Dear Church Family
It's good to be part of the church family!
Please pray this weekend for the many youth in our church who are at Wydale Hall at Belfrey Youth Fest - for a weekend of fun and friendship and that our young people encounter God by the Holy Spirit and lay down their lives in the service of Jesus Christ. And please pray too for the interviews that will be taking place over the next few weeks for the post of Associate Minister (Pastoral) as we aim to strengthen our pastoral work as we look to the future.
I've spent quite a bit of time over the last week visiting people - especially those who are unwell and struggling. I know that many of us do this as part of our discipleship - supporting and looking after those in our Belfrey Group or congregation who are going through a particularly rough patch. If that's you - thank you. It's really important and shows the church in action - being the body of Christ and looking after those parts of the body that need special care for a while.
Someone who's thinking of becoming part of The Belfrey was talking with me just yesterday about our groups and why they're important. I talked of them being small communities of both mission and support - where we can reach out but also reach in and both give and receive. When groups do that, they function well. That's why we sometimes say that are groups are our first point of pastoral care. Because they are.
As I've visited people - in their homes, in nursing homes and in hospital - it's been good to hear people's stories. To listen to what's been going on and to see how they're doing. To understand what they're anxious about and what they're looking forward to. And, at some point, to read Scripture and to pray. It's important to read Scripture as God's Word speaks into lives and brings fresh hope and renewed perspective. And it's good to pray - to welcome the presence of God and to ask for his comfort, his provision and his transformation.
It's been good this week to see some situations improving - of health being restored and/or circumstances changing for the good. For others, there's not much sign of positive change at this stage, but nevertheless there's a clear reminder that (as Psalm 47:7 says) 'The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress'. And for others there's preparation for eternity, seeing that the Lord is calling them home to eternity with him. That's been the case for Peter Shepherd, who, after a number of weeks of being cared for in South Park Care Home, died yesterday (Thursday). It was good to be with him just before he died and to anoint him with oil, to pray with him and declare over him those powerful words: 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever' (Psalm 23:6). That's the sure hope we're given in Jesus Christ and why, as we thank God for Peter, we can confidently entrust him into the hands of the Saviour.
Our church family is made up of people of varying ages, backgrounds and gifts. It's a changing family, a developing family and family held together by Jesus Christ. We're not called to follow Christ on our own, but as part of his family. So do pray, and give thanks, for our church family this week. It really is good to be part of God's family!