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Bill’s Letter for April 2013

We are in interesting times in the church worldwide. We have just witnessed the appointment of a new Pope and a new Archbishop of Canterbury. The new pope comes with a reputation for avoiding pomp and a palace life and being concerned for the poor. The new arch-bishop is not well known, but I was fortunate to be at a conference recently where he was speaking. I was very encouraged by the conference as a whole and what he said in particular.

At the conference we recognised that difference and therefore conflict is normal. It is OK to disagree passionately, but it is important to stay in relationship with those we disagree with. This gives me hope for the future of the church. We may not be able or even expect to agree with each other about everything; but we can recognise that as children of the same heavenly father we are brothers and sisters together in His family. We are therefore called to love each other, like it or not. We must pray for these new leaders that the hope they bring may be fulfilled.

The events we remember at Easter are, I would say, the most decisive events in human history. They contain the deepest tragedy and the greatest hope. As we enter into this story once again, we are given strength to face our own difficulties and confidence to embrace our times of joy.

Jesus was called to the home of his dear friend Lazarus who was on the point of death. But he does not go straight away. By the time he arrives, Lazarus has died. His sisters Martha and Mary, both say “If only you had been here”. But Jesus transforms the situation, he claims to BE the resurrection and the life. Then he demonstrates it by raising Lazarus from the dead. At this Easter may we know the transforming power of Christ, and that we might experience the hope of new life in whatever we face.

Rev Bill Henderson

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Bill’s Letter for March 2013

For the last few years, the March magazine has been published as we begin Lent. Once again we have an opportunity to use this month as a preparation for the great festival of Easter.

Lent can be seen as a time for growth. Not just growth for the sake of it, but growth into the likeness of Christ. It is all too easy to become complacent and stuck in our ways, so often we need some sort of jolt to change. This can make growth uncomfortable even painful.

Traditionally, Lent has been a time of giving things up, and that can be helpful. The act of self discipline is helpful in itself. The idea of growth is a very positive one, particularly as it is also Spring time when we are beginning to see signs of growth around us. While this growth happens spontaneously in nature, we can do things in our garden to help. Cutting back plants is a way of encouraging growth, as is digging out weeds and spreading fertiliser. In our spiritual life there are many ways of applying these principles. Cutting back can give us a positive reason for giving things up. It is all too easy to fill our lives with business. Jesus was particularly good at spending time in prayer so he knew what to say no to. So maybe giving up a TV programme could be helpful if we used the time to enrich ourselves in other ways.

This could take a number of forms: taking time to read the Bible and pray; deciding to spend time with neighbours or friends; or choosing to care for someone perhaps with a phone call or writing a letter. The digging up of weeds can also be a picture of cutting out things in our life that are not helpful. This means taking time to discern the areas of our lives that leave us more desolate or diminished. This might be just stopping things or it could lead to the whole area of confession. Confession then becomes a positive experience as the fault is faced up to and dealt with by decisively turning away from it. By God’s grace we are then set free from the consequences.

Let this Lent be a time for growth, as we ask the Holy Spirit to make us restless till we change, and prepare for the glorious celebration of Easter.

Rev Bill Henderson