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Minister's message

Minister’s message: Spring 2019   

Spring is a season that most of us welcome after a restrictively long, cold and grey winter. If we notice, we find ourselves enjoying the change in season, the shoots of new growth and spectacular colours of the spring flowers. In fact, we find ourselves very easily living into the change, eagerly anticipating it. It is without much difficulty that we let go of winter.

But, this is not always the case in our handling of change. More often than not we find change difficult- to some extent captured in the words of an old Christian hymn, ‘…change and decay in all around I see; O thou who changest not abide with me (italics my own)’ – and seek solace in an un-changing God.

We understandably often fear that we will lose what is dear to us; that what follows could in no way match up to what we have. Sometimes that is the case. However, very often through change we discover and are pleasantly surprised by a something more never conceived of- after all, who could ever imagine the beauty that emerges from the cold and barren winter earth.

Why must we change, some ask? Simply put, because we have to- ‘adapt or die’, as the saying goes. Importantly, adapt, not replace! In changing as a church it is not to throw the baby out with the bath water. It is not to lose our identity. Rather, it is to evolve, to reform our identity in the light of an ever- changing world. A 2019 Rolls Royce is still a Rolls, a 2019 television is still a TV, but they look very different to what they did fifty years ago! 

The same must apply to the church. Whatever our way of gathering for worship, has been culturally informed, at whatever time in history- compare, for instance, our conservative formal European gathering in rows in a building to a circled group of Africans gathered beneath a shady tree, no seats, no rows, no organ, etc. We are mostly unaware of the cultural mores that have fashioned us.

Our Church Council has underwritten a renewal initiative for our church. It may involve some change. But more importantly, it is about us opening up our hearts and minds afresh to God’s Spirit allowing God to refashion us, to reinvent us in a way, in order that we adapt to a 21st century church and not die (as many of our family have done); in order that we are poised to accommodate the missing generations. I’m often challenged by the remark- how strange a thing it is that grandparents are willing to give up anything for their grandchildren, except for the songs they sing in church!

I want to personally ask and invite you to get on board this initiative, in any way you can. Join in the discussions. Attend planning events. Volunteer to help in the process. Ask questions.

As we sometimes sing together, ‘…and it’s from the old I travel to the new; keep me travelling along with you’.

For now