September 2021

Dear Friends

You have renounced the old self with its associated practices and become a new person, your minds being renewed into the likeness of
the one who created you. … You need to be made absolutely new, both in heart and mind, putting on a new identity created in the likeness of God, made righteous, holy and true. [Colossians 3:9b-10; Ephesians 4:23-24]

Makeover programmes are all the rage – Changing Rooms, Trinny & Susannah’s What Not to Wear or the many gardening ones such as Ground Force – perhaps because, as a result of Covid restrictions, we have been shut inside our own homes and gardens and love to see the transformations from old to new. It is truly astonishing to see what a difference can be made with a lick of paint, a splash of makeup, a change of outfit or choice of plants, the finished article almost unrecognisable.

But, of course, these programmes are only ‘makeovers’, changing outward appearances, rather than what is hidden deep within. A room can be made to look like something from Buckingham Palace but still be riddled with damp. A person can be made to look beautiful but, in reality, be anything but. A garden can be made to resemble the Garden of Eden but be infested, deep down in weeds. The change is superficial, apparent rather than real.

In the last couple of weeks both Warwick Road and West Orchard URCs have made the very brave and unanimous decision to start talks on creating a new church based on the Baginton Road site. The Warwick Road Church Centre will continue in its wonderful outreach into the community but the very large Sanctuary will be sold, hopefully to a more youthful Christian church with lots of members who will carry on the tradition of worship at that site. The two URC congregations will, with lots of prayer and hard work, merge to create something different. Things will be different but still recognisable but yes, things will change. We don’t always like that and we might even fear that.

But the Bible speaks of a transformation more radical than anything even the most idealistic of us dare contemplate – of making a fresh start, becoming a new church, being born again. This is no mere makeover we are talking about, a tinkering for tinkering’s sake. This will be a new creation.

How might this be possible? Not through all that effort on our part to turn over a new leaf but solely through God’s grace, his Spirit working within us. Over the next few weeks and months let us open our hearts to God, truly seeking his renewing touch, and he will take what we are and shape what we are to become.

Yes, the old will still live on in some ways but the new will triumph as long as we stay close to God, because let’s face it, God has been changing lives and churches across the centuries and goes on doing so today, tomorrow and forever.

God bless,
Yvonne

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