So Summer has gone by and we’ve done no camping. Actually we did one night, but that was in the garden and we could still pick up the Wifi from the house, run an electricity cable from the garage, and use the house bathroom. It wasn’t exactly Bear Grylls style survival camping!
It’s been odd not getting all the camping stuff out this year. Usually there has been a Christian festival to prepare for, whether that’s our Christ Central Devoted camp or the Newday youth event. Sadly both were postponed due to Covid and we’ve just heard that Newday won’t be happening in 2021 either. That’s bad news for our young people as they love going to Newday, I mean, why would you not enjoy a week away from home with 7,000 other young people and as many milkshakes and fairground rides as you can take!
However more important than all that, it’s a time to worship and engage with God and take time to listen to Him in a setting outside of usual life. I know many people that God has spoken to powerfully at Summer festivals like these. That’s certainly true for Jodie and I. In one of the early NORTH camps about 15 years ago, we both sensed God speaking to us about staying to serve in Teesside. I know people that have responded to God’s call to move overseas at these events or start churches in a new town or set up projects where they are. Sometimes people have heard God call them to live differently in their workplace or school or to reach out to the neighbours on their street in a new way. Perhaps this is true for you too?
The good news however is that God is not limited to speaking to us over a few days in the Summer! He wants us to be listening to Him all the time. It’s been so encouraging in these last few months to hear people share through various Whatsapp groups, Facebook posts, and on Zoom, what God has been speaking to them about, often through the most ordinary of everyday situations. He loves to speak, encourage, stir and challenge his people!
As elders we believe God has been speaking to us as a church over the last 12 months about the type of things we’re to focus on as we follow Jesus together at Jubilee. It’s all summed up in our new Vision series that we’re currently sharing on Sunday mornings. We’ve been impacted by the promise in the Old Testament book of Isaiah as God says to the people:
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes”. Isaiah 54: 2
Vision is so key, and as Raj reminded us over the Summer, we’re not simply to think of vision as a trendy catchphrase or a set of statements that look pretty on our website. Biblical vision is God’s revelation to us! He brings into the open things that were previously out of sight and speaks of what He wants to do amongst us and through us. When God speaks it’s powerful and stirs us to action! I was reminded of this by a visit from our American friends Don and Lisa Smith a few years ago. On their last trip to Teesside they came to our house for an evening. Some of you will know that our house is a bit of a project and needs lots of updating. I was explaining to Don the various plans we had to remove walls and add spaces and update pretty much everything. It was far from what I was describing and I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. Yet his comment was (in his American Deep South accent), ‘that’s cool, you’ve got vision!’. ‘Yes’, I thought, ‘I have got vision!’ That comment from him gave me a renewed sense of purpose to see it through (we’re still going by the way!).
'Bringing the Joy-News of Jesus to Everyone, Everywhere.'
We really do believe that Jubilee is called to be a community of people that are ‘bringing the joy-news of Jesus to everyone, everywhere’. As we set out what we feel this looks like in the coming years, ask Jesus to speak about how he is calling you to play your part in that. You don’t need to wait for a Summer festival to do that or even be at a physical Sunday gathering (although my prayer is we’ll be able to do this again soon!). He loves to speak to you, whatever your age, background, circumstances, nationality. It’s as if there is a set of wellie boots for each and every one of us, we’ve all got our camping gear, and we’re ready to go on an adventure together with God
As we come out of our Covid restrictions and look into the next season for us as Jubilee, I wanted to take this time to share some news with you regarding our next steps as a church.
This month, we're privileged to have Michael Akotia write a blog for us. Michael along with his wife Mabel and three children (John, Keziah and Grace) are dear friends to us. Michael leads City of Grace Church in Ho, Ghana and serves on the Christ Central Churches International Team.
Have you ever thought that there might actually be a number of similarities between our Christian walk and baking a cake? Gavin explores some of these similarities in this month's Elders letter!
So Sunday saw the finale of series 6 of the BBC drama Line of Duty. If you haven't been watching it or have watched the latest series then you can read on. If you still plan to watch the final installment of series 6, you may want to stop here (although it's not a huge spoiler)!