Saturday, February 29, 2020

Thoughts on our response to coronavirus

This week we heard news of the first British death from coronavirus. I know that many will be wondering how to react to the virus outbreak, so I thought I'd write some thoughts to give my perspective. 

Be Informed
There is so much misinformation at a time like this, with rumours spreading like wildfire and confusion over what the facts actually are. For answers to some of the basic questions about the virus I found this article from the Guardian's science correspondent really helpful. There are also regularly updated pages from the Government and the NHS which I'd recommend consulting if you want to know the latest official advice. 

Be Prayerful
It's easy in a moment like this to feel powerless, to take our eyes off Jesus and to have them fixed on the impact of the virus. Let us turn our anxiety and uncertainty into prayer. 
  • Pray for the healthcare professionals, government officials, event organisers and others who are having to make incredibly difficult difficult decisions. Pray for God's wisdom for them, even if they don't know him.
  • Pray for the spread of the virus to be halted, for healing for those who are sick, for protection for those caring for those who are infected and for comfort for those who have lost loved ones.
  • Pray for success for the scientist looking to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
  • Pray that around the world the church will be at the forefront of caring for those impacted by the virus, and that church leaders will have wisdom as they lead through this.
  • Pray for God to somehow use the virus, which is a symptom of our fallen world, to bring good into the world. 

Be Sensible
There is a line to be walked between under reacting and pretending that the virus isn't happening, and over reacting and allowing it to control our lives. Unless the Government advice changes we will continue to do everything we do as a church including our Sunday gatherings, small groups, youth events and social justice ministries. We’ll be investing in extra hand sanitiser over the coming week, and we'll leave it up to you whether you prefer to hug, shake hands, fist bump or have no physical contact with others when you greet them. We do have a team who meet regularly to review what we are doing, and will react appropriately and communicate widely if there are any changes to what we are doing. 

Be Inspired
This may sound a bit weird, but as we've been focussing in Lent on revival I've been praying that we'd see the good news of the gospel spread in the same viral way that the virus has been spreading. It's interesting how even with all our scientific knowledge and the ability to isolate groups and quarantine individuals the virus has spread so far and wide in such a short space of time. While I pray for the evil of the virus to be contained, I pray for the message of Jesus to become so infectious that nobody can stop it spreading through every nation and people group on earth.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions then please ask.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Radio 4 Sunday Service - 22nd March

On Sunday 22nd March we're going to be hosting the BBC Radio 4 Sunday service, which will be broadcast live from the Kerith Centre at our Bracknell site. We hosted this last year and got very positive feedback so we thought it would be a good thing to do again.

We need a whole load of people to come and be our congregation! The service is broadcast from 8.10-8.50am but we'll all need to be there by 7.30am. We'll serve croissants, tea and coffee for everyone who makes it. We'd encourage you to then stay for the 9.30am meeting if you can. Last time we did a sign up for people who were able to come but we're not going to do that this time - we're just going to trust that people will come. 

I'm delighted that our speaker is going to be Ruth Valerio. Ruth is a Director of Tearfund and is a theologian and an environmentalist, a social activist and an author. She recently published 'Saying Yes to Life' which is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent book for 2020. I don't know any other Christian who speaks as clearly and biblically on the issue of climate change and what our response should be to it. It will be a privilege to have her with us, giving us a primer on an issue I think many of us struggle to know how to approach from a Christian perspective. 

Ruth will be staying on to speak at our 9.30am and 11.30am meetings in Bracknell, which we'll stream out to our other sites. It's also Mothers Day on the 22nd so we'll reflect that in our meetings too.

Whether you can be there live or not please be praying for this. Over a million people listen to the Sunday service so it's a great opportunity for us to have a voice into the nation. Last time we did it there was a real sense of God's presence with us in the room and I'm praying this time will be no different. Please also be encouraging friends and family in other parts of the country to listen in too. 

Finally to say that we aren't having a 6pm meeting in Bracknell on the 22nd. Historically it's a very small meeting as families gather together, so we're encouraging all who would normally come to the 6pm to come to one of the morning meetings. 


ps. For anyone wanting to get involved in the climate protests from a Christian perspective there is a 24-7 prayer gathering happening in Parliament Square throughout Lent. You can read more on that and other events going on here.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Lent Revival Devotionals

I know that many of us are living with a growing longing for and expectation of revival. For God to come and revive us as individuals, as the church, as a nation and then for that to spread to the nations.

To feed that desire I'm encouraging all of us to engage with a series of Lent devotionals which have been produced by the Wildfires team. Starting from Wednesday 26th February these give a morning and an evening reflection, based on a combination of the psalms and the journals of John Wesley.

They're available to buy for £3 from our sites on Sunday, you can order a copy from Wildfires and there's a free online version. I'll also be basing my prayercast around them for the 40 days of lent. We'll also use our next Kingdom Come night of prayer on the 22nd April to focus on praying for revival. 


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Going Deeper - WTC Taster event

Many of you will know that in September 2019 Kerith entered into partnership with the Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) to host a Thames Valley Hub where people can study part time for everything from a Certificate in Higher Education all the way through to an MA in Kingdom Theology. All of the courses are part time so available to anyone, and involve a mixture of hub evenings which we host on our Bracknell site and two residentials which are up in Telford.

We currently have 16 students in our hub, of which I'm one! I'm doing a two year Graduate Diploma, which is aimed at people who already have a degree in some subject other than theology, and is pitched at final year degree level. I'm absolutely loving the studying, and feel it's having an impact both in my personal relationship with God and in my preaching and leadership of Kerith. The essay writing has been a stretch for me (I've never written an essay in my life) but is proving a great discipline in forcing me to think and read at a much deeper level than I'd ever normally do. From Kerith we've also got two of our site pastors, Heather Pocock and Leon Johnson, along with two people from our deaf community and a number of others studying.

For anyone who thinks they might be interested in studying with WTC we've got a taster evening coming up, starting at 7pm on Wednesday 19th February in the K2 building at our Bracknell site. There will be an opportunity to meet Lucy Peppiatt, the principal of WTC, along with the current students and Karen Dack who leads our hub. You'll hear some sample lectures and have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Coming along doesn't commit you to anything!

If you have any inkling at all that you might be interested in going deeper in your knowledge of God through the scriptures I'd strongly encourage you to come. And if you have friends, either in Kerith or in other churches in the area, who you think might be interested please invite them too. It's free - you can sign up and get all the details here

Hope to see you next Wednesday!