Monthly Archives: December 2019

Sunday 22 December 2019

We wish you all a very happy Christmas, and best wishes for 2020.

Christmas & New Year at St Martins

Christmas Eve 7.00pm

Christmas Day 9.30am

Combined services with Beckenham Methodist Church, Malcolm Ave:

Sunday 29 Dec 10am at BMC

Sunday 5 Jan   10am HERE

Sunday 12 Jan 10am at BMC

Sunday 19 Jan 10am HERE

A Christmas Blessing:

Know your life is a treasured gift of God.

Know our human journey matters to God because God has joined us on that journey

Know that in Jesus is the light that can guide us and lead us in our darkness

May you know the light and love of God that has come to us in the gift of Jesus, and may this light and love guide you and be in you.

     Amen

Many thanks to Rev Nancy-Jean Whitehead for leading today’s worship. Dugald is in Wellington officiating at his niece’s wedding.

2020 Dates:

Meditation Group resumes 14th January.

The Parish Office re-opens on 16th January.

Elder Care Group resumes on 21st January.

Crafty Crafters resumes 23rd January.

Waltham Cottage… Adrienne picked up a wonderful carload of gifts this week. Thank you for all the generous support.

Christian World Service Christmas Appeal: Envelopes can be returned to the church offering any Sunday until January 26th. Your donation will go towards projects like building rain water tanks that will enable others to have a supply of water for drinking and irrigation. Amidst our plenty we are invited to give to others to honour the birth of Jesus who came to bring justice and equality for all.

St Martins Fund Raiser: Handmade greeting cards for sale in foyer every Sunday. $3 each. Special cards made to order. See Janette. All proceeds to St Martins.

Cleaning Roster: Your help cleaning the church plant is appreciated. Please add your name to the list in the foyer.

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Sunday 15th December 2019

NOTICES:

A very warm welcome to you all this morning. Please come through to the Lounge after the service for a cuppa and a time to talk.

THE PARISH OFFICE closes on Friday 20th December 2019 and will re-open on Thursday 16th January 2020.

Community Carols at Opawa Community Church, Aynsley Tce TONIGHT 6pm. All are welcome.

Singing Group resumes in February.

Meditation Group meets this Tuesday 7.00pm in the Lounge, then takes a break until 14th January.

Christmas & New Year at St Martins

Christmas Eve 7.00pm

Christmas Day 9.30am

Combined services with Beckenham Methodist Church:

Sunday 29 Dec 10am at BMC

Sunday 5 Jan   10am HERE

Sunday 12 Jan 10am at BMC

Sunday 19 Jan 10am HERE

Lawn Mowing volunteers required for January & March  – add your name to the list in the foyer if you can help. Thank You.

St Martins Fund Raiser: Handmade greeting cards for sale in foyer every Sunday. $3 each. Special cards made to order. See Janette. All proceeds to St Martins.

Christmas Gifts for Waltham Community Cottage: Thank you to everyone who has donated gifts, wrapping paper, cards and edible goodies.

Giving Review..Recently Dugald outlined our current financial situation.  We currently employ a minister 2/3rds time, but would like to increase this to a full time position. 

With Dugald’s retirement we have to advise the Ministry Settlement Board what level of ordained ministry we are able to sustain.   A Giving Review Team is currently looking at a range of options we have to increase income, but a key area is our regular offerings which need to increase by at least $15,000 per annum to meet projected costs. 

You will have received a letter asking you to review your giving and respond with your pledge to increase giving to your church, which needs to be returned to the silver box in the foyer or directly to our Treasurer by NEXT Sunday 22nd December.

Managers’ Report from Meeting 11th December

Gates are being erected to finish the enclosure behind the church. Thank you to Keith, David, Rob.

Menzshed have erected spouting on the office and are currently building shelving units for the upstairs store. 

The consent for the Menzshed workshop is currently before the CCC.  We hope to hear whether we can proceed before Christmas.

Corrugated iron roof over the kitchen will be replaced in January.

Managers have decided not to paint the church roof in the near future, but will monitor the roof.

Next Working Bee 9.00am Saturday  Feb 15th

Finances…. Our accounts for payment for the last 2 months have totalled $26,000 with $4,300 spent on the Menzshed establishment.   Our income was $40,400 but this includes the grant from the Alpine Mission Fund to establish the St Martins Menzshed of $22,000.  Offerings totalled $10,100 for the period.

