Minister’s Letter

A Pastoral Letter from our Minister – Rev. Peter Sharp

FAITH AND PILGRIMAGE

As I begin to write for a congregation which is discussing the possibility of uniting with another local church, my mind turns to something the writer to the Hebrews wrote (Hebrews 12: 1-2):

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

It is a wonderful thing to be thankful for all those role-model people we`ve looked up to in former days. They may have influenced us in Sunday School perhaps, or we`ve simply been affected by the quiet commitment with which they went about their Christian lives. There will be folk whom you have loved and lost awhile whom, this diamond year especially, you remember as being stalwarts of your church. They are, many of them, now part of that `great cloud of witnesses` looking on as we take the next step in faith.

That same biblical writer says, in chapter eleven, that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith carries with it something of a risk, otherwise it would not be faith but certainty. If you read through the whole of Hebrews chapter eleven, about the faithful heroes of the Hebrew story, then you will note that their deeds were genuinely a stepping out in faith. They were trusting to God that they were truly doing God`s bidding, and that God would carry them through. They could have chosen an easier option, stayed put, made excuses; but they were given the strength to do amazing things.

Luke records in the Acts of the Apostles many great deeds of faith by Jesus` apostles and by the infant Church. This book could equally well have been entitled `the Gospel of the Holy Spirit` since none of those deeds were carried out by men and women in their own strength. I like to believe that the Acts of the Apostles is, in a sense, an open-ended volume, being added to down the centuries through the witness of subsequent generations of trustful disciples. The gospel according to John concludes with the words, “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Subsequently it is the Church which seeks to be the arms and legs, eyes and ears of Christ the Risen One.

Let us pray that Hoole United Reformed Church, through the Holy Spirit, can use its anniversary year trustfully in doing something amazing for its Lord and Saviour.

Your friend and minister,

Peter