May 2017

May 4, 2017

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

On 23rd April we inducted four new Elders and recognised Bob Sawyer’s fifty years as Deacon & Elder. During the service we shared, once again, in the ‘Statement of the Nature, Faith & Order of the United Reformed Church’. It is a joy to do this because it reminds of our faith, what is distinctive about the URC and what binds us together as members. It is what we are committed to and contains some profound and potentially life changing statements.

Paragraph one reminds us that we, along with the whole Christian church, are Trinitarian believing in ‘one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit’. Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Brethren, Pentecostal and a whole host more are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paragraph two reminds that we are ‘called to a life of faith’ which is a gift and is sustained by Scripture, Worship, and sharing with other Church members. Paragraph three confirms that that God’s word in the Bible is our highest authority for what we believe and do. The logical outworking of that is that we add to it, ignore it or bend it at our peril.

Paragraphs four and five remind us of statements of faith made in previous generations and by those who founded the URC. We give thanks that we are rooted in history and that we work out our faith in this context.

Paragraph seven speaks of unity and diversity. We ‘uphold the rights of personal conviction’ and two ways this is worked are that no minister is required to conduct any form of service with which they in all conscience cannot agree with and any member of General Assembly can register their dissent to any decision taken. Of course this could lead to a free for all and utter chaos so the paragraph declares that the ‘Church shall decide when differences of conviction hurt our unity and peace’. This is a wonderful paragraph and has enabled many of us to stay in the URC when decisions have been taken which we genuinely believe to have contradicted both Scripture and the will of God.

Paragraph eight contains that wonderful phrase ‘In things that affect obedience to God the Church is not subordinate to the state, but must serve the Lord Jesus Christ, its only King and head’. Of course we can’t ignore every law that we do not like but we can and must ignore and work to overturn laws which we believe prevent us serving God. Maybe the day that we will have to do this will come sooner than we think and we must be ready to do so.

This statement is a delight, it reminds me of why I am still in the URC and what I have, both in common with, and distinctive from all other Christians.