The popularity of the AP4L posts was a surprise. The number of hits rocketed during the week of daily posts. Apparently the magazine style ‘a day in the life of the urban pastor’ hit the spot. Someone at church described the blog posts as being like a soap opera! Thanks, no really, thanks! My life now amounts to little more than an extended version of East Enders. But, I thought, why not give people a taste of what’s a more ‘normal’ week. It’s not normal; it’s the week running up to Easter Day. But there are some normal elements.
Yesterday was church; two meetings and an Easter Party. All of this was done having lost an hour’s sleep to British Summer Time (BST). I got up at 6am new time, 5am old time. A few things to tweak on the sermons. The lost hour wasn’t really felt till the evening when I fell asleep in front of the IPL once again!
Morning church was emptier than usual. But it didn’t seem to matter. A quick count registered six families elsewhere; some of holiday and others visiting friends. The posh schools broke up last week. And so not only do those families that pay more for schooling get longer holidays but they also get cheaper holidays because the state schools haven’t broken up; where’s the justice in that! Not everyone had remembered that we’d entered BST and so we delayed the start for 15 minutes! Great kids’ slot on Palm Sunday and a sermon on the same theme from Luke 19. I’ve no idea how it went down but I had a treat preparing it during the week. I’d battled with the passage and just couldn’t work out what Luke was trying to tell us. It was about Jesus, I knew that much. It was about his entry into Jerusalem. It had something to do with Zechariah 9 but I couldn’t nail it. And then it came to me; it’s all about what type of king Jesus is. And then we were away! Met a newcomer who was dissatisfied with his present church experience. He went to a fine local church that have been great friends to us. But there were some relational issues with the leadership and he was now looking around at other options. After hearing about his situation, I told him he needed to fix things up with his church family. We prayed and I hope that he sorts it out. Christians shouldn’t leave a church unless they have to. I’m not at all convinced that he has to. It’s one thing to leave a church that’s a church in name only, but this is a terrific evangelical church.
The Christ Church Kids’ Easter Party took place in the afternoon. I’ve got to say that I think it was the best one we’ve had for ages. There were several reasons for that. Although some of the regular families were away, we had lots of visitors. One of Flora’s friends came, which she found very exciting and they had a great time. None of Rufus’ or Digby’s did even though we’d prayed about it and invited people specifically. Still, good for them to experience those knock backs and realise that they’re part and parcel of the normal Christian life. I thought Simon and Paul did a great job with the talk and the image of Paul in the Easter Bunny outfit is sadly now etched on the memory! Interesting theological point that none of the kids picked up on; Simon reassured the Easter Bunny that Jesus had died for his sins. Simon defended his position by arguing that he’d been referring to Paul not the animal! Loads of people helped out; it was another instance of CCB turning out to make stuff happen. I stayed on for evening church as the family went home.
Evening church filled up, as usual, in the ten minutes after we started! I’ve got used to it now but it used to frustrate the life out of me. Visitors usually come on time. They’ve made special arrangements to be there, they’ve looked it up on the map and they’ve got there in plenty of time only to be greeted by a half empty hall. Heaven knows what they think as they sit there for the first few minutes. By the time I stood up for our ‘thinking about an issue’ slot we were nearing capacity. I introduced our evening church to the Christian calendar event known as Palm Sunday. Most of us haven’t had the routine Christian festivals and dates imbedded on our minds. Our diaries may tell us that it’s Lent but most of us haven’t got a clue what that is. I’m not too fussed about that, as long as people know God and love his word. But every now and again it’s good to help people realise that there’s something to be said for remembering events like Jesus’ entry into his capital city so that we might learn more about him. The sermon was on the Parable of the Minas in Luke 19. I’d done some work on it and spent time trying to work out what it means for us as an evening church to put God’s resources to work whilst Jesus is away. But I suspect that most people left thinking about the destruction of the unfaithful servant. Sometimes it’d be easier to be a liberal because you could just preach happy sermons with none of the bad bits. But there’s a surprising amount about judgment from Jesus’ own lips and we can’t escape that. Both sermons ended with destruction today. It’s there. It’s true. I’ve got to teach it. It magnifies our salvation and it exalts our saviour. And that’s no bad thing!
Lots of useful conversations at the end of church; about launching a new bookstall, about meeting up to read the Bible, about involvement in other ministries, about new leaders for the children’s work. Walked home, in the rain, Rosslyn had taken the car.