I was at a meeting of the joint URC/Methodist Rural Strategy Group recently. The person chairing the meeting led the opening time of worship, using the daily prayer resource from www.sacredspace.ie The prayers asked to reflect on this: “Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? Be looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.”
Spend some time asking yourself and the Holy Spirit that question. What are the things that are giving you energy and helping you to grow in your relationship with God? Look back over the last few months and see what you have done that has produced “rich fruit”.
Did you find that difficult? Does that concern you? (If you did, it should!)
We cannot expect to only do those things that we find rewarding, that produce good fruit in our lives and those of others. But we should certainly be seeking out those things. But more importantly, we should make it a priority to take stock – to spend time prayerfully looking at your relationship with God.
I was also at the launch event for the Holy Habits resources (www.brfonline.org.uk/holy-habits) Andrew Roberts’ excellent book of that name is now supported by a set of study guides for personal and group use to support the United Reformed Church’s new focus on “Walking the Way: Living the life of Jesus today” – more information at www.urc.org.uk/our-work/walking-the-way.html
Somewhere along the way, the Church has lost sight of our call to be disciples and to make new disciples. It is time to correct that, and looking back at where we are growing in our own discipleship will help us to regain our focus for the future. There is an urgent need to getting back to the kind of discipleship to which we are called (see Matthew 28:16-20). I look forward to hearing stories of how individuals and congregations across the West Midlands take up this challenge.
...a very good place to start. Many of you will recognise those words from The Sound of Music. They start the song where Maria is teaching the children how to sing: A-B-C for learning to read, Do-Re-Mi for music. (Infer nothing about my musical preferences from this reference, but this is my first blog and I’ve got to start somewhere!)
I’ve been discussing with the Synod Officers ways in which improve communications between the office and local churches. Developing our online presence is one of those ways.
It need hardly be said, but I shall say it anyway, that our hope is that the communication develops in both directions. Our aim, as Synod staff, is to support the local church in developing their mission – to help you to do your things better. For us to achieve that aim, we need to hear clearly from you what support will help you.
But to drop back to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s theme – we need to start somewhere. Small steps will make a difference and open the door to larger, more confident and more effective steps.
It really is coincidence that I begin these blog postings at the start of January. I don’t “do” New Year’s Resolutions. If a change is worth making it is worth making anyway, not just because we turn a page on our calendars. It is not my intention at the outset to make regular or frequent postings, but I hope that I shall be able to use this particular forum to share some ideas, thoughts and reflections along the way.
As the United Reformed Church we are now moving into a new phase of life – Walking the Way: Living the Life of Jesus Today. You should have heard already that this is not a new programme or new initiative. It is the basis for which the Church will turn to what it should always have been doing but somewhere along the line we have tended to neglect. The URC will, under the Walking the Way banner refocus our energies on building up disciples of Jesus Christ and releasing them – us! – into mission. In other words, we are going back to the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:16ff).
My prayer for us all is that together we will embrace this “re-boot of our DNA” as I’ve called it elsewhere.
May you know Christ more deeply and seek to serve Him and our neighbours this year.