A Different Year End

Dear BPCWAians, How the year has slipped by!  As you read this pastoral, there are only 3 more Sundays to 2020 before the year is over.  Certainly, it has been a very different and a very challenging year for many, if not all.  But we must be very thankful to God especially for how He has led us and directed the matters in Western Australia.  That we can continue to gather every Sunday in worship is a testimony to His faithfulness.  However, because things are not the same, I want to take this opportunity to let worshippers know how our present circumstances will affect the typical upcoming activities in the church.  

Christmas English Gospel Meeting.  The banner has been put up in the area next to the bus stop outside the church, and invitation leaflets are available in the foyer.  Another challenge that we will face is – how can we know if we have enough seating, since we don’t know who or how many people will turn up for the gospel meeting?  Previously, all who turned up could easily fit into the main sanctuary.  However, with the current seat layouts, this is a challenge.  To aid us in this process, we request worshippers to register those who are coming by using this link, bpcwa.org.au/gospel, so that seating arrangements can be made and so that we can pray for them.

Christmas Worship Service.  We thank God thatwe can continue to have our respective English and Chinese Christmas Worship Services in church.  Since the English Gospel Meeting is targeted to be for unbelievers, we can then focus on inviting believers to our English Christmas day services instead.  The message at the Christmas worship service will concentrate more on exalting and adoring our glorious Incarnate Saviour than on being a gospel message for unbelievers.  If you have Christian friends who are looking for a church, or who have not been to church recently, do invite them to this service.  Since some visitors may join us for our 10 am Christmas Worship Service, we are planning for the possibility that we may not have enough seats to accommodate everyone at church while abiding to COVID safety rules.  As such, we are currently trying to find ways to resolve this potential issue eg by pre-identifying a group of people that may worship in an alternate location in church (possibly Jeremiah) to make space for visitors.  With more seating available in the Chinese service, we don’t anticipate similar seating challenges for the 1:30 pm Chinese Christmas Service, and welcome both unbelievers and believers who only speak Chinese to join for these services.  

Why we cannot have Christmas lunch this year.  Since Phase 5 has not been implemented by now as hoped, we have had to cancel our traditional Christmas lunch this year.  It is a disappointment to me personally, but we have to accept the Lord’s lot for us and be grateful that we can still meet to worship in person.  There is really not much alternative for us.  As we must still comply with the 2 sqm and physical distancing guidelines in place for our church, it would be impossible to have all worshippers gathered in the fellowship and upper fellowship hall for the lunch together.  The use of the carpark area to serve lunch is not feasible, as we will need all the available parking space for cars.  Besides this constraint, it would also be impractical to have lunch served out in the open at what may be a scorching summer sun.  Cancelling the Christmas lunch is not my desire as I am sure we have enjoyed the fellowship together and being able to talk to friends over the Christmas lunch, but as mentioned, let us treasure the privilege to be found in His house to remember His Birth.

Combined Watchnight Service.  With lesser numbers typically coming for Watchnight Service, we are hoping to have our first Combined Worship Service since COVID and the start-up of English and Chinese services.  As expected, worshippers will have to sit scattered around the different areas in church.  At present, we are not sure if another BPCWA tradition – our post Watchnight service supper – can proceed, with modifications.  Besides the physical distancing restrictions, we must also be mindful about COVID processes if food is served too.  Nevertheless, supper or not, I hope that our worshippers will not forego the opportunity to come together at this important time to give thanks to God for His keeping over the past year and to seek His blessings for the year ahead.  As usual, we will pray for the church after the Watchnight Service.  The English will pray corporately in the ground level areas, while the Chinese can pray in smaller groups in the upper level sanctuary.  Do come and join the church in prayer as we need His help even more than ever in these unusual times! 

Certainly, it won’t be the same this Christmas and Watchnight, but this has been a different year, and we must be thankful that we can still come together to worship at this important time of the year.  We must continue to be grateful for this blessing in WA.  Do you remember that Easter 2020 was spent in our own individual homes during the COVID lockdown?  It is our lot to live through this pandemic, and we submit to God’s Sovereign plan and purposes for this, thanking Him for His mercies to us.  Many around the world may have to celebrate this occasion missing loved ones lost due to the COVID toll.  God has been good to us, so let us continue to worship Him fervently this Christmas season, different though it may seem.  Brethren, the time is short.  Let us not be complacent and think only about how we will celebrate the festivities to enjoy ourselves, but instead, let us do our utmost during this season to bring the good news to those around us.  Let us seek out His sheep and bring them into BPCWA to learn and grow together with us.  ’Tis the season be fervent for the glory of the God in WA, “Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.”

Ps 96:11, 13   Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad . . . 13 Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

Yours in our Lord’s service,