Minister’s Letter September 2014

Dear friends

On the 6September St Andrew’s will welcome three visitors from Christ Presbyterian Congregation, Adentan, Ghana. We have been twinned with this vibrant congregation for 8 years now and over that time relationship has grown and developed. Over these years we have sent four groups of St Andrew’s members to Ghana and September’s visit will be the fourth time we welcome friends from Adentan. We have also exchanged gifts, shared information about the life of our congregations, made new friends and deepened our understanding of Christian witness in two very different contexts.

We are grateful for Margaret Brusasco and the Twinning Committee for their continued hard work they have done to sustain and develop the twinning over the years. Julie and I had the joy and privilege of making the first visit to Adentan in 2006, where we met the congregation, its office bearers and officials from the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. We were warmly welcomed by all whom we met. We have happy memories of visiting a country where so many people love and follow Jesus.

During a meeting with the congregation, one member of the Kirk Session asked me a challenging question. ‘How do we stop Christianity in Africa going the same way as it has in the Western world over the past 50 years?’ I assumed that he was speaking about the decline of Christian belief in the West, due to secularisation, pluralism and materialistic values. I wasn’t able to give him and answer on the spot and after much reflection I don’t think I could give a clear answer to the question today. What we can say is that over the past 60 years or so that the centre of gravity of Christianity has moved from the west to the Africa, Asia and China.

What do we share with our friends from Adentan? Firstly we share faith in the God who reveals himself in the Bible. This common belief means that we accept the salvation history that the scripture discloses which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This means that when we meet together to worship God, even though we might sing different hymns or use different styles of music, we are doing the same thing. Our common faith provides us with a shared outlook upon the world, although our contexts are very different.

Something else we share together is Christian fellowship. The Holy Spirit brings followers of Christ together their common faith in Jesus Christ and the gospels. This means that we enjoy a bond of friendship in Christ with people of Christ Presbyterian Congregation as we do with many believers near and far. It should be a great encouragement to us to know that we have so many Christian friends of different denominations around the world.

Lastly we share the same hope in Christ Jesus. We believe that there is more to human life than what world offers. The world entices us with the lure of materialism, the folly of hedonism (living for pleasure), the opportunity to abuse power or the invitation to become self-centred. But Jesus and his gospel offers another way to live where a God’s kingdom runs counter to the world and its ways. Christ invites us into the spiritual realm of his kingdom, where repentant sinners are pardoned, humility and grace are valued traits, the cry for justice is heard and the joy of eternal life with God is promised to those who persevere in faith. There is much to hope for those who place their trust in Christ and without him there is much to despair about. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Ghana and throughout the world share with us the very same hope in gospel that inspires us and encourages in our commitment to him.

Let us give our visitors a warm Christian welcome

Your minister and friend