Another New Year, Same Gracious God

The last Sunday of January (this coming Sunday) is always an exciting and meaningful time in our church community. We call it ‘Launch Sunday’. It’s the day we set aside to pray for the upcoming year, to ordain our new elders and deacons, to re-commission our existing elders and deacons, as well as pray for our staff team, launch our new sermon series, and, of course, host our Summer Party after the service! I do hope you will join us for this special occasion this coming Sunday. Just a reminder that we will be gathering together for one combined service at 9am and then hanging around for the Summer Party afterwards. Our 6pm service will be held in the evening as usual.

Personally, I am looking forward to digging into the Sermon on the Mount for our Term 1 sermon series. This famous collection of Jesus’ teaching found in Matthew 5–7 contains some of his most well-known sayings, as well as some of his most challenging commands. John Stott says The Sermon on the Mount has a unique fascination. It seems to present the quintessence of the teaching of Jesus. It makes goodness attractive. It shames our shabby performance. It engenders dreams of a better world.” Jesus covers topics such as prayer, anger, anxiety, the Bible, adultery, divorce, fasting, judging other people, salvation, and much more. It also contains both the Beatitudes (5:3-12) and the Lord’s Prayer (6:9-13). It is nothing less than a guide to following Jesus in a fallen world. I hope you will join us with your Bible, your ears, and your heart open.

As we prepare our hearts for Launch Sunday, I thought it would be appropriate to pray the words of ‘Our Prayer’, which reflect the heart of our church and summarise all that we hope God might do in, among, and through us:

Our Father in heaven,

We long to see your name glorified and your kingdom come in our lives, in our church, and in our world. We know that you are able to do more than all we could ask, think, or imagine. We ask that your Spirit would renew and revive us and move us forward into all that you have for us.

Help us to worship you wholeheartedly. To trust in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, to walk in step with your Spirit, to grow in knowledge of your word, and to deepen our devotion to prayer. Let all that we do be done for your glory.

Move us to love and serve one another in practical ways. Help us to welcome the outsider, to encourage the discouraged, and to receive the repentant. Move us to gather regularly, to love genuinely, to serve selflessly, and to give generously so that the body might be built up and needs might be met.

Give us boldness to share and to promote the gospel. Help us to do this both in our words and in our actions, whenever the opportunity arises. Grant us the humility to engage with gentleness and respect. Lift our eyes and move our hands to seek the good of our local community and to pursue and promote justice.

Gracious God, fill us, move us, shape us to become a city on a hill, a light in the darkness, a people that exist for your glory and for the good of others so that more people might find true and lasting life in Jesus.

We pray this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Grace and peace,