New Year Letter from the Rector – January 2015

Dear Friends,

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. These words are spoken by Jesus in Matthew 5:14 as part of the Sermon on the Mount and this is to be our Bible verse for 2015.

Our aim at St John is to know Christ and make him known. How are we to do that? The first part of the answer is that we need to stay close to the one true light, Jesus Christ, through speaking to him in prayer and through listening to his Word individually, in church and in home groups. This is how we deepen our relationship with Jesus.

The second part of the answer is to allow the light of Christ to shine through us. This should happen both individually and as a Church family. My prayer for the year is that we become a beacon to our community. Just as people driving into the village from Woolpit, Bury St Edmunds and Norton clearly see St John’s standing on the hill shining as a beacon at night, so people should notice the people of St John’s shining as a light. Jesus says the Christian community should not be hidden, but reflect his light and love.

How can we act as a beacon to Elmswell in 2015? We have recently started supporting the local food bank, based in Stowmarket. This is one way we can be a light and blessing to our community - by showing acts of practical love. However, the greatest gift is to bring people to the true light himself, Jesus Christ. He is the one who promises to fulfil our deepest needs, who enables us to live life to the full, the one who takes the hurt and all that is wrong with the world onto himself as he dies on the cross, the one who brings forgiveness and eternity to us.

This year, I would like us to focus on how we can shine as the light of the world by being hospitable hosts. Please think of ways in which we can invite people to mingle with the Church family. A winter walk is being planned for 8 February. Coffee Break takes place each Monday at 10am at the Rectory. There are regular Ladies’ lunches and Men’s Breakfasts. Beavers are visiting in February as part of their faith badge. There is scope for so much more. Please think who you could invite to simply be with us as we prayerfully endeavour to live out Christ’s command to shine as the light of the world. As people spend time with us, may our loving actions and words make Christ known.

Our morning series from now to April is looking at the opening chapters of Mark’s Gospel. This is a great place to meet Jesus. Why not invite a friend to one of our morning services? As you do so, however, remember that they may feel quite hesitant about entering into an unfamiliar environment. Why not pick them up or meet them outside so they can come in with you. Keep asking: how can we be the most hospitable hosts we can? For example, greet newcomers with a friendly “hello” and a smile. Speak to somebody you haven’t met before after the service. These small acts of hospitality can make all the difference.

At the end of the January, we begin a short series of 4 Sunday evenings called “Curious?” Lisa and I will be providing some hospitality at the Rectory as we discuss the main questions people have about God, the Bible, Jesus, the meaning of life and so on. This is a great opportunity to find out more about Christ and what it means to follow him. Please consider coming along or perhaps accompany a friend who may be interested.

As I close, I would like to thank everybody for their generous support in providing finances for implementing the raised area at the front of church. This not only looks great, but has proved to be a great blessing over the Christmas period. I was particularly pleased that Little Elms were able to sit on nice carpet and to be able to be seen by doting family members at their service last month. We have also raised enough money to improve our audio-visual facilities – so hopefully the projector on a trolley will soon no longer block easy access to the front of church.

As we head into 2015, I wish you a Happy New Year and I look forward to continuing to work with you as partners in the gospel. I pray this year may bring much spiritual fruit for you personally and for us together as the body of Christ.

In Christ,

Sat 10 Jan 2015