Financial Review Team reported the minister has offered teaching on giving and the need to invite others to church, presentations have been given on our current situation and the need to raise offerings by $15,000, and a letter sent to all members asking them to review their giving.  Responses to the letter are asked for by December 22nd and we will then meet to assess what messages we give the Ministry Settlement Board.

Other revenue streams are being promoted.  These include:

  • Rental from use of buildings…. We need more weekly users and aim to lift this stream to $15,000 by June 2020.  Our website has been upgraded to advertise ourselves.
  • Special Appeals…. Members are encouraged to donate their charitable tax rebates to their church.  There will be a ‘top up appeal’ in June. 
  • Bequests…Members are asked to consider leaving a bequest to their church.  Without bequests in the past our complex could not have been strengthened.
  • Outside Fundraising….we will have a forum after worship on January 26th to discuss other forms of fundraising.  Put your creative thinking caps on!
  • Increasing our numbers….

Meeting Night…Managers will shift their meeting night to the second Wednesday of the month and welcome Peter Mechaelis as the new chairperson.   We expressed our thanks to Wayne Barton our outgoing chair.

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Sunday 8 December 2019

NOTICES:

A very warm welcome to you all this morning. Please come through to the Lounge after the service for a cuppa and a time to talk.

Giving Review..Recently Dugald outlined our current financial situation.  We currently employ a minister 2/3rds time, but would like to increase this to a full time position. 

With Dugald’s retirement we have to advise the Ministry Settlement Board what level of ordained ministry we are able to sustain.   A Giving Review Team is currently looking at a range of options we have to increase income, but a key area is our regular offerings which need to increase by at least $15,000 per annum to meet projected costs. 

You will have received a letter asking you to review your giving and respond with your pledge to increase giving to your church.  The Giving Review Team will give more information today to guide you in your decision making. 

To enable us to advise the Ministry Settlement Board we are asking for responses to be returned to the silver box in the foyer or directly to our Treasurer by Sunday 22nd December.

Community Carols at Opawa Community Church, Aynsley Tce, Sunday 15th December 6pm. All are welcome



Foot Clinic TOMORROW 1-4pm in the Lounge.

Board of Managers’ meeting Wednesday 11th December 7.30pm in the foyer.

Singing Group…. meets 9.15am sharp on the first and third Sundays.

Meditation Group meets in the lounge every Tuesday 6.45pm.

Christmas & New Year at St Martins

Christmas Eve 7.00pm

Christmas Day 9.30am

Combined services with Beckenham Methodist Church:

Sunday 29 Dec 10am at BMC

Sunday 5 Jan   10am HERE

Sunday 12 Jan 10am at BMC

Sunday 19 Jan 10am HERE

Wednesday Walkers 11th Dec: Meet 9.30am at Hillsborough Park playground on Bishopsworth St for a walk through the park and along the Heathcote River. Morning tea at 34 Alderson Ave, where we will be raising money for the village in Borneo that Alexandria will be helping for a few days during her April 2020 trip. Rob 384 4320.

St Martins Fund Raiser: Handmade greeting cards for sale in foyer every Sunday. $3 each. Special cards made to order. See Janette. All proceeds to St Martins.

Carboot Sale: THIS Saturday 14th December 9-11am at St Mark’s Church, Opawa Rd.

Crafty Crafters every Thursday

10am-12noon in the lounge. $3 per session. Bring along an unfinished item, or try a new one. All are welcome. Lyndsey 388 1264.

Christmas Gifts for Waltham Community Cottage: Next Sunday is your final opportunity to donate gifts for Waltham Cottage. Wrapping paper, cards and edible items also appreciated.

THANK YOU to everyone who came along to help at last week’s Working Bee.

South Brighton Voices concert TODAY 2pm,  St John’s Woolston.

What are you eating this Christmas?

Have you ever thought where some of our food comes from?  There are foods that are produced with slave labour.  The three foods at highest risk are  fish, cocoa and sugar.   One local supermarket is doing well –  Countdown. If you’re doing baking this Christmas, consider using their own brand sugar which is certified through Bonsucro to be slave free. Countdown’s own brand Cocoa is also certified. 

Often farmed fish products are produced with slave labour.  Countdown salmon is fed on slave free fish meal as are Regal and Southern ocean brands.  Farmed prawns are often fed on food procured through slave labour, and peeled by slave labour.  Buy wild caught Australian or Argentinian prawns or the Kingfisher brand. 

Don’t forget to ask staff in supermarkets about whether slave labour has been used in the production of the food you buy.  The message will be passed up the chain.

