Our Parish Weekend Away is fast approaching: 7th to 9th September. Whether you are coming or not, please pray that we may have a fruitful time together with one another, and with the Lord. There will still be morning services in both our Yeovil churches on the 9th, thanks to Les and Derek and Edward and others, while many of us are away at Brunel Manor.
Our speaker for the weekend is Ed Shaw, and he has taken the theme of ‘Intimacy’ for his four talks. To be intimate with someone means to know them deeply, and to trust them, and to love them. Does that describe your relationship with God? He is our Heavenly Father, and Jesus is our Brother, and the Holy Spirit is our indwelling Counsellor and Comforter; God delights in intimate relationships with us, and we are made for an intimate relationship with him. What can you do to foster that intimacy and dwell in it? Think of Jesus’ image of the vine: ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit’ (John 15:5). The older translations use the word ‘abide’: what are the things (and who are the people) which help you to abide in the love of Jesus?
As we get closer to God, so we also grow closer to one another. The Church is a family, and while family life is not always easy, it is nonetheless joyful and enriching, and enables intimate relationships. From time to time newcomers say to me how friendly and welcoming our churches are, and that they see people enjoying each other’s company, caring for one another deeply. I love to hear that. But sometimes I have conversations with others who notice that people seem always to be chatting with their same friendship-groups after church; some even say we look a bit cliquey. As we grow with God, we should be able to maintain close friendships and develop new ones, mending rifts, enjoying the diversity of the body, enabling not just a few intimate relationships, but an intimacy of trust and love across the wider body. Who can you get to know, and trust, and love, more than you do at present?
May this Autumn bring us closer to God, and closer to each other.
With my best wishes – James.