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Story of the Week 2018

RENEWAL

takes courage and imagination

IS THE LCA READY? by TANIA NELSON

www.lca.org.au LAST UPDATED:APRIL 2018


STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 15 APRIL 2018

RENEWAL

takes courage and imagination

IS THE LCA READY? by TA NI A NELSON

In human terms, the LCA is middle-aged, proud of its past and looking forward to what God has in store as we continue to mature. From the growth of Lutheran schooling in Australia to the establishment of lay ministries in agedcare and community services; from the birth of congregations among new housing estates to the varied ways we have served our nearby and distant neighbours, the LCA has many reasons to thank God. As we look forward, are we longing to age graciously with grace-filled lives, or will we retreat to safe ways of living? Is the LCA on the brink of missional renewal or on a path to slow decay from a lack of imagination? There are many signs that the LCA is on the brink of missional renewal. Many congregations seek to be places where families and young people are nourished, and other congregations have embraced cultural diversity. The LCA also plans to plant 30 congregations in 10 years. These signs tell us that the Spirit is active as we strive to develop a missional culture, as in the LCA Strategic Direction 2013–2018. As Australians and New Zealanders increasingly describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’, and as we encounter a post-Christian society, the need to speak into people’s lives in fresh ways becomes essential.

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To do this we require courage and a missional imagination led by the Spirit. The LCA’s New and Renewing Churches department speaks of forming missional communities (or Love. Life communities) that may become church plants. These communities are missional, contextual, formational and congregational in nature, but may not look like the sending church that birthed them. Perhaps our training and formation energy needs to fully embrace leaders of church plants. As we boldly step into this renewal, we will try courageous and imaginative ways of engaging with our communities. We are likely to have setbacks and failures. Thank God we have the support of our local congregation, fellow Christians and, in the case of church plants, the sending congregation. It’s the solidarity of the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ in Hebrews 12:1–3 that will allow us to run the race and persevere. Dr Tania Nelson is the LCA’s Executive Officer – Local Mission. The LCA’s church planting plan is at www.lca.org.au/new-churches in the booklet Church Planting: Plant Water Grow. For the full story, see the April edition of Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 8 APRIL 2018

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

our greatest joy by KIRR A LEWIS

We suspected early on that Asher’s development was progressing differently to that of his brother and peers. After months of questioning our parenting, we sought a diagnosis. It was confirmed to be autism when Asher was three years old. As limiting and destructive as labels can be, this label provided much-needed answers. What we find easy, even fun, for Asher can be torturous and exhausting. While parenting can be a hard slog and I’m not always the ‘Pinterest mum’, there is so much to learn and gain through the process. Today I am astounded by Asher’s maturity, creativity, and his capacity to cope and understand the world. Asher is a writer and has a trilogy of books written in his head. He wants to be a movie producer like his hero Peter Jackson. And given all the challenges he has already risen to, what’s stopping him? He looks at us ‘neurotypicals’ and thinks we’re weird in the way we think – and maybe he’s right! To those starting this journey of parenting amidst autism, I would say that it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to seek professional support – in fact, it’s important. Some days I have literally fallen to my knees, saying, ‘God, how can I get through this day?’

The whole experience has shaped my faith for the better. There is such beauty in autism. It reminds you that there is more than one way to approach things. I no longer consider Asher’s autism to be a fallen or broken part of God’s creation. Instead I see it as an expression of diversity. We need the genius, colour and flare autism can bring, and our humanity is enriched as we learn to live together. Yes, we have put in a lot of hard work, but where would we be if we didn’t see our circumstance in terms of God’s grand design, or if we shut ourselves off from his promises to sustain us, or been isolated from his church’s support? I’m quite certain our present circumstance is nothing more or less than unwarranted grace. And because of this grace we are now able to look back on it reflectively with thankful eyes and give all glory to God. Kirra Lewis is Community Education Officer for Australian Lutheran World Service. For the full story, see the April edition of Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 1 APRIL 2018

Witness to unity WON ON THE CROSS

by ROB EDWARDS

When we get to heaven, we will gather with all of the saints around the throne and worship the King. This is really something to look forward to: no divisions, no hatred; complete unity, pure love and holy togetherness.

the first time that others in their community whom they dealt with on a daily basis worshipped the same God, though maybe in a slightly different way, and they were part of the same Christian family.

Every now and then, you come across something heavenly on earth, a little taste of the glory to come. That’s what I believe the Christian community will experience again this Easter at Rockhampton in Queensland.

Everyone in the Christian community in Rockhampton has been encouraged. We may have thought this could never work, but it does. Churches are celebrating the joy of Jesus’s victory in the war against sin, death and the devil, and the community is taking notice.

