by Lisa McIntosh

Christian meditation is an ancient practice dating back thousands of years, to the first days of the church. And it was part of the tradition of those of the Jewish faith long before that. There are many biblical references to meditation, from Genesis through the New Testament, with many specific mentions in the Psalms.

In fact in Psalm 1, God’s people are urged to meditate on his word – on his law – ‘day and night’.

Martin Luther, too, practised, taught and wrote on meditation. He reformed and simplified the medieval monastic model as he did so, according to LCA Pastor Tim Jarick, in his paper ‘Mysticism, Monks and Marty: Meditation in the Lutheran tradition’.

Pastor Tim, Chaplain at Pacific Lutheran College at Caloundra in Queensland, explains that Luther put praying to God for guidance first before reading the Scriptures in his model and made the cross of Christ central to the Lutheran tradition of meditation.

And yet, as Lutherans in Australia and New Zealand, many of us have grown without much knowledge of what Christian meditation is and how and why it is an important, even central, element of our faith journeys.

Indeed, until recent times, many modern Christians have shied away from the practice, says Lutheran Pastor Stephen Abraham. Pastor Stephen, who was already teaching Christian meditation when a spinal injury left him with permanent debilitating and chronic pain and forced his retirement from full-time ministry in his early 30s, uses meditation whenever his pain is severe.

He has developed his own style of Christian meditation over three decades, which draws on a range of influences including the Desert Fathers (early Christian hermits, ascetics and monks, who lived in the Egyptian desert from the 3rd century); Roman Catholic priest, Benedictine monk and spiritual writer John Main; the French ecumenical monastic fraternity Taizé, Martin Luther and, of course, the meditations present in the Bible.

Pastor Stephen says that in other religions meditation is about ‘controlling your mind’ or ‘mindlessly losing yourself’, whereas, in Christianity, it is about ‘giving your thoughts to God’ and ‘giving him control of your thinking’. ‘It is letting your mind-space be governed by God’s word so that the Holy Spirit can direct your daily life’, he says.

‘Meditation is something all humans share: a relaxed focus, a tool to calm mind and body, a place of solace in a busy world.

‘Muslims pray, but we as Christians aren’t afraid to pray or use Christian prayer in our daily life just because Muslims pray. Hindus sing, but we don’t write off all singing us “un-Christian” or an evil practice. Likewise, Buddhists meditate, but for 3000 or more years meditation has been part of the Judeo/Christian experience, even if modern Christians have shied away from it.

‘Just as Christian prayers and music are uniquely Christian, Christian meditation flows from our encounter with the Trinity as revealed in the Bible. In practice, it is a place where the Holy Spirit can guide our reflection as we focus on God’s word.’

Pastor Stephen says there is no ‘one right way’ to do Christian meditation. ‘We are free in the gospel and there are no biblical instructions on exactly how to practise meditation. We only have the command to meditate (Joshua 1:8) and references to meditation throughout Scripture, especially in the Psalms.’

Pastor Anthony Price, who serves the worshipping communities of Gawler Lutheran Church north of Adelaide and is accredited as a Spiritual Director and Retreat Leader, teaches Christian meditation and offers spiritual direction. He believes there are several reasons why meditation may have become a ‘lost’ practice in the Lutheran church.

‘Firstly, maybe that’s to do with the New Age movement and that people have a perception that it’s a bit weird’, he says. ‘That’s the unhealthy forms of meditation that take us off of the word, and Jesus and the Triune God.

‘I also think there’s a fear of the unknown – people just don’t know about it.

‘And I have to think about my role as a church leader. If I wasn’t really experiencing it myself, I wouldn’t have been teaching it. So while we as pastors may have learnt about it, if we haven’t experienced it in a life-transforming way, we may not have taken on board the centrality of meditation. And Luther is a fine example, who tells us and teaches us how important it is for us.’

Kathy Worthing, a member of the World Community for Christian Meditation state executive for South Australia and leader of a Christian meditation group, believes this contemplative ministry form is having a revival among everyday Christians – including in the LCA/NZ.

