Hi there everyone, really hope you’re keeping well?

Thank you to everyone for their concern and prayers, just thought I’d give you an update on how we’re all doing at the moment.

 

If you were around last weekend (Sunday 3rd October) you’ll know that our daughter Lois suddenly developed a high temperature on the Friday evening, and tested positive for COVID the next day. Just when Tim and his tech team thought we’d thrown every challenge at them, we were hurriedly arranging to preach via zoom to the live congregation and stream it online at the same time(!)…

 

Since then we have been successively dropped like flies(!) – with Isaac, then Josh and now Aimee (even with her vaccinations) falling prey! Currently I’m the only one whose tests keep returning as negative. There’s a few different ways to look at that – Aimee was calling me Superman, but another member of the family (who shall remain nameless!) commented rather brilliantly: “Yeah, there are some things not even a bug will live on!”

So, we’re back into the world of self-isolation we thought (and really rather hoped) that we’d left behind.

 

This coming Sunday, our very own Richard Hodges will be preaching, and I’m very grateful to the Regional Minister, Rev. Emma Mohr, who will be stepping in on the 17th of October. After that, rather strangely, we are due to be going away for half-term – so I won’t be around for the following two Sundays either! We’d never have planned it this way, but it’s just how it’s worked out but, to be honest, it just feels really odd!

 

“Never Been Here Before…”

Last night was the Association Celebration and AGM evening, and it was really great to be there and be part of it!

 

Our key note speaker was Ken Benjamin from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity; and he was really, really good. He spoke on a passage from Joshua chapter 3:

Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people:

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.

Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.

But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

JOSHUA 3.1-4

 

He spoke about the feeling of “never been this way before…” and shared how as a generation we, (as a nation, as individuals and as churches) have “never been this way before.” 

It really resonated with me right now – that uncomfortable feeling of being lead into unfamiliar territory… after all, it’s called a brave new world” for a reason, right?

But Joshua reminds them that, even though it is unfamiliar, they are to simply keep following the Ark of the Covenant. The Art was carried by the Priests, and was a physical reminder of the Lord’s Presence with them. Keep pursuing the presence of God – because whatever the landscape, it’s the safest place to be!

 

Ken Benjamin put it this way: “Remember that our God is not unfamiliar with the unfamiliar…” 

It reminded me of the words of a hero of mine, Corrie Ten Boom

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

CORRIE TEN BOOM

 

These were Old Testament times, when the people were purified by imperfect rituals and rules rather than by the perfect blood of Jesus, and so an appropriate distance needed to be kept – and yet Joshua calls the people to stay “as close as you can get” to the Lord. There seems to be no greater call for us right now.

In all our concerns for self-isolation and social-distancing – there comes a renewed rallying call to us to “get as as close as we can get” to the Lord:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

JAMES 4.8

Through Jesus, and in the power of the Holy Spirit – we are now invited deeper and deeper into the presence, purposes and power of God!

 

An Unexpected Journey…

Despite being a Londoner from Sri Lankan origins, Ken Benjamin shared part of his connection to Wales. During the 1904 Welsh Revival, a group of people were saved and felt convicted to carry the gospel all over the world. (That’s way the Welsh Revival is called a Revival of Revivals because of the way it spread all over the world!) One people flew all the way to Sri Lanka and started preaching immediately after leaving the airport. One of the people who was listening came to faith and immediately gave his life to the Lord was Ken’s great grandfather. The family name had deep roots in Sikhism and he felt he wanted to change his surname to something more Christian and so settled on: Benjamin as a new name… Ken said he feels he did quite well considering some of the bizarre surnames he could have been landed with!

Preaching to Sikhs in Sri Lanka – unfamiliar territory to a passionate Welsh street preacher… but when we follow the Lord’s leading we just don’t know what the results will be!

 

One writer in The Times recently said that people seem to be falling into one of four camps right now: bored, busy, burnt out, or blessed. You might recognise one of those as a word you’re using a lot right now?

But though we’ve never been this way before – remember the Lord goes before us, and invites us to get “as close as we can”. In familiar and unfamiliar places, it is the safest place to be.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My
soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

PSALM 42.1-2

 

Thank you again to everyone for all their love and prayers; keep them coming – and we’ll see you as soon as we can!