The idea of a combined churches’ Easter Sunday celebration was suggested during meetings between members of the Rockhampton ecumenical ministers’ fellowship. Calvary Lutheran Church decided to take part and in 2016 the first combined Easter service was held. We started the day with breakfast, then held a short holy communion service in our own church. We moved on to the local Baptist church for the main worship service. Five churches officially took part and about 850 people got together for worship. There were musicians, a choir, readers and preachers, all from different churches celebrating in a way that would shake the town. The vibrant and jubilant worship service went for 90 minutes and afterwards people fellowshipped together over morning tea. Some discovered for

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We are now preparing for our third combined Easter and I see a profound blessing and a deep need for what we are doing. We are blessed through our unity, won for us by Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and his glorious resurrection. By worshipping together, we are making a definite witness to the community, and we are trampling down barriers built up over centuries. As we treat these barriers with flippancy, we do justice to the call of Christ and we do violence to the work of the devil among us. Pastor Rob Edwards is parish pastor for Calvary Lutheran Church Rockhampton and Yeppoon Living Waters Fellowship in Rockhampton Queensland.

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 18 MARCH 2018

FREE

to

encourage OTHERS

I by N AO M S C H U LT Z

I moved out of home in 2010 to study psychology at Ballarat, Victoria. I was 18, my family was two hours away, and I knew only three people there. I joined the Lutheran Students and Friends (LSF) group at St John’s Lutheran Church and found a great connection to other people my age and a renewed love for studying God’s word. Then I changed courses to study counselling and moved to Adelaide.

Now, two years later, I’m delighted that we have a regular group of six to eight people, who are now helping plan our fellowship events and have taken up church roles in music, Sunday school teaching and even church council! It is important for young adults to be involved in the church community as it provides them with support as their faith grows in Christ’s forgiveness and grace.

In January 2014, I returned to Ballarat with my husband Tim. We attended worship but there was no longer an LSF group and not many people our age attended church regularly. Most of the young adults had finished study and moved away for work or were going home to visit their families on the weekends.

The Holy Spirit is working in people’s hearts, and it is a privilege to be able to encourage and support them in their lives as God’s people.

After a discussion with two pastors, Tim and I began a Bible study group.

It is important for congregational members to embrace and welcome young adults, no longer as children, but as adults. This can be as simple as talking with them about their work, study or hobbies. It can extend to spending time in God’s word and recognising that each person has God-given talents they might wish to use in service.

For me, it was not just about getting young people involved in church, but also providing them with support and care, as I knew what it was like to live away from home. During the first year, attendance varied between three and 10, and at times I wondered whether the group would grow. With prayer and encouragement from Tim and St John’s Pastor Adrian, we persisted, knowing it is the Holy Spirit who strengthens people in their faith – our role was simply to encourage them.

How can the LCA engage more effectively with young people?

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 11 MARCH 2018

Photo: Corporal Darren Hilder © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

The GOOD FI GHT

Members of the defence forces often compromise worked through by clergy who minister in this their comfort and safety in seeking to protect freedoms context and play their part in defending the we as Australians and New Zealanders enjoy. nation’s interests. Those who have faith need to be ministered to, especially when isolated from their home church or religious community. Others may become open to faith and spiritual growth when confronted with alternative realities or removed from usual supports. Defence chaplains provide pastoral, spiritual and religious support to people (souls) in this context. Chaplains also advocate for the powerless and speak an alternative voice to commanders. Chaplains educate and influence commanders and troops in the reality of the spiritual dimension to life; moral consequences; the importance of character and faith; and compassion in the sacred encounters of life. There is both challenge and fulfilment in engaging with a flock which is largely unchurched and yet working in fields in which members encounter issues with spiritual and eternal relevance. There is joy in enabling them to find a vocabulary for that experience, and in leading them into a faith journey. Most of what we do might be termed ‘pre-evangelism’, sowing seeds perhaps. Occasionally we get to see that seed germinate. Defence service means being where the troops are. Sometimes that means involvement in military actions that chaplains – and other members – feel conflicted about. These issues need to be

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Chaplains are not permitted to proselytise, and must remain respectful in supporting folk of faith in their existing spiritual journeys. So there is no ‘Bible bashing’. Our actions and care often preach a clearer gospel than our words. And we have opportunities to share our faith, respectfully and appropriately, in pastoral counselling encounters; character-training lessons; quiet conversations at 3.00am in the gun pit; and when members face morally and spiritually confronting situations, including the taking of life, the death of mates and their own thin grasp on life. Even a prayer or blessing, given in response to a superstitious or talismanic request, is an opportunity to introduce people to the Lord of Life. Pastor Darren Jaensch is the Australian Army’s Director General Chaplaincy. If you are a pastor and believe you are gifted for this ministry, or if you feel your pastor would be well suited, contact LCA Secretary of the Church Pastor Neville Otto at neville.otto@lca.og.au

