Dear Friends

Dear Friends

Written address from our stand in Minister

New Normal

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8  This is what God asks of us both during lockdown and as we look towards the future mission priorities of the church.

Since the restrictions on assemblies and public worship were introduced, the URC has produced some excellent material both by way of guidance on the requirements to re-open premises and in challenging congregations and elders meetings to think positively about the future.

First we had a very helpful leaflet Ready for the new ‘normal’ produced by the Synod Moderators and more recently a paper entitled New Reality, same Mission which has been produced by the URC’s Church Related Community Work, Mission and Discipleship teams along with Church Action on Poverty to enable local churches to explore questions of community presence and engagement – something which I know is dear to the heart of Emmanuel URC.  Both these papers can be found on the URC website.

I was very struck by a quote in the latter document attributed to Pope Francis.  We are not living through an era of change but a change of era.  We are entering a new chapter in the history of the world, and of the church.  The scale of the challenge before us demands a careful response.

To continue with the idea of chapters, I often doze off when reading a book and then have to turn back the pages until I find the page I was at before I lost concentration and then resume reading as before.  But that’s not how it’s going to be this time.  We are familiar with the concept of different eras – we talk about pre-war and post-war, pre-industrial revolution and post-industrial revolution, BC and AD.  Is this going to be such another such pivotal moment?

If we believe we can slip back into how we were before (which is quite possible given time) then I believe we have missed an opportunity and not appreciated the many revelations which have come out of the last few months and the possibilities which have opened up.  The restrictions have brought home to us the things which really matter – serving the needs of our local community, communication, keeping in touch whether by phone, Zoom, newsletter or any other means, the ability to hear God’s word, praise him and pray together without actually physically assembling in one place at a particular time.  We can offer pastoral support and care for our membership and crucially also engage with our communities and serve them in many different ways which do not involve a building or Sunday worship.  To have access to a building which can be used for this purpose will be an additional bonus.  This is the challenge for your Elders and Church Meetings.

I am mindful of the sermon preached by our Moderator Elect, Bridget Banks, in the Southern Synod Service on 7th June* in which she exhorted us not to look back to the past but be open to change in the future.  So as we emerge from this strange time, and with the possibility of new ministry ahead of us, let’s be like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis – different and more beautiful than ever!

Hilary

Interim Moderator

*You can find this service on the Southern Synod website under News.

Worship

Last month, both in his pastoral letter and secretary’s notes, Ian referred to us thinking about what might be different going forwards, rather than rushing back to what used to be normal. Now shops have reopened people are being encouraged to go out and spend just as they were before, but in church we are … Continue reading Worship

I Am the New Year

How are you keeping in these strange times?  Is it hard keeping track of the days of the week, especially when a bank holiday Monday fell on a Friday? Yesterday was day zero.  The day when the number of new confirmed cases in London was zero for the first time. [The figures may get revised … Continue reading I Am the New Year

Being 6

Can you remember being 6 years old? I can, vividly, walking down The Grove thinking that I was now as old as my friend, and reading the book of poems by A A Milne, Now we are Six. Well, now we are six! Messy Church at Emmanuel is 6 years old and this is something … Continue reading Being 6

Live in Hope

Someone once wrote “Totally without hope one cannot live”.  To live without hope is to cease to live and I believe there is a great deal of truth in these words.  In the difficult and often confusing world in which we live today, hope for many people is something that seems in short supply.  In … Continue reading Live in Hope

Parables

On 9th February the Housegroup will be leading worship based around some parables of Jesus. If you were asked about bits of the bible you can remember, I am fairly confident some of the words, phrases or stories would relate to parables – the sower casting seed, the Good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the lost … Continue reading Parables

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  We say that to each other and we really mean it – and those good wishes come knowing that the person we are talking or writing to feels the same way towards us. So giver and receiver get a morale boost.  There’s another opportunity around birthdays – and even a smile and … Continue reading Happy New Year

Christingles

On the 8th December the Parade and Toy Service will be combined with Messy Church and will take the form of a Christingle Service. The idea of Christingles came from a Moravian Church in Germany in 1747. The minister, John de Watteville, gave children at the service a lighted candle with a red ribbon around … Continue reading Christingles

Community

In my current professional guise, I get to work with quite a few charities, helping them with strategy, governance, evaluating their impact and sometimes getting stuck in as a frontline volunteer myself.  Over the last year, I’ve worked with charities in areas as diverse as foodbanks, community gardens, science education in schools, prisoner rehabilitation, homelessness … Continue reading Community

A Time of Reflection

A good number of people turned up in mid-August to the two discussion sessions about the ‘Scoping Document’. It was sent to the small scoping group who will come to meet us (and then Elmers End Free Church) on Monday 30 September. Reminder: ‘scoping’ means how much ministry we will get when the vacancy is … Continue reading A Time of Reflection

September New Start

Our calendar year may start on 1st January but for me September always feels more like a new start as the academic year begins. I realise that for almost all of my life it has been the predominant cycle; starting with being at school myself, then university, then accountancy training. Even in the period where … Continue reading September New Start