This is the latest blurb that is published on the front of our weekly bulletin

Every Age and Stage

Our church loves having people of every age and stage together in church, actively participating and serving each other, to the glory of God.

At the same time, we’re also committed to teaching people in ways that most-effectively communicate according to their developmental stages.

To try and achieve both goals, we run kids’ programs during a part of our Sunday services, so that the younger people can have teaching that’s best for their learning.

Plus, now we’re introducing our all-new midweek kids’ program, Spark, we think it’s possible to keep the K to 6 kids in church a bit more than before, because they can now benefit from a 90-minute program each Friday from 4:30pm.

So, this year we’re trialling a change that sees the Joeys (babies to preschool) kids go out a little earlier (around the ten-minute mark) and have the Roos (Kindy to Year 6) kids stay in a little longer (around the 45-minute mark).

This will mean that the K to 6 kids can be in church to participate with the prayers, as well as hear the answers to the weekly questions—some of which they’ve been asking but not hearing the answers!

This will encourage our church to be even more intergenerational, as it will help us try and get older and younger people together to lead us in prayers, Bible readings, and other things upfront.

Of course, if younger kids want to stay in church with their parents or carers, we’re totally fine with that, and we’ll keep working hard to make the Bible talks as clear as possible for the widest audience.

When Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, he directly addressed the children (Ephesians 6:1-2) so we know that what we’re trying to do is pretty normal, at least for the early church.

But above all, we just love the picture of all ages and stages together… a slice of heaven!

JODIE McNEILL 

(Photo credit: toptenalternatives.co)

Mission Near and Far

As I gathered with thousands of believers at the recent Church Missionary Society (CMS) Summer School in Katoomba, I experience afresh the joy of looking beyond ourselves with a global, gospel focus.

Missionaries from all over the world were sharing about the triumphs and the tragedies of bringing the message of Jesus to peoples from significantly different cultures and languages.

And even as they paid the personal price of proclaiming Christ in faraway lands, we heard the wonderful news of how the message of Jesus continues to bring genuine hope to a world that is in darkness.

Yet, our mission focus is not only to the nations beyond our shores: for we also partner with and support churches doing ministry in Australia.

Some of the missionaries with CMS are based in Northern and North-West Australia working in ministry with and to Aboriginal Christians from Broome across to Groote Eylandt.

But in Australia we also have a long-standing partnership with Bush Church Aid (BCA), which seeks to bring the gospel of Christ to the outermost parts of Australia.

Their vision is to develop a new generation of culturally-diverse Christian leaders, both young and old, and to support ministry by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as they, “are committed to working with our first peoples so they can serve Christ in ways that are Biblically faithful and culturally appropriate.”

Plus, they seek to plant and renew sustainable churches, like their support of Roger and Amanda Kyngdon in Newman, Western Australia, with whom our church partners.

As we consider ministry near and far, it is a joy to hear of how the gospel of Jesus is bringing real change to the lives of people who live far away from the main population areas of our land, and who have the same need to know Jesus as every Australian.

JODIE McNEILL

Proclaim Christ Faithfully

Throughout the Bible we constantly see God work in his universe by his powerful word
through his Holy Spirit.

So, since this is God’s chosen instrument, we devote ourselves to
proclaiming the word of Christ faithfully, according to how he has revealed
himself in the Bible.

So, we, with the Apostle Paul, declare that we are, “not ashamed of this Good News
about Christ” for “it is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes.
(Romans 1:16)

And with Paul, we resolve to, “tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching
everyone with all the wisdom God has given us” so that we might “present them to
God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.” Colossians 1:28.

Our vision is that each person in our village, valley and region will know
how to follow Jesus and why it matters… and it should come as no surprise
that this will come true as we proclaim Christ faithfully… all of us!

That is why the word of God features at the centre of our Sunday services, and is at the
heart of all we do as we seek to connect with this world that needs to know Jesus.

This is why we encourage every member to be a part of a growth group, so that each of
us might become mature in Christ, as well as providing an ideal place to introduce
newcomers to our Christian community.

In all of this, we are determined to faithfully proclaim Christ, because if we preach a
version of Christ or Christianity that is not consistent with what is taught in the Bible,
then we rob the gospel of its power, and we end up presenting a false message to a
world that needs to know Jesus.

Whether you’re a pulpit preacher or an everyday Christian with a story to tell, may the
Lord give us many opportunities to know and tell the gospel in 2023.

JODIE McNEILL

(Photo credit: Garry Knight via Flickr.com)

Equip People for Ministry

One of the wonderful outcomes of the Protestant Reformation was a renewed enthusiasm for all Christians to be involved in the ministry of the church.

