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Weekly SNAC 18 November 2018: SNAC Women 2018: Perseverance in Suffering

The worse thing about SNAC Women? That you can’t attend all the afternoon electives! The worse thing about SNAC Women? That you can’t attend all the afternoon electives! 

This year, we had 4 different electives to choose from and I was part of a fantastic workshop that heard from 4 different women who have persevered through suffering. These women have gone through a lot - experiencing depression, anorexia, severe anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, infertility, still birth, caring for a child with depression, caring for a disabled child and grief. Yet in their suffering, they testified to the goodness and greatness of our God. Here are some things we learnt from them…

For those who are in the midst of suffering and need help to persevere, the key theme that kept ringing was to keep meeting with God’s people as you experience suffering. Fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters is a great gift that God gives to us. One of our speakers said “Often when you’re suffering the temptation is to stay away from church family but we need each other more in suffering! God uses his word on the lips of our brothers and sisters to help us persevere and so we need to not give up meeting with one another.” Another speaker said “During that time (of suffering and grief) a number of new people visited the church and they were drawn to Christ as a result. I strongly encourage you to resist the urge to stay away from church when you are suffering – both for your own good and for the good of the church.”

Other encouragements were to listen to Christian songs and let the truths of scripture play through your mind and get professional help. Some Bible passages that these women found helpful included: Romans 8, Psalm 34:8, Psalm 46:1-3, Psalm 46:10, Psalm 73:25-26, Phillipians 4:4-7, Habbakuk 3:17-19, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:2, 1 Peter 5:7, Proverbs 3:5-6 and Joshua 1:9. 

In addition, these women pointed us to the wonderful promise of the new creation where there will be no more pain, suffering or tears. Come Lord Jesus! Come!

For those who want to prepare for suffering, the encouragement was to take the time now to cultivate your personal knowledge of God.  Be grounded in the scriptures and the knowledge that God is sovereign and good.  Suffering will come so don’t be surprised when it does. Be prepared. 

For those who are seeking to love people who are suffering, a variety of helpful suggestions were raised:

• Don’t avoid people who are suffering.

• Pray for them and keep praying for them. 

• Take an interest in them and their situation - ask how they’re going, even if it feels   awkward.                 

• Encourage them to get help.

• Love them. It’s ok to say that you don’t know what to say, but don’t be dismissive.

• Offhand comments can be really unhelpful! Eg, “It will happen” with regards to pregnancy, “God doesn’t give you more than you can bear”, “Oh yes I know…”   (You probably don’t, unless you have been in the same situation as them.)

• Listen carefully and speak carefully. Don’t oversimplify the sufferer’s situation or provide a simple ‘fix’ for what they are dealing with.

To enable you to do any or all of these things, in loving others, one speaker made the passionate plea to make sure we make time to care for others.

Hope this has been helpful for you! 

Amy Stepniewski

Weekly SNAC 11 November 2018: Toys ’n’ Tucker

Did you know that it’s only 6 weeks til Christmas? Christmas can be a fantastic time of family, presents, food and fun! But for many people Christmas is a difficult time. Many people in our community don’t have enough money for Christmas food or Christmas presents. Did you know that it’s only 6 weeks til Christmas? Christmas can be a fantastic time of family, presents, food and fun! But for many people Christmas is a difficult time. Many people in our community don’t have enough money for Christmas food or Christmas presents. 

This year we as a Church have decided to support Anglicare’s Toys ‘n’ Tucker project. Toys ‘n’ Tucker is all about us helping to provide food and toys to families who otherwise might go without during Christmas. We bring in food and toys over the next few weeks. Then in a few weeks’ time Anglicare will pick up all of our donations. They will box them up and deliver them to families in need this Christmas all over Sydney. 

Please note that all items must be new and not used.

You can bring in your donations to your congregation on:
Sunday November 18th

Sunday November 25th 

Sunday December 2nd

Or drop them at St James during the week.

Romans 8:32 says ‘God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us.’ God has been so generous to us in giving us Jesus. Christmas is a great time for us to remember God’s gift of his Son. Let’s share that joy with others by being involved in this appeal. You don’t have to bring much but please consider prayerfully how you might support others less fortunate than ourselves this year. Let’s also be praying that God would use this Christmas to grow his kingdom!              

Weekly SNAC 4 November 2018: Reflection on SNAC Women 2018

Endurance through generations – hope through faith stands the tests of timeEndurance through generations – hope through faith stands the tests of time

Enduring through difficult times can look different for different people depending on our age and  life circumstance. For some it will be the pressures of studies or work, for others it may be unmet desires for our family, dealing with broken relationships, family breakdown, health issues or bereavement. None of us are immune to life’s disappointments against our own expectations measured against what the world tells us life should be like.Enduring through difficult times can look different for different people depending on our age and  life circumstance. For some it will be the pressures of studies or work, for others it may be unmet desires for our family, dealing with broken relationships, family breakdown, health issues or bereavement. None of us are immune to life’s disappointments against our own expectations measured against what the world tells us life should be like.

