Please be seated.
I’m going to play a song which some of you may well know. Do listen to the words.
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, I pray that you would by the power of the Holy Spirit take my words and speak through them, take our minds and think through them, and take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The success of the hit TV Series Cheers in the past has been because people could relate to the characters, there was a feel good factor. The theme tune also relates to easy going nature, the universal realatity of the human need for acceptance.
Today is Back To Church Sunday, a day when friends and neighbours and family members are encouraged to come Back to Church. Churches across the country are doing the same thing as we are. Welcoming people back to church.
But what are we welcoming you back to?, why are we coming back to church?
By meeting here sunday by sunday we are saying we belong, by meeting here we are saying we need each other, by meeting here sunday by sunday we are saying we want to know a bit more about God.
Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Life is difficult sometimes ... sometimes it is great
Life sometimes throws up challenges ... sometimes we are shaken
Sometimes we are joyous and sometimes we are confused, lonely, perplexed perhaps, grieving
Church is a place where we can come and be together
Church is a place where we should be able to find acceptance and love, we should be able to talk about things which bother us, things troubling us. We should be able to be real and we should be able to meet with people who can support us through the difficult times.
No church is not perfect ... and you’ll never find the perfect church but in this church we do in this church try to do our best to preach, teach and and to put theory and practice together.
One church leader recently said that he believes that the Local Church is the hope for the world. I too believe that. That each church church is at its very best when people work together locally, when we use our gifts and talents to serve one another.
We believe that when young and old, tall and short, people of all sorts work together for a common purpose great things can and will happen.
In St. Columba’s we are trying, we are striving to provide help and support to as many people as we possibly can.
Take a look through our parish Magazine
We are studying the Bible,
We continue to visit all those we know of in hospitals, nursing homes and sheltered accomodation,
we visit all homes in the parish as and when we can, we are putting into place ways in which people can serve God according to their gifts and abilities, we continue to try and develop our youth work, we are reaching out to our housebound parishioners via recordings of services, we continue to have the full range of activities and groups for all sorts of ages and interests throughout the week.
All of this is to help people belong to the family of God in this place.
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. There is a saying ... “It takes two to tango.”
I have heard it about churches where people can walk in and out and nobody speaks to them. If this is a criticism you have please do say hi to someone. And also if someone says Hi to you do say hi back and introduce yourself.
This is a place to which anyone can come and belong. One of the reason I am here is because of the friendliness of the church when I came incognito in a shirt and tie and sat down at the back of the church one sunday morning. Someone said hi to me!
You wanna go where people know, people are all the same,
Critics of the church universally would tell us that we are boring, untrue and irrelevant to the culture of today. Perhaps we have been - or perhaps our critics do have some challenges to help us improve.
However, the church at its best is here to serve the outsider, to walk beside and support the tempted whatever their temptation may be, we are called to bring the lonely into fellowship and friendship, the struggling student, the single mum, the housebound, the man struggling with answering the question about what life is all about.
When we look at the Gospel reading today we see Jesus asking the Lame man “Sir Do you want to be made well”?
The man had to respond
The church cannot do things without people responding.
We can sit and do nothing for a long time or we can respond.
Many of the problems we face can be responded to positively. The are resources which the church has access to which can help people.
Issues such as debt ... a phonecall to Christians Against Poverty can see the burden of debt lifted from households
Issues such as depression and other issues can be talked through with Christian Counsellors
Issues such as loneliness can be addressed by getting involved in many of the organisations in the parish.
Each one of us ... whoever we are, whatever we are going through can find hope, love reassurance, help, meaning within church if only we ask.
If you are here for the first time in a while, or if you are here each week do know that we are a church ready to help, ready to chat, ready to support, ready to talk through worries & fears.
You will see the new welcome cards in the pews - these create an easy communication link with the clergy and vestry - if there are things you would like, if you want us to visit please do fill them in, if there are other comments. Do fill your name in as well on them.
We are called to respond