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Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 4 MARCH 2018

by M A R I A N N E A N D W A R R E N S C H I R M E R

Eight years ago we were challenged to become volunteer program assistants for LCA International Mission. We had no idea what this would mean for us. We had heard of the LCA/NZ’s work partnering with overseas churches, but had not been involved. The timing was perfect, as we considered God’s purpose for us while moving into and towards retirement. It was immediately evident the role would give us continued purpose in mission for many years to come. It didn’t take long to learn how rewarding it would be, and how quickly our sisters and brothers in Christ in Singapore and Cambodia would minister to us as we shared the incredible joy of God’s grace and forgiveness together. As our partners in mission are mostly first-generation Christians predominantly from Buddhist backgrounds, we have experienced something new and uplifting in our own spiritual lives. Lutheran church members we have worked with share God’s love with such incredible passion and, at the same time, serve the physical needs of those to whom they minister. Our volunteering has given us renewed enthusiasm for mission in Australia, too. We have learnt so much from our sisters and brothers in Singapore and Cambodia as they have served in their own communities, earning people’s confidence and the right to share God’s grace unashamedly with excitement and hope.

And we have been blessed by incredible relationships. Whether by email, Facebook, or Messenger, we keep in contact at least weekly, but mostly daily with some of our mission partners. Yes, it just rebounds! Each time we return home, we enter invigorated and enthused by what we have learnt and experienced. We strongly encourage you to consider volunteering for LCA International Mission. For us, just maybe God left the best until last! You partner with the emerging Lutheran Church in Cambodia (LCC) through the relationship established through LCA International Mission. God is doing amazing things in the lives of people as they come to know Jesus and his love. Hope is being restored in a country that experienced the most horrific devastation through the murderous Pol Pot regime. The Lutheran Church in Cambodia is growing as people hear about Jesus and experience practical acts of love and service. To find out more, see the LCA International Mission website at www.lca.org.au/international-mission then click on the ‘countries’ tab and ‘Cambodia’.

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2018

Why is it so HA R D to FORGIV E? In Matthew 18:21 Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother when he sins against him. Jesus’s best-known answer is 70 times seven. I have forgiven my ex-husband more than 490 times but I have a long way to go. I still harbour anger against him for breaking up our family. It is easy to say ‘I forgive’, but so much harder to mean it.

who has broken a sacred vow of marriage and lied to you? The grief was worse for me than when a loved one dies. But just as my ex-husband chose to end our relationship, I also had a choice. I could let unforgiveness continue to make me sick or begin the process of learning to forgive and to heal. Forgiveness is not about condoning the actions of an adulterous husband, it is about acknowledging that we all make mistakes and will be called to account before God.

In 2009 my husband announced that he wanted to end our marriage of 17 years. He initially denied having an affair. It was only at a marriage counselling It is about forgiving yourself for your failures, session that he finally admitted it. letting go of negative feelings and replacing them with positive, hopeful ones. He moved out and my life spiralled into despair. Our children were confused and scared. It is about learning how to trust and love again. It is about finding peace by talking to God and I couldn’t eat or sleep, cried constantly and reading his word. contemplated ending my life. But God had other plans. A call to someone who had gone through For me forgiveness is an ongoing process. a similar marriage breakdown made me realise I can’t change my past. I can only move forward I had a lot to live for – my children needed me. into all God has planned for me. As God forgives me, I also must forgive others. Thankfully, he is God led me to three women I now consider best there to guide me. friends. My KYB (Know Your Bible) group prayed with me, and shared stories of forgiveness. The The story appears in full in the February edition of Bible reminded me I was not alone. God was with me. Both my pastor and counsellor talked about forgiveness. But how do you forgive someone

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Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 2018

A school where

‘GOD ABOUNDS’

by F R A N C O I S P I E N A A R

The story also appears in the February edition of

Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

STORY OF THE WEEK is a service of LCA Communications lca.comms@lca.org.au Every week we bring you a story ab or agency that is a place where God’s love comes to life. Read our growing week-by-week collection of inspiration and en


Story of the Week

SUNDAY, 4 FEBRUARY 2018

Forgiveness has

POWER to HEAL by A DA M MC K AY

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The full story appears in the February edition of Full colour, 32 pages. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email lutheran.subs@lca.org.au phone 08 8360 7270

Story of the Week 2018  

Every week we bring you a story about an Australian or New Zealand person, family, congregation, community or agency that is a place where G...

Story of the Week 2018  

Every week we bring you a story about an Australian or New Zealand person, family, congregation, community or agency that is a place where G...