Pastor’s Thoughts – March 2016

Dear friends,

There are two important events in the life of the Church this month. Easter will be a celebration that affects all of the Church throughout the world even though it will be celebrated at different times by different denominations (because they
follow the old Julian Calendar, Eastern Orthodox churches will not celebrate until 1st May!). For many people, of course, Easter is just an excuse for a few days’ holiday and nothing more. For us it is the celebration of the most important event in history; the event that changed everything else forever.

It saddens me that as we celebrate something that has transformed our lives; so many will be oblivious to the event that could have the greatest impact on their lives.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18 Paul writes: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

To so many Jesus’ death looks just like any other death. An idealist who comes with a message of love comes up against the mighty power of the Roman Empire and when that happens there can only be one winner. It looks like foolishness to even attempt it.

Paul goes on in verses 22-25: Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

It was foolishness to Greeks for a different reason. It was not because of the imbalance of power between one man and an empire, it was because the very idea of God suffering was absurd to them. Their gods were above such things and the mortals were their playthings. To Jews the idea of God becoming human and dwelling with us was absurd, and to see him nailed to a cross spoke only of the ancient words of Deuteronomy 21:23 – anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. That’s why it was a stumbling block for them. But that’s also why it is the power of God. Jesus took the curse that was ours, the punishment we deserved, so that we could be declared “Not guilty!” The very things that made this foolishness to Jews and Greeks made it effective for us. God suffered for us, in our place, and we now have eternal life. Hallelujah!

The second important event in March affects only our church but must be grounded in the events of Easter. As His disciples gathered together to celebrate the Passover feast, Jesus took a towel and a bowl of water and washed their feet. He took the place of the servant in utter humility. Jesus had the right to the biggest ego on the planet and yet He had the smallest. In John 13:15 He says: I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

We come this month to elect leaders. This is not an election like any other. We come not to elect the candidates we like the most but to discern those whom God has called to lead us. It is His calling that matters when it comes to leadership. So my invitation to you is to pray about those who have been nominated and seek God’s will for the church and for them.

We will also be asking you to correct an historical anomaly.

The Bible knows two kinds of leaders in local churches, elders and deacons. The task of elders is to be shepherds of the flock (1 Peter 5:2), and to direct the affairs of the church (1 Tim 5:17). It is this role that is fulfilled by ministers of the church and which we recognise when we call people to ministry. When we called Garry to serve as the second minister we did not acknowledge that role so we will be coming at the AGM to ask you to affirm him in that calling and to recognise that this is an intrinsic part of the ministers’ role.

Yours in Christ
John