- Who we are
- What we do
2019 was so ordinary. It had ups and downs, but mostly we got on with life. As Christmas was celebrated, we remembered the coming of the Messiah looking forward to another year.
There seemed nothing to seriously be afraid of. However, from November things changed in China and 2020 was set to be a year without parallel in modern history. People began dying from a virus we now know as CV19.
New words entered our vocabulary, Pan-demic being one. Pan as a prefix means “…the whole of…” and last used widely as the NAZIS tried to establish a Pan-Germanic Empire from Europe. It did not last and nor will CV19.
In March 2020 panic set in. None have been spared and we have seen the best and worst of world and local leaders including in the Churches.
What are we afraid of: Death and meeting our Lord or something else? In the 2019 flu season, were we afraid of catching it and even dying or did we just move on and trust God for what He had planned for us (believers or not) before the world began?
God has set a time to be born and die; nothing can change that. We need not fear other than falling into the hands of the Living God without Jesus. We must be careful but that was the case in 2019.
What are you afraid of?
Hebrew 10:31 “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
– Geoff Kyngdon
In Colossians 1:3-5 we see Paul outlining how faith, hope and love interrelate in the Christian life:
“We give thanks … since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven”
Did you notice that future hope is the driver of their faith and love?
We know what we hope for drives what we do today. Each month I put away some money into superannuation in the hope that I will have accumulated enough to help support myself and others in the future. This gives me confidence in what I do today because I have some security in the future.
But markets can crash and savings can be wiped away. Nothing is certain, except that which is held with God. What exactly then is the hope laid up in heaven, away from the turmoil of this world, which can give total confidence and security to us in this life?
God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.Colossians 1:27
Christ and all the blessings we have in him are our heavenly hope, which nothing on earth can take away. He blesses us now, and has even greater things in store to come. From that certain hope we can live with faith in Christ and love for one another.
– Sam Pursell
Sometimes in life we want things to be different, but we are not willing to let go of what we are currently doing, in order to be free to do the new thing.
Personally, there are new hobbies I’d like to take up, current ones which I’d like to devote more attention to and old ones which would be fun to start again. But each takes time and effort to get up to the standard you want. Running, cycling, mountain biking, surfing, guitar, reading books, watching movies.
God’s power is without limit, but we are limited. We might be told by some in the world that we can do it all and take on everything, but God knows that we cannot nor does he expect us to.
The Apostle Paul, in his missionary journeys and extended stays had a few regular patterns, but was also open to stopping one thing and moving onto another. He would regularly start in a town at the synagogue and explain Christ to the Jews, if that was prevented, he stopped, and moved to proclaim to the Gentiles. He would move from synagogue to marketplace, to halls, to houses. And he would move from town to town as well.
Our lives and ministries are in this place, but what might we let go of to start more fruitful work?
– Sam Pursell
After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.Exodus 13:20-22 (NIV)
The phrase “unprecedented times” seems irrelevant to say now. We all know we’re walking in the depths of uncertainty on a daily basis. We feel it in our bones, and we are weary on a different level.
And yet, there are also some of us who are starting to dream again, envisioning what the future will hold and how we can get there. Hope and fear, anxiety and joy mingle together, and we cannot go back to what once was. We can only move forward together.
Perhaps that’s how the Israelites felt as God delivered them from Egypt and led them toward the wilderness. All they had was His presence to lead them by day and by night. They had to keep going forward even when they couldn’t see a way through, but God’s presence was always with them — protecting them, providing for them, and redeeming them.
And the same goes for us today. When we can’t imagine how we will survive the day, when we struggle to believe in hope, when everything seems lost, His steady hand guides us.
Let’s trust that the God who split the Red Sea is able and willing to make a way through for us too.
– Valerie O’Regan
Last week, when I wrote about starting a pastoral care team, what activity came to mind? Some of us might think of a hot drink and a chat, perhaps some prayer for what is needed.
But does your mind go to God’s word for pastoral care?
Pastoral care comes from the imagery of a shepherd looking after sheep. In 1 Peter 5:1-3 Peter tells church elders to shepherd the flock, the people of the church under their care. This involves exercising oversight, working willingly and eagerly, not for personal gain or by domineering, but by being an example. In 1 Timothy 3:2, Paul would also add the task of teaching.
Whilst our pastoral care team does not exercise church oversight or some of the other functions, the ways and means of the work is much the same: eagerly, willingly, caring for people, not domineering, but by being an example. However, the Bible and prayer play a role too. Listening and sharing are important, and healing and praying calls upon the resources only God can give to any situation, but what greater encouragement and hope can be gained than by reading God’s word!
This week I read Psalm 18 with the Monday women’s group. We were strengthened by David’s reminder of who God is in verses 1-3:
I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
Following on from this, David tells of his deliverance from death and God’s saving power in Israel’s history. As we read along, we were all encouraged. This is but one example.
The whole Bible can be counted upon for all our ministries. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we know how the Bible is sufficient for producing thoroughly equipped disciples – ‘teaching, rebuking, correcting and training.’ Interestingly, in the next chapter, Paul adds one extra – ‘encouraging.’ Who can you pastorally care for and encourage with the Bible this week?
– Sam Pursell