Belonging - Pastor's pen for 30th May

Mostly humans do better when they belong to something. There is something healthy about being in relation to other people, although some solitude is also essential. A balance.

"Community is always poised between two poles: solitude and togetherness. Without togetherness community disperses; without solitude community collapses into a mass, a crowd" David Steindl-Rast

Gangs of Bristol, early 1970s

The families, clubs and associations we belong to shape us, and we shape them. Personally, I got used to things changing around a bit, as between the ages of five and eight I went to three different primary schools in three different countries, each with a markedly different culture. Following this was a stable three decades in NZ, in and around Howick and East Auckland. This stability was enhanced by school, football club, Boy's Brigade and church, which was a new thing for us.

Change is inevitable, as time passes. Yet community and belonging remain strong necessities for human beings. Sometimes we insist this is not so, but we kid ourselves. A critical attribute for success in 21st century living and in church life, is the maintaining of community amid change. For Christians, particularly those in leadership, add to this an authentic discernment of what the gospel means in a changing context. God's word remains intact, but how will the Holy Spirit lead us to apply it?

This week we worship and have fellowship with Glenfield Presbyterian Church. They are a neighbour church of similar theological ethos, indeed having been planted by folk from Forrest Hill. The purpose currently, as I see it, is to get to know the people there and begin to explore what local mission/gospel activities we might explore together.

Some folk have (perhaps inevitably) jumped to the conclusion we will be joining our congregations together. However, my sense is more of exploring what God is doing in the neighbourhood, to explore missional purpose together (if I may overuse the buzz word). Perhaps we can add value and gather momentum in a joint project?

So please resist the temptation to work from assumptions and be slow to jump to conclusions. These are sadly regular habits in many congregations. Rather, seek the Spirit and your part in God's mission in the neighbourhood. In your solitude, seek God's will for the time together. Blessings, Martin.

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