27th & 28th October 2018
What does your ideal church community look like? This question was asked in the Youth Focus night a few weeks prior to a special weekend planned for the 27th and 28th of October.
Some spoke of having the same purpose, of being there for each other; being a safe haven for all. Others spoke that church community means having a place where we can draw closer to God and help each other in the process. We continued to discuss this concept and at the end, a diagram with the letters CH __CH was presented. The question was asked, “What is missing?” The answer was “UR”. Without the people church is just CHCH. This highlitghts what church community means for us here in Sydney. Aside from the great commission that we have been given to be a light and beacon of hope to the world, we also want to be a community where others can come and find refuge and a family.
With that in mind, Schofields Church hosted a Visitors Sabbath and Sunday Family BBQ. The purpose was to give an opportunity for regular visitors and members to invite someone along for a special program and to meet our local church community. There were so many hands and hearts that came together to prepare for the big weekend. Right from the children’s Sabbath school classes up to the individual members, everyone worked so hard to invite visitors and make the day a most memorable one. The day proved really enjoyable and a great blessing with many visitors attending Schofields.
The format of the day was quite simple. We held a normal church service with a registration time of 9am. This arrival time would allow all to easily find a seat and familiarise themselves with the surroundings. There were two lovely ladies sitting at the table as people walked in who presented each visitor with a small, brown paper gift bag which contained flyers of our upcoming events as well as a little gift. Once one had signed the visitor’s book, they walked in the church and waited for the program to begin.
The theme for the day was “Behold the Lamb of God” which embodies everything that we are and want to be doing as Christians. It is our greatest joy to Behold Jesus and become more and more like him each day. Consequently, the morning Sabbath school lesson “The Holy Spirit in the Life of Christ” was a fitting way of explaining how Jesus lived a sinfless life in our fallen nature. We too can have a victorious life in Christ Jesus through Christ’s most precious gift to our world – the Holy Spirit.
Just as Divine Service was beginning, the Sydney Churches Choir came forward to sing one of the songs that they had prepared called “Jesus, Only Jesus”. It was a fitting introduction to the sermon which was entitled “Behold the Lamb of God”.
How is it that we should “Behold the Lamb of God? What is the message about? The following paragraph from Desire of Ages provides an apt summary.
“How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself. Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and we can say with Christ, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.” Psalm 40:8. DA 175.5
After a delicious potluck lunch, we all gathered once again in the meeting hall for the afternoon music program. There were many singing items including a Samoan language item and a Yugoslav language item. The churches in Sydney represent a variety of cultures which include German, Spanish, Brazilian, Serbian, Croatian, Hungarian and Latin American, Australian and North American to name a few.
During the previous weeks, the children’s Sabbath school had been abuzz with excitement and plans for the weekend. We were able to see their handiwork in the music program where they beautifully presented new songs, all while wearing lovely glittering, rhinestone-covered crowns. It is very encouraging to see the youth of tomorrow praising their Heavenly Father, together. After the children sang, the program quickly unfolded and there were many more instrumental items, trios, quartet items, another choir item as well as a puzzling but enjoyable quiz run by two of our youth.
It was nice to know, however, that once the program ended, we would once again enjoy each other’s company the next day at the Bungarribee Parklands for a family BBQ. It was wonderful to see that many visitors from the Sabbath returned the next day. However, it was even wonderful to see also different people attend who had not been able to attend the previous day. As it turned out, on Sunday the number of visitors far exceeded that of our members and perhaps more so by the many excited children that were present. The children especially, and some adults were able to experience the amazing playgrounds, flying foxes and swing sets that were available. As always, one of the best parts was definitely the food and we were able to share together a fully vegetarian BBQ meal which was both tasty and wholesome.
We are so thankful to God for the opportunity that we had to host this amazing weekend and with God’s help, we are already planning for the next one. Many thanks also go to everyone who contributed food items to both days and to those who volunteered at a moment’s notice. There was a lot of work behind the scenes to design, organise and distribute the flyers, pew cards and welcome cards. Many thanks goes to all who were involved. Many thanks as well are given especially to the children’s Sabbath school teachers, volunteers and children, who through their hard work and dedication provided a beautiful presentation. We look forward to the next one and encourage you to put on a visitors Sabbath, family Sunday BBQ or an entire weekend as we did! It will definitely be a great blessing for all!
~ Daniela Balarezo