Around Swan Hill Parish – Friday 20th April 2018

A couple of myths continue about “teachers have long holidays and short working hours” and   “ priests only work on Sundays.” Spending a week in either workplace would exhaust many people with the dedication required to do the multi- tasking well. Both vocations usually involve a great deal of community work outside of working hours, and this as volunteers. The community is also enriched by all the wonderful citizens who give many hours in voluntary jobs.

Today some may join the team in setting up the Boot, Trash and Treasure Sale ready for 9.00 am Saturday.

Last Sunday it was good to welcome some new faces at Café Church, where the program featured an animated film.  Some very interesting reflections were shared before we had our meal. At the morning service we had sung Happy Birthday to Leone for her ‘milestone fifty’, and as usual the Baker family together with Denis, kept the evening gathering moving along.  Café Church is open to everyone, but especially for families who perhaps have other commitments on Sunday mornings, also for families or singles who feel more comfortable with the informality of the gathering.

A wonderful service of thanksgiving for the life of Thora Brown was held on Tuesday, led by Rev’d Denis, with many visitors coming back to celebrate Thora’s almost 98 years of a life well lived. Husband Lindsay was also remembered, and Thora lived to see their first great grandchild, a boy born on Lindsay’s birthday. Fr Max Bowers added his reflections to those of the family, meeting many old friends at the luncheon following, and remarking that Thora had been the initiator of what is now a professional standard Catering Group for the Anglican Function Centre.

Around Swan Hill Parish – Friday 13th April 2018

At 6.00 pm tonight there will be a meal at the Ultima Café followed by a Eucharist at Wayne and Lois’s home.

Tomorrow is only the second Saturday this month, so the Boot and Craft Sale is still another week away. However Café Church will be on again this weekend, being on the third Sunday as usual.

Come at 5.00 pm for coffee and nibbles, activities begin at 5.30pm with a family meal provided at about 6.15pm, usually finishing with a cuppa at about 7.00 pm. A donation tin will be there for any contributions towards the catering on the night. Everyone is welcome, particularly the families who as yet haven’t stopped in to be part of the experience. This week there is no service at Nyah West, so perhaps families from there may come and join in.

Last Sunday Fr Gary Fordham led the 9.30 am service in Swan Hill where many visitors were warmly welcomed. The Apostle unkindly branded as “Doubting Thomas” was featured in the Gospel reading, and people were told that there’s no ban on having doubts about the Risen Christ. In the 21st century we are expected to believe so many things that can’t be seen or verified, yet the resurrection of Jesus is so often a stumbling block to faith. Jesus said those who have not seen yet have believed are blessed.

There is so much evil in our world that reporting of it dominates our lives, yet there are countless real miracles that defy reason within our limited knowledge. Gathering among Christians sharing accounts of these blessings brings hope in the face of much persecution in many countries. Amazingly the fastest growing Christian communities are in the poorest countries, which is a rebuke to all in the “luckier” ones.

Around Swan Hill Parish – Friday 6th April 2018

It was wonderful to see a great congregation of smiling faces on Easter Day, as locals and visitors alike gathered to sing praises to the Risen Christ and exchange his greeting “Peace be with you”.

A small group had kept the Maundy Thursday traditional remembrance of the Passover in preceding the Last Supper by humbly and obediently washing each other’s feet to Jesus’ example.  After communion, as Rev. Denis read the liturgy of the Passion the altar and chancel were stripped of all adornments, and in total silence the lights were extinguished as people left the solemn scene.

On Good Friday the Ecumenical (inter-denominational) service at the Grain Shed was followed by walking the “Way of the Cross”,  then sharing hot cross buns for morning tea.

Saturday, Easter Eve, was a day of remembering the bewilderment and desolation  of Jesus’ closest friends, in fear that they too would be rounded up and punished for their three year association with his ministry.

