COVID-19: Cabramatta Anglican Church Goes Online

Dear Cabramatta Anglican Church Family,

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made an announcement today banning all enclosed gatherings of 100 or more people. In light of that, Archbishop Glenn Davies has issued a statement to suspend all public church gatherings until further notice. You can see the statement here.

Our priorities
We are committed to continuing to proclaim Jesus as Lord, trusting in Him and sharing the love He has for us with others. In this challenging season we will continue to grow in God’s word together; sharing our lives with each other and serving those inside and outside the church. With the move to church online the logistics behind how we do so may look differently, but with the help of technology we will still meet with one another to stir up and encourage each other to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:25).

We will continue to monitor the situation and adhere to updated advice issued by our Government and the Anglican Diocese. We have been urged to act now and take social distancing (reducing the rate of physical contact with one another) and hand hygiene seriously to reduce the risk of community transmission. As a church, we want to be proactive in loving our neighbours and adopting the measures we can to slow the transmission, thereby helping to protect the most vulnerable members of the community and reducing the impact on essential, life-saving health services.

What does this mean for our 11am Service?
We will live stream our services online which can be accessed on our website. Our services will be live at 9am (Chinese), 11am (English) on Sundays and a recording will be made available if you cannot join us while we’re live on Sundays.

What does this mean for Access, CACTUS, Creche and Playgroup?
We will put them on hold until we resume normal Sunday services. Our leaders will be in touch with parents to distribute age appropriate resources/activities to assist with reading the Bible. A kids talk will be part of the live stream.

What does this mean for our small groups?
Small groups will be meeting online via conference calling software. You should be contacted by your growth group or other small group gathering leaders to confirm the new arrangement. If you’re not already in a group, please contact Rob on roberty@cabra.church if you would like to join a small group.

Pastoral care
With the shift to church online, we would like to take this opportunity to work together in caring for those without access to the technology many of us take for granted. If you’re able to help please contact us for how we plan to care for those who may be more vulnerable, isolated or have limited mobility in our midst.

Outreach
Our Mobile Community Pantry (MCP) ministry will continue to operate at a reduced capacity adhering to all necessary precautions under the direction of Anglicare until further notice. It has become especially critical at this time in providing affordable pantry items to our community which they may find difficult to access elsewhere.

We are also planning to letterbox drop cards to those in self-isolation in our local community to let them know we are here and available to help (whilst following the necessary health precautions) with gathering urgent supplies, posting/collecting mail, praying/talking through any questions they may have and inviting them to our online services.

We understand that this may be an unsettling time of change and uncertainty for many of us. As followers of Jesus Christ we can trust in His sovereignty and bring our anxieties to Him in prayer and petition. Let us hold out the hope of eternal life we have in Jesus who has conquered death. May we come together in strength and unity, in love and compassionate care for each other and the hurting community around us. If you have any questions or concerns, or need any assistance practically with supplies please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Your brothers in Christ,

Hien, Rob and Will

SMBC Women’s Conference 2020 – Run for your life

Last weekend, a group of women from CAC got up early on Saturday morning to attend the SMBC Women’s Conference. The topic was ‘Run for Your Life’ which looked at how the book of Hebrews encourages us to finish the race and inherit all that God has promised.
 
After enjoying a scrumptious brunch and much-needed caffeine hit, we were excited to spend a whole day meditating on God’s Word in the presence of Christian women all across Sydney.
 
The common thread in all three talks was the importance of persevering in our faith, because Jesus is greater than anything this world can offer.
 
Hebrews 1 tells us that Jesus is the Superior Son, the Sustainer of the universe…He is God! Therefore, we need to trust God’s Word and paying attention to it, so that we are not swayed by the loud and distracting messages of our world.
 
The second talk covered Hebrews 6, which affirms that God’s promise is a sure thing and our hope is certain. When we live in light of this promise, we produce evidence of love for God and His people.
 
By the afternoon when our brains (and stomachs) were very full at this point, the last talk brought home the unshakeable promise of a better future painted in Hebrews 12. On Judgement Day, God will ‘shake the heavens and earth’ and all that remains is His kingdom and not man-made things. Therefore, we need to actively pursue holiness so that we don’t drift away, by submitting to all of God’s Word, and spurring on each other to finish the race.

As we stepped outside the SMBC hallway into the real world, the call for us to live as God’s holy people is cemented in our hearts.

