11th May 2021

17 May 2021 by Barbara Moore in: Pastoral Thoughts

MORE THOUGHTS 8 

Our Presbytery is made up of many different churches; congregations of different sizes  in different locations, together making up the diverse entity that we are. There may be  fewer churches than there were 5 years ago as some church buildings have closed,  which is a cause of sadness. At the same time, each congregation is consciously  thinking about what its role might be within its community as mission plans are  developed, while Presbytery works to encourage and support these. Each place holds  a story, indeed many stories of individuals and congregations that are in themselves a witness to faith over generations, during which the times and the contexts have  changed.  

Sometimes it can feel that change is being forced upon us. Indeed, the circumstances  of these Covid19 times mean that some of the ways in which we carried on our normal  lives at home or in public spaces have been subject to regulations designed to keep  us safe and healthy. We know all this. It has been this way for well over a year and we  have adapted. Maybe we should be recording these things within our churches as  being part of the story of this time for the sake of the future because it is as we look  back at the journeys of faith from the past that we come to value each present moment.  We are writing a new chapter in our stories but that does not mean that we do not also  continue to learn and value what we have inherited. Indeed, history tells us in every  context that we forget the past at our peril. 

Our stories are rooted in different cultures, each of which has things to offer the whole.  We cannot come together and really connect with one another without appreciating  that we have been shaped by different contexts and traditions. “Uniting” as a church  now has a broader compass than Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational, all of  which hold great richness. “Uniting” now means thinking about how we can be truly  cross-cultural. 

This may all seem too complex when we are just trying to get on with being people of  faith in our own places, yet the way we understand how we have come to be the people  we are in each congregation and recognize the things that have shaped us are  important to how we discover our strengths and where there may be room for growth. 

Really there is nothing very new in all of this. It may seem more confronting in these  times, but we only have to read our Bibles to realise that the journey of faith has always  been one of discerning God’s will and God’s way forward in challenging situations.  Often people struggled, but we read how God kept calling them to trust, to be humble  and to leave aside the desire to fit into the norms of the society around. Then they  could allow themselves to be shaped by God’s wisdom. What struggles are written  into the stories of people in our Scriptures! But what witness is also there to the  transformative way of Christ and the energizing power of God’s Spirit! It’s just the same  for us. So, let’s not get bogged down but see ourselves as part of the ongoing story of  God’s work in our own places. We may not feel able to do great works, but, as Mother  Theresa said, we can each play our little part with great love, and, we might add, with  openness and a desire to discern God’s word that comes to us in different ways. 

Your word, O God, is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path”. Psalm 119: 105