Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Life giving water - wells and cafes

It’s summer time! As I write this we’ve been experiencing a heat wave, making us all throw open the windows, and dive for ice creams and cold drinks! 
In biblical times you couldn’t turn on a tap to get water – most people had to go out to the local well to collect water for the day in stone jars – as still happens in many African countries today. Because of this, each village’s well became a natural meeting point – a place where people would come and be refreshed from the water there, but also socialise and chat with others from their village. It was a place that travellers would naturally come to on their way to different places, and so it was a place where news and ideas could be passed on by them, and news received, to be taken on to other villages.
We often read about characters from the Old Testament going to wells, meeting people there – usually the people God wanted them to meet. Some even found their future wives or husbands there! Jesus too met people at wells, notably the Samaritan woman from John Chapter 4, whose story of finding ‘life-giving’ water through her encounter with Jesus is part of the inspiration for our Church Vision of ‘Offering living water’. 
I’ve recently been reading a book by Mark Batterson called ‘The Circle Maker’. It’s the story of a  Church in the USA, which, through many years of faithful prayer, built a thriving ministry in a busy part of the city. Mark argues that the modern equivalent of the well of Biblical times is the coffee shop! It’s a place where people will naturally gather to be refreshed, and to socialise – to meet with others and hear and pass on news and ideas. So as well as finding space to meet on Sunday, their Church built a coffee bar which became a cornerstone of the Church’s ministry in that city.

This is the hope for our coffee lounge in the new ‘Gateway’, that it will become a place where local people can gather, be refreshed and socialise. A place where we may meet the people that God wants us to meet. A place where good news can be passed on.  It’s only a part of the Gateway proposal, which we are hoping will be ready for Trustees to approve in September for the whole Church to see at the Autumn meeting. But our hope is that, like the Church in America, the coffee bar could be a big help to us in connecting with our local community and in ‘Offering Living Water’ to local people, as our vision says. 
From St Luke’s House July 2017
As I write this, we are expecting the imminent arrival, God willing, of our second grandchild. We’ll be praying for a safe delivery, and hoping to ‘hot-foot’ it down to London when we get the good news that the baby has been born.  My grandparents died before I was born – I never had the chance to know them, and so I thank God so much that I am able to know my grandchildren and hopefully be a part of their lives.
Have you ever been waiting in anticipation of some good news? With all that is currently taking place in the world we are in need of good news, whether that’s in our families if we have one, in our country or from further afield.
As we were clearing out the Church office the other week, I came across an old edition of the Bible which said ‘Good News for Modern Man’ on the cover. It was one of the first editions of the ‘Good News’ translation of the Bible when that came out in 1966 giving an easy to read translation for ordinary people to read for themselves – if you’re old enough you might remember them. We believe that the Bible really is good news for humankind (to use a more modern politically correct phrase!) and these small easy to read editions helped people to hear that good news for themselves. It is good news that the Father sent Jesus into our world so that we could know God again. It’s good news that Jesus took on himself the punishment for all our wrongdoings, so that we can be free of their consequences. It’s good news that Jesus overcame death and made it possible for us to have eternal life too. It’s good news too that he sends his Holy Spirit to guide us and help us to live life God’s way. It’s good news that we can call God Father and that he loves and accepts each one of us, not because we deserve it, but because he just does. 

Too often we take the good news of the Bible too much for granted, and we forget how fortunate we are that in all of these most important things Jesus has done all that is needed for us, even if we didn’t deserve it. We tend to let the little things get us down and lose sight of the big picture from God’s perspective. God really is on our side – he really does care for each and every one of us, and nothing can stop that. It really is good news!