From The Manse

Dear Friends

As we embark on a new session in the life of the Church, I have been thinking about the Church and its characteristics.

Firstly, I believe the Church should be a place where people learn. In the book of Acts we read that ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching’. The early Church met regularly to learn from the apostles and to discuss what the apostles shared with them about Jesus and his teaching. Indeed, one gets the impression that the members of the Church were eager to learn all that they could. In the church today we have the opportunity to learn together as we read and think about God’s Word. This we do on a Sunday but there is also the Bible Study Group, which meets on the second Wednesday of the month. This session we are going to be looking at Paul’s letter to the Colossians. This format allows us to discuss what we read and to share our thoughts. Why not come along? You will be very welcome. We also have some devotional books in our Church library, which is situated in the middle room of the hall. Have a look at what is there. Reading is a great way to learn more about God and our faith!

Secondly, I believe the Church should be a place where people care. In Galatians we read that the first fruit of the Spirit is love. It therefore follows that love should be evident in our dealings with one another and in all that we say and do. Generosity has always been a characteristic of the people of God. However, our generosity is not only for one another within the fellowship. It is to be evident in our outreach and concern for others, particularly the poor and those in need. Throughout the year, we, as a congregation, support many good causes. Start Up Stirling, Blythswood Care, Stirling Street Pastors, Christian Aid, Erskine and other charities benefit from our generosity. Thank you for your ongoing support. I t is testimony to the love in our hearts. God is generous and his Church must be generous too.

Thirdly, I believe an essential characteristic of the Church is its worship. The early Christians devoted themselves ‘to the breaking of the bread and to prayers’. It would seem that the worship of the early Church was both formal and informal. In Acts we read ‘they continued to meet together in the temple courts’ and ‘they broke bread in their homes’. Today there are people who prefer a formal style of worship while others like a style that is less formal. I believe it is good to experience each other’s preferences for both have their place today as they did two thousand years ago!  Another fruit of the Spirit is joy. Joy should therefore be evident in our worship, be it formal or otherwise. Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher once said: ‘The longer I live, the more convinced I am that Christianity is one long shout of joy!’

Finally, I believe that as a Church we are called to reach out to the world. We read that ‘The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’. This tells us that within the early Church outreach was not an occasional activity but one that was ongoing like their worship. Today we have activities like Messy Church and Holiday Clubs where we endeavour to reach younger people who do not join us on a Sunday morning. However, we can reach out in also other ways. By supporting good causes, by raising awareness of certain issues, by volunteering and helping charities. A Saint from an earlier age is reported to have said ‘Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words’. The thought behind this is that our lives should be a witness to the Gospel and that Christ should be evident within us and in all that we say and do. 

The hymn puts it well;

‘Christ be in all hearts thinking about me,

Christ be in all tongues telling of me.

Christ be the vision in eyes that see me,

In ears that hear me,

Christ ever be’.

 

Every Blessing,

Your Friend and Minister,

Gary J McIntyre