Rev. John Collard (our Interim Minister)

Dear Friends,

Fragile – handle with care.

I read something last week which has remained with me. Given my rather poor memory, that’s often a sign of something God wants to say to me! It was this ‘Our task is not to change the church, rather to love the church and allow God to do the changing.’

The author wasn’t referring to the building or the denomination but rather to the people who are committed to following Christ. That’s the primary meaning of ‘church’ in the New Testament. It translates the Greek word ‘ecclesia’ which simply means a gathering or assembly. William Tyndale, the first person to publish an English translation of the New Testament in the 16th century, translated ‘ecclesia’ as ‘congregation’. The church is the gathering of people who through their worship and discipleship make the Kingdom of God visible in the world.

The church then, is us, it’s people. Young and old, rich and poor, conservative and liberal, excited and bored, traditional and radical, energetic and exhausted. Some of us are certain, others are anxious; some have a firm spiritual discipline and others are all over the place. All together we make up the ‘ecclesia’, the gathering of God’s people. This is the church we are called to love.

One thing that is true of all of us, is that we are wounded, fragile people - no matter how confident or otherwise we may appear. When we are criticised, it hurts us. When we are rejected or ignored, we feel it. We often cope with anger by withdrawing and breaking contact with others. Just below the surface, every one of us has our scars.

The disagreements and arguments within this church over recent months and years have only added to that fragility. Most of us, if we were honest enough to admit it, would be carrying a label round our necks that says: FRAGILE, HANDLE WITH CARE!

How then should we deal with each other in our fragility?

With humility, care and love. Deeply felt hurts and fractured relationships are not healed quickly, but, by the grace of God they can be healed. It happens when, instead of pointing the finger at others, we are willing to acknowledge our own failures. When we stop using attack as a form of defence and instead acknowledge our shared woundedness. In other words when we stop trying to change the church and instead love the church and leave the changing to God.

John Collard

Interim Minister