‘My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.'
This is the Message version of 1 John 5 v13-15 (do it check it out in the NIV as well) and sums up why I want to write to you today. With all the fears and anxieties surrounding us I want to assure you that we who believe in Jesus have eternal life and therefore we do not need be afraid. So let us put our hope afresh in the good news of Jesus and share the hope and confidence we have. If you do not have this assurance please do speak to me.
Secondly I want to call us to bold prayer. Most of us will now have more time on our own. Use it to join in the worship and prayers of heaven. Pray for our world, our country, our church and our families and what greater prayer than that the Lord will use this time to draw people to Jesus the one who ‘free[s] those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’ (Hebrews 2:15).
You by now will have heard that the advice is that we all avoid non-essential social and religious clubs, activities and gatherings and so as a church our response is…
To keep the church open for prayer on Saturday as planned from 7am to 3pm for those who need a space to pray for this present crisis. There will be prayer stations which will provide sufficient social distancing to allow us to pray without worry and at times there will be live worship from one of our worship leaders. We will live stream a section of this prayer time on Saturday from 11am to 12pm for everyone to join in at home. You can access this here or on our Facebook page at this time on Saturday.
We have been advised by the Baptist Union to not even encourage people to gather on a Sunday to worship. We have decided therefore to live stream the service (and future services until advised otherwise) via our website and Facebook page (links above). If you feel called to join us as we put on this week’s service (or for future Sundays) then please do let me know. Otherwise do join in at home via a computer or tablet.
We will open up the church on Monday morning (Living Room time) and Tuesday morning (Toddler time) as a ‘control centre’ to offer space and support for those who need a chat, prayer or support.
So apart from these (and we hope Chatterbox and Youth Life Group will meet this week) all other church meetings (including AGM), activities and events will be cancelled.
During this time you will be initially cared for by your Lifegroup or one of the Pastors and you should be receiving a communication from them of how this will happen in the next few days.
In the meantime if you have any questions, concerns or have need of any help or support please do not hesitate to contact me. Or if you know others who need some Pastoral support please either let me know or pass on the "Help" card which can be found on our downloads page. Feel free to print it out and spread widely.
Finally let us love one another at this time and the best way of doing this will be to pick up the phone and try calling a few people to check on them. And do look out for my next vlog on youtube that I hope to be posting tomorrow – previous ones can be found at https://youtu.be/olkQNA24G-k and https://youtu.be/9LhOh3x_hKw
Warmly in Jesus,
Rev Simon Hudson
Wallingford Baptist Church