church activities while we are in this pandemic, we strongly encourage you to stay home, even if you are rostered on for duties. In most cases, someone will be able to step in for you – just call or email to let us know that you are okay.

If you are in isolation for some time, you can keep in touch with the St Luke’s Community via our website and social media channels:
www.stlukesuca.org.au – website
https://www.facebook.com/stlukeschurchgeelong – Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1862447484018154 – Facebook Group (Private)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJAL8289CyXTVBd-Y8dvT6Q – Youtube Channel

We offer you this prayer from UCA President Dierdre Palmer:

Gracious and loving God,
Give wisdom and strength to all those in our community and around the world, who are responding to the coronavirus – health professionals, government officials, aged care providers, school leaders.
May those who mourn the loss of loved ones to the virus, be comforted.
May those in our community who are feeling anxious, find peace and reassurance.
May our congregations, and faith communities be places of compassion, attentive to those who are impacted by the coronavirus.
May we be communities of empathy, love and care, in all we face.
Through Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Grace and Peace to you all,

Robyn Hodge
On behalf of St. Luke’s Church Council

And in the meantime, you may wish to take some of Nonna’s advice:

St Luke’s Environment Action Group Bushfire Appeal

The St Luke’s Environment Group are growing seedlings of herbs, veggies and flowers for the bushfire victims to start their gardens and add a bit of colour.  Jean Daw is going to Bairnsdale end March for starters, with a load for the victims in that area. All pots to be at St Luke’s 11am Sat 21st March to be loaded in her car.  We may have more going to other areas as well.

If you are interested in helping, please see one of the Environment Group – Claire, Michelle, Jean, Jenny, Ian A, Ian L, Phil. 

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pixabay