Minister’s Letter May 2015

Dear friends,

Jesus often posed questions to people. He did this to make them think and deepen their understanding of Jesus’ identity and the purpose of his ministry. One of the questions that Jesus asks his disciples is, “Who do people say that I am?”  Jesus then poses a follow-up question: “Who do you say I am?”  In Mark 8:27-30, Peter immediately responds “You are the Christ.”

There is the famous story when an expert in the law comes to Jesus and asks the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The man has a supplementary question “Who is my neighbour?”  and Jesus goes on tell the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’. But the scene finishes with Jesus himself asking the question “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” [Luke 10: 25-37]

Questions cause us to explore issues more deeply and they help us to think things through. In Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 8 there is the question, “What then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us who can be against us?” [vs. 31] Paul is provoking the reader to think. Sometimes I will ask questions during sermon to make us think.

When I was young, I was always asking questions: who, where, why and what? But when I became older I continued to enjoy asking questions and this led me to pursue studies in plant biochemistry. Through my scientific research, I was able to find answers to some of my questions.

When it comes to the life of Christ’s Church the willingness to ask searching questions is vital. My role as a Church Assessor requires me to interview people about how they have perceived a sense of call towards some form of ministry within the Church.

During the last weekend in April, I along with others conducted the Local Church Review of the English Reformed Church (ERC) in Amsterdam. The information about all aspects of the life of the congregation could only come from posing questions to different groups and individuals who contribute to the life of the ERC. The exchange of ideas and opinions helped us to give thanks for God’s faithfulness for the past and helped consider goals for the future developments for the life and witness of the congregation.

So what are the pertinent questions that we should ask of ourselves in this 90th anniversary year of the Church building? What was it that motived our forebears to build the Church? What was it like to be an Anglophone congregation in Brussels in the decade after WW1? In many ways the world was very different from the post Christian world of today. We believe in the same Jesus Christ and the same gospel, but how do we continue to reach people who live in a world which is rapidly changing? I think the answer to this question is two-fold. Firstly, even when the world is changes quickly, people’s fundamental needs, hopes and aspirations don’t alter much. Secondly, as a Church we must continue to offer inspirational worship that underlines the faithfulness of eternal God who cares for people and provides an anchor and the hope of salvation in our transient world.

Your minster and friend,