If a gate disappears between fields around Broadway in the next few weeks we can expect the police to come knocking on the door of our new home in Lymington.
We will be among the first suspects. The evidence is undeniable. We take our gate everywhere we go! As you see from the pictures, however, I can be an Adam of Genesis and blame the woman for everything!
As Michael Payne said when giving us a wonderful gift of a painting commissioned from Anne Prayter on Sunday: “You don’t find many gates around the New Forest, but there are plenty of cattle grids!” I can’t imagine Jesus saying, “I am the cattle grid; whoever walks across me will be saved.”
The image of us leaning on our gate in prayer is one I shared when lockdown started and the reading of John 10: 9 inspired me to trust that Jesus would open the gate and lead us to new pastures. At the time I didn’t realise that the gate would open and lead us to a new ministry in Lymington, but it has and we must walk through it!
Another gift I was given by someone was a book, ‘100 days to a healthier Church’, by Karl Vaters and some important encouragement I share is that “it’s great when a church gets bigger as a result of getting healthier” but “bigger isn’t the goal. Better is the goal. More effective ministry is always better ministry. As Tim Suttle points out, “the church’s job is not to grow. The church’s job is not to thrive or even survive. The church’s job is to be the church.” So strive to be the church. More effectively today than we were yesterday, then more effectively tomorrow than we were today. That’s what getting healthier looks like.”
So a small church with a few members can have a very healthy ministry! A good outreach seven days a week can be healthier than lively worship for a large congregation one day a week!
It was a very special day last Sunday with some people making a very special effort to be in Church for the first time since Covid started. It was good to see so many people in Church sharing in a wonderful spiritual and social get together and we want to thank everyone for contributing to the day and for the different gifts.
From one celebration one week to another this week as Mark will be leading the Harvest Celebration service. If you are attending you are invited to bring gifts of tinned food, fresh fruit and vegetables that will be distributed to local neighbours in need by our partners, Caring Hands in the Vale.
Pat Wallace will be taking donations for Tools with a Mission (TWAM) in early October so if you have collected anything please bring it to church this Sunday or ask her to arrange a collection from you.
There is an Open Day at the new ‘Caring Hands in the Vale’ building at Vine Court, Evesham, today between 10am and 4pm so drop in if you can make time.
I attended a Zoom conference organised by Faith in Later Life last Saturday and one of the most disturbing factors is the extreme loneliness some older people have been experiencing. To protect them against scammers many had been introduced to call blocking on their telephone, but when they used it they then found they were receiving no phone calls. They turned the call blocking off because they would rather speak to criminals than no-one at all!
That shows the value of a wonderful telephone ministry during lockdown and the need for it to continue. I have also spoken to people who have been attending Look After Yourself on Thursday mornings and they say how pleased they are to have somewhere to go again. The outreach is so important and if you can help it to continue and grow please speak to Mark and Joanne…
Sunday’s service from the Daily Devotions teams is being led by the Revd. Lindsey Sanderson and elders of churches in her pastorate south of Glasgow in East Kilbride and Hamilton. Hymns include Kathryn Galloway’s O the life of the world, James Montgomery’s Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, and an adaptation of St Patrick’s breastplate by James Quinn.
The Open the Book team were back in action this week and had a very warm welcome at the First School on Monday.
Nick Stanyon, the West Midlands Synod Evangelist Enabler, has been writing the Daily Devotions for the United Reformed this week and on Wednesday suggested we need to start by listening, then offered this prayer:
Lord I want to be able to share your Good News effectively,
so please shut my mouth.
Teach me to listen. To you and to others.
Lead me to walk more closely with people,
to be genuinely interested in their lives, opinions, struggles and questions.
And then let your Spirit prompt me,
so my words may be received as genuine Good News.
My Induction service in Lymington on Sunday October 10th at 3pm will be on Zoom so I will send the Link before the service.
Please pray for Susan Nuttall, Naomi Campbell, Michael Eden, Sheila Lovibond, Jean and John Moore, Pam Peters, Vicki Packman, Frank and Christine Waller and June and John Wiln.
We also value your prayers as we move to Lymington with a very special thank you for embracing us in the family of Broadway United Reformed Church…
A PANDEMIC PRAYER
Loving and gracious God,
You pour out your love and invite us to share in it.
May we grow in your love for creation, for refugees, for all who are affected by Covid, in this country and across the world.
When we are cast down by despair, open our eyes again to see what you make possible.
May your gifts of peace and hope and new life flourish, for people and creation.
May we be an instrument of this flourishing today.
By the Revd Dr Elizabeth Welch, retired minister and member of St Andrews, Ealing
God Bless, Richard and Virginia