Hello everyone.This page is a compilation of videos, letters and messages..
Sunday November 1st 2020
Blackheath and Halesowen Pastoral Letter
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow
with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, (Romans 15:3).”
Today in my pastoral letter I would like to ask you one question: “Do you have hope?” Now your
immediate response might be “yes of course.” But what if my next line was this: “In the future a
serious tragedy is going to happen in your life, that will change everything. Will you still have hope
Now to be honest that is not so easy to answer is it? It is not easy because real hope does
not come from a place where everything is going well for you. Real hope is when you have stood on
the edge of uncertainty, faced death, and still trust in God. Real hope is similar to what Susanna
Wesley faced when the family: “suffered illness, disease, poverty, and the death of children. Fire
twice destroyed their home. But through it all [she still] accepted the will of God and placed herself
and her family in His hands.”... Real hope believes in the absolute security of Christ, and real peace
flows through those who are born of the Spirit, (Romans 15:3).
Now I know this from real experience when me and Mareike stood on the edge of uncertainty every day for four months, until our little one was stillborn and went to be with the Lord. We
stood face to face with death every day, uncertain that our little boy would live. When he finally
went to be with Christ, we felt relieved that He was safe in the Saviours arms. We came face to face
with real hope, and today we are “filled with all joy and peace as we trust in him.”
Now what I find interesting today, is when I hear and see people fearing the future, and not
really having hope in Christ. I want to give them some of the hope that is in my heart. This is be-
cause of what Paul says in Romans 8:24-25: “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is
no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently.”
And this is the absolute question to you reading my Pastoral Letter: “Are you patient enough
to wait on God, and trust that He might have a better plan for your life?” Yes, we might want to get
back to Church, yes people might want some sense of normality. However, real hope can only be
discovered when you are standing on the edge of yourself, and you lose holding unto the self.
One of my favourite all time authors A.W Tozer said this: “In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross. If he refuses
the cross he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness
among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No
cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and
wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar, but we doom ourselves to shadows and weak-
ness and spiritual sterility.”
Let me finish this Letter to you with the question that I started with: “Do you have hope, real hope in
Troy, Joseph, and Peter.
Tuesday October 6th 2020
Blackheath and Halesowen Pastoral Letter
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 NJKV).
This is one of our most beloved Psalms, filled with passion, pathos, and profundity and it exudes a deep sense of trust and confidence in God’s provision and protection.
Psalm 23 is the ‘go to’ source of solace for soldiers going into war and a repository of peace for hospital patients facing surgery. It is a fountain of wisdom and inspiration for ministers needing a word from God to support and encourage grieving families at funerals, and a word of hope and comfort to businessmen in the face of bankruptcy.
One Chaplain recounted the many occasions Bibles had to be replaced in the hospital Chapel because the page containing Psalm 23 was constantly being torn out by those desperately seeking God’s help and hand of intervention. These precious words are a source of light when the darkness threatens, and danger terrifies.
David did not choose these words by chance. They captured for him an entire array of emotions, challenges, difficulties, misfortunes, and setbacks.
He especially remembered those days as a young boy when he was alone in the Judean hills tending the sheep and been keenly aware of the threat to his life from brigands, bears, and wild lions. Can you imagine yourself as a young teenager standing before a towering giant who is threatening to grind you into ‘mincemeat’ and feed you to the birds? Or walk in his shoes as a successful warrior who was instrumental in setting your people free from an oppressive nation only to be criticised by your brothers and, after an initial euphoria, rejected and persecuted by your King and father-in-law who placed a bounty on your head because he was jealous of your success. Finally, go sit with him in the Cave of Adullam, desperate and alone, as he cries out to God in those turbulent and tempestuous moments which captures so poignantly what we call ‘the dark night of the soul.’
Here are some words of wisdom that you may find instructive as you pass through the valley of the shadow, endure the night of weeping, and wait patiently for the ‘morning’ for God’s promise to be fulfilled.
1. VALLEYS ARE INEVITABLE: Those seasons when you pass through the valleys are a part of life’s journey. You may have just come out of a valley, or you’re in one right now, or you’re probably headed towards one. Jesus was very realistic about it. In John 16, He says “In the world you will have trouble.” It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. You’re going to have difficulties, disappointments, and moments of discouragement in life. They are going to happen. They are a normal part of life. Don’t be surprised by it.
2. VALLEYS ARE UNPREDICTABLE: You can’t plan them, time them, or schedule them. Valleys are always unexpected. They usually come at the worst time — when you’re unprepared.
Have you ever had a flat tire at a good time? Jeremiah 4:20 says, “Disaster follows disaster… In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter falls in a moment.”
3. VALLEYS ARE IMPARTIAL: No one is immune or insulated from pressures and problems. When you are facing difficulties and dogged by insurmountable odds it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it means you’re a human being. The Bible is very clear that good things happen to bad people and sometimes bad things happen to good people. Valleys are impartial.
4. VALLEYS ARE TEMPORARY: David says, “Even though I walk through the valley…” Valleys are not a permanent location. It’s something you go through – a circumstance, a situation that has a season to it. When you’re in a valley you often think it’s a dead end, but it’s not.
5. VALLEYS ARE PURPOSEFUL: The apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 1:6-7, “At the present you may be temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials.” He had the wisdom garnered from his experience to understand that trials are temporary and do not last forever. Remember, when you are going through trials and valleys that they are not accidents or freaks of nature. God can use them to strengthen our faith and transition us from one season to another and move us from glory to greater glory in our walk with him. Trails and valleys are purposeful.
When we go through the valleys of life the scary parts are the shadows. David did not say that he walked through the valley of death, he said, “When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” One day, someday, a shadow is going to fall over your life. When that moment arrives, you need to remember three important things about shadows:
1. Shadows are always bigger than the reality. The fear we feel is sometimes greater than the actual problem. It’s the fear that is enormous.
2. Shadows cannot hurt you. A Shadow is a figure that is produced from the blockage of light. It is not the real thing; it is only a reflection of that reality. The shadow of a dog cannot bite you because it is not the real animal.
Have you ever been run over by a shadow? There is a difference between the shadow of a truck and the truck itself. Shadows are images without substance or power. They cannot hurt you. They can scare you, but they cannot harm you. They are just shadows.
3. There is no shadow without a light somewhere. When you’re going through a dark valley it is easy to imagine that the sun has stopped shining. But whenever there is a shadow it means there is a light somewhere. When you start being afraid of the shadow in the dark valleys of life turn your back on the shadow and look directly at the light and the shadow falls behind
you. No matter how dark a shadow is, it is a reminder of the presence of light because it is when light is shielded, that a shadow appears.
