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Message from the Minister

The book Winnie-the-Pooh opens with this charming picture and the following words: Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.”

With his usual brilliance, A A Milne captures what our lives often feel like, as we are pulled along from one situation to another, bump, bump, bump. Like the bear, we know there must be a better way of travelling along life’s staircase, but don’t seem able to pause the bumping long enough to think what it might be. Maybe you’d hoped for a pause after the Christmas busyness only to find yourself being dragged headlong into the New Year.

This is a danger for the church too. Eager as we are to serve the local community and be a good witness for Jesus, we can sometimes become overwhelmed with all the tasks that need doing. With this in mind, it’s necessary to build in times when we can pause to reflect and think. Hence, our desire in 2018 to make space for prayer. Our text for the year comes from Paul’s letter to the Colossians(4 vs 2-3a): Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message.

The image of the opening door emphasises our calling to be those who share the good news about Jesus, but the text carefully anchors this within a devotion to prayer, so that it is our growing relationship with Jesus which provides the guidance and inspiration we need – whether it be for mission or for anything else.
In other words, the bump, bump, bump, of weekly activities and outreach events needs to pause every now and then to allow for some watchful and thankful prayer.

However, for me to simply highlight the importance of prayer is not enough because all this tends to do is generate guilt, since each of us is acutely aware of how far short we fall in this area. Instead, what I’d like to propose is that we commit ourselves to learn, in practical ways, how to grow – together – in prayer. Given that we have so many creative people in the church (as evidenced by our Arts and Crafts display during the Keynsham Winter Festival), it would also make sense to use our creativity as a way of enriching our prayer life. Prayer should be thought-provoking and exciting, given that the One to whom we pray is both of those things.

So, let’s devote ourselves to prayer, let’s expect a few doors to open, and let’s look forward to what God has in store for us in the coming year.

Kevin