35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ 38 Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ 39 So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. – Mark 1:35-39
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I hope this finds you well.
Last Sunday we had the ADCM. For those of you who were unable to attend, here is a brief summary:
We began the meeting by looking back with thankfulness to God for what he has done over the last year. We heard how God had encouraged Wendy with the many online things we have been able to provide. We heard how Liz felt cared for by the St Martin’s Church Family when her family had Covid-19. We also heard from Peter as he shared his experiences of being back in the St Martin’s building since re-opening. We heard about the Christianity Explored course and how God had used it to bring people to faith.
We then looked forward to the year ahead and the three things we will need to focus on as a Church:
The verses above from Mark’s gospel come after a busy period of ministry in the life of Jesus. He had spent time teaching in the synagogue; straight after this he heals Simon’s Mother-in-law, this leads to crowds of people coming to him for healing. In his humanity there is no doubt that this intense period of busyness would have taken its toll on Jesus physically, mentally, emotional and spiritually. As a result of this Jesus takes time out for recovery. He goes off on his own to spend time refocusing God the Father in prayer. And if Jesus the Son of God needed time to recover after a gruelling period, we too will need to take time to recover as well. This global pandemic has affected us all on some level. And like Jesus we will need time to process all that has happened to us over the last year. We will need time to recover and refocus on God.
As we recover, we need to remember that we are not to do this work on our own. When Jesus takes time out to recover, he does this as the second person of the Trinity. He takes time out as God’s Son to pray to God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. And in this we see that Jesus looks to and leans on others. And we are to do the same. As we seek to recover from all we have been through we need others to help us. We need God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We also need each other. When God calls us to himself, he calls us into his family, the body of Christ. The image of the body is seen in the New Testament; the idea that it is one thing but is made up of different parts. All these different parts are needed for the body to grow and function properly. This reminds us that, as a church, we are a body and we need each other. This is why the physical gathering of the church is so important. The online things we have been doing have been great and we, rightly, give thanks to God for them, but they cannot help us to grow in the same way that being physically together can. We need to spend time over the next few months focusing on regathering physically together again as the people of God. This will, no doubt, take time. But as restrictions are eased, as people are vaccinated, as cases begin to drop (they are dropping significantly), hopefully we will start to see people coming back to the building again.
Now some of us won’t be able to come back because of failing health. If this is you, please don’t feel guilty, and please don’t worry that we are going to stop online things because, at present, there are no plans to. However, for those of us who can, I urge you to return and enjoy the gift and encouragement of being physically together again
3. Point people to Jesus
Once Jesus has recovered, what does he do? Mark tells us he goes out and preaches the good news because this is why he has come. And ultimately this is what he calls us to do. As a church we are called to point people to Jesus. As a nation, the last year has been like no other in our lifetime. It’s been a time of loss, anxiety, and fear. It’s been a time where people have been reminded of the fragility of life through ill health and death. And in this we have a glorious message of hope and healing found in Jesus. This message is what people need to hear more than anything else. As his body, this is the work Jesus calls us to do. And there is nothing more glorious than pointing people to the only one who can give us real hope and healing. As the body of Christ all of us have a part to play in these things. We can all be praying and working towards our recovery, regathering and pointing people to Jesus. I look forward to partnering with you over the next 12 months as, under God, we seek to move forward together in confidence.
Yours in Christ,