Heart of Worship (8) – Worship As Celebration

Reign of Christ Sunday

Today is the final Service in our Heart of Worship Series.  Before we move into Advent next week we come to the culmination of our Heart of Worship theme on this Reign of Christ Sunday.  This is the last Sunday in the liturgical year and its emphasis is about the celebration of Christ’s reign that is complete and whole.  Surely THAT is what the Heart of Worship really is all about – the complete reign of Christ. 

Over these past few months we have been exploring Worship on a number of levels.  We looked at the context of Worship from a Biblical, theological, experiential, practical and experimental point of view.  We’ve had services in the round and in small groups, we’ve been on a weekend camp (for everyone), taken our shoes off on holy ground, sung hymns and songs from the past and present and worshipped with music from many musical streams in our Hymn-a-long.  We’ve looked at themes such as prayer, trust, and thanksgiving, lament; worship in spirit and in truth, and worship as God’s Manifesto.  We began our Biblical exploration in Genesis and worked through the scriptures focusing on a number of the Psalms as we looked at themes such as prayer, trust, lament and community.   We’ve been informed about the wider work of the Uniting Church through Frontier Services and how it provides for worship in remote and isolated areas and communities in Australia.  We’ve completed an Alpha course, extended ourselves to the community through a fashion parade in a funeral chapel and a Magic of Music presentation. Our regular programs of small groups, Friday Playgroup, Kids Hope Aus Mentoring at Ashmore State School and JAM Club are all integrally linked to the Heart of Worship that calls us together in Christian Community.  The ministry of the Op Shop continues to flourish as the church responds to its vision to be “Reaching out, changing lives”. Isn’t that worship? 

The second of our six values at Ashmore Uniting Church is – Authentic Worship.  When Dr. Jill Gray led us through our visioning process several years ago, our congregation agreed that we didn’t want to be labeled ‘traditional’ or ‘charismatic’ in our style of worship services.  We wanted to be a Church that experiences Authentic Worship not just during our few hours on a Sunday, but we wanted the Ashmore Uniting Church to experience Authentic Worship every day of the week as a response to WHO we are IN CHRIST.  We wanted our Sunday church services to be a celebration that is inclusive of all people, adults, children and young people.  We wanted the congregation to be socially mixed, full of people from different ethnic backgrounds and different denominational experiences.  We wanted to be a Welcoming friendship (our first value) where people who have never been to Church can come in and by welcomed into God’s family.  We wanted to see God Transforming people (our sixth value) by Spirit led serving (our fourth value) and Creative outreach (our fifth value).  All this can only happen if we have Empowering Leadership (our third value).

For some, who have only recently arrived at Ashmore Uniting Church, these values may not yet have been discovered, but I hope that as you add your flavor to The Church of The Good Shepherd, you will become part of  (Our Vision) A loving church, focused on the Gospel of Christ:-

  • reaching out
  • meeting needs
  • equipping people for service

Today is Reign of Christ Sunday.  Let the Heart of Worship be a Celebration of who God is and what God has done through Jesus Christ.  Following on from Ralph’s theme last week (Worship as Manifesto) and the words of Isaiah the prophet 750 years before Christ “For I am about to do a new thing.  See I have already begun… (Isaiah 43:19) we come to Revelation 21:5-7 “behold I make ALL things new….It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega-the beginning and the end.  To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge!  All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God and they will be my children”.

May this week be filled with Authentic Worship as Christ reaches out and changes you…Rev Brad Foote

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The Heart of Worship (8) – Worship as Manifesto

Good morning!

I’ve been a member of this church for seven years now and on the Council of Elders for three years. To support our Minister, Brad and the congregation, I’ve been participating in studies to fulfill the Uniting Church’s requirements for Lay Ministers. My leading of this service has come out of those studies.

