I want to give thanks this week for encouragement.
There are so many examples of people joining in with the Holy Spirit in ways that bring so much encouragement.
I shared the front with two of our parishioners during funerals this past week or so, whose lives, words and love were such an encouragement to me.
I am on the Being Church email feed. It is where ‘the left hand reports to the right hand’ what it has been doing pastorally. I rarely respond but I find those little updates so encouraging. The pure volume of activity from you, the people of God, to others… pure encouragement.
The steady, thoughtful and gracious work your Parish Council does encourages me. So much happens behind the scenes in terms of governance, finance, strategy and Spirit-led reflection on what we are doing. I am encouraged by their love for Jesus and hunger to hear his voice for you.
The fuel tank, or perhaps the engine room, of St Philips is prayer. The faithfulness and power of turning up to weekly prayer gatherings; the growth of the monthly Sunday evening gatherings which Kieran has taken on . . . such an encouragement.
Speaking of prayer: Last weekend thirteen youth, four leaders and three cooks/support people took a road trip to Busselton to the beautifully-located SU campsite on Geographe Bay. Before it all happened, two of our mature saints, completely off their own bat, interrupted a holiday to prayer walk the campsite. Meanwhile, others back home were praying specifically for the campers who were away. What scintillating [my Dad’s favourite word!], loving encouragement.
At the camp there was delicious food, lots of relationship-building, fun, conversations, exploring faith and encountering the Holy Spirit. How encouraging.
But check this: Margerie, David and Josh Williams provided the scaffolding of the weekend by buying, preparing, cooking, serving and cleaning up. What a gift! What encouragement!
There was a programme and fun games throughout the weekend that took lots of time, preparation and commitment by staff and volunteers. Thank you. That is deeply encouraging.
The Youth Alpha videos about the Holy Spirit inspiring lives of purpose and meaning led to deep questions and conversations. What an encouragement.
A highlight for Kieran, Dani, Linda and Barb was the privilege to pray with young people and for some young people to have real, deep and personal encounters with God’s Holy Spirit. So encouraging.
Throughout the lead up and over the weekend, there was a deep awareness of the support and excitement of the wider St Philips community about the weekend. Partnership in prayer, finance, passion and just turning up is so encouraging.
Paul says to the tricky Corinthians, Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you [2 Cor 13:11].
Three keys to giving and receiving encouragement:
- Lift up your head and look around you to see what is encouraging. Rejoice!
- Don’t be difficult; sort it out, get with the programme, look to the needs of others. To not do that will only fill your discouragement tank.
- And a promise. When we fix our eyes on what God is doing through his people by his Spirit and get on board, love and peace come as his gift.
Now that is so encouraging.