Dear friends,

Warm and sincere greetings in the name of Christ.

How important is your faith in Jesus
– your personal trust in him and your obedience to him?

Our faith in Jesus should always be important to us. It should actually be the first priority in our lives. When the storms of life batter us, our faith and love for Christ are tested and tried. Hence, the great significance of the final piece of teaching from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, with the challenging question it poses; have you, and are you, building your life on rock or sand? It’s one or the other according to Jesus, and it really matters. How you face and cope with storms will be revealing. The strength and stability of your foundation becomes obvious. True faith, founded on hearing and obeying the words Christ continues to stand even in a raging storm. False faith tragically crashes to the ground! The correct foundation had never been put in place, never been truly established.

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like the wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)

The psalmist testifies;

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in

the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5) Know and Grow begins again this month. We will gather on Sunday June 20th at 6pm in the worship area of the Church. We take up the task of studying the book we began last year Jesus Christ The Truth written by J John and Chris Whalley.

This is the type of meeting that will help us build on the foundation of rock. If you would like to join us, please try and re-read chapters 1-5 of the book, along with the Introduction. I will give a very brief summary talk on the first 3 chapters, but most of our time together will focus on chapters 4 & 5. (Beginnings and Birth and The Preparation for Ministry) These are the chapters we will discuss, so come prepared with any questions you have and points you wish to raise. Book into the meeting in the usual way.

We are praying for everyone in our Church as we slowly make our way forward. As I continue to consider the prophecy of Joel and reflect on the losses that his people had to face, I am mindful that many people in our community are

experiencing a deep sense of personal loss after a very traumatic period in their

06 jUne 2021H black & White

lives. So much has been lost over the past year including precious loved ones, jobs, businesses, education, homes, time with family; the list goes on and on.

There are therefore, all around us, people displaying distinct signs of grief and loss. It may be helpful for me to remind you what these are, so that you recognise these signs of grief within yourself and others. These reactions are natural for those who have suffered any serious loss, not just the loss of a loved one – and we must understand that they are to be expected, and they are perfectly normal, although they will differ from person to person. We are all unique and so is the way we show and experience grief and loss.

Emotional reactions to serious loss include; intense sadness, disbelief, deep despair, shock, worry, anguish, anger, guilt, regret, deep emptiness, confusion and relief.

When grief is new and raw, we can also experience difficulty in concentrating, a sense that you are losing your mind, a lack of motivation to do much, difficulty in making decisions, and difficulty in taking in new information. This is not unusual with grief.

Physical reactions can include; numbness, headaches, nausea, a racing heart, muscle tension, aches and pains, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, agitation and restlessness, fear and panic attacks, crying (even sobbing), stomach cramps and diarrhoea.

If you are struggling – please ask for prayer – and other practical support if you feel that would help. The Church is here for you. God’s love and grace can heal and give peace. If you don’t feel ready to return to the building – we can come to you. Real grief takes time to journey through and no-one should be rushed. We go at our own pace and look to God for grace to carry us through the darkness and into the light of his love, peace and rest. May God be with us all.

Finally, may I bring up the subject of giving. Donations to the food bank are more important than ever, so if you are able to help, that would be very much appreciated. I am conscious of the fact that so many food banks needed to be established after the horrendous financial crash of 2008. The austerity measures which were then adopted by the Government forced many into serious poverty and there were food shortages in households of the employed as well as the unemployed. Food banks came to the rescue – and many Churches supported them with donations and volunteers. The economy shrank back then by an alarming 4-6%. But last year, because of Covid and lockdowns, the economy shrank by a staggering 9.9%. Our nation now has a debt of 2 trillion +. If there was huge need after the 2008 crash, the need right now after lockdowns with soaring Government borrowing, is going to be even greater. Please consider donating regularly. It is one way we can put our faith and love into practice.

Our giving to Christchurch itself also needs to quickly recover otherwise we face a financial deficit at the end of 2021 which will be very significant, and we really need to try and avoid this. All our contributions to Christchurch need to get back on track as soon as possible. We have financial challenges ahead of us and we need to be ready to meet them. If anything, we all now need to prayerfully consider raising our personal giving so that the life and witness of our Church can be supported and sustained in every way. As the united body of Christ, I am sure we can meet this challenge.

Thank you to those who choose to give directly into our Church bank account, and for those who are able to gift aid their giving. This really helps and makes an important impact on the health of our Church finances. Susan Hill is able to help with any questions you may have about giving.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Every blessing in Christ be yours. Peter