From the pastor’s pen: COME AND SEE
“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see’.” (John 1:45-46)
John 1:25-51 is an account of how Jesus called his 12 disciples – the followers that would go on to change the world forever! Whereas most of them were selected directly by Jesus, others were actually brought by their friends and relatives. One of them was Peter himself, the one who would go on to become the chief apostle. Even though his response is often summarised in terms of dropping everything and following Jesus, Peter got invited along by his brother Andrew who previously followed John the Baptist but later chose to “switch team” after John identified Jesus as “he who ranks before me” (1:30).
Another one was Nathanael, invited along by his friend Philip. Nathanael’s reaction, however, wasn’t a particularly positive one, questioning whether it was worth following whoever came from Nazareth (we can only wonder why!). Yet Philip, choosing not to get sucked into a fruitless debate with Nathanael, simply told him to “come and see”. Thankfully, Nathanael did go and, after only a few minutes in Jesus’ presence, couldn’t help himself but declare “Teacher, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” What a sudden and radical change of mind!
I think we all know a “Nathanael”, someone who is by default very sceptical and cynical, people who won’t believe unless they see, people that may respect our faith but still think we are only wasting our time. I am sure that many of us will have had countless “debates” with such friends and relatives on matters of faith, religion, science, philosophy and theology – yet never getting anywhere! Well, Philip demonstrates that the best way for someone to start following Jesus is to simply be in the same room with him! Phillip shows us that sometimes we should just keep our debates to ourselves and just say – “Come and see”. After all, there is no one better at showing who Jesus really is than Jesus himself! No clever argument or debate will ever beat a genuine encounter with Jesus.
This is where we often get it wrong! As disciples commissioned to disciple people into the Kingdom, we often shy away from sharing our faith with others because we feel we don’t have all the answers to all their questions – resorting to leave this responsibility with the “professionals” and the “extroverts”. Irrespective of whether or not that is the case, we all can, like Philip, just invite our sceptic friends and relatives to “Come and see”. We can all invite them into an environment where they can have a direct encounter with Jesus – and then let Jesus do the talking! All we need to do is pop the question. Salvation belongs to the Lord, but invitation belongs to us!
Christmas is approaching and, with it, the perfect opportunity to invite people to an environment where they can encounter Jesus for themselves. One of the very few benefits of living in a post-Christian nation is the fact that most people enjoy singing carols and eating mince-pies even if they do not believe! As you are all aware, this year Churches will come together at the Cathedral on Friday 13th of December not only to celebrate Christmas together but to introduce Jesus to the town. Rev. Canon J. John will be our guest speaker and you can be sure he will share the Gospel in a relevant, light yet impactful way. [Tickets are x2 for £5 and can be purchased on Eventbrite. Just look for “Christmas Unwrapped”. The link can also be found on our FB page and on our ChurchSuite calendar. Alternatively, you can give Emmanuel £5 and he will purchase the tickets for you]
Yet, Christmas is only one of many opportunities throughout the year. It really takes nothing to say to someone going through a tough time “Would you like to come to Church with me this Sunday? I’m sure it will do you good. I’ll come pick you up myself and then we can go for a meal”. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Let us stop thinking “What if they say No?” and start thinking “What if they say Yes!” Whether a person says Yes or No is not down to us. All that is required of us is to just say “Come and see”, leaving everything else into God’s hands. Salvation belongs to the Lord, but invitation belongs to us.
Response Team Training
We are looking for people to pray together with those that will respond to Jesus at the “Christmas Unwrapped” event and to provide them with information on follow up. If you are interested, please pick up a Response Team Application Form in the foyer, fill it in and return it to Pastor Simon. Then, make sure to attend the Response Team Training on Thursday 28th of November at 7.30pm at our Central Campus.
Building Project Update
Our building project is moving forward, if somewhat slowly! Estimates are coming through, but they are only approximative since there are still a number of unknown factors (from finish to foundations) that are currently being investigated. Our architect has advised us to put in a final project application with the Council that will set in stone the proposed designs and enable us to make decisions on the finer details. Once that process is complete, we will be able to acquire much more detailed estimates from prospective builders and approach a lender with a final quote.
In the meantime, let me thank you all for your generous giving toward the building project through the “Widow offering” scheme. If you haven’t considered giving towards it, please pick up a “Widow offering” card in the foyer and set up a separate standing order marked “Building Fund”. If you qualify for gift-aid, please include your gift-aid number in the description.
For more info, please see Valentina.
Guest speaker – Janine Stellatos
On Sunday 17th of November at 10.30am (Central Campus) we are going to be visited by Janine Stellatos – director of Metro World Child Kenya. Janine and her team reach out to almost 100.000 children every week with the good news of Jesus and with essential aid, as well as running distance-adoption programs for hundreds of them. All this with a very small team! Upon her visit, Janine will catch us up on the latest news and challenge our faith to action. Put this date in your diary and don’t miss out!
RISE prayer night
The next RISE prayer night will be on Thursday 21st of November at 7.30pm at Re:Ignite Church (underground floor of The Exchange building in front of Town Hall - 71-73 King William St, Blackburn BB1 7DT). Special guest for the night will be Sheila Fielding of Christians Against Poverty (Blackburn), who will share on the work of CAP in the area and present ways in which local Christians can support it.
Pastor Simon’s new day off
From this month of November, Pastor Simon and Valentina’s day off will be Monday instead of Tuesday. On that day, please contact one of the leaders – unless urgent.
Dates for diary:
Regional Retreat – Pastor Simon and Valentina will be away for a Regional Retreat on Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th of November
Shadsworth Outreach – Saturday 16th of November at 10.30am at our Shadsworth Campus. For more info, see Trevor
Dorcas Project – Thursday 7th and 21st at 2pm. For more info, see Val