News and Views

Thanksgiving 2015

Here are some photos from Wednesday (photo credit Betty Matthews).

I’d like to thank all those who worked so hard, particularly those who worked behind the scenes in the days prior to get the church ready for the service. A special thank you to Arthur Evans who opened his home to us and refreshed us after a busy, but happy, morning. 

2 Corinthians 9: 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

The FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) Bishop

This week we have been giving thanks for the ministry of Bishop Robert Forsyth, our FIFO bishop!

What a blessing it has been to have experienced his oversight and friendship. I have shared with you (below) some of the kind words that were said about Rob and Margie’s ministry at the Sydney Synod last month.

Synod Thanksgiving

Noting that this will be Bishop Robert Forsyth’s last Synod, Synod gives thanks to God for Bishop Forsyth’s nearly 40 years of ordained ministry both in the Diocese of Sydney and beyond. As a curate in the parishes of Glenbrook and Holy Trinity, Adelaide, as Rector of St Barnabas Broadway, and as Bishop of South Sydney, Robert has proclaimed Christ, warning and teaching with wisdom, so that people might be presented mature in Christ. As Chaplain to the University of Sydney, and for over 20 years the Chairman of The EU Graduates Fund, Robert pioneered a model of partnership with the Sydney University Evangelical Union which continues to bear fruit today. As Bishop of South Sydney, Robert has overseen a revitalisation of gospel ministry throughout the Region, with many churches turning around and a significant number of churches planted. Through his membership of the Standing Committee, the Archbishop’s liturgical panel, and the renewing structures taskforce, Robert has served the Synod with creativity and wisdom. As he moves into a new sphere of ministry, Synod thanks God for both Robert and Margaret, and prays that he will continue both to bless them, and to bless others through them, so that Jesus Christ will be honoured as Lord and Saviour.

The Rev Andrew Katay 19/10/2015

Christmas Service Times

Combined Churches Lessons and Carols
Lessons and Carols @ All Saints
4.30pm, Sunday 20th December 2015

Community Carols By Candlelight
All Saints’ Compound – bring a rug, snacks and refreshments.
6.00pm, Wednesday 23rd December

Christmas Eve
Holy Communion @ St Barnabas Chapel
Thursday 11.30pm, 24th December 2015

Christmas Day
Holy Communion @ All Saints (this is a family service and will include a children’s talk and kids activity packs)
10.00am, Friday 25th December 2015

New Years’ Eve
Holy Communion @ St Barnabas Chapel
11.30pm, Thursday 31st December 2015

The Revd David Rogers-Smith BCA Visit 

One of the ways Bishop Robert Forsyth has endeavoured to support Crystal and I in our ministry on Norfolk Island, is to link us up with an organisation called BCA (or Bush Church Aid). In the bishops words “these people are the experts in remote ministry”. 

Accordingly, our next parish visitor will be The Revd David Rogers-Smith. David will be here Sunday week (December 6) which means we’ll be breaking our series in Genesis for David to preach a message on Jonah. David is the Regional Officer for Queensland / Northern New South Wales and started in this role in February 2015. This is probably the closest thing to a bishop in BCA. This means he prays and makes contact with me regularly, and along with his wife Julie, he will be here to refresh and encourage Crystal and I. Before being appointed as Regional Officer, David and his wife Julie served as BCA Field Staff for eight years in Tasmania, where David was the Ministry Development Officer for the Diocese of Tasmania and Ministry Enabler in the Parish of Riverlinks. He ran the Tasmanian Bible Forums for seven of those years and developed the Tasmanian Certificate in Theology and Ministry. 

It’s probably worth saying that although BCA is a “sending” organisation, Crystal and I are not being supported financially by BCA. Rather, they are providing us (and you) with prayer and pastoral support.

It’s a busy time of year, there’s no doubt about it!

