‘Out of the depths we cry’ (Psalm 130)
We prayed the words together, at our last face-to-face gathering for worship in the church on Sunday 22nd March.
Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear our voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of our supplications!
Lord, hear the cry of our hearts!
We wait for the Lord; our souls wait:
And in God’s Word we hope.
Our souls wait for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning;
More than those who watch for the morning.
O people of God, hope in the Lord!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
And with God is great power to redeem.
Lent is traditionally a time to rediscover or hone our spiritual disciplines: those intentional practices that mould us in the cruciform – cross-shaped – way of Christ.
Fasting, prayer and giving are the three traditional Lenten disciplines. Today’s reading suggests another: the discipline of waiting. Waiting in hope. Holding in tension the cry from the depths – the heart-cry of guilt, or grief, or danger, or doubt, or loneliness, or pain, or injustice – with the fragile, life-giving cry of faith and trust. Because with the Lord there is steadfast love; with God, there is great power to redeem.
Who has not tossed and turned, or paced the floor, or pressed their forehead against the window pane, through hour after hour of darkness, longing for the first hint of pre-dawn glow to signal that the long night is finally over?
In so many matters of human brokenness – even as we do our best to love and help and support each other and our neighbour – there is nothing we can really do but wait, in hope, for God’s redemptive intervention.
And so it is in this time of coronavirus (COVID-19)… Our souls wait…
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading (John 11: 1-45) restoration and renewal flood a tomb with in-breaking light. ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ is the cry… And our souls wait, with a new hope. God is with us. Resurrection happens.
And faintly now, from the deepest darkness ahead of us on our Lenten journey, there echoes the deepest of all cries from the depths: a cry from a cross: ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’
With the Lord there is steadfast love; with God, there is great power to redeem. Not despite the cry of Jesus Christ crucified, but because of it.
Our souls wait with the deepest of all hope… We wait for the morning, knowing that the Sun will rise.
[Adapted by permission from a reflection originally written by Rev. Claire Wright for this week’s With Love to the World, Vol 16. No 2. www.withlovetotheworld.org.au]
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we are all aware, our society and our church are being deeply impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As members of the wider community, and as the body of Christ called to exercise love for our neighbours, we are committed to participating in our community in wise, faithful and responsible ways. We have our part to play – both in slowing and limiting the spread of the disease, and in helping everyone to learn new ways of continuing to connect with God, connect with people, and connect with community, in a time of emotional, physical and financial stress. Fortunately, we have extraordinary resources to face troubled times – in God, in one another, and in the excellent guidance given by Synod and Presbytery, health authorities and government.
At our meeting of March 16, Church Council appointed a Coronavirus Response Team (Rev. Claire and Sharynne and David) to decide and manage our church’s response to the virus. Over the last 48 hours, we have been able to develop what we think is a positive and hopeful first plan of response – at least to things as they stand today. The Synod and Presbytery have advised us strongly to stop all face-to-face meetings and gatherings – and we have had to make some painful decisions about this. But we have also focused on ensuring that we can continue to connect people with God, connect people with people, and connect people with community.
The important ingredients of the plan, for everyone to note, are:
(a) We will be holding services this Sunday (subject to strict infection protocols) for those who wish to gather, in order to offer pastoral support and equipping with resources for the immediate future. (Please bring a hat, as morning tea – again with strict protocols – will be in the open Courtyard.)
(b) From then on, we will be stopping all gatherings for worship until further notice – but providing a range of resources for maintaining pastoral care, social connection, worship/devotion (including Easter services) and welfare activity. In addition to the Response Team (planning, information and resources), we have a Pastoral Response Group (Rev. David Wrightson and Ellie) to co-ordinate pastoral contact and care, and a Welfare Response Group (Julie and Sharynne) to co-ordinate practical helps. Information packs will be available on Sunday – and then from the Website and by email – or by mail or delivery if necessary. No-one will be left isolated or left behind if we can help it – and if we all work together to connect with and look after each other.
(c) All social/study/activity groups are being asked to suspend ‘in-person’ meetings/gatherings – and to maintain contact and activity in other ways (with lots of help from us).
Please make sure that we have your best up-to-date contact details (especially email, if possible). If you would like help with getting on-line – or setting up and using ‘virtual’ meeting tools – let us know.
We have opened a dedicated email address – BUCconnect@gmail.com – for all questions, suggestions, offers or requests for help (etc) at this time. Our website will also be a central hub for information about what’s going on – and to access weekly resources for worship and devotions. Our weekly Newsletter will be emailed as usual for prayers, prayer requests, devotionals and updates: please get on Ruth’s mailing list, if you aren’t already on it.
‘Physical distance – social connection’ is our rallying cry for the moment. I warmly encourage each of us to take responsibility for ‘being a neighbour’ at this time: using the phone, post, internet and other resources to reach out to one another; to ask ‘how are you going?’; to share bible readings, prayers and prayer requests; to generally BE CHURCH – be the presence of Christ – to each other, and others. This is our calling, our strength and our comfort. Again: no-one will be left isolated or left behind if we can help it – and if we all work together to connect with and look after each other.