‘Recent spiritual writers such as John Main, Laurence Freeman, Joan Chittister and Richard Rohr have been at the forefront of the resurgence in the practice of Christian meditation, taking it beyond the monastery walls and into the lives of everyday Christians’, she says. ‘As Laurence Freeman said in A Pearl of Great Price, “Our world sorely needs the silent infrastructure of contemplation woven into the institutions and frenetic schedules. It needs the healing and transforming power that only the spirit can set free in us and among us”.’

Pastor Anthony, who had a life-changing experience through attending a retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius in 2009 says he came to realise that it’s an important element of our faith-life to have a heart – or experiential – connection with Scripture, as well as a head – or intellectual – one.

‘When I came out of seminary I was very focused in knowledge and doctrine, so that came easily to me’, he says. ‘But when we’re talking about meditating on Scripture, these are matters of the heart. So I needed to grow in that and exploring traditions, such as those of the Jesuits who specialise in meditation and prayer, has really just opened up to me the matters of the heart. It was interesting for me later on to do some research on Luther and discover an experiential emphasis in relation to Scripture from him that some people miss out on.’

Pastor Anthony took a year out of parish ministry in 2012 to complete a Master’s degree in Spiritual Direction with the University of Divinity. He has led retreats using his Lutheran adaptation of The Ignatian Exercises, a retreat program written by Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish Christian layman at the time who would later become the founder of the Jesuits. The program features Christian meditations centred on the Scriptures, the gospels and various prayers.

He believes the main benefit of Christian meditation ‘is to experience Christ himself’. ‘He says, “I am with you always”, so it enables us to experience him and his love and helps us to grow in faith, to grow in hope, to grow in love – real love in action as we join Jesus in his mission’, Pastor Anthony says.

‘The word meditation literally means “to chew on”, so it belongs to all of us as human beings. Jesus says, “Do not worry”, and worry is a form of meditation; it’s something that we ruminate again and again. So we all naturally meditate, but in terms of Christian meditation, the all-important aspect is, “Where’s the emphasis? What’s the content that we’re meditating on?”

‘For us as Christians, it’s the God that we believe in, the Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit, and where we experience him most centrally is in Scripture, through God’s word.’

Pastor Stephen has written a Christian meditation program with the hope of making the practice easy for time-poor people. For a copy, you can email him at

He also has produced YouTube meditation videos, which can be watched and heard at and songs on online social audio platform SoundCloud, which are available for free at

What is Christian meditation?

  • Christian meditation is a verbal activity – literally saying God’s word to one’s self.
  • It’s a different way of abiding in God’s word, resting with him, and receiving the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  • Meditation is not a means of salvation. It doesn’t make you ‘better’ than other Christians.
  • There are two broad types of Christian meditation – guided meditation and self-guided meditation.
  • While guided meditation is a relaxation exercise in which someone else’s voice guides your awareness and focus, self-guided meditation involves just you and words from Scripture, a prayer or a song.
  • Generally, any Bible verse which encapsulates a key theme of that passage/chapter and that lends itself to breathing and memorisation can be used.

Some important tips for meditation

  • Make it a daily routine and dedicate time to meditation in your calendar
  • Find a quiet place, away from distractions, get physically comfortable and mentally relax.
  • Have a scriptural point of focus.
  • Always start in God’s name: ‘In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen’ – thereby claiming your baptism and identity as a forgiven child of God.
  • Meditation opens you up spiritually, so ask for God’s protection as you begin by quoting Scripture.

From ‘Christian Meditation’, by Pastor Stephen Abraham

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by Kathy Worthing

The practice of Christian meditation is not well-known in our Lutheran congregations and schools. We have tended to focus more on the intellectual side of our faith (the head) than on the spiritual side (the heart). But there is much to be gained through practising Christian meditation, which aims to connect us with the God-centred core of our being.

Significantly, Christian meditation, once well-established in the contemplative traditions of the church, is making a return among everyday Christians – including Lutherans.

But just what is Christian meditation? It draws upon a deep desire and willingness to enter into a more intimate relationship with God. It is not centred upon the individual meditator but upon God.

