BUILD ON A STRONG FOUNDATION
The theme for the World Day of Prayer being held on 5 March this year is “Build on a Strong Foundation”. The service this year has been put together by women from Vanuatu, a cluster of islands stretching for about 400 miles in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. (If you can find it on the globe you’ll be doing better than us!) Because of the covid situation in the UK, World Day of Prayer will be putting the service on their YouTube channel or elsewhere (for details have a look at their website www.wwdp.org.uk where service details will be posted).
Can we encourage you, if you are able to, to try and join in with this day as it always, to us, seems to provide a link with other Christians all across the world. The words of the first song in the service on that day this year we find to be particularly appropriate, even though they were written with Vanuatu in mind:-
It is time to get together as a nation and family
Let’s forget our differences and let us work in unity
What a joy it would be to see all the nations of the world working together for unity both as individual countries, but also with their neighbouring countries as well. But, Building a strong foundation is also something that we need to be looking to do as a church together.
Building a strong foundation involves more than physical buildings, developing resources.
Building a strong foundation means growing spiritually, remembering how we came to faith:
“Therefore let us go on towards perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith towards God, instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement.” (Hebrews 6:1,2)
It means making that step forward towards perfection, as the writer to the Hebrews says, and it means adding to what we have already got/achieved/accomplished:-
“Make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5 – 7)
So, as we are now in the season of Lent, a time of preparation for Easter let us think of our own lives and how we might build a strong foundation, or build on the strong foundation we already have in our lives, the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ, and if we are wondering about how we might do that then please do take time to explore the other options to grow in your faith and understanding that are presented either in this magazine or elsewhere through the programmes and activities based at our church (there are many!). A lot of the thoughts for the day and sermons that we’ve delivered over the past year are available to view on the Enfield URCs’ YouTube page as well.
May God strengthen you for the next stage of your journey, and fill you with hope and peace as we prepare to celebrate Easter again together.
In the love of Christ, Melanie and Mark
At the time of writing we have just finished recording a series of “Thoughts for the Day” for the second full week of January and have been looking at the theme of “Loosing our chains, Breaking chains”.
We are particularly conscious that many of us probably feel confined and/or restricted, that we are in chains in some way, because of the impact Covid 19 is having on our communities and we may be feeling very fragile. In thinking about the sort of chains we may feel are restricting us, we have taken hope and strength from the words of Psalm 68:-
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families, the Lord leads out the prisoners with singing” (verses 5 & 6)
For us loneliness, solitude, living alone, is probably one of the biggest challenges that many have faced over this strange period for all of us and this fact that “God sets the lonely in families” reminds me strongly that this is something that we in our churches have a role in doing, leading in the creation of spaces, creating places that all people can be welcomed and can join the family of God. How can we do this when we are “locked-down”?
We are not sure that we have any better ideas than anyone else but we have been delighted and encouraged by the way in which so many have helped in the last few weeks with the Food Hubs and distribution of food to those in most need (reported elsewhere in this magazine). THANK YOU. But if you have any thoughts, any ideas about how we can reach out to the community we live in over this period then please do share those thoughts with others.
We are also encouraged by the words of Psalm 68 because we are looking forward to that time when we can again sing in our church buildings (or outside) and the sense that we will be like those prisoners God leads out with singing, ‘at that time’ is something we are looking forward to – even though some of us may not be in tune as much as some others! (Seriously, it will not matter!) As each of us thinks about what we are doing and can do, then keep on praying, keep on serving and sharing with one another and keep the faith!
May God bless you richly as we progress slowly through the year ahead.
Mark and Melanie
“While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6,7)
Now, as it’s coming up to Christmas and we’re sure that everyone ‘likes’ Christmas crackers and those awful jokes we usually get inside them … how about a question that may get us thinking as part of our cracker this time round?
Who was present at both Jesus’ birth and his death?
Some of you will get the answer quickly – others may have to think a bit.
John 19:25 may give you some assistance: “Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother…”
The reason for asking the question is that in the reformed tradition we often do not seem to pay as much attention as, say, the Catholic church, to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Perhaps there is still something deep within us that, when we mention Mary, we are fearful that we may be thought of as someone that has wandered away from the true path – it’s all about Jesus, don’t you know, not Mary?
But can we not learn from Mary, as we learn from many others who are mentioned in our bibles, and as we learn from others mentioned in Church history? Have you ever considered what it must have been like to have had Mary’s life?
From having an angel appear and announce to her when she was still a young child that she was going to give birth to the Christ-child, to watching over him as he grew up, not understanding why he would want to stay in the temple and learn when he was still a boy. Then there were occasions when Jesus was teaching and it felt as if you were not wanted or needed … and we forgot to mention her encouraging him to perform his first gospel-recorded miracle – turning water into wine at Cana. For your child to then be hung on a cross while you watched – from near, or from afar? What a journey Mary was on. And it doesn’t end there.
We discover that Mary too was present with those early disciples, praying with them as they waited for the day the Spirit was to come (Acts 2:14). Was she among the disciples when the Spirit was poured out? How did she feel, surrounded by people who walked with Jesus, her son, when in their prayers, in her prayers, they spoke to the God whom Jesus called his Father?
As you look again at the Christmas pictures in this strange year, look again at Mary, the carrier of the Christ-child, and see if you might find new inspiration to carry Christ yourself into the year ahead – a year we all hope will bring change for the better.
Mark and Melanie