February Newsletter

.facebook_1486122006204Dear friends

I have probably said it a hundred times and will possibly say it a few hundred times more: “I love being a parish minister”.

Perhaps the main reason that I love being a parish minister is that this incredibly privileged position means our focus is already beyond the walls of our church, beyond the care of those in the congregation. This means I am a de facto missionary sharing and proclaiming the reign of God in this place, and on all the earth. By the same token, we are a congregation of missionaries sharing God’s love with the parish entrusted to us.

We do this through sharing our lives with our neighbours. We also do so financially. From time to time I hear people saying, “We ought to support missionaries financially” and as a congregation of the Church of Scotland, we consistently do so.

Each year, as a congregation we contribute to the Mission and Ministry (M & M) Fund of the Church of Scotland, from which money is drawn to pay stipends to ministers not only in Scotland, but throughout the world. In addition to paying stipends and overheads, somewhere in the region of 14% of what congregations contribute to the M & M Fund is used directly for worldwide mission work. Through your contributions, we contribute and are part of the wider work of the church.

To be fair, Liberton Northfield’s contribution to the M & M fund is lower than what we draw from the fund, and so in reality we are being subsidised by other congregations who invest in us as the church’s missionaries to this parish.

Apart from supporting other people in mission, we are missionaries ourselves. As a parish church, we are entrusted with fulfilling the Mission of God to the people in our parish, and the broad Church of Scotland stands with us and give us support and resources to achieve that mission. We are not just here to get people to sign up to go to heaven when they die. We are called by God to help to bring heaven to earth in this life.

As a parish minister, I feel humbled by the opportunity to engage with the breadth of religious belief in the parish. We are a broad church. The majority of funerals I conduct are to families with no fixed connection to Christianity or the church. In the sombreness of a family’s living room, we share the weight of grief together. As a parish minister I am also available to minister and support people of other faiths, without trying to proselytise them.

There are everyday things we can do to share God’s love and make people’s lives a little easier. Every once in a while I get to put my neighbours’ wheelie bin away. It may seem silly, but I want them to see that they are loved by us as ambassadors for God to the world.

What I find beautifully fulfilling about being a parish minister is that I have the opportunity to join in worship with Christians from a very broad range of traditions. We do not exclude folk who have Christian beliefs different to our own personal beliefs. We have space for conservative Christians, but we do not define ourselves as conservative. We have space for liberal Christians, but we do not restrict ourselves to being liberal. We embrace people from Free Church, Baptist, Congregational, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Pentecostal, Charismatic and a range of other Christian traditions, and are richly blessed by that diversity.

As a broad, national church, we have an obligation to foster opportunities for all these voices to be heard and respected. Rather than trying to drown out all the voices that don’t sound like our voice, we are to adjust our voices so that other voices may be heard. Our maturity as a national church is possibly most noticeable in our ability not only to tolerate those with whom we differ, but to deliberately honour and love each other.

Thank you for being a vital part of this amazing church.

Mike

 

Dear Friends

Last night I went to a Presbytery meeting in Edinburgh, and felt like a kid dazzled by all the lights. I love Christmas, the sights, the sounds, the smells. This year for the first time in my life, we will sing carols about snow and sleigh rides and it will actually be cold with the potential for real snow.

Last night I was deeply moved as I listened to a report about the first 50 refugees who have been welcomed to Edinburgh. The report said that about half of those people are children. I can only imagine the horror those poor people have experienced in their search for safety and a chance to live normal lives. We have provided them with homes, medical care and placed them in schools. It is planned that 50 more people will arrive in January.

Last night I was very proud, of you. I felt so honoured that you are my neighbours, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Jesus. I was so proud to live in a city where caring for refugees is not seen as a chore that needs to be accepted, but rather as a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of real people.

Last night as I listened to that report, I heard an echo of Jesus from Matthew 25 where He said that when we feed the hungry and clothe the poor, we are actually feeding and clothing Him. I know that acts of kindness such as these are not without difficulties, and that they come at quite a high price. Our human nature is to ask, “What is in this for us?” Perhaps the cost of this expression of love with no immediate promise of reward is precisely what makes it so fantastic.

This Christmas, may God bless you as you have opened your city to others in the true spirit of Christmas.

Grace and peace.
Mike

FAREWELL MESSAGE TO LIBERTON NORTHFILED PARISH CHURCH

 

Grace to you and peace from God who is, who was and who is to come!

We thank the Holy Triune God whose sustaining presence has brought us this far and for which we must be grateful. Almost two years ago on January 12th 2014, I began my ministry as Locum Minister here in Liberton Northfield Parish Church. In April 15th of the same year, Florence, Larry, Talitha-Zerah and Reuel-Gilead joined me, and on the 9th May 2014, Arielle was born. It is this family of six that you have had amongst you for almost two years and whom you have greatly supported and encouraged.

