Dear church family,

What a start to 2022 it’s been. The Ashes have been well and truly retained. The Djokovic saga seems to be bigger than the Australian Open itself. Tragedy has struck one of our Pacific Island neighbours and the Omicron variant continues to work its way through the community. (“Who would have thought 2020 was a trilogy!” as someone wrote this week.)

Yet despite the fleeting joys of sporting glory, the uncertainty of a new normal, the tragedy of natural disaster and the ever-changing nature of a global pandemic, we lift our eyes once more and say as the Lord’s people: “where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

Three quick things to note for this week.

1. The Psalms
I trust you’ve been encouraged by our recent series in the Psalms. I certainly have. While it’s easy to look for Psalms that fit our circumstances in life, we do well to remember that the Psalms are ultimately the songbook of THE King – the Lord Jesus. He is the choirmaster leading us, his church, the choir, in prayerfully singing to our God.

If you’re looking for some great talks on the Psalms, then I highly recommend the recent talks that Andrew Shead gave at the CMS Summer School (when they become available). He has some really helpful insights into the shape of the collection and their overall trajectory – from lament to praise!

This year I have made some changes to how I spend time with the Lord each morning. One of those has been to take a Psalm a day and sing it using the translation and one of the tunes from the Seedbed website. (If you would like other resources on singing the Psalms, The Free Church of Scotland also has an app called Sing Psalms that is also really helpful!)

2. Hope Explored
Hope Explored is a new course by Rico Tice and the team at Christianity Explored. It is a three week course looking at the hope that we can have because of Jesus.

Our first Hope Explored series will start on 9 February as part of our CDG evenings. The idea is to run Hope Explored as a short introduction, and then Christianity Explored for those who want to keep growing, which is a more comprehensive seven week series in Mark’s gospel.

If you would like to be involved with the course, please let us know. If you have someone in mind to invite, here are some short information videos about what Hope Explored will look like so that you are clear on what you’re inviting them to attend.

Please do pray for Hope Explored and especially for those who expressed interest at our Christmas services, that they would join us in February.

Let’s begin inviting those who we know might be interested.

3. ‘Living with Covid’
With our government’s shift in its approach to ‘living with Covid’ we have also sought to do this at St Thomas’ and kept the doors open in January. While there might be some nervousness about this, we are following the government guidelines to ensure we can meet safely.

Over the past few weeks there have been people at our services who have had Covid before they developed symptoms and tested positive. While this is inevitable, we haven’t heard of many people contracting Covid from others at church. We are grateful for the Lord’s safety and thankful for everyone’s willingness to do the right thing – thank you!

It is still safe to come to church if we all:

If you do get a notification through the Service NSW app advising of a case alert, please don’t panic. Just monitor for symptoms and be wise.

If you do test positive after attending a service you may want to let those whom you interacted with know as a matter of courtesy.

If you are not able to meet in person on Sunday, why not plan to meet with a friend to watch the service together and encourage each other in a safe way.

With many of our family and friends contracting Covid or recovering from it we have an opportunity to practically love and care for each other. Meals, coffees and UberEats vouchers are small practical ways we can love each other.

Let’s keep praying for wisdom, trusting the Lord for our health, serving each other as we can and not neglecting to meet together as we see The Day approaching.

Together in Christ,
Luke Shooter