a reflection from Revd Cathie Aldis-Saunders:
'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.' (Matt. 28:19)
Many of us will have left church last Sunday with these words ringing in our ears. This is known as ‘The Great Commission’; Jesus sending the disciples out with a command. It was not a great idea or even a suggestion that Jesus made that day to his disciples. Nor is it something that we, as Christ’s disciples, can put on the back burner or leave to others! Jesus also told his disciples to ‘GO’, not to wait for the world to come to them. We may not be called to go to the other side of the world as a missionary, but we are commanded to cross the road to our neighbours, friends, family, work colleagues and community. A call to go, not a call to wait for people to come to us. This coming Sunday, the gospel reading is another of Jesus’s commands, ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you … You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last’. So the question for all of us, as we begin this Trinity season, is how are we doing? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus, to follow his commands in our busy, war torn world? St Francis of Assisi said, ‘It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching’. We may be the only bible people read; it is the way that we live our lives, empowered by the Holy Spirit, which speaks to others. It is by loving one another as we are loved by God. God’s love is steadfast, compassionate, merciful and gracious and SO much more. Around the parish we see signs of God at work; ours is the privilege of joining in, of being Christ’s hands and feet. Just before Christmas, Ignite saw its first two baptisms; a day of much rejoicing. In May we had Oscar’s baptism at St Francis Church. Oscar’s family come to MakeLunch; over the last few years we have had nine ‘MakeLunch baptisms’ and three weddings. These are but two examples of God at work across our parish.
Oscar’s great-grandmother, Margaret, was for many years, Church Warden at St Francis. She, along with a faithful group of disciples, prayed that the church would not close, but would once again be the beating heart of the community. God has graciously and lovingly answered their prayers. On 30thSeptember, between 1pm and 5pm, we will be holding a St Francis Hub Launch Barbecue. The new hub will include a Bereavement Support Group, a Community Café (soon to be launched), a Community Garden, MakeLunch and a formalised partnership working with Uprising (a Youth and Community Christian Charity in Ashford). None of this would be possible without amazing volunteers using their God given gifts to serve others – sharing God’s love and being fruitful. This story is replicated in so many of our churches here in Ashford and in our homes and communities too. I remember my chemistry lessons and the use of Litmus Paper, which turned either red or blue as an indicator of whether a liquid was alkaline or acid. Were we to use the self-same Litmus Test on our lives as disciples, what would be the result? The wonderful thing is that we are all a work in progress, called and chosen by God, as were Jesus’s first disciples, and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to go and be fruitful.