Pete Bangs 21st April Letter

Dear friends

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of us at this time.

There is a lot of talk about when we get back to normal, once lockdown is over, and it opens up a big question that we all need to consider. Do we want to go back to how things were? Since the lockdown we’ve all had to take a hard look at how we are church. We had to deal with the sometimes-confusing overlap between church building and church. It’s hard to argue that we never confused church with the building we went to on Sundays. We have had to look at how we do community, how we live as church. In this time prayer meetings have become virtual but, in many places, more people were able to take part. Sunday meetings have had to be approached creatively and people have risen to the new challenges. Even the simple act of agreeing to all pray in our homes at a set time has created a sense of togetherness in spirit when we cannot be together physically. In many churches, congregations have got to really know each other, offering and accepting support from each other. Many churches have grown in how they do life together. Do we want to go back and let this growth go?

Zoom prayer meetings mean single parents and late workers can be a part of events, on-line church means the housebound can enjoy services, letters are being written, phone calls are being made and community is happening on so many more levels than before. It would be a shame to let go of this when the pandemic finally passes, to let go of what we’ve gained in the rush back to physical meetings. Many of the creative ways we have found of being church have been a real blessing to parts of our community that otherwise may have found themselves even more isolated. When we come out of this, we need to look at ways to further incorporate what we’ve learned. We may have found a blessing in this time of lamentation.

Please remember in your prayers all those working to keep us connected in this time. We are not saved by works but we are enriched by works produced in faith and prompted by love, as it says in 1 Thessalonians 1 :

1 Thessalonians 1: 2-6

  • We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.
  • We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
  • You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

May God bless each one of you with his peace, joy and strength.

In closing I would like to share a prayer that has meant much to me and carried me through difficult times. It is by a man named Alistair MacLean who was a Church of Scotland minister in the Hebrides and drew heavily on those islands’ Celtic past :

Dear Lord, as the rain hides the stars, as the autumn mist hides the hills, happenings of my lot hide the shining of Thy face from me. Yet, if I may hold Thy hand in the darkness, it is enough; since I know that, though I may stumble in my going, Thou dost not fall. Amen

Alistair MacLean

Pete Bangs
Pioneer Missioner

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