Pastor’s Thoughts – December 2017

Dear friends,

The time has come again to wish you blessings for the Christmas period, to pray for the year ahead and to look back on 2017. I’m not sure where 2017 went but it went quickly!

Our focus right now is on celebrating Jesus’ coming into the world but it is also good to remember what the Lord has done among us in this year that’s gone. We’ve had so many baptisms this year and with such amazing testimonies that speak about the Holy Spirit’s ability to meet us and transform people’s lives. Christ’s coming into the world is not a nice cosy story to keep us amused in the bleak midwinter but an extraordinary encounter with the living God. When he comes to us and enables us through his sacrificial death and resurrection to be adopted into God’s family, he brings this process of transformation.

Transformation has been such a key concept for us this year. The partnership with Tearfund in Rwanda is all about church-led community transformation. It has been exciting to get that project up and running and to see the opportunity for this to make a difference to the lives of potentially thousands of people.

That same idea of church-led community transformation strikes a chord with us here. Slowly we have been understanding more about being missional disciples and developing the rest of the site here. We have embarked on a number of projects that have had an influence on friends and neighbours of the church. We have been able to show practically the reality of kingdom living and Christ’s love for each of us. When love came down at Christmas it was not just to make us more religious, it was to bring a transformation to every part of our lives and to the whole of creation.

That’s the story of salvation. The baby in the manger is the one through whom all things are created. Colossians 1:16-17 tells us that:

‘For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.’

Yet he has emptied himself of the glory that he had with the Father to become a servant for us. The Lord of creation enters into creation to save his creation. The PEG projects have shown this holistic understanding of Christ’s transforming power. One of our challenges for 2018 is to see how we move this forward to become an increasing part of our thinking. Please pray about how we do that.

With regard to Phase Two* we’ve done a lot of talking but there doesn’t look like there’s much progress. We’re trying to get things right so that what we set up is an expression of this same idea regarding transforming people’s lives. We want to build community that invites people into a conversation with us in which they can see who Jesus is and discover His truth for their lives. There have been a lot of things happening that will build into that. We look forward to launching some café experiences and to the start of the Celebrate Recovery programme. My intention is that you will have a clear and practical guide to the way to take this forward in the New Year.

So much to give thanks for and so much to look forward to. I want to thank each of you for your kindness to me and Steph during this year and to wish you a very joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The message of the angels to the shepherds rings out to us all:

‘”Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”‘ – Luke 2:10-12

Yours in Christ,
John

*To find out more about Phase Two please speak to one of our Church Leaders.