Pastor’s Thoughts – June 2019

Dear friends, 

As the saying goes, change is here to stay! 

I wonder if there have ever been more turbulent times in history than the last few years? Hardly anything seems to have gone according to prediction and we have no idea what will happen in this country in the next year. 

It is said that there is an ancient Chinese curse: ‘May you live in uncertain times.’ It actually sounds like something that someone made up, but nonetheless it does speak into the fact that we crave certainty and stability. 

Yet much of today’s world economy is based on bringing uncertainty. The principle of disruptive technology has flowed from many of the new high-tech companies in California. New companies coming in to do business in new ways that established companies can’t match. So Uber has sought to take the market away from traditional taxi firms by introducing new ways of hailing cabs; Airbnb have changed the way that the holiday market works and Facebook has created a social media platform that doesn’t just connect people but builds new markets to be exploited. The argument by many of these new entrepreneurs is that this is just the same as previous advances – Henry Ford disrupted the motor industry with the assembly line. 

In the midst of all this accidental and deliberate disruption in our lives we have our Summer celebration of our bicentenary. Karl Marx famously said: ‘Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.’ Happily we do not believe in religion, for we believe in Jesus Christ. In the Lord Jesus what we see is at once the greatest disruptive force in human history and the greatest source of peace in a troubled world. Marx rightly saw the longing for freedom, peace, meaning and significance in mankind’s reach for religion. What he failed to see was that, far from being a drug to help people through bad times, in Christ we have the answer to these needs. He disrupts the world order by calling us to follow him. Yet at the same time Hebrews 13:8 reminds us: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’

In Christ we have both certainty and something dynamically new. We are not just celebrating because an institution has existed for 200 years, we celebrate because Jesus began this family 200 years ago and is active here today and for as long as he chooses. He is our peace in a turbulent world and a disruptive force in a world that needs love, righteousness and justice. 

Hallelujah! 

Not all unexpected change is worrying. For our anniversary weekend we have booked John Archer to be with us on the Saturday evening (23 November). John visited us many years ago and is a brilliant comedy magician. This year he also reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent! We weren’t expecting that! 

In case you missed my announcement the other day, we have appointed Gustavo Gubiani as Minister-in-Training. We have been seeking after the Lord for the right person to fill the role of a second minister since Garry Steel left and we are delighted that Gustavo will fill that vacancy. Gustavo has two more years of study at Spurgeon’s College. To support him, we have had the offer of voluntary service from Pastor Uelton Ricardo, a Baptist minister in Brazil, who works for the Brazilian government and is able to take a career break and come to volunteer with us. Please pray for his visa application to go through smoothly. 

Yours in Christ,
 John