27/12/2020

Hi Church Family,

What a year it has been. My hope for you is that you will see this year out and the new year in from the Christmas reality that God is with us, that God is with you.

May the Advent anticipation leading to “God with us” at Christmas be your joyful anticipation in life as you live our your days, years and decades in this life until it leads to “you with God”.

May you experience all the blessings of Advent in this life now:

  • The prophet’s hope, of a Messiah who comes to rescue God’s people, be your hope that Jesus has come to rescue you and will come to take you home.
  • Bethlehem’s faith, that the Messiah would come through the line of king David, build your faith that Jesus is that messiah who came and that you are the child of the King of kings who reigns for all eternity.
  • The shepherd’s joy, that came from the angels telling of the Christ child that would come to bring joy to the world, be your joy knowing that he came for you and will come again even as he is always with you now.
  • The angel’s peace, brought to Mary and the shepherds, be your peace as you experience God’s love through this most precious Christmas gift of life and salvation.

God bless your 2021.

In His service,

Pastor Roelof

20/12/2020

Hi Friends,

This is the last time I will write to you this year, and it is just a few days before we celebrate the Christ Child, and that God is not far away, but came near to us through His Son Jesus, born as one of us.

And what Christ brings, is simply extraordinary. It is love, hope, joy and peace. It is worth singing like the angels: “Gloria, in excelsis deo” (Glory to God in the Highest).

But have you ever wondered at this time of year, why the Angels were singing that song?

It certainly couldn’t have been for Jesus – I mean, leaving the glory of heaven to inhabit a body that would get tired and hurt from hard days working as a carpenter isn’t reason for joy. Then to preach the message he’d been sent to communicate only to have the majority of people not believe him, but crucify him for it – maybe this singing wasn’t for him.

It also probably wasn’t for the angels – It wouldn’t give them a lot of joy to watch on for the next 33 years over the incredible wonder of the creator of the universe playing with little kids, speaking to the storm and quieting it like a child, watching him restore sight and wholeness to the hurting and life itself to a friend who died, and to have all that love rejected – maybe this singing wasn’t for them.

I think the angels were singing for us.

The celebration was because they knew Jesus was the true connection between people and God. They knew Jesus could quiet that empty place within each heart that God created and only He can fill.

They knew Jesus came to earth to bridge the gap between God and human through his death on the cross.

That is why we have Christmas. That is why the angels were singing.

That first Christmas began with a glorious song, but that song isn’t over.

One thing the Bible tells us is that the angels sing for joy when people come to know Jesus Christ. And if you want to be giving out the best gift ever at this time of the year, then I would encourage you to consider giving the gift of Christ to those around you.

Because pretty much everything else (even that Tupperware that has a lifetime warranty) will not compare or last for as long as the eternal gift we have access to because of our Lord and Saviour whose birth we celebrate.

So – how might you share Christ with those around you? How will you love those around you in a way that affects their eternity? How will you continue to know Christ and make Christ known?

My prayer is that this Christmas you think of not only the gift of Jesus for you, but who else that gift is for. Think specifically of one person whom Jesus came for that is yet to know that reality. Think about how you might be able to lead them to, like the angels, sing this Christmas “Gloria, in excelsis deo”.

Could you imagine the gathering where we all get to do this together? Let’s ensure there are as many of the people we know a part of that eternal chorus!

Thank you for the honour to serve this faith community as your pastor through what has been an unprecedented year.

I pray that each of you have a blessed and merry Christmas, and a safe and happy New Year.

With Christmas Greetings,
Pastor Ben

13/12/2020

Hi Church,

This week as part of my professional pastoral supervision, I was sent to a devotional message about Mary, and the pain that she went through once she said ‘yes’ to God.

And to be honest, I had probably never really thought about it all that much, but when we reflect, it is not something that would have been all rosey and peachey like we sing about in all of our favourite carols. 

From the moment Mary said ‘yes’, she was in pain. There would have been pain from some family members and relatives when she told them she was a virgin, and yet was also pregnant (not likely they would be thinking), and pain through the actual process of Mary giving birth to Jesus.

But it didn’t stop there. Mary would have to spend time nurturing that infant that while Jesus was without sin, and perfect, I’m sure there would have still been ‘moments’ (like when she lost him in the crowd).

There would have been further pain when she saw Jesus, the Son of God (also her son) go to the cross and die for the forgiveness of our sins on the cross. I can’t imagine that would have been easy at all. Even knowing the benefits – it’s hard to think about Mary’s pain in this time.

And this all started because she said ‘yes’ to God!

When we too say ‘yes’ to follow God’s leading to do what it is that he is calling us to do, I’m not going to promise that it’s going to be easy and light and all unicorns and rainbows.

Jesus says if we want to follow Him, we need to deny ourselves, pick up the cross and follow Him. It sounds like there might be some pain involved. Pain as we face our sin, pain as we go against the grain of so many in our society, pain as we follow His leading into the most unexpected of places.

But the benefits are so much greater. Would Mary look back and have a different response if she knew what was going to happen? I honestly don’t know. But what will our response be?

Are we just going into this Christmas season on ‘auto-pilot’? Singing the same old songs, going to the same old services, hearing the same old message, doing the same old things? 

How could you allow this life-changing message to change you, and also change the people around you? Will you say ‘yes’ to God and allow Him to use you? 

My prayer, is that even if that road is not easy, that your ‘yes’ will lead you into a deeper relationship with Christ, knowing that He will use you to do great things, while promising even greater things in return: life, forgiveness and salvation!

Thanks be to God,


In His service,
Pastor Ben

06/12/2020

Hi Church,

I knew that it was going to happen eventually, and a bit over a month ago – it began.

What am I talking about? The building next door. The joys of buying a house next to an empty block in one of the fastest growing suburbs in Ipswich! I guess we should be thankful we have had peace and quiet until now.

It’s not the early morning starts that worry me (I’m normally up well before that), but probably the constant flow of trucks and utes and ‘smoko’ vans beeping their horns at a time that really seems to early for ‘smoko’.

But it is happening. Last week and this week they have been pouring the concrete for these 6x townhouses, and they have had delivery now of the framing to go up as well (not sure if I’m looking forward to the constant noise of the nail guns to come).

But it is amazing to see if being built, day by day, bit by bit, and I look forward to the day when they are completed (for a number of reasons).

But for those of you who built your own house, you know, that just because it is ‘finished’ doesn’t mean that the work stops there. Because there are modifications you want to make, and gardens that you want to tweak, and improvements that you want to include, and so it some ways, the ‘building’ never really stops.

And in many ways it is like that with our faith. Because, really, the ‘building’ never stops, does it?

And if we want to be serious about the building of our faith, just like if we want to be serious about the building of a house – we need to commit time and resources to it.

So what time and resources are you committing to something that I am going to suggest is a little more impactful (at least eternally) than your home?

We don’t always need to be undertaking major renovations, but what small things are you doing to build your faith?

Maybe it’s an extra few minutes in Bible reading and prayer each day. Maybe it’s committing to joining an engage group for a few hours once per fortnight. Maybe it’s serving the church or wider community in some way, maybe it’s giving more back to God.

Whatever it is, I want to encourage you in it. Because wouldn’t it be great if the church (that is you, because the people are the church!) was making ‘noise’ because we too were building?

I look forward to ‘hearing’ that!
…..
In His service,
Pastor Ben