When you’re afraid, don’t look at the shadow look to the light. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
I find the words of Helen Howarth Lammel (1863-1961) written for struggling saints walking through the valley of the shadows both empathetic and instructive: O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Don’t look at the shadows. Don’t be intimidated by the darkness. Remember, it is in the darkness that Satan develops our negatives. When you’re walking through the valley, look at the light. Ps. 27:1 says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”
The current pandemic has cast a long and menacing shadow across our world. Its potency, resilience, and power has intrigued and baffled scientists and governments. We may well compare this spectre to travelling through a tunnel without an end. Let us remember that pandemics may be potent, but they are not permanent. May we fix out eyes on the God of hope and ask for his wisdom to find a solution. As we pass through this valley of the shadow let us remember those immortal words of our spiritual father John Wesley as he concluded his pilgrimage here on earth which he uttered with such sublime confidence: “The best of all is, God is with us.”
Every blessing in Christ Jesus, Peter, Joseph, Troy.
Tuesday September 2nd 2020
Blackheath and Halesowen Pastoral Letter
A Call to Press on for a New beginning ….!
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me Heavenward in Christ Jesus," (Philippians 3:14).
I write this letter as we enter a new Methodist year: a moment when we look back and reflect on how we began last year. It becomes clear that we have only managed to come through so well because of God’s grace. We are called to press on with a vision of heaven which calls us to leave our past behind in order to have a fresh and new beginning. How true it is: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion's never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). God has spared us for another new year.
Paul too had his past; he was a leader, a scholar with a great position in his community but was also the persecutor of those who followed Jesus. He agreed to and witnessed Stephen’s death, but from the moment he encountered the risen Lord (Acts 9) his life was changed with a new purpose. He wrote: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”(2 Corinthians 5:17). He could have returned to the past and continued with his old life, but he affirms that in Christ his past is forgiven and he is now empowered for a new beginning. After many years of serving Christ, he had the humility to write to the Philippians, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). It is clear that ‘pressing forward’ only becomes meaningful when we leave behind our unhelpful past and embrace the new, not fully known to us now. Although Paul considered the Philippians his “joy”, “crown” and “pride”, he also recognised the deep divisions and quarrels within that early church. Paul was aware of various personality clashes in the church, and therefore he wrote; “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord….” (Philippians 4:2). To agree, meant to let go what had happened in the past. It also meant embracing something new that would enhance their fellowship and bring them the joy of being under the Lordship of Christ. By his own example, Paul was encouraging the Philippians not to dwell in their past, but to grow to know Christ more deeply so that the fellowship might grow deeper.
I am inspired by Paul’s determination to focus on the “prize” to which he aspires. For him, the new life was to live for Christ alone and to die meant only “gain” (Philippians 1:12). The “heavenward in Christ” vision compelled him to keep going without turning back to the old life. He was a true disciple of Jesus, doing exactly what was expected of him (Luke 9:23, 62). To achieve his goal, he was willing to pay the price, leave behind everything that was precious to him: his Jewish tradition, education, name, fame, position and possessions. Not only did he renounce all these, but considered them all as “rubbish” in order to press on to something unexpected, new, fresh and unknown, by trusting the Lord Jesus, his only vision in this world. (1 Timothy 4:8)
We all have our past: we all carry something within us, which has hurt others or broken relationships. This can prevent us from moving forward for His glory. So, let us take time to be still in the presence of the Lord and honestly ask the Holy Spirit to show us where things have gone wrong in our lives and how to put things right. God is only able to help us if we are open to listen and learn from him and have the humility to say “sorry”. I am sure, there is no better ambition in our lives than for God to be glorified, even if it costs us our pride, self-righteousness and self-made positions and possessions that have prevented us from being Christ-like. We need to rejoice and know that despite our weaknesses, we are called to re-enter the new covenant that gives us the joy of belonging to his eternal love and teaches us to love one another as Christ loved us. Let us commit our lives into God’s hands where we are strengthened to leave our past behind and Press On to start afresh so that the Kingdom of God may grow!
Shalom my friends, shalom.
God bless you all,
Joseph, Peter, Troy.
Saturday August 1st 2020
Blackheath and Halesowen Pastoral Letter (based on Psalm 51)
God is good, and during the Covid19 lockdown I have had the chance to do two
things that are important to me. One is to start to “Lernen Deutsch” with Mareike so
that “Ich kann mit meiner Familie sprechen,” (I can speak with my family in German).
And the other is to read and meditate on God’s Word by reading the Bible from the
beginning to the end with a section a night.
From this reading I now use one particular Psalm as a nightly prayer – Psalm
51. This is because in this Psalm I see all elements for prayer, and through this great
Psalm of King David, I am reminded that the most important element during this time
of lockdown is to be close to God and to seek His face. This Psalm helps me to do
that because it is the language of the repentant and broken spirit within me, that
allows me to be humble and thankful to Him for His Salvation, and to be submissive
to His Word. This is also true when I am learning German as I need to be humble,
patient, and have a teachable spirit to learn the language well.
This I also believe is where the Church needs to return back to today. I say
this because what I have noticed on social media recently are some disturbing
arguments over wearing masks or not during this time. It seems that what is filling
the minds, even of some Christians, is to argue using scripture for their reasons not
to wear a mask. They are so consumed in this mindset, that they have become blind
to the reality that we are protecting our own lives, and the lives of other people. They
also ignore the fact that we need to protect our brothers and sisters on the frontline
of our medical care, who are fighting to save peoples lives on a daily basis.
Now I will admit, I do not like wearing a mask, but as a responsible Son of the
King I am accountable if I ever caught Covid19 or if I gave it to someone else. It is
my responsibility to be humble, patient, and have a teachable spirit, that is willing to
let what I think is right for the sake of other people go. It is not for me to be self-
centred, only thinking of myself and my wants or concerns.
In the Church community it is the responsibility of us all to lead the way in
these times, so that we are the forefront and the difference to the world around us.
Because today we have a unique opportunity to stand up and proclaim the Gospel to
a world that needs answers. The Church should be focusing on “rebuilding the walls”
out of lockdown so that we can be there for the people in need. Our challenge is not
mundane reasoning whether to wear a mask or not. The true challenge for the
Church is to take our walk with the Lord seriously, and after this pandemic be open
pastorally for the sick, the broken, and the lost who need Christ. Today people need
believers to stand up and give an answer about the hope that we have in Christ.
They do not need to observe Christians debating pointless arguments demonstrating
pride and not the willingness to learn.
God is good, and just like Him sending Nehemiah to rebuild the walls in
Jerusalem, He also sends other people with gifts and talents to build up the spiritual
temple which is our true home. And just like He sent Ezra into Jerusalem, He sends
us His Word so that we can study it and learn the true language of the Bible, and say
along with King David: “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you
may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” I often wonder in
these last days, ‘Do we need to be more intentional of coming out of the World and
start following the real Christ?’ Amen.
Words such as ‘COVID-19’ and ‘coronavirus’ have not only impacted and
transformed our vocabulary, the pandemic has changed the socio-political
landscape and created a seismic shift in our thinking which has left
governments and institutions scrambling to reinvent themselves and develop
fresh ways to engage and serve their communities.
