January 2017

Crossing Barriers - Christians Together in Fareham Celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017 '8 til 8'

Christians Together in Fareham are marking the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year by opening each church on successive days from 8.00am to 8.00pm, inviting anyone who wishes to call in to pray. This will include some led prayer by the hosts on the half hour. Fareham United Reformed Church will open the Church from 8 til 8 on Tuesday 24 January 2017 and different members of the congregation will host for an hour at a time, using some of published materials on the theme Crossing Barriers which was prepared for worldwide use in 2017 by the churches in Germany based around the verses 2 Corinthians 5:14-20.

There are fifty million Christians in Germany who, traditionally, have mostly belonged to the Roman Catholic Church or one of the Protestant State Churches. Recent developments, particularly the reception of refugees and asylum seekers, have begun to change this balance and other Christian traditions are finding expression. Whilst that which unites the churches is stronger than that which divides, there are still areas of difference in which the churches remain self-absorbed or construct new walls.

The text from 2 Corinthians announces that God has, in Christ, reconciled the world to himself. The love of Christ compels us to be ambassadors of this reconciliation, which is enacted by dismantling the walls. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany experienced how a seemingly insurmountable wall could be brought down. The fall of this wall is a symbol of hope that, with the love of God, nothing is impossible.

Churches Together in Fareham are hosting the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the following days:

Wednesday 18 January - St John's - http://www.stjohnsfareham.org.uk/
Thursday 19 January - St Peter and St Paul - http://sspeterandpaulfareham.org/
Friday 20 January - Holy Trinity (8.00am to 2.00pm) and St Columba (2.00pm-8.00pm) - http://htscf.org.uk/
Saturday 21 January - New Life Baptist - http://www.farehambaptist.org.uk/
Monday 23 January - Methodist Church (8.00am to 2.00pm) - http://www.farehammethodist.org.uk/
Monday 23 January - Sacred Heart (2.00pm-8.00pm) - http://www.sacred-heart.org.uk/
Tuesday 24 January - Fareham United Reformed Church
Wednesday 25 January - Fareham Community Church - http://www.farehamcommunitychurch.com/

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to the 25th January – the octave of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Tales of the unexpected...looking forward to 2017

As we look back on 2016 and look forward to 2017 we re-learn a lesson: to expect the unexpected!! Few forecast the outcome of the Brexit referendum, fewer still the US Presidential election. Such happenings make one take note of Mark Twain's dictum that the only thing certain in life is death and taxes...

In our personal lives too, the last year may have had many unforeseens - a dip in our health, or that of a loved one, changes at work or in school, accidents to us or our property, a new-born member of our family or new friends made. We may have landed a dream job. We may have seen a friend or relative through the last days of their earthly life. We may have found our attitudes changed with big decisions. And 2017 will be the same, in all those ways and more.

We will meet and be affected by unexpected people. We sometimes discover hidden gems of wisdom and knowledge when we listen to new people's stories. Take the time to listen. Even people we think we know well can change, and we can walk with them while that happens. Offer hospitality, as it is a sacred gift to share. As the writer to the Hebrews says, in opening our homes, and lives to strangers we may 'entertain angels unawares'.

This latter point encourages us to have an ever-open door to the church, always remembering it is God's church, not ours. We are, after all, Christ's ambassadors, grouped in families made up of local church members.

In the midst of change and chance, God is constant to guide. I don't believe he steers us, as remote-controlled cars on a track, but rather sets options before us and assists us to choose the best for us and for His Kingdom's future.

God is always on the lookout for us - are we, for Him? In Colossians Paul says that God came in Jesus, the visible presence of the invisible God, to call us back to God again.

Are we alert 24/7? If we say, as we do, that believers have the gift of eternal life, we should see that not only as having life in Christ, which is wonderful, but also always be looking for Christ in our daily life in the harsh, real, ever-changing world.

On behalf of Fareham United Reformed Church, I wish you all a very happy, Christ-filled New Year.


taken from the January 2017 edition of The Messenger