Pastoral Letter (June 2019)

from Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

The next couple of months promise to be busy and exciting for our Church Community.  Peach Place will be completed, our Fish Mosaic will be installed, and we will begin to see the opportunities that these give us.

We're also taking part in a couple of national initiatives:

June is Bible month when churches are invited to engage with a single book of the Bible over a calendar month.  Focussing on a single book in this way, allows us to gain a greater sense of the importance of context of the book, it enables us to explore how a book develops and to identify links with different passages and should improve our biblical and theological literacy.  This year we are exploring Paul's letter to the Colossians.

Colossae is mentioned only once in the Bible (Col 1:2).  It was a relatively unimportant city about 100 miles east of Ephesus. It is unlikely that Paul visited the city, although on his journeys through the southern part of Asia, he wouldn't have been far away.  The Church in Colossae was founded in the second half of the 50's CE probably by Epaphras (who is mentioned in chapter 1 v 7).  He could have been converted by Paul in Ephesus and maybe sent to Colossae to start a new church.

Colossae was almost destroyed by an earthquake in 60 or 61 so the letter was almost certainly written before then.  The clue in chapter 4 verse 10: where Paul writes of "My fellow prisoner" hints that the letter was written from prison or house arrest and scholars suggest that it was probably written in the early period of Paul's house arrest in Rome (60-62).

The letter introduces itself as written by Paul, but its style differs from others written by him, this may be explained as the letter is co-written by Timothy who adds his own emphases.

The church at Colossae consisted of both Jews and Gentiles but it seems that some influential people were promoting heretical teaching based on a form of Gnosticism.  Paul and Timothy are keen to refute this heresy and offer the church teaching on Christian doctrine, particularly in relation to the person of Christ.

On the Sundays in June we will explore the letter in these sections:
    Week 1: Chapter 1: 1-23
    Week 2: Chapter 1:24 – 2:15
    Week 3: Chapter 2:16 – 3:17
    Week 4: Chapter 3:18 – 4:18

You will find it helpful to read each weeks passage before Sunday and look at the resources at www.preachweb.org/biblemonth

The beginning of June is also the time for "Thy Kingdom come" - a prayer initiative started by the Anglican Church.  From Ascension Day (30th May) until Pentecost (9th June) we are encouraged to find time to pray each day for God's Spirit to move within the church, so that we might be more attentive to how God is speaking to us and more confident in sharing God's love with others.  We are challenged to pray each day for 5 people that we know, that God's Spirit might be at work in their lives and that they might come to faith.  To help with this, the Methodist Church has produced a book of prayers and reflections for each day and these will be available soon.  As you pray for your five people, be open to how you might share your faith with them, perhaps you could invite them to the celebration of our Fish Mosaic or some other event at our church.

What a lot to look forward to in a very busy month!

With every blessing
Catherine

Next letter