Our church magazine is available to collect from the church.
The minister’s letter is also reproduced here.
“As others see us”
I’ve been trying to listen to all the episodes of Neil MacGregor’s radio 4 programme “As Others See us”. It asks about the impression that Britain has and is creating in the minds of other countries: Germany, Egypt, Nigeria, Canada and India. The series is provoked by Brexit and the accompanying change in our relationship with the world, assuming that we do leave the EU. We may have ideas about out Britain is viewed and the nature of global relationships and if you listen some of those may be confirmed and others challenged.
As children, the ability to understand that other people hold opinions about you is difficult to grasp. As you become a teenager, the opinions of your peer group become important to you – more important than the opinions of your parents or adult caregivers. As adults, it can still be unnerving to discover that other people hold opinions about you that challenge your own ideas about yourself.
I wonder how others see us as a church? The formal answer is that we should illustrate the characteristics of a church according to the Nicene Creed “one, holy, catholic and apostolic”. “Catholic” meaning universal, “apostolic” meaning sent by God, “holy” means that we reflect and embody God’s nature and “one” expresses that we have unity of purpose with God and unity of fellowship with one another, also meaning that we aim for unity of churches. Perhaps though the answer is more prosaic: the church with the interesting window, the church as a host venue for the homeless project, for Make Do and Mend, for the choir you attend or any of the mixture of external bookings and our own mission activities. Do people see the volunteer hours, the practical care, the hope for a better world and the worship of God that underpins all of those things? I hope so.
How does God see us? The Bible tells us that God has us in mind and has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), that God knows us intimately (Psalm 139), God values us (Matthew 10: 29-31), is always with us bringing us hope and courage (Joshua 1:9), love us (John 3:16) with an eternal love that can never be denied, discouraged nor defeated by anything not even death (Romans 8:38-39). You are a much and entirely loved child of God (1 John 3:1). God’s loving opinion of us is the most important of all.
Yours in Christ,