August 2011

“I like bread!” Joshua is only 2½, but he speaks with a clarity to which many children twice his age could only aspire.Not only does he have a clear ringing voice, he has a considered opinion on many issues, and is happy to share his views.As he left crèche this morning, he announced ‘We’re going home now.’ to anyone who was listening . As he realised it was Communion, he declared ‘Ooh, there’s the bread; I like bread.’After joining his parents at the rail, he informed the adults in the queue behind ‘I had some bread.’ just in case there was any doubt.Joshua and his family are one of the many delightful members of All Hallows Church.The 9.30am service has a number of lively and lovely small children, and has become very friendly to young families – a crèche runs throughout the service, we start by looking for the now famous ‘Bispham Bear’, the service words are projected onto a screen, and coupled with ‘Youth Praise’ (5-11) and Pathfinders (11+) provides something for all the family.Our growing little people are an enthusiastic and joyful part of the service.

The 11am and 8am services provide a complete contrast.At the 8am service, we have a quiet but friendly said Communion service in traditional language, whilst at the 11am service a larger congregation celebrate with traditional Church of England worship.In other words, there is something for everyone, whether you love having little ones with you or not.All the services have carefully prepared sermons designed to open the bible, but the 6.30pm service has an even stronger teaching ethos, coupled with bimonthly ‘Songs of Praise’, a monthly Bible & Questions sermon, where the congregation vote for the sermon topic, and some other varied formats.

However, there is no such place as a perfect church, save in heaven.The very fact we are made up of a wide variety of redeemed sinners means that we always have the capacity for getting relationships wrong.I suppose it all depends on the reasons that we go to church.Worship is the obvious first reason, but also to learn more of God from his Word.Fellowship with other Christians is another really important part.Fellowship encourages us to know we are not alone in our struggles against doing the wrong things, helps us to learn other’s solutions and drives us to accommodate other people’s personalities by developing our own.We are a family meeting together to grow together in love and service – like all family meetings, we are sometimes highly entertaining, but that’s not our reason for meeting.

I was an atheist until I was 19 and became a Christian at 19½ (sadly now a long time ago!).One of the very first things I did was join a local church.Even when I did shift work, which meant working 1 in 4 Sundays, I made sure I was there the other Sundays.Often I would have liked to just stay at home and rest, to let inertia take its toll, but I had learnt that it mattered that I was there – and not just to me; whether they admitted it or not, whether they realised it or not, it mattered to the other church members that I was there, and it mattered to me that they were there.Not surprisingly, a wise Christian wrote “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (The Bible, Hebrews 10.25)

St Paul revealed that the church is the very body of Christ, and encourages us to grow from infants to mature Christians, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ . From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (The Bible, Ephesians 4.15-16) from which it is obvious that we all need each other, and we need to meet with each other to play our part.

On September 25th, we are joining with churches across the nation in ‘Back to Church Sunday’.You are always welcome at your local church, but perhaps this would be a good day to make a special effort to overcome the inertia, to re-prioritise the Lord’s day, to be part of the delightful people of Christ at Bispham All Hallows, to play your part, and to grow in love and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.If we are a family meeting together to grow in love and service, we are Christ’s family, and we don’t want to miss out on any of the exciting contributions that you can bring by being you!

Praying that you might celebrate with joy and gladness with us in the Saviour’s presence, becoming a true part of the family that has an eternal future in Christ Jesus the Lord.

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Simon Cox.