Dear Minster and Friends,
Last year the New Yorker magazine made the sweeping statement that ‘the United Kingdom is suffering a gaping leadership vacuum at a time when the nation’s very future is at stake. The current generation of political leaders is the weakest the country has seen in decades.’ (June 30th 2016). This view from the outside was probably overstated, but leadership is very much under scrutiny at present, in politics, sport, the arts, economics, academia and the church. We are all exercising or experiencing some form of leading all the time – but this is often in a swirling and unclear environment of competing influences and expectations. Like untangling the lines of a kite, in a tangled culture it is hard to lead and hard to follow when no-one knows the rules. The more we are called to practise leadership, the more aware we often become of how great the need is for direction and wisdom, and on a personal level, the more dependent we become on the wisdom we need from God, form his word and his Holy Spirit.
On some of the Sundays in the run up to Christmas we will be looking at those leaders who went before Christ, modelling the ministry that was to come. The expectation for an anointed and gifted leader and deliverer, a Messiah, was woven into the plotline of the biblical history and leadership. Last week we looked at the High Priest and King Melchizedek, and this Sunday we will be looking at Moses – one of the most significant leaders ever in world history. He was a flawed figure who nevertheless learned wisdom in the wilderness in order to lead an entire nation from slavery into freedom, in that same wilderness. Recently released, this great nation had no rules, little cohesion and plenty of problems, and yet God put in place Moses and members of his family. The impact of this one man’s life on world history and culture is perhaps only surpassed by Christ, who consciously fulfilled aspects of his leadership that had been lacking.
All this means that as Christians we are not left leaderless. As leaders we will fail and all other human leaders, however inspiring, will necessarily fall short of what we need. But God has given us the leader and the leadership we need in Jesus Christ – he is the Captain of Salvation, Prince of Peace, the Shepherd of the Sheep and a great High Priest and King, but also like Moses, someone who understood that laws ideally are best written on the soft flesh of the heart, and whose leadership is exercised by the Spirit and not by the sword.
This Saturday – our marriage course Love that Lasts, will have its first session on ‘The Art of Communication’ and will run from 10am – 12.30pm at Stampwell farm. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. The suggested cost is £10 and £5 for childcare.
2nd December will be our decorations day – getting ready for an incredibly exciting Christmas season. Please try to remember this date for your diaries! If you have extra conifer branches and dust sheets do let Rachel know. We will be providing sign-up sheets for all sorts of important jobs which we are looking to assign during Christmas.
We ask for your prayers for our Walsall partnership, which will be running a local mission called ‘A New Hope’ and hosting an OCCA mission team in local schools and in the local communities of Beechdale and Blakenall Heath from 22nd – 26th November. It will end with a celebration which I am preaching at on Sunday afternoon and several members of the Minster will be going along to help at some point in the week. Toby Bassford is preaching this weekend and Ollie Bennet, Emily Regan and Tim Norman will also be going up to get involved. This mission is what Ian and Sarah have been working towards for some time and we are longing for it to be a great success.
You can follow along by visiting www.heathlandsmission.org
With much love,