Thought for the Month (April 2014)

Dear Friends,

I am very pleased to be invited to write this Pastoral Letter and to introduce myself as your Interim Moderator. I am Minister of Christ Church Tonbridge and the Local Ecumenical Partnership at Tudeley and Five Oak Green. My role during this period of your interregnum will be to guide you, as a group of churches, through the process of seeking God's will in finding a new minister. However, before that can happen, the Synod Scoping Committee will make a decision about the make-up of the new pastorate and only then can a vacancy be declared. Once that procedure has happened, together with your elders and calling group I will have the privilege of receiving and sharing the name of any interested minister. You are in a fortunate position because you do not need to produce a joint church profile as you have just completed a Local and Ministry Mission Review and therefore your individual profiles are already up to date and ready to share with a candidate.

Once a name and Curriculum Vitae has been sent to me I will share these with the elders and calling group and a decision will be made as to whether they would like to interview the minister. If a meeting is called and it is successful, and it is felt that there is a real possibility that God is indeed calling the person, an invitation will be made for the candidate to preach with a view. This will then give an opportunity for the three church families to hear the minister lead a service. After a few days of prayer and reflection, a joint church meeting will be held where all the members of the new pastorate will be able to vote and issue a call if that is the decision of the fellowships.

I am writing this letter during the season of Lent when our church fellowships are preparing themselves for Easter and remembering the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection.

I wonder how many of us forget things like keys, glasses, birthdays, anniversaries. Sometimes we forget things that are even more important.

The women on that first Easter Day were puzzled to see the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. They had forgotten Jesus' words about his resurrection in Matthew 17: 22-23: "When they came together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him and on the third day he will be raised to life.' And the disciples were filled with grief.

We are often worried, confused and afraid. Have we forgotten, or have we chosen to ignore the words and promises of Jesus?

The women were the first carriers of Jesus' words to others, although the disciples initially considered the women's news to be nonsense.

We are called to share the good news of Easter regardless of whether people respond or not; our job is to tell them and let the Holy Spirit do the convicting. This Easter, let us not forget that Jesus is among the living and not the dead; He is with us always. God rolled away the stone and raised Jesus to life. Angels declared: "He has risen!" Imagine the women's joy! The same Lord invites us to cast our cares on Him so will we allow God to roll away whatever holds us captive at the moment fear, worry, guilt and set us free to enjoy His peace, joy and love.

Celebrate this Easter time and look forward to the future as God guides you forward in the power of His Holy Spirit.

With love in Christ

Rev Jim Thorneycroft

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church