It's a real privilege to have been elected as a Deputy Church Warden/Church Warden for St Johns. We are in an unsettled time as a Church, as the refurbishment of St Johns Continues.In the Autumn we will be introducing a a new order of service for a trial period of six months, which includes morning services at St Oswalds on the first and third Sundays of the month and the second and fourth Sunday at St Johns.
The PCC has been unanimous in support of our Vicar who consistently continues to preach the Gospel in a powerful and loving way. The 'churchwardeny stuff' has to be taken seriously and I've been asking people in the church, how they see worship developing. I've been amazed and delighted to discover a common unity and purpose from a variety of church backgrounds. There is no doubt that God is speaking powerfully to our Church. In my experience that's when attacks come, which is why we are asked to equip ourselves with 'The whole armour of God' . Above all else we musn't judge others.
Now to a hero of mine, the Reformed Pastor and Late Vicar of Kidderminster, Richard Baxter. Richard was active during the English Civil War. During the Restoration of Charles 2nd, he was subjected to what amounted to a witch hunt, largely facilitated by the notorious drunken Judge Jeffries, who said of him that 'he should whipped and dragged through the streets like the dog he was' . Richard had done nothing to deserve this apalling treatment, all he did was preach the Gospel of Love, staying faithful to his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
I first read of Richard's inspiring life through a remaindered biography. I have always intended to getting around to reading his books, but the language is archaic and the spirit weak. Last night ,I picked up his 'The Saints' Everlasting Rest' and read this section.
"How then can you now be bitter or injurious against your brethren, if you bear the name or heart of a Christian? Just think of the time or place where you hope to live and rejoice with them for ever in the nearest and sweetest familiarity! [Heaven]. I confess that their infirmities are not to be loved, nor sin to be tolerated because it is theirs. But be sure it is sin that you oppose in them, and do it with a spirit of meekness and compassion, that the world may see your love to the person, while you oppose the offence."
Richard's appeal is to all of us through the authority of - Matt. 5:44, John 13:35, 14:7, Ro. 12:8 and Heb. 12:14. And now for a beautiful picture: