September is the time for new starts. Thinking back to my own school days September meant new classrooms, new teachers and, above all, new exercise books. Leafing through the blank pages there was the promise of a fresh start. The poor handwriting, crossings out and marks in red pen in my previous exercise book had been consigned to history and now there was the opportunity for something different. Of course the bitter reality was that after a few weeks the new exercise book looked remarkably like the old one. It’s the same in life. Fresh opportunities present themselves and yet in our own strength we generally find that nothing much changes. And yet … with God, fresh supplies of grace are available … in order that with His strength significant changes are indeed possible. Wouldn’t it be great if this September each of us approached the Lord seeking fresh supplies of grace in order that we really could have a fresh start in our walk with the Lord this year? Perhaps one of the following areas will resonate with you as you prayerfully consider a new start.
- Knowing Jesus
Some of us know that we have never quite got there in terms of a personal relationship with Christ. We know of many others who speak of such a relationship but in our own hearts we know that we live our lives at a distance from God. A fresh start is available. Why not ask God to speak to you as you turn to one of the Gospels at home or on your daily commute? Could I particularly highlight the visit of Rico Tice preaching at most of our services Sunday 29 September as a particularly good opportunity to start again with Jesus? There is also the ‘Take a closer look’ course which I will be leading on Mark’s Gospel starting Monday 7 October in the evening. Isaiah 1:18 speaks of a new start, totally undeserved, which involves complete cleansing and forgiveness. A fresh start is available!
- Making prayer a priority
Many of us know that prayer is as vital a sign of spiritual life as breathing is a sign of physical life. At times prayer may have been a regular part of our spiritual walk. And yet, amid all the busyness of our lives it’s so easy for prayer to get squeezed. A fresh start is available. Each week I send out a prayer briefing on a Friday with three short prayer items to help us to be praying for our Sunday ministry. If you would like to be included in these weekly prayer updates please click here. For many of us, being with others can be a great encouragement to prayer, even if we ourselves are hesitant about praying out loud. Please join us for our monthly prayer gatherings. The next one is at 8pm Tuesday 3 September in the Undercroft [and also 4OC at 26 Woodside Road on Tues 3/9 and Grace Church at 26 Woodside Rd on Wed 4/9]. As the early church faced difficult days the response was for the church to pray earnestly together [Acts 12:5]. With God’s help we could do the same. A fresh start is available!
- Taking God’s word seriously
Reflecting carefully on God’s word in order to be nourished by it is a wonderfully enriching experience. Yet there are times in our lives when we resemble a pot plant which has been completely neglected and starved of water and warmth. A fresh start is available. Our Home Groups are designed to be places where each of us can be nurtured and encouraged. In the context of warm Christian partnership we can put ourselves in a place where we can be re-energized by God’s word. If you are interested in an evening or a daytime group please click here. This term we will be looking at Jonah, which comes to a climax with the unveiling of God’s incredible compassion for the lost [Jonah 4:2,11]. Wouldn’t it be great to be part of a group exploring that wonderful theme together? A fresh start is available!
- Finding joy in service
One of the prayers in the Anglican Prayer Book refers to God ‘whose service is perfect freedom’. It sounds all wrong! Surely service is a burden and we’re only free when we don’t have to work or serve? Yet, in God’s economy, in contrast to the world’s way of thinking, it’s only as we devote ourselves to serving Christ that we will find true freedom and joy. Perhaps we have steered away from serving at St Nicholas over the years but perhaps for that very reason we may have felt slightly detached. A fresh start is available. There are always many opportunities to serve at all our congregations, especially on Sundays. There are particular needs this year as we only have one Ministry Associate so there will be all sorts of ways in which we will find opportunities to serve one another. If you are interested in knowing how you might be able to serve then please click here. Peter encourages each of us to be serving each other [1 Peter 4:10]. Wouldn’t it be great to discover the joy and freedom found in serving others? A fresh start is available!
- Leading others to Christ
There’s nothing quite like new life - a new child or grandchild - the miracle of birth. It’s the same in God’s kingdom. There’s nothing quite like being involved in seeing someone find new life in Christ. Yet for many of us it has been many years since we had the privilege of seeing someone turn to Christ. A fresh start is available. As already noted in 1 above, we have the visit of Rico Tice 29 September and we also have the ‘Take a closer look’ course starting 7 October. We have produced attractive flyers which you can use to invite friends and neighbours. Peter reminds us that new life comes as people come into contact with God’s word [1 Peter 1:23]. Wouldn’t it be great to ask the Lord to give you the opportunity to invite someone to one of these events? A fresh start is available!
So, as you look forward, do you want your experience of Christ to be different in these coming weeks? You don’t have to remain in a rut in the Christian life. Things can be different, not because of our will power, but due to God’s grace. My hope is that many of us will prayerfully consider all these areas and that each of us will make a fresh start in living close to Jesus over these coming days.
Warmly in Christ,
I have written a report on my recent sabbatical which can be read by clicking here.
(Rector, St. Nicholas Sevenoaks)
August / September 2019