It's that time of year again when excited students flood the city and there is a buzz about the place. I had the privilege today of meeting a few of them at St Peter's Chaplaincy at the University of Manchester. Every year, as part of freshers week, local churches get together to help new students find a church family in Manchester. It’s a little bit like the church version of speed dating where you get to talk to a few people for just a few minutes each before being moved on. Before the students arrived we got together as churches to pray. As we prayed for the students we expressed hope that they would find places where they belonged and were loved, places where they could put down roots and grow in their faith and places where they would feel equipped and supported to share Jesus in the world. In essence we were praying for them to experience that rhythm of God. It is a rhythm that is almost like breathing; being drawn in in order to be sent out.
We see a similar rhythm in the life of Apollos who we were thinking about last Sunday. He is out on his own, preaching and teaching then Pricilla and Aquilla draw him into their community where he is loved and taught and then once more he is sent out. Being drawn in (inhale) to be sent out (exhale).
There is a challenge for us in this about intentionally choosing to invest in activities and relationships that will help us to develop that rhythm in our own lives; to grow deeper roots in God (inhale). For some of us that might be about investing in our own prayer life or committing to regularly spending time reading scripture or perhaps having the humility to allow others to teach us by joining a fellowship group, enquiring about an Alpha course (or similar), developing a spiritual accountability relationship with a friend or maybe taking those first steps towards baptism or confirmation.
Yet with every inward action, there also needs to be an outward action. We are only ever blessed to be a blessing. As we draw close to God, with the intention of putting down deep roots in him, what is the outward action? Who can we show the love of Jesus to? Where is the exhale moment in our rhythm of faith? Perhaps it is in our relationships with our neighbours, work colleagues or friends. Perhaps it is in our active involvement in some of the outreach of the church. Maybe it is something else.
For my part I am trying out different ways of praying and reading scripture to make sure I keep deepening those roots in God and for that outward movement I am planning to get to know my neighbours a little better and maybe even invite them along to celebrate with us next Friday.
Whatever you do, have a fabulous week and remember to keep breathing in and out in your rhythm with God.