This Sunday we will be dedicating our new grand piano and in order to do that I have gathered a small task group together to prepare for the service. One of the hopes I have is about building a closer relationship with PEGS, and one way of doing that is through music.

We are blessed to have as a member of our congregation and on this task group one of the Chaplains at PEGS and he has been a great help in engaging with the Principal and music staff at the School and ensuring that we have a year 10 student coming to play during the service as well as one of the Music Teachers who will also play and speak about Music at PEGS.

I want to record my thanks to the Costigan family for the significant donation they made toward the purchase of this piano and I know that they are excited about the potential this has to help us engage more fully with students at PEGS. I also want to thank all who have contributed to this which has enabled us to obtain this piano.

Music is such an important part of our lives, able to express both the depths of sorrow and lament as well as lift us to the heights with joy and praise. The Christian Church was born in song. So says one of the giants of 20th century theology, Dr. Ralph Martin. As the parallel passages in Ephesians 5:18-20 and Colossians 3:16-17 indicate, “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” were an integral part of the early church.

In exploring the mission of our Congregation and our future direction, we have seen how important it is to reach out to our wider community and so create spaces where members of the wider community can find inspiration and support. While the ‘Road under the Rail’ project was a particularly disruptive period in our lives, one of the benefits is that it has begun to re-orient us from Buckley Street toward Mount Alexander Road. Our new main driveway entrance is a small symbol of that re-orientation. One of the things we are exploring is the possibility of building a facility next to the Church on the site of the old manse with space for some of the activities we currently do, but also for new projects that may better serve our mission. Having toilets in this Centre adjacent to the church, church office, rooms for Christian Education, space for morning tea, possibly an Op Shop facing out onto Mount Alexander Road, for example, could help us become more visible and accessible to the wider community.

If we could engage with a welfare agency to establish a counselling service for marriage and relationship counselling, financial and employment counselling, we would be able to provide important services to our wider community. This new facility might then become a Centre that also serves our neighbourhood and the wider city of Essendon in the name of the church. You can imagine a couple coming to St John’s wanting to get married. The minister could then encourage them to participate in pre marriage counselling run by professional counsellors while at the same working with the minister in preparing the service. Once a year I have tried to have a service where we invite couples who have been married in the church to come and celebrate the love and commitment they have found in each other. At such a service we could have one of the Counsellors speak and so foster the partnership we have established in order to serve our community.

All these are visions, dreams and hopes for the future designed to re-energise our congregation in the missional work of the church. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we dedicate this wonderful piano and offer praise to God.