Ministers Letter – August 2008

Rev. Ray Coates
Dear Friends,

One thing that continues to fill me with a sense of wonder is whenever I baptise a baby or young child. Partly it is something to do with ‘the miracle of life’, but also in there is the feeling of the way in which the human race is continually being renewed and so is the Church. By baptism, God brings ‘new sons and new daughters’ into the family of the Church. Baptism is a demonstration of God’s love and at their baptism children become part of the family of the Church.

I really ought not to be surprised! God is continually at work, transforming and renewing. In the garden centre was a sign on a number of empty display tables – “Spring Bulb Collection – coming soon”. Drive along many of our roads today and you can see the changes that have taken place, and with landscaping a part of the plans for new roads our surroundings are constantly being transformed. We play our part in the creative and transforming work through our gardening.

When I think of a number of changes in the world that have taken place in my lifetime the same thoughts come to mind. The situation in Ireland is much changed, the Berlin Wall has gone, Apartheid and white minority rule in South Africa ended and former Iron Curtain countries are now part of the European Union. In many cases I would have said of the possibility of changes here – ‘not in my lifetime!’ Yet the changes have happened and I cannot help but feel the spirit of God has been at work.

I think of changes in our church life too. I went to a Chocolate Party recently and there has been a Barbecue for Preachers as well this month. Soon there will be another barbecue in one of our village churches. They offer new possibilities for connecting with folk whose church links are only tenuous as well as new openings for developing a sense of community or family. PowerPoint has been ordered and will enrich our worship….it is God at work, transforming and renewing his Church.

And given the chance, he can transform and renew us as well. Recently I’d had an exhausting day mentally, physically and emotionally. On the way home a stop at Starbuck’s, tea and coffee with a scone, a chance to read the day’s paper, and an hour later I went on my way renewed. It was the sort of thing Jesus often did with his friends – I don’t mean they went to Starbuck’s, but they did take time out for the same reasons. Give God and ourselves the chance and in the garden, walking, a quiet time at home, reading – there are many ways of just stopping, taking time out and opening ourselves up to God so that he can renew and transform, plant seeds and encourage their growth. We must make sure we don’t miss out!

With much love,

Your Minister and friend,