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.
Your ministers, Mark and Melanie
TIME – AUGUST 2020
“Time is an illusion, but a vTime – August 2020ery persistent one!” (Einstein)
How have the last few months gone so quickly? It has felt like our days have dragged on occasions, and yet, here we are, in August 2020 … it will be Christmas before we know it.
Time is a strange thing. There is something fascinating about watching an egg-timer, the old-fashioned type where grains of sand fall through the glass slowly, and watching time pass, as shown in the film Tomb-Raider where William Blake’s words create so fascinating a backdrop to the movie:
“To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.” (William Blake)
And, alongside those thoughts you have the legal profession making so much of the words “Time is of the essence.” If you don’t do what you said you would do at the appropriate time or within the set deadline you can be held to be in breach of contract.
Time is always there … passing …
Time, we often think, will help us, to grow up or to mature, to develop. Humanity will improve over time. Dr Martin Luther-King said, “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Toward Justice.”
But is this true? Has time being in lock-down helped or hindered?
A W Tozer wrote something like, ‘People say that time is a great healer … it is not time that heals, but God …’ and that is something that we need to think about. You can have a lot of time on your hands and that time can be used well, or wasted.
How much of our time do we give to God? How much do we give to one another? How often do we find ourselves saying that we never have enough time to do certain things?
Time is often something we have enough of to do the things we really want to do – so why do we find it so hard on occasions to say to other people that we do not want to take part in that activity, go to that particular party, eat out in that restaurant (if only!) – we’re often frightened of upsetting people, rather than being true to ourselves and them … and use time as an excuse … “I haven’t got time,” …
Jesus had some potential followers ask Him if they could deal with some other things before responding to His call to “Follow me” – Jesus suggested that they follow and not look back. (Luke 9 57–62) That is not an easy thing to do, because we all have fond memories of what has happened in the past, we often love to share stories of the things that we have been involved in before now.
But today is a new day, and we are living in a new world-situation. Do we as the body of Christ, the church, here on earth, have what it takes to follow Jesus today?
Time will tell.
Mark and Melanie