Our August newsletter is now available – please click here to download the PDF.
In recent weeks, in the wake of the EU referendum and with a certain degree of uncertainty and fear about what the future holds, it has been good to focus on some core aspects of the Christian faith.
In recent services we have been reconsidering what it means to follow Jesus today; what it means to love the Lord our God with all our mind, with all our strength, with all our soul, with all our heart; what it means to love our neighbour as ourselves.
I find it reasonably easy to love my neighbour if they are my natural friends: if they share the same outlooks, social backgrounds, politics, theological perspectives or taste in music as me! But things become more complicated—and a lot harder work— when my neighbour is someone who is very different to me. What about someone with different politics or a different spirituality to me? What about someone with a different ethnicity or a different approach to ethics? How do I love my neighbour as myself if they have a different sexual or gender identity to my own, or if they are a vastly different age, or if they have a different family status? What if I voted ‘leave’ and my neighbour voted ‘remain’?! What if my neighbour likes Adele?
Loving people with differences or with whom we don’t have a natural affinity is not always easy but is at the heart of what Jesus calls his friends to. In a society which—in the build up to and in the wake of the EU referendum—has often been characterised as irreconcilably divided, this is part of the way in which Jesus calls his friends to live.
As we move closer towards our building works getting underway, I think it is good to remind ourselves of these very simple yet incredibly challenging ideas and ways of living we find at the heart of the Gospel, and to remember the reasons we are investing so much time, energy, finance and love into the project.
It is not—we sincerely believe and hope—a vanity project; something which will simply provide a pretty new building in which to sing hymns. Rather it is an outworking of a belief that we are called to love the Lord our God with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength; and to love our neighbours—every single one of them— as ourselves. My sincere hope is that the redevelopment will give us the space to both deepen our worship and our love of God, and to create an inclusive, expansive, loving space for all in the community who want or need it. Exciting times!