Rev John Bentham
John’s Letter For October/November
Dear Friends, are we Inclusive or Exclusive?
A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.
After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, “Excuse me, where are we?”
“This is Heaven, sir,” the man answered.
“Wow! Would you happen to have some water?” the man asked.
“Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.”
The man gestured, and the gate began to open. “Can my friend,” gesturing toward his dog, “come in, too?” the traveller asked. “I’m sorry; sir, but we don’t accept pets.”
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog. After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.
“Excuse me!” he called to the man. “Do you have any water?”
“Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in.” “How about my friend here?” the traveller gestured to the dog. “There should be a bowl by the pump.”
They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, and then he gave some to the dog. When they were
full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.
“What do you call this place?” the traveller asked. “This is Heaven,” he answered.
“Well, that’s confusing,” the traveller said. “The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.”
“Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That’s hell.”
“Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?”
“No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their
best friends behind.”
I get the feeling when we read this story we lean towards in favour of the gentleman that wouldn’t leave his best friend behind – that he would always be thinking of his friends before himself!
So are we a church that is Inclusive or Exclusive? … Do we wish to open our doors to serve the community? … Or are we a Members only church?
Well based on recent events taking into account our Open Day I feel we answer that question pretty well. The call was made to have an Open Day to coincide with The Ride & Stride, which on the outset is struggling in numbers taking part. The call was to combine The Gospel Choir performing at the front of the church which had a Café Style look superbly organised by Verity Shepherd – along with serving Tea’s & Coffee with cakes to support the funds of the Gospel Choir – Extending to a Bric-a-Brac Stall also selling books in aid of LOROS which Sue Holtom & Jenny Wills again organised tremendously well.
The Church Members and members of the choir responded to the day. Many had worked throughout the week – many had provided gifts to sell – donated cakes to be purchased. On the day people came early to set up – Too many to mention! … We had Lee Sowden serving on the cake stall and during the mad rush Janet & Alan Freestone responded helping out in all manner of ways. We had Brian Wills on the Book Stall along with Sue & Jenny splitting themselves in two serving on the Bric-a-Brac and taking the signatures for The Ride & Strider’s welcoming all new people into the church.
Again my apologies if you have not been mentioned in person – there was such a tremendous response from you all and what a successful day was achieved. We raised £166.66 on the Bric-a-Brac Stall along with very generous donations during and after the event. £118.35 on the Cake Stall with generous donations also being given on the day.
A goal was set I believe to have 20 plus new people into the church for the day. With advertising, hard work and Prayer there were over ONE HUNDRED people that came through our doors on the day – Truly Amazing. At the front of the Church Verity and the Gospel Choir were performing to a full church – Very nice to see the church full again – With the church having a certain buzz about it.
Though, true success doesn’t come from numbers or money raised, but the commitment & vision from ourselves as a church to be willing to step out from our normal routine away from our comfort zone and try something new to allow us the opportunity to serve the community around us. It is the enthusiasm for change to be willing to approach our calling from God in a different manner from that which we have traditionally done over the years. Not everything we try will be successful – but the success is in the trying, bringing with it the hope, confidence and more importantly trust in God to guide us along the way.
The success is being Inclusive not only in the church but in our lives.
Thank you to all involved
Your Friend and Minister