September always feels like a new beginning and this year is no exception. I’ve been saying for some time that, having experienced this huge change in church life over the Covid period, we shouldn’t rush back into resuming everything ‘just as it used to be’, but patiently wait on God and seek his will for the direction of our life together and where our efforts should be placed.
I therefore shouldn’t have been surprised when something quite unexpected came along – being approached by the NHS to ask if we would be willing to become a vaccination centre for a period of around four months! After much prayer, consultation with St Paul’s church (from whom we will taking over) and a lot of exploratory work by Tiny our Premises Manager, it was felt that this is what God is asking us to do for this season.
It will be a wonderful opportunity to serve our community in a different way and to offer a warm Woking URC welcome. Yes, it may cause us inconveniences at times, but the Christian life isn’t about comfort and convenience, it’s about following where God leads and not counting the cost. Opportunities to get involved and more information are spelled out later on in the magazine. Please do pray for this venture and give it your support in any way you can.
Turning our attention now to our spiritual growth, at the beginning of this new term it feels important to take stock of where we are and ensure we establish some good habits for our life together going forward.
So, what better to focus our attention on than the Bible. “But we always do that!” I hear you say. Well, yes, we do. We have readings, and I preach from it every Sunday. Its words permeate the hymns we sing and the prayers we share. But how familiar are we with the Bible in its entirety?
So many Christians struggle with how to find their way around the Bible and how to make sense of the big picture contained within it. As a result, we are often guilty of using it as a self help book whereby we dip into it for favourite words of comfort and stick to reading the bits that we can understand the best. We don’t tend to grapple with questions such as why there are different genres, or how the different parts fit together. The reality, however, is that if we want to understand who God is, how God has been at work throughout history and what that means for our lives today, we must get to grips with the big picture and we have to put some effort into learning more.
Fear not! I am not advocating Biblical Studies degrees for all (fun as that would be!), but I am encouraging us to go on a journey together throughout the next six months or so. Firstly, we will explore the Old Testament, reaching the end, quite fittingly, at Advent. We will celebrate the arrival of God’s Messiah at Christmas before journeying on into the rest of the New Testament in the new year. You’ll see from the posters on the next pages how it all fits together under the different themes that we see throughout the scriptures.
All this exploring will take place in two ways. Firstly, in our Sunday services and secondly through an online course (run on Zoom) on five Thursday evenings throughout the autumn (with more in the new year). The evening course will be one produced by the Bible Society, aptly named ‘The Bible Course’. It is a mix of watching videos together and time for discussion. What I love about this course is that it’s suitable for everyone. If you know absolutely nothing and feel clueless then it’s for you, if you know a bit already but would like to know more, it’s also for you (our 11+ group will be exploring the same course together at their Sunday evening meetings). The dates for the Thursday evenings are listed a bit further on in this magazine, and you’ll see that all you have to do to register is email firstname.lastname@example.org and Morwenna will gladly send you more details. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more, to ask questions and to go deeper together, so please don’t miss out!
There is a booklet to accompany the course which acts a guide and also provides extra suggested daily readings. It is not detailed reading, but more a visual aid for what we will be learning. I would strongly recommend getting one and will have a supply of them at the church ready for you to request. They are £5 each. They’ll be available on Sundays, or you can request one via the office. Again, please don’t delay.
We are also very fortunate to be getting a big visual aid to go in the sanctuary for this series – so keep an eye out for that…!
Please make every effort to put your spiritual development at the top of your priories list in the coming months. The Bible makes it clear that it is only with God at the centre that we can make sense of life and learn how to live it in all its fulness.