Weekly Update - 29th January
Dear sisters and brothers
“The peace of Christ be with you”. This is the way that Francis of Assisi taught his followers to greet everyone they met and I was reminded of it during my few days off last week as I read yet another book about Francis, who is something of a hero of mine. Francis has been described as the only true Christian, and he certainly is the best example I know of what it means to be a true follower of Christ. As I read, however, I was also reminded of the two complimentary sides of Francis: he was a deeply complex man who wrestled with the big questions of life and faith; and he was a man of true simplicity who took God at his word and sought to live simply. Over the weekend I was faced with one such big question when someone asked me whether I thought God was ‘behind’ the pandemic and what I thought God was ‘doing’! I was quick to answer that I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to suggest that I knew the mind of God. It also occurred to me that it might not really matter whether we know the answer to such questions or not: whatever the answer is, we do know the way that God is calling us to live.
Whilst we might not ask such a question in quite so stark a way, I think all of us have at times questioned God and wondered what he is doing. Indeed, many of us have had times in our lives when we have questioned whether God is even there. We have cried out to God and have felt that we have not received an answer. We have had experiences in our lives that have made us question even God’s love for us. During this last year such questions, or others like them, may well have been at the front of our minds and having such questions is not wrong but to be expected. One of the lessons Francis teaches us, however, is that we do not find God by having our questions answered. Rather we begin with a simple trust in the goodness, love and truth of God and seek him for himself. Even then, we might not find the answer to the questions that most trouble us, rather we will find that they do not overwhelm us. We are able to experience the peace of Christ in the midst of life’s complexities and struggles: and when we have the peace of Christ we can live with a simpler trust and faith. Jesus said, “seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). I would encourage you to make this time a time when you do just that.
Having said all that, one way to both seek God and think about the ‘big’ questions is through the Alpha Course which begins on the 8th of February. As I mentioned last week, for those who cannot access it ‘online’ we would be happy to send you written copies of the talks. Please do pray for the course and those who are coming on it. This week the Kirk Session met and I reported to them some of the statistics from last year. We were delighted to note that the congregation has actually grown slightly over the course of the year and we give thanks to God for that and for the new folks who have become part of our church family. And of course we give thanks for the ‘old folks’ as well – for all those who make up the wonderful family that is Stockethill Church. May we continue to love, care and pray for one another, and may the peace of Christ be with us all.
With love from Sarah and myself,
Rev. Ian Aitken
52 Ashgrove Road West
Tel. 01224 686929
Aberdeen: Stockethill Church of Scotland
Scottish Charity Number - SC030587