The Christian meditator seeks to be still and silent, to listen to God and to simply be in his presence. To do this, many sit upright when they meditate to focus without becoming drowsy and repeat a word or phrase to keep their mind from wandering. Many say the biblical word ma-ra-na-tha (‘Come, O Lord’) silently to aid their focus. Others prefer to repeat the name of Jesus, or to say ‘Lord, have mercy’. For those repeating ma-ra-na-tha, each syllable is said silently with even stress as the word is repeated slowly to help silence our thoughts.

Experienced meditators will do this for 20 or 30 minutes, but those new to the practice may want to start with 10 or 15-minute sessions. This can be done in groups, but is also done by individuals once or twice each day in a quiet place.

Many wonder what to expect when meditating. Do not expect anything. Trust the process. Many find that meditation opens them to greater awareness and attentiveness to God, others and themselves. Meditation is a form of prayer that assists us towards being continually transformed to be more like Christ, and less centred upon ourselves, leaving the ego behind.

I have been practising Christian meditation for more than four years and have been thankful for the journey upon which God has led me. I have experienced many transformations and experiences of communion with Christ, but all in God’s own time. I discovered that I have been carrying with me many layers of protection in the form of insecurities, attachments, fear and a lack of confidence.

By learning to be still before God and listen, I have found that Christ has gently changed me, bringing me not only closer to him but also closer to whom he wants me to be.

Kathy Worthing is a member of the WCCM state executive for South Australia and leads a Christian meditation group meeting at Immanuel Lutheran Church, North Adelaide.

How to find out more

For those looking for structure, advice or a group to meet with, a good place to begin is with the ecumenical WCCM (World Community for Christian Meditation), which has branches in Australia and New Zealand. For more information, go to

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by Pauline Simonsen

‘Look how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these’ (Matthew 6:28-29).

Can you see Jesus, sitting on the hills above Lake Galilee, people all around him, listening? Can you see him gesturing towards a scattering of wildflowers, drawing people’s attention to the flowers’ simple beauty? I wonder where Jesus got this idea from – to compare the wildflowers with King Solomon’s regal finery, as an example of God’s loving provision.

Jesus was a contemplative! He spent time looking, noticing and reflecting on what he was seeing. He gazed at God’s creation and noticed how it demonstrated so much from God’s word. He reflected on what he learnt at the feet of the rabbis in the synagogue, considering how God outworked that teaching in human lives. In his father’s carpentry business, he pondered as he sawed and sanded.

He connected God’s Torah truths with everyday life and so could speak parables of God’s kingdom.

Remember all those times in the gospels when Jesus withdrew by himself to pray (for example, Luke 4:1, 4:42, 5:16, 6:12 and 9:18)? I’m sure a lot of that time was sitting silently in his Father’s presence, listening, looking, pondering … contemplating!

Contemplation has been described as a ‘long, loving look’: slowing down to ponder what one is looking at – whether a Bible verse, an idea, or a flourish of lilies. Contemplation is countercultural in our world. We are people of the fast click, of ‘surfing’ the net, skimming over images and text. We pause briefly on what catches our attention but click on immediately if it doesn’t hold us.

Perhaps many of us read the Bible that way, too. Quickly read my devotion or verses for today, then go! Contemplation isn’t that. It’s going in slowly, with an open, noticing attitude and pausing on something that grabs our eye, ear, mind, or heart. Stopping there; giving the Spirit of God time and space to speak. Waiting quietly, patiently, receptively.

Contemplation, like meditation, has a long Biblical heritage. Do a word search in Psalm 119 for the number of times the psalmist says he will ‘meditate on God’s law’! Think of young David, up there in the hills around Bethlehem, tending his father’s sheep. What did he do in those long solitary hours? Reflected on the Hebrew scriptures, pondered the creation around him, thought deeply about God, wondered how it all related to his life … and wrote songs and psalms expressing these personal meditations. David contemplated!

These words – contemplation and meditation – have been taken over by western culture dabbling in New Age and Eastern religions and we as Christians are often understandably wary. It’s good to clarify that we are speaking of Christian meditation. So what is it?

