I’m cursed with the mixed blessing of being able to see both sides of most arguments. It makes me good in the midst of conflict but can mean I stay disconnected from the passion that others are feeling.
But there are times when that is not enough. Times when there are not too equal sides. Times when you become aware there is only right and wrong. For most of us that’s what’s become all too apparent over the past two weeks.
Sometimes a spark sets off a fire that engulfs everyone. One man’s death triggered protests that swept over us all as we watched a new, young generation march in defiance of the police and in defiance of the virus to say things have not been right for black lives for a long time. The power of that was not just seen in the protest marches, but in the testimonies of people from the black community who shared their stories of being discriminated against.
And for people like me, it was a moment to recognise that our lives have been very different. Sure, we may have had our personal struggles, but most people like me, men, from stable homes, with stable homes, stable incomes, a good education, and white skin benefit from privilege. It’s the privilege that lots of my neighbours do not enjoy.
Change has to come. I have to use my privilege to say that all lives matter – but at this moment, specifically, black lives matter.
Privilege means that I am used to doing things, to being active, to try and make things happen. And there may be times when that is really important. But that must not be our posture. We need to stop, listen and learn.
In Acts 5, there’s a privileged, powerful man, Gamaliel, who rescues the apostles from being killed. He does so by encouraging the ruling authorities to let the preaching and the healings continue. He tells his fellow powerful friends to wait to see what might happen. And it works, the apostles only get whipped. I always thought he was the good guy. And in the light of what might have happened, perhaps he was.
But there’s more than saying, ‘let all this play out, if it’s of God it’ll last, otherwise it’ll just die down like all the other protests.’ There’s a moment to lay aside your privilege, to sit and listen, to learn and to act with others, not just for others. That’s why it’s important to watch short films like this.
And why films like this matter as well. As someone who has listened to U2 most of his life, I fully get why Bono because of his Bono-ishness can get on people’s nerves. But this is worth listening to, because as he says, we are called to sing of the certainty of a Beautiful Day coming long before it comes. It’s what prophets have always done.
This week’s interview is with Clare. Clare talks about a time when things got so bad that suicide seemed the only option and how God was at work in her life.
1. Our Gatherings
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
After some technical issues with our Facebook livestream over the last couple of weeks, we’re now switching to streaming our Sunday services live on our YouTube channel.
You’ll also be able to find the service live on the homepage of our website.
This will continue to be in addition to using Zoom. We want to encourage you to join our service using Zoom if possible, as it allows you to interact with other people in our church and be part of our breakout rooms after the service.
But we’re also aware that some people will find being part of our services easier via YouTube instead of Zoom, so we want to offer this option for you.
It also allows people from outside our church to access our services in an easier and less intimidating way, so please do let anyone who’d be interested know!
If you’ve got any questions, please let Phil Maylor know!
We are going to move our prayer meeting to Thursday evenings so the small groups will meet every other week. There will be Home Group on Thursday 11 June. 7.45pm is a time to log on.
From Thursday 9 July there will be a new group – Building Foundations. Led by Charlie, it will explore all that is involved in ensuring that your life as a follower of Jesus is based on really strong foundations. Let us know if you would be interested in joining that group.
There will be a Prayer Meeting on Thursday 18 June at 8pm The link is here:
2. 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. 🙂
3. 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.
4. Inviting Others
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.
5. If in doubt…
All the links to the meetings are in our ChurchSuite app and on the Calendar section of our church website.
6. 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.
7. Giving and receiving
Thanks to all who contribute to the financial ministry of the church, it’s been great to see some of you using the online giving facility on the website. If you do use this and you pay tax, please can you make sure that the gift aid box is ticked in the app. That will increase the value of your gift to us.
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: