Peggy Boardman tells us about the most recent Encourage event.
Everyone has a back story, an origin tale.
That new guy at the office, the single mum who moved in next door, the woman who just opened your newest local coffee shop: they each have a back story.
I went to see 'Solo' this weekend and we heard how Hans got his name, we saw Hans meet Chewy for the first time (mud and chains are involved) and we got to know Lando a little better (he has a lot of capes). Okay, it's not up there with The Force Awakens, but it's a very entertaining film and touches on key aspects of Hans' character, giving fans much to talk about. ( The question of 'did he draw first?' is revisited which got us talking to a complete stranger on the way out.)
I've got a back story too. I'm in my fifties and have a definite 3 act story line playing out. But I get to chose who I tell that story to, who I share my defining moments with.
One of the places I get to do this is at Redeemer, my local church in Ealing. Whilst it's still true that only my God knows the full story, I can say that I've found honest people with whom I get to reveal the cards held close to my chest, share my tears and disclose my scars.
It's my prayer that you too will find a community in which you can tell your story: the mud, the chains and those capes.
May God's grace be with you.
Ealing is a magnet for the world, with over 170 nationalities represented within its borders. From WWII Polish refugees to millennial Syrians. Each community has made a home here and has added its culture, its recipes, its colour, its recipes, languages, its recipes, its traditions and its recipes to the existing smorgasbord that is London.
The family of Redeemer London reflects some of this smorgasbord - it's one of the things I love most about getting together on Sunday mornings.
This Sunday (20 May) we'll be celebrating this multi-national nature of our church with many sporting their national dress. You'll be most welcome to add to the colour. Meanwhile, here's my personal manifesto for an international church.
"I believe in one international church. I believe in an inter-racial and unbiased church of many nations. I believe in one church of many traditions. I believe in one church not hemmed in by history or by man-made borders. I believe in a God for whom his pallet of skin colours reflects his love of diversity. I believe in God-given racial differences. I believe in one creator God who made all mankind equal. I believe in a church that reflects her maker's love of difference.
"I do not believe in uniformity.
"I believe in the common language of love for one another, for neighbours and for enemies that transcends local dialects. I believe in one sundry collection of priests who are called to serve one God together, saved by one sacrifice once and for all time. I believe in the promise of a resurrected church drawn from all generations to meet her bridegroom. I believe in one eternal wedding feast which features everything from the finest vegetable samosas to the richest steam puddings. I believe in one extravagant Father who has built one massive mansion with many rooms so all his people can come and dwell together.
"I believe in God's - Kingdom - come. "
Last month we celebrated a significant birthday for Pete Cornford, the founding pastor of Redeemer London. We had a party - obviously. We told embarrassing stories - obviously. And we thanked God for Pete - obviously.
This poem seeks to capture a little of Pete and we thought those of you who know him would appreciate it. Those of you who don't know Pete, you're welcome to come along on a Sunday morning to Ealing Town Hall - if you can't see him (he's not that tall), just follow the laughter.
We meet to celebrate Jesus each week, not just on his birthday - obviously.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
It won’t be a surprise, you know what I'm saying?
I - just - love –Ealing, whether working or playing.
I've been on my travels, I've been here, I've been there
I've followed my Jesus, ‘til He led me here.
And now I can't help it, I love every street
and as I turn 50, people ask, 'Pete,
why are you stirred to serve this old city
with Isaac and Josh, with Lois and Nicky?'
'Oh, golly', I say, 'Isn't it clear?
It's the call of Jesus each day that I hear.'
But, hand - on - my – heart, it's a challenge - isn't it?
How do I serve, when I'm five foot six?
Now I love a good quote. I know you don’t judge,
but some people say I love them too much.
I love a great movie, but sit at the rear
so people around me won't notice my tears.
I love a good read, I've got books wall to wall
and I love the Arsenal when they're on the ball.
I was in the Olympics, did I tell you that?
If you look real closely you might see my cap.
I love Redeemer, the believers who gather,
how they will turn up to worship no matter.
I love just how creative some of them are,
the wannabe poets, the guys on guitar.
Now I mustn't embarrass anyone here,
but I love my dear wife, just so that's clear.
I love my three kids in no special order;
as they keep on growing I’ll cheer ever louder.
And each day I go walking, I might even run,
cos by living with passion I might serve the Son.
I - just - love – Ealing. Do I hear an Amen?
Let's stride out together! Redeemer-London!