Happy New Year to all our friends and families in the church!
I want to say a big thank you for all the hard work, determination and dedication displayed over the year culminating in the Christmas carol singing and Celebration. Despite challenges at times, so much has been accomplished. We are so grateful too, for your love and support, the words of encouragement and wisdom, the times of sadness and grieving and the moments of abundance and joy. It has been a delight to share the journey with you – thank you Lord Jesus!
As a leader, I am privileged to hear and at times involve in stories of ways in which individuals were especially blessed through the church’s ministry. One young mother, who had had a miraculous encounter with someone from the church in a local surgery earlier in the year, happened to find us carol singing, she was so encouraged and delighted she posted her joy on Facebook and it was noted by my secretary! Jan & I also had the opportunity to meet and pray with another person following the carols. We gave her some much needed help. This lady gave me two clear answers to prayers prayed over her at the open-air at Potterne, she directly attributed the positive changes in her circumstances to prayer. there will be others too, so we thank and praise God for His goodness.
This should spur us on and encourage us. God is at work amongst us. I am certain that much more is happening, not least your own stories, as well as those that we are not yet aware of.
It should not surprise us that when we ‘go’ in response to the direction of God we see His mighty hand at work.
As elders, we are looking to find ways we can reach out to those areas to which the Lord is calling us. It is good to invite people to where we are, but so much more seems to happen when we step out in faith and take ourselves to where we believe we should go, Verwood, the Community Bus, the community Pastor work, those in our street, our network of friends and work colleagues. Mission has always been about going.
This coming year we need to do more going and we will be looking to God by His Holy Spirit to envision and equip us as we meet on Sunday mornings, at home groups, with Pacemakers (our leadership development team), with the youth, junior church and men’s breakfasts and all the other individual meetings taking place. We need to grab for ourselves any useful opportunities presented by Commission too, to learn and be trained. Above all we must go anointed by the Spirit of God.
Fundamental in all of this is our need to pray regularly with commitment; both interceding and hearing from God, keeping the vision fresh. The most inspiring and uplifting moments of our weekly elder’s meetings have been in times of prayer. Plans and practical arrangements, pastoral needs, preaching topics, etc., all become so much clearer when we take time to pray. We would really urge you to be dedicated in prayer at home, in group, on Sundays before and during our time together and at any specific meetings to pray. Really, whenever and wherever you get together!
This Sunday I will be launching the start to the year by preaching on ‘leaving what lies behind and pressing forward to what lies ahead’ (Philippians 3). Whatever the past year has been like, both the successes and the disappointments, the changes, those who remain, those who have joined us, God exhorts us to keep focusing our eyes on Jesus Christ, the one who first gave us a desire to believe with faith and the one who by faith will take us through to the finish.
We look forward with anticipation to you joining with us as we embark on a new year of adventure together.