PASTORAL LETTER FROM PETE BANGS 16th DECEMBER 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

I hope this letter finds you all well and safe as we emerge from second lockdown with the promise of Christmas ahead of us.

I must be honest and admit I have not made best use of my spare time over the two lockdowns we have had. There seem to have been three kinds of lockdown responses. Some people have learnt a new language, decluttered their home and learnt to make sour dough bread from scratch, some people have tried to carry on as normal and some, like me, have binge watched too much TV and considered it a major win if they got dressed each day of the week. With the predominance of Zoom video meetings, it would not be inaccurate to say there are days when I’ve only got dressed from the waist up. I think we are all waiting for a new day when we can see what the pattern of life is going to be on a regular basis. We want a “norm”, whatever it may turn out to be and in the mean time we put things off.

So, during one of my late evening procrastinations I came across this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. He asked, “How much of human life is lost in waiting?” and I realised how it applied to my current world in many ways.

My role revolves around supporting the circuit in doing mission. If you have ideas that you need help to make happen or you need a hand while you build a team for something, that’s part of my purpose here. I am not here to pursue my own ideas, generally, but to help you with yours. As you can imagine, the desire to do mission in the current circumstances is tiny. Most people are, understandably, keeping their heads down waiting for the storm to pass. So I am turning my hand to other things like these letters and finding ways to be an encourager.

When Jesus sent his disciples out in Matthew 10 he gave them instructions on where to go and what to do and the church has taken on the task of fulfilling the Great Commission with it’s simple instructions. How are we to do that? It is possible to do things in these current circumstances?

Things like the Meon Angels give us pause and remind us there are many ways to share the message of the Gospel. There are many ways to share the Gospel that don’t require meeting face to face. Over the past few weeks I’ve become aware of a number of ideas that I will share but they only work if we don’t choose to wait for a better time a better opportunity, better weather, to move to Tier 1. It is always easy to find reasons not to do something but let’s think of those reasons and then do it anyway (while acting responsibly and staying Covid safe).

A friend recorded a short message about peace for her church’s Facebook Advent. She sent that 2 minute video out to 50 non-Christian friends and has had a dozen conversations that otherwise would not have happened. Meon Angels will be out and about this Christmas sharing their knitted and crocheted message of hope which reaches people in the community who may not have heard it otherwise . Living Stones, Carols on the Doorstep, Wandering Wise Men, even Christmas Card writing are all safe to do now and help build community and connexion with our neighbours, whoever they may be and where ever they may be.

It is easy, in the words of Mark Twain, to put off doing tomorrow what you can leave until the day after but let’s look for what we can do to share the Gospel right now rather than waiting for a “better” time. 

The world is filled with loss and fear right now. When will there be a better time to share the message of the God who is love.

Lord I pray that we all find the courage to share your message of love in this time of fear, that we find ways to bring your Word, your Light and your Love to a stricken and fearful world. I pray that we take opportunities and make opportunities to speak of you to family, friends, neighbours and anyone we meet, listening for your prompting on how we do it, whether it is a kind word, a Christmas card, or an act of kindness. I ask your hand on us as we seek to be bold in new and creative ways Lord.

In the Name of Jesus

Amen

I pray you all stay safe and have a blessed time remembering the birth of our Saviour.

Pete Bangs

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