Helen continues our series on Hope
Over this next season of lockdown we have had to again suspend ‘in-person’ services and prayer times. Therefore, until lockdown lifts, there will be no 9am Sunday service, and no Daily Prayer in Westcliffe Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
However, much of what we are doing continues!
- We are live on Facebook and YouTube on Sundays at 10:45am for worship, prayer, encouragement and teaching. These interactive gatherings are suitable for all ages and we would love you to join us! We also have a Zoom coffee time afterwards for people to catch up with each other.
- You can find a 15 minute daily prayer time streamed live at 9.30am on Mondays and Wednesdays on Facebook and YouTube. They remain available to watch later if you would like to do that. We will also be meeting for prayer on Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Do contact us if you’d like the code to join us for that.
- Our Kairos Communities will continue to stay connected with each other through Zoom and other interactions. They are open to new people joining so do get in touch if you’d like to know more.
- Our Children and Youth groups will continue to meet as they have been doing, encouraging each other and learning how to be disciples of Jesus.
There are also things planned for November which will continue to happen and we would love you to join us for!
- Alpha Online – hosted by members of Kairos, starting Thursday 5th November at 7pm.
- Tearfund Big Quiz – Saturday 14th November, hosted by Kindle community.
Westcliffe Hall is open only for essential service users and Resurrection Bikes have updated their lockdown opening times.
We appreciate that this is a challenging time and we want to make ourselves available to help. If there is anything we can do (e.g. pop to the shops for you, pick up a prescription, or just be available to chat + pray over the phone), then please just get in touch. We can’t promise we’ll be able to help in every situation, but we do promise to do our best. You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling us on 07387 907551; the phone will be checked regularly on weekdays.
Kairos Network Church has an active presence on social media. Our Facebook and Instagram pages are the best ways to keep up with what is going on.
“Though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.”
God bless you!
Over the summer we are going to continue to gather together and connect in various different ways.
Sunday 19th July: Central Gathering Live on Facebook, 10.45am
Sunday 26th July: Community Sunday – gathering in our Kairos communities or with friends to worship, pray and have fun whether online or in person.
Thursday 30th – Monday 3rd August: We encourage you to join in with New Wine Breaks Out!
Sunday 16th August: Summer Gathering Live on Facebook, 10.45am
Sunday 30th August: Summer Gathering Live on Facebook, 10.45am
We also hope to restart a Covid-19 friendly 9am Communion service mid-August in Westcliffe Hall, more details coming soon!
We have been exploring how we can use the Rhythms of GRACE to continue to share with everyone around us the good news that Jesus loves them and wants to be part of their life. This week we are going to explore our third rhythm: Asking Questions and Telling Stories.
Recently a number of organisations have noticed that people are more open to the christian faith than perhaps we had previously thought. The Bible Society recently discovered that there are many people who are interested in finding out more about the bible. Tearfund discovered that in the first few weeks of lockdown many people were becoming interested in prayer.
As we practice Generous Blessing with those around us and Receive and Release God’s Spirit – praying for and with our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues – we will find that some are particularly interested in the way we live and want to know more. We will discover that there are people of peace around us in whom God is already working, drawing them closer to him.
Asking Questions and Telling Stories means making use of empathy and curiosity to build strong relationships with people. It is about being genuinely interested in people’s lives, wanting to learn from other opinions and undertand other people’s points of view. It means not rushing to tell people what we think about everything but taking time to build strong friendships.
It also means looking out for and confidently making the most of opportunities to share the spiritual side of our lives with the people in our lives. If Jesus is good news to you and makes an impact in your life then it is totally natural to share that with others.
1 Peter 3:15 says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” We’re not always great at simply describing our relationship with God to others. Recently we have been learning how to tell our own stories in 6 words – explaining the difference God has made in our life. This is a great thing to practice so that you are ready to share why you follow Jesus when an opportunity arrises. (If you want to learn more about that watch the video Neil made recently).
Sometimes a person of peace may not want to hear your whole story but would like to know part of it. Being able to identify and share the difference God makes in your life right now – answers to prayer, peace in the middle of difficulty, a desire for justice and goodness – means you can share these things with others at the right time. One way to be ready for this is keep an ongoing list of ways God is making a difference in your life in a diary or journal.
We are finding ourselves in a new stage of lockdown. You may well have the opportunity to spend time with people who you have not seen for a while or with new people you have got to know over the last few weeks. As you connect with people make space to ask some questions – How are you? What has lockdown been like for you? What have you been thinking about? Really listen and pay attention to the answers people give you. If you don’t feel that you have many of these opportunities why not ask God to help you and lead you to some people who are already looking for him.
One of the best ways communities can practice this rhythm is by making space for people to ask questions and explore faith together. Could your community run Alpha online, the Story of God or create another opportunity for friends to join you and discover more about God?
How are you practicing this rhythm in lockdown? We’d love to know!
Helen shares a message of Hope – True Hope, Living Hope!
Join us every Sunday at 10:45am on Facebook.
“One generation will tell your works to another.” Psalm 145
We are continuing to look at our third Rhythm of GRACE – Asking questions and telling stories. John McGinley, who came up with the idea of a rhythm of grace (great book here) describes this rhythm as recovering “the art of a loving conversation”. We do seem to have found ourselves in a world where there are many voices, emails, text messages that are issuing instructions: what to do, what to buy, how to live. There are far fewer that invite us into a conversation. I don’t know about you, but I find I am far more drawn to questions and stories than I am to instructions.
