One Day Without Us

www.1daywithoutus.org

On Saturday 17th February there is a day of action across the UK, it is called “One Day Without Us”.  The aim is to draw attention to the positive role played by migrants: in our economy; in our communities; in the NHS; in education; and in all of life (including churches).  There will be some activities in Erdington – more details to follow in the news sheet.

Whether you are able to take part or not, take this opportunity to think about the positive role that migrant workers play and about the kind of welcome that we should be giving. Leviticus 19: 33-4

“33 Don’t mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. 34 Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (CEV).

 

As part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we used this prayer:

“Barrier-breaking God
You embrace all cultures and lands
But keep a special place in your heart
For the stranger, the widow and the orphan.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit
That we may become as you are,
Welcoming all as brothers and sisters,
Your cherished children,
Citizens together in Christ’s kingdom of justice and peace.
Amen.”

Yes, amen!

Blessings all round.

Gerard.

From the Minister

Just for 3 nights in December we gave over much of our church building to be able to welcome 9 guests who would otherwise have been sleeping rough. It was part of the Birmingham Churches Night Shelter.

I think I can say with confidence that all of those involved in whatever capacity found it to be an uplifting, heart-warming and yet challenging experience.

Here are just some of things that touched me.

The deep gratitude from the guests, which was movingly expressed especially on the last day of the project.

The sense of sadness that I felt about our guests having to live like this.

The pure emotional and spiritual power of the traditional Polish Christmas Eve celebration on the Friday evening – the Polish men who were our guests were so moved and enlivened.

The genuine coming together of people across our them-and –us boundaries that we create in this life. To paraphrase St Paul “neither Polish nor British, housed nor homeless; male nor female, church member or non-member” .

The Night Shelter was a good thing. I think we should do it again. The basic thing is about providing a safe warm place to sleep, but there is so much more to it than that: the blessings for all involved just flow and flow.

Listen in your heart to what it says in Isaiah 58:
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
… Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
….then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.

Blessings all round.
Gerard.

We Live in Hope.

“We live in hope.”
These are the words shared at the close of a conversation
between myself and a hard-working and compassionate person
working in the local community.

We live in hope.
Our conversation came on the back of trying to find help for
families and individuals struggling to get by. People we have
referred to our food bank. Families supported by Homestart. The
deep impact of benefit cuts and benefit changes, such as
Universal Credit.

We live in hope.
That very day I had already spent time with two different people
breathing their last breath on this earth. One surrounded by a
loving family, grieving already. The other with no family on hand.

Life sometimes seems so dark and hopeless, but “We live in
hope”…I kept thinking about this phrase: the idea of actually living,
dwelling, abiding in hope. It reminded me of what Paul says in
Colossians chapter 3 about our lives hidden in Christ and in
Romans 8 about our hope in what we cannot see, yet we know to
be good. We can live in hope because we live in Christ and this
will keep us going…no matter how dark things can seem.
Desmond Tutu once said: Hope is being able to see that there is
light despite all the darkness.
Yours, lovingly, in Christ Jesus.
Gerard.

From the Minister – November

A saying of Jesus that I have always found to be immensely helpful
is:
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you
rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and
humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is
easy and my burden is light.”

How wonderful, how true about how it should really be when we
walk with the Son of God. But, we should take note. There is a still
a yoke to carry, ie there is still work to be done.
The danger is that we can reassure ourselves that following Jesus is
like some kind of a holiday, a retreat. Come on a Sunday, get a
warm cosy feeling and have a break from life. Yes, this should be
part of it. This is the Sabbath part, but there is the work bit too.
There is the mission stuff we need to do. We are required to serve.
We are even required to suffer.

Look at Matthew 25:31-46, look at what Jesus says about being hearers
and doers (Matthew 7: 24-29).

So, here is the challenge: you believe in God and follow Jesus and
believe that there will be a time at the cusp of eternal life when we
are called to account? What are you doing to serve? What are you
doing to get deeper into studying His Word? As part of the Body of
Christ we are called to do these things, to play our part? How can
you get more involved in this labour of love with Jesus of Nazareth?

Yours, lovingly, in Christ Jesus.
Gerard.

October 2017

In the space of the 4 hours when our Foodbank was open both at Six Ways and at George Road Baptist Church, a total of 87 adults and 26 children were provided for.

A recent survey has ranked Birmingham as being seen as the least safe (outside London) and the least welcoming city to live in.

For weeks our city streets have been overflowing with rubbish as a result of the dispute between the City Council and refuse collection workers.

Birmingham City Council, with its funding from central government reduced year after year, is desperately short of money and having to sell assets and cut services.

It can feel a bit grim sometimes can’t it?

More than ever, our city needs us. More than ever, Erdington needs us. The need is great and can sometimes feel overwhelming but we should not feel disheartened. Even if we can make what seems, to us, like a little bit of difference it can make a big difference to others and is always better than doing nothing. And we do not act alone, whether through helping/giving/praying for our Foodbank, our Place of Welcome, the Winter Shelter, CAMEO, ESOL, Girls’ Brigade and more besides. With God we can make such a difference. Remember what the Lord says to Paul to reassure him that he should still speak out in Corinth:
“Do not be afraid…I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9).

Our city needs us to speak out and to act, in Jesus’ name, to change lives!

Yours, lovingly, in Christ Jesus.

Gerard