Thanksgiving on Norfolk Island

Since the mid 1890’s the community of Norfolk Island have been decorating All Saints Church and celebrating Thanksgiving together (this year the festivities begin at All Saints from 10am). But how did the most American of holidays end up on a remote island in the middle of the South Pacific?

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According to current churchwarden, Mr. Tom Lloyd, the Pitcairners had always celebrated the English Harvest Home festival, but it was not until Isaac Robinson came to the island that All Saints Church was specially decorated for the service.

Robinson was an American trader who settled on Norfolk as agent for Burns Philp & Co Ltd., later becoming Norfolk’s Registrar of Lands and the island’s first (and so far only) United States consul. “The idea of Norfolk having an American consul does sound slightly absurd today” Lloyd says, “but in those days American whalers made frequent calls, and Robinson proposed dressing the church up American-style for Thanksgiving.”

Three of Robinson’s friends helped him decorate All Saints Church in the capital, Kingston, using only palm leaves and lemons, and though he died and was buried at sea the next year, his notion caught on. For Norfolk’s second Thanksgiving service, the parishioners brought down all sorts of produce to decorate the church. “The tradition became to tie corn stalks to the pew ends and pile flowers on the altar and the font. At first, each family took home its own fruit and vegetables after the service, but today they are sold to raise money for church preservation.”

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This year we are looking forward to welcoming back New Zealand Mezzo Soprano Lynne Anderson, who will be singing “Thanks Be To God” and Bishop Robert Forsyth will be preaching in what will be his last official visit to Norfolk Island ahead of his impending retirement. Everyone is welcome to join in the festivities at All Saints from 10am Wednesday, 25th of November (original families are encouraged to contact Ikey on 50376 to book pews).

See you at All Saints!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Be Grateful for Christian Fellowship

323Be Grateful for Christian Fellowship

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

“If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.

“This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. A pastor should never complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men.

“… let [the pastor or zealous member] nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God.”

Life Together, translated by John W. Doberstein, (New York: HarperOne, 1954), page 29.

Thankfulness is a funny thing…

Thankfulness is a funny thing.

By its very nature the giving of thanks cuts straight across the self-focus of the human heart. When we are thankful for something, we acknowledge that we are in someone else’s debt…

…that there are good things in our lives for which it just doesn’t seem appropriate to pat ourselves on the back. We pause for a day at Thanksgiving to think about the blessings we enjoy – the way our lives, with all their challenges, trials, and disappointments, are actually much better than we could have accomplished for ourselves in our own strength, and much better than we know we deserve.

And that seems to be the case even for unbelievers. Even the most prideful person will admit, if he’s honest with himself, that, strangely enough, it feels good to be thankful. We enjoy giving thanks. Something just feels…right… about it.

Storm-Bay-Kiama-with-the-KIama-Showground-opposite-surrounded-with-Norfolk-Island-Pine-trees-Image-Credit-Gerringong-Australia-PhotographyAnd that’s because we’re tapping into the reality that life isn’t most ultimately about us and making much of ourselves. We’re catching a glimpse of the reality that absolutely everything that we have – from our job to the air we breathe – is owing to the goodness of Another. You see, we are designed to humble ourselves in the presence of Someone infinitely more worthy than us. And we are designed to give praise and thanksgiving to Him for the comforts of this life. The pleasure we feel in thanksgiving is a parable from the God of the universe that teaches us that our glory is not the goal of our lives, but that His glory is.

And so if you’re reading this and you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ, can I ask you to stop and think about why, at this time of year, it feels right to deflect the glory? Would you pause a moment and think about why in the world that is? You truly feel, and therefore say, the words, “I’m thankful for ______.”

But have you ever asked yourself whom you’re thankful to for those gifts? Indeed, that they are gifts and therefore have come from a Giver?

Thanksgiving on Norfolk Island

Since the 1890’s the community of Norfolk Island have been decorating All Saints Kingston and celebrating Thanksgiving together.

