Mat’s October Letter

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s been a very full-on start to the term with lots of exciting events starting and being planned. Coupled with this excitement is a sadness that the wonderfully gifted Billy and Caleb will be leaving us this month.

St Matthew’s has always been a church where there have been regular comings and goings. People arrive, give us so much, and move onto pastures new after enriching us and growing through their time with us. A few years ago Joyce Caithness (now serving at Southmead) had a picture of a huge pile of gifts in the middle of the worship space. As people came and took gifts away God added others to the pile. I wonder if this picture speaks to us about our calling as a resource rich church. Perhaps part of our ministry is to encourage people by giving opportunities to serve and then ‘giving’ them away to the wider church. The work we do as a Trinity Context church also feeds into this. God has made St Matthew’s rich in resource and gifts. That enables us to help others to grow thereby contributing to the growth of the kingdom of God outside St Matthew’s. However, I don’t think that this is the whole meaning of the picture. It speaks to those of us who stay too.

There are a couple of issues associated with being part of a church for a longer period. One is that we can pick up roles and hold on to them for too long. And this can sometimes make us feel resentful at the amount that we are giving. We need to know when to lay a role down. The second is that we can be tempted to sit back and let others do it, or perhaps feel that we have nothing to give when everyone else is so gifted. Maybe we were once involved but have since stopped. Maybe our circumstances have changed or we feel we have less energy than we used to. I’ve heard it said many times that there is no such thing as retirement in the kingdom of God. Often when we lay a role down, God calls us to pick another up; one that may use our gifts in a different way. That may be encouraging or helping someone else to carry out the role that we had, it may be praying or encouraging, or listening, it may be something totally new.

Paul’s epistles (e.g. Romans 12, 1Open Link in New Window Corinthians 12Open Link in New Window, Ephesians 4Open Link in New Window) make it clear that for the body of Christ to function properly every part must play its role. So what is God calling you and me to? Something new? A continuation of what you are doing already? Encouraging someone else? One thing I am convinced of is that as gifts are taken from the pile, God will add others to it so that the St Matthew’s body can function as he has called it to.

Mat

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