Singing a New Song

by Michael N. Jagessar

 

I brought the sun to Allerton United Reformed Church in Liverpool. This was what one of the members said to me on a “glorious sunny” Sunday – a cricketer’s dream. The reality was, like many others who were waiting for the “weather” to turn, I found the “sun” in Liverpool on the Allerton URCmorning of Sunday June 2nd!

“Our mission is to discover God, to help each other grow in the Christian faith and, through our lives, reflect God’s love to all.” This is the mission statement of Allerton URC boldly stated on the church’s webpage! Among the ways this statement is lived out is through an intentional ministry of welcoming children of all ages! In fact, the story is that of a congregation doing good work with children and young people. This morning I met a few who were very confident and conversational in sharing before, during and after the service. And I have learnt that a couple of their young people are actively involved in youth ministry across the synod in various ways!

Allerton URC is a massive a building. There are so many large rooms that a first time visitor will need a map to find their way around. It is ideally located at a corner in a “leafy” neighbourhood. Obliquely across the corner is a Jewish community where the Synagogue was rebuilt and some of the space was turned into DSCN1830 apartments. I am sure that the elders must be having similar thoughts about their massive space and the possibility of rethinking ways to creatively use and redevelop the resources they have been gifted with from the generations gone by. Lest I may give the wrong impression, there are loads of activities happening on the church premises during the week! And, if the building is large, so too is the generosity of those I met!

Like many other congregations of the United Reformed Church, Allerton is at a crucial point in its journey. In the context of a ministerial vacancy, elders and members will need to contemplate the future shape of ministry here – finding creative ways of ‘singing a new song’. From conversations, I have learnt that Elders and members are giving serious consideration to creative re-conversion of their massive worship space and the future shape of ministry at Allerton and within the “pastoralDSCN1835 area”.

On this Sunday, I opted not to follow the lectionary reading and reflected with the congregation on the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus. The reading and reflections opened up some good conversation and reflection points. I noted that among the implications of the encounter we may wish to consider: a)an invitation to be curious about their life together – to rethink assumptions and look to the present and future through the eyes of new possibilities; b) learning and walking the way of God in Christ as an invitation to give our whole selves to the calling and becoming attentive to the movement of God’s Spirit working in and among us; and c)the way of Jesus requires a clean break, a fresh start – a journey of constantly turning away from and towards where God’s Spirit is leading us. DSCN1836To be ‘born anew’ in Christ is an invitation to always consider how our lives may be open and different, following the urgings of the Spirit.

It is my prayer that God in Christ will move us beyond our zones of comfort and the fears of the present and future to participate in God’s exciting vision for us and our communities. When we takeDSCN1832 seriously life outside our buildings and our Sunday morning service and when we creatively rethink the shape and use of our physical resources (buildings for instance), we give our communities an inexpressible gift.

 

May God’s Spirit give us eyes, ears, hearts and minds to discern and follow Christ among those we know and love as well as in the company of strangers – so that our very presence may be our finest offering – one of plenty blessings!

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