Minister’s Letter May 2016

Dear friends,

My late father would have been 86 on 13th April; my sisters were quick to remind me, but I hadn’t forgotten.  I had been listening to some Nat King Cole ballads on my ‘phone.  Dad liked American crooner music; artists like Nat Cole, Andy Williams, Sammy Davis Jnr. and probably a few others whose names I cannot recall.  He wasn’t a perfect dad, but then we weren’t a perfect family. I appreciate all that he did for me; taking me fishing, visiting the British Open Championship on several occasions (as a boy I remember interrupting Harry Carpenter interviewing the legendary Jack Nicklaus, just for an autograph – I was none the wiser).  He tried too to pass on his joinery skills to me, I wish I had listened to him.  I was too busy being a geeky Dr Who/Star Wars fan – dreaming of galaxies far, far away.  Who needed to learn joinery when there were galaxies to explore and daleks to defeat?

In later life he was helpful to all of us, again using his joinery skills.  In early December 2005, weeks into our arrival in Brussels, one of the last things that he did for us was to rebuild the girls’ playhouse.  The playhouse stood for longer than need be, for sentimental reasons, and you may have noticed that Bethany and Karalyn outgrew their playhouse a long time ago.

I usually think of the Church as an extended family of sorts; the language of family prevails in the ways that we refer to God and in how we refer to other believers as ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ in the Lord. The hymn ‘Brother, Sister let me serve you’ is one that I like to sing.  Like our genetic family, our Church family is usually far from perfect either.  What are the factors that make the Church our spiritual family?

To begin with we might think of the Church as a community of grace.  The Church is borne out of God’s generous and overwhelming grace for us. We would never hear God’s call to faith unless he had shown us the fullness of his grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Not only are we borne out of that amazing divine grace, God’s desire for us is that we treat other people in the same way that God treats us. Therefore we are to be practitioners and channels of God’s grace, showing wisdom and forbearance in how we deal with all people; this includes members of God’s family.

The next family trait is that we are a community of faith. As brothers and sisters in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – we share certain beliefs in common.  When we celebrate the sacraments in our Church family, we affirm the commonality of our belief in the words of the Apostles’ Creed and we uphold the gospel good news of Christ in all that we do as a Church community. When we meet to plan property and financial aspects of the congregation’s life we ought to come together with the same faith and desire to serve God, as we do when we gather together around God’s word in Bible study or prayer.

The third family trait is that it is a community of great potential. When a baby is born into a family  the parents and extended family – hopefully see vast potential in the helpless child that has become part of the family.  When Jesus calls the apostles – a fairly mixed group of unremarkable men – he could see the great potential that they had, to develop in their faith and understanding of Christ and His kingdom.  He could see the potential that they had to be faithful servants of God and become the nucleus of His community of grace.  There were plenty of frustrations along the way, but with the inspiration and the encouragement of the resurrected Christ, working in perfect harmony with the Holy Spirit,most of the apostles fulfilled their spiritual potential for the glory of God.

We are blessed to have a vibrant, dynamic and diverse Church family at St Andrew’s.  Give thanks for them.

Your minister and friend,