The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Our sister church in Coventry – Good Shepherd – is going through some tough times. They don’t have a pastor at the moment. (I’m their locum or ‘vacancy pastor’.) Their church building has so badly deteriorated – poor roofing and unstoppable water damage – that it is being demolished to ‘save’ the hall which they now use as their church. They are a congregation which has few people living close to the church – many people travel a distance to attend. In the last few years in particular the church has become the target for various folk who break in and make mischief – usually by petty destruction but the vandalism has been increased by regular arson attempts. (I suppose England is usually cold and people want to get warm!) So each time this happens, the congregation does something – signs, more nails and locks and wooden barriers, request for more police – because it is simply dangerous to get up onto the roof as it is dangerous to break in and light fires and also be-cause it is nuisance to be sure – to clean up and placate the neighbours.

This week someone broke into the hall and used lots of paper – Sunday School material mainly to light another fire. The fire brigade came and did their good job. Yes, there’s damage now in the hall – at the part closest to the church – and the other end, where we worship, only had smoke, soot, and dust damage. So these last few days have been work for the church leadership there but their church service will still happen today at 11:00am (those attending are coming earlier with buckets and cleaning gear).

The fire became local news – in the papers and on the internet and Twitter – brief – a few lines – a photo of the fire brigade in action. The news item said that the fire happened in a disused church – scheduled for demolition. Sort of true. But I didn’t like the idea of the site and ‘disused’ going together. So the media are coming back – more photos and lots of talking to some members – and I’m hoping for another article next week along the lines of ‘congregation struggling on’. I’m also hoping that this event will ‘light a fire’ (should I say that?) under the contractors and bureaucracy that is currently holding up the demolition!

God promises to bring good out of all things for his people and I’m happy to hold him to it.

We face the day not sure how it will end. The same with a week, month, or year. Such is also true for a marriage, a friendship, a career, a journey, a life. Things can be very tough. They can be long suffering. When rotten times happen, they can almost overwhelm us. Ok, we might even die. And yet the followers of Jesus follow the One whose grave is empty. He does have the last word about everything. Jesus is with us to help. Ok, it mightn’t seem that way at any given time – especially when miserable things happen. Yet – and this is something that comes with age – the longer we live, the more we can see how God does weave good out of all sorts things and that Jesus didn’t abandon us.

Would you please keep Good Shepherd in your prayers for these coming weeks? (Thanks.) — GS