The Pastor’s Post Transcript 8th Oct 2021

Welcome to The Pastors’ Post, an update for life at Southern Cross and a ‘road map’ for the coming months at SCPC.

Earlier this week, our Staff Team met to map out the coming weeks and aimed to interpret the restrictions that will be enacted over the coming weeks. Here is where we arrived: we will continue to meet on ZOOM for our ‘Sunday Scatterings’ until NSW reaches it’s 80 per cent target. This marker provides an exemption for religious gatherings to meet irrespective of your vaccination status. This exemption we expect will provide a month head start on other venues that will be required to wait until the 1st December.

We give thanks for church leaders like Jeof Falls, the General Manager of the PCNSW, and the Sydney Anglican Archbishop, Kanishka Raff-elle, who appealed to the NSW government ‘that churches ought to be a place we can minister to everybody’. Therefore, we expect to be in a position to meet in person once the 80 per cent target is met. This could be the last week of October, or the first week of November.

Matt has begun liaising with Invercauld House about SCG meeting Sunday 31st October or Sunday 7th November. For East Lismore and the 9:45am gathering, we have been in conversation over the last month with the Lismore Show Society – yes, that’s right, the Lismore Show! – about using their main pavilion and two other basic buildings for Kids Church. This would also begin on Sunday 31st October or Sunday 7th November. Youth would return in person Friday 29th October or Friday 5th November.

One of the implications of these restrictions however does mean that Celebration Sunday will be moved again (third time lucky!) to 12th December at City Hall. 

So, to summarise:

  • Southern Cross Goonellabah will meet in person Sunday 31st October or Sunday 7th November through to 5th December at Invercauld House
  • East Lismore will meet in person Oct 31st or Sunday 7th November through to 5th December at Lismore Showgrounds
  • December 12 we would come together for Celebration Sunday at City Hall
  • then again 19th December at City Hall, two Carols sessions at 5pm and again a 7pm, but there would be no Sunday gatherings on that Sunday.

Christmas Day, we hope to be in Lismore High. We will be meeting with Lismore High executive on Oct 20th to confirm that availability. 

Just a note, once we transition from ZOOM to meeting in person at the showgrounds, we will not have the capability to livestream from there so a pre-recorded Bible talk will be on the website each Sunday from 9:45am for those who desire to watch in from home for health reasons.

Now, two great questions from last night’s Gospel Community Leadership Group meeting:

First question, What if a covid case or covid cases emerge at our Sunday gatherings? Part of our covid safe plan outlines the pathway for action. We would make contact with Jeof Falls, the General Manager of PCNSW. We would also make contact with Matt Oates who is the Superintendent of Ministry and mission. I expect our health team at SCPC would be valued for consultation and then working with protocols from NSW Health.  

Secondly, What about DNAs until 1st December? This is difficult to determine if any exemption exits here so that is quite problematic. We have made contact with Jeof Falls and Matt Oates from above about advice regarding that. We will aim to provide an update next week. If no exemption exists, we may look to retain our ZOOM subscriptions to enable us to stay online in our DNAs until we can all participate from December for reasons I will outline shortly, but again, more info next week.

Now, I hope this ‘road map for Southern Cross’ proves helpful and informative. We understand some of our church family would have been eager to meet earlier than the dates we have suggested, but we felt like other church leaders, felt that God’s people gathering together around God’s word on a Sunday was something that everyone should be able to participate in, including our DNAs. We want our church family to be gathered in unity around the great evangelical catch cry: “All one in Christ Jesus”.

Yet it is interesting thing to note through this difficult and confusing time, there has been an enormous emphasis placed on a Sunday. It’s surprising to note the only way it seems church leaders have spoken in this moment is that church occurs on Sundays!? But that doesn’t match the richness of how the church is described in God’s word! The church is us. Living stones, the Apostle Peter cries!! We are the church, a family, the household of God, the apostle Paul describes. Brothers and sisters!!!

At Southern Cross we are eager, desperate, for all to gather on a Sunday, but that doesn’t stop us from living out our church family life Monday through Saturday in whatever ways are available to you. Do some exercise: Go ‘whale watching’ together! Test each other over the phone on how you are memorising Jonah’s prayer from chapter 2!! Send a letter via snail mail!!! The encouragement of your church family can take a host of forms, vaccinated or un-vaccinated. And it’s this kind of ‘life on life’ kind of relating from above that is, under God, going to be the most powerful witness to your friends and family who don’t know the God of compassion.

An invitation to a Sunday gathering is great and can I encourage you to make the most of the opportunity when we begin meeting again, but our love for someone is for the whole person. So go exercising together! Give them a call!! Yes, send them a letter in the mail!!!

Because, as we look at Jonah through this term, we will see the God of compassion is the God of all nations. You can’t run from him. He wishes to extend an invitation to everyone.

Let me read from Jonah’s strange distress, at the type of God he serves. Though he was discouraged, I’m sure you will be encouraged. This is from Jonah 4 and verse 2:

2 He prayed to the Lord,
“Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home?
 That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
a God who relents from sending calamity.

Thanks for tuning into The Pastors’ Post.