News from the clergy
September can be seen as a time of new beginnings and opportunities and that can apply to the life of the church as well. It is a good time for of an audit on our involvement and if you are new, time to think about what God might be nudging you to get involved with. Attached to this edition of St John’s News is a copy of our “Time and Talents” form. Have a look at the possibilities and feel free to have a chat with me about it.
Christian discipleship entails allocating a proportion of our time and talents in God’s service. The danger today is that our working lives are so demanding of our time and talents that there is little time left for God and the Christian community. Church meetings and events come on top of a long stressful day. It can feel like one task too many.
The original meaning of the word church meant “the people” – initially, church buildings didn’t exist. Of course now that they do, we need to maintain them and make good use of them and that is all part of our Christian Stewardship. But let’s consider the church as the people, the body of Christ. In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul uses the analogy of the physical body to talk about the different members of the church. Just as there are many different parts to the one body, so there are many different members in the church. Just as the body needs all its parts to function effectively, so the body of the church relies on all its members and all the different members make up the whole.
Picture our church as a bicycle wheel. We are the different spokes that support the outer wheel. There are many different tasks that need to be accomplished in order to make the wheel turn: Welcome team, coffee making, leading worship, running The Net and Pathfinders, Minus Fives, singing in the choir, playing musical instruments, leading intercessions, reading, sacristy, assisting with communion and serving, flower arranging, cleaning, building maintenance, office duties, handling the finances, serving on the PCC and various committees and much more. Many of you have made a huge commitment of your time and talents already to help oil the wheel of the church. A lot of jobs are being carried out effectively but we always have vacancies to be filled. And of course it is not just about what we do within church but how we reach out to and have a role in our community as well.
Returning to the image of a wheel, we need to remember every wheel has a hub. The hub of the Christian church is Christ. We forget that at our peril. All that we are and all that we do as a church should revolve around Christ and Christ is the one who holds us together in unity. St Paul says, “God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.” Every single church member is significant and so are the tasks they carry out, whether cleaning or preaching it is all valued in the sight of God and is necessary for the functioning of our community.
Thank you to all of you who work tirelessly and selflessly for the good of this church and for God’s greater glory – for every contribution no matter how big or small. Those of you who feel that there is something you could be doing but aren’t yet, then now is the time to think and pray about your contribution to the life of this church and to respond accordingly. There may be things we would perhaps rather not do, but need to be done, as a sacrificial response. In doing those things we follow the example of Christ as the Servant-King. We each have time and talents. When we use them in God’s service we are helping to build up the church community, a sign of God’s love for the world.
Rev Lisa Cornwell
In wake of the EU referendum the nation remains divided and our Prime Minister has tendered his resignation. Brussels is pressing us to start divorce proceedings sooner rather than later and has stressed that it will not be amicable. Many are elated at the outcome but others of us harbour a deep unease about aspects of this. Britain has sent a strong message to the rest of Europe that we do not wish to stand in solidarity with them. Consequently, we are sowing seeds of hostility with our European neighbours and alienating the Euro-loving Scots, who immediately started talking about another referendum on independence, as did Northern Ireland.
As a democracy we all now have to accept the decision made and try to make the best of the situation. Even more critical than rescuing the crashing economy is restoring unity – within the UK, with Europe and with other countries across the world who are shocked and dismayed by Britain’s chosen course of action. Healing the hurts caused by this debate is an important part of the negotiations about the way forward. As we continue to relate to our neighbours locally and globally, may we follow the example of Christ and be motivated not by hatred or fear but by love and compassion. Our political leaders certainly need our prayers for wisdom, resilience and hope in the face of adversity.
There is currently much anxiety about the future of Britain. It is a time of great insecurity. As Christians, we must not forget that ultimately, our security rests in God. The words of Minnie Louise Haskins poem, The Gate of the Year, offer some reassurance to us now as they did in 1939 when spoken by George VI in his Christmas broadcast to the Empire facing the uncertainly of war.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
Rev’d Lisa Cornwell