Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Will they deliver what they promise?

August 2019

Many people would say that they don’t pray.  But you do!  You might not pray to God but ‘pray’ doesn’t necessarily mean asking God for something.  It sounds archaic now, but “I pray thee” was once a common way of saying ‘I beg you’ or ‘please’.  To pray was to make an earnest request of someone. 

You and I have things that we long for – health, contentment, success in life, the appreciation of other people, certainty about the future, and to be loved by someone who matters to us. 

And, unless we are giving up in the depths of despair, we all think that we know who or what is likely to give us these things – wife, husband, parent, child, the government, a house improvement, an exam pass or a new club joined.  These are some of the people or things we ‘pray’ to.  We might not speak any word of prayer to them but we have an expectation that they will provide, we pin our hopes on them, we devote ourselves to them and we will be disappointed if they let us down.  Or, if we think we are self-made, we will be angry at ourselves when we can’t answer our own prayers.

Who you pray to, or look to, reveals what you believe about ultimate reality.

When someone prays to God in the name of Jesus, they are denying that any of the things they long for come ultimately from the government or another person.  They are acknowledging that nothing in this world will be the answer they seek.  They are also denying that they can provide for themselves what they most long for.

To pray like this is to reveal your conviction that the Father of our Lord Jesus is the creator and source of every good thing and ultimately the only one who can answer the prayer, and provide what you long for at the deepest level.

The question to ask is not ‘Do you pray?’ but ‘Who or what are you praying to, and can they deliver what you are hoping for?’ 


Graham Burrows

Monday, 1 July 2019

All welcome?

July 2019

‘You are Welcome’ proclaims our church website. And indeed you are, but that won’t necessarily convince you. It’s easy to imagine that the church is some kind of club and that anyone who doesn’t know the lingo or have the right background or credentials is going to feel out of place.

First let me assure you. If you came to any service in the village church someone would greet you, make sure that you had somewhere to sit and answer any questions you had. Our services are straightforward and we expect that there will always be some present who are ‘just looking’. If you brought children with you they would be very welcome too: one of our Family Support Team is always available to help and to offer an activity for children during part of the service, and there is always a room available for parents with restless children to escape to if they wish. The church has even moved with the times sufficiently to have a toilet and soft paper!

“But,” some may ask, “would I really be welcome? I don’t believe the things you all believe. My marriage was a disaster. I’ve not bothered with church for years. I don’t like singing. I’m not very religious.”

How would Jesus have received you? He was well known as a friend to all kinds of people. Jesus associated freely with those who were shunned by others, but he also had meals with the rich and powerful. He was ready to welcome anyone, but he never left people in any doubt that they had to come on his terms. The well-off were told to stop depending on their wealth. Swindlers realised they had to pay back what they had taken. Adulterers had to change. Strong men stopped sounding off and began to listen to him. 

And Jesus still welcomes people into His church in exactly the same way. His welcome is genuinely and freely extended to all. You are not disqualified by anything you have thought or done because he can deal with all that, and with kindness. But Jesus still insists you must come on his terms. He demands the right to decide what you will or won’t do; he insists on interfering with your beliefs and opinions.


Graham Burrows