‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ Revelation 21:9
A concern that I've heard lately, in some circles at least, is that churches moving their services Online for a period has fed into a consumer mentality, such that many members may not come back even when the pandemic is over. The thought is that the convenience of church on the couch has won the day, and so why bother getting up, getting dressed, and going out in the cold to a gathering which is still being streamed into the comfort of my own home?
There are probably several responses I could give to that concern, but one thing to say is that the consumer mentality, i.e. the attitude that I go to church to have my needs and preferences met, is not a new thing. It was there before COVID-19, and it will still be there lurking in our hearts long after this pandemic is over. So what are we to do about this? Is there a solution? What should pastors do? What should congregation members do if they identify this preference of comfort over costly sacrifice in their hearts?
As a pastor, it's tempting to berate people with commands and proof-texts, after all it's not too hard to find Bible verses speaking about the importance of meeting together. But a consistent pattern we see in the Bible is that the Law has very little power to produce lasting change. It may produce some short term behavioural improvement, but the Law cannot change us at the heart level. Rather the only thing that will change our hearts is God's grace. A technical term I learnt at Bible College is that the imperative follows the indicative, in normal persons word's, what I do flows from who I am. So if we want to see real change the most important thing we can do is to remember who God has made us in Christ.
Last week I shared about a primary metaphor of the church being the Body of Christ. Another key image we're given is that together we are the Bride of Christ. He is the perfect husband who laid down his life for his Bride (Ephesians 5), he is the doting bridegroom who rejoices over us (Isaiah 62:5), and one day we will be joined together in eternal communion at the great wedding banquet of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9).
One way to think about Sunday Church is as a dress rehearsal for our wedding day. Christ the bridegroom is present there by his Word and Spirit, we the bride have gathered, and we express our love and commitment to one another as we look forward to when we shall know fully God's love toward us (1 Cor 13:12).
So this Sunday, whether you're joining in person, or because of the Coronavirus still continuing online, may we all remember who we are, the bride of Christ. I remember clearly the dress rehearsal for my wedding day, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Plans for this Sunday
We continue in our re-gathering stage at St Aidan's. Our first ten30 Church in the Carpark was great, if a bit chilly. If it's too cold and looking wet we'll shift to meeting in the St Aidan's church and hall, as is happening with 9 O'clock and church@5. Otherwise for Ten30 please bring a chair to sit on and warm clothes. Kids Church has been going really well meeting in Tulloch Lodge.
We are continuing to make available the Online Service as well as a Live linkup through Zoom at each gathering. We have invested in a high quality camera to make that a better experience, you can join that via a link on our Online Service webpage.
This Sunday - Hebrews 11:1-7
The well-known figures in the Old-Testament were saved in the very same way we are: by faith in God. New Covenant believers receive salvation by faith in the same way, and therefore, should emulate those who came before us.
Next week Hebrews 11:8-22.
Kids Church News
This week: This week: Acts 27:22-27, 25:1-14, 26:24-32
Kids church has been great. I hope everyone has found it encouraging to be back together learning from the Bible. It has been wonderful to be reminded of what God has done for us through Jesus and to learn a way to tell our friends. Have you had a chance to tell your friends using your key-rings? And how wonderful to know that we have the Holy Spirit to help us.
This week we will read about Paul sharing the Good News about Jesus in some pretty tough situations. We might not find ourselves in the same types of tough situations as Paul but we can be encouraged that the same Holy Spirit who helped Paul can help us. And how wonderful that we have the same good news to share with the people around us today.
Thank you to all the parents for signing in and out each week. Just a reminder to pop over and collect your children straight after church finishes and to remember the 1.5m rule 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday. Next week: Philippians 1:12-32
Women's and Men's Livestream events
'OneLove20' - Women's Conference - Aug 22
One Love is on tomorrow, and the group meeting at Tulloch Lodge is just about full. However you could register and watch at home, or organise to watch with a friend. Click here for all the details.
Albury Men's Convention' - Aug 29
Coming up next Saturday is the 2020 Albury Men's Convention, which will be held via Zoom with a group meeting at St Aidan's from 9am-1pm. Ben Pfahlert will be speaking on our Mission to the world. Cost: $15. Registration:Click here to register and see more details.RSVP: Please reply to Rob Scriven (0408 683 247) who will be organising the group meeting at St Aidan's.
Students from The Riverina Anglican College, where Gareth Tyndall serves as Chaplain, are looking for pen pals. Due to COVID restrictions students are unable to complete normal community service opportunities and so are taking up the opportunity of writing handwritten letters regularly to a pen pal. This will count towards a key component of their Duke of Edinburgh requirements.
If you would like to receive letters and write back then please complete the online form at bit.ly/tracpenpal and Gareth will organise a pen pal for you. This promises to be a rewarding experience for both students and St Aidan's members. If you have any queries then please contact Gareth on 0412863154 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Committee of Management Update
Tulloch Lodge - The small team overseeing the management of Tulloch Lodge have been doing a lot of hard work behind the scenes. Please pray for a good outcome as we negotiate with the tenant for a new lease.
Can you serve on the Ground's Roster?
We're looking for a few more people who could serve by mowing the lawn and tidying up the grounds. You'd be paired up with someone and rostered on about every 6-8 weeks, or less if more people volunteer, all the equipment needed is supplied. Contact Rob Toet - 0418 574 874.
We give thanks for a generous response to our Thanksgiving Sunday in June. However, overall our giving is below budget for the year, and lower than in 2019. We ask members to consider their contribution toward God's work at St Aidan's. A small weekly increase can make a big difference. Banking details here.
Keith Lord from St AIdan's talks about faith and farming. This interview was filmed for the Katoomba Men's Convention 2020.
To stay up to date with our online church events, visit staidanswagga.org.au and like us on Facebook.