Monthly letter from our minister
Each month our minister Simon, or his assistant Hannah, writes the introductory letter to our Church News magazine. The latest letter is reproduced here.
Previous letters can be viewed by following the links below.
The first church Patsy and I
were called to was in Plymouth and whilst there, we felt God wanting us to
start a weekly youth club for teenagers. Our neighbourhood had a lot of young
people, many with significant needs, and most with little to do in the evening.
The need was such that the local authority even gave us a grant to employ a
part-time youth worker to help us run the club. We really valued the expertise
and energy our youth worker brought, but the club would never have been
possible if it had not been for a lady in our congregation called Margaret.
Margaret lived next to the church, and knew most of the
young people from meeting them on daily walks with her dog. She had a soft spot
for these teenagers, and when we proposed opening a youth club, she was one of
the first to volunteer. Margaret had no children - so brought no experience of
raising a teenager; she had no qualifications in youthwork; and she did not
want to play pool or ping pong with them.
She simply loved these young people in her own quiet way,
and was endlessly patient with them. Each week, she would help us set up and
pack away; during the evening, she would run the little refreshment stall that
helped to finance the club. I cannot remember Margaret ever missing a session
- and without her faithful presence and
support, this vital work would simply not have been possible. She probably
thought she brought very little - yet the giving of her time enabled our church to open its doors to young people, and to show
them God’s welcome.
I am told that Dave Hewitt spoke on this theme when he
preached at South Street recently. He took the little-known story of the
parents of Samson, as recorded in Judges 13 - I confess it is a chapter I have
overlooked. In the story, the unnamed mother of Samson, who is without a child,
is promised by an angel of God, that she will give birth to a son who will lead
his people. This woman is never named, but through her obedience to God,
the people of Israel find a new saviour to rescue them from a powerful enemy.
In some ways, what she does is an everyday thing - she gives birth to a child,
and brings him up well. Yet through her openness to God, and to faithful
service, the Lord is able to do something extraordinary.
I love this line written by JRR Tolkien in The Hobbit; “It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
We, the ordinary and often unnamed folk, make a difference for God and good in our world - when we choose to follow Jesus doing deeds of compassion, mercy and generosity. We, God’s church, help to bring about his vision of justice and joy - when we use the gifts and the talents he gives us to serve his gracious purposes.
In the last few weeks and months, we have been encouraging
you to reflect on what you can bring to offer to God and his church. Our
intention has never been to make anyone feel guilty, uneasy, or coerced, but
simply to encourage that God, in his grace, gives gifts to all his children -
that we might strengthen one another, and help those in need. For each, what we bring will be different, and each of us
will have different limitations upon us - but I do believe that we all have
something to offer God, and one another. As Hannah wrote last month, we are all
held within the love of God, and all can find a purpose within the kingdom of
If you want to think through what you can offer, then I
would always be happy to offer you my time. Look out too, for a leaflet we will
be producing, summarising some of what we said in our recent sermon series, and
suggesting some of the gifts that we need to fulfil the work of our church and
I finish with the inspirational Scripture Hannah used in one of her recent sermons:
“to him who by the power at work within us, is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine...”
(Ephesians 3 verse 20)Simon