Summerstown Contact No. 105

Dear Neighbour,
A Time for Everything

The writer of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, possibly Solomon, makes the statement 'There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.' He then goes on to specify some of the life experiences that are determined by time: 'a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,' and so on.

For my wife Eunice and myself, the time has come for us to leave the pastorate at Summerstown MEC and to move away from the area. Having lived in our present house for twenty-eight years and been in leadership at Summerstown for twenty-four years, such a change will not be easy, but we believe the time is right, and that our Lord God will open up new areas of ministry for us. As I have said to several people, in motor racing the driver goes into the pits for two reasons, to retire and to re-tyre. Although we are retiring, in reality we expect it will be more of a 're- tyreing'! We are also thankful to the Lord that the pastorate will be vacant for only a few months, as we have called the lay-pastor of a church in North London, Peter Bines, to take over as our full-time pastor later in the year.

Greatest Joy?

It has been my privilege to regularly communicate aspects of the Christian message to many people over the years through the medium of the 'Contact' leaflet. Around 330,000 leaflets have been delivered since we started, and I believe that the new pastor intends to carry on where I leave off. So keep watching your letter-box!

As I review the past fourteen years of the 'Contact' leaflet, I ask myself two questions. What has been my greatest joy? And what is the biggest challenge? In answer to the first question, the thing that has brought greatest joy is when there has been a positive response to the message. For some Christians moving into the area, it has been the means to put our church 'on the map' and to give a flavour of what we believe. As a result, several have made Summerstown MEC their 'home' church. For others who have drifted from their spiritual moorings, receiving the 'Contact' has been the stimulus they have needed to re-dedicate themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to start living the Christian life in earnest. There have also been those who have found that the message has been exactly appropriate for their present life situation, as they have passed through periods of anxiety, bereavement or loneliness.

However, I believe that the whole story has not yet been told. God says in Isaiah 55:10-11, 'As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.' God's truth communicated verbally or in writing has the power to achieve God's purposes, and to bring life and fruitfulness. As 'Contact' has spoken into the lives of its readers, who knows what long-lasting effects have resulted? I dare to believe that a hidden work has already taken place in some lives as God's grace has been made known. We may not see all the results, but we trust that God has blessed and will continue to do so.

Biggest Challenge?

The biggest challenge has been to present the Christian message in a faithful and a captivating way against a general background of disinterest. Sadly many of us, either deliberately or unknowingly, have bought into the prevailing 'post-modern' mind-set. It is this mind-set which says "there are no absolute standards of right and wrong, but only what is acceptable to society at large"; which says "claims to exclusive truth are unacceptable. We have our own beliefs, but you have no right to impose your view-point on me"; which says "it is the believing that is important, not the substance of what is believed".

So persuasive is this mind-set that many have become apathetic towards the Christian faith; they see no point, have no desire to respond, are unconcerned by its claims, demands and promises. Yet in every generation the Christian message has challenged the dominant spirit of the age, and today the same conflict is taking place. And that is the biggest challenge!

Thank God his power still prevails, he is still on the throne of the universe, and nothing can stop his eternal purposes. The gospel is still 'the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes' (Romans 1:16). Despite the powerful challenge of an increasingly secularised society, God's kingdom is still growing, and people from all nationalities and cultures are trusting in the Saviour and entering into eternal life and forgiveness.

I hope you have been encouraged as you have read 'Contact', and I pray that future editions will be the means of bringing blessing and light into many lives.

Sincerely as ever,

Colin H Paris