With the CONTENT of this Sunday’s service, “Worship as Manifesto”, and my focus on today’s lectionary reading, Isaiah 65:17-25, I want us to begin to think through some of the economic and political implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What is the Kingdom of God?  If God’s will was done on earth as it is in heaven, what would that look like? How would things be different? How am I helping to build God’s kingdom here on earth?  Can I use the economic and political resources that I possess to help build God’s kingdom?

I want us to be able to say “I choose to worship.  Worship is what I do.  It is my policy, my manifesto.  I offer every act and decision I make to God for the building of his kingdom; and on Sundays, I celebrate with His people.”

With the FORMAT of this Sunday’s service, getting to know each other and discussing issues and plans in small groups, I want us to experience an alternative way for us to spend our time together on Sunday mornings.  Our church is not able to support itself financially without the hard work of our Op-Shop Co-ordinators and Volunteers. We are grateful for their work.  But our church needs to change.  We must find other ways to do church so that we can lift our income, drop our expenses or both. Our church time together on Sunday mornings has to build connections between people and it has to deepen our understanding and our living of this faith.  It seemed to me that small group studies during the service would be a good way to attempt this. Imagine if we repeated this format every week, keeping the same groups week after week. Our respect and love for each other would grow deeper as we learnt more of each other’s lives and journeys.

Sunday morning also has to allow us to recognise God and worship Him; in spirit and in truth.  I hope you are able to do that this morning as well.

May today’s time of “worship” broaden your understanding of what “worship” is, may it challenge you to offer your political and financial decisions to God for the building of His kingdom and may you strive to make worship your manifesto.  Ralph Reilly

The Heart of Worship (7) – Worship as Prayer

‘Reaching out, Changing Lives’ What an awesome vision that God has blessed our church with.  I continue to see that vision unfolding daily in people’s lives as Ashmore Uniting Church responds to the challenge of the Gospel through our Op Shop, Kids Hope Aus ministry, Alpha Couse, Bible Study groups, Playgroup and JAM Club.

Last weekend almost 40 members of our Congregation, met at Burleigh Heads for our “Everyone’s Invited Church Camp”.  Adults and children shared together in a relaxed environment getting to know one another and sharing faith and building Christian community.  Rev Beth Nichols was our guest facilitator and assisted our group in building our Second Pillar, which focuses of Children and Families.  We had a marvelous time and we hope the photos in the atrium demonstrate the connections that were made and the fun that we experienced.  A big THANK YOU to the camp committee for their time and commitment in the planning and execution of a great weekend.   Reaching out, changing lives.

Our Op Shop joint venture with Somerville Funerals called Fashion in the Chapel was held on Saturday 26th October.  It was another fantastic opportunity to connect with the community in ways that were unique for us as a Church and it brought a financial benefit of $2,500.00 that will be donated to Paradise Kids, Hopewell Hospice and our Playgroup as well as supporting the food pantry ministry that we have at our church.  Another big THANK YOU to the Op Shop Managers (Kelly & Trish), models, helpers and the Somerville Funerals team who made this event a great success and continues the vision of Reaching out, changing lives.

Today in our worship service we welcome the Winks family as we share in the Baptism of Tyler James Winks.  His brother, Frazer was baptised here on 8th November 2009 and his father Brett was one of the first children to be baptized at this church on 26th November 1978, thirty-five years ago.  We pray that the Winks family will experience the joy that our congregation has found in being part of God’s huge extended family that spans the world in every country on earth.  Tyler’s grandparents from New Zealand and The Gold Coast have joined us for this celebration of new life.  Baptism is another example of God reaching out, changing lives. 

We have only three (3) week to go in our Heart of Worship series as we develop our Pillar of Worship. Today’s theme of Worship as Prayer will emphasise the centrality of prayer for Jesus as he engaged with the world and fulfilled his mission of reaching out, changing lives.  In all four Gospels Jesus is portrayed as a person of prayer.  Repeatedly the gospel writers develop a picture of him withdrawing from the crowds to be alone with his Father.  As we come to worship you will notice that our Church service is modeled in that fashion of ‘withdrawing from the crowds/world’ for a time and the liturgy is enveloped in Prayer as we go on a journey of gathering, praise, adoration, confession, affirmation, preaching, response, intercession and commission.  We then go back into the world to continue our baptismal commission of reaching out, changing lives.

