Dear Friends

Dear Friends

Written address from our Minister Revd. Dr. David Pickering.

Rooted and grounded in your love

One of my favourite hymns in Rejoice and Sing is 318, ‘Not far beyond the sea, nor high above the heavens, but very nigh, your voice O God is heard.

The hymn has no less than 17 distinct Biblical quotations in its four verses, including the opening line from verse three: ‘Rooted and grounded in your love’, drawn from Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.

I love the image of the Christian faith and indeed our lives, being rooted. Both rooted in God’s love, and also rooted in place and in time.

In a recent service I quoted from the Congregational theologian, C H Dodd who with reference to Holy Communion, wrote:

“The church — every gathering of the church, everywhere, under every form –remembers that on a certain night its Founder said and did certain definite things…

briefly reported… the memory of the church thus takes us back to the same point where we formerly dropped anchor on our journey up the stream of history — the moment of the foundation of the church, when its founder “suffered under Pontius Pilate.”

All lines run back to that precise point, which we might date tentatively to Friday, April 7, AD. 30. Not indeed that the exact calendar date is either certain or important; other dates are possible between AD. 29 and 33; but it is of some importance that the church remembers an event which is actual, concrete and in principle dateable like any other historical event.”

Dodd’s ‘actual, concrete and in principle dateable’ underlines that Christianity is rooted in reality, real places, real dates and real people.

According to many Biblical witnesses, corroborated by both Jewish and Roman historians and scholars, Jesus was a real person, and thus someone who was born on an actual date in a real place, and at a certain point. Further, that at some point he began a ministry in and around Galilee, which had a culmination in Jerusalem. That Jesus lived and died is irrefutable. Our faith is also grounded in our belief that not only did Jesus live and die, but also that Jesus died and lived.

The Gospels record that this was witnessed and countless Christians have experienced the reality of this belief.

If we go back further in time than the earthly life of Jesus, there is archaeological and written evidence that the nation of Israel has had a long association with the city of Jerusalem, where a real Temple was built, which was destroyed by the Babylonians after about 500 years in 587/586 BC. Further, that a second Temple was built over the first, which was also destroyed, this time by the Romans in AD70. All that remains is the Western Wall, an ongoing sacred site within Judaism. There is also historical evidence of the lives and roles of some Biblical characters.

Our faith is rooted and grounded in love, in real places and in actual times.

It is also a living faith, and just as this grounding in reality stretches back in time to Jesus and beyond, so it also stretches forward in time, from the life of Jesus to today, and into the future.

We, as a local Christian community, are part of that living tradition of faith, with our calling being rooted and grounded in the love of God, and additionally being rooted  in our corner of God’s Kingdom, West Wickham, and in this time. I wonder, as we tentatively emerge from the pandemic, how we will live out our calling to love God, follow Jesus and serve neighbour in the coming times.

As part of our discernment, our Elders are leading a process looking at five key areas of our church life, (1) worship, (2) premises and grounds, (3) communication, (4) growing in faith, and (5) our church life and witness.

Meanwhile, and importantly, may you personally, and each one of us, know that as individuals and a Christian community, we are rooted in the love and heart of God.

David

Pausing and preparing

Dear Friends I write in mid-July, a time in the year when in more normal times, many people look forward to something of a break, an easing down of activities, one of those necessary more dormant times that enable us to be refreshed for a new season that beckons in the early autumn. And whilst … Continue reading Pausing and preparing

Mission Statements

Dear Friends, I can remember as a child both the excitement and reality of successive Apollo missions heading to the moon, together with the excitement and fiction of the Star Trek Series. It was from the latter that I first came across the concept of a mission statement. You may remember the words of Captain … Continue reading Mission Statements

Campaigning to close the Bank

I started penning this letter at the beginning of the week, writing: We may each value being able to do banking on our local high street, and whilst an increasing number of transactions are done electronically, many of us value having a bank available on our high street, and would be sad and sorry to … Continue reading Campaigning to close the Bank

Starting Over…

We may each remember an occasion when we started something new, possibly as a young child at primary school, more likely as an older child on our first day at secondary school or starting a first or new job. Starting something naturally evokes feelings of anticipation and excitement, coupled with nervousness – will I like … Continue reading Starting Over…

The long Easter morning

It was the longest of mornings, that began with a heavy heart and planned act of devotional love, as Mary Magdalene made her way ahead of the dawn, to the tomb. We may imagine her feelings, shock and deep sorrow, doubtless tears too. The world, which cheered the one who she followed only last week, … Continue reading The long Easter morning

Holy Saturday

Dear Friends, Growing up as a child, I experienced Christmas as a season of wonder, with lights and decorations, gatherings and festivities, celebratory meals and (if I was good), some pressies in a sack at the end of the bed and under the tree. If the weather worked well, as it seemed to more often … Continue reading Holy Saturday

Reading

I wrote in the worship Sheet for Sunday 31st January about ‘Butterflies, Books and Beginnings’, conveying that just as reading a factual or fictional book may start introducing a situation, setting and characters, before leading us on a journey, so do each of the gospels. Through reading we may gain new insights, and find our … Continue reading Reading

Favourites

Dear Friends I love listening to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Disc programme, in which a guest, herein after called a ‘castaway’ selects 8 recordings which are favourite or significant for them, whilst also sharing insights into their life’s journey. The programme is 79 years old this month, and still gains good ratings. Perhaps, you … Continue reading Favourites

Gloaming?

As I write in late October, the scene outside my Glasgow window is of gathering gloom, or as is said in these parts, evening gloaming, meaning twilight. With the clocks having retreated an hour, the northern night falls increasingly early as autumn turns into winter. Experiencing fewer hours of winter darkness and more hours of … Continue reading Gloaming?

Induction

By the time of the next edition of Emmanuel Life you will have your new minister living and serving amongst you.  What a strange year it has been with all the additional challenges which the pandemic has brought and what a strange and challenging time to be taking up a new ministry with so many … Continue reading Induction

Lockdown reflections

As we move into a new phase of restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 I have reflected on my experiences so far. When lockdown began, I thought that I would miss the variety and busyness of my life. So was surprised when I did not miss regular trips to the theatre or live music … Continue reading Lockdown reflections