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Making Space for God

Isaiah 2:1-5

    Ami, who was the first born in her family.  But now Mum was pregnant again and she was very excited..  The day arrived and she became the proud sister to a little brother.   Just a few days after the birth, with her brother back in the family home Ami made a request to her parents.  She wanted to be alone with her new brother in his room, with the door shut.  Her insistence about being alone with the baby had her parents worried.  What was Ami planning to do to him?  They had detected no hint of jealous behaviour, but was she planning some dastardly deed as a jealous sibling.  Thankfully they had installed an intercom system in anticipation of the baby’s arrival, so they agreed to their daughters wish knowing they could listen in, and if they heard the slightest indication that something untoward was happening they could be in the room in an instant.

   So Ami was allowed into the room alone and the door was carefully shut.  The parents raced to the intercom to listen in. They heard their daughter’s footsteps moving across the room, and imagined her standing over the bassinet, and then they heard her saying to her little two day old brother, “I’m Ami, and you can help me.  Mum and Dad tell me you are a gift from God.  Can you tell about God – I’ve almost forgotten.”

   Children often delightfully open us to realities about ourselves.  As often happens children reveal things about us.  Ami is telling us in her question to her young brother that we come from God, but somehow in the process of growing up, of learning about this world, we forget God.  In fact in our secular culture we forget about God easily.  God doesn’t get a mention on the news, God doesn’t feature in the Press, and God has been removed from just about every sphere of public life.   

   The strange thing is that even within church circles God is hidden away.  Outside the golden hour of church on Sunday God often doesn’t seem to exist.  I was telling our Session a week ago I have had three people talk to me recently about the reality that when we finish our worship services where we have prayed with God, sung hymns of praise to God, and herd the minister talk about God we leave the worship space and suddenly God is off the radar.  Jesus is never mentioned.  I wonder why that is.  We can talk weather, cricket, garden, children, even politics but God is hush hush.

  I have a suspicion it has something to do with the church we have been brought up in.  The culture in  that church kept God removed from everyday life.  God was a Sunday only God and dare I say it but a clergy mediated God.  Many people I think believed that because we are not very expert at spirituality or God stuff that they should leave it to the experts.  Not being expert meant you kept your mouth shut. Maybe if we have had some experiences that might be God related we also kept them quiet because we thought others would label us as kooky if we shared them. ]

Whatever the reason the consequences are the same.  God is kept locked away. Jesus is hidden and ignored in our discourse with one another.

     I have a simple plea this morning….. can we start talking about God?  Can we with Ami ask more often of each other….tell me about God.  Can we re-introduce God into our thinking and our conversations?  Can we live as if God matters to us instead of hiding God away?

   I ask this for two reasons.  Firstly I do find it odd that in my ministry most of my God conversations are with people who don’t go to church.  Especially in recent years I keep bumping into people who tell me they don’t go to church but they want to talk about God and their experiences of God.  Sometime they even say they’ve tried church but they didn’t find people willing to talk about God.  I’m simply puzzled why this might be so.  I talk with other ministers and I find this is not uncommon.   Sociologists tell us that people are more interested in God and spirituality than they used to be but they don’t make strong links between this interest and church and I guess the answer stares us in face.  But secondly I’m interested in some research by an American author Dorothy Butler Bass who took some time to research why some mainline churches like ours were growing in North America when most are slowly declining and dying.  We are not talking mega churches here but traditional mainline protestant churches.  If you boiled down her findings she discovered that the churches that were growing were churches where people talked about God.  God was alive in their midst in some way.  Pushed further she says that growing churches have people in them that commit time to nurturing the presence of God with spiritual practices. Healing practices like Reiki, prayer practices like meditation, intentional hospitality practices, regular testimony, working for justice, and people asking questions about how we should live as followers of Jesus.

  Remember  Isaiah’s prophecy we read this morning.  Come to the Lord’s house that we may learn of God’s ways, and seek guidance.  We learn most through conversation and sharing our conversation.  We learn most as we honestly engage with one another and encourage one another with our stories and our learnings.  We need to see God in each other, feel God in each other, touch God in each other, experience God in each other.  We need to walk together with God.   That’s why we have church, so we can be a community that talks about God and Jesus together, learn together and encourage each other.  We can help one another see God more clearly in our lives rather that walking with a hidden God.

