The Minister's Message for October
In the sixteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and his friends are sharing the story of Jesus in the towns of what is now central Turkey. From there, it looks as though they had wanted/ planned to head to the northern coast but that did not work out. The text says “…the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them (to travel there)” (v7). So step by step they travelled east until they came to the port of Troas.
During the (first?) night there, Paul has a dream/vision (v9) of a man from Macedonia (then a Roman province and now in northern Greece) who is recognised by what he wearing and his accent saying “Come over to Macedonia and help us”. The next day, Paul shares the vision with his friends and they decide, more or less immediately, to set off.
There are a couple of things that strike me about this episode in the book of Acts. First of all, the writer says “we” set sail. No working alone but a group working together – that is the church at its best. Second, this is the first time (though see below) we hear of the gospel being shared in Europe so it is an important step in world mission and reminder that we are challenged to share the story of Jesus with every community. It is the third thing – the words of the Macedonian man - however, that has challenged and encouraged me the most.
Who is the man? Is he someone, perhaps a merchant, who lives in Macedonia who on his travels in Asia has heard something of the life of Jesus and wants to know more? If that is the case, then Paul and his friends follow the gospel to Europe. However, there is an alternative view. The person in the dream might be Jesus. When Jesus speaks to Paul on the Damascus road he says, “Why do you persecute me?” (9:4). Might it not be the case that Jesus now stands with the church or potential church in Europe and beckons Paul and his friends? After all, we pray in and through the name of Jesus.
Why does this challenge and encourage me? We are about to re-advertise our vacancy for a lay worker – full details on another page in The Link - and so for the last few weeks I have found myself reaching out to the person who, through God, could fill that role and saying/praying “Come over to Rustington and help us”!
The group acting to fill this vacancy for the church have organised all sorts of publicity but I would ask you to think about groups and individuals who might be interested or know someone who might be interested in applying for the post and share it with them. I would also ask you to pray for every aspect of the process. We will pray together in Sunday services. We are also going to focus our prayers on the morning of Thursday 28th September when the church is (in the normal way) open from 10.00 a.m. to midday for prayer. We invite you to come along at some point that morning if you can but if you are unable to make it we hope you will set some time aside to pray, wherever you are, for the right outcome to the advert/invitation we are offering.
Rev Bob Sneddon