“As iron sharpens iron, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another so one person sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17
I had the privilege this last weekend of leading a group of nearly 70 women from our church on a wonderfully joyful weekend at Willersley Castle. We were encouraged by our speaker, Annwen Stone, to really grow deeper in our intimacy with God. We were reminded of our identity as children of God, chosen, forgiven and adopted. We were challenged to be real with God and one another and consider what things might get in the way of our living fully in our identity in God and then encouraged to share and pray with one another that we would be more able to live out our true identity in Christ.
It was a joy to spend time with women from our church, to have a longer time to share each other’s stories, to encourage one another, to have fun together and to pray for one another. This reminded me of the importance of community in developing our faith. Of course it is important that we each learn to nurture our own individual faith but there is huge significance in mutual encouragement. Sharing the joys alongside the difficult times together with one another as family, being vulnerable and real with each other as we seek to find God’s pathway through a situation, supporting each other and being supported in our turn are all ways that God uses community to challenge and encourage us and to deepen our intimacy with Him. Iron really does sharpen iron!
Of course it might be easier to do this on a special weekend away in a beautiful setting, but how do we continue to live in community in the reality of everyday life?
We are approaching the period of Lent … the time in the church’s calendar when we prepare for Easter. During this time, many of us can choose to reflect on our relationship with God. Some of us might choose to fast (or give up) something in order to help us be more aware of focusing on God. Others might choose to take up a new initiative to help their spiritual life.
Many of us have, since Advent, been reading through Luke’s Gospel together as a church community. Can I encourage us, as we continue that throughout Lent, to take time to pray through these readings especially when we get to the Passion Narrative, those chapters which lead up to the Crucifixion of Christ? Can I encourage us to do this not only as individuals but also as a community? Some of us will already be part of smaller communities which already do this in LifeGroups, prayer triplets or other accountability groups. If you are not yet part of one of these groups can I encourage you to use the period of Lent to perhaps try one of these groups out. All information for our existing LifeGroups can be found on the board in the link corridor or on our All Saints’ church website http://allsaintsmarple.co.uk/new-here/life-groups/
As we continue to read Luke’s Gospel together and pray, can I encourage us to do that in community as well as individually? You might like to try joining a group, you might like to do this together as a family, you might like to meet informally with some friends who are also not yet part of a group (you never know what will evolve!). You might like to start a prayer journal … look specifically to see if God teaches you something about learning about Him and growing in relationship with Him in community. Lent is a good time to develop some healthy spiritual practices that will hopefully continue way beyond Easter!
As the writer to the Hebrews says, “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshipping together as some do but spurring each other on.” (Hebrews 10:24, The Message)
Lesley Currie (Curate)