01 Feb Vicars’ Blog – February 2018 – Taking our next steps…
Taking our next steps……
It’s a new day, a new season for St Mary’s and St John’s: our new church vision is here. God has spoken, the people have spoken, and we now know where we are going. We have noticed a considerable continuity with what God has been doing in the past. It has been very exciting to be part of the process of prayer, listening, gathering thoughts and dreams together and now sharing the vision. This vision is for everyone: children and adults, young, married, single, divorced, bereaved; those who first stepped into the church today, or a month ago, more than ten years ago, or even more than thirty years ago. It is for all of us! Bookmarks with the whole vision on can be collected at the back of both churches.
Taking our next steps towards deeper faith in Christ, welcome and belonging and shining God’s light.
This is a dynamic, living vision. It is about taking our next steps. As each of us takes our next step, however faltering, that becomes the next step of the church as we become more the church God wants us to be and we want to be. We are here to support each other in those next steps. This is not a vision that’s going to sit in a drawer or even on a beautiful poster, we can all start to make it happen today. For those who like music, the hymn ‘O Jesus I have Promised’ helps express this intention it says “O let me see thy footsteps and in them plant my own.” There is also a worship song that says: “Jesus be the Centre, be the reason that I live.” This vision is expressed in words, songs and pictures. The colours are a reflection of the different people that make up our church, worshipping in congregations of different styles and we want to celebrate the richness and vibrancy of that diversity. We don’t want to be monochrome, we want to let all our colours shine through.
There are three parts of this vision for us to explore:
Firstly, Deeper faith in Christ. This means putting God as number one in our lives. We are all at different places on our faith journey, and we may all want to draw closer to God in different ways. The areas we have identified are: accessible spirit-filled worship; everyday discipleship and confidence in personal faith. These are the areas in which we will take our next steps as a church. What could your next step be?
Secondly, Welcome and belonging. We want to be a loving church where people want to belong. This came out very strongly in all the questionnaires and contributions. But real welcome is more than just a smile at the door; it’s a place where we can make friends and become part of an authentic community. There are some specifics to this: welcome unreservedly; care compassionately; forgive wholeheartedly; serve joyfully and give generously. We have some steps to take in this area and it depends on all of us to check our attitudes alongside the example of Jesus, our servant-hearted master who washed his disciples’ feet. Relationships are not always easy.
Thirdly, Shining God’s Light. God has filled us with his love and his light and he wants to reveal more of his love and light to other people through us. Our vision is to promote the church in Walton on Thames; to serve local people with practical and spiritual help; to share the good news of Jesus wherever we are and to engage in overseas Christian mission. We can all consider what our opportunities will be tomorrow, next week, and so on. What is our next step?
You can see this is a thought-provoking, challenging vision which encourages us as individuals and as a church to take our journey of faith seriously. We have only got one life, let’s life it to the full. Our key verse is taken from the words of Jesus: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” We are praying for each of us as we take our next steps towards deeper faith, welcome and belonging and shining God’s light.
If you missed the Vision launch on 14th January and sermons in January, you can go to the website and listen. Don’t miss the lunch on 4th February tickets £3 from the office.
Yours, Revs Jonny and Cathy