Let’s Go Again
I hope you had chance to have a break of some sort over August and are feeling refreshed as the autumn gets going. Here are details of some of the things that are happening over the next few weeks, as well as one or two helpful links elsewhere. Please also check our calendar for all our events.
Sunday Morning Prayer
We know that when we gather together Jesus promises to be amongst us. But we need to have our ears open to what he might want to say, and our eyes open to what he might want to do. So before the Sunday morning service we gather to pray together from 10.50am. Join us in the Hall as we begin to get our hearts tuned in to the Father.
Change to the Church Leadership Structures
Leadership Structures are like scaffolding. They support the work that needs to be done so that the building can develop safely and strongly. About 8 years ago, we introduced a Strategic Ministry Team that would help to oversee some of the practical aspects of our life together. Since those days, our life has grown busier and more complex and we realised that while the tasks that members of the SMT have done will still continue, it probably does not need to be done as a team. Therefore, we have disbanded this part of our leadership structure. We want to thank all of you who have served as part of this team over the years, and to Kate Blundell, Colin Thompson, Glynn Davies and Nina Waite, who were on the team most recently.
The Governing Body continues to be the group that oversees the church alongside the paid church staff.
Important information for parents/carers
New academic year and so you know what that means? Yes. Forms need filling.
Please could Parents/Carers complete the online Consent Form via the church website.
Morag also has some Pen Portraits that it would be helpful for you to complete. These give a more detailed picture of your child and help those working in Kids’ Church to know more about them. Please pick a form up from Morag and hand it back as soon as you can.
Sunday 11 September • 1.15pm-2.30pm • The Vine Community Hub
On Sunday 11 September, there will be a Welcome Lunch for all those who are new to church. It’s a chance to meet the leaders and for us to get to know you. You might have been with us for a few months or just a few weeks, but if you still feel new to the church this is a chance for you to come along. We will begin around 1.15pm at The Vine, 327 Cholmondley Road, Salford. We will finish around 2.30pm. Please sign up in church at the Info Point if you intend to come, or email us.
Thursday Prayer Meetings
First & Third Thursdays • 7.30pm • The Vine Community Hub
On the first and third Thursday evenings each month, there is a chance to gather to pray, hear from God, be prayed for and to encounter God. These meetings begin at 7.30pm and are held at The Vine. We won’t be holding online prayer meetings now.
What Should I be Doing Now?
Saturday 1 October • 10-12.30pm • The Vine Community Hub
We all have moments in our life when because situations change, we wonder what we should be doing now.
On Saturday morning on 1 October, Neil will begin a process of helping you find out what God might be leading you to do now. The morning will be a mix of teaching, prayer and reflection that will open up the process. During the next 12 months, Neil will offer a chance for you to talk and reflect further as you try and make sense of everything. There are a limited number of places for this seminar, so please sign up here if you want to take part.
Save the Date
Saturday 1 October • 2pm-4pm • The Vine Community Hub
All ages welcome to join in for an afternoon making your own pizza (to take home to cook) and crafts. Please use the sign up sheet to let us know if you’re coming along.
London Institute for Contemporary Christianity
Tuesday 26 September • 7.30pm • Elmwood Church
Here are some details of the evening:
Through presentations, films, interviews, and more, we’ll invite you to imagine Jesus living your life. Just think about the difference that would make in the places where you show up. It would change cities. It would change the UK. It would change the world.
Join us over refreshments to hear more about how this whole-life vision can transform the way you see your daily lives and work – and how we can partner together to make a difference at this pivotal moment in our culture.
Preaching over the autumn
In September we are going to have a short series on the Prodigal Sons in Luke 15. It’s such a well known story, but it is timeless in its encouragement and challenge it offers. We will spend 3 weeks looking at the story through the lenses of the three characters, beginning with the Young Son’s Return.
From October to November we will begin a series on Zechariah, the Old Testament prophet.
On a regular basis, we choose to preach a series from a book or part of the Bible that we know people will not be familiar with. We do it to show how the whole of Scripture speaks into our lives, we go to mine these unfamiliar texts for the words from God that will sustain and shape us on our journeys with Jesus. But we also hope that they give confidence to one another so that we will be more likely to venture into parts of the Bible that might be a little more unexplored.
So, this autumn I have chosen to tackle Zechariah. It’s the longest of the 12 ‘minor’ prophets and shares many of the same themes. It’s also one of the books that the NT writers went back to regularly when they were writing about all that had happened to Jesus. Zechariah’s visions prefigure many of the things that will happen to Jesus.
It’s set in 520 BC, at a time when a new world empire is developing. Babylonia is coming to an end, the new kids on the block are the Medes and Persians. Darius has manoeuvred himself to become the most powerful leader in the world. For the people of Judah they have been back in the land for twenty years or so. The rebuilding of the walls was completed, and the foundations of the temple had been laid. But they were losing motivation and hope to complete all that they had begun. Zechariah is one of the prophets sent by God to encourage the people to be all that they were called to be. But rather than just telling them what to do, he offers them visions, poems and insights that will give them hope. He knows that it is hope that will keep them going.
In my mind there are 2 good reasons why we should preach these texts through the autumn.
The first is that these are texts of hope. As a society, we have had to face the fragility of trying to predict what might happen next to us all, or to assume that things will always be stable. What is lost in these situations is the sense of hope. It is easy to feel that we are sliding into hopelessness. If the war in Europe ended, and fuel prices were brought back under control, and a more stable government is in place, and we don’t see ongoing disruption from Covid, and we have no extreme weather events, and our national institutions are not affected by strikes or a lack of money, then maybe everyone will smile easily again.
But what if the shaking and uncertainty continue? What happens to hope then? I think this book encourages us to dare to hope again.
The second reason is that it points us to Jesus. 500 hundred years before he came, they were desperate for a new king. The common ideas of what that would mean were based on the past when their own kingdom was more secure (especially under David) or by the experience of the world empires. The prophets used both sets of expectations to present a different view of how God would become King.
And it happened in Jesus. Reading the OT prophets, you get a sense of being pulled towards Jesus. He is the one who will fulfil all the hopes and deal with all the fears. And he will do it so totally unexpectedly. As we move towards Christmas with the fulfilment themes and the future hope of his coming again, Zechariah prepares us for both.
To prepare for the series, you might find this video helpful to watch a few times.
A great book and an intriguing Twitter account to follow
Over the summer I read How to Hear God: A Simple Guide for Normal People by Pete Greig.
Earlier this year I preached a sermon series on this exact theme and really wish this book had been published then. It’s really helpful. It does what it says on the tin – helps you see how God does communicate with us and encourages you to keep your ears open. It’s easy to read, but potentially life-changing if you put the practices into action. For those who have been on the road a long time, it’s a helpful reminder of much that you will know. For those starting your journey with Jesus, I would say this is a ‘must read’.
For those of you who use Twitter, you know that there is so much that you just keep scrolling through and forget immediately, but there are some really smart folks out there and they catch your attention. One of those people is Ari Lamm (@AriLamm). He’s a Rabbi who helps us see things in the Old Testament that it would be easy to miss. There’s more about him here.
This is a link to a stream of tweets that he wrote about the Tower of Babel, exploring the fundamental question – what exactly did they do wrong? Hope you enjoy it, even if you need a coffee at the same time.