    Often we are blind to God’s presence in our lives.   We simply don’t see the acting of God in our lives.  Two people can watch the same beautiful sunset, and only one may say “praise be to God for the wonderful gift of creation”.  Two people can hear a thrush singing as the dawn breaks but only one may ask so why is that bird singing with such praise?  Two people will see the same act of kindness but only one may say, “I see the presence of God in this action.”  Two people will suffer the same tragedy, but only one may sense the deeply everlasting arms of God.  God is alive in our world but sometimes we need the encouragement of another to help us see, hear, know.  And each of us can be the person that encourages another to see God and know God more truly. 

There is a practice I want to encourage you to engage in in this season of Advent.  I’m not asking you to recite the apostles creed to each other, or to go out on street corners and tell the world about Jesus, (but feel free).  What I am asking is that you might ask questions of each other.  While you have a cuppa after our service would you simply ask, ‘what did God whisper to you today at worship?’ or ‘what do you take away from worship?’  Another way of asking could be ‘what warmed your heart today in worship?’, or ‘what is sitting with you after our time together?’  I’m trying to think of questions that are not just head questions but open us to the possibility that God moves in all sorts of ways as we gather to worship.  It may be a line in a reading or hymn, it may be the music, it may be the address, or it may be the silence.  Often it will be something you feel inside and often it will be tentative and nudging.  Can we help one another be more aware of God whispering, encouraging.  Tell me about God I seem to have forgotten….. 

If you want to push this a step further I invite you to ask these questions of yourself, and not just after worship on Sunday but every day.  At the end of the day take just 5 minutes to ask yourself where did I meet God today, and what did God say to me.  Who did I just bump into out of the blue and what message from God did they bring me?  When did I feel my heart warmed?  When did I feel most alive and why?  There are other ways of engaging with this question.  I know some who regularly have a coffee with a friend and they ask these sorts of questions of each other. 

And a final word.  There will usually not be dramatic messages shared.  Most commonly I think God is whispering words of encouragement and love.  Be yourself, know my love, know you are precious. 

Most commonly God is simply nudging you and me into our true purpose.

Can we build practices into our lives that will help us rediscover God as a presence that is alive in our midst, encouraging us, and calling us into true life where we no longer need to be fearful of others, and where we can beat our swords into ploughshares and nurture life together..  Let us help one another discover God again.

Dugald Wilson

1 Dec 2019

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Tithing and Giving

As you are aware as we look to the future and the possibility of calling a minister full time we face the issue of finances.  Put bluntly we need to find another $35,000 each year, and we are currently looking at how that might be achieved.  We look over the fence at Hoon Hay congregation which is smaller than ours which has employed a full time minister and is looking at employing other ministry staff. 

We are slowly building up the usage of the complex to gain an income from the building.  We are looking at other ways to raise capital, but a key area we must look at is the income we receive from regular giving to our church.  Money and church is a touchy subject, but if we are going to go ahead and search for a full time ministry we have to be able to show we can meet our commitments, and our special workgroup looking at this has estimated we need to increase giving by $15,000 per year which is not chicken feed. 

As this has been talked about  several people have asked me about the practice of tithing.  The question has been asked about the practice In some churches that people will give one tenth of their income to their church.  I don’t think it’s that simple.

Tithing is a practice that is found in our scriptures.  We are told Abraham established the pattern of giving one tenth of what he received as an offering to God.  Just what that was used for is a little unclear.  The pattern is also followed by Jacob.  (Gen 28:20-22) Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”  The word tithe literally means “tenth,”  and the giving of a tenth to God seems to be a pervading pattern.  A key teaching was that all they had was gift from God, and this returning the tenth was a practice that built this teaching into their lives.  Because God cares for those at the bottom of the heap it was also used to help others who may not have had an income.

This pattern was established in the laws of Moses.  Originally the tithe was an obligatory offering requiring 10 percent of an Israelite’s first fruits. Because God provided the harvest, this first part was returned to God. It wasn’t something considered after all the bills were paid, but was a first call on the income which for most was in the form of harvest and food.  It was a show of thankfulness for God’s provision. It also provided for the Levitical priesthood, festivals, and the needy.

As the Israelites became a more settled community the annual tithe was largely used to sustain the places of worship and the leaders involved in the worship and teaching of the faith.  But this wasn’t the only obligatory tithe. They also tithed to support a special jubilee festival (Deut. 12) and took a third tithe every three years to take care of orphans, widows, and the poor (Deut. 14). Baked into God’s law was a special provision to take care of the most vulnerable citizens. Interestingly, this included caring for people from outside of their community.  Someone has worked out that if you average these mandatory offerings you come up with a figure of about 23 percent of your income was given in this way each year.  With introduction of kings and rulers there were also the introduction of other taxes and it all became quite complex.