School and Universities have turned to online teaching. Restaurants have
changed from a sit-down dining experience to outdoor or take-away
service. Churches have also moved from gathered assemblies to ‘online sanctuaries' in their homes.
Digital worship has become the defining worship
experience of these challenging times. What of the future Church? We need vision, courageous leadership and the
faith of godly men and women to enable the church to see beyond the fears of
the current crisis and grasp the unique opportunities of the present to build
the church of the future.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are in the midst of truly radical change,
the kind of cultural change that happens only once every few centuries. When
the dust has settled, we may begin to view the current cultural shift on the
same level as the invention of the printing press. This is a seismic shift and
those who are passionate about the mission of the church should see this as
our wake-up call because every time there is a change in history there are
potential gains and potential losses.
This mini treatise is not a “Word from the Lord”, rather it represents a heart
cry from my own personal reflections to see the church fulfil its mission and
purpose as the people of God for which we were created. The thoughts I offer
should therefore be considered as my thinking in pencil rather than ink.
The church, throughout its history, has always adapted to respond to the
pressing needs and concerns of our community and society. She proved her
resilience during the fall of the Roman Empire by her readiness to serve the
common good when institutions and the social order were collapsing. She
stayed vigilant as her post in the midst of epidemics and major pandemics and was the vanguard serving the weak, the poor, the suffering, the needy and the abandoned.
Our mission is to serve; our resolve remains strong, passionate,
In the midst of all the debates about the future of the church, the cynicism and
despair, we need to remind ourselves that the church is Jesus’ idea and not
ours. He said: “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail
against it...” (Matt.16:18). The church will always survive whatever the mishaps, missteps, or cultural trend that is happening around us.
has an incredible history of overcoming and breaking through in every
generation to share the love of Christ with a broken world. To the cynics and
critics, who have long predicted the end of the church, we can say with utter
confidence that “the reports of the church’s death are greatly exaggerated.”
Every generation experiences change. My Father-in-law is ninety-three years
of age. It is simply amazing the magnitude and scale of changes that he has
experienced in his relatively short lifetime. The truth is, while some people
fear change others ride the wave and reap the benefits. In the same vain the
current challenges might prove to be too much, and churches and entire
denomination might expire. The difference will be between those who robustly cling to God's mission and those who cling to their model of the church.
When the car was invented the railroad, barons opposed it with every fibre of
their being. They saw the new invention as an obstacle not an
opportunity. Why? They had lost sight of their mission. Their mission was
not trains but transportation. The car represented a revolution in human
transportation which allowed people to travel at a level they could not have
before with the added benefits of freedom and independence. Had the
railway Barons understood their mission they could have been the first to
invest in this transportation revolution and the returns would have been
God’s mission is the main thing. As someone has said, “The main thing is
keeping the main thing the main thing.” We need to stay focused on our
mission (leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ) while
investing in growing our innovative and creativity base. Again, we can learn
some vital lessons from the business world. Companies that show innovation
and creativity around their mission, such as Samsung and Apple, always
outperform those companies that remain devoted to their methods such as
Kodak. Look at the changes that have occurred in the music industry over the
past two decades. Look at the trend. The mission remains music, but the
model is always shifting... moving from 8 tracks, cassettes and CDs to MP3s and
now streaming audio and video. Our models and methods may change but without mission - God's mission remains the same.
Having spent the last four months in lock-down even with some measures
easing there are those who are speculating that Church gatherings have
become a thing of the past. This is naive speculation. The narrative of the
inevitable decline of the Church is a historically inaccurate piece of wishful
thinking on the part of secular humanists that we must not internalise. While it
may be true that we will experience some losses, what remains an unchangeable fact is that the Christian Church has always gathered because we are a communal faith, one body with many parts (see Cor. 12:12).
We are at
our best when we gather together to demonstrate our oneness and unity
because that act of gathering far surpasses our individual efforts. Being the
Body of Christ in this new environment means that our gatherings, rather than
suffering terminal decline, would have undergone a metamorphosis, a rebirth,
a resurrection, a transformation into a radical community that is ecclesial in
nature but looks very different in terms of our organisational structure and
Some people are beginning to ask the question, given this extended period of
lock down, is the mega Church dead? There is nothing inherently bad about mega churches.
The Churches in Jerusalem and Ephesus were significant in
terms of their size and missional reach. What we should focus on is
effectiveness rather than size. In that regard there are effective mega
churches as well as effective small churches.
My personal hunch is that in the future we will continue to see multiple
expressions of the church in terms of size, relevance, and effectiveness. Some
large churches will multiply significantly. We will also see multiple expressions
of the same church happening at different locations at the same time or at
different times to suit the missional needs of the local community. Under a
structure of shared leadership, churches will meet in places ranging from large
arenas to simple venues such as restaurants, coffee shops, hotel lobbies, fast
food outlets, and homes under a missional structure that is light weight and
low maintenance. The effectiveness of the church in this new paradigm will
not be about our size but how well we make disciples. Here is a challenge that
we need to wrap our minds around: if you make disciples, you will always get
the church. But if you make a church, you will rarely get disciples. We are not
called to assimilate people into the life of the church but to make
disciple. That call still remains. It never wavers and it never changes. Make
disciples! For the church in the future we need courageous leaders who will challenge
the status quo and overturn some of the comfortable assumptions from the
past. We need to prune our structures, lay to rest what is not working, and be bold enough to take risks in a missional environment of unknowns.
One of the
fruitless assumptions that is embraced by many churches is that increased
attendance will drive engagement. In this new environment it is the engaged
that will attend because only the engaged will remain. This represents an
exciting shift because, throughout history, the church was at its best when
engagement drove attendance.
For years we have held on to the assumption that the more a church grew, the
more activity it should offer. The more people in attendance the busier the
schedule should become. This led to a programmatic approach to ministry. The more courses we plug people into the more they would grow in
their discipleship. The outcome was that many ended up burnt out and
eventually dropped out of the church. In cases where people stayed, they
ended up with no life except church life. Families became swamped and
overloaded because they did not have the space to be families. We need to
remember that we are at our best when we equip our people to live out their
faith in the world. In order to do that we need to release them from an
endless cycle of programmes and do a few things well that complements their
witness and not compete with their already overloaded agenda. One of the
vital lessons we need to learn in this new missional milieu is that churches that
focus their energies on the few things they identify as their unique best will
emerge as the most effective churches moving forward. Remember, less is
more because it releases you to be more focused, dynamic, and intentional.