And please remember: we are a people of hope! The God who has never failed us yet will surely not fail us now. Our strength is in Christ, and in each other, as we walk this journey together.
God bless you. God bless us all.
Click here for a copy of the Pastoral letter to the congregation 20 Mar 2020
Thinking of all those affected by the fires and terrible weather conditions this week.
We continue to pray for those heroically battling blazes, those supporting communities in safe zones and evacuation centres, those struggling to save homes and animals, those burdened by worry and uncertainty, and – most of all – those who have already lost everything. Our hearts break.
Please stay up-to-date with RMS warnings and alerts, and look after yourselves, your loved ones and your neighbours.
May God guard and keep you.
Rev Claire Wright
As weather patterns become more extreme, we experience more and more weather events that leave communities devastated by drought, fires and floods.
If you or your Church would like to give to these crises the Moderator’s Appeal distributes funds where they are most needed.
There are a couple of ways you can give to the Moderator’s Appeal:
To give by Cheque
- To give by cheque simply mark your envelope Moderator’s Appeal, PO Box A2178, Sydney South NSW 1235.
- Please make the cheque out to “The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and the ACT”.
To give by Bank Transfer
Our Bank Account Details:
Bank: Uniting Financial Services
Account Name: Moderators Appeal
Branch: L9 / 222 Pitt St, Sydney 2000
Once you have made the donation, if you need a receipt, please call 02 8267 4342. If you have any questions or concerns contact us by calling 02 8267 4342 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To give by credit card
Go to the Moderator’s Appeal page to securely pay by credit card – click here.
For more information
If you have any questions or concerns contact us by calling (02) 8267 4342 or email email@example.com
Please note that donations given to the Moderator’s Appeal are not tax deductible.
For more information about how the Moderator’s Appeal assists in times of crisis go to the Disaster Response page – click here
Saturday, 14 September 9:00am to 1:00pm
You may have read in the Western Advocate about the city wide fund raising campaign in support of Poppy Stanton, the 4 year old girl in need of a Star Pups assistance dog to help manage her Retts Syndrome (a rare and incurable neurological disorder).
The Stantons are one of our Play Group families.
This month, our markets will be donating all stall fees and any other fund raising efforts as our own contribution to this appeal.
The third ‘mark of mission’ of God’s Church is ‘Tend: responding to human need in acts of loving service’. And sometimes it’s individual human need that catches at our hearts…
If you can help, by holding a stall, spreading the word, bringing friends, shaking a fund raising tin or just being
there to add to the ‘buzz’, please do!
September 1 to October 4 has been designated by the world wide church as the Season of Creation.
In this season, God’s Church is called to reflect on, celebrate and pray for God’s creation, as a sign and sacrament of God’s presence in the world and as a sacred trust given to humankind to care for and tend.
Over the next four weeks, Rev Claire will be leading us in exploring different aspects of God’s creation: oceans, flora and fauna, storms and cosmos.
Our services will be full of fun and curiosity and beauty, as we reflect on waves and whales, whipbirds and willows, clouds and constellations and what they tell us about God, and our place in the world.
Come ready to to immerse yourself in wonder and invite your friends to church for something a little different, especially if they care for the environment!
You are warmly invited to remember, reflect and rejoice with us this Easter season.
We believe that the life and death and life of Jesus Christ are the climax of the greatest story ever told, and that the events we call ‘Easter’ mark a radical turning point in the history of the world:
a victory of healing over brokenness, Life over death, and Love over all, which continues to ripple down the ages. We think that’s a hope worth celebrating and sharing.
So please, join us if you can.
If you’d like to learn more:
- Visit us any Sunday at 9:30am for Family Worship
- Browse our website for service times, activities and opportunities to connect
- Contact the church or our minister Rev. Claire Wright.
We talk a lot about community and family and relationships here at Bathurst Uniting, and it is important to our identity and mission as a church that everyone is welcomed and feels that they belong. But not everyone finds it easy to connect socially. And sometimes it’s surprising how little we really know our ’neighbours’ – even within the church – especially since we’ve been blessed to add a number of new people to our fellowship in the last year – not least, our brothers and sisters from Perthville. How do we enfold people in Christian community – at, but also beyond, our Sunday morning gatherings?
I’d like to challenge us to make this month ‘Be-friending Month’. The challenge is, sometime during June, to invite to coffee/tea, or lunch, or dinner – or otherwise to ‘get together with’ – one or two people you don’t know well, or don’t usually socialise with, from church. Perhaps someone who is new, or on the margins a bit… Share a hobby, or a group, or a meal, or a film… Perhaps you’ll encourage someone and help them feel that they belong. Perhaps you’ll make a new friend or two. And if you’re really up for a challenge, try adding to the mix a person or two from outside the church. But please start somewhere, this month. ‘By this shall all people know that you are my disciples,’ said Jesus, ‘by your love for one another.’