Sometimes, when I stand at the front of our church sanctuary, I look out at you all and feel overwhelmed by the joy of being part of our lovely church family. The love is truly tangible and the presence of God is like a warm embrace around us all. I think, too, of those members of our family who are housebound but watching from home and am so glad that we can all be united through the livestream. I thank God often for the privilege of being part of Woking URC and for all of you, my sisters and brothers in Christ.
Of course, the church is not without its complexities and messy parts (‘twas ever thus, we only have to read the Epistles to the early church) and sometimes we get it wrong and we struggle. We can infuriate one another, and we need to be forgiving and gracious, just like any other family. But nonetheless we are constantly striving to be the warm, life-giving, inclusive community of believers that Jesus called us to be.
Church is not a rest home for saints…
it is a lifeboat for sinners
Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
I love this phrase from Justin Welby. It reminds us that church is a community, not of people who have everything sorted, but of people who recognise their need for a saviour. Unashamedly we are those who chose to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over our lives and our need for his saving grace.
September always feels like a new start as regular activities begin again after the summer break and children return to school. This Autumn at Woking URC we begin a new season which we are calling ‘Believing & Belonging’. We’re going to be thinking about the church, our part within it and why it is so important to gather together as Christians. This is particularly in the context of the disruption caused by the pandemic and the ups and downs we’ve experienced as a result of it.
On Sunday September 11th we will be having a special ‘Back to Church’ Sunday where we encourage those who haven’t been back to worship in-person to come back and experience a warm welcome and celebrate being part of the church family. You may want to consider asking friends, family members or neighbours to come along with you. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to be invited and it’s often easier to come along with someone else. The service will be followed by coffee and cake to make it a real celebration.
The worship plan for the Autumn is published below and I pray that you will share in the services and take joy in delving deeper into what the church is and why God gave it to us as a gift on our journey of discipleship.
I love this picture from Easter Sunday. It’s just a simple screen shot taken from the live stream. It’s not a brilliant photo, it’s imperfect, just like us. But when I look at it, I see the church in all its splendid beauty and diversity, doing what the church does best – worship.
When we believe in Jesus, we belong together, and that’s why our theme of ‘Believing & Belonging’ is so important. For some it’s the believing that comes first, for others it’s the belonging. Whichever way round it is doesn’t really matter, we are all at different stages of the journey. The important thing is that we are on the journey and that we are on it together.
May God bless you all, my wonderful church family!