Ros's March greetings
A few weeks ago I went to the hospital where I was given the good news concerning the healing of my voice. On the way back, I stopped off at Annesley Old Church. It was one of those places I'd been intending to check out every time I drove past but had never got round to stopping to explore. I had no idea what to expect, but was attracted by the sign. What I discovered was a ruin of a church. As I wandered around I did some reflecting on God and what He is doing.
On a personal level: There is healing to my voice. This truly is amazing and my response was then and still is today one of praise to God. He really had done more than I had imagined or hoped for. I was happy with the thought of one side of my vocal chords working and making up for the other side not functioning. I can only conclude that He has a purpose for my voice and desires for me to continue with preaching and ministry in general. He doesn't seem to want me to change direction at this point, which is quite humbling.
As I wandered around the church my thoughts turned to Swanwick Baptist Church. The old church at Annesley is a ruin with no roof and parts missing. We, however, may be crumbling, but we are far from a ruin. There is still life in us. I came to the conclusion that the Annesley ruin simply served as a reminder of a former time but now is reduntant and not cared for. But we still serve a purpose for the community we serve, most importantly for God, and for ourselves.
He doesn't seem to have finished with us yet. We are far from reduntant to the purposes of God. We have a responsibility to continue to seek how God wants us to serve him in our generation and in our situation.
After being disappointed that the church was a neglected ruin, the next things I noticed were the snowdrops in the graveyard. There was a swathe of them amongst the gravestones. They formed a splash of hope amongst the deadness of the place. New life and purity could not be held back. This made me consider the splashes of hope, life, colour and beauty for us in Swanwick. Whenever I consider our life as a church I don't get dejected but have hope and that isn't purely because I am generally an optimistic person. We have responsibility to spot the signs of life and growth and nurture them whilst encouraging each other to holiness. There is always hope wherever God is present and involved.
Whilst exploring the ruings, one of the display boards drew my attention to one of the trees beside the doorway into the ruins. It declared that the tree was an evergreen oak from the Mediterranean area. I'd never heard of this tree so had to go and take a more careful look. It couldn't be missed or overlooked in the middle of February as it looked like an oak tree but still had its leaves. What an amazing and unusual tree. God does produce surprises tthat are unexpected and go against the norm. This really excited me that a tree should be in full leaf and prospering in the drabness and difficulties of winter in the East Midlands. This increased my hope for our situation in Swanwick. The Bible talks about trees always being in leaf and producing fruit, providing its roots go down into the stream of life coming from God. This reminds us that we must make sure that this is true of us as a fellowship.
We are entering Lent, the days that lead up to Easter and starting at Ash Wednesday. Traditionally it has been a time for prayer and fasting, when people focus on grace and forgiveness.While it is often seen as a time of giving something up, the purpose of this is not simply self-denial, but of using the time gained by praying. This Lent I'm committing myself to 40 days of prayer for Swanwick Baptist Church, its life, people and mission to the surrounding community. It would be good if others joined me in this quest. If you want to join me in this then have a chat with me or drop me an email.