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It has been a year since I started as the minister here at Bricknell Avenue Methodist Church and a year since I moved into the manse on Cottingham Road. The move from Queen's Foundation in Birmingham, where I did my training, involved moving the contents of a one bedroom flat into a much bigger four-bedroom property! On arrival, I realised there were many things that I needed to purchase to furnish this new home. However, there were also things that needed to be let go or given away as they served no purpose in this new time and place.
As we enter the season of autumn the environment changes around us as the trees start to lose their leaves. This natural process occurs to ensure that, with their bare branches, the trees can better weather the winter storms ahead. However, for us it also acts as a reminder to us that change is an inevitable part of the created order, that it is healthy to let go, and that this in time will lead us into renewal.
Churches who desire to see growth are often asking "what new programme or initiative should we undertake to see growth in the church". More rarely do we ask the question "What needs to end or be put to death for this renewal to occur?"
The prophet Isaiah writes: "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43;18-19
In this new season, it is well for us to consider what we as a church put our time and energy into. As we comprehend the need for renewal what must we leave behind and put to rest? Does what we do bring glory to God by sharing the good news of the gospel in word and deed? Does it actively demonstrate the love of God and help bring people in relationship with Christ, nurturing them as his disciples? Is what we do led by God's Holy Spirit or our own wants and desires? For when we focus on what is important to God, and on what can be nurtured that will flourish, and then we will see growth granted by God.
By confronting the reality of endings, we come to the realisation that death can in turn lead to resurrection. As Christ died for us on the cross, to be resurrected, giving all who have faith in him the -gift of eternal life. We must have confidence that our future security does not depend on clinging to earthly things, but instead clinging to the present and future promises of God revealed to us in Christ.
So, this season I encourage you to think about what needs to be sustained, but also about what we need to leave behind for something new to be nurtured and embraced.
Reverend David Speirs