The Pilgrims, following their first harvest in the New World in 1621, hosted the very first Thanksgiving; a celebration feast offering thanks to God for his bountiful provision, protection and care over them in the New World.

George Washington Thanksgiving ProclomationThe first U.S. National Thanksgiving day of celebration started with a proclamation signed October 3, 1789 by the country’s first president, George Washington. Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” 

In 1863 amid the civil war, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.  It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. 

Thanksgiving_Proclamation_AbeLincolnAnd I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

How did the most American of holidays end up on a remote Australian territory in the middle of the South Pacific?

Mark Johanson (with our own Tom Loyd) of the IB Times explains (http://www.ibtimes.com/how-thanksgiving-became-holiday-remote-norfolk-island-893484):

“On Norfolk Island there is one day when all congregations join together, and that is to celebrate Thanksgiving Day,” he explained. “The Pitcairners always celebrated the English Harvest Home festival, but it was not until the mid-1890s that All Saints Church was specially decorated for the service.”

This was Isaac Robinson’s idea, Lloyd said. Robinson was an American trader who settled on Norfolk as agent for Burns Philp & Co Ltd., later becoming Norfolk’s Registrar of Lands and the island’s first (and so far only) United States consul.

“The idea of Norfolk having an American consul does sound slightly absurd today,” Lloyd admits, “but in those days American whalers made frequent calls, and Robinson proposed dressing the church up American-style for Thanksgiving.”

Three of Robinson’s friends helped him decorate All Saints Church in the capital, Kingston, using only palm leaves and lemons, and though he died and was buried at sea the next year, his notion caught on. For Norfolk’s second Thanksgiving service, the parishioners brought down all sorts of produce to decorate the church.

“The tradition became to tie corn stalks to the pew ends and pile flowers on the altar and the font,” Lloyd said. “At first, each family took home its own fruit and vegetables after the service, but today they are sold to raise money for church preservation.”

See you at All Saints!

When We Get It Wrong And Jesus Gets It Right

Like me, you  may have seen the newspaper exchange between the “Thinking Christian” and the “Island Atheist” in the Norfolk Islander this weekend. While I share the “Thinking Christian’s” dismay at the article on SRE “submitted” in a previous edition, you may be surprised to learn that I found myself agreeing with much of the what the “Island Atheist” had to say in response. It seemed to me that they were justified in pointing out where the “Thinking Christian” had been “holier than thou”. Like the “Island Atheist” I think that religion can create a slippery slope in the human heart. One of the dangers of believing that “we have the truth” and are “saved by obeying the truth” is that you begin to look down on others.

Fortunately, the gospel is not the same as religion; it is unique in the salvation that it brings. In religion, you are saved by your performance, so you are superior by definition. However, in Christianity, we are not saved because of our performance but because God has come for us in Christ. Therefore, salvation comes from God, not from humans. The means of salvation is not our efforts but Christ’s work, which means (happily for me) that non-virtuous people are saved. We do not think that we are superior because we have found truth, we find ourselves humbled by the knowledge that we are sinners saved only by grace. In fact, there will be times when other people (including atheists) will be better than us – precisely because we have been saved by grace, not by anything we have done!

The gospel should lead us to respect people and also to expect that people with different beliefs might be better than us. The gospel humbles us before those with whom we disagree. In other words, a heart and mind that have fully grasped and digested the Gospel will never look down on anybody no matter who they are – whether they’re secular, religious, conservative, liberal, sinner, or saint. The Gospel strips away all of our little titles that we cling to and replaces them all with one single title and identity: SAVED BY GRACE.

