Encouraging Tomorrow Today

 

Hanging on my study wall is a piece of cardboard with a childlike picture of a church building painted on it. It was a gift from the people of  the United Church of Zambia in and around the small town of Isoka on the Zambia/Tanzania border, given to greet a group of young people who had travelled from the United Reformed Church to visit them. The warmth of that welcome and humbling feeling that people who lived such simple poor lives should bring gifts for people wealthy enough to travel so far from home has lived with me for almost 30 years – and often this simple painting can transport me back to that little church in Isoka.

 

 

And whilst the picture is of a church building, and the words proclaim it to be “The Church”, it is not the building I remember but the people, their lively faith, their singing smiling faces, their enthusiasm and care for their guests. It is the same when I think back to other churches I have belonged to – just over a year ago my work took me to the church I had belonged to from the age of 4 to 10. I hadn’t been there since we had moved on and it was strange to stand there and remember being a child in that place. There were bits about the building I remembered (although it was a lot bigger in my memory) but most of all I remembered the sense of belonging, friendship and involvement – reading the bible in worship, putting away the chairs, watching all the members sign the call to the new Minister (a Presbyterian thing we’ve lost in the URC) – knowing that in that place, amongst those people were some of the formative experiences that have kept me within the life of the church ever since. 

I know from much I’ve heard since coming to Coventry that many people in these churches have similar stories of people and experiences, all of which have helped to mould these churches into the places they are today. But what of tomorrow? and how are we encouraging tomorrow today? Who are the people that will stand in one of our buildings in 40 years time and say “in this place my faith was nurtured”? and who will be the people they give thanks for?

Let it be each of us.

Be Blessed

Craig

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