Dear Friends ...
Updated: Apr 26
When I announced at the end of last year that I was going to be leaving, May seemed a long way off and I imagined that we would be largely back to some kind of normality by then. I am glad that there will be the opportunity to have a few weeks of worshipping in person, although not everyone will be comfortable doing so. But like so much about the pandemic, the circumstances of leaving will be strange and difficult. I feel a bit like St Paul who wrote to a number of churches that he had either founded or had built up giving them some words of encouragement as his parting gift. And so during May I will be sharing some thoughts in a sermon series which will reflect the journey that we have been on together over the last 10 years and in anticipation of what the future might hold.
2nd May Staying Connected (John 15:1-8) While everything has changed over the last year, we have been able to stay connected with Jesus, albeit that we have not been able to worship together for most of that time. We have learned what it means to worship in our homes rather than in the Church. Even when we return to Church, may we still know Christ’s presence at home. We have also tried to stay connected in fellowship with one another. That is the essence of being the Church. As you enter into a period of vacancy you all have a part to play to keep that sense of fellowship strong.
9th May Sing a new song (Psalm 98) We have had to learn how to worship in new ways. Most of us would have been horrified at the prospect of the internet being an important means of worshipping. Although that has not been ideal there have been a number of positives, such as being able to connect with people who wouldn’t necessarily be able to come to the church - including those 4 who have moved away. We have worshipped and met with others in the North Downs Cluster of Churches and in the Synod. Perhaps some of you have also ‘popped’ into a church in other parts of the country and, indeed, the world. The Church is notorious for taking for ever to change and yet in the space of a few weeks we had to learn to be Church and worship in a new way. As we return to ‘normal’ may we not simply turn the clocks back but may we continue to sing a new song so that our mission is relevant for the 21st century. The Gospel hasn’t changed but the way we communicate it does.
16th May Potential of prayer (John 17:6-19) As people who are normally strong and self-reliant we have found ourselves in a situation that we have little or no control over. Those are the times we often turn to God in prayer. But we should be people of prayer at all times. Nor should we just come to God with our shopping list of requests. Prayer should be an integral part of our relationship with God. It certainly was for Jesus. And prayer should be as much about listening as speaking. As you and I face a time of change and uncertainty, let us not forget the power and privilege of prayer.
23rd May Filled to overflowing (Acts 2:1-21) Pentecost can often be overlooked or downplayed in the Church. And yet it was because of the gift of the Holy Spirit that Church was born and grew. We may think that the ‘success’ of the Church is simply down to our efforts. Yes, God can use us but it is only with the power of the Holy Spirit that God can do more than we can ask or imagine in and through us (Ephesians 3:20.) And it is not for a select few. Believe it or not, it is in vacancy that the Church can often grow as everyone plays their part and allows God to use them.
So, as we as a family prepare to leave Reigate Park, we do so thankful for all that God has done and for the privilege of sharing in your lives often at key times of challenge and change. We thank you for your love and fellowship with all that we have experienced as a family too. We pray for God’s blessing on you and your families and look forward to hearing what God is doing at Reigate Park Church.
[From The Record, May 2021]