In New Zealand we have lots of dairy farms and I often drive past and see cows lying down, chewing their cud. That’s the best image of meditation I can think of. The cow has spent the morning eating grass and now sits quietly, regurgitating semi-processed grass so it passes more readily through the cow’s four(!) stomachs. Cows usually spend more time chewing during rumination than when they eat, breaking down grass so it can be absorbed and nourish them.

This describes Christian meditation: ruminating on God’s word. Taking in a portion of Scripture and pausing; chewing on it, re-reading it (several times, maybe in different translations), waiting with an open heart for the Holy Spirit to highlight truths from those verses that God wants you to hear today. Allowing the living word to speak life to you right in the middle of your busy day.

Why? Because God wants you to hear his word. He is always speaking, but we so rarely pay attention. Prayerful Christian meditation slows us and opens us to hearing and receiving God’s word.

All this is, of course, the work of God’s Spirit in us and through his word. Inevitably we humans turn it into our ‘work’: I must meditate to ‘hear God’! But it is the Spirit who draws us, opens the word to us and gives us receptive hearts. It’s like any Christian practice we do in response to God giving us new life: prayer, regular devotions, worship, service … These too are the Spirit’s work in and through us, growing us to be more like Jesus. This is the grace and kindness of a God who wants to communicate with his beloved children.

Christian meditation has many forms. One ancient practice is lectio divina or ‘holy reading’, encountering Christ the Word in Scripture. It is simple, word-centred, Spirit-directed and leads us to Jesus.

A helpful introduction to this form can be found at Through it, the Holy Spirit fills me with stillness and peace. This is the joy and delight of Christian meditation!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer explained meditation well in his book Life Together: ‘Silence is nothing else but waiting for God’s word and coming from God’s word with a blessing, but everybody knows that this is something that needs to be practised and learned, in these days when talkativeness prevails … Often we are so burdened and overwhelmed with other thoughts, images, and concerns that it may take a long time before God’s word has swept all else aside and come through. But it will surely come, just as surely as God has come … and will come again … This stillness before the word will exert its influence upon the whole day … Silence before the word leads to right hearing and thus also to right speaking of the word of God at the right time.’

Dr Pauline Simonsen is Dean and a lecturer at Christian training provider Emmaus at Palmerston North in New Zealand. She is also a guest speaker, spiritual director and retreat leader and a member at St Lukes Lutheran Church.

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Members of the LCA/NZ are being urged to pray for peace in Myanmar, where the military staged a coup d’etat and took control of the country last month.

Following an overwhelming victory by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party in elections held last November, the military disputed the result, detained elected leaders including Ms Suu Kyi, and instigated a 12-month state of emergency.

LCA International Mission works closely with four churches in Myanmar through the Federation of Lutheran Churches in Myanmar and Pastor Matt Anker, LCA Assistant to the Bishop – International Mission, has invited Australian and New Zealand Lutherans to join in praying for a ‘peaceful resolution’ to the unrest in the South-East Asian nation.

‘Please join us as we pray for a peaceful resolution to this latest unrest in Myanmar, and for our brothers and sisters in Christ as they live in times of increased uncertainty and insecurity’, Pastor Matt said. ‘May our Heavenly Father send his holy angels to watch over the churches of Myanmar and the entire country and use this moment as an opportunity for the gospel of forgiveness, life and salvation to be proclaimed even more widely in this troubled country.’

Pastor Matt said one of Myanmar’s church leaders shared with him details of the situation there recently, including the public demonstrations which began in response to the coup.

The church leader, who asked not to be named, said: ‘This public demonstration is not about favouring [the] NLD party which recently won the election. It’s about the people who don’t want to go back to our nightmares under military regime. We feel that our votes for the country were neglected and disregarded by one single command from the army leaders. Many Christian churches, organisations and local NGOs [have issued] statements opposing this military coup. And Christians are not fearing at this time of need [to] stand up for the truth and welfare for the people of Myanmar. We invite all our brothers and sisters from Christian and non-Christian communities to protest this inhuman action by the military.’

He said: ‘Please continue to pray for the people of Myanmar as we have peaceful demonstrations around the country.’

What does the word ‘meditation’ mean to you? Does it evoke feelings of suspicion or fear, thoughts of New Age or Eastern religions and images of chanting Buddhist monks, silent remote retreats or mountain-dwelling yogis?