This pandemic has been disruptive in terms of its social, spiritual, economic
and political impact and revolutionary in terms of the ideas it has spawned
and crystallised. We need to pay attention to these emerging trends because
they are, and will continue to play, a significant part in shaping the way we live
in the present and the future. The use of Digital technology has exploded
which includes the boom of web-based businesses such as Zoom and local
digital production through technologies such as 3D printing. There is no need
for me to elaborate extensively on the benefits of 3D printing in these
deliberations but one cannot underestimate its role, contribution, and impact
in the current crisis for creating PPEs and other critical components and parts
for equipment and machinery in the current battle with this pandemic.
The Zoom platform has enabled the church to beef-up its online presence
through digital church services, online prayer groups, online Alpha Courses,
Parenting Courses, and a range of meetings which made the church more
accessible to those who are just looking or beginning to explore faith, as well
as supporting regular church members during this time of
confinement. Churches have coped well despite the closure of their
buildings. They have adapted by digitising their content and ‘meeting’ in each
other’s homes digitally, a response that takes us back to a format that strongly
resonates with the church’s roots and early missional impulse.
There is a plethora of conversations about the merits and demerits of online
church. I would caution any rush to judgement and encourage a spirit of
openness to assimilate and learn from the collective wisdom of our partners.
How we manage this new digital space will have serious
consequences in terms of safety, safeguarding and legal liability. Safety
protocols should not be seen as barriers to this ‘new world’, rather they are
our friend or critical friend on this journey.
Online church is an opportunity for those who have no other access to church.
It is not a substitute for the gathered church which requires physical
presence and human relationships. The church at its best is a gathered
experience and nothing can supplement this vital part of being the Body of
Christ and having relationships that are real, open, vulnerable, deeply fulfilling,
When the dust of the pandemic has settled, pastors, church leaders, and
missiologists will have much to say about the emergence of online ministry and the new role of online Church as a missional tool.
I believe that online Church
will become the shop window or front door of the Church for those who are
curious, unconvinced, or who want to retain a sense of anonymity while
exploring what Christianity is all about. We engage in the same process when
we shop online. Rarely do we purchase a product however attractive, without
first reading the online reviews or visit a place of interest
without scrutinising the myriads of visitor comments to satisfy our interest or
curiosity that this is a wise investment or a worthwhile trip.
Online Church will be the front door for strangers, seekers and believers
looking for a new spiritual home. People will be able to attend church
meetings, prayer meetings, small groups, and access courses and information
online at a time that is more convenient and in tune with the rhythm of their
The church of the future starts here. It represents the new normal to which
we have arrived, only we are still trying to figure out the contours and
important landmarks of our new environment. The challenges we face at this
juncture in our history should be met with the same counter-cultural
combination of humility, grace, boldness, and expectation of God’s manifest
presence that characterised the pioneering pilgrimage of the early church and
other periods of renewal and vitality in the life of the church. I pray that we
may all see this crisis as a God given opportunity for reflection, repentance,
spiritual renewal, and a renewed call to fresh missional engagement to make disciples.
“How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” (Psalm 31:19)
Dear Sisters and brothers,
On behalf of my colleges, may I greet you all in the most wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In light of the impact of COVID-19, coming out of the lockdown presents us with multiple challenges. The lockdown has shaken our confidence; long held traditions appear to be slipping away leaving us wondering what can be done and how can we remain safe with the ever present threat of the virus.
While churches are encouraged to rigorously follow the published safety procedures for the benefit of our people and those who use our buildings, the staff are in conversation with our preachers to plan a CLT meeting. If needed, I shall call for an emergency Circuit meeting to set out further measures to guide us through and would respectfully ask that no buildings should be opened for acts of worship without the Circuit’s permission and confirmation.
I am sure that over the past few months many of you will have been exploring various possibilities of what the future might hold. People will have been talking about our buildings, our human resources and our worship and traditions. People may be speculating about when to reopen our churches; should they all be opened at the same time or should we have a staggered programme of re-opening? Should we have one Sunday service or two to see how people would respond? It is clear to everyone that the virus will be with us for a considerable period of time and, therefore, all of us will have to change our way of thinking to create a safer environment to live in happily.
I hope and pray that we have had the opportunity for deep self-reflection, to be honest before God and our families and to our church fellowships in terms of what we were, where we are today and how we would like to be in the years to come.
After much reflection and thinking, I feel that it is important for the whole circuit to use the 4th July as a day of prayer to rededicate our lives afresh to the Lord, letting go of the past and allowing the new to come in, to live and worship as a dynamic and visionary church called by Christ, to serve the present age for God’s glory. May we all continue to believe and affirm, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”(Ephesians1:3). This is my prayer and hope that God of all comfort to bless us with the needed strength and confidence to come through these difficult days to enjoy His presence all the time.
Revd. Dr. Joseph Suray
"May the Lord bless you and protect you; may the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the LORD look with favour on you and give you peace.” (Num. 6:24-25)
Sunday May 31st 2020
Blackheath and Halesowen Pastoral Letter
“The Lord Almighty is with us…” (Psalm 46)
By God’s grace and strength we have completed another month in isolation for which I thank God.
Not knowing what is awaiting us in the days to come we shall continue to trust God because He knows what is ahead and He will sustain us. Therefore, let us offer all that is known and also the unknown to Jesus, all for Jesus.
As we know that the CV19 has impacted us so much that it has raised many questions. It will not disappear so soon but will present a continuing challenge for us to live our lives carefully and meaningfully to be fruitful in all that we intend to do. Therefore, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” ( Hebrews 4:16 NIV). In the light of the government advice and Church office, it is a challenge for us to see how we are preparing ourselves in terms of worship, different activities and fellowship groups in relation to our Mission and Ministry. This matters for all who have responsibility and duty of care for people in our churches. It is not what we wish or intend to do for one day but the greater question is what Next after every next?? So let us place our lives into his caring hands,
There is no doubt that CV 19 presents practical challenges for all churches in terms of human resources, age, underlying health conditions and also how we continue to maintain the social distance as we come through the doors of our buildings. Also how we encourage all those who use our buildings for different activities to do the same. I am confident that we shall overcome and we will come out stronger but before we come out of the lockdown we need to ask the following questions for us to reflect objectively–
1. What are we going to leave behind,
2. What are we going to let go,
3. What are we going to bring out with us and how are we going to live our lives in relationship with each other and God?
I am aware that while trying to do different things in order to meet the needs of families, we also need to pay careful pastoral attention to the older generation…. Once upon a time they were always young and energetic like some of us today and that is how they have established the existing Christian witness and built the buildings for us to come together to worship. So how are we going to rise up to re-build the broken, damaged walls today so that we may also leave a lasting legacy beyond our boxes for another generation to know Christ and worship God?
I am conscious that with all our difficulties, we are brought to a situation to use the opportunity to renew our faith in Christ and to know that the God we have been worshipping all these years is not dead and abandoned us but he is with us, He will strengthens us to follow him till we complete the race on this planet.
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23).
In times like these we are called to be firm and hold fast to the hope we have claimed all these years because the one who has called us is faithful and he will see us through.
