The pandemic has interrupted all our lives. There has been a stripping away of even legitimate activity, providing us with time and space to think – not in itself a bad thing. As the new year opens up before us we can chose to let the news bulletins order our lives or we can instead turn afresh to God’s Word and seek Him and His Glory – consciously putting Him first in all we seek to do and filling the void with stuff that can really bless us, our families, our church fellowship and our community.
As a church fellowship made up of believers, their families, and those seekers interested in finding out more about a real and vital faith in Jesus and how it can impact a life, our neatly ordered and perhaps predictable world has undergone severe upheaval. Even those that could meet together (at least until the latest lockdown) were only able to have a semblance of what we had before as we met together, worshipped our great God, shared with each other, and encouraged each other in our living for Christ. But it is so different. The necessary constraints rightly applied to keep us all safe especially the vulnerable among us and our loved ones, have meant that we have been distanced even when together, deprived of that warm welcoming smile, the tender embrace, the ability to lift our voices high in abundant praise, and the opportunity to share with each other in the joys and trials we are living through.
But! And it’s a big BUT. We have also so much to be thankful for. The amazing and unaltered love of God our faithful and good Heavenly Father, the blessing of knowing him personally, finding His Word freely available on printed page, on our phone or tablet. The privilege of having a faithful Pastor and Teacher in Richard, the technology to record and transmit our meetings and gatherings into homes and to worship in this way that many are now accustomed to, the blessings we enjoy every single day – food on our tables, clean water and secure shelter, and the list goes on…
And so instead of feeling sorry for ourselves (so not right when we consider how relatively privileged we are) we rather consider how we can “spur each other on” in the words of Hebrews 10. 24,25 and how in spite of the limitations we are living under we can encourage one another in our faith.
So for the next while, perhaps until Easter we envisage, we will be offering you the opportunity to meet, online, with others to do just that. We will use a wonderful resource to do this as well. The Book of James in many ways is a natural next study for those who have been through Christianity Explored / Discipleship Explored or similar. ‘James For You’ by Sam Allberry is an easy read and it is this publication we will reference as we do this together. Conscious that many in Trinity are taking the Bible in a Year plan we don’t wish to overload the reading quotient but rather find a place to naturally challenge, encourage and share faith together. So it will be centred each time on about 8 verses from James’ letter. Plenty of time then to speak words of encouragement and comfort and enjoy real fellowship around God’s Word.
We would plan to meet online twice monthly on a Tuesday or Thursday evening for an hour max. at 7.30pm. I (Adrian) hope to lead on the Thursday gathering and Colin will facilitate on Tuesday. If our numbers expand we will open up other groups so that each group is not so big that folk are not able to readily connect. So you decide what suits you best – if you need to switch to another night occasionally that is not a problem – but the important thing considering all that’s been said above and the sentiment in Hebrews 10 is that we use this opportunity made possible by the technology God has blessed us with, to join ourselves together and share what God has been doing in our lives.
We had incidentally thought of framing these discussion times around the Robert Murray M’Cheyne reading plan or whatever reading resource folk are using, but it’s pretty hard to be focused around this given that there are so many different strands to tie up.
God bless you mightily this week! Do let us know please whether Tuesday 19 or Thursday 21 will be best for you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Do google ‘James For You’ in the meantime. It is not a commentary, and does not assume a high level of biblical knowledge. It’s aim is to help us to open up this wonderful little book of James and direct us to the One that he is pointing to. The first study is ‘Joy in Trials’, from James 1. 1 – 8. More to come…