Great story reported by our man in Lawrence Weston, Alisdair Longwill.
I visited Mare (the minister in training) and Richard Clark at Lawrence Weston today and left encouraged and excited about what they are doing there. I particularly remember two simple stories – about a plant and an invitation.
Richard proudly showed me the manse front garden – the Jubilee garden, no less! It seems that everyone from the church bought a plant and these were planted during a ‘garden party’ earlier this month. The garden is adjacent to a busy pathway en route to the nearby school. Lots of people are now walking by the garden commenting on how ‘lovely’ it is as their children walk across the low garden wall. One lady passed by and said how beautiful the garden was and commented on how much she liked the ‘elephant’s ears’ plant. Richard took note of this, decided to buy her one and gave her the gift the next time she passed by. She was delighted and greeted him with a kiss and a hug and was reminded that some people actually care for their neighbours. It’s not rocket science, it’s very simple, but through an ordinary garden and a friendly disposition a greater sense of community is being created and people’s lives are being blessed in a small way. It reminds me of Jesus words in The Message paraphrase of the Bible, ‘…You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept’ (Matthew 5:14). It made me ask myself – how might I bring out the God-colours in my local community?
Mare told me of when she visited India earlier in the year that God had challenged her in a particular way. This was about having the courage to approach three ladies in Lawrence Weston and to invite them to meet with her at the manse one evening per week to share some stories about Jesus because God has something important to say to them. When she returned from India she approached them individually – and now they meet on Friday evenings to explore spiritual ‘stuff’ together using the questions from Paul Griffith’s resource Table Talk. Mare says that when she approached them ‘they were visibly moved – one cried, they all came and are continuing to turn up on a Friday night’. She says these ladies with different histories are all on a journey that is taking them closer and closer to Jesus. They too are enjoying a sense of community with Jesus at the centre. For Mare, it’s not rocket science – just a simple combination of obedience and availability.