“Learned so much today! Struck by Hebrews 1:3 – Jesus sustains the universe by the mighty power of His command.”Brenda

“Convicted to fix our eyes on Jesus, the forever High Priest! Deeply moved by the perseverance of a missionary in Tanzania from dealing with Cobra snakes, scorpions on her 1 year old to facing terminal cancer. Also, what a joy to be worshipping alongside people who were singing in AUSLAN.”Amy

“I am reminded that Jesus is the better messenger, high priest and better everything we know. While knowing this fact, I found it slightly reassuring to hear that everyone drifts away from God naturally, and that I’m not the only one who tends to be swayed by the temptations of this world.

The race we run is a marathon, but if we don’t reach the finish line, it’s as if we didn’t do the race at all. There is no in between.

I’m thankful for the brothers and sisters in Christ that can run the race along with me, knowing I won’t be in it alone. Praying that we can continue to spur each other on, encouraging each other and keeping us on track as we live life together.”Jennifer

Christian Courage in the Age of COVID-19

In the time it will have taken you to read this article, 15 new cases of COVID-19 (or the 2019 coronavirus) will have been reported around the world. By this time tomorrow, 100 more people will have died from it.

These numbers aren’t minor, but you might think they aren’t a big deal compared to some of the other things out there that could kill us. Lung disease, traffic accidents, and even suicide kill people at a far quicker rate than COVID-19. And yet, the world is gripped in coronavirus panic. 

Just look at our own country, where people are going crazy over toilet paper – two women ganging up on another over a packet, and Big W staff in Tamworth calling in police to taser a man who assaulted them over the lack of TP in the store.

It might be fun to laugh at these people, but it’s a sobering moment when you realise this is nothing more than human fear made manifest. These people are trying to protect something they care about, perhaps someone close to them.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a textbook example of how people respond to uncertainty. What if I run out of toilet paper? What if I can’t go to work for the next few weeks? What will I do with my kids if our schools close down? Fear is what drives us to take precautionary measures – and yes, even to the point of violence.

This isn’t exactly news. There’s an entire genre of entertainment focused on what happens when humans face disaster: the apocalypse movie. Mad Max, The Walking Dead, The Last of Us – these are well-known, even seminal works of art that reflect what we know about fear. It motivates us to seek safety, control, and certainty.

In these stories, fear often leads people down a path of destruction. The Bible is full of such examples as well. In 2 Samuel 11, King David sleeps with and impregnates Bathsheba, a married woman. When he finds out that she is pregnant with his child, he panics and arranges to have her husband Uriah killed in battle. God sends Nathan to rebuke him, and strikes down his newborn child.

Yet, this is the same David who called upon the name of the Lord when Saul caused him to fear for his life. He writes a song in 2 Samuel 22:

“I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
   and have been saved from my enemies.
The waves of death swirled about me;
  the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
“In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice.” 2 Samuel 22:4-7

Of course, God does not guarantee that we will be granted release from fears that come from ungodly places. He allows David to murder Uriah in his fear, just as he allows panicked Australians to raid supermarkets for necessities, leaving medical staff and the needy empty handed.

But these legitimate, godly fears that we experience when something like COVID-19 takes over the world have an answer in the Scriptures. It is right for parents to worry about their children. It is commendable for us to worry about our elderly parents and grandparents. It is good and holy to be concerned about burdening others by passing on disease.

The contents of our fear matter far less than how we respond to them. Are we doing our best to evaluate our fears and seek a godly response? Are we bringing our godly fears to the one who is sovereign over death and disease?

1 Peter 5:7 commands the young people in the church to “cast all [their] anxiety on him because he cares for you”. All the problems of the world which trigger legitimate and holy fear in us are to be thrust into God’s hands. Why? Because he has already conquered that which fuels our biggest fear – eternity. 

In the same passage, Peter writes to the church to remind them that “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” Through Jesus, our true disease – sin – is healed. He has broken its hold on us, and now he carries out the work of restoring us to our true, image-bearing glory day by day. 

When we come to believe in this truth, there is nothing that can stop us from continuing on to walk in step with Jesus. He knows this, which is why the Bible is full of stories in which he commands his followers to not be afraid.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27b

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

“So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Mark 6:50

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

We are not commanded to forget about the things of this world entirely, not as long as we’re still living in it and carrying out God’s mission. Please wash your hands. Remember to sneeze into your elbow. But don’t do anything until you first cast your anxieties and fears upon God. He has shattered sin, and one day his Son will return to shatter death and disease finally. Including COVID-19.