Whilst Jesus has given some word ministers as special gifts to his church, their role is to equip all Christians to be engaged in ministry, as we read in Ephesians 4:

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

As our staff drafted our new mission statement, we recognised the need to give a fresh priority to this in our church, so our second phrase is, “equip people for ministry.”

We want each of you in our church to feel like you’re growing in wisdom, knowledge, and skills as we all work together to see each person in our village, valley and region know how to follow Jesus and why it matters.

To help us do this together, we’ve started to explore options to offer personalised, online training to each member of our church, which can help you grow at your own pace, in your own time.

We’re hoping this will cover all sorts of skills and knowledge training, from theology and small group teaching, through to prayer and safe ministry.

We’re also reviewing a so-called ‘leadership pipeline’ framework that will help each of you to consider your next step in serving in our church.

You are very valuab le to us, and each of you plays a vital role in our church as Jesus uses each of us to build his church, both in size and strength.

As we start 2023 together, how can we equip you to grow in your Christian knowledge, skill and character?

JODIE McNEILL

(Photo credit: Tara Angkor Hotel via Flickr.com)

Praying to our Sovereign Lord

As we launch a new year, it’s a perfect time to recommit to a deep dependence on our sovereign Lord, as individuals and as a church.

Recently our staff have drafted a mission statement that seeks to help our church focus on three areas that we know will lead us towards our vision to see each person in our village, valley and region know how to follow Jesus and why it matters.

The first of the three phrases says we will “pray to our sovereign Lord.”

Since we believe that our Lord God brings all growth and that he is the one who brings a person to trust in him, this means that we want to be active and enthusiastic in asking him to deliver his promises.

As we grow in prayer, we find some great inspiration in Paul’s letters.

So, in Philippians he prays, “that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.” (Philippians 1:9)

And for the Ephesians he ask them to pray for him, that God would give him, “the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.” (Ephesians 6:19)

And in Colossians he asks them to pray that, “God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ” and that he “will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.” (Colossians 4:3-4)

As we launch into 2023 may our church be passionate in praying that our love will overflow, that we’ll grow in knowledge and understanding, and that we’ll have many opportunities proclaim God’s message clearly.

Will you join us in praying like this in 2023?

JODIE McNEILL

(Photo credit: t-bet via Flickr.com)

The Star of Bethlehem

When most of us think of the star of Bethlehem, we think of the special astronomical event that happened at the time of the birth of Jesus, that alerted astrologers to the birth of a special king.

For we read in Matthew’s Gospel:

About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:1b-2

If you travel today to Bethlehem, you’ll see a much-newer star that is made out of metal on the marble floor of an underground room in the Church of the Nativity.

The image here is a photo I took of that location when Mandy and I visited a few years ago.

As with so many of the ‘holy sites’, this has little resemblance to the original setting at which the historical events of the Bible took place.

There was no stable, no manger, and nothing at all like the well-known nativity scenes that pop up at this time of the year around shopping centres.

Yet, if this location is correct, this site is the place where the creator of the universe breathed his first breath and cried his first cry.

The site is not to be revered, but as a physical location on a map, it reminds us afresh that the events of Christmas really took place.

The Son of God truly became man, and this man Jesus lived a life without sin so that at his death, he could take the punishment for our sin, in our place.

The star of Bethlehem is more of an ‘X Marks The Spot’ of the birth place of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us!

That’s the greatest treasure in the world!

JODIE McNEILL

O Come All You Unfaithful

I love the classic carol, ‘O come, all you faithful,’ but the sense of being ‘joyful and triumphant’ sometimes feels artificially upbeat.

I know that the song taps into the excitement of coming to Bethlehem to behold the one who was born the king of angels—the Word of the Father now in flesh appearing.

Yet, in our moments of weakness and weariness, this confident chorus can clash with our cries for help.

Indeed, we recall the words of the baby who grew to be a man, who said:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

With this in mind, we have welcomed the creation of a new carol entitled, ‘O Come All You Unfaithful,’ by Bob Kauflin and Lisa Clow.

Here are some of the phrases in the song:

O come all you unfaithful, come weak and unstable, come know you are not alone; O come barren and waiting ones, weary of praying, come see what your God has done; O come bitter and broken, come with fears unspoken, come taste of His perfect love; O come guilty and hiding ones, there is no need to run, see what your God has done; So come though you have nothing, come He is the offering, come see what your God has done.

The sentiment is completely different to the triumphant cry of the classic carol… and this resonates with us in a way that touches our weary and troubled hearts.

