Mission Statement: To help people into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and help them to grow in that relationship.
June 2017: New beginnings...
As we enter this month of June, we approach the third consecutive year of a major vote in our nation; the General Election in 2015; the ‘Brexit’ referendum in 2016; and this month, another General Election.
Some may feel tired of engaging with such political decisions; others may wonder what difference their vote can make. Christians should be ready to seize every opportunity to influence our society and world for good and so I encourage you to pray for our political leaders and pray about how to use your vote. Following 6th June, our political landscape will change again and nationally, we will negotiate another new beginning.
Endings and beginnings are a natural part of our lives – the word we give to this process, of course, is change. Some may relish it; others may feel anxiety and want to resist it.
I wonder if you are facing a new beginning at the moment? Perhaps a new home (welcome to the area if you have just moved in!); a new direction in your work (or stopping work); a change in family circumstances or something else? Sometimes change is exciting because new horizons can offer a fresh start; sometimes it is disturbing and deeply painful because it’s a change that we would not have chosen and we aren’t sure what the outcome will be...
After the first Easter, Jesus’ followers had to face many changes which must have left them feeling disorientated, confused and unsure about what the future would look like. What they had discovered, however, was that Jesus specialised in giving people a fresh-start. They had witnessed his encounters with religious experts, people with serious illnesses and broken relationships, grieving parents, rich and poor, old and young. All these received a fresh start in some way.
The first followers of Jesus experienced the gift of a new beginning with God, through his Son Jesus and through their experience of his Holy Spirit. Paul summarises this ‘double-gift’ of God in Galatians 4: 4-6 where he writes:
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’
This ‘double-gift’ which in our Christian year is marked by the seasons of Easter and Pentecost (which we celebrate on 4th June), reminds us that we can experience the intimacy of knowing God as ‘Father’ because of Jesus’ death on the cross and the presence and power of the Spirit of Christ in our daily lives. God is a gracious giver who wants us to know him more deeply and to bring about his transformation in us and his world. Of course, we may experience many ‘new beginnings’ in our life with God and sharing these with others can be a great encouragement.
A new beginning with God does not come with an exemption certificate from suffering and the promise of ‘an easy life’; but along with a new perspective and new priorities it does come with an assurance that some things don’t change! One Bible writer says, ‘Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8). This is true for us today, whatever changes we are facing.
Some important dates for your diary and your prayers…
Sat June 3rd – Messy Church (Pentecost) at St Peter’s church. Pray for the team (is God calling you to be part of this in some way?) and for all who come.
Sun June 11th – Benefice Confirmation Service at St Peter’s Forsbrook 10am. Bishop Geoff will be coming to confirm some of our church family members – a great opportunity to worship together as a benefice and to support our brothers and sisters taking this step of commitment.
Fri June 16th – A day of bible teaching and reflection with Jonathan Lamb at Shallowford House (see notice in church for more details). A number of us went last year – please sign up and come along. Contact Jonathan Roberts for more information.
Sat June 17th – All members of our church congregations and groups are welcome to come to Longton Park for a Church Family Picnic – a great chance to get to know one another better and enjoy some summer weather (please pray!). Contact Chrissi Thompson for more information.
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