Dear parishioners and friends of St Andrew’s,
Christians generally seem to be constantly terrified by the waves of modern culture, convinced that our ship—the Church—is going to sink into oblivion. Paula Gooder, in her book 'Let me go there: The Spirit of Lent', suspects that Jesus might say to us exactly what he said to his first disciples—'why are you so timid? Have you still no faith?'
The challenge of discipleship is the challenge of recognizing at a deeper level who Jesus really was and is, and of adjusting our expectations of him, the world and of ourselves accordingly.
Following Jesus requires us to go against the grain of human nature and to put someone else (Jesus) at the centre of our world. It requires us to be prepared to follow him, wherever he may go—even if that is in a crucifixion procession to death.
Learning to lose your life is counterintuitive. It is a lesson that needs learning time and time again throughout our lives, and yet is profoundly and utterly true.
Jesus invites us into an adventure of self-discovery, an adventure that we can only begin when we turn our back on ourselves, and follow him in the opposite direction to suffering, death &beyond. This is the call of Jesus. It is a free and generous gift: it costs us everything.
Lent is the penitential season for self-reflection: we have one week left until Easter – are we people transformed by the Gospel message – do we put Christ before all else? Or are we still merely a social church, as St Andrew’s was called in a parish report in 1980. Have we been changed by the Gospel message heard here over the last forty years? Do we belong to the parish (and thus the Kingdom of God) or do we act like we own it? Church is about what you give to, and how you engage with, Christ’s kingdom, not what we get out of it. What we get is eternal life, surely we cannot expect more.
Society - you, me, our neighbourhood, our parish - will change after coronavirus. We have to fight to make it a change for the better, as it certainly will not be the same. We are looking to the future, trying to discern what the new ‘normal’ might be like, especially after this debilitating period when our income streams are so significantly reduced and large losses are being experienced.
We have begun the painful process of downsizing our workforce, whilst now operating on a drastically reduced schedule. In some areas our hands are tied by Diocesan determination that a church’s current resources (savings) must be utilised to their full extent.
Measures implemented from 1 April, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the parish remains as financially viable as possible and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis ready to throw everything into a rebuild for our future. Ultimately however we may end up permanently operating on a reduced scale. This will involve hardship as we become accustomed to this changed, new environment.
It is our priority to keep all of our valued parishioners connected and engaged through this period:
· Gold Moon Chinese Restaurant in Well St has offered us some meals of fried rice and soup each week during this crisis period, so we will arrange for these to be delivered to some of our parishioners who are locked-in at home
· we also have some face-masks for those who may feel they need these when out of the house
· we have introduced a virtual weekly meet-up using the Zoom app – Wednesday’s at 10.30am. Please join in via phone or online video by the information provided below.
· our clergy and pastoral care team are ringing around to speak with as many parishioners as possible during this interim period of isolation.
· This Sunday is Palm Sunday and an Order of Service is available on our website, as is our video service (click here to watch) with music by Dr Calvin Bowman and the St Andrew's Choir. You might even join me in singing a hymn.
Dr Calvin Bowman Streams Bach
Our own Dr Calvin Bowman is streaming a concert via the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall on Sunday 12 April 7pm. Tickets are available at https://watch.melbournedigitalconcerthall.com/#/item/51423
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