It’s not always wise to comment on other people’s politics, especially when you are separated by a couple of thousand miles. But some things seem strange.
I think it’s strange that Christians would want to support the re-election of the existing American President. But it’s more than strange. I think it’s dangerous when they suggest that he is God’s man for the moment. At that point it feels that the Church has lost the right to speak any semblance of truth to power. Once you blend in with the existing culture, don’t be surprised if people can’t see that you are standing for anything distinctive. Don’t be surprised if they reject your stories about Jesus.
It’s not always easy standing apart from the existing culture. It can feel very uneasy. But it’s vital because Christians have to stay attached to a radically different story otherwise you will end up with a confused faith cut off from the power of the Spirit.
It might be irreverent but I wonder whether someone should produce Luke’s account of the early church in Acts as a farce. In chapter 14, there’s a moment when Paul and Barnabas are mistaken for the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes. A whole city are beside themselves in excitement when they thing these gods have come to earth in flesh. The temple priest arrives ready to place wreaths on their heads and sacrifice bulls to them.
Paul and Barnabas struggle to explain that they have got the story wrong. They run onto the crowd, tearing their clothes, trying to explain that they are humans, and that far from coming to receive this worship, they’ve come to put a stop to it all. They are here to tell a completely different story. A better story. One that doesn’t include gods who terrorise humans, use violence to get their way, and keep people terrified of them.
Sometimes it’s hard to stop people getting the wrong end of the stick. They tried really hard, but had ‘difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them’, though that seems to have been achieved when some Jews who spent all their time following Paul and Barnabas around the region stirring up trouble arrive.
They were much better at getting the crowd to change their minds. They persuade the crowd that Paul was not only a man, but he was a bad man. He needed to be put to death. So the crowd put their sacrifices and massive differences to one side, pick up rocks, stone Paul, drag him outside the city and leave him for dead.
Paul has united pagans and Jewish monotheists: they both agree that it would be better if Paul was dead. All because he refused to accept the sacrifices from those who thought he was a Greek God and refused to stop talking to Jews about the Messiah Jesus.
No wonder that Paul’s message to the churches was ‘we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God’. (v 22). It’s not easy to stand apart from the crowd. It’s not easy to stand for truth. It’s not easy to tell people about a whole different story. It’s not easy to be rejected.
But it is the way of Jesus. Whoever is standing for election.
This week’s interview is with Steve Hollick. Steve is part of the Governing Body, but along with Clare, more importantly is a parent to two rather wonderful lads. In this interview he talks about his own experience of growing up as the son of a pastor as well as the joys and challenges of being a parent of teenagers.
1. Our Gatherings
Speaking Confidently – Wednesday 16 September at 7.30pm
Before lockdown we did some sessions on public speaking – especially in a church context. There will be another session on this which will pick up where we were but will also offer a chance for people to ‘have a go’ and get some feedback. If you came to those session, it’d be great if you come along to this.
The session will be on Wednesday 16 September at 7.30pm
Meeting ID: 869 6981 8407
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
In order to make sure that we keep everyone safe, we will use the waiting room option in Zoom. It means that when you connect you will just have to wait a moment till you are admitted to the service. Could you help us by making sure that your Zoom name on the screen has your name – rather than iphone, for example. Thanks
Or you can join us live on YouTube.
2. Prayer Ministry on Sundays
After each Sunday service, the prayer team will be available to pray for those needing support in breakout rooms on Zoom. You can either let Ian know in advance or just wait around after the service.
If you have prayer requests but don’t want to be prayed with, you can also let Ian know and the prayer team will use that time to pray on your behalf.
3. Stay Connected: ‘Virtual 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.
4. House Groups – Thursday 7.45-9.00pm
If you haven’t been part of them yet, now’s a great time to join in.
The link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/998857193
5. Non-Zoom Prayer Meeting
On Friday 10.30-12.00 there’s a prayer meeting in a non-Zoom meeting! Using Whatsapp, contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.
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/
6. 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
Thanks to all of you who give regularly. If you want to make a gift to the church you can transfer money direct to the bank account. Here are the details: EFGA Salford Elim: 60-05-16; 18523781.
And if you would like to give to The Vine, the account is The Vine; 60-05-16; 18523811.
8. Coming Up
Men Walking Together
We wanted to – but in line with the changes and the specific advice from the government against doing this, we feel the responsible thing is to postpone this until it is possible. We will do this walk – just not now!
As most of you will know, The Alpha Course is designed for those who want to explore the Christian faith in a relaxed environment where no questions are off limits. We are going to offer two opportunities before Christmas via Zoom to do Alpha; one on a Tuesday evening and the other on a Thursday afternoon.
This isn’t aimed at those of us who already know the basics of faith but we do want to strongly encourage you to invite family members, friends, work colleagues, neighbours, (anyone!) who isn’t yet a Christian.
Sharing faith can be hard for most of us but this is an easy way to do it. You never know, they might say yes!
Here’s a promo video for Alpha which you might want to share with those you invite:
Here are the Zoom links for the courses:
- For those who have already agreed to come
- For those you will invite
- For Judith and Ian as they lead the course
Every Week You get Prayed For!
This is just to remind you that every week the whole church is prayed for – by name. At the beginning of the lockdown, everyone who was on ChurchSuite was contacted by one of the pastoral team to make sure you had enough support. And in different ways that is continuing. Of course, you may have decided at the time that you would be ok and so didn’t really connect much. BUT… be assured you have been prayed for by name every week by the pastoral team.
I don’t take that for granted. It’s great to know that we belong to a church that supports one another in lots of ways, not least prayer.
From time to time, you might want to thank them!
Links and Resources
1. Kids Resources
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. Help For Living
Care for the Family have been providing resources and events for many years that give people hope and ideas to make life better. During the autumn they will all be online. Details are here: https://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/events/events-online
If you want help with parenting, singleness, marriage, living confidently, I would definitely recommend you having a look. All from the comfort of your own home.