21st February 2021

This is the first Sunday in Lent (hence the violet colours in the church, and today’s sermon on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness).  Our Ash Wednesday communion and seminar last Wednesday was an encouraging way to begin this season.  It is traditionally a time of making a special effort to enrich our relationship with God, focusing on prayer, repentance and Bible reading.  For me, the theme this year is Evangelism and Prayer for the Lost.  By this, I mean refocusing on the hard truth that those without Christ are indeed lost, and have a desperate need to be “found” by turning to God in repentance and faith.  We have a responsibility to pray for the lost and to share the gospel.

With this in mind, don’t forget our Lent Prayer Meetings, with a special focus on praying for those in Randwick who do not yet know the Lord, on Friday mornings at 8.30 am.  The first is this Friday 26th Feb, and then on the 12th and 26th of March.

There is also a bookstall in the Parish Room.

Some people choose to “give something up for Lent”, and that is a good way of reminding ourselves that all the good things we have are gifts from God, not to be taken for granted.  Realistically, however, most people will not be fasting or taking much of a break from the frenetic pace of our lives (in which case, let’s not pretend!). But if this season encourages you to make any extra effort in your spiritual life, some extra prayer and Bible reading, then I will praise God for that.  Please tell me your encouraging stories!

I am very pleased that we have a new ministry starting up in March: Bible and English classes (also known as ESL, English as a Second Language).  This is a wonderful way that we as God’s people can serve the wider community by offering recent arrivals to Australia the chance to improve their English skills, at the same time as introducing them to God’s life-giving word.  Our ESL ministry will be on Monday mornings.  We will hear from Lyn Stewart about this at the 10 am service today.  Could I urge you to pray that God will bless this ministry?

A few people have asked me whether the move of service time from 9.30 am to 10 am is permanent.  The Parish Council talked briefly about this at our meeting last Tuesday.  It was decided that staying with 10 am for the time being is best for the sake of cleaning the church after the 8 am service.  However, we will keep revisiting this issue as we monitor the COVID situation.  At some stage we will be able to scale back our precautions, but we don’t believe that time has arrived yet.