Welcome to everyone worshiping with us today at St Matt’s. I’m looking forward to getting back “our way” after experiencing a number of different ways whilst away. I love the informality and especially the fellowship we’ve been fostering with our new pattern of Sunday gatherings. I hope everyone is remembering to bring food to share because I love eating it!
Julie and I have had an amazing time in London & Paris and especially with Jack & Gemma in Sheffield. Gemma will be coming home in about three weeks which we’re very much looking forward to but sadly Jack will not be home until about 12 months from now. It was very hard saying goodbye to him last Monday after dinner.
I caught up with a number of former colleagues and friends from The Order of Mission, including Matt & Jo Parkins. We also made some new friends and met so many of the people who have been shaping Gemma's and Jack's discipleship over the last couple of years. They have been in very good hands but it turns out they have been contributing at a very high level themselves and Gemma will be sorely missed. I fear we may not see her for long as she has ministry plans of her own now – but I’ll let her tell you more about that herself when she gets back.
One of the big issues I was confronted by (again) is the one everyone is talking about across the world. The number of refugees/asylum-seekers now is about 60 million. 60 million! That’s more than double our total population in Australia. It is a global disaster unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. I met with a couple of friends from Sicily who are working tirelessly with refugees from Romania and many parts of Africa. I was so glad to hear of the response by many of you recently after one of the services to bring unwanted goods to share with refugees. I met with Kevin and Anne Booth on Friday briefly and Anne is also working weekly with detainees in Darwin. I also met an Iraqi couple in Sheffield who will not be able to return home because of the IS campaign against Christians.
The man my father was visiting (and whom we signed a petition for), who is now on Christmas Island is having his case appeal heard in the next month (we believe).
It is an issue bigger than all of us but it is not bigger than God can handle. How might He use you even further to address this issue? How might He use our church? At the very least, please join me in praying for the hearts of our national leaders to soften in their response and treatment of asylum seekers. Please also pray for men and women to work for positive and Godly change in the countries concerned. Pray against the works of the devil, the enemy of God who wishes to destroy individuals, families and countries.
Meanwhile, let us keep being light and hope in our own families and communities and we share the love of Jesus with our people of peace. God bless, Ian.