CV19 will continue to change our way of living, thinking, relationships, attitudes and how we spend our remaining life in serving God. I pray that when the restrictions are eased, people may have the courage to trust each other, confidence to start fresh by maintaining any social distances and be liberated from any fear that may hold any one back from joining the fellowships. I also pray that people may experience fresh healing touch of Christ in their body, mind and soul; that they may also experience reconciliation to God and to their past months in order to trust him for the grace to move on; that they may know that our life is God’s gift, every morning when God wakes us up he places eternity in our hands, empowers us to live that eternity today and therefore recognise that this life will pass away soon without our permission. As we are not here on this planet forever, let us live the eternity today with a sense that every day is the last day of our life on this earth. Therefore, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews. 10:22 NIV).
It is my hope and prayer that this Pentecost be the Explosion of the Holy Spirit in the life of every individual of our Circuit in order for the nation to explode with the good news of Jesus by all means to reach out anyone at any cost to know Jesus.
May I encourage you to what St Paul says
(1 Corinthians 15:57-58). May the Lord be your Strength and shelter for you to be safe forever.
Be assured of my prayers for you all.
God bless you all. With much appreciation.
Joseph, Peter, Troy
Thursday May 21st 2020
We are in the post resurrection season when we recall how Jesus appeared to his disciples over a period of forty days teaching them about the kingdom of God. These were vitally important days, according to the gospel narratives, when he enabled, encouraged, envisioned, and emboldened them, thus laying the foundation for what was to come.
On Thursday, May 21st, we will celebrate Ascension Day when our Lord ascended to the Father in triumph (see Psalm 68:18 and Ephesians 4:8-10), and ten day later He poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost on the Young Church to raise up a global movement to take the whole gospel to the whole world.
We are the inheritors of this global movement that was birthed in prayer (See Acts 1:14). We have an opportunity to join with others as part of a global prayer movement called Thy Kingdom Come. This is a movement of people coming together to pray during those nine days from Ascension to Pentecost (May 21st – May 31st) for a mighty outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit across the globe during these traumatic and challenging times when many people are searching for answers to life’s questions. We want to invite you to identify five (5) individuals to pray for so that they might come to know the love of God for them in Christ.
Please use this link to our Website and scroll down to find the PDF link called Thy Kingdom Come PDF
This will take you to the Thy Kingdom Come resource page for a pattern of daily prayers to be used throughout the day and a specific pattern of prayer for the five individuals you have identified.
As we pray Thy Kingdom Come may the Lord Jesus pour out His Holy Spirit afresh upon the church, to breathe new life into his people to live the gospel, to share God’s love with our community, and to pray that the Father’s lost children will come home.
Every blessing in Christ Jesus,
Peter, Joseph, Troy.
Friday May 15th 2020
Please could you watch the entirety of the Video for our Pastoral Letter. I have included the beautiful Father's Love Letter. This I feel fits what I wanted to share with you beautifully. Blessings. Troy.
(Please click on the link at the end of the Pastoral Letter to watch the video. Thank you)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
There is a profound beauty within the detail. I learned this recently when I purchased a Readers ESV Bible that has no Chapter or Verse numbers. It is laid out just like the original scriptures would have been before Stephen Langton (1207-1228) and Robert Stephanus (mid-16th century), divided the Bible to what we know today. Their formatting was brought in to make the Bible easier to read.
However, with the removal of the chapter verses and numbers, I am seeing scripture in a whole new way. God’s historical tapestry from the beginning of His creation is unwoven with such beautiful historical, poetic imagery, that you want to continue reading more to see how His story unfolds. You discover beautiful details within the text that you know you have read before, but without the distraction they take on a new significance and shine a new light.
Stephen Langton’s and Robert Stephanus intention were commendable. However, if you systematically through deconstructing a chapter and a verse take God’s word out of context, you will miss the bigger picture of His eternal plan for your salvation. Every word becomes pure like, sweet honey, because you have no outside noise or distraction. You have no theologians with their many commentaries trying to tell you what the text means, or another book with someone’s experience that does not match your own. You are not bombarded with the world’s misunderstood view of who God is. It is you alone, listening to your Heavenly Father share with you His plan for your life.
In stunning beauty, you hear the resounding words of Jesus Christ to the Pharisees and the Scribes with their many questions say this: “Have you not read?” Because in pure simplicity this is what God is asking us to do: Sit with Him and share in His story. Like a child on a parent’s lap. Sit with Him, read, and listen to what He has to say. “We must enter the Kingdom of Heaven just like a child,” and when was the last time, we had faith like a child?
If we are taught anything from what Stephen Langton and Robert Stephanus did, it is that we need to have order and security to make sense of our lives. However, we have a unique opportunity through this time of isolation and that is to read and share God’s Word with each other. To stop, reflect and to pray for one another and to take the time to think through our relationship with God. This time is a great opportunity to set our priorities on the things that matter and are eternal. Remember that Jesus Christ said this: “All things will pass away, but my word will never pass away.”
Mareike and I have stopped focusing on the Coronavirus news as much as we did, because we realised that all it does is bring unnecessary distraction to what we should be focusing on. That is that we are so blessed to have each other and Baby Joel. I would say that through the noise we represent the Mary and Martha Story. “Mary sat with Jesus listening to His words, while Martha was too distracted by worldly concerns that she missed what Jesus had to share with her.” Today it seems that we have to much noise, and not enough silence, and we need to ask these questions of ourselves: When was the last time we took a step back to really hear what God is saying to us? When did you remove the chapter numbers and verses out of your own life?
In the Prophet Isaiah we are told that God keeps in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in Him. Today there is too much distraction without the need for reflection. There is too much information without a sense of clear direction. But those who are truly walking in God’s Spirit live in perfect peace despite the chaos. Those who really trust in Jesus have their hearts set on true assurance, because they know they belong to Him.
So, let me challenge and encourage you with this:
Remove the unnecessary things out of your heart and your life that are stopping you from walking with God. Strip away the chapter verses and numbers you have created for yourself as security. Bring yourself just as you are to the feet of the Father and let Him share His eternal plan for you. When you do this, great things can happen, and the greatest miracle of all: Freedom in Christ that was given by His blood and the Cross for you.
A special thank you to our Minister Peter Brown for this weeks Pastoral Letter. We pray that you are blessed by his words.
CIRCUIT NEWSLETTER: OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES
One of the rare gems of blessing that we discover through our relationship with God is that obstacles can become steppingstones for great and exciting opportunities for personal growth and development and for advancing the Kingdom of God. David, a Shepherd boy, with no apparent military skills, confronted and defeated an opponent who outmatched him in size and strength. What seemed to be an unfair contest became an opportunity for David to demonstrate his skills and prowess on the field of battle.
