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Baptists On Mission Blog

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Celebrating the birth of Jesus with Carols

23rd December 2016
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As Christmas becomes increasingly commercialised and secular, it is refreshing to celebrate the season with traditional Christmas carols and remember the story behind the holiday. On the evening of December 4th I went to Kew Community Carols by Candlelight. It was organised by the Kew inter-church council, with churches involved including Kew Baptist, Holy Trinity Anglican, St Paul’s Anglican, Melbourne Chinese Baptist, Sacred Heart Catholic, St Joachim’s Catholic, St Anne’s Catholic and East Kew Uniting. Assistance was also given by the City of Booroondara. It was originally planned to be in the park in Petrie Square, but was changed to the Kew Baptist church building when the rain set in. 

The evening opened with Chinese dancing and singing by the Melbourne Chinese Baptist Church Praise Dancers. Stalls were set up around the hall and outside selling sausages, Vietnamese food and other items. These were run by groups raising money for 'Spur Afrika', which equips children and young adults in Kenyan slums with literacy and life skills, and for 'With a Mission', which sponsors housing projects in Vietnam via local churches. The donations given at the door went to supporting the Kew High School chaplaincy, including buying textbooks and uniforms for families in financial need. 

A message was brought by the Mayor of Boroondara Cr. Peter Healey. He eloquently summarised the event as “Christ coming back into Christmas.” He added, noting the downpour of rain, “thanks to Kew Baptist for providing shelter, there is something very Christmasy about providing shelter to those that need it.” Member for Kew Tim Smith was also in attendance to support the event. 

The hymns sung included Come all ye Faithful, Joy to the World, Once in Royal David’s City, Silent Night, We Three Kings, Away in a Manger, the First Noel, Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The All Directions Community Choir also performed Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy and guest singer Rebecca Jess sang a beautiful rendition of O Holy Night. These were led by the Kew Baptist quartet and accompanied by the Kew and Hawthorn combined Band, including upwards of 30 brass players! The children were invited to participate by dancing along to the songs and decorating the Christmas tree out the front. 

Kew Baptist associate pastor Paul Pallot gave a short Christmas speech asking, why do we celebrate Jesus’ birthday? He answered, because of the man he would become, what he did and said and his claim to be God. Whether people feel close or God or not, the Christmas story reminds us that God came among us to reconcile humanity with himself - as it is written, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). He finished inviting people to open a Bible and read about the baby that was born, the child that grew up and the man that Jesus became. 

It was very well attended with upwards of 300 people coming along. One of the attendees Miranda said it was the “first carols I’ve been to and I really enjoyed it.” She added, “the music was great and I love the community coming together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.” Rory said it was a “high quality, good production” and “stayed authentic to the Christmas message.” He added, perhaps half-joking, “Santa wasn’t even mentioned.” Paul Pallot said it was “a great night to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and prepare our hearts for Christmas this year."

The Kew Community Carols is an example of people preserving the message and meaning of Christmas in an open and authentic way for people to enjoy and learn more about the story of Jesus. It was a great event for those in the local community to experience the true spirit of Christmas even if they don’t usually attend church throughout the rest of the year. 

 

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Spirit Led

22nd December 2016
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As part of the BELLS* rhythm of life, folk in our Church Family & Neighbourhood Group seek to encourage one another to start the week by asking in prayer, "Lord, who do you want me to eat with? And who do you want me to bless this week?"

As I was journalling this prayer on Monday morning, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a conversation I had with my neighbour across the road the previous Sunday afternoon. My elderly neighbour has had some health problems and was needing to have a CT scan on Wednesday. As I recalled this conversation with him, I sense that this was a person the Spirit was leading me to bless this week.

I continued to journal, asking the Spirit to help me see how I should bless him. I thought that I should be really simple and try and catch him either before his CT Scan or soon after and just ask him how it was, or offer to pray for him. The act of generosity would be in the fact that I would remember his health concerns and be caring enough to follow up with him about it... simple right?

However, as I wrote this down I thought, "I don't actually run into him all that regularly in my daily movements so this might be harder than I think." But God is a generous and gracious God. 

I was rushing my kids out the door to get them to Kinder and Day Care. My wife Katie, who runs the day care in our small rural community, had already started work some time earlier and my kids hadn't been entirely co-operative this morning as I sought to get them ready. I was supposed to be working at the Primary School and was already late, and we still hadn’t left the house! As I walked out the door in a bit of a rush with my two girls by my side, ready to walk to the Kinder building, who should be across the road watering his garden?? My neighbour. 

I walked across the street with the kids, suddenly not worrying about the fact that we were running late. What was a few minutes being late to Kinder or work anyway?

We stopped in my neighbour's garden and chatted about how he was feeling about his CT Scan which was taking place that day. After quick conversation about the scans, my neighbour chatted to my girls about their day and their plans and they were able to bless him by making him laugh with their funny smiles and quirky remarks. After only a 3 min conversation, I let him know that I have been and will continue to pray for him and his health. He was visibly taken back by the remark and place his hand on my arm and said, "Thank you, Jono." 

When the Spirit leads you to do something, and you agree to do it, it's should not be all that surprising to us to find that He goes before us, beside us and behind us, to accomplish his plans and purposes for His glory and His Kingdom.

Rev Jono Ingram - Husband, father, neighbour, community gardener, school chaplain and Pastor at “The Church in the Paddock” (Granite Community Church).

*BELLS is an acronym for missional living from Michael Frost’s book, “Surprise the World” which stands for Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn and Sent.

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Upcoming Events

12 Feb
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Innovate Taster Night - Werribee

Presented By: BUV

Join with the young adults group at Werribee Baptist, the BUV Mission Catalyst Team and some current innovators to catch a new vision of what God is doing across our state.

Hear inspiring stories of people doing fresh things; discuss the needs of post-christendom and discern whether God might be inviting you into something new in 2017.

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18 FEB
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Safe Church Awareness Workshop - Kilsyth South

Presented By: BUV

Safe Church Awareness Workshops are interactive, awareness raising workshops covering Christian foundations of safe ministry, duty of care, vulnerable people and child protection (abuse prevention), due diligence in relation to recruitment and supervision of all church leaders and the management of program risks.

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