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June/July 2014

posted 25 Aug 2014, 10:20 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 25 Aug 2014, 10:20 ]

Dear All,

Doesn't time fly when you're having fun? I'm sitting writing this the week after Easter, looking out at a beautiful bright blue sky over the top of the hill. My first 'open house' is over and done with, and it was a pleasure and privilege to have so many of you dropping in to say hello. The Rectory feels more like home, now I've had the delight of welcoming you.

By the time you read this we will be approaching the next great church festival, the celebration of Pentecost. The birthday of the church, the coming of the Holy Spirit, a wonderful time of revival for heart, mind and soul. Pentecost was a time of surprises for the church, a time when God worked in unexpected ways and places. It was also the time when the followers of Jesus spoke about their Lord to many others. The Bible says three thousand people were baptised on the day of Pentecost. An incredible number, and only the beginning of the new church! We tend to see Pentecost as an event in isolation, when it is actually the finale of a long process.

The first step in the process was that the followers of Jesus listened. The book of Acts starts with Jesus ascending into heaven, leaving his followers. It would have been easy to have abandoned hope at this stage. They must have seemed a very small group among so many. But they remembered the words Jesus had spoken to them and took courage. They met together. They spent time listening. Listening to God and listening to each other. To try to discern what God wanted of them next. They didn’t just do it for half an hour, but continued to pray and listen, day in, day out.

We are called as a church, and as individuals, to listen. To listen to God. To listen to others. To try to discern what God wants us to do.

Having listened – and still listening, they started to look. Look at what needed doing, what was being done. Look at what God was already doing. Look at the people around them, at the situation in which they found themselves. They were in Jerusalem at the time of one of the Jewish feasts. Surrounded by people from different lands, speaking numerous languages. Some of whom would have heard the rumours about Jesus and perhaps be curious. What was needed? What was necessary? What did the people around them want? But most of all, they looked at where God was working, where God was giving them opportunity.

We are called as a church, and as individuals, to look. To look at where we are and what needs doing. To look at where God is working, is opening doors.

Having listened, and looked, they then acted, as God gave them opportunity. When the Holy Spirit came to them they were all together in one place. Not outside in public. It must have been a bit of a noisy meeting as they obviously attracted attention. People began to gather and to ask questions. The followers knew the needs of the people – they’d spent time listening and looking. God gave his followers the opportunity and the skills to proclaim his message. Had Pentecost happened a week later, the people would not have been there in such numbers. Had the disciples not been willing and prepared, the opportunity would have been lost. If the followers had been stuck in a ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality, or been unprepared to move out of their meeting place to where the people were asking questions, either Pentecost would not have happened, or they would have gone down in history as a bunch of drunkards. And the church as we know it may not exist.

We are called as a church, and as individuals, to act. To work where God calls us. To recognise that God will give us the opportunities and the skills required, if we are prepared and willing.

These three things are integral to this season of Pentecost, and to the life of the church. There are so many people in our churches who work towards this calling, in public or in private. So many who contribute to the work of the church. As a minister I do not work in isolation, but in the midst of the people. My task would be impossible without you, and to you all I am profoundly grateful.

If we are serious about renewal, refreshing and revival, then we must be prepared to trust our God, listen, look and act. It will not be easy, it will not be comfortable - but this is our calling as members of God's church.

Come, Holy Spirit, and take control.

With every blessing,

Vittoria

Making the Sign of the Cross

For some, this activity seems pointless; for others it is a valued part of their worship. When we make the sign of the cross, we are showing an outward sign of an inward prayer.

The sign of the cross is traditionally made as a method of focusing oneself on God. It can be made at the start of a service, at the words of forgiveness, prior to reading the Bible, during the blessing, and at other times. While traditionally the sign of the cross is made from top to bottom then from right to left across you body, it does not actually matter what direction you make it in, or where on your body you place it. Some will cross their forehead – 'God be in my thinking’, - their lips – 'God be in my speaking' – and their heart – 'God be in my loving'. Making the sign of the cross is a prayer and a reminder that all we do, say and think, should be guided by Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Multi- Sensory Church (pp.24) has a suggestion for exploring this ancient symbol slowly and thoughtfully.

Vittoria