Happy New Year! As we begin a new year I wanted to take some time to look back over the last year of life at St Luke’s and, more importantly, to look forward to the coming year.
As we look back over 2019 there have been both highs and lows, encouragements and discouragements. It’s important that we acknowledge the difficulties and are honest about the tough times. We have said goodbye to a number of members, some have gone to be with Jesus; and it has been a privilege to welcome their families and friends as we have conducted their funerals. Others have moved away, are unable to attend for health or work related reasons, and others have simply left – as vicar I feel their loss in much the same ways as a bereavement. We have struggled with finding volunteers (which has led to the suspension of Children’s Church), with timekeeping and with congregational giving.
However there have been a great deal of encouragements over this last year, to name but a few:
- New Members: We have been joined by some wonderful new members and I am thankful for those who have ‘got stuck in’ to the life of the church
- The Front Room: Our main community outreach project, has been growing and has received significant funding totalling over £20,000, which has been committed for over 2 years
- Parish Nursing: We launched our Parish Nursing project, which has saved lives and helped improve the health of vulnerable members of the community
- Thanksgivings: We have had some wonderful celebrations, giving thanks for significant birthdays (including a 100th birthday celebration); new jobs; wedding anniversaries, recovery from illness, etc
- Building Grant: We have also received over £18,000 for planning and undertaking improvements to our building
- Children’s Worker: We have also received £25,000 per year pledged for 3 years to employ a Children and Family Worker and are in the process of recruiting for this role.
- New Service Structure: We have also introduced our new services, alternating between traditional and informal Holy Communion services and a Bible study on 5th Sundays.
These are just some of the wonderful blessings God has poured upon his church at St Luke’s, and we look forward to seeing God’s favour in 2020.
As we look forward to this coming year we face challenges but more importantly we expect some great opportunities and in both of these we have a wonder-working God! Therefore I would like to invite each and every one of you to join in with what God is doing here at St Luke’s.
As I have been reflecting on the future, God has drawn me to the book of Nehemiah found in the Old Testament as a word for St Luke’s. Nehemiah tells us how Jerusalem, the city of God’s people, had fallen into ruins, how its former glory was no more and how in human terms it was a disaster. However God does amazing things through the faith and commitment of a few people and Jerusalem is rebuilt and flourishes. I really encourage you to read about this in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra.
The keys to the rebuilding and revival that happened to Jerusalem as described in Nehemiah are the keys to seeing St Luke’s flourishing, growing and full of life:
- Prayer: Prayer is a vital part of the story of Nehemiah, and is vital to our story. Therefore I invite everyone to join us for our pre-service prayer meeting at 10:45am every Sunday, and to commit to praying for the growth of St Luke’s in our personal prayer times.
- Giving: Nehemiah led the people to show their love for God and longing to see his city rebuilt through giving to that work. I invite everyone to recommit and renew their giving to the church through regular standing orders. If you need more information on how, please speak to me
- Serving: Everyone did their part in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the work was completed so much more quickly and easily. There are so many opportunities to serve at St Luke’s and there is much joy and blessing to be found in being part of a team serving. This is particularly important and we seek to relaunch Children’s Church once the worker is in post to lead.
- Encouraging: The people of Jerusalem needed to be constantly encouraged and reminded of the progress they were making and of God’s goodness. So we need reminding of how God is at work amongst us, of the progress we are making, and of our vision.
As we stand at the beginning of another year God extends his invitation to us, his invitation to put our trust in him, to take steps of faith, and to see how he multiplies what we offer and does incredible things.
So St Luke’s, let us give thanks to God and look forward to the amazing things he has planned for 2020.
Grace and Peace
Reverend Nick Walsh, Vicar