Sure, many would have heard Christian devotional practice referred to as ‘a meditation’, but what does Christian meditation actually involve? What’s the scriptural basis for this practice? And what did Luther say in his writings and teachings about the subject?

These are some of the questions we look at this month – an ideal topic as we continue to journey through Lent. This edition is by no means an exhaustive explanation of Christian meditation, but rather an invitation to you, as it has been to me, to begin to explore it – and to discover the entreaties throughout Scripture to engage, if you have not already done so.

Through my research and in speaking with and interviewing some LCA/NZ leaders and members passionate about contemplative prayer, I have realised how little I knew. I have come to see the vital role Christian meditation can play in our faith journeys and its great and varied physical, emotional and spiritual benefits for those who participate in this form of worship.

And that’s the crux of the matter. For while there are many structures for Christian meditation – whether using prayers, sayings, Scripture verses and/or songs to concentrate our thoughts, whether silent or spoken, solo or in a group, guided or self-led, in retreat or everyday life – it is always a way of praising and communing with God and keeping him and his word central in our thoughts.

That’s the difference between Christian meditation and that of secular or other religious traditions. God, in Christ, is our focus. This is about being still and really getting to know him, as we are encouraged in Psalm 46. It’s about listening to the Father, allowing his Spirit to work in us and his Son to reveal himself to us. This is the ‘heart stuff’, the experiential side of our relationship with God. It is something we may too easily ignore if we concentrate only on the ‘head stuff’ of doctrine or dogma.

Of course, along with our theme features and study, your March edition is full of Church@Home content, news, views, resources and columns (and Going GREYT! will be back next month). I pray these pages will be full of blessings for you.


PS – Remember, The Lutheran is now also available as a digital edition, so why not encourage people with online access to subscribe via this cost-effective and convenient format, or give a subscription as a gift? Print subscribers can access the digital version at no extra cost, too! Just go to

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Rev John Henderson

Bishop Lutheran Church of Australia

‘When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked; good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed’ (Proverbs 10:25 – The Message).

One day, while driving across the western plains of New South Wales in the mid-summer, we were suddenly caught in the most terrific storm. It seemed to come from the smallest of clouds, yet it blew a gale and pelted horizontal hail and rain at us. Instantly, the road was under water and drains became raging torrents. Debris flew past and tree limbs crashed. Blinded, all we could do was pull up on the highway with our hazard lights on, hoping that no-one would run up the back of us. It was only a local storm and soon over, but for that short while it transformed the peaceful countryside into a world of danger.

In 1975 I visited Darwin soon after Cyclone Tracy and saw the devastation left in its wake. It must have been terrifying for those who experienced it.

I think of those in Fiji and the Pacific who have been struck twice recently, first by Cyclone Yasa and then Cyclone Ana.

Sometimes we can feel like the world itself is in the midst of a storm. Not necessarily a meteorological event, but an event involving change, loss, danger and destruction (think COVID-19). We might think the ground itself is moving under our feet – a sensation New Zealanders know all too well.

Truly, the world has been like this ever since humankind’s fall into sin. We might long for an imaginary halcyon time when everyone is happy and fulfilled. But history shows that whenever human beings come close to happiness, or whatever it is they seek, it doesn’t last. There is more substance in the promise than in the actual delivery. The Bible contains evidence of that over thousands of years of human history. Just when the people get it good, something – often what they themselves do – brings it all crashing down.

In response to the chaos self-seeking humans bring upon themselves, the Bible introduces us to a God who patiently and lovingly rescues his people over and over again. It’s a true miracle that we have survived and are still here to share the good news of God’s love for humankind. We owe him everything. However bad the storm may seem to us, God remains in control (see, for instance, Matthew 8:23-27 and Acts 27:18-26). His word is constant whatever happens. He does not need our endorsement or approval. We contribute nothing to his power and might. All the same, we struggle to accept our complete and utter dependence on him. Some even choose to deny his existence. But without him, we could not even take the next breath needed to finish reading this sentence. If God were to withdraw that breath, we would simply cease to be.

