18 July 2016

Something I’d never noticed before is that the superscription introducing Psalm 100 reads “A psalm. For giving thanks.” The updated NIV says, “For giving grateful praise”.

This psalm is one of many parts of the Bible that uses the image of shepherd for God’s care of his people. We are to know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Therefore when God’s people gathered, for example, in the Temple back then, or in a church service today, what are we to do? Verse 4 tells us:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

Recently, the pastoral staff shared things we found encouraging about St Michael’s services as we gather week by week. Some will apply more to one congregation than others, but overall it seems to create a pattern. We are thankful to God for…

  • Pre-service ministry while people mingle and greet others before church.
  • Those many whose efforts display obvious good preparation for the part they lead in the service – in prayers, music, Bible reading, service leading etc.
  • The variety and mix of people present – e.g. last week, there was an Iranian man on the sound desk, and at another service a young Sudanese lady led the singing, and men from India and China welcomed those who arrived!
  • Likewise in recent weeks, we’ve had a primary schooler help lead singing, and a year 8 fellow play guitar in another of our music teams. On the other hand, we had the privilege of being well served by people in their 90s leading in prayer, reading the Bible and serving morning tea.
  • Leadership in public prayers shows breadth and depth well above average.
  • Excellent songs choices from the selectors that so often complement the sermon and/or Bible readings for the day.
  • More men now helping lead the singing!
  • The family nature of the congregation and the energy the kids’ songs bring.
  • Refreshments after church, which enable really good interchange. Sometimes you see people bowing their heads to pray with one another.
  • A lot of new people with more energy.
  • 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80 y.o.s caring for the physical and spiritual needs of the 80, 90 and (occasionally!) 100 y.o.s at the Friendship Service.
  • An elderly woman wanting computer help so she could start giving by EFT!
  • Our 19 y.o. youth ministry trainee, Josh, preaching a great sermon from Daniel 3, encouraging a fiery love for Jesus who stood so courageously for us at the cross.

In some encouraging measure these reflect the following parish values among others…

F. Gatherings of breadth and depth in confession, creed, song and prayer

H. Globally-minded Christians, connecting with all classes, ages and cultures

I. Initiative in leadership and use of gifts by members

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess 5:18). What things are you thankful for – at church, and in life with Christ in general?

Warmly in Christ,

Sandy Grant (Senior Minister)