March Blog 2024

March Blog from Hennie as she prepares to go on 3 month sabbatical

This verse above was shared by 3 people when the PCC/Leadership/Staff team met to pray on the morning of Saturday 20th January specifically for the church’s financial situation, for the sale of Capeland Close, the Faith Building Project, and the bid for Hawthorn House.


To put this verse into context you may remember back in Numbers Ch. 13 Moses had sent spies into Canaan to spy out the land, the land that God had promised them. All, apart from Caleb and Joshua, came back saying yes, it was a land flowing with milk and honey, and brought back fruit as evidence, but those who lived there were like giants compared to themselves who felt like grasshoppers. Caleb and Joshua said, ‘the land that we went to spy is exceedingly good land and if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land, and give it to us. So don’t rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people. The Lord is with us, do not fear them’. And the Lord got very angry with the people for not believing and trusting in Him. (Numbers 13 & 14).


Now God is commissioning Joshua to enter this land which he is giving to the Israelites, and says, ‘I hereby command you: Be Strong and courageous: do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go’.

As I prepare to go on sabbatical I want to leave these words of encouragement with you because as we continue to stretch out God’s tent over the parish and local community, it will at times, feel like we are entering new territory, a new land; and we may face opposition from both those within the church who are fearful of moving from a place of comfort and ‘knowing’ to a place of discomfort and ‘unknowing’; and opposition from those God is calling us to reach out to, across the River Jordan if you like.

Bishop Mark’s vision is to reach out to the 1.5 million people in the Diocese who don’t know Jesus, with His love, and so our vision must be to reach out to the approx. 16,000 people who live in our parish with the love of Jesus also. ‘Loving God and making His love known’.

Of course, we are already doing this in so many ways, and probably our biggest outreach at the moment is through the Debt Advice Centre, and the ever growing Babies and Toddlers Group on a Wednesday morning. However, I believe there are probably many other ways we could reach out, and God is saying ‘Go for it, don’t rebel against me because you are too scared of what look like too big obstacles for you ahead. , ‘I hereby command you: Be Strong and courageous: do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go’. And I continue to believe these words are for us for the Faith Building Project as we create a wonderful Café space for the local and church community.

Lastly, I leave you with a picture that I had when praying with the Prophetic Prayer Group who met last Saturday morning. It was of a whole row of smart expensive coloured beach huts on stilts, and one rather old hut made of wood and thatch built on the sand.

The sea was coming in and going right under the smartly built beach huts, but was pouring into the old beach hut which had not been elevated off the beach. I felt God might be saying to us that we often think His Holy Spirit, the living refreshing water, comes to those places we expect Him to go, where we feel comfortable to reach out to, but in fact we should be expectant to see His Holy Spirit pouring into those places that seem old, decrepit, and not worthy of our time or money!


So, I leave you with a verse of scripture and a picture that are both challenging, but also very re-assuring. Please, I pray, that during the 3 months that I am away, you will continue to hear from God, to step out in obedience, know that He is with you, and not be afraid of people, or of what He may be asking of you in your time, gifts and financial giving.


Lastly, let us not be a family of God who, out of fear, rebel against the Lord, because what we see ahead of us seem more like giants, rather than more of God’s Kingdom that He is asking us to claim.

Bless you all and continue to have a Lent knowing that you are God’s beloved sons and daughters with whom He is well pleased.