Asking questions and telling stories is about learning to use empathy and curiosity to have loving conversations with one another and with those around us; as we build these kind of conversations we will find we develop close friends and we will see those friends drawn to Jesus. A few weeks back I encouraged you to find ways to immerse yourself in God’s story. As we continue to do that, and also look to make good use of questions and stories in all our relationships, we will find that our ability to share God’s love with those around us will increase.
Let’s think for a moment about asking questions. How do we learn to practice loving curiosity? For a while our approach to discipleship has been based on questions. We ask one another “What is God saying and what am I going to do about it?” When we gather round the bible lots of us use the Discovery Bible Study Questions to increase the impact of God’s story on our lives. When we think about our own growth, or walking on a journey with people of peace we ask “What next Lord?” We know a bit about how to ask questions to develop disciples.
Practicing this rhythm starts with taking that same approach into all of our relationships and thinking of good questions that might open up conversation and friendship. It also means not asking a question and then rushing on to give an answer, but taking the time to listen, to pay attention to people, to learn what they are really saying.
A great way to take a next step with this rhythm is to start asking God questions about people in your life. Did you start praying for five people during Thy Kingdom Come? Why don’t you continue to pray for them and ask God:
“What do you love about this person?”
“What are you wanting to do in this person’s life?”
“How can I serve this person Lord?”
One of the things that I love to do in these weeks after Easter is read again the stories of the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples. In Luke 24 and John 20 and 21 we get to look in on conversations between Jesus, groups of his followers and individual friends after the resurrection.
Before Easter we had started thinking about our rhythm of Receiving and Releasing God’s presence (I’ll write a bit more on that again next week). As I’ve read the resurrection stories this year I’ve noticed four ways in which Jesus enables his friends to receive and release the news of his resurrection.
Surprise – the stories often have an element of shock, a sudden realisation. Mary doesn’t recognise Jesus at first. Thomas won’t accept he’s alive, the disciples on the road to Emmaus don’t realise Jesus is with them until just before he’s gone. This is quite normal – imagine the shock of realising Jesus is really with you after you had witnessed him die. This is shocking news!
Intimacy – Risen Jesus invites people close. Often there is touch involved, often he shares a meal. This isn’t a distant experience but an up-close intimate one. As he comes close with his friends Jesus does some deep work with them, helping them experience forgiveness, challenging them about their unbelief.
Belief – There comes a moment when we’re told these disciples believe. They accept Jesus is alive. Thomas, for example, declares – “My Lord and my God.”
Commission – Jesus gives these friends jobs to do. Mary is sent off to the others, Peter is called to “feed my sheep”, all the disciples are commissioned to go into all the world. I
imagine though these followers are still dazed and struggling to make sense of things; even so, Jesus hands out tasks and helps them become participants and leaders.
As we’ve been praying about growth and provision together I’ve found myself thinking about these four themes. I think God wants to work in us in these ways too.
Over the next 40 days between Easter and Pentecost we are going to be praying together for growth and provision for our Church. These are both areas where as a church, we want to see breakthrough.
The stories of Easter, Ascension and Pentecost remind us again and again that God brings breakthrough and does so through people like us. So I’d like to invite you to join in and pray for growth and provision every day. You can do this in your home, with communities and at our gatherings. Pray in whatever way you feel led, one of the simplest ways would be to say the two prayers below each day. As the 40 days go on I’m excited to see what God does in us and through us to answer these prayers.
Prayer for Growth
Father, you have called our church and communities to be places where people are being discipled, faith is growing and lives are being transformed. Give us greater increase and breakthrough every day, so that disciples are growing and multiplying. Amen.
‘Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ Matthew 13:8
Prayer for Provision
Lord, give us vision, strategy, strength and finance to do the work you’ve called us to. We are a family of joyful workers, and your harvest is huge! We won’t shrink back but trust you to give us all we need. Amen.
‘May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.’ Hebrews 13:21
It’s been great to talk with some of you about your experiences of blessing others. I’ve enjoyed hearing stories of encouraging texts, answers to prayer and blessing adventures.
One thing that a few people have said to me is that the simple discipline of blessing is actually quite hard. It’s tricky to remember to pray for someone each day. It’s sometimes tough to respond generously to people. It’s hard when we do something we think will be a blessing and it is not received as such by others. It can be challenging to keep practising generosity when we’re not sure about our own resources. To keep doing these things we will need to draw on God’s generosity.
All this moves us nicely onto our second Rhythm: Receive and Release. We want to be people who receive God’s presence in our everyday lives and who are able to share it with others. Jesus called his disciples to come to him and rest, and he sent them to go into all the world. If we want to be a blessing to others, we will need to learn how to let God bless us.
This second rhythm encourages us to make space in our lives to worship, pray and draw near to God. And it encourages us to share the things that God is saying and doing with others.
As we start to think about this rhythm consider this: Which things most help you encounter God in your day-to-day life? Is it prayer in the morning, reading your bible, worshiping with others? At the start of Lent how can you make sure you have space to receive from God each day and week? And how can you release what he is giving you to others?