From the Pastor…
As we approach the summer time, we come up to the period of holidays and time off. I thought I’d take a break from more devotional Pastoral letters, and suggest a few summer reading suggestions that I think you’ll find useful for your faith or just interesting. If you enjoy reading, you have likely found that it will entertain you and broaden your understanding of people, their experiences, and our world at large. I think the same can be said of our faith. I’ll recommend some of my favourites in Christian literature and otherwise that I’ve read over the last year and others.
How to Pray by Pete Grieg: This is an excellent book that will stretch you and challenge you to pray. It’s not a boring textbook or a theological treatise on prayer, but a practical guide on how to actually pray. You’ll read a chapter and then want to try a new way of praying.
Disappearing Church by Mark Sayers: A smart and well-explored dive into why the Western-church is declining. A short book, but a lot to get your head around.
Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis: Lewis has been one of the more influential writers on my life. This, his spiritual autobiography, is an encouraging retelling of how God courted Lewis over years and brought him to faith.
A Pilgrimage to Eternity by Timothy Egan: Tim Egan, a skeptical catholic-raised New York Times Journalist, decides to go on pilgrimage to pray for a sister-in-law with cancer. He walks from Canterbury to Rome and details his journey, and talks about his own struggles to believe in Christianity. It’s a poignant and beautiful journey.
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell: Written after Gladwell reconnects with the faith of his youth, he tells stories from various sectors of society and how being the underdog can help to generate creativity. Key when thinking about the church in the North-east!
The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places by Neil Oliver: Rediscover a sense of wonder about the isles we call home. It’s been useful as international travel isn’t allowed, to be reminded that we live in a spectacular place.
A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity by Nick Page. Page presents a funny and sometimes tongue-in-cheek account of the Church’s history, but as a Christian himself. Funny and informative.
Lila by Marilynne Robinson: Robinson is an acclaimed Christian author that appeals across belief. She writes in an appealing way about a small town and shows people interacting with faith in early 20th century America.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: Part of the spate of World War II historical fiction, this story of self-sacrifice in the French underground will transport you to that time, and suck you in.
The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver: This one is strange. The characters are not good people. But it’s the story of a dystopian future that is actually possible where the US economy (and global) collapses. It’s the story of a wealthy family becoming penniless and eventually coming together. It is dark, and I can’t condone all the beliefs or language, but it is interesting and hard to put down. It has redemptive value.
Happy Reading! (contact me if you’d like any more suggestions!)
Pastor Vincent Sacco
From the Pastor…
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. [Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV]
I remember when I brought my daughter home from the hospital after she was born. It was only a few days later when I realised how radically my life had changed. Leaving home with Emma meant hiring sitters, life got much more difficult, and all of a sudden there was another little being completely dependent on me. It was a heady experience to realise that this would be a reality with varying levels of dependency and different challenges for at least the next 18 years, and in some ways for the rest of my life. My life took on a new normal, and one that I didn’t love at times, but have grown to.
In a similar way, I think we’re slowly walking into a new normal. Some things will return. But I imagine in some ways life will be changed. Church will probably feel a different place when we return, and maybe only in small ways. But life, when it’s fully normal, will be a new normal.
And it’s now more than ever that we will need each other. We will need to gather together as one church and to care for and encourage one another after what has been an incredibly trying year and more. Which is why I would encourage you to start considering how you’ll return to church life. This will be a slower process for some, particularly if your health is not so good. And we need to be kind and patient with ourselves, because we will be nervous about returning to normal life. So whatever your pace, could I suggest that you start to make a plan and get in the mental framework for returning to gathering?
The reality is that we, the church, need you. And you need us. We all need one another to live out our faith and to follow Jesus. And one of the best ways to regularly connect and to encourage one another is our Sunday gathering.
Some of us will have worries or questions. Some of us will feel uncomfortable about the change and the new normal. Some of us will feel a sense of loss from the past year and the way things were before. If you identify with this and are worried, please get in touch. We would love to help you with this process.
We are in a transition process now, but I believe we need to take initiative to think about how we return to our new normal. The timing may be different for some, but we need to start thinking about this. Especially as society starts to open up and it feels safe to visit family and friends and to go to restaurants etc.
Be kind to yourself as you adjust to the new normal, but also do not live in fear of the change. In the same way that when you have a child, old freedoms and ways of doing things die, but you also gain new joys and responsibilities. Try to see the opportunities and the new joys in this next season. Let us live in faith in Jesus with our day to day lives, and let us not live in fear or worry beyond what is sensible based on the science and the government advice. But let us step into this new season with faith. And ready to walk as Jesus’s people, encouraging one another in our faith and not giving up gathering together (Hebrews 10:24-25).
We miss you guys, and we love you. We hope to see you soon!
Pastor Vincent Sacco