It’s worth saying that after the original article was published, the Minister’s Fraternal came together to prayerfully consider how we would respond. Our fear was that the false claims in the original article could scare families away from SRE. The wisdom of the Fraternal was that instead of engaging in a public newspaper war, we would simply address the issue within our own congregations and educate those with ears to hear (you’ll remember I used last weeks Chaplain’s Chat to address the original article “in-house”). Can I urge you to be like minded and to let the latest letter “go through to the keeper”. A heart and mind that have fully grasped and digested the Gospel will never look down on anybody, no matter who they are, and I believe that when we really “get that”, it will go a long way toward creating not only an excellent neighbour in a multi-faith society but also a winsome ambassador for Christ.

Your friend in Jesus, Rev. David Fell

God’s H.E.A.R.T

Gods-own-heart

Thom Rainer (a US pastor and writer) prays evangelistically using the simple acronym, “GOD’S HEART”. I think it’s excellent. Maybe this pattern will help you as you pray evangelistically too:

G = Pray that believers (beginning with yourself) will appreciate God’s grace. When we really appreciate what God has done for us, we naturally want to tell others about Him.

O = Pray for believers (beginning with yourself) to live in obedience to God. If we’re not walking in obedience to God, our disobedience hinders our prayers (Isa. 59:1-2). Remaining in Christ really does matter when we pray (John 15:7).

D = Pray that believers (beginning with yourself) will decide to tell others. Evangelism doesn’t just happen. Telling the story of Jesus is a choice… an action…a decision. We often know we should do evangelism, but decide not to do it. Pray that won’t happen.

S = Pray that believers (beginning with yourself) will speak the gospel fearlessly and clearly. In fact, that’s the way Paul taught us to pray in Ephesians 6:19-20 and Colossians 4:2-4.

H = Pray for your non-believing friend or loved one to have a receptive heart to the gospel. Apart from Christ, people are dead in their sin (Eph. 2:1), held under the devil’s sway (Acts 26:18). Only God can make our hearts open to the good news.

E = Pray that their spiritual eyes will be opened. Our non-believing friends or loved ones are blinded to the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and the “god of this age” does all he can to keep them in darkness.

A = Pray that they will have God’s attitude toward sin. Understanding God’s remedy for sin begins with understanding our sickness. We’re all sinners (Rom. 3:23), and we must see our sin as God sees it – as wrong against a holy God.

R = Pray that your non-believing friend or lovedwill repent and believe. The message of Christ is clear: we must turn from our sin and trust Christ for salvation (Mark 1:15). God gets the glory as He frees nonbelievers from the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13).

T =  Pray their lives will be transformed. When God does that, the non-believing world takes note.

Who is praying for you to speak the gospel boldly and clearly? Are you praying for other believers to be evangelistic? Are you praying for non-believers? Are you asking God to save and transform a specific person? Even if you’ve been praying for someone for many years, don’t give up. God still responds to the prayers of His people. That’s His heart!  

Long Dry Patches

I don’t know about you but for me I go through pretty long dry patches where I don’t get to read my Bible all that much.

norfolk-bowls

God does not tell us that we need to read the Bible everyday. What he does say is much more fascinating. In Psalm 1 and Joshua 1 God says that we ought to “meditate on the scriptures day and night”.

This actually makes getting into our Bibles even more important. It’s not just something we read, it’s something we think about. Constantly.

In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said that we can’t live by bread alone but by every word of God. It’s like a light unto our path, a two-edged sword, a fire, and a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.

I want to be clear that our relationship with God doesn’t rise or fall on our reading habits. Instead, when we realise that God speaks to us through his Word, we should want to read it more!

Having trouble reading the Bible?

I don’t know about you but for me I go through pretty long dry patches where I don’t get to read my Bible all that much. If that’s you too –  here’s two practical tips.

1. On your mark. Get set. Go! (read it)
2. Pray it

1. Read the word

If you don’t know where to start reading, then start reading Mark. In fact, it’s a great place to restart – even if you restart a thousand times.

It contains the stories of Jesus’ life and tells them very quickly. No long genealogies and no drawn out narratives. In fact, one of the words you’re going to see a lot in the book of Mark is “immediately”. It’s a fast-paced book but with plenty of depth. It’s the sort of book where you can start at any chapter and read a section. You’ll get a story from the life of Jesus and you’ll be refreshed by the reminder of his greatness.

