A few years ago I uncovered a path underneath the lawn in our back garden that I didn’t realise we had. It was simply concrete, but it was really useful. It reminded me of Jeremiah 6:16 ‘Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’
Why are we marking 50 years as a church in 2021? Does that not seem like a focus on the past, on being nostalgic – perhaps saying ‘Why aren’t things the same any more?’ The verse in Jeremiah ties up with the message I gave in my first Foundations talk earlier this term: just like Jacob, as the Lord leads us, we allow our history to encounter our destiny. We have to go back in order to go on. I’ve been interested for a few years now in reading about revivals – the Welsh revival was particularly powerful – and also I’ve been interested in the stories of how Chichester Christian Fellowship was birthed, back in 1971. It was part of the charismatic renewal that swept over America and the United Kingdom, as well as elsewhere. It affected the Church of England, as well as other denominations – some of CCF in particular hailed from the Brethren. I have been delighted to read Molly Hawkin’s book giving accounts of events in Chard, as that was a well for many in the 70s, and also Mike Davies book ‘Ello Duck’ which includes events in Chichester Christian Fellowship. I believe that in particular moving in the baptism and the gifts of the Spirit was a strength and something we are still called to move in. Martin spoke of ‘unblocking the wells’ and this is really important.
As a Leadership we had some prophetic words that I feel feed into our time of change into 2021. One was that this is going to be an important time for intercession, and that our prayers will save many around us. Can we be faithful in this and respond in obedience? Secondly, that Leadership is not called to ‘direct’ what happens among us – we’re not called to ‘cap’ or to limit what God is doing. Even this week we have seen giftings continue to be released among us, and there are more to come. If God gives you something to run with, go for it with our blessing!
Another word was that there will be some groundwork in the Spirit that will enable us to rise – a picture of a bird taking off from water, looking serene, but actually there is a lot of work going on underneath with the legs to make that happen. Yes, it’s the Lord’s church, but in obedience there is sometimes hard work to be done – foundations are often the most challenging part of the building to complete.
Finally (not the last word but the last one I feel led to share at the moment!) there was a pool of light that everyone in the church family was walking into. How do we get into that pool of light? We just choose to step into it! No one’s going to pull you into it. But it’s where we want to be – and because as a church we firmly believe in the priesthood of all believers, all of us lead and all of us follow. We can copy those who are following close behind Jesus! As you continue being yourself in Him, others will copy you – so be encouraged by that! Remember that others see you differently to how you see yourself. As we move into 2021 there will be some more teaching on copying – children learn by copying parents and other adults and those they see. So as we are called to ‘hand the baton on’ we need to allow people to copy us, and move on in discipleship. It’s both fun and a challenge at the same time!