As I write this we have just restored the Worship Centre to its pre-Christmas Alive state, returned the props and furniture to their normal places and deconstructed our representation of Bethlehem’s village square. I now find myself reflecting on all that has passed in the last week or two and everything that has happened during 2018. I am increasingly astonished by the commitment of the members of our congregation to the business of spreading the Word of God. I know it’s what He calls us to but you all do it with such excellence! Christmas Alive was truly magnificent—we estimate that around 500 people came through our doors in that one day and we’ve had so much positive feedback that I can’t hope to include it all here, so a little more inside. The event was a wonderful team effort and there is no doubt that God was at work in the many who came to visit - there were more than a few tears during the performances. The team have asked me to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped, took part, encouraged or provided things to be used. Without you it wouldn’t have happened. So thank you all! No doubt it’ll be back again next advent.
It’s very easy to think that the big things we do like Christmas Alive, Boulder Gang and the conferences we run like Doors of Hope are the most important things we do but they are just parts of something much bigger. Recently I spoke about partnering with God and I was reminded that the Fountain of Life is a truly remarkable place that has been blessed by God in it’s 22 year existence. Considering that it has no immediate population to serve and is located in a rather odd place it is nothing short of miraculous that God can use it at all and yet here we are growing, thriving and bringing the Kingdom of God into the very heart of rural Norfolk. However, we must not forget the small things. The conversations we have with people, the acts of kindness we do or the words of encouragement we give to others are every bit as important as the big events. In the end we are all built for relationship with God and one of the things that has become clear to me is that it’s the relationships we have with each other that draw people into His Kingdom. We all need to belong and to have purpose. It helps to keep us mentally, physically and spiritually healthy. When we take time to engage with our neighbours, to help them, encourage them or to share a little bit of life with them the atmosphere changes. The barriers we put up to protect ourselves from the things that hurt or we’re afraid of come down and God has a chance to move. As members of a church we are not better than anybody else or even much different from them except that we have the hope of salvation in Jesus which is missing for so many.
I read recently that Michelle Obama said, “Choose people who lift you up.” It sounds like reasonable advice because those who won’t lift you up when you need a hand may inevitably pull you down. But the biblical perspective is that we are supposed to be the people who lift others up. So whether we’re helping to put together a big event to tell our friends and neighbours about Jesus or we’re helping a neighbour to carry their shopping that’s who we should be. It’s the consistent message that we hear throughout the Bible from the moment in Genesis where we read about how God created the universe and gave it to us as His gift to the moment in Revelation where He promises to remake it again the message is the same - “love one another.” Or put another way “Be someone who lifts others up!”
In 2019 we will be undergoing a fair bit of change. In April we’ll be refurbishing the Worship Centre and at the end of June Stephen will be passing the leadership on to me. The team of people you’ll see leading and speaking will also be growing and changing. Some of that we’ve already seen and heard. There will be big events and small ones, we’ll make new friends and find new opportunities but my prayer for all of us through the changes we encounter is that we keep to the plan. Love one another, lift each other up and do it with excellence.
Love and blessings,