Please include in your diary next Sunday’s Congregational meeting (17th November) directly after the service, where we will we be developing our Pillar of Worship for 2014.  We will also be identifying who we are as a Congregation and working on our Congregational profile.  The profile is necessary for  the Synod placements committee to assist us in identifying a suitable ministry agent who will lead us into the next season of ministry as we share in God’s vision for Ashmore Uniting Church to be reaching out, changing lives.  We will also be identifying and praying for a few new Church Councilors to join the leadership team for 2014.  Worship as Prayer, certainly is a great theme for us to be focusing on at this point in time.

May this week be filled with Worship and Payer as God reaches out and changes you…Rev Brad Foote

The Heart of Worship – Everyone’s Invited Church Camp (1-3 Nov)

Over this weekend, many of the adults and children in our Congregation are taking the opportunity to share together at our “Everybody’s Invited Church Camp” at the CYC Campsite at Burleigh Heads.  Just over 30 people have stayed at the campsite and many others have joined in over the weekend as ‘day-trippers’.  Rev Beth Nichols (the Presbytery Youth and Families Support Project Officer) has been assisting in our camp program by leading us through a range of activities and opportunities to grow in faith together and learn about each other as a Christian Community.

Meanwhile on the home front at Ashmore, Rev Ian Wilson, from Southport Uniting Church has generously accepted the invitation to lead our worship service at The Church of the Good Shepherd today.  Ian is a member of the Presbytery Pastoral Relations Committee (PRC), which has oversight of the movement of ministers within the Presbytery (among many other things related to Pastoral relations with the Church).  He will give some guidance and information about how the process should unfold as we move into 2014 at Ashmore Uniting Church in response to my announcement made last Sunday.

For those who were not at worship last Sunday, I would like to put into my Foote-notes a small summary of my ministry situation at this stage.

I have been the Minister at Ashmore Uniting Church for the past 8 years.  We generally have tenure of between 5-10 years in a ministry placement.  At the end of September, I was asked to allow my name to be put forward for a specialized ministry placement at another Gold Coast Uniting Church.  The placement is focused on a ministry called “Crossroads” which is specifically for adults over 18 years who have a disability.  The second area of ministry is specifically for families.

A number of potential candidates were interviewed a fortnight ago and the Joint Nominating Committee (JNC) has selected me as for this role.  So it is with very mixed feelings but with a very clear sense of call that I have accepted this placement at Newlife Uniting Church – Robina from 15th January 2014.  I will be specifically serving in the two areas of Crossroads and Families.  My closure service at The Church of The Good Shepherd will be at Ashmore on 12th January 2014.

The next step for our Congregation at Ashmore Uniting Church is to prepare a Congregational Profile that identifies who we are and what our vision and mission is.  Then the Presbytery will complete a Partnered Appraisal to compliment our congregational profile so that they can help us find the most suitable person to serve the congregation into the next phase of ministry in the coming years.

As you can imagine, such a process doesn’t happen overnight, so there will be a period of time where an interim minister will provide supply ministry here at Ashmore while the Joint Nominating Committee (JNC) do their work.  The JNC will be made up of four representatives from our congregation and two representatives from the Presbytery.  I am very confident that our Church Council and other leaders in the Church will ensure that the work of God will continue to fulfill the vision that God has given us to be ‘reaching out, changing lives’.

Last week in our Heart of Worship series, we looked at the role of the Good Shepherd who cares for His flock (23rd Psalm).  We were reminded that we need to be a listening and prayerful church if we are going to hear God’s voice.  Secondly, we must commit without question to the direction in which God leads us.  I shared one of my foundational scriptures that guides me in my faith journey, from Proverbs 3:5  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways and he will direct your paths.

May the Good Shepherd guide your paths ….this week……Rev. Brad Foote