Seeing Light and Being Light
Three items in my national newspaper caught my attention at the end of the year:
The small Jewish synagogue in Bradford was about to close because of the need for urgent major repairs. This would have meant that the handful of worshippers would have had to travel the 12 miles to Leeds. But Zulfi Karim, secretary of the local mosque, led a fund-raising event which raised enough money, with other gifts, to secure the building’s future. Indeed, as you can imagine, it has also strengthened friendship between the Muslim and Jewish communities. When Rudi Leavor, from the synagogue, is away from Bradford, he gives the synagogue key and alarm key to Zulfi Karim.
A small act of trust which makes such a difference to community…
A letter was published under the heading ‘Ministers must stop ignoring growth of food banks’ - signed by Lynn Green, our own General Secretary, along with other Free Church leaders. This letter refers in particular to the Government’s decision to block EU funding for food banks and shelters for the homeless. It reminded readers that churches are at the forefront of delivering food to increasing numbers of people across the UK.
Another example of making a difference…
The work of Easterhouse Baptist Church in Glasgow in setting up a café once a week is described in another article. Tea and coffee are free, as is fruit for children, and cheap but nutritious hot snacks are served. From my own travels this year round the UK, I know that countless numbers of churches are opening up their premises in fresh expressions of hospitality, responding to the needs of those around us.
The impact of these shafts of light cannot be measured...
6 January marks Epiphany in the church calendar. In church history, this festival focuses on ‘manifestation’ of the light of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. The Gospel reading is the journey of the magi (Matt 2: 1-12) – following the star, ready to bring gifts.
In the unfolding of 2014, may we look for the Light in unexpected places, building community and celebrating it! May we have the courage more and more to ‘be the light’ where we are.
“Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love.
(Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
(Ernie has prepared a series of 6 Bible Studies ‘Like Stars in the Universe’ based on our Assembly 2013 theme: ‘Reclaiming Philippians for Today’s Church’. Copies of this are available from the online shop – priced £3. Ernie encourages churches to join a conversation based on the themes of the study – see www.likestars.org.uk throughout this year)