Thought for the Month (July 2008)

Dear Friends,

Words, words, words - every day from our radios, televisions, newspapers, books and, perhaps for some of you, the internet, - they flow in a constant torrent over us. Some of these words bring good news, others news of disasters – flood, famine or war. If we want to switch off we might listen to a play on the radio or TV, or read a book to escape.

My wife, Diana, working as she does in our local library, knows only too well the folk who like to lose themselves in a good book. Also the people going off on holiday at this time of year looking for a good read while they relax. In church on Sundays it seems much the same, as over the years millions of words have been both sung and spoken in prayers, hymns and sermons. And can you honestly remember them (even those of us who preach them), and yet words and what they mean are important to all of us.

Among the most important words for Christians, especially Protestants in our tradition, are the words of the Bible, for we believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit, God has spoken, and speaks still, to the saints today. With this in mind the leadership of the URC nationally have decided to launch Vision4Life as a means of transforming the Church. Firstly is for the Church to be transformed by the Bible itself. The idea is to hear from each other how the Bible sustains the faith, Christian life and witness in our churches today.

In Hawkenbury Church, we will be revisiting some familiar passages and stories from both the Old and New Testaments, along with some perhaps we don’t often read, in order to see what God is saying to us through the scriptures. This event is for all in our churches, whatever age or background, for no one person or group of people has a monopoly on truth or the revelation of scripture.

Every Sunday before services begin, preachers are prayed over that they might be the means of 'breaking open the word'. This is an awesome task, but those who listen and receive the Word have an equal responsibility to listen reverently, to reflect and to respond. How many of us go home and continue the process by reading the passage for ourselves, or sharing it with others?

In Romans ch. 12, Paul says we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God, being dedicated to His service, and by doing that which is holy and pleasing to Him. This, then, is the true worship that God desires. Paul goes on to say, Do not conform yourselves to the standards of the world around you, but rather be transformed by God, for then you will be able to know the will of God and do it.

So, friends, when the clamour of life breaks over us, and the torrent of bad news threatens to engulf us, remember we can stand firm because we have a foundation that is sure, even Jesus Christ our Lord.

I finish with the words I usually pray before I speak in church, from Psalm 19 –
May the words of my mouth (or pen) and the thoughts of all our hearts, be ever acceptable to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
God bless,

Richard C. Blackwell.

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church