2. Pray The Word.

Pray in response to the verses you read
Pray in response to the verses you remember
Don’t close your Bible when you pray, but let the priorities of the Bible shape your priorities in prayer.

Thanks A lot!

To the community of Norfolk Island,

Words cannot fully express our gratitude to all of you for making the 2015 Spring Fair an unqualified success. The worth of an event like this isn’t just measured in dollar signs, it’s measured in the level of community involvement, with people coming together and celebrating our community as a whole! Our volunteer team was enlarged instantly on the day by community members willing to dive in and help wherever they were needed. The generosity and initiative of our island community meant that the first Spring Fair in a number of years went off without a hitch.

The Church of England would like to thank all those who prepared for and worked so hard to set up the activities, as well as those who helped to get the grounds ready in the weeks leading up to the weekend. Thank-you to those who made the most delectable baked goods, who contributed their precious white elephants, who brought along pot plants and cuttings, and those who spent their time and talents to fashion fine handmade crafts (including soaps and jewelry). Your creativity and generosity made the fair a unique and fun experience for everyone.

Our great appreciation also goes to the following area businesses and organisations for their generous involvement (Lions, Wa’a Outrigger Club, Banyan Park, Police and Rescue Team, NICYM, NICS, Sweet Pea Cakery, and the Uniting Church Op Shop). We certainly hope you raised some money for your own organiszations, and we thank you for way that each of you love and serve Norfolk Island in your different areas. At our end, we saw the fruit of our labour last weekend at Bomboras where “UNIT Youth” held their first youth camp. Currently the churches in Norfolk Island are blessed to have Mitchell Mahaffey organising the Youth Ministry, offering guidance, leadership and fun to many youth on Norfolk Island. The Church of England proceeds from this Spring Fair were dedicated to this ministry.

We look forward to seeing you all at Spring Fair 2016!

With Sincere Thanks,

Rev. David Fell, Terence Grube and Lorraine Boudain

Spring Fair 2015 Coordinators

Police Remembrance Day Service

Each year, the 29th September holds a special significance for Police throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. It is a day for police to pause to honour officers whose lives have been cut short while performing their duty as a police officer. Here on Norfolk Island a Service of Remembrance was held at All Saints Kingston on Tuesday morning, and those who gathered we’re encouraged to remember with thanksgiving those whose lives have been lost in the line of duty, to pray for those who experience their loss most deeply, and to give thanks for those who continue to face danger to ensure the safety of us all.

WP_20150929_11_24_55_ProChurch of England Chaplain, Rev. David Fell reminded the congregation that “these officers were not simply Police: they were also someone’s partner, spouse, parent, child or friend. None of those who have died left home on their final day on earth knowing it would be their last. It is difficult to imagine the grief of those left behind, which will be deeply felt on important family occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries. Our hearts go out to those who have been bereaved and we will remember them in our prayers. He then said, “Police officers face risks and dangers in their daily responsibilities in order to ensure the safety of others. We all benefit from their courage, discipline and training and we offer our thanks, especially for those who have lost their lives. Their sacrifices also push us to reflect on our own lives, how we serve and what legacy we would like to leave behind”.

After singing “O Valiant Hearts”, Detective Senior Constable Matt Lee prayed the Police prayer. Sergeant Catherine Tye, Officer-in-Charge, Norfolk Island Police Force then read Psalm 46 and the second hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” was sung. An Occasional Address was then given by His Honour, Gary Hardgrave, Administrator for Norfolk Island before Sergeant Tye read the Honour Roll. The service ended with the Police Ode read by Constable Cheryl Snell, of the Norfolk Island Police Force and an anonymous Police Poem titled “I am” (Remembrance)

read by Mr George Smith AM, former Minister for Police.