We have been abroad.
We've been to cities, towns and seasides,
We've visited castles, churches, museums, shops, parks and zoos,
We've walked till our feet were sore and sat on the beach until our skin went pink
We've read lots of books, ate lots of food and got up really late.
And in case you are wondering we did all this in Portugal in the last two weeks. It has been great to do all the above but the blessing of being Christians and Salvationists is that we have had the added joy of that unique thing called fellowship. We met up with old friends but also felt at home in Lisbon Corps with people we had only just met, sharing something more than interests or experiences but having a bond of faith, purpose and hope.
Now we are back home. We won't be doing very much gadding about castles and museums for a while. It's back to work today and it felt good to be back in harness after a lovely break. We have returned home to a different situation than usual, in that the damage caused by the arson attack on our SA hall has been quite substantial. There is a lot of sorting out and cleaning to do. Credit must go to Pete, our CSM for his hard work and for manfully holding the fort whilst we have been away. The Corps are supporting one another during this diffcult time, fellow Christians have been right by our side and the village community have also been very gracious and helpful.
So fellowship and community have really been highlighted for me in recent days, both at home and abroad. Perhaps I have noticed this more because I have just finished reading Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen, a book about solitude and hospitality. He writes "When hostility is converted into hospitality then fearful strangers can become guests revealing to their hosts the promise they are carrying with them, Then, in fact the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial and evaporates in the recognitio of the new found unity."
"It belongs to the core of a Christians spirituality to reach out to strangers and invite them into our lives."
Sunday, 8 August 2010
At approximately 4.30am this morning an arsonist set fire to Pill Corps worship hall causing quite extensive damage. Thankfully there was no-one in the building and no one was hurt. Fire doors prevented the blaze extending into the community hall, kitchen and upstairs area.
We are particularly thankful that this did not happen earlier in the week when the hall was full of children.
At 10.30am the Corps met for worship in good Army style in the open-air, to declare that we will rejoice in the Lord always and that it is business as usual in terms of our determination to lift the name of Jesus high in our community.
There was something quite moving about singing "I believe we shall win if we fight in the strength of the king" and seeing our folk gathering in small groups to pray with one another and to pray for the families of the medics killed in Afghanistan, who are known personally to our local Baptist minister and which puts our property problems into perspective.
We are now going on holiday but judging by the support we have already received from our brothers and sisters in Christ, we know that our folks will "keep calm and carry on!"
Thursday, 5 August 2010
We're all exhausted but yet again we have had a brilliant week doing Pill Churches Together Holiday Club, hosted by the Salvation Army. Approximately 50 children enjoyed 4 mornings of fun filled activity whilst learning about how Jesus is the light of the world. And tonight we had a packed hall for the final celebration as the families came together to see their children get their certificates and prizes.
I'm sure the families will be hoping that the children will soon stop singing "Let your light shine Whoa, Let your light shine Whoa and let Jesus shine through you, but we are praying they will never forget who Jesus is and that he will shine in their hearts forever.