As I write, we’ve reached the end of our series from the book of Colossians UP: A Church that grows in Christ. We’ve seen that by the grace of Christ alone our identity has changed and in light of that, we are called to grow in maturity, as our activity beholds our identity and catches… up!
One of the questions that our series has brought out, is that if our activity should change in light of our identity, how can we know what God wants us to do? Is there some guidance for godly decision-making and how can we hear the voice of God and know the direction he wants us to take?
This Lent, as we try to answer that question, we’ll begin a five-week series called Turning Point on discerning the will of God in our lives as we look at five different ways of navigating life God’s way. We’re grateful to Holy Trinity Brompton’s ‘The Alpha Course’ and Niki Gumbel’s book ‘Question of Life?’ for the basic idea behind this series, though we’ll be teaching it our own way in our sermons and at the Adult Forum.
By the way, the Adult Forum is a very good group to join or dip into. We meet between the Sunday morning services and simply talk through the main passage of the day in more detail each week. The Lenten Adult Forum is a great example of something to try for five weeks if a regular and permanent commitment is too impractical.
This Easter, on Maundy Thursday we’ll be sharing a meal together with a simple homily before leaving in silence. This is a wonderful time of fellowship and the closest thing to a biblical church meeting that we do, as we commemorate of the Last Supper together and prepare for the weekend ahead.
A friend of mine on the Vestry (church elders) says that you can’t appreciate the wonder of Easter Sunday without stopping to take in the seriousness of Good Friday. Our Good Friday service runs from 12-3pm as is designed to allow as many people as possible to come to all or just part of it as they feel able. During this time, as well as seven short sermons, singing and silence in the sanctuary, there will be seven corresponding prayer stations set up around the church for people to use as they meditate on the last words of Christ from the cross.
On Easter Saturday, in the evening, we’ll gather for a simple service of Evening Prayer and then on Easter Sunday we will have a new format: at 6:30am there will be a sunrise service, outside, with Holy Communion as we celebrate the dawning of the day. At 9:30am and 11am there will also be duplicate, shortened, family-friendly services with a choir and Holy Communion in the sanctuary, with an Easter egg hunt between the services at about 10:30am.
This note is also a chance for me to let you know about the many wonderful things on the agenda this season.
We have had several very strong applications for the new curate (trainee rector) and we’ll be interviewing in March.
We’ve also completed a review of the Saturday service and have invested more in children’s ministry and music at that service as well as agreeing to move the time forward (from 5:30pm) to 5:00pm so that people can have dinner afterwards more easily and so that youth ministry can begin a little earlier. It’s early days but the service looks to be growing.
We’re also currently experimenting with the new ACNA liturgy at 8am. Thus far it has seemed to be quite popular, but it’s just a test. If that’s your service, please do give us as much feedback as you can; detail is especially helpful.
As for the 10am service, the Vestry had a great retreat in mid-February where we spent the morning examining the call to personal holiness in church leaders and the afternoon casting a vision for the continued growth of the church. As part of that process it became even clearer to us that we will need to act soon, perhaps adding a service or adding space to our campus as the 10am service continues to outgrow the space.
The Vestry also listened carefully to your repeated comments about the priority of children and youth ministries and the problem of the lack of a dedicated and high-quality space for them. I think it’s quite likely that later in the year we’ll call a church meeting to discuss the possibility of a capital campaign so that we can address some or maybe even all of these building issues.
Behind the scenes we have a new phone system in the office and new printer, both bringing significant savings. We’re also testing a new smartphone app, new website and new online giving system to launch very soon.
It’s worth pausing and recognizing how abundantly God has been blessing us here. From my perspective I am increasingly aware of how the church is deepening in its faith, engagement with scripture, desire for fellowship, love, grace, generosity and freedom. There is a lot of fruit here and a great potential for yet more as we enjoy this holy Lent.