Church Link October

This month's article has been written by Associate Chaplain Rev Wendy Cooper. 

Recently I was going through some paperwork, a much needed and delayed task, and came across a church prayer which really caught my attention. I can no longer remember where it came from but clearly it was a resource kept to revisit. It is reprinted below:

I dream of churches here on earth…

  • Where not only the person who cleans is valued as highly as the person who preaches, but where the person taking a rest from all tasks is valued too.
  • Where different expressions of worship are not only tolerated but welcomed, where meditative, contemplative, symbolic ritualism rich with meaning, dance, drama, hugging and laughter take place, each in their time and turn.
  • Where fashions in the style and structure of worship are recognised as here today and gone tomorrow, held in cupped hands, so each movement can pour in for a while and grow and then pour out again.
  • Where order and structure are recognised as necessary and valuable, so that people can have a part to play and where their contribution fits as they work with others.
  • Where senior citizens are valued for being reservoirs of life’s experiences which are there to be poured out for others.
  • Where people are given space to grow. Where each can prayerfully reflect, consider, move on, make different and more appropriate contributions to the fellowship and receive affirmation and support from others while doing so.
  • Where we learn to love and accept one another as we are.
  • Where what happens outside the life of the Church is seen to be of as much importance to God in His world as what happens inside, and both are given attention.
  • Where the inner strength of Christians is built up so that no matter whether the immediate environment is secular or Christian, they feel secure enough to make their contribution, alone or with others. Where this inner strength enables them to withstand social pressures and realise their God-given abilities to take initiatives and make choices.

FINALLY, I dream of a church here on earth where Christians realise that they are part of the local body of Christians who are part of the whole body of Christians throughout all ages.

A rich variety of all sorts, but all His. 
To the glory of God.   AMEN       Author Unknown

I wonder as you read this if any of it resonates with you. Is it something that you connect with, and if so in what way?

In chapter 13 of the Gospel of John, Jesus has been preparing the disciples for his betrayal and crucifixion. They have gathered to share the Passover together.  Jesus rises from the table and, taking the part of a servant, He washes their feet. His example is one of servanthood. But it is held within His greater example of being their teacher and Lord. This is not laid down when He takes up the towel. Rather it is a demonstration of his Lordship and sets the standard of leadership and care which he expects to be replicated in His name when He is no longer with them.  When Jesus gives them the new commandment to love one another as he has loved them (John13:34-35), He does not give conditions of behaviour to be met to qualify to receive.

The root it stems from is not from being deemed worthy (indeed it is given after Judas had left to complete the betrayal and just before Jesus foretells Peter’s denial of Him), or from a requirement to all be the same. But rather it stems from being rooted in belonging to Jesus, being His disciples, and being representatives of His love.

Alabaré’s vision is: A society where everyone has the opportunity to live a fulfilling life.

Alabaré’s values are: Care, Compassion, Generosity, and Respect.

They do not have conditions of human worthiness to be met either, but they do have limitations on the resources available to meet the needs of those who need their help. They cannot do it alone. And neither can we, as disciples, live out Christ’s love without a place for it to be received.

Prayer focus

  1. Take some time to read through the Church prayer. Is there anything there that particularly resonates with you or challenges you, and if so why? Is it a strength you recognise within your own church or maybe something needing to be grown and strengthened? Spend some time praying this through either on your own or perhaps within a small group. Make a note of any understandings or actions that come from this.
  1. Christian and church discipleship which is healthy bears much fruit and nourishes the life of the congregation and its ministries, but even a small amount is still enough to share with others. Are there any skills talents or experiences that could be shared with Alabaré to nourish and strengthen their work too? Look again at the breadth of their ministries, and look also at the hidden needs, the ‘backroom stuff’ that is vital for the work to continue. Is there anything that you, either as individual or as church group can offer as part of living out your discipleship? Think about the things you just love to do and then pray if there can be any way of translating them into something that could be offered as a gift of time or resource.
  1. When we as Church partner with Alabaré, however we do it, we are crossing the boundaries of traditions and denominations by joining together as the Body of Christ to enable this work to continue. We may never meet, or know each other’s name, but between us we are building bridges to give a hope and a future where it is needed. Commit to pray on a regular basis for all aspects of Alabaré’s work and all who are part of it. And remember that as you pray, that includes you too.

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  John 13:34-35

Fotherby House: The Emmaus Christian Community, Salisbury

Not one but two happy occasions took place recently at Fotherby House, part of our Emmaus Community Supported Living scheme for adults with learning disabilities. Thursday 6th October saw the blessing of the house by Keith Thomasson, Senior Chaplain. Staff and residents alike considered their hopes for the future within the home. On the Saturday, we needed to push the walls out when friends and relations descended for our housewarming. The table and sideboard were groaning with food, there was the sound of happy chatter and spirits were lifted. It’s good to celebrate!

Joyce from Fotherby House says, "Alabaré have a heart-warming approach that I have seen little of in the last few years I’m sorry to say, so I am glad to be part of such a warm community, it’s all about spreading kindness help and support as far as you can, to enable others to do the same. Alabaré have a positive mission encouraging clients and staff to be progressive and optimistic and see the real values of support. We are at present looking for volunteers who could spare a few hours a week to spend time chatting or doing activities and supporting our clients, we would be very grateful for another friendly face for our clients and staff to get to know."

The Alabaré Monthly Prayer Diary

Jesus said, ‘I have come to bring life, and life in all its fullness’.(John 10.10)  Please use the themes in your daily corporate and private prayer. Click here to read the diary.

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