2022 was my first full year with you and brought a number of challenges. Some were personal, the death of both my Mum and Dad brought personal grief and some distraction. Thank you for the prayers and care you showed me through those times, and the time you gave me to be with them and the family. But it was also a year in which the church grieved members and friends and we have shared that pain together
It was good to celebrate the 200th anniversary, to look back at the history, and meet many of the people who have been a part of this church over the years and to celebrate all that has gone. But we have also been looking forward and re-establishing activities after the years of Covid.
It has been important to establish a regular prayer time, for a church must pray together. I was glad to establish a regular bible study – even if it has shown up the difference in the way I read and interpret the bible from some of those who attend. Amongst those differences we still seek God’s word for us today and so we must persist and be open to learning from each other. I was glad we were able to begin Toast on Tuesday and thank you to those who have stepped up to help with that, I hope it has become a valuable point of contact for our fellowship and beyond
It has also been a pleasure to welcome Johnny O’Hanlon into our midst as he completes his training to become a Minister. It has been good to work with him, to hear his insights and to encourage his development. I know he will be a great Minister wherever he is called, so it has been good to use his skills whilst he is with us.
Elsewhere, my Synod Transitional Role took me to Northamptonshire for a few months and then went a bit quiet for the rest of the year. I took the opportunity to spend my fourth Sunday’s in a variety of churches – it was good to see how other places operate and to see people living out the gospel in a variety of ways.
Looking towards 2023, we need to build on the good things we are doing and support each other as we do. We need to begin to grow the congregation, everyone will need to play a part in encouraging new people to join us or old friends to return. I also want us to focus our Mission objectives and be clear about who are we are and where God is calling us. In doing so, we will have a clearer idea about some of the longer term thinking we have to do about finances, buildings and our long term future.
As we moved into the new year the Elders’ met in order to do some of that initial forward thinking. We asked the question, “What are the bible texts that speak of this church?” The phrase “I’m the LORD that is my name” was shared. It comes from a number of places, but the one my mind drifted to was Isaiah 42 as part of a long passage of encouragement to a people who were despondent and uncertain about the future.
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
“I am the Lord; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.” (Isaiah 42: 6-9)
That feels like a good piece of scripture to ponder upon as wonder where God calls us next.
Craig Muir March 2023