Week of Prayer
During the last three morning services there has been a wonderful sense of God’s presence amongst us. Despite our initial reservations, we have found that the six feet between the chairs has not prevented a sense of fellowship. We may not be able to chat over tea or coffee, but the fellowship of the Holy Spirit within us, the one who binds us together, has not been deterred by our measurements.
Having spoken with those who have attended I have also discovered that, despite us preferring not to have a piece of cloth covering our mouths and noses, it has not in any way prevented our hearts from praising, and our souls from singing. Worship in the natural may have been restricted, but worship in Spirit and truth has actually deepened and stilled to a place where we no longer just know the words and sing along, but that in the silence, stillness, and whispered words of worship, we are knowing God Himself afresh.
I understand that for some of you, attending a service is still a step too far, and I don’t say these things to discourage you, simply to remind you that God is not governed by pandemics or government restrictions, He is more than able to meet with us, no matter the situation. I also want you to know that you are missed, your absence is noticed every time we gather together, and I long for the day we will have you with us again.
Whilst preparing for last Sunday, I felt led to reflect upon Joel 2: 12-14
Rend Your Heart
12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing...
This passage is both sobering and hopeful, and I felt challenged in more ways than one.
Every church has a history, and I believe mistakes have been made in the life of our church, both in the past and the present. I believe hurts exist, and that there are still those with wounds that have not yet fully healed, and as the present pastor I have to consider these things as we move forward as a body, a family. Even today there are certain conflicts within the church, which if left unchecked, could lead to division. Unity can be a fragile gift and therefore needs to be nurtured and cared for with humility and grace.
On reflection I believed God was calling us to repent, to fast and pray, to weep and mourn. To lay aside ‘the show’ and truly rend our hearts before God, and it was this that has prompted me to call all of us to a week of prayer, and to fast in whatever way God leads us. This will culminate on Sunday with a short communion service of which I would invite all to attend wherever possible.
There will be a Sunday morning service at 9.45am followed by a family service at 11.15am. At 6.30pm there will be a repeat of the morning communion service, and hopefully an outdoor service in the afternoon for those that at this time do not wish to wear a mask and therefore unable to enter the church building. I am doing this in order to provide ample opportunity for you to attend a service this Sunday and share communion, in as safe and comfortable a way as possible.
Please pray about how you could attend, and then if it is in your heart to do so, book a place at one of the services.
Please find below a few pointers to help guide your prayers for the church this week.
May God richly bless you this week as you seek His purposes for yourself, our church family, and the community around us.
Much love in Jesus Christ our Saviour
-we will remember who we are in Christ, and be a body of people that seek to grow in Christian maturity, ready to forgive and seek forgiveness where needed.
-we will be devoted to one another, loving and serving one another in all the ways God leads us to do so.
-we will hold onto the truth, and seek to make God's glory known, and as such live generously in all areas of our lives.
-as individuals we will each seek to find a place to use our gifts for the common good, and that when we are weary, we will look to Christ for the strength we need.
Also pray for the leadership of the church, for our children and young people, for the elderly and vulnerable amongst us.
Pray for the community we reside in, that all would have the opportunity to hear and see the gospel in action through us.