Minister’s Letter, May 2012

Dear Friends,

Recently one of our daughters has been preparing a family tree as part of a school project. It is fascinating how memories of loved ones can fade with time. When I met Julie’s parents for the first time (nearly 23 years ago) there were some elderly family members present.  Julie’s maternal great- great aunt Eva was staying for a few weeks (she was in her mid 90′s then and lived to be 106) and her grandmother (aunt Eva’s niece in her late 70′s then). Julie and I were left to look after them while her parents took refuge in the Birkhill Inn, near Dundee.

It was fascinating to meet the elderly matriarchs of the family and hear their recollections about years gone by. Three of my own grandparents died before I was born so I had never spent much time with older people. At the time Julie’s paternal grandparents were alive and regularly on a Sunday afternoon we would visit them.

All of the elderly relations mentioned passed away some years ago now, but when a generation of people are lost in a family, something of the corporate memory of the family dies with them. It takes a disciplined person to keep an account of family history, although many people are interested in their family genealogies.

I often refer to the Church as the family of God’s people. We become children of God   our Heavenly Father by placing our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12). When we think of other believers we can think of them as brothers and sisters in the Lord. The apostle Paul uses the Greek noun oikonomos, to describe the local Church as a ‘household’.  In the same way a human family has a corporate memory, a local congregation will likewise share a corporate memory. A small number of people can recall what St Andrew’s was like nearly 60 years ago.  Another group can remember the different ministries that have served the congregation over the past 40 or so years. Some have been with us 20 years and so on.

The nature of the congregation has changed markedly over the years as Brussels has evolved with the coming of NATO, the development of the European Institutions, the establishment of company headquarters and all that comes with them.  Over the years the congregation has become more international in its makeup and more transient in its mobility. If transient members make up a larger sector of the Church community in the years ahead, I believe this will present a significant challenge to us. Perhaps we are already seeing signs of this?

Why have people worshipped in our congregation over the years and continue to do so? One reason is that despite all of the change that happens around us, God gives us the assurance that gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ remains the same.  The prophet Isaiah reminds us that “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” [40:8]

A second reason is that Jesus himself remains the same. Lots of people seem to reinvent themselves to remain popular; think of the modern-day diva Lady GaGa or the pop star Prince (who once renamed himself as ‘the Artist formerly known as Prince’).  Yet Jesus Christ never changes, he is always the same. The writer to the Hebrews says ’Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever’ [13:3].

Thirdly the fundamental needs and aspirations of people do not change. Down the ages and around the world people are the same; made in the image of God.  It makes no difference that world becomes ever more sophisticated in realms technology, medicine, engineering etc. Our inner need to relate to God who made us, forgives us and gives us meaning remains the same.

Your Minister and friend