Our Minister

Our minister is Reverend Deborah Kirk.


Deborah's contact details are:

Office Tel.: (01823) 275765,

Home Tel.: (01823) 334854

Email: deborah.m.kirk@googlemail.com

Pentecost

Then afterwards I will pour out my spirit on all people;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.

Joel 2 : 28

This is the familiar reading for the Day of Pentecost. You probably heard it if you were in church or listened to a service last Pentecost Sunday.

We know the verses well. But I wonder what we remember about the context for those verses? Joel the prophet, in the earlier verses, talks vividly about a locust swarm and the devastated land that was left after the swarm had passed through, devouring all in its path; perhaps a real event, or perhaps Joel’s illustration of a society which had been decimated by hunger, and suffering and ruin. ‘Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God?’ he says, and goes on to mention the ruined storehouses, the broken-down granaries, the lack of pasture for the cattle or sheep.

What is to be done? Joel invites the community to respond with a gathering – for everyone to come together, elders, residents of the land, servants, children. He calls them to a time of lament and mourning, of prayer and fasting: ‘pay attention, wake up, be appalled, rend your hearts, not your garments’, he says, ‘and return to the Lord’.

Then Joel gives the people a promise of restoration – firstly God’s provision through grain and wine, and beyond that, God promises dreams and visions of a totally new future. What will emerge will be something completely new—not simply the end of the locust plague, not simply the restoration of the old order, but the prospect of an entirely

new society. And the Spirit of God will be the power behind this new life – God’s Spirit and energy and vision poured out on his people.

The sudden disruption which broke upon our lives last March forced us to stop many of our practices and routines, and that in itself has allowed us to ‘pay attention, be appalled, wake up, and see’. We discovered the value of the things that matter and the worthlessness of so many things that we once considered important. Those things that we tended to accept as ‘just the way things are’ now challenge us to ask why they are that way, how they can be different, and what I can do about it? Our society has rediscovered the strength of community, compassion has been reawakened, and perhaps we are beginning to dream dreams, and re-imagine ways that things might be different.

Christians are not the only people dreaming and envisioning of course, but Christians do so in the context of God’s enabling and inspiring Spirit, in the context of Jesus’ great commandment and the great commission, and in the context of the Kingdom values we profess. If we, as Christian people, can live this moment well, prayerfully preparing, faithfully following, using the Spirit gifts we have been given to be the Body of Christ in our communities, we will be proclaiming the Kingdom of God.

We have reminded ourselves what Church looks like when congregations don’t meet. Many people are concerned about what the Church will look like after all this has passed. What the shape of our local congregations will be in terms of numbers and strength. It is too soon to say. And maybe we shouldn’t be overly pre-occupied with the question. In the words of someone wiser than me: ‘If the people of God are faithful in getting on with the Kingdom things, Christ will shape his Church’.

Deborah

How does your garden grow?

I think I have probably told you before that success with plants is a bit ‘hit and miss’ in the manse garden. I do like gardening, but limited time to spend in it, and very dry soil (due to the very big Cypress fir) means that we can only ever say it looks respectable, rather than spectacular.

Some things do very well – the wild garlic for example positively thrives, and we have to wage a persistent war against its determined takeover bids. Violets I love, but they seed themselves everywhere, and their roots are surprisingly tenacious when they tuck themselves down between the paving slabs. The ‘Hestercombe Daisies’ love the dry sunny aspect at the front, clambering over everything and anything, but they are so exuberant and joyful, I never have the heart to tame them.

Some plants faithfully repay our investment in them – like the apple blossom geraniums, acquired after the passing of a dearly loved friend, and reliably returning year after year, in spite of harsh winters, and harsher pruning. I end up with more and more of them, because cuttings always ‘take’ and quickly become strong and sturdy plants.

But others, we plant carefully one year and never see again – like the amazing ‘purple shield’ which wowed us for just a few weeks last summer and then vanished into thin air. We should have known better, but it was so striking it seemed to be worth the risk.

Is this really all about gardening? No, not really. It’s just an illustration for what we do in the church, as well as what we do in life, tending the tried and tested, being prepared to attempt new things even if they fail, and above all, persevering in hope.

We shall need to do all of those things in the next months as we try to discern what the mission of our churches is going to look like into the future: which things we prune back, and where we encourage and plant more cuttings. Some of the things we will try in good faith may feel risky, and unfamiliar, and some of them may not work out, but that shouldn’t stop us trying.

Just as preparing the soil is vital before planting, so we will need to carefully and prayerfully prepare ourselves for this new season, so that we are ready for opportunities and possibilities.

Some of the gardener’s work is about knowledge, some of it is about sheer graft, and much of it is about hope.

Especially it is about hope. Hope and trust in One who is able to work his miracle of life and love and growth to turn our ‘respectable’ into his ‘spectacular’.

Deborah

A PERSONAL THANK YOU

To all those of our congregation who have been taking on the role of 'telephone contacts' and 'pastoral links' during recent weeks. I know that many of you have been phoning the people on your lists, (and your friends too, of course) regularly checking on them, and this has been so much appreciated, and vitally important for those who are isolated or living on their own.

But, this is a plea too, not to forget those who may seem to be stronger, younger, more independent, more capable - they too may be lonely, or stressed by their circumstances, or finding it a challenge juggling work and children, or supporting elderly parents, and they may really be in need of a chat, or an invitation to a socially distanced walk, or to sit in a friend's garden...

Some may have a little more time than others during these days, and I wonder if this might be something you could continue to remember as we go forward.

In the words of Benjamin Zephaniah - 'People will always need people'

Deborah