2014 is going to be a year of change. It will certainly be so for Simon and Ruth, for Tim and Beth (though please try not to mention this to their children yet), and for Bob Banfield, and there will be changes in our CAP centre team. I shall be away on Extended Ministerial Development Leave (Sabbatical) before long. We hope to receive some new bells at St. John’s, and encase the tower in scaffolding to begin the stonework repairs. Our JY-14 mission will take place in November.
Scooby-Doo would say: ‘Yikes!’ because it sounds like too much is going to be happening all at once. Scooby-Doo should read the psalms and learn that potentially overwhelming situations should drive us back to rely on God all over again. Here’s a good thing to cry out to him: ‘But I pray to you, O Lord, … do not let me sink’ (Psalm 69:13-14). That sounds like Peter reaching out for Jesus in the waves of doubt, and Matthew 14:31 says: ‘Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him’.
Change can be unsettling, and we should pray for those leaving and those staying, that we will all know God’s peace in a year of change, and know that he is with us and will continue to use us. His promises hold true.
I am specially thankful for the period of Sabbatical that is approaching for me. Sabbath (for the Old Testament Jews) was about rest and about God. I hope that my time away will reflect those priorities too, and give me fresh ideas and energy in his service and yours. Some have kindly said: ‘Well, James, you’ve earned it.’ But the truth is that it is a gift of grace, and none of us earns any good thing from God: but when he delights to give good things, our response is to receive them with gratitude.
Please keep praying for the work of the gospel to move forwards in these coming months. Our mission is now only about nine months away, and we need to keep praying for our non-Christian friends, inviting them to church or other events, and speaking to them about the saving love of the Lord Jesus. Evangelism is a scary word, but it is a Christian duty, which, like prayer, frequently becomes a joy when we actually do it.
Thank you all for your partnership in the gospel (Philippians 1:5), and I look forward to catching up with you all again at the start of June.
This comes with all my best wishes. Have a good Lent, a happy Mothering Sunday, a ridiculous April Fools’ Day, a holy Good Friday, a very joyful Easter, an uplifting Ascension Day, and I’ll see you for Pentecost! – James.