Dear brothers and sisters,

I am so thrilled by the prospect of seeing you in person on the 31st of October at our ‘Reopening Celebration Sunday’. (It also happens to be Reformation Sunday when we remember and give thanks for the liberating rediscovery of the authentic gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone. I will say more on that next Bulletin.)

This time of lockdown is, as they say, ‘unprecedented’.  But it also has been so unnatural. Unnatural for all people but especially for us as Christians. Being God’s church (literally ‘gathering’) is what God has saved us for, who God has made us now – we’re not just saved as individuals – and who we will be for eternity. Meeting with each other in order to meet with God in his living word, and to encourage and strengthen each other in our trust in Christ is fundamental to our very being and existence.  

We rightly praise God for the extraordinary gift of technology that has made this time so much better than it might have been. But nevertheless, being kept apart as we have is not good. Zoom can never replace the experience of our being with brothers and sisters physically as those who are embodied creatures with all the benefits and blessings that brings.  

And so I want to warmly, eagerly, strongly encourage you to come and be present on the 31st of October to enjoy the rich blessing of being together as God’s people. I can recall the first time I went back to church after the first major UK lockdown in London. Even though we were behind our masks the wide smiles could not be missed! It was such a relief and such a joy to be with each other again. I look forward to the same prospect of happy reunions on the 31st!

In order to make the very most of the occasion we are organising a special morning tea after the 8am service, a BBQ lunch after the 10am and Pizza dinner after the 5pm. If you are able please do stay on after the services: for lunch and dinner bring some celebratory drinks if you are able, a rug to sit on and perhaps some games to play.

It will also be a great opportunity to reach out to brothers and sisters who have found the lockdown especially difficult spiritually and have somewhat drifted away over that time. If there are friends and Discipleship Group members who haven’t been back for a while I want to encourage us to reach out and warmly invite them back for Sunday. And it may be that the novelty of the occasion and the celebration after gives you an opportunity to invite neighbours and friends to come too. Now would be a great time to begin praying and speaking to them.

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Your brother in Christ,
Mickey Mantle