An army that was being gripped by fear and terrorised by a seemingly unassailable enemy, and on the verge of defeat, rallied behind David’s inspirational leadership, routed the enemy, and rescued their nation from a future of subjugation and oppression. David saw this obstacle as an historic opportunity, a defining moment, in which his destiny would change from being an unknown Shepherd to Israel’s future anointed King. He chose faith over fear. His heart as a worshipper and his calling as a warrior were stirred when he heard the Name of God being defiled and his army defied. Both Saul and David heard the challenge of the huge Philistine. Saul, who was Israel’s greatest warrior hid in fear. David, a nipper of a lad, seized the moment, rose to the challenge, and won glory and honour for God and freedom for his people. The rest as they say is history.
One of the most significant principles of leadership that is illustrated and confirmed in the story of David is that a crisis will reveal the true nature and character of a leader. Saul, who was the current king, was by contrast, a ‘lid’ holding back the potential of the army and the future of the nation. He should have been an example of courageous leadership to unite the army and ignite their potential into a formidable fighting force (See 1 Samuel 17:52-53). He sent others when he should have gone himself and later allowed his poor self-image to cloud his judgement regarding David. This proved to be a serious obstacle that undermined not only his relationship with David but prevented him from capitalising on key opportunities to advance the nation and grow in his obedience and walk with God (Read 1 Samuel 15).
Everyone who wants to lead must first be a good follower. The greatest leaders are servant leaders. On one occasion Jesus shared some perceptive insights on leadership with his disciples when a dispute broke out among them about who should hold the senior positions in his future Cabinet. He called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
The manner in which a leader chose to exercise power and use his authority will reveal the depth of his character and shape his destiny and that of those under his leadership. Power in the hands of a leader can become a corrupting influence and an obstacle to personal growth and self-development or it can be stewarded and exercised for the common good, where it is used to transform dungeons of darkness into domiciles of hope, prosperity, national regeneration and transformation. Ultimately, power does not corrupt, it simply reveals the true nature and character of a leader. That is the law of leadership and the true nature of power.
The Covid-19 crisis has revealed a number of servant leaders, like Captain Tom Moore, who has shown us that great age and the lack of physical agility should not be an obstacle or an excuse not to serve others. He has demonstrated that a person with restricted or reduced capacity can overcome obstacles and seize the opportunity to serve the common good. The heroes whom we applaud every Thursday remind us of the very best of our humanity and give us an opportunity to celebrate the depth of commitment and sacrificial service that is unstintingly given by our Care Givers. It has revealed that at the heart of our nation are people who are not motivated by selfish ambition but a self-less desire to serve the weak and vulnerable with love and compassion. Three cheers for our Care Givers!
These are indeed strange and unprecedented times. For many, these uncertain times have created a sense of disorientation, fragility, vulnerability, and fear. In my judgement these are not just strange but serious times in which we need to choose to live serious lives if we are going to change the course of history. COVID-19 has ensured that life will never be the same again, and we have to choose, not how we live after this crisis, but how to live during this crisis, because how we live now will determine our future. What is the current spiritual picture that is emerging in our nation? Are there any clues or insights? The April 27th edition of New Statesman Magazine reported that more people have been engaging with religion since the lockdown. In March, the Bible App downloads shot up globally at an unprecedented rate. The top English language Bible was installed over two million times, the highest ever recorded for March. Eden, the UK’s largest online Christian Bookstore have seen physical Bible sales increase by 55 % in April, and according to CRUX, an online media platform reflecting Catholic views, Google searches for “prayer” and “Christianity” have skyrocketed. There are reports that 25% of people in the UK have watched an online service during this lockdown season, ten times the number that normally go to church. Holy Trinity Brompton, one of the largest Churches in the U.K., has seen double the number of inquirers signing up for their online Alpha Course. I am excited because people are hungry for spiritual things and are asking questions. This crisis has triggered an historic spiritual moment and we need to be ready for the harvest. When the harvest is ripe if we do not reap it, we will lose it.
Our response should be twofold: prayer and action. Thy Kingdom Come, is a global call to prayer between Ascension and Pentecost (May 21st – 31st). What a wonderful prospect to pray: come Holy Spirit and let thy kingdom come. During these eleven (11) days let us pray that we will see the life-changing power of prayer in our families, churches, communities, country, and the world. O Come Holy Spirit! Grant us a harvest of souls. (Please note: More information will follow shortly)
I see this season of confinement not as an obstacle but an opportunity to advance the kingdom. When have we ever seen in this ‘sports mad’ nation a period where there is no football; no sports; no entertainment? This is a unique moment when people are sanctioned to their home with few distractions, in what the Dean of Gloucester Cathedral, Revd Stephen Lake, calls “an enforced period of reflection.”
The serious nature of our day has presented us with what theologians call a Kairos moment. “Kairos” writes Os Guinness, “is a time filled with opportunity, a moment pregnant with eternal significance and possibility…it is the moment when the present is at its greatest intensity and the future is uniquely open to our decision and action.” How we choose to live and act in these times will take on new meaning and urgency. The obstacles and challenges in the present crisis are real but they have also gifted us a unique and fresh opportunity for mission.
At the heart of our Easter Faith we see weakness transformed into strength, the oppressed into overcomers, and the vanquished into victors. Indeed, the testimony of the people of God, is that, to use the words of St. Paul, “God’s power work best in our weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The setbacks in life should not be seen as obstacles to our future but by God’s grace can be transformed into life changing opportunities and become the fulcrum where we gain the will and momentum to redefine our purpose and reignite our passion to fulfil our destiny.
I find the story of Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932) inspirational and instructive. She faced multiple challenges and privations that would have undermined the character and overwhelmed the affections of a lesser person. At the tender age of three her mother died in childbirth. Her father suffering from an incurable disease was unable to look after his two daughters and gave them up for adoption. Annie was drawn to spiritual truths and at the age of eight accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour. She became a great champion and advocate of the idea that children could understand sufficient spiritual truths to become disciples of Jesus Christ. She rightly perceived that many of the Christian truths were more easily grasped by the simple faith of a child than adults who often made it more complicated and failed to grasp its wonderful simplicity.
Annie was a popular girl with a positive outlook who enjoyed writing poetry which reflected her caring nature and deep sensitivity towards others. After leaving High School she went on to train as a teacher and had a position offered to her. Shortly into her teaching career she developed arthritis. The disease rapidly progressed taking her mobility and independence. She was forced to give up her dream as a teacher and had to support herself and her younger sister from the limited income generated from her poems, handcrafted cards, and gift books.
The degenerative effect of her illness could not undermine her robust faith and life transforming testimony. She came to terms with her condition and opened a unique window into God’s grace in the midst of her suffering. Her verses were poignant, personal, and perceptive. She wrote movingly with great insight to encourage others to understand the hardships of their own lives as reflected in one of her well-known poems, God Hath Not Promised:
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through.
