29/10/21 • Dave Tubby
Introducing our new blog!
I’m delighted to welcome you to the brand new incarnation of Connected!
This regular fixture, like much of church life, has transformed and adapted over the last few months and is now an online forum which gives us the freedom to share with you regular stories, updates, reflections and book reviews in an easier-to-read format.
It has been such a joy to see the church gathering together again in-person on a Sunday morning. What a movement of the Spirit we have witnessed these last few months with so many people proclaiming their stories of faith and getting baptised. How special it has been to be with our brothers and sisters again in person, seeing how our young people have grown, sharing fellowship over tea and coffee, and lifting our voices in praise to our risen Saviour, Jesus Christ.
It has highlighted to all of us just how important it is to spend time with each other in person – reconnecting, laughing, crying, being blessed and blessing. Shared meals, walks, trips to the pub – all of these are important ways of rekindling our relationships with each other. It emphasises the importance of community. Being online together has been a great blessing (yes, really!), but it’s nothing in comparison to the real thing!
I want to encourage you if you’ve not yet joined us in person on a Sunday morning to come and share with us in worship. The first tentative step is always the hardest, because we have all become more cautious and nervous over these last eighteen months. But the gathered group of Christ-followers worshipping together lifts all our spirits and reminds us of the spiritual importance of collective praise to our Saviour.
Being in community
We were created to be in community. And so, over these coming months, it is important we re-develop that physical community that the church body is naturally a part of. Much like the muscles in a body need exercise to be strengthened, so we too need to lean into relationships with each other. Finding ways to reconnect is important – it gives us confidence, strength and encouragement. It reminds us that we are not alone in our journey with Christ, and it points us to a community of believers that we are all invited to participate in. Our regular emails offer a selection of ways to do that. If you’re arranging something social, we’d love to share it. 1
But the greatest sense of community that we were called to participate in is with our Father God. The New Testament shows us that prayer as being ‘to’ the Father, ‘through’ the Son, and ‘in’ the Spirit. To pray to God is to participate in the relationship that God Himself has as Trinity and with His created. And Paul Fiddes says that ‘to participate in God means that there is the ever-present opportunity to be aligned with a movement of communication beyond ourselves which is pure love, and which is also a movement of the will.’ 2 This is a relationship which we have a choice for, but when we accept the invitation to participate in God’s dynamic relationship – Father to Son to Spirit – we see a love which is unlike anything this world can ever know. Fiddes goes on to say, ‘To engage in the relationships in God means that we are brought up against the challenge of the alien, the radically different, the unlike; but at the same time we have the security of experiencing a fellowship more intimate than anything we can otherwise know.’ 3
1 John 4:10-15 offers us these words of truth:
‘Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No-one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us.
This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given to us from His Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God – God remains in Him and he in God.’
Participating in God
Our desire for community and relationship is a natural one, which stems out of God’s love for us.
The more we spend time with each other, the more we grow together as the body of Christ. The more time we spend seeking God, the more our relationship with God is strengthened.
This month, then, how will you invest time with those around you? And what will investing time participating in God look like to you?
My prayer is that over these coming months, as we find ways to reconnect with each other, and as we ‘re-learn’ what it means to be the physically gathered community of believers in corporate worship, our participation in God will grow and we will see God transforming lives, bringing people to faith, spreading revival across this city and the North East.
We’d love to hear ways that you’re connecting with people, or stories of where God has been at work in your life. If there’s something you’d like us to share, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share it here.
In the meantime, let me invite you to join me today in committing to pray for this church and for the communities God has placed us in that we may show to the world the love that we have first found in Jesus.
1 Drop us a line on email@example.com to join our mailing list or to let us know of something you’ve got planned
2 Fiddes, Paul, Participating in God (Darton, Longman & Todd, 2000), pp52-53
3 Ibid., p55