At daybreak on Easter Day people gathered in darkness at the boat ramp in Nyah West to light the fire of Christ’s resurrection, then to return to their local churches to share the joy of the greatest celebration.

In today’s world many of the so called ‘poorer countries’ are seeing a growing number of people taking up the  message of the Gospels, yet in the last Australian Census only 30 % of people claimed to be Christian.

Easter has become just a holiday, rather than a Holy Day.

Technology has many blessings, and on our devices provides an increasing number of APPS. Well-known Father Bob, a missionary priest to Melbourne’s streets and lanes, pronounced on Easter Day that “Jesus is God’s  app!” ( and it’s free to those who accept the risen Christ.)

Around Swan Hill Parish – Friday 16th March 2018

Parishioners from Nyah West and Ultima joined the Swan Hill branch of our Anglican family on Sunday to welcome our new Bishop of Bendigo, Matt Brain, accompanied by eldest son James.

Bp Matt had an instant rapport with the people, as he sat down on the lowest step  of the chancel to chat  to Honour, our little ‘bearer of the lamp’, who was quite speechless at this unexpected action.

Although some people were absent due to the holiday weekend, there was still a large gathering at morning tea for people to mingle and get to know more of our new Shepherd, also to congratulate Jan and Frank Sharam for forty years of marriage, and Frank’s birthday as well!

Being “Mothering Sunday” many wore a white flower and all enjoyed Moira’s delicious Simnel Cake.

Tomorrow there will be the monthly Boot Sale, BBQ and morning tea available. Ron’s team will welcome all offers of extra hands to help, before, during and after the stalls close at midday.

This Sunday our visiting priest will be Archdeacon Michael Hopkins from Mildura, who will celebrate the Eucharist and preach at the 9.30 am service. At 5.00 pm the Café Church leaders will be hoping for some more families to come in for an enjoyable hour, concluding with a meal from 6.00 pm.

Congratulations to our Nyah West branch Secretary, Leone Tress, who has been elected as new Diocesan President of Mothers’ Union. Next Wednesday Mothers’ Union members will gather in Bendigo to celebrate “Lady Day”, which honours the wonderful acceptance of God’s will by Mary, to be the young mother of Jesus.

At the service at 10 am in Bendigo, Joan Mellahn will be presented with a scroll recognising her sixty years’  membership of Mothers’ Union, including terms of office as President and Secretary

Around Swan Hill Parish – Friday 9th March 2018

Last Friday the World Day of Prayer service was well attended, much appreciated, and produced $470.00 towards the “Kids at Risk “ project. Thanks to everyone who participated from the four local congregations, especially the Uniting Church people, who had such a busy weekend for their church’s milestone anniversary, but made time to attend.

This Sunday the newly elected Bishop of Bendigo, Bp. Matt Brain, will visit the Parish of Swan Hill.

He will preside at the Eucharist and preach, and It will be great to meet him so soon after his installation ( 17th February.) There will be one parish service at 9.30 am and hopefully the Bishop will see a vibrant congregation earnestly praying for a new Rector. Bp. Matt is a young father of five children, so it would be wonderful if he has a friend of similar status ( “ in the business as the Lord’s Shepherd “) whom he could encourage to be our new Rector!

Ultima Eucharist 7.30 pm tonight at Wayne and Lois’s home.

Music practice in the church at 11.15 am tomorrow after Morning Prayer  service. 10.30 am at Alcheringa. Anyone is welcome to come in and sing along or just sit and listen as the songs and hymns for Sunday are rehearsed.

The fourth Sunday in Lent is traditionally observed as “Refreshment Sunday”, a mid- Lent break from austerity, also celebrated as “Mothering Sunday” , when  Anglicans honour all mothers, and our Mother Church. Mothers often wear a white flower as a remembrance of their own mother.

As for flowers in church on Sundays during Lent, count up the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Day and realise that Sundays aren’t included, as all Sundays are celebrations of Jesus’ Resurrection, so flowers are fine.