Well Christmas is over for another year and before you know it were now beginning to think about Lent! In fact, Ash Wednesday is the 10th February and our Easter services are just around the corner! Where does the time go??

As a church we launched our motto verse for 2016 in the new year, taken from Acts chapter 2 verse 46-47. It reads;

‘They broke bread in their homes and ate together, praising God and enjoying the favour of all people and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’.

Throughout January and February our focus has been very much on what it means to be the church in fellowship with each other and what our role is both corporately as the wider church and individually as members of the church.

I am passionate about fellowship, if we look at the early church it is so apparent that the believers had a strong bond, a closeness that goes beyond human friendship. This fellowship grew out of a shared belief in Jesus Christ, a closeness that can only come through a shared experience of the Holy Spirit working and acting in individual lives. It is the Holy Spirit that unites us as the body of Christ – the fellowship of faith. The Holy Spirit sets us apart, shapes us and changes us as we spend more and more time in his presence. And it is the Holy Spirit who equips and enables us to become the body of Christ here. Of course there will be differences and there will be times when we have to sacrifice our own wants in order to allow God’s will to unfold, that is hard but it shows a level of spiritual maturity and a strong fellowship when we are able to move forward together.

One of the other elements I sense within the early church was a sense of togetherness and fun! Fun – it’s so important to laugh and to share fun times together. A recent scientific survey actually proved that laughter contributed to group bonding. That is why throughout 2016 as a church we will be ensuring there is plenty of opportunity to laugh together and why I will continue to use jokes (even though most of them are rubbish!). It all helps to create a relaxed atmosphere where we begin to feel a deeper connection with each other.

Also throughout the year, in keeping with our motto text, there will be plenty of church social activities, whilst I recognise that not everyone can attend all the socials, I do hope that you will be able to attend a good number, again its getting together outside of the church building that helps to create a strong bond between us. It’s also our witness and example that sends a positive message to the wider community. Social events are also a brilliant opportunity to invite friends and family along, people who wouldn’t normally attend church. However, inviting them along to a neutral place, to a fun activity can be all that is needed in order to break down stereotypes about church/Christians that have built up over years! It’s important that others see Christians are normal people who can have fun!!!

So as we head into Lent, traditionally a time when we give something up in order to focus on God, maybe this year, we might think about doing something new, taking up a new challenge which pushes us out of our comfort zone and ensures we focus on God. Why not open out homes to other members of the church family? invite others round for a meal? arrange a trip out? Let’s use Lent to reach out and grow.

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