We said a tearful farewell to Jonathan yesterday as he moves on to pastures new in Wolverhampton. Although he's only been with us for a couple of years, it felt like the end of an era. It's been great to have him, things have happened as a result of his being with us that wouldn't have happened otherwise; we're grateful for his input.
But life goes on. Out with the old, in with the new. In the relentless treadmill of church, we start new teaching programmes next Sunday. As Jonathan himself pointed out yesterday, September is always the start of things - new terms, new seasons and, for him, new adventures in ministry.
It would be wonderful to build a certain calmness into the church's programme. It has a sense of relentlessly marching on, reaching ever higher and further, demanding ever increasing amounts of creativity and resourcefulness. Sometimes I wonder whether it's healthy.
Someone reminded me of Juan Carlos Ortiz last week - in particular his approach to discipleship - and I remember him talking once about his approach to treaching. He'd preach on the same subject for a number of weeks until he was sure that his people had not only got it but also started to live it. Done the right way that would offer lots of time and space for reflection and discussion, teasing out the implications of a word before it needed to be filed away as the next one came along.
I am hoping (sorry) that our series on hope will enable us to slow the pace a little. We will be emphasising certain core truths of our faith and reflecting on how they stimulate good living in God's people. Hopefully (sorry again) there will be a sense of each week building on and unpacking what we discovered in previous weeks, helping us grow in understanding and application of wonderful words from God about our future.
Maybe the same will happen as we look at identity from 1 Peter. There's a danger when doing an expository series on a book that you get caught up in detail and a desire to expound and explain and unpack a vast amount of information. I'm hoping that our focus on what Peter says about who we are, will enable us to spend a few weeks thinking about a few select things, allowing them to soak into us.
I guess in short I'd like us to be marinaded in a selection of truth over the coming weeks so that our lives take on the flavour of it.