I had the pleasure of attending church this morning here at New Walk church, a new-ish fellowship that meets just across the road from my sister's place. Scarlette, Gill's great friend, and Sydney, Scarlette's daughter, took me.
The set-up is very contemporary, the band excellent, and the worship songs were familiar to me - Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Matt Redman. The pastor is in his mid-thirties, and his preaching style was simple, practical, biblical and approachable. Very good. He's had a series on being "Fully Engaged" in life - this week was the last one, fully engaged in friendships. He commended us to Put ourselves in positions to meet people, to Provide encouragement, to Play together, to Pray specifically for our friends, and to remember the Power of One - the power of one person to change a community by inviting one other person to come to Christ. He asked a guy called Doug to stand up. Then he asked anyone who was in the church because Doug had invited them to stand. A few others stood. He then asked any to stand who were there because anyone already standing had invited them - several others stood. It made a powerful point.
Scarlette and Sydney had never been there before - but thought I would like it, and they loved it and knew many people there, so I hope it will provide a good base for them. Next week the pastor, Gary, starts a series called "Garage Sale" which is about cutting out the extraneous stuff in life and focussing on what really matters.
What really matters. Hmm. Seeing any church is always interesting, especially at anniversary time. This weekend marks my eighth anniversary as vicar of St Catherine's.
The journey is great; but we are far from where we need to be. And seeing another community reminds me that settling for where we are is never enough. What really matters? We must always walk on.
Our church is a family, a community, focussed on worshipping our Lord, sharing the faith that is the treasure in our hearts, building bridges of compassion into the lives of those around us. And this community must live. Must grow. Must never stay the same. O, I love to stay the same - it is so much easier. And God forgive me: it is not good enough. Now is the time for salvation - for life - for growth - for the Day of New Things, Renewed things.
When I pull back it is because it feels safer. But safety is found in moving closer to Jesus: for in Him is safety - salvation - not in holding on to rest and ease and familiar ways. God forgive me for being tired and saving energy by using last year's song sheets! This is this year!
Lord: thank you for the journey so far. But I pray with all my heart that this year we will see more of you than we have dreamed of so far. Help me to worship you; and please grow your church.