Minister’s Letter Summer 2017

Dear friends,

Some of you will be aware that two of my sisters emigrated from the United Kingdom to Western Australia nearly 30 years ago now. Over those years the family has grown and changed, just like any other family. Grandparents have passed away, new relationships have been forged and children have been born. In recent times we have enjoyed visits from my sisters and some nieces and nephews, but this time, after a gap of nine years, Julie and I have the opportunity to return to Western Australia this summer. We are blessed to have a large family on the other side of the world.

Our own congregation has many people who have family in different places in the world: that’s the nature of an international community. Some of us are within easy travelling distance from our family, perhaps a few hours by car, but others need to travel to another continent to see them.

It can be difficult being far away from family; particularly as parents get older and knowing what can best be done for them as they become frailer. The good thing today is that we have sophisticated methods of communication such as internet video calls, social media, etc.; all very different from when my sisters left Scotland. In those days, we could look forward to a telephone call or blue airmail letter through the letter box.

Any loving congregation of Christians should be a second family for us. Jesus used the language of family when he spoke to God in Heaven. He referred to God as his ‘Father’ and spoke of himself as his ‘Son’. One intimate word that Jesus used to refer to God in Heaven is ‘Abba’, the Aramaic word that can be translated ‘my Father’. In the Church we extend the language of family to consider other believers as brothers and sisters in the Lord. We can think of fellow believers in the congregation as our brothers and sisters and, similarly, believers in other congregations of the same denomination or from different denominations. This sense of extended family exists between ourselves and the people of Christ Presbyterian Congregation Adentan, with whom we have been twinned for ten years. When Owusu Sarpong and Carol Philips visit Adentan in early July they will meet many brothers and sisters in the Lord, who will welcome them into their Ghanaian church family.

When Jesus speaks about his kingdom, he is speaks of a kingdom that transcends the boundaries of the worldly kingdom. In Jesus’ kingdom the ‘first will be last and the last will first’ (Matt 20:16 & 19:30). Furthermore our understanding of family is extended to include those with whom we share faith in Christ and his kingdom.

Over the summer months, we tend to disperse as a regular church family for holidays. Yet we ought to remember that our Father in Heaven doesn’t go on holiday. When we are dispersed and in different places we can continue to show our love and concern for one another through prayer. We might covenant to pray for two or three people in the congregation over the months of July and August. Those who we pray for will be strengthened by our love for them and our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ will be deepened for the good.

With every blessing for the summer months

Your minister and friend,