Exminster Methodist Church, Main Road, Exminster EX6 8BT
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Minister: Rev Ben Haslam, Telephone (01392) 256716
Friends We are all very aware of the challenges the church is facing at the moment and, on the whole I believe the church is meeting them brilliantly. Online services, pastoral care via phone calls, foodbanks, and now many churches are opening up as much as is possible in very limiting circumstances. We have done what we can in our bizarre new situation, and God is blessing our efforts. It also occurs to me that the Church is just as crucial now as it ever was – perhaps more so. People need a reminder that there is more to life than the endless unsettling news cycle, that God is in control, that there is goodness and grace at the heart of existence. If the Church doesn’t proclaim this truth, then who will? If the gospel is what the Bible says it is, then it is just as true now as it ever was, and a society which has been shaken, disoriented and left with many questions about the future will most likely be more receptive to spiritual truths than before. Pray, therefore, that people find hope, real hope, in Jesus Christ, amid all their insecurities and fears. Pray that they find new life and hope in the only place it can truly be found.
Remember too, that, as Paul writes, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood… but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6.12). This is not the kind of language we usually use today, or feel comfortable with, but that is no reason to dismiss it. I am not at all an expert in what is called ‘spiritual warfare’, but I am certain that it is required of all of us that we pray for the church and its mission to be protected with Paul’s words in mind. That kind of prayer work is vital, and all Christians can take part in it, whether or not they consider themselves to be knowledgeable about ‘that kind of thing’ – just keep at the back of your mind the words of Jesus: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16.33). When we think of the work of the church, we tend to think of the visible, tangible tasks which need to be done; services being led, buildings being maintained, paper work being completed and the like. That’s necessary but not the whole story. All that is what goes on ‘in the front of the shop’. Real, deep, spiritual work needs to happen ‘in the stock room’ as it were, covering everything in prayer, attending to the nurture and discipleship of God’s people and looking to mission and taking the life-changing message of the gospel outwards. This is as necessary as ever as we navigate these times with care, but with hope, faith and prayer always undergirding everything we do.
God bless, Ben