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
Annie’s experience reflected an uncommon courage and a deep trust in God’s unfailing love. In the midst of her deepest trials she saw opportunities for service and received fresh insights into God’s grace. She was forced to give up the classroom of her dreams, but she exchanged it for the courtroom of heaven where her intercessions were heard, and fresh fires were poured out on her faith. Her pen became her voice “and by faith she still speaks, even though she is dead” (See Hebrews 11:4b). Her pen was the ‘sword of the Spirit’ to banish the darkness of depression and put the devils of discouragement to flight in the lives of many needy and desperate people. Her words still provide solace to the broken, renew the faith of the saints, provide manna for our journey, and remind us that God speaks through our sufferings and comforts those who suffer (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
She believed that God used her weakness for his glory and through her life distilled and dispensed much needed grace to the broken, needy, discouraged, and those suffering with incurable and irreversible conditions. To the suffering and struggling her words are a conduit of grace, and one of the means by which God’s healing balm has touched and blessed his people. She understood the depths of God’s redeeming grace in the finished work of Christ for our salvation. She also gave us a deep insight into the richness and sufficiency of God’s grace towards his children, penned so beautifully and eloquently in theses verses:
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase.
To added afflictions, He addeth His mercy, to multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
when our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share.
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
These verses are a poignant reminder that we have an all-sufficient relationship with an all-sufficient Christ. Everything we need is already provided in Jesus Christ. Let us remember…
He gives grace for every trial and adds more when we are tested. He supplies strength to endure when our troubles grow stronger, and a light to guide us along each darkened way. He releases peace to the persecuted and protects with his presence every child that is sheltered under his care. Our Father knows best when we are perplexed, his grace is sufficient in boundless supply.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement, give you a tenacious faith to overcome obstacles and seize every opportunity to advance his kingdom. As you serve the purposes of God may you know the Father’s everlasting grace and eternal love, so graciously given and matchlessly supplied, out of his infinite riches and wisdom, in Jesus Christ. Every blessing in Christ Jesus,
Peter, Joseph, and Troy
Wednesday 29th April 2020
Click on the link below to follow the weekly newsletter from our Circuit
Action for Children has launched anEmergency Coronavirus Appeal to help provide essentials to the most vulnerable families they support across the UK and those potentially affected in the future.
Coronavirus has thrown all our lives, our communities and the UK into an unprecedented crisis. Families who were already struggling are now unable to buy food and basic essentials such as nappies, cleaning products, and money for gas and electricity. They need us now more than ever.
Action for Children is working hard to make sure they can still support children and their families at this difficult time. The appeal is just one of many ways they are taking action. They are also creating more digital solutions to support where face-to-face options are limited.
Please keep the charity in your prayers. Thank you
Here is also a video promoting the Emergency Appeal:
Now that we have come through our Easter Week I thought that you might want an overview of the New Testament. To do this I am sharing with you this video from the Bible Project called "The Overview of the New Testament." Gaining the bigger picture of what the Bible is about can help you to see a clearer picture of the Redemption plan of God. May you be blessed as you watch this short video.
Please click on the link below to hear this week's pastoral letter from Troy, Mareike and Joel. Thank you
Sunday April 19th 2020
Grateful thanks to our Minister Rev Peter Brown for writing our Circuit Pastoral Letter.
The words of Bob Dylan’s call to action, “The times they are A- Changin” ring
with fresh poignancy in these strange and embattled times. Indeed, we need
fresh vision, compassion, character, and courageous leadership that is grounded
in the hope of the Gospel, to counter the fallout of fear and anxiety, as lives and
livelihoods are threatened and put under pressure during this extended period
These are changing and challenging times with much for us to grasp and process
in terms of the social, spiritual, economic and political upheaval and the plans
that should be put in place for a post-COVID future. As we wrestle with these
issues is it also pertinent for us to ask, “What is the Holy Spirit saying to the
Church in these challenging times?” What is our mission now? What will the
future look like in terms of our mission and ministry?
This period of confinement does not signal that we are being laid aside or being
made redundant. I believe that the Holy Spirit is brooding over the Church
during this Covid Crisis to resurrect a dynamic life giving church with a vital and
transforming spirituality. Far from being laid aside in lock down, we should be
God’s hands serving the needy; his feet taking his compassion and support
where others fear to go; his heart showing mercy to the broken; his eyes looking
with love and tenderness on the weak, vulnerable, dying and mourning
reminding them that He is the God who cares.
Our working model of the church is that of a gathered body of believers meeting
regularly for fellowship. We have been dispersed and in our confinement we
need to find fresh ways of being the church (an effective network of believers
connected to our community and each other) so that we by God’s grace may
emerge from this period as a people whose faith has being refined and renewed
and our mission reignited with fresh vision, fresh hope, and fresh purpose.
The disciples on that first Easter Sunday were confined with fear in the Upper
Room when the risen Jesus stood among them, declared his peace over them,
breathed the Holy Spirit on them, and unleashed their potential to start a new
missional movement that would take the gospel to the whole world.
One of the key lessons from the Book of Acts is that these first disciples were a
House Church Movement. They did not have the luxury of their own buildings
and when they were turned out of the Synagogues they simply used their family
network that became the bedrock of a new missional movement where people
were enfolded and discipled in the faith and became part of an extended family.
These households of faith, or extended families, became the catalyst and main
driving force of the new missional movement that turned the world upside
down. They were transformed into lifesaving stations; huts of refuge; places
where people found unconditional love; unconditional acceptance;
unconditional forgiveness. They discovered grace; met Jesus; shared their
resources and did life together. They were embraced and enfolded in a family
of friends and had relationships that were transparent, real, and vulnerable, and
many discovered for the first time a place they could call home.
In this season of disruption and uncertainty I know that we are all longing for our spiritual home. I can just imagine the home coming parties when this is over! Cheer Up! However, might I encourage us all to continue to reach out and care for each other. It is so lovely and deeply moving to receive your news and stories through the various media platforms.
Thank you for taking the time to show your love and care in such practical ways. As we care for others, it is also vital that we care for our souls through prayer, Bible Study, reflection, reaching out to friends and neighbours with compassion and what I call practical Christianity. Soul care and acts of mercy towards others are key motivators and de-stressors that will protect us against slipping into moments of depression, discouragement, and temptations that come with the stress of these daunting times.
We continue to hold you in prayer that you may know Christ’s sufficiency in your insufficiency, and in your weakness know his power at work in you, and his presence resting upon you in your confinement.
Every blessing in Christ Jesus,
Peter, Joseph, Troy
Sunday April 12th 2020 - Easter Day
Please now take a look at our "Easter Sunday" page for the final lent liturgy, more flowers, and 'live' service
A letter from our Superintendent Minister
Rev Joseph Suray
Saturday 11th April 2020
“The joy of belonging to the Risen Christ”
Greetings to you in the most wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the current time of difficulty and vulnerability , I need to be honest here: I miss meeting you all in different fellowship groups in our well-loved churches that we have
cherished for ages. I understand the feeling of isolation, not being able to visit one another today.
