A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
5th December 2008
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Thank you for your prayerful support last weekend as I spoke at The South Pacific Training Event.
It was a great time of fellowship and teaching. It was a marvellous sight to see over a thousand university students from across our nation and the South Pacific, joining together to sing God’s praises, pray for kingdom, and prepare themselves for evangelistic missions. They worked hard all day and well into the evening studying God’s word, praying with each other, hearing of and from Christians in other countries and preparing talks to give on mission. This weekend, and over the next few days, they will be preaching the gospel in many parts of our nation. Keep praying for them.
December is also the season for us to prepare for Christmas in prayer. Others prepare by cooking the puddings, buying and wrapping presents, sending cards, and organising family get-togethers. Most of us are engaged in all this too, but additionally we as Christians prepare in prayer.
This is important because at Christmas time greater numbers of people attend church than at any other time of the year. It is the easiest time to invite people to join us in the Cathedral. The great Christmas events provide the opportunities to proclaim the name of Jesus in our community, even if it has to compete with Santa Claus and other distractions.
So we need to pray for the Cathedral’s ministry to our city. We need to pray that many people will come this year and hear the Christmas message. We need to pray that God, by his Spirit, will bring people to faith through the wonderful news of our Saviour. We need to pray for the advertising, the welcoming, the singing and the preaching, and the sound system and its operators. We need God’s blessing on every aspect of this endeavour, for unless the Lord builds the house those who build it labour in vain (Psalm 127:1).
December is also the end of the financial year for the Cathedral. There are many extra expenses as part of the Christmas period but it does not inevitably follow that extra income will be made available. Though the congregations are large, the offertories do not reflect the increased numbers. Nominal Anglicans and visitors rarely give generously in the way that our congregation members do.
So far this year we have seen a steady growth in our offertory giving. It is a matter of great thankfulness to God for it is a sign and symbol of the increased commitment of Cathedral congregations to the ministry of the gospel.
However, we still have a sizeable distance to go to meet our expenditure. Furthermore, the crisis in the markets is affecting our investment income which pays for the majority of our property and some of our ministry expenses. It is always good to finish December without carrying a loss into the next year. This is especially true as January is a holiday period when some of our regular members are away and we have an increase in visitors who do not contribute as generously.
So as you plan Christmas (and think about using the Government’s generous allowance payments), please remember the Cathedral’s financial needs and prepare in prayer to reach the city with news of our Saviour.