SNAC women who attended the recent one day conference on ‘Our Hope in Perseverance’ were reminded through two morning bible talks from Hebrews (11 & 12) and Exodus (19 & 20) of how many people of faith before us have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in all types of Old Testament calamaties: crossing the Red Sea, felling the walls of Jericho, shutting mouths of lions to name but a few. There were also insightful modern history lessons as we were reminded of the strength in faith demonstrated by women such as Susannah Wesley (1669-1742) and Katharina Zell (1497/8-1562) – both Minister’s wives around the time of the Reformation and during times of real persecution and physical trial. Through the wonders of modern technology we were encouraged by video reflections from women of our current time, including our own Nora Cox and different women serving as CMS missionaries of their perspectives of enduring through hope.

We read about suffering for Christ and were reminded that all those who want to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). To prepare for enduring the race of life, we are instructed to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). We were reminded that we are called to endure suffering as discipline from a father who loves us so that we can be trained by it in order to yield the fruit of peace and righteousness and share in his inheritance (Heb12:10-11).  We were encouraged to ‘strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees’ – by persevering in godliness (v12). We were warned not to be like Esau who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal (v16). We were also warned that with great privilege, comes great responsibility (v25-29).   

The day included the choice of four afternoon workshops on godliness, suffering, serving together and loving others which were ably led by our SNAC sisters and involved a combination of panel presentations and discussions. It was a day of encouragement as we sang, prayed and were both challenged, comforted and nourished by God’s word. 

On the topic of nourishment, we enjoyed fellowship with each other over a delicious morning tea (or for some, breakfast) and lunch. A huge thanks to all who served to make this a wonderful day of learning and fellowship with women of all ages from across all SNAC congregations, in particular to Avril Lonsdale and Mathea Yeung for their faithful teaching. While I couldn’t help but wonder if Esau’s meal included fig gelato (my personal weakness in the lunch break), the take home was definitely the sweet reassurance of our shared hope of a peaceful eternity enveloped in the love of God through faith in his promises. I was encouraged in being reminded that perseverance through life’s struggles has been the challenge of generations dating back to Old Testament times, yet our hope through faith is the common factor we share with those who have gone before us. The Bible and history teaches us that while our earthly lives may be shaken at times, only God’s love will stand the test of time by putting our faith and hope in Him and by keeping our eyes on ‘the prize’. While our struggles may be different across the centuries, our hope in Christ remains the same.

Lee Tiddy

 

Weekly SNAC 28 October 2018: Don’t believe everything you read in the papers!

For the past two weeks the Synod of the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church has been meeting. The Synod began on Monday 15 October and concluded Tuesday 23 October (don’t worry it only met for 5 afternoons and evenings in that time!).  For the past two weeks the Synod of the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church has been meeting. The Synod began on Monday 15 October and concluded Tuesday 23 October (don’t worry it only met for 5 afternoons and evenings in that time!).  

The Synod is made up of all the bishops, senior ministers and elected lay representatives of every Anglican Church in the Diocese of Sydney (stretching from the Hawkesbury river in the north, Ulladulla in the South and Lithgow to the West). As an Anglican church we are part of this affiliation of churches and the Synod is, broadly speaking, responsible for governing the diocese. If you want to know what it’s like, it’s a bit like watching parliament on TV (but without the bad behaviour!). What decisions does Synod make? The Synod passes ordinances for the governance of the diocese, elects people to important boards, councils and committees, and scrutinises the work of the Standing Committee which does the Synod’s work during the year.

Over this Synod we have dealt with issues as diverse as:

- the funding of the Diocesan organisations and initiatives

- a policy on the use of property owned by the Anglican church, especially in light of concerns over freedom of religion in Australia

- the priority of evangelism in our use of church resources

Some of these things catch the eye of the secular media and not all of that reporting is fair or balanced. In particular, there was much discussion in the media over the policy confirming that church property should not be used for things that are inconsistent with Christian doctrine. As a Synod member I found this a little perplexing as surely most fair-minded people would argue that a church should not be forced to use its property for something that it fundamentally disagrees with? The reality of the Synod debate was very different to the media coverage – gracious, fair-minded, yet committed to Biblical principles. Sadly on the last day of Synod there was a contentious debate on the issue of divorce and remarriage. Again, reports in the media were far removed from both the actual decisions and tone of the debate.        

In the end, this is the most wonderful thing about the Synod of our Diocese. The manner in which over 600 people conduct themselves and debate controversial issues is so different to the way our world works. People speak with grace and kindness and respect one another’s opinions even when there are strong disagreements. There are even small minorities who argue for liberal theology and against the Bible’s view on issues such as marriage and homosexuality. Even these arguments are treated with fairness and respect (if not agreement). Of course, this is not the picture painted in the secular media.

Please join me in thanking God for all those who serve on the Synod. However, especially give thanks to God for the Sydney Anglican Church. Despite its imperfections (as all human bodies will have) it seeks to stand firm for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible. This is not something to be taken for granted.

Phil Colgan