You’ve seen the format: Who would you invite to your house for a meal?
My invitations would be sent out to:
- Mary, Jesus’ mother: I’d want to know what it was like for her and what we weren’t told!
- Martin Luther: the German theologian known for enjoying beer, being rude, telling jokes as well as having a sharp theological mind.
- Eugene Peterson: a pastor and writer who died last year. He’d be quiet, maybe frustratingly so, but I would find some way of getting some time with him away from the rest.
- James Taylor: there would be a guitar in the corner – just in case…
- Aretha Franklin: would a duet be out of the question?
- Mary Berry: would she be ok to bring a cake?
And so it goes… make your own list.
Can you imagine the preparations, rushing around getting the house clean and then deciding that if you just have lots of candles rather than the ‘big light’ on (I should have invited Peter Kay!), that would hide all the stuff that wasn’t quite right.
Can you imagine what you would ask? Can you imagine what you would hear?
It’s all a bit daft really, but it reveals just a bit about who we are, who we would like to be, what has shaped us.
We’ve spent a long time reading through Acts and we finished the series on Sunday with brilliant reflections – I’ve included them below. But I guess there is one significant question: what happens now? What do we do? In our place in this situation?
One of the things I felt it would be worth exploring was the power of hospitality. In a few months there will be opportunities to meet with groups of people again. In restaurants, coffee shops or in our homes. I’ve missed that so much.
But it’s coming, so it’s time to prepare ourselves. After a year of distance, we need to be ready to receive one another again. And to be hospitable to those around us. To see the power of hospitable generosity. It’s time to think about who you will want to invite.
We’ve missed all the things we want to say, and all the things we’ve wanted to hear.
But before we rush to do this, it’s important to know that there is One waiting to be invited. He wants to eat with us. He’s not worried that the house might be messy, or that the family is at loggerheads from time to time, or that we have not thought about him for a while. He knows we are not all we would want to be, but he wants to come and eat with us.
What would you want to say? What would you hear him say?
That’s the picture that we will explore as we begin the series on hospitality.
What a picture!
What We Said
This week we finished the series on Acts. We took some time to reflect on some of the challenges and encouragements we had heard along the way. This is what we said:
Gill: Whatever comes or happens, we point people to Christ-share & pray with & for others & ourselves to know Him & depend on Him more
Clare and Julian: What encourages me is that in spite of all the setbacks with his journey – obstacles, imprisonments etc. Paul kept going. God made the way for him and the gospel was spread and shared. God’s word and truth could not be contained!
Val: Although we all know Jesus is alive I feel the Holy Spirit is reminding us anew of this wonderful, amazing truth!
Jill: Feel God saying ‘you can open the floodgates to me, I am waiting to hold all of that for you. In return I want to fill you – not to weigh you down, but with healing and wholeness. To give you reserves that are new every morning. To put those accusing voices to silence and to share with you how I see you. My voice will never put you to shame, my words will always lift your head. You are not designed to stand alone and create barricades’
Julius: The Acts of the Apostles is the story of the Holy Spirit. Who is the Holy Spirit: the spirit of God almighty resident within us …
Lorna & Nev: Seek first the Kingdom, draw close to God, share the gospel, don’t be afraid
Charlie: Ephesians 3:20-21 He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us… throughout all generations…
Corrine: That no matter what our circumstances are we have a gospel to proclaim.
Graham: Continued resilience and mental strength through this situation for all.
Yvonne: Paul was faithful in every circumstance. Father asks us to do the same, whatever our circumstances are, that we are faithful to Him and rest in His presence to find His will for that moment.
Steve and Kath: Paul was restricted but still took every opportunity to preach the word. Similar to our situation at present
David and Beth: In the unpredictable, sudden changes, Paul seems to have been quick to adapt and just keep focused on the gospel because that was his main goal. I tend to be slower to accept change, maybe because my focus is not fully on God who doesn’t change.
Charlie: Isaiah 46:10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Helen and Betty: It was messy and it is messy. There are setbacks and disappointments but there is hope. It is worth persevering. We know what we have to share is good news. That doesn’t change.
Janet: I’m encouraged by Paul`s steadfastness in all his trials and tribulations. Also the way he was comfortable with believers and non-believers. We can see God at work through His Spirit in many ways during our lockdown. Thousands of people helping others each and every day-reaching out with kindness and compassion. Paul being in lockdown meant he couldn’t earn money to keep himself so people who went to visit provided him with his needs.
Ann: I was challenged that through the whole book Paul was constantly being tested with illness and hardship, but he never seemed to waiver in his belief. Sometimes I have not been as steadfast as him when bad things have happened
John and Kathryn: The Bible talks endlessly about times of planting, times of growing, times of harvest. There is a time for everything. We have shifted from one time to another. We can’t change that, it’s in Gods control and HE has a plan. What we can do is choose how we respond. Do we build our houses on shifting sands, or on the rock which never moves?
Patricia: Paul’s resilience and persistence through hardship, an example to follow.
Ben: On the cross Jesus said IT IS FINISHED, in that statement it was our beginning. We have been redeemed
Marlene: Acts inspires us to keep looking for opportunities to bring the Gospel wherever we are whatever is happening
Emmanuel & Jumi: Going through the book of Acts has encouraged us to see how the early Church started and lived. It has given us a pattern for living the Christian life. We learn from the victories, miracles, persecution, judgement, doctrine, mission and about God working in the midst of His Church. The challenge for us is how to extrapolate the relevancies into our everyday.
Hannah: You thought you wanted it easy, but easy never needed God! Paul didn’t have it easy but he had God. Romans 5 v 3-5 And not only this but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity0, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.
Eunice: Remember God will be with you right to the end
Hillary: Through our trials and tribulations, by faith and love and His Grace, we are delivered!
1. Quiz Night: Friday 5th February, 7.30-9.30pm
We’ve really enjoyed the last few Quiz Nights and so we thought we’d do another!
You can come on your own and will be teamed up on the night or you might want gather a team beforehand – 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 be in a team with friends and family you can form a team of up to 5 screens. But you must register that team with Ian by Thursday the 4th of February.
He needs to know the names of who will be in your team (the name that will appear on each person’s Zoom screen would be very helpful!) and the team captain’s mobile number (the team captain will also need to have WhatsApp installed on their phone in order to send and receive questions and answers).
If you don’t have a team beforehand, 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 🙂
Here is the link to use: https://zoom.us/j/99180747057?pwd=TUxwMTNsdHNYZ0c1aDFpL1ltSXc1dz09
2. Lunchtime in Exile: starts Tuesday 23rd February, 12.30-1.30pm
Weekly from Tuesday 23 February at 12.30-1.30, there will be lunchtime sessions exploring the Book of Revelation. We know that not everyone will be able to come along at that time, but we will record all the sessions so you can catch up later.
Before we begin, it would be good for you to watch these 2 short films that give an overview of the book and an introduction to the type of literature that it is:
If you want to buy a book that would help, I would suggest Ian Paul’s Revelation: An Introduction And Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentary)
Our Regular Gatherings
1. Coffee Morning: Wednesday at 10.30am.
A Wednesday morning is the ideal time to catch up with people, have a brew, even involve yourself with a quiz.
2. Prayer Meeting: Thursday at 7.30pm
Prayer is our core business as church. Everything stems from this and is powered by this. Come and join us as we pray for the church, the city and the events that are happening all around us.
The link is here: https://zoom.us/j/99171331331?pwd=WWUrajBFd29SUGNETnVJVlpSMVA1UT09
3. Prayer Meeting: Friday
Contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.
4. Sunday Service at 10.30am
Zoom Link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/836810848
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
And on Salford Elim Church’s YouTube page.
And at 10am, led by Hannah:
If you would love the privilege of praying for our Sunday morning service, then we need you! Log on to the Sunday morning Zoom at 10am and we’ll go into a break out room for 15-20mins, to pray together for those involved in the service, as well as for the service itself.
I’d love to see you there xxx
If in doubt
All the links to the meetings are in ChurchSuite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website: http://www.salfordelimchurch.org/events/
You’re not alone
If you need help and don’t know where to turn, you are always welcome to contact Neil on 07771 558058.