Our Link Minister, Rev’d David Spence, sends the following Message for the month of July 2018 ….
I love reading adventure stories. Amongst my favourites are stories about life at sea. I have always been fascinated by the great sailing ships in the days when the Royal Navy had vessels all over the world.
When the Hornblower series was on network television, I wouldn’t miss a single episode. One Christmas the family actually bought me a complete box set of Hornblower’s adventures.
In reading these stories and watching those films the thing that fascinated me most was the huge range of roles and skills needed to run an active naval vessel; every seaman had a role and every role was needed.
There were the top-men who climbed the ship’s rigging to set the sails; there were helmsmen who kept the ship on course, lookouts high up in the crow’s nest.
There were the ship’s officers and midshipmen who organised their sections and saw to it that the captain’s orders were carried out.
The ships company included a surgeon to look after the sick and injured, sailmakers and carpenters to carry out repairs.
Then there was the quartermaster who looked after all the supplies. Not to forget ship’s cook feeding the hungry crew.
During the life and adventures of a sailing vessel, there were times when a ship had to function with a skeleton crew; perhaps because of widespread sickness below decks, or after a sea battle in which the ship had encountered heavy losses.
But it took a full and active crew to enable the ship to navigate the high seas and carry out its mission effectively.
From the earliest of days the church has been compared with a ship, a sailing vessel out on the sea of life. I still find it a helpful comparison, especially when I recall the great sailing ships of my adventure stories.
As with a sailing ship, there are many different roles and skills needed to run an active church and to carry out its mission. There are some responsible for the worship; others are involved in finance and administration. There are those who work with children, others who visit the sick and elderly. Some are involved in catering and social events, still others look after our buildings. Some are involved in community projects such as Foodbank and Street Pastors. Others work in the team producing the church magazine.
Then there are those faithful folk come to worship praying for the needs of the world and encouraging one another in the faith. Not to forget those who are housebound who support the church in prayer in their own homes.
Everyone has a ministry, everyone has a role, no matter how small that role may appear to be.
Sadly, there are churches where people do not recognise they have a ministry or a role. They are unwilling to give anything of their time, their skills, their energy to God’s work. They would much rather be passengers than members of the crew. Where this does happen the church finishes up operating with a skeleton crew. This means that some crew members then have to take on several tasks. The consequences are that the work of God in and through the church suffers and that church becomes ineffective.
In contrast, when a church does have a full and active crew, with every member offering the gifts they have and setting aside some time and energy for God’s work, then God’s vessel surges forward, spreading the good news, caring for the needy and becoming an active force for good in its community.
The question is where do you and I stand when it comes to our place on God’s sailing vessel? Are we part of the ship’s crew taking on some small role, enabling the ship to function and cut through the waters, or are we passengers being carried along. Our divine Captain is calling us all to play our part, so that his mission might be complete.
Yours in Christian love,