Personally as a Minister, it has been a challenge for me to not be able to visit those who are in
hospitals to read the Bible, pray with them and to assure them that the Lord is with them. My heart
goes out for those who have lost their beloved ones and I extend my heartfelt condolences and my
sincere prayers for them during their loss. Certainly I have missed the opportunity to be with them
in order to share their deep sorrow, tears, pain and to listen to the lifelong stories of their
relationships. Many difficult questions are raised about God, personal faith, human suffering as
well as personal questions of what to expect next, and what happens after the death.
This week, the Lord came to the end of his earthly journey, reaching Jerusalem to face his
destiny. He knew the cost of submission to Father’s will: betrayal, imprisonment, crucifixion and
burial. Jesus faced the challenge of redeeming humanity from sin and death by offering himself on
the cross. He knew this was the only and final way to conquer sin and death, in order to bring
forgiveness and hope.
Today in our isolation, we are grateful to God for the gift of technology that has enabled us to
encourage and pray for one another and be assured that we are together on this journey to know
that God is here. In the midst of our loneliness, pain, and sorrow, it becomes clear that nothing shall
separate us from love of God. We belong to the Risen Lord and that is our joy which keeps us moving
on in our Christian journey today.
Therefore I affirm what St Paul said, “For I am convinced that
neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any
powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from
the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39). We try to understand the
amazing love of God that compelled Him to come down and dwell amongst us. God demonstrates his
love for us – through Jesus - where we are reconciled to be his children, restored back to God’s
family and assured forgiveness of our sins. We are bound together in him and given the blessed
assurance that “Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of Glory divine”
Our hope is founded on nothing but on the Lord Jesus who was the same yesterday and shall
remain the same in the forthcoming days. We are bought by his great sacrifice on the cross and we
are redeemed to live and enjoy the glimpse of eternal life which comes through the power of the
Resurrection. Our hope is built on the Risen Lord who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The
one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never
die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).
When I Struggle to explain God’s comfort and assurance of eternal life beyond our present life
here on the earth, I am reminded that in Christ we are not lost but found to be with him forever. As
Paul writes, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of
knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I
may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the
law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis
of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his
sufferings, becoming like him in his death..” (Philippians 3:8-10) We draw our comfort and
confidence from these words.
We do not know where Coronavirus will take us, but I pray that while obeying the medical advice,
we all continue to believe in Jesus who has gone before us, died on the cross, buried and rose again.
He is not dead, Hallelujah, He is alive.
So friends, no matter what we have been going through today,
may I encourage us to take heart to rejoice because Jesus is alive and be confident that he is with
us even in the midst of all darkness that surrounds us today. Let us not be afraid but be bold,
because Jesus is our faithful friend who knows what we go thorough. Do you remember the song
which goes like this –T rust in the Lord and don’t’ despair, no matter what your troubles are, Jesus
will see you through, trust when the day is bright and trust through the darkest night, every day, all
the way, let us trust, trust and trust the Lord.
This is my prayer for all of us during these days to know that:
Jesus is our Rock upon which we stand today.
Jesus is our refuge where nothing will touch us today,
Jesus is our comfort which encourages us to live today,
Jesus is our hope which empowers us to live beyond today, Jesus is our peace which will not be shaken by the world today. Jesus is our confidence which helps us to face tomorrow.
Therefore let us continue to pray for the world as we prepare to meet the Risen Lord. Jesus may come in the morning,
Jesus may come in the noon time,
Jesus may come in the night any time,
So it is time to tune our hearts to meet him every time.
May I wish you all a Joyful Easter to know that we are not finished, but are just entering into New beginning to enjoy the joy of belonging to the Risen Lord.
Shalom my friends, Shalom
Rev Dr Joseph Suray
- a message from Rev Justin Welsby
- Archbishop of Canterbury
Saturday 11th April 2020
On this Holy Saturday, we are all waiting. Waiting for news. Waiting for government instructions. Waiting in the supermarkets. Waiting to see our loved ones, or hear if they are safe. Waiting for test results. Waiting for things to go back to normal.
For the friends and followers of Jesus, his crucifixion turned their worlds upside down. All their hopes and expectations were invested in this carpenter from Nazareth. They had left their jobs and homes to follow this man.
They had risked everything because they dared to believe in Jesus.
I wonder what each of Jesus’ friends and followers did on the day after his crucifixion - this day we now call Holy Saturday. Waited… but for what?
So much of our waiting in uncertainty and grief often gets channelled into activity. We can act like everything is normal and do our best to hide the pain.
But things weren’t normal anymore. Everything had changed. On the first Holy Saturday, the world was waiting for God.
The disciples didn’t know Sunday was coming; that new life was on the way. They had to go through the utter darkness, grief and pain of Saturday before the resurrection of Sunday. Things would never be the same again.
That man from Nazareth would be known as God come among us, so that death would not have the last word.
Reflections from Sue - a Church Member
Thursday 9th April 2020
Thought of the Day - April 7th 2020
Palm Sunday Liturgy
Sunday 5th April 2020
Reading: Matthew 21: 6-11
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, the crowds shouted their hosannas; we too, praise you because you are our King.
Help us to persuade others to also acknowledge you as King.
we take a moment to pray that we may have courage and compassion to bear witness to who Jesus is to our friends, family and society, through acts of service, and through sharing our faith more widely.
We pray for your Church to be bold and loving in its stand for Christ in the UK and around the world, to stand together and to have an increased passion for mission beyond its walls and our nation.
(Image below shown whilst a few moments quiet)
Lord Jesus, break the silence of your people and cause them to take to the streets again, proclaiming and demonstrating the joyful good news that you are king, and that you have made a way for us to know you, and love each other. Amen
(Visualise Palm Cross and tear drop are added to the road of tears)
Short Cross Easter Garden of Tears
Joseph and Zachary - two of our Junior Church who have made their own palm branches
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, we hate being humiliated, yet it is nothing compared with yours on that first Good Friday. Enable all your people to withstand humiliation, but especially if it is for your sake, we pray.
(We would have added a Crown of thorns and tear drop to the road of tears. Visualise this in your mind)
Leader: Lord Jesus, we take a moment to think about those who are making a courageous stand for You and are undergoing humiliation before others as a result. We pray for those seeking to stand for Christ at school, university or in the work place and for those whose careers or spheres of influence involve difficult issues against which they may be called to speak out against.
All: Lord Jesus, empower all your people to prize the glory of your name above our own reputations, statuses and success, and be close to us always, as you promised, in both the joy and humiliation that follow. Amen.
Message from Troy - our Family Worker - March 25th 2020
It took man years to figure out that if we wash our hands it reduces the risk of cross contamination. Today this is the cry from the Medical staff (Wash your hands). God however, knew it all along: ”Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded,” (James 4:8). I think through this crises I will listen to Him because clearly He knew all along what He was doing.