This Christmas, come to the boy who became a man, who invites you today to find rest from your burdens as you trust in him and experience afresh the freedom of forgiveness and the certainty of eternity.

JODIE McNEILL

(Photo credit: Takashi Hososhima via Flickr.com)

The Thrill of Hope

Christmas is a wonderful time for us to reflect on the coming of Jesus… and it’s also a great time for people to come to Jesus!

Every Sunday service is already ideal for newcomers to attend our church, so if you’re thinking of popping in and visiting, or if you’re waiting for an excuse to invite someone along to see what we do, then there’s no need to wait for Christmas or Easter.

But at the same time, our outdoors services on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday provide a special event that might be perfect for a first-timer to enjoy our hospitality and to experience a taste of what we love to do every week.

This year we’re having our regular Christmas Eve carols at 6pm on the lawn, but we’re also starting the afternoon with some all-age games from 5pm, along with our classic sausage sizzle… including the famous ‘Zooper Dooper Wheelbarrow!’.

After the outdoor service we’ll be sharing gingerbread cookies and hot chocolates from 7pm, along with more, all-age games, together.

Then on Sunday morning it’s also Christmas Day, so it’s 9am at church with a normal feel, but with an extra-special opportunity to reflect together about the miracle of God becoming human to save us… the thrill of hope!

If you’re a regular member of our church, then there are lots of big and little ways to be involved with the event, so please let Jacob Mierendorff know if you’re willing and able to help.

We’re praying that this will be a really special Christmas at Jamberoo Anglican, and that through the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day events that even more people in our village, valley and region will know how to follow Jesus and why it matters… especially at Christmas!

Mobilised for Mission!

This week our staff team headed off for a two-day retreat to prayerfully reflect on the ministry of our church and our mission for the future.

We considered together a ‘Biblical Theology of Edification,’ that helped us think about how Jesus is building his church (Matthew 16:16) and the role that we are to take.

Then, we reflected on our vision statement, and from this, we began work on an accompanying mission statement to help us think about how we should seek “to see each person in our village, valley and region know how to follow Jesus and why it matters.”

From this we drafted this mission statement, for your reflection and comment:

Our mission is to:
Pray to our sovereign Lord;
Equip people for ministry, and;
Proclaim Christ faithfully.

It’s still a draft, and we’d love your feedback and thoughts as we consider what God expects us to be doing as we take our part in the building of Christ’s church.

But these are the reasons we chose these three words to summarise our role.

Firstly, we want to genuinely depend on the Holy Spirit as we pray to our sovereign Lord about all things… and especially for our vision of our village, valley and region.

Secondly, we’ll focus on equipping every person in our church and beyond to take their part in the ministry that will work together towards the vision becoming a reality.

Thirdly, we’ll devote ourselves to using ‘the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God’, as we proclaim Christ faithfully to all.

Over the next three weeks I look forward to sharing a short reflection on why these are the three things we should focus on as we seek to see our vision become a reality, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God.

What do you think of the mission statement? How will it challenge how you think about our church?

JODIE McNEILL

(Photo credit: Kentucky National Guard via Flickr.com)

The Blessing of Baptism

Baptism is a special washing of water that is a sign of God’s washing away of our sin that comes from believing in the death of Jesus and his resurrection.

Baptism doesn’t save someone from their sin but it does signify that a person is part of the household of God, a member of the church.

When a person becomes a Christian when they are older than a child, they can declare their own faith when they are baptised before the church.

But, when an infant is born into a family with a believing parent, we baptise those babies to show they are a member of the church because they are in a household of Christian parents.

When those infants grow older, we pray that they will own their own faith, and declare it publicly at a ‘Confirmation’ service.

The New Testament shows a close connection between the circumcision of baby boys in the Old Covenant with the baptism of babies in the New Covenant (see Colossians 2:11-12).

There is also a statement in 1 Corinthians 7:14 that says that children of an unbelieving father are considered to be “sanctified.”

Mandy and I baptised our four children when they were babies so that we could receive this wonderful sign from Jesus that declares to the church that our children are Christians because they’re born to Christian parents.

We’ve always spoken of our children as Christians, even before they could walk or talk, and we’ve prayed that our children would one day receive all the benefits of what their baptism points to when they are able to own that faith when they are older.

So, we haven’t prayed that our kids would grow up to become Christians, but instead have prayed that they’d grow up to own their faith, which they publicly declared at their Confirmation service.

If you or a member of your family would like to be baptised, then I’d love to chat with you to make a time for this special event in the life of our church.

JODIE McNEILL

(Photo credit: Colin Bowern via Flickr.com)