Five words can’t do justice to the complexity of a church family such as ours but we hope that these words go some way to give a flavour of the community we seek to be.
AUTHENTIC / ENTHUSIASTIC / FAMILY / LEARNING / HUMBLE
Being real, being honest, being truthful. This a foundational value for us. We are unimpressed by the world of spin that infects us all and we want to be an antidote to this. We hope that our words sound true and our actions back them up. We want our lives to match the content of the Gospel and the character of our God. We want our worship and gatherings to be places of genuine encounter and honest talking. We long to create open and welcoming spaces for people to explore and question and discuss. We want to be people of our word and people others can trust. We don’t want to pretend – to God or to anyone else. We are not special. We are normal people grateful to have a relationship with an amazing God.
Life is hard but we have discovered that there is a greater force and power available to us from God. His invisible presence makes life possible in the hardest of situations and we utterly depend on him. We breathe him in at every opportunity. This is the life of the Spirit – the Holy Spirit – and we are so grateful for his presence in our lives. He is God’s life in us and we need him every day. And he changes everything for us – how we see ourselves, how we see others, how we see our work and how we approach our problems. He gives us an energy for life that we would lack without him. He gives us his comfort in the face of fear and he gives us his power to keep going and press on. He gives us a passion for life, for people, for justice, for holiness, for goodness, for prayer, for worship. He is the source of our life. the word ‘enthusiastic’ comes from the words ‘en’ and ‘theo’ – ‘in God’. This where we get our passion from, and what makes us alive. It comes from living in God and him in us.
In our atomistic and fragmented culture we have discovered a grace for relationship and community. None of us are perfect and we know our failures way better than we do our strengths. But we are committed to one another – or at least we seek to be. Committed to those who we belong to and whom we have a covenant with – our husbands and wives and children and families – but also deeply connected to those who we now call brothers and sisters although from other ‘misters’. We are a family. We eat together, laugh together, cry together, seek the best of each other, carry each other, encourage each other, correct and rebuke each other, stick with each other and bend to each other. This is our greatest joy and our greatest challenge but it is our deepest desire that all of us, all of us, will together call him Father and live as one.
Jesus did not make up the word disciple. They already existed before he arrived on the scene. Every rabbi had them and every craftsman too. We’d call them apprentices. Apprentices are people who work with others, spend time with others, watch and learn from others, in order to become like the master they are following and become competent in the things they can naturally do. This is our primary goal – to be with Jesus – to become like Jesus and to do the things that Jesus did. We are signed up disciples. And the learning will never stop. We are Jesus’ apprentices, learning from him how to be alive, how to be human, how to love, how to forgive, how to share, how to pray, how to bless, how to create, how to work, how to heal. We are being schooled by the master and we love it.
If Jesus is anything, he is first and foremost the most powerful and counter intuitive expression of self-emptying love. He had everything and yet he gave it all up for us. Not only becoming like us, taking on our flesh, inhabiting our troubled world and breathing the same air as us, he travelled to the place of death, embraced darkness and took hold of emptiness. This is utterly amazing and we are committed to embracing this incredible posture. This is hard for us as we are naturally hardwired to seek out personal gain and personal recognition. But with Jesus as our guide we seek to give ourselves away for the sake of others. This is our moto.