top of page

MINISTER'S LETTERS

LETTER FROM OUR MINISTER ROBERT BARTHRAM


Dear Friends,

In this month of May we have the third great Christian festival, Pentecost, the occasion when we recall the gift of the Holy Spirit to those first disciples and celebrate how that same Holy Spirit can both bring us to Christian faith and help us grow in that faith. We recall how the Spirit came with the sound of a mighty rushing wind, there was power; the Spirit also came with tongues of fire, there was cleansing. The Holy Spirit means our lives can change and this change is described in various ways: how we may receive gifts of the Spirit and how our lives may demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. The greatest gift of the Spirit, we are told, is love and the first part of the fruit of the Spirit is love.

This should hardly be surprising because in John’s Gospel we are told how at the Last Supper Jesus told his disciples, ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another’ (13:34). Just over a month ago we had Easter Sunday preceded by Holy Week that included Maundy Thursday, the word ‘maundy’ being derived from the Latin for ‘command.’ We name a day after this new commandment. This year I was preaching on Maundy Thursday and chose to focus on when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and what that teaches us about how we should serve one another, which we only do when we love one another.

In this month of May, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to keep this new commandment. But some may say it is hardly new for in the Old Testament Law we are told to, ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Lev. 19:18). What is new is that it is a consequence of the love seen in the cross of Christ; it follows on from, ‘as I have loved you.’  So, it is a love not based on ‘feelings of love’ or loving those who are like us or likeable. It is also neither just emotional or transient but a love of the calibre seen in the light of the cross -o quote a hymn, ‘love so amazing, so divine’ (R&S 217v5).

When we do love one another in this way it is also a love that communicates Christ to the world, as seen in Jesus’ next words, ‘By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ If we are a loving community there is a visible demonstration of whom we follow and serve. We can’t do this by a common interest or outlook but only by loving one another after the example of Jesus. To love like our Lord is to do so inclusively, indiscriminately and universally. It was said in the world of the second century, ‘How these Christians love each other.’ People noticed: it was a love that communicates to whom we belong.

If we do live by this new commandment, we also give credibility to what we believe and speak. Years ago, we used to sing a song with the assertion, ‘And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.’ Throughout the ages, including in our three churches there have been many who have proven this to be true. The right loving actions do give us credibility.

 

BIBLE STUDY

 

Over the months of May, June and July we are to hold a series of bible studies. As with our recent Lent Group these will be on Thursday afternoons at 2.30pm at the home of Sonia King. We will meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month so in May on the 9th and 23rd of the month. I have asked for requests of where in the Bible we should be looking at together, but at the time of writing there are still some to ask, so please join us and find out what has been chosen.

Robert

 

At this coming Pentecost, seek the greatest gift of the Spirit and all parts of the fruit of the Spirit. My daughter once pointed out a sermon of mine didn’t have three points but hopefully she would approve of this letter. To love one another is a consequence of the love seen in Jesus: it communicates him to the world and is necessary for our credibility.

With best wishes, Robert

bottom of page