On top of these compulsory tithes, there were regular opportunities for freewill offerings. These were generous gifts that expressed the Israelites’ gratefulness through voluntary giving to special projects.  At a bare minimum, they gave 23 percent a year, but there was no ceiling on their generosity. They could—and frequently would—give exorbitantly out of their excess. In response to Moses’ call for contributions to the building of the Tabernacle, the Israelites literally gave so much that Moses had to command them to stop giving (Ex. 36:2–7).

Jesus doesn’t mention the tithe as a requirement that his followers should adhere to.  Instead he promotes the idea that we need to get our priorities right in our lives.  Jesus praises the widow who dug deep and sacrificially to give alongside those who gave a little from their abundance.  For him there was aa focus on the new earth or reign of God in all things and that extended very clearly to money.   Maybe I’m just speaking to myself here, but the need to set our priorities carefully, and in all our money dealings we need to consider is this benefiting the kingdom.  Is this helping to bring God’s reign on earth?   Promoting the kingdom of heaven should be our first priority in life and not an afterthought when all my wants and desires are taken care of.  The widow raises some hard issues for us all. 

He also addressed the issue of calculating exactly what the law required in terms of tithing but not caring about the true intent.  Giving to the work of God should come from the heart and not the law.  The law if you like sets some guidelines, and Jesus was more interested in growing a generous heart and giving generously to support the provision of worship the teaching of the faith, and caring for others.  Super religious people it seemed were good at nailing down to the last cent how much was to be given, meeting the demands of the tithing law, but they failed to see others who were struggling in life.   In several teachings he warns that true religion is not about reaching targets of giving, but is about genuine caring and having a concern about justice and why for instance some are poor.  You may also remember that parading your giving also gets the thumbs down from Jesus.  (Matt 23:23, Luke 11:42)

What does this mean for us?

Some churches teach the tithe as a law that applies today with the church as the recipient.  Some may have seen the movie In My Fathers Kingdom which came out this year and focused on a Tongan family here in New Zealand.  Dad in his retirement took up a paper round to provide money for the church and when it came to the annual tithing Sunday he would ring around his kids to ask for a thousand dollars from each of them to give to the church.  Often how much you give becomes public knowledge so an impressive donation gives mana.  His commitment to give almost destroyed his family.  Other churches stress the benefits of giving saying God will bless those who give much.  I live with the principle that we are constantly blessed and while I have no doubt God loves a cheerful and generous giver I don’t think we get special rewards.  There is something wrong when giving to the church almost destroys families and is manipulated by the church to provide blessing.  There’s nothing new here.  Martin Luther was motivated to call out the church in his own time for providing tickets to heaven or indulgences for those who gave generously. 

Thankfully we maintain a highly confidential system of giving in our church.  Our giving is a matter between us and God. 

It is a sobering exercise to work out what 10% of our gross income is.  I don’t want to get into strict tithing rules, but the principle should sit there at the back of our minds and hearts as we consider our budgeting. We are called to commit sacrificially to support Gods work and not hoard it for ourselves.

We need to recognise our taxes are part of the command of God to ensure that those at the edges are taken care of in our society.  Our giving to other charitable organisations or causes are also part of this obligation to serve the purpose of God’s reign or kingdom.   What we give should however not be governed by law, but by a cheerful and generous heart that mirrors the heart of God. 

In all things we should consider all we have as gift from God and ask how can we use it wisely and well:

 to live with joy and appreciation for the good things and gift of life,

to support others in need,

and to invest in promoting God’s kingdom. 

Our church is a key part but not the only part of God’s work in our community.  Therefore we should carefully consider how much we will invest in our church as a means of promoting God’s kingdom.  This should be a conscious and sacrificial decision and not a ‘I think I can spare a few bucks’ for the church commitment.  The Israelites gave 10% of their first fruits, and that represented not what was left over, the crumbs from the leftovers, but was a first call on their income.  Our church deserves a high priority.

My invitation is simple.  Over the next month will you review your giving in the light of our scriptures and our situation?  Next Sunday we will have a letter prepared to give you which will outline our situation in more detail and ask for a response so we can plan for the next ministry.  

There is one other thing I want to say, and that is “thank you!”  I know many of you have over the years maintained a regular giving practice in your lives.  There have been wonderful results to that giving and the teaching and presence of Jesus in our community has been promoted with care and compassion.   We now face a society that more than ever needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  I believe we are called to keep the flame burning, and indeed to turn up the gas so it burns brighter. 

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