Thought for the week

Thought for the Week provides a Verse, Thought and Prayers for the week ahead.  We trust you will find these helpful and encouraging in these times.

Sunday 9th August 2020

Verse for the week:

Acts 1:8b [New Living Translation]

“And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Jesus Christ)

Thought for the week:

A recent newspaper headline caught my attention. It said:

Pixels and prayers as Kirk urged to embrace the future online

Former leader says lockdown lessons must be learned

The report was about a former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, who said,

“The Church, too, has to learn lessons from our life in lockdown …… we have been offered a tantalising glimpse of a very different kind of church. One in which we are not as reliant on buildings as we thought we were and it is one in which we are able, online, to reach a constituency that has been missing from our pews for generations [….] While we long for the day in which we can once again worship in our sacred spaces …… memories of what we once were are no use to a church that must dream of what we can be in the future. We have discovered (if we did not know already) that so much of what we do is rooted in tradition and convention rather than relevance and necessity, and that has to change”.

Harsh words? Maybe discomforting or even frightening? I’ll leave you to decide.

But the church has had to adapt to changing situations before. The words in our verse for the week were spoken by Jesus to his followers after his resurrection, just before he ascended to heaven. His followers were Jewish by birth and by custom. For hundreds of years they had worshipped, solely with other Jews, in the same way, in the same places, using the same words, singing the same songs, saying the same prayers.

Now Jesus is asking (commanding) them to do something new, something different. He is calling them from a culture of religion to a life of faith …… and I’m sure they were surprised, uncomfortable, even frightened at the prospect. But the Holy Spirit had been promised, and given – and he made all the difference.

On many occasions the early church experienced opposition from the “religious” Jews. In Acts chapter 17 there is an account of Paul, with Silas, preaching in Thessalonica, and we read that “Some of the Jews were jealous, saying “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world …… and now they are here disturbing our city too”.

They didn’t want disturbance – they wanted things to stay, or be put back to, the way they were …… to what they were comfortable with. And, truthfully, that’s not hard to understand.

But what if God is calling his people, in these times, to a “new” way? What if God doesn’t any longer want the church to be a “feeding station” where we are filled with things that comfort and bring ease? What if God wants his church to once again, as one pastor put it, to be merely a “staging post”, where we are filled with purpose and hope so that we can take that hope beyond the walls of the building, out into a community, a town and a nation that sorely needs that hope just now?

What if?

Prayer for the week:

Father in heaven,

May your Kingdom come:

In our lives as individuals

In your church

And out into our community ……

Our town ……

Our nation ……

Our world

May we be your people ……

In the power of your Spirit ……

In obedience to Jesus ……

Playing our part in building your Kingdom

To the glory and honour of your holy name

We ask, and offer, in Jesus’ name