The Minister's Letter

 

 

At the start of a new year we might ask what does God have in store for me?  There will be new directions to take, some of our choosing and some arising from unforeseen events . For the Church there will be opportunities for mission, the challenge of growing our own faith, and sharing that faith with others.  As Christians we cannot but be involved in mission because that is our calling, and also because mission is in the very nature of God.  The Father creates and loves all he has made, the Son is sent into creation to redeem, heal and save in the name of love, and the Spirit is given to fill and empower creation with love. We are at the heart of that creation, but we are also made in the image of our creator.  What God does, we are called to do, but how do we begin?

Surprisingly our starting place is not doing anything except to stop and listen.  ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ says the Psalmist, so we are to listen to God, stilling our hearts and getting ourselves out of the way so that God can fill us.  We are not called to do our own thing, we are called to let God do God's thing through us.  Nine times in the Book of Revelation God says ‘Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.’  It is by attentive, prayerful listening using prayer and Scripture that we let God in to work out his mission in and through us.

Then we must listen to one another. Jesus says in John's Gospel ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’  The command is repeated three times to emphasise its importance.  The nature of God's mission is love, because God is love, and we cannot communicate that love to our world unless we love one another.  Loving means listening, gently, and openly.  Mission is not just about changing others, it will also change us.

Lastly we must listen to the world to which God sends us. We might be full of ideas of how we might serve our neighbour and reach out to our community, but we can only succeed if we have listened to what our neighbour says they need.  Rushing in with solutions which nobody is asking for is bound to fail.  We need therefore to listen, just as Jesus listened to people, asking, as he did to the paralysed man by the pool, ‘what do you want me to do for you?’  Again this may change us as much as it offers change to them.

     So let us begin this new year committed to serve in God's name, and committed to proclaiming the good news about Jesus, but in a way which begins with listening to God, to one another and to our neighbour.  Let our outreach be full of listening love, transforming us as it transforms others.

With every Christmas blessing,

            Nigel