The Minister's Letter

 

I want to share some good news with you.  Over the past few months Somers Park Avenue have experienced a little bit of growth as new people have joined us.  I have been thinking about what we have been doing which might have been different from any other church I know, and I am not sure there is anything new at all.  We continue to do the things we are good at like Messy Church and the Ladies Meeting, but compared with some churches we don't do a huge amount.  Lansdowne Crescent is twice the size, and able to sustain many more activities, yet over the past year our numbers there have declined.  When I look back on my life in the church there have been many activities, initiatives and schemes to grow the church, and yet decline still seems to be the frequent pattern.  For Somers Park Avenue to have grown a little in recent months is therefore something to be celebrated, but there is nothing new to report which explains why this might be so.

I am all for doing our very best to reach out, grow the church and make new disciples for Jesus Christ, but I think we need reminding from time to time that in the end it is His work and not ours.  The Bible has frequent examples of this.  Take for instance the victory of Gideon who was commanded to send most of his troops home before the battle.  The point of that story is the victory belonged to God and no reason was given for God's people to pat themselves on the back.  Likewise the prophet Samuel was instructed to anoint David King, the youngest, smallest and almost forgotten son.  Who we are and what we are relies on the grace of God, for without that we can do nothing.

If we are to rely on God's grace we can have confidence to be ourselves.  God wants to use as for who we are, even the smallest and least, not what we imagine we ought to be.  We sometimes beat ourselves up for not being like others, or not being good enough.  God wants us to rely on him, and not on ourselves, for we are justified by grace through faith, not our own good works.

Then there is that reminder from St. Paul that we can be and do all kinds of things, even speaking with the tongues of angels, but if we don't have love then we are just like a loud clanging bell.  Without love we are nothing.  Those who worship at Somers Park Avenue, including some of those who are new, have commented that it is like their second family.  We have done nothing to contrive this, but the grace of God reveals itself in a loving community.  I see this too at Lansdowne Crescent and Upper Welland.

Rely on God, be yourselves, love one another.  There is nothing new in this, for Scripture tells us then when everything else has passed away, faith, hope and love will always abide, and the greatest of these is love.

                              With every blessing,                    

                                       Nigel