Who would have guessed it would come out? A lockdown-busting 200 mile trip. An eye-sight testing jaunt to Barnard Castle.
But it did. And it broke things.
It was a community-breaking action made worse by a determined refusal to apologise.
Have you ever done something similar? Lied to your friends and got away with it? Cheated on someone you loved but no one found out? Given the impression that you’re better than you are and found that people believed you?
It’s a strange feeling, isn’t it?
There’s relief that no one knew. But the shame in case some time in the future they do discover that you were never who you said you were. The fear of having to hear someone say, ‘I can’t believe what you did. I don’t think I ever knew you.’
You might get away with it – but it’ll cost you a lot.
On Sunday we will read about Ananias and Sapphira who found fame for being the church members who lied to their family and friends, refused to own up and dropped dead on the spot. That’s quite something to be remembered for:
Here lies the bodies of faithful church members who left the church building earlier than they expected…
Their problem was that the Spirit was working among the church and making people outrageously generous. People like Joseph were giving away their inheritance to the poor in a way that showed total disregard for their own futures. It was impressive. It still is. So impressive that they gave Joseph a nickname that stuck for the rest of his life. No longer Joseph, he would be known as Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement.
Maybe it was hard to see this outsider getting all the attention. Maybe Ananias and Sapphira had long felt overlooked and under-valued. Maybe they wanted someone to notice them. Maybe they were just sad people looking to be loved.
So they lied. It was a small lie. They had sold the property. It was generous. It just wasn’t the full amount.
A cautionary tale in the book of Acts that some might think is a harsh story. But what if they had got away with it?
What if they had broken the community’s trust? What if their lies had meant that they would have had to continue with the secrecy? What if their desire for status had won? What would have been lost?
Every lie you tell breaks things. Things that are precious. Things that matter to God so much that he acts in ways that are severely gracious. He loves us too much to let us get away with it so he gives you a way out. For them it was the direct question: ‘Is this the price you got for the land’.
That answer could have changed their lives. If they lied, they would die. If they owned up and told the truth, a whole new story would begin. It still does.
This week’s interview is with Chris and Dave Swindells. I’m always delighted to hear how God gets our attention so that we take him seriously. Their story is an amazing example of this.
1. Governing Body Changes
As you might remember, three of the present members of the Governing Body will step down in the summer. They are Gill Oldham, Pearl King and Frank Walsh. They have served the church really well by supporting those employed by the church and helping us become the church that we believe God is calling us to be.
We have already agreed that Judith Thompson and Charlie Blundell will replace them, but as we said at the time there was another space to be filled.
We are delighted to be able to tell you that Jumi Isobor has agreed to be proposed as part of the team. If you want to know more about Jumi you can see her here being interviewed with Emmanuel…
As is our custom, if you have any concerns that you think are really significant please get back to us by Wed 3 June.
I’d like to thank Jumi for being willing to allow us to put her forward to you. We think Jumi is the right person for the team. She is younger than the rest of us (!), comes from a different ethnic background, loves the church, asks great questions and has a heart for the growth of the Kingdom of God.
2. Our Gatherings
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
A chance to reflect on life and scripture together. We are using this resource at the moment. We are in the third week.
Thursdays at 7.45pm is the time to log on.
Meeting ID: 998 857 193
3. Quiz Night – Friday 12th June, 7.30-9.30pm
After the success of our first online quiz night, we are doing it again!
Our host, once again, will be the wonderful Andrew Gordon.
You can come on your own of course or you might want to come as a team – there might be folks in church that you want to team up with but it’s also a chance to extend an invitation to those who don’t come to church with you regularly.
If you know that you want to come with friends and family you can form a team of up to 4 screens. But you must register that team with Ian by Thursday evening (11th) at 10pm.
He needs to know the names of who will be in your team (email addresses if you have them will be helpful) and the team captain’s mobile number (the team captain will also need to have WhatsApp installed on their phone).
If you have no clever friends (!), come along and we will create teams on the night – no one will be alone. But please turn up on time!
It should be a fun night. 😊
4. Virtual Vine Wednesdays
Like most businesses, we had to close The Vine Cafe a couple of months ago and we are not sure when we will be able to open again. In the meantime, we want to offer a few ways of connecting with us, starting on Wednesday the 10th of June. These are great opportunities to invite friends, family and colleagues too.
‘Virtual Coffee Morning’ – Wednesday 10.30-11.30am
Since closing we’ve missed chatting to people and we know some of you have missed popping in for a brew and a catch up too. So, whilst it’s not as good as the real thing, we thought we would try meeting up online instead. So, grab yourself a brew and join us. There may even be games and live music!
Virtual Prayer Room – Wednesday 1-2pm
The current crisis has affected everyone in one way or another. It’s often during times of crisis, pain and confusion when people reach out to God. You may feel anxious and just need someone to pray for God’s peace over you. You may be ill or be concerned about someone who is sick; we can pray with you for God’s healing. You may feel low or confused; we can pray with you to know God’s joy and guidance in these strange days. Whatever your reason, we would love to pray with you and for you.
Virtual Vine Alpha – Wednesday 2.30-4pm
The current crisis has raised questions for many people; not least about what is most important in life.
The Alpha Course is a great opportunity to explore the bigger questions of life and faith such as ‘Is there more than this?’, ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘Does God guide us?’. No question is ‘out of bounds’ and everyone is welcome to join us without pressure.
During these strange days, we want to stay growing as church. You might have friends and family who might be interested in staying in touch with us as a church. Ask them to fill out the form on our church website and we will add them to our mailing list.
This may be an easy time to invite friends and family to our Gatherings, after all they can be with us from the safety of their own homes. You have nothing to lose, they have a lot to gain!
We are going to be streaming the service via the church’s Facebook page now – if that is easier for people to access.
If in doubt…
All the links to the meetings are in our ChurchSuite app and on the Calendar section of our church website.
5. You’re not alone
If you need prayer, or need to talk, don’t hesitate to contact folks in your WhatsApp group, or Neil – his number is 07771 558058.
6. Hardship fund
We set aside some of church’s money so that we can respond to needs that we become aware of in church. You might want to give to that fund, if so, let Bev Walsh know, or you might be in need yourself. If you would need help, don’t be embarrassed to talk with Charlie Blundell. We want to help.
Links and Resources
Morag and Ian have put together a couple of films for children at different ages. Having said that, whatever your age you might want to take a look!
But if you have children that fall into these groups, I know that they will really value your feedback.
You can watch them here: