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The Journal

Finding joy in submission to God

Dear Friends,
Thank you to everyone who helped with the Carols event on Saturday 8 December. We truly had a wonderful time with the Credo Team and I was greatly encouraged by the effort of you, our church family. We had a good crowd at the family service with many visitors from Playtime and from AllKids. Today we look at the tragic circumstances of the killing of male boys under 2 at Bethlehem upon the orders of Herod after the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Herod was renowned for his cruelty having murdered 2 of his sons and his favourite wife. When he hears the news of this birth of the King of the Jews from the wise men he is disturbed as is all Jerusalem with him. Jesus is presented as a rival King and more than that He is the true King of the world. We notice in Matthew 2:13-23 that God watches over His plan and protects Jesus by directing Jospeh and Mary to escape to Egypt and then also directing them through a dream to return to Israel when Herod dies. In this passage there are 3 OT quotes referring to God’s promises as applied to Jesus that He is a true son of Israel see 2:15 and that He will return just like Israel went into exile and then returned because God brought them back home but this child will bring new hope and salvation upon His return see 2:18 and finally he will grow up in obscurity which is a general theme in the Bible that God’s Messiah will come from humble and unexpected beginnings. So often it seems that the “little Herods” of this world are winning as they try to restrict or deny the Christian faith but the story of Christmas reminds us that nothing can stop God’s plan for a Saviour. At the 5pm Service we have the joy of baptising Angus and Allen Miller. Their mother attends the 5pm service and also plays at our Friendship Service. The passage for the 5pm Service is Luke 1:26-38 which is the annunciation of the angel Gabriel to Mary that she will have a son through the power of the Holy Spirit. What is quite amazing is that Mary is a model of how a disciple should respond. She says I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said. May God so bless us this Christmas that we respond in faith like Mary in submission to Jesus. Obedience to God brings blessings ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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The King has Come

Dear Friends,
Last week I was talking with our Bishop and I asked him about the issues which are going to impact ministry in the inner city in the next few years. Interestingly he has said that our city including the inner west is going to see greater immigration coming from Asia esp. China and Hong Kong. This means that the surrounding community will become even more multicultural than it is now and we need to be ready to meet this challenge. One of our visions for the last 3 years has been to become more multicultural and this is happening. Further we can see from our booming primary schools that younger families have moved into the area and it seems they will stay longer rather than moving when their family grows. About 5 years ago All Souls Parish and the Diocese engaged a church growth expert from America. Paul Borden conducted a consultation and produced a report. He indicated that a key driver for growth is children’s ministry. Over the last 3 years we have sought to act on this and employed a part time children’s ministry worker, Shion and established a kid’s after school club and sought to strengthen our Sunday school. Last Sunday we had a meeting with parents discussing children’s ministry and seeking feedback. We have much more to do and ask for your prayers for God’s guidance as are committed to ongoing evaluation and improvement.

We decided at our meeting to rename the creche ministry as Little Souls and develop this as a transition point to Sunday school. We are also working on the development of our Playtime Cafe to be more evangelistic. We are seeking to see all our ministries develop pathways that bring people to faith in Christ and fellowship in the church and this includes our children. This is relevant because as we look at Matthew 1:1-17 which discusses the genealogy of Jesus we see that He is descended from the royal line of David because He is a son of David. Matthew is effectively teaching us the the true King of the world has come. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus commissions His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples Matthew 28:16-20. We do this because Jesus is the rightful King of this world and calls all people to yield and submit to His Kingship. That is what Christmas is all about. Our King enters our world and dies to save us from our sin and calls us to submit to Him as Lord and Saviour. At our 5pm service we look again at the book of Jude and this time focus on understanding what false teachers look like and how to spot their deception and remain faithful. At our children’s ministry meeting we also discussed how we plan to develop a pathway for our Year 6 kids entering high school by commencing a fortnightly youth Bible study and games afternoon in the second half of next year. We will continue our monthly Friday night youth group but pray and work for this new group to create a pathway to engage our emerging youth in the evening church and help our young people to engage in being disciples and love and own their church. God’s Blessing David O'Mara 

 

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