Our Link Minister, Rev’d David Spence, sends the following Message for the month of July 2019 ….
When I first became a Minister in the United Reformed Church, my personal vision of the local church was that of an extended family. I pictured a small community of women, men and children, bound together by the love of God, and their love for one another. The Christian family I had in mind was an all inclusive family, one that embraced people of every age and all kinds of backgrounds, and which was always ready to welcome new members into its home. It was also a family that looked beyond its own home and had a genuine care for its neighbours and for the wider community, I still cling to that vision, and rejoice every time a church takes another step towards making it a reality.
Can I just share with you a few thoughts about the nature of a true family? Being a family is far more than possessing the same name and having the same address. Just because the electoral roll lists four people called Jones living at 46 Broadway Drive, that doesn’t mean they are a true family. They may hardly see one another, and have no life together at all. They may not even be on speaking terms, and their home may be completely devoid of any love and affection.
In contrast, a true family spends as much time as possible together, sharing day to day experiences, getting to know and understand one another better, growing in love. When there exists a healthy family relationship, they regularly share in meals and other activities. They have fun together, learn from one another, and grow together. When one of the family is worried or upset, the others give support and encouragement. If one is poorly, the others will look after them until they are better. When a family member is away, the others miss them, and long to have them back.
Now let me turn our thoughts to the church family. You and I may claim the same name, ‘Christian’, and look upon Castle Community Church, Beeston Street, Northwich as our spiritual address, but are we a real family? Do we spend enough time together, sharing our Christian Faith, and getting to know each member of our little community? Do we really worship together as a family, or do we just do our own private thing in our own little space. Do we care for each other? Do we try to learn from one another? Do we have fun together? Or is our commitment to ‘family life’ rather reluctant and half-hearted? What about when a family member is missing from our ‘family gatherings’? Do we notice, are we concerned, or do we not know our church family well enough to even notice.
I realise that these are difficult and searching questions. You may even feel uneasy about me raising the subject, but they are questions we need to address if we are going to build ourselves into a true Christian community in the years to come.
Within society, the last two generations have seen a disintegration of family life and a break up of close communities. This has led to a great deal of loneliness and isolation, unhappiness and loss of self-worth. There is more need than ever for the church to be a true family, a dynamic community of love and care.
So, next time you come to worship, or attend a function at church, look around at the church family. Try to get to know them. Spend a few moments chatting with them. Mix and mingle rather than staying with the folk you know well. Look out for the new faces and help them to feel at home. Be aware of those who are missing, especially if they struggle with poor health. A quick phone call to make sure they are all right shows them that you care. Do all that you can to help everyone to feel that they belong, and are a valued member of our Christian family.
Yours in Christian love,