So, the storm itself is not our greatest risk. Our greatest risk is forgetting God. Storms will come and go – sometimes more than once. The word of the Lord, however, remains forever.

Your life might feel like a whirlwind. You might think the church you love is being tossed around by the winds of change and human desire. Sometimes the only thing to do is pull up, put the hazard lights on and wait for it to blow over, as we did on the road that day. But once the storm had passed, and we had checked for damage, we could go on our way once more.

Have confidence that this is God’s world. We are and remain God’s redeemed children. As baptised believers, we belong to God’s family, his church.

We will survive and be the stronger for it. All thanks and praise to him.

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Delegates to the LCA’s Convention of General Synod in 2018 are being asked to vote in a postal ballot ahead of this year’s Convention.

General Church Board has authorised the Secretary of the Church to submit to the delegates of the LCA’s 19th General Synod a postal vote to authorise changes to the LCA’s bylaws.

The ballot requests that 2018 delegates approve changes to the bylaws to enable Conventions of General Synod to take place by meeting in person or by electronic means. The changes to the bylaws will allow procedures in transacting business and nominations and elections to be amended to suit the form in which the meeting takes place.

The ballot papers with supporting information were posted to delegates (at the home address listed on LCA files) last month.

They must be returned to the Secretary of the Church in the prepaid supplied envelope by the postmarked date of 26 March 2021.

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by Hanna Schulz

We know from 1 John that the ‘word of life’ is revealed in Jesus – the Word who took on flesh, lived among us, defeated death and is living still. The Bible is this word of life, it is ‘alive and active’ (Hebrews 4:12) and brings us life.

It is for this word that we named our new training building in Ubuo village, Papua New Guinea – the ‘Oroi’io Madei Training Centre’. This can be translated as either ‘Word of Life’ or ‘Living Word’ Training Centre. Both translations remind us that the word brings life and is alive in Jesus, speaking to us today, across time and cultures.

The centre was built to train and support people in translating God’s word into their language, for Bible-use training and supporting literacy work.

Since 2015 I have worked alongside the Kope people, training and supporting them in translating Luke into Kope. I have seen the translation team members’ faith grow as they come to understand God’s word more clearly. These co-workers share their learning with their families, churches and communities.

I also have become increasingly aware that neighbouring language communities do not have similar access to God’s word and I have been looking for ways to support them. A training centre seemed a good path.

The path from dream to reality, from planning and fundraising to building, has been long and rocky, but steeped in prayer and with each step taken in faith. God confirmed our path, often providing what was needed just in time. For example, just as solar panels and batteries needed to be paid for, I received a gift from the sale of Peace Lutheran Church Anna Bay in New South Wales! This is love in truth and action.

Despite the challenges of such a big project, especially during COVID, God raised up partners to help. Local villagers contributed through land and foundation preparation and assisted the building team. As a result, the building was completed in three-and-a-half weeks. Local women fed hungry builders and a day before the opening, the builders and electricians worked into the evening, with the power only turned on at 10.00pm.

The dedication and opening on 15 November was a huge communal effort and what a day of celebration it was! With guests from throughout the region and with much joy, we dedicated the building to the glory and work of God.

In June we plan to host a Scripture-use workshop and in September a literacy workshop. Further ahead we hope to reach out to a dozen language groups through training in oral Bible storying. This is a first step in translating God’s word into their languages.

Praise God for all he is doing among the Kope people and their neighbours. Pray for more workers and that he will prepare the hearts of those attending workshops. Pray that as they spread the word in their own languages, their communities may believe and, ultimately, know eternal life.

Hanna Schulz is a linguist and Bible translation advisor in PNG with Wycliffe, a partner of LCA International Mission. Email her at

To support Hanna, visit the Wycliffe Australia website at or email

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LCA/NZ members Chris Halbert and David Mattiske have been recognised in the Australia Day 2021 Honours List.

Chris Halbert, who received a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to the history of Australian Rules football, and to music, is the founding director of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) History Centre and has managed the centre in a volunteer capacity since its establishment in 2014. A former singing teacher at the University of Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium of Music, Chris has also been a member of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church Adelaide choir and one of its choir librarians for approximately 18 years.

