Some Plans For Good Friday

This Friday (2nd April) is Good Friday, when Christians from around then world remember the crucifixion of Jesus.

On Good Friday last year we held our very first ‘online communion’, and we were joined by Rahul who leads one of the Commission churches in Mumbai, India. Rahul talked about the challenges they were facing in India due to the way Lockdown was imposed and about the work being done to feed people, especially from the rural churches, who were facing starvation.

In response we had the opportunity to give to this, and Welcome Church people contributed £19,000. This was added to money given from some other UK Commission churches and was used to literally save lives during the pandemic.

This year we have a ‘return visit’ from India to bless us

As a church we’ve recently been seeing a lot of people dealing with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. With this in mind, on Good Friday this year we’re being joined by Vinu, who leads the Commission Church family in India.

The plan is for Vinu – hopefully with some others from India too – to pray for those amongst us who are affected in this way. They already have a list of names and have started to pray. As a church let’s gather together on Good Friday, online, and ask for Jesus to pour out his healing power on those who need it.

We will gather from 10am, and all the details are in the picture. Don’t forget you’ll need your own bread and wine/ribena/grape juice/whatever for the communion part of the meeting.

See you on Friday.

Handling Grief

During our Welcome Church preaching series on ‘Sickness, Healing and Death’ (click here for Part 1) we used the final week to address questions people sent in. The topic of grief came up repeatedly.

There were two themes:

First, people trying to be superhuman. The idea that because someone was a Christian and we know they are now with Christ, we shouldn’t feel sad or even grieve at all, we should only be happy for them.

Second, people getting stuck in grief. The challenge of finding a new ‘normal’ after a significant loss … of moving on with life again … of acknowledging the ongoing reality of loss without making an ‘idol’ out of the dead person or the past we once had.

I’m not a grief counsellor, but as a church pastor I believe this:

  1. Suppressing grief (or any emotion) is not a good long term solution. It may help us cope temporarily, but it will come out in the end somehow.
  2. Grief has a God-given purpose. Although we may all experience grief differently, God does intend us all to ‘recover’, which doesn’t mean we no longer feel loss, but that it no longer defines us
  3. For Christians, grief is mixed with hope. “We grieve, but not in the same way as those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4v13)

Grief is a normal human emotion and even Jesus experienced it. The Bible tells us, “there is a time to grieve (Ecclesiastes 3v4). To suppress grief is not helpful for us, and to stay ‘stuck’ is also not helpful; there is a time for grief; a season for it.

Following the series I wanted to post some links to helpful resources you can work through in your own time if you want to. I hope they help, and don’t forget that pastoral support is available if you need it. It’s okay to ask.

Some resources

A summary of ‘What The Bible Says About Grief’ (it’s not long, but it catches the main points well)

A video about ‘How Grief Changes Over Time’ (a theory that resonated with me and I found helpful)

A resource on ‘The Stages Of Grief’ (written by a palliative care nurse and fact checked by a doctor; it’s worth noting that there is some dispute about the idea of grief having ‘stages’)

A resource on ‘Anticipatory Grief’, which can happen when we know a death is approaching (written by a cancer specialist doctor)

Resources ‘about complicated grief’ (which is largely what was meant by people ‘getting stuck’) from Cruse Bereavement Care, who are excellent.

Finally, an excellent article on ‘Why Grief Is Evidence For God’ (written by Sharon Dirckx, who preached at Welcome Church a while ago)

Sickness, Healing and Death

This Sunday at Welcome Church we’re starting a brand new preaching series called, ‘Sickness, Healing and Death’. This might not sound like the most encouraging topic to kick off the new season with, so why do it?

Firstly I would say it should actually be very encouraging since the gospel is good news for all of life, but beyond that there are three main reasons:

1. We have a number of people in the church who are ill right now, some critically

It’s vital we understand what the Bible teaches about sickness, healing and death so we can handle each situation well, respond with faith, and be ready to help one another and pray for one another.

2. We’re in the midst of a health pandemic as a nation

Coronavirus is still with us. From Monday the new ‘rule of 6’ began. Statistically it’s likely that some more of us will catch the virus, and some may become ill or die from it. We’ve been relatively unscathed as a church so far, and I pray it stays that way, but there are no guarantees. Either way, 100% of us WILL die at some point. Death and sickness are a fact of life, so we need to view these issues Biblically.

3. Most importantly: we need to move forward again as a church

We need to come ‘Back To Life’, as I preached on Sunday (click here to listen). Before too long we’ll start some ‘in person’ Sunday meetings. We’re legally allowed to do them (with some Covid restrictions) and it will mean stepping out in faith for some of us; in person meetings will challenge us to overcome fear and apathy. A Biblical view on sickness, healing and death will help us overcome fear, and release us into faith.

Let’s embrace this new season

I believe God has great things ahead for us as a church. As we step up and step out again, let’s do it with our eyes wide open and our hearts encouraged by what the Bible teaches on these hugely relevant issues.