September is the month when everything is starting up again and it has that feel of new beginnings. With children moving classes at school, some starting for the first time, and others heading off to university for the first time, this sometimes feels more like a new year than New Year does! It’s typical of course that as our children and young people go back to school we have the first run of decent weather for weeks. I think that it is obvious to us that life rarely turns out the way that we have planned it and for many of us we’re facing new situations and some uncertainties.
In church life this time of year has the same feeling. Often this is a time when we see people moving into the area ready for the kids to start at new schools. If you are new to Bishop’s Stortford and to Stortford Baptist, then we want to say a big hello and to welcome you to the area and to this church family. If there is anything that we can do to help you in this transition then please let us know.
With all the turmoil that Covid has brought there has also been more people than usual deciding that the time has come to move on and seek to settle in new areas. Last month we said goodbye to Simon and Bev Curran. Simon has served us as an Elder with incredible passion and selflessness and we owe him a deep debt. Heather Martin is settling into her new role in Hereford as Youth and Digital Lead. I had a message from her yesterday to say how strange it is not to be part of what’s going on here and sending her greetings to everyone.
Perhaps this is a good time to remind us all of our verse of the year from Philippians:
Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3:13c-14
Paul’s intention here is not to encourage us to enter into some kind of group denial of the past. He’s not saying: ‘Let’s pretend none of this has happened!’ He’s saying that whatever we may feel has been achieved in the past or whatever may have gone wrong in the past, that we are not to live in that place. Instead we look ahead to what the Lord has for us in the future. His intention is to free us from the negatives of the past and for us to use the achievements of the past to remind us of his goodness to us. But we are never called to stop until we reach the prize. We are to strain towards what is ahead.
So what is ahead? Paul is speaking about living a life in which everything is about proclaiming Jesus as Lord. His goal is to become like Jesus and to share in his glory. That’s Jesus’ call on our lives as well. It is what we need and it is what Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted and the communities in which we live need. It is the basis of the vision that we have for the church: to be a community of believers living out the Bible’s teaching and becoming more like Jesus every day.
We are about building the body of Christ and making an impact on the people around us with his love and that must be the hallmark of our life together.
This month, work began on the refurbishment of the second building on our site and in the spring we shall be launching The Bridge. But The Bridge is not the sum total of our mission – it is one focus of our call to show people who Jesus is and to tell them the good news that Jesus is Lord. Now is a time to be creative and expansive in our mission. We must look to the Spirit to lead us to opportunities to introduce people to Jesus and let us not be afraid to do so.
Yours in Christ,