You will have noticed the building contractors, Bakers of Danbury, are on site at the church and the work has begun. After 7 years or so, it feels wonderful to have reached this stage. This first phase of the project is the development of the west end of the church on both sides of the door. It will take several months to complete. Whilst there will be some inconvenience, our worship pattern, ministry and mission will not be disrupted. Currently there is a funding gap but we are confident of bridging it through grants and gifts. These are exciting times.
As the project team has pursued this venture, we have constantly sought to be dependent on God’s guidance and provision. A key piece of scripture has been verse 1 of psalm 127, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it, labour in vain.’ It has been our reliance on God that has given us a determination to keeping going when there have been set-backs and progress has seemed slow.
Whereas the word ‘church’ does not refer to the building in which the worshipping community gathers to praise God and to pray, its origin is the Greek word ‘ecclesia’ that means a ‘people called out’ by God. Besides adapting our building to help us fulfil our mission ‘to share God’s love’ and to realise our vision to offer ‘a warm welcome to everyone and generous hospitality’, it is right that we also seek for the renewal of our life together.
Resonant with our trust in God during these first and subsequent phases of this project and our desire to experience anew the fire of God’s love in our common life is an initiative from the six presidents, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, of the national Churches Together. They ‘want to encourage our brothers and sisters in churches of all traditions to partner in praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ in the days leading up to Pentecost. We pray to the Father that his family, called to be one in Jesus Christ, may see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to transform many lives and communities in our land’.
Thereby, I am asking you to pray for this project and for the renewal of God’s church from the 1st May up to and including Pentecost Sunday. In particular, I invite you to five prayer events. On Thursdays 4th, 11th and 18th May and on Thursday 1st June, do come to pray from 7.30 – 8.30p.m. in the parish rooms. Then on Pentecost Sunday, 4th June, there will be a Churches Together event at the Community Church in Castle Street from 4.30 – 6.00p.m. Another simple way to mark these weeks of prayer leading up to Pentecost Sunday would be to pray the Lord’s prayer each day at mid-day or as close to 12 noon as you can.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit from that first Pentecost onwards is the fruit of the Pascal Mystery. As we continue though Lent and approach Holy Week, let us endeavour to enter deeply into these historical and eternal events, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. Then we will be ready for all that God summons us to embrace in the future and to hear Christ’s promise, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’