More so than usual my current week has been spent reading type in front of a laptop screen. However, whilst processing information and filling in forms is usually for me quite a deadening experience, the subject matter has meant that on this occasion, it is anything but, for I have been writing about people.
First, our very own curate Mike, who is well into his third year of working and serving amongst us. Both Mike and myself have had to evidence how he is now ready to take on ministry on his own wherever called by God, and how his various gifts and passions will be utilised in the future. It has indeed been a great encouragement for us all to see and benefit from his growing involvement in so many walks of church life here.
Currently, I am sifting through and making notes on 7 other individuals who are offering themselves as potential ordained church ministers of the future (and who will be interviewed and assessed by me and others next week). Once again, it has been encouraging to read of the many and diverse ways that God both calls people, and indeed then utilises their skills and passions in churches around the country.
However in all these cases (and I know Mike would be the first to agree), the strengths of all our churches, are to be found both in our God and then in all who gather in His name. Such was our focus last Sunday morning when reflecting on all that had been achieved over the course of the year, with Sheenagh commenting how for such a comparatively small congregation, we do great things. In the Rector’s report this theme was continued as we focussed not just on what we might do, but what we can be to one another, particularly when we gather on a Sunday.
As found in the letter to the Hebrews (10.25) I shared the verse; “let us not give up the habit of meeting together”, and continued that I was reminded of the story of a church minister. He was a man of few words, who warming himself in front of a coal fire in his study, was listening to a congregation member explain to him how he didn’t need to come to church every week to be a Christian.The fire was roaring with the coals a warming red, and with tongs he pulled one coal out and silently placed it on the hearth. They both watched its red glow diminish until it turned black. He then placed it back into the fire whereby it sparked back into light and colour again.
Hopefully the point is clear, both to the man in the story and to us reading this now. We don’t need to be here every week, but to encourage us to retain our fire, and to encourage those around us retain theirs on a Sunday too - it helps!
May we all as we continue to spend time with God and each other this Lent, and as Paul instructs the church in Rome back then, but now in Manchester today:
Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.
When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful.
Share with God's people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes.