Tomorrow we begin another month of lockdown. We’ve been here before. But this time we know what we need and what we don’t need. We don’t need to stock up on toilet rolls, some folks can’t have used up all the ones they bought in March yet.
We do need to stay in contact with one another. When you feel down and depressed it’s all too easy to go into your shell. But that’s just the time to make the effort to stay in contact with others. It’s those days when you need to send a text, make a call, join the Zoom call, reconnect with people.
It’s when we need friends.
This piece is from Scattered & Gathered, a book I wrote a couple of years ago and reflects on Acts 18:
I know what they were thinking about me when we married.
Out of my league.
I’ve always been the quieter one, she has always been the livewire. Clever, socially at ease, risk-taking, the one to spot the possibility.
When we settled near the port, we tried to put the past behind us. No-one would want to be forced to leave their own city and keep moving, but at least we could set up a workshop again. I’d always worked with leather, and she was great at the business end with the customers.
It wasn’t surprising when she struck up a friendship with the fellow from Syria. She is so easy to talk to, and he was so interesting. Mostly I just listened.
We became the three amigos, sharing faith and dislocation.
It wasn’t hard to find space in the workshop for him, and I have to say, he was quite skilled working with animal skins. Business was good but when he said he wanted us to go with him south to Ephesus, it seemed the right thing to do. If we were together we would be able to really see the mission develop.
And we would be able to help keep him from getting himself into even more trouble than he would if we weren’t there to advise him.
Eventually when he left us in Ephesus, I’m not ashamed to say I cried. I knew I would miss him. I’d learnt so much from him and he gave this quiet man a confidence that I hadn’t often felt. I felt stronger because he was my friend.
A few years later, we were able to go back home. And when Phoebe brought his letter, I have to say I was quite choked up to see that he had us at the top of the lovely things he said about his friends.
He was right, we had been through so much together. But I don’t regret a moment of it. I was so glad that we three ever met.
I’m proud that he still calls me, Aquila, his friend.
Stephen Landles had had better days. He was 55 years old, with his long-held dream about to be accomplished. All his colleagues in the IT department of his office had called him mad, but he was three days away from Sydney after sailing from London when he grounded his boat on a reef and was unable to get it freed.
What made it worse was that he had to be rescued by another Brit who was on attachment with the Royal Australian Navy, who pointed out that Stephen had two maps with him. One was accurate and one wasn’t. The problem was that Stephen had chosen to take notice of the wrong one.
Once he’d been rescued and was able to reflect on what had happened, he recognised that one of the main issues was that he shouldn’t have tried to tackle the final leg alone. ‘It’s good practice to double-check every navigational calculation and you can do that better if you have two independent sets of eyes.’
What he had lacked was someone alongside him. Someone who would be committed to reaching the same destination, aware of the dangers around them, alert to the decisions that needed to be taken, and willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with him.
Generally, we call that sort of person a friend.
It’s what we all need.
Especially this month!
I’ve really enjoyed having these recorded conversations with people over the last 9 months. We have different experiences and different challenges, but it’s been great to see how people’s faith has been so foundational in their lives. This week I got the chance to talk with Cameron about his experience of starting out in life at one of the most challenging times we have faced in living memory.
(Just a note: If you would find it easier to watch these with subtitles – you can switch them on in your Youtube settings. They are auto-generated which means they are not perfect, but hopefully will help you a little.)
There’s always time to read!
As some of you know Julian is our go-to man about Christian books. He works for IVP, supplying the Christian book trade with the newest titles. This is the first of what will be an irregular feature where Julian will recommend a couple of books. I’ve read them both – they are great.
1. Sunday Gathering
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
Or you can join us live on YouTube.
2. Coffee Morning – Wednesday 10.30-11.30am
A Wednesday morning is the ideal time to catch up with people, have a brew, even involve yourself with a quiz. So, whilst it’s not as good as being together in person, there’s an opportunity to do it all online.
3. Any Questions?
On Wednesday 4 November at 7.00pm there will be a Young Adults gathering for ‘Any Questions’ with Neil, Charlie and Fay. It’s what it sounds like – a chance for people to put questions to us. You may have received a specific invite to this, but if you are not quite in the YA age group you would be welcome to join in.
The link to the meeting is https://zoom.us/j/99289991695
4. On Thursday at 7.45-9.00 Prayer Meeting
Prayer is our core business as church. Everything stems from this and is powered by this. Come and join us.
The link is here:
5. WhatsApp Prayer Meeting
On Friday 10.30-12.00 there’s a prayer meeting using WhatsApp. Contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.
6. Coming up – Quiz Night Social
We really enjoyed the last couple of quiz nights so we thought we’d do another one.
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 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 the 19th of November.
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).
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 🙂
If in doubt
All the links to the meetings are in Church Suite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website: https://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.
Links and Resources
1. Morag’s Link to the Children
Here’s this week’s Kids Resources from Morag, with a variety of videos, crafts and other useful to help your child/ren read and learn from this week’s Bible passage.
2. What’s going on in Ezekiel?
Some of you might remember a friend of Neil’s, Antony Billington, coming to lead a weekend away. He used to work with Neil in London, but now pastors a church in Ashton in Makerfield. Recently he wrote a brilliant set of 6 reflections on the Book of Ezekiel. I really recommend them to you. You can find them here: https://licc.org.uk/resources/exile-with-ezekiel-1/