Sunday, September 28, 2008

Immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine

This evening we've reached chapter 3 in our evening series on Ephesians, a letter from Paul that I love, that excites me about church, and that I think is foundational in building a church that intends to fulfil its destiny in Christ.

At the end of the chapter Paul writes down his prayer for his reader/hearers, and it ends with these words,
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen!" (TNIV)

as a response to this, we spent some time writing prayers, spreading them out around the edge of the meeting space, and then walking around, pausing, praying, kneeling, standing, weeping and allowing faith to rise, that God might indeed want to answer our prayers, in ways that will bring glory and honour to his name.

I promised the folks there that I'd make a note here of the prayer requests, so that others who weren't with us can join us in prayer, and that we might be reminded for our own prayers.

The topics were:
To become more Christlike.
Complete healing for our daughter Elizabeth.
That all our church might become a loving, approachable family.
Strengthen me with power through your spirit in my inner being.
The Local Community - the homeless, the friendless, the old and the young.
To be rooted and established in love.
Bring back the prodigals to church.
To be more of a prisoner for Christ, and to know more of Christ.
May I know his glorious riches, and may I be strengthened.
For those who have "lost" their way.
Pray that Ruth and Joe will start going to a church in Leicester, and that Joe will come to know Jesus.
To strengthen my inner being to grow confident for God's purposes.
For the lost and the prodigals.
That the Father would strengthen me with power, through His Spirit, in my inner being, that Christ may dwell in my heart by faith.
That Jo will have courage to witness at work and that the Holy Spirit will inspire what to say.
For unity
For the children and families who will this year receive the shoeboxes.
The church building bridges.
That the whole fellowship will be so united in love for Jesus and each other that Whitmore Reans will notice the difference.
That Tues evening might exceed my expectations.
Strength for Brinford team to show the lads God's huge love for them by how we love them.
That whatever role we have in life, we can do it under the influence of Christ and with his power.
For marriages within the church.
Stregthen my inner being.
The manse situation.
That we may increasingly see Jesus bringing healing to people in the church, but also to those outside the church.
That our children and grandchildren will turn to the Lord.

Amen, and amen!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mission in Ramadan

I came across a news item this morning, and had mixed responses to it: News article from the BBC

A church in Indonesia is preparing and then selling evening meals for their Muslim neighbours to break fast. They serve them in the church, and invite a local imam to come and say the fast-breaking prayers.

Could this (should this) translate into the UK, or is the current lack of sensible discussion and understanding too much of a hindrance? One of the things that challenged me most, and where I guess I'd need convincing would be inviting the imam in to say prayers.

I've been reading and reflecting on the story of Jesus feeding the 5000+ and loving that there was no theology check before that particular communion.

What thoughts and reactions do you have to this story?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

3 full weeks

After many months of praying, talking and preparing, we are now in Wolverhampton.

The last Sunday in August saw us bidding farewell to the church in Bromley, it was a good ending, and we left feeling that the church were praying for us. The highlight for me in that day was the prayer during the Later Service – a time of intimacy and intensity.

Gifts, prayers and warm wishes were gratefully received, and we were sent into a week of final packing and getting things together for the house move the following week.

We moved here on Monday 8th, with our belongings packed into a removals truck, and some delivered to the house, some to the church and the rest to storage, awaiting the day when the manse situation is resolved (the church is currently selling one, renting another and looking to buy a new one) all this in the midst of a difficult housing market, and great financial uncertainty.

One of the passages of scripture that (although completely out of context) has given us some encouragement is 2 Corinthians 5:7 “We walk by faith, not by sight”.

And so yesterday, the 20th, was the day of the induction service.

Just as we were concerned to end well in Bromley, so too we wanted to start well here. And we did. We were thrilled to have friends from our times in Lancaster, Northampton and Bromley join with the church here, as well as members of our family. Ray Gill, who'd moderated the church here during the time of pastoral vacancy led the service with humour, warmth and understanding. He literally handed me a baton, symbolising the passing of the care of the church, it was a moving moment; the music group, who play so well week by week were just superb, and the building was filled with the most wonderful singing; Kate Coleman was on fire, challenging us as a church, and us as a family, to “step out of the boat” like Peter, and become extraordinary followers of Jesus; the covenant pattern of induction we used from “Gathering for Worship” worked really well, and Keith Judson led us through it with skill and humility; friends from Northampton, Bromley, Wolverhampton and Birmingham prayed for us, and faith rose as we called upon God for his leadership, guidance and protection; finally we had a number of greetings from local churches, who I'll enjoy getting to know better in the weeks ahead.

And so we begin, with faith that God is up to something, with a desire to put mission at the heart of this church, and with an assurance that participating in building the Kingdom is better than anything else in the world.