Chris said she initially ‘thought someone was pulling my leg’, but was ‘delighted and honoured’ to receive the award.

Project manager for the LCA’s Alive!175 anniversary event at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in 2013, Chris is passionate about church music. ‘The Lutheran Church has a wonderful musical heritage and I don’t want to be a part of the generation that loses that’, she said.

Chris helped establish the SANFL History Centre to collect and preserve league memorabilia, including items from the career of her husband, former Sturt premiership captain, State and All-Australian footballer, 1961 Magarey Medallist and SANFL club coach, John Halbert. Also a member at Bethlehem, John has twice been recognised in honours lists – in 2009 with a Member of the Order of Australia award and 1969 as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

A member of Trinity Lutheran Church, at Southport in Queensland, David Mattiske was awarded an OAM in the General Division for ‘service to veterans and their families, and to the community’.

Now 95, David was an Able Seaman aboard Royal Australian Navy cruiser HMAS Shropshire in the Pacific during World War II, from the age of 18 to 20. Part of a team of lookouts during the pivotal Battle for Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in late 1944, David was awarded the Philippine Liberation Medal in 1995. His words are immortalised on the memorial wall of one of the four engagements of Leyte Gulf, the Battle of Surigao Strait: ‘Let us pray that we never have another world war.’

He wrote the book Fire Across the Pacific, which was published in 2000, and rates the relationships he and others have built with the Philippines’ embassy, ambassadors and staff since the war as ‘by far the most important thing’ he has done.

David, who was made a Life Member of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) in 1964 and has been a member of the Naval Historical Society of Australia since 2000, said it was a ‘great honour’ to receive his OAM.

The congratulations of the church are offered to these recipients and any other members honoured with awards.

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When Pastor Matt Anker, the LCA/NZ’s Assistant to the Bishop – International Mission, called on Lutheran pastors in Australia and New Zealand to support their brother pastors in the Philippines, he says the response was ‘breathtaking’.

Pastor Matt had heard from President Antonio Reyes of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP) about the effect of COVID-19 church shutdowns, inadequate health facilities, isolation and the lack of a government safety net on LCP pastors. Rev Reyes also shared that for months his pastors had not received stipends as their congregations were not meeting in person, and many members had lost their incomes.

‘He asked if we would consider buying a month’s supply of rice for each of their pastors to help them get by – the cost of which was A$7000’, Pastor Matt says. ‘Although this is not the usual work of LCA International Mission, it was an appeal I couldn’t ignore. Calling to mind the Apostle Paul’s encouragement in Galatians 6:10, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”, I wrote to our pastors and asked them to consider supporting their brother pastors in the Philippines by donating $60 to help one family.

‘Literally within minutes of hitting the send button on the emails, our pastors started to donate and they didn’t stop! Within a couple of days, we were beyond the goal of $7000 and still the donations continued. Some pastors shared this need with their congregations and one congregation sent on a $9000 bequest they had just received so that the ministry of word and sacrament in the Philippines could continue unhindered.

‘Thanks to the generosity of our pastors and those they shared this need with, we have sent more than $35,000 to the Philippines, enabling their pastors to continue their ministry without having to seek alternative work to feed their families.’

LCP’s Pastor Daniel Pondevida sums up the response of our friends in the Philippines when he says: ‘No words of heartfelt thanks can express my joy for your goodness and kindness towards us.’

Pastor Matt says that, while the scale of generosity he has witnessed in this example is ‘breathtaking’, he has been more surprised by the words of thanks he has received from LCA/NZ pastors who ‘were grateful for the opportunity to support their extended family in this way’.

‘Their words reminded me that their generosity is not of their own doing, but instead is born of gratitude for the abundant generosity of our Heavenly Father who did not spare his own Son, but willingly gave him up for us all that we might have forgiveness of sins and life in his name’, Pastor Matt says.

‘Their gifts reflect the love they have received from the Lord, a love which is so generous it overflowed their own lives and reached all the way to the Philippines.

‘Thanks be to God for his generosity in Christ that enables us to be bearers of his generous love to others.’

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