As we leave you for other assignments and following the appointment of Mike Taylor to full time ministry in the parish, I am aware of the mixed feelings that are in our heart as a family and possibly in the hearts of some parishioners! We have had a great time of ministry among you and so it is difficult for my family and I to say goodbye to you despite the compelling circumstances because of which we must go! I lack appropriate words to thank you for the love, kindness and support you have shown to us during these twenty-one months. Your love, constant love and lavish hospitality toward us has been extraordinary and we wonder how especially our children would cope without the friends and family they have now become so used to at Liberton Northfield Church. Through our shared worship and ministry I have had the privilege to experience God’s love, and the presence of the Risen Saviour in our midst. I have seen the Holy Spirit made manifest as we have prayed and studied the word of God together, Sunday by Sunday and I have been blessed to be able to visit some of you in your homes, baptise a new child, and to conduct funerals of those we have loved. For all these opportunities I thank God who gives us the strength and I thank you all for ministering with me and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am especially grateful to all of you who have visited, sent my family and I notes, cards, gifts in kind and cash-sometimes anonymously and e-mails. Many of you have been thanking God for having us and have affirmed my ministry on many occasions. All these have been of tremendous encouragement to us in this task of proclaiming God’s word in a new and different geo-cultural context. Your expressions of kindness and gestures of love mean more to me than you can ever imagine. Please know that we love you, our family will always love this church and will miss you terribly. Some of you have asked how you might be in touch with us. I can be reached at amosbongadu@gmail.com.

As we now separate, I wish to ask your forgiveness for any mistakes I might have made during my time here at Liberton Church and that may have caused any problems. I will always remain grateful for the ways my ministerial gifts have been acknowledged among you, and will forever carry with me all that I have learned and experienced, all of the love which in the end, is what needs to be remembered most here after.

I think the best way you can honour my brief ministry amongst you is to remain faithful to the revealed word of God through Jesus Christ, to support this parish and the new minister-Mike Taylor. It is my sincere prayer that the Liberton Northfield Parish Church will remain a citadel of God’s dwelling, a beacon of hope for the dispossessed of society and a jewel in the midst of gold. Therefore be strong and of good courage and be the church that is truly alive for ‘…I am confident that the one who began the good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 1:3-6).

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us now and forever more.

Yours in the service of the Kingdom,

Peace,

Rev. Amos Bongadu Chewachong.

02/09/2015

MESSAGE FROM THE MINSTER’S DESK

John 20: 10-18

Why are you crying?

The title of this message ‘why are you crying’, reflects our every day mood especially as we are committed to face all kinds of challenges through life. Some of these challenges may so heart breaking that we want to hide in our little corners and cry! But in the context of John 20:10-18, It is a post-resurrection question, which was first asked by the angels and then by the risen Christ to Mary Magdalene on that first Easter morning at Jesus’s graveside. Mary had come to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus and when she failed to find it, she concluded that some unknown persons might have taken it away and so she burst into tears, crying!

But why was Mary crying? May be because she had observed the brutality with which Jesus had been handled and then crucified, or because she had been denied the opportunity to pay her last respect to the body of Jesus. She wept because she feared that the grave rubbers might have done some sacrilege to the sacred body of Jesus, she wept because she was alone! Above all else, I think Mary wept because she thought she had lost the only man who had ever truly understood and loved her, the Saviour who had delivered her from bondage and given her a new life. She wept because she couldn’t face the future without this Almighty Saviour, the light had gone out of her life and she was in deep darkness of grief and even of despair. But of course, Jesus had not left her as she thought! Jesus had risen, he was there by her very side, and if only she knew who it was then her tears would quickly have been dried.

Now I don’t know why you may be crying even as you read this message, I wonder if some of us may see ourselves in Mary Magdalene! Surely there is a great deal to weep about in this dark world! Think of the massive destruction in terms of property and human live that is going on in parts of the world: The brutal killings of human beings by so called Islamic state fanatics in the Middle East and the boko haram insurgence in West Africa. Think of the recent Xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the drowning of desperate Africans in the Mediterranean travelling to Europe in quest of the golden fleece! Think of natural disasters like the Ebola virus and the recent earthquake in Nepal, the emaciated bodies of people in parts of the world who are suffering from poverty and malnutrition, no doubt we cry!

But some of us may be crying because of our past, our failures, and our sense of shame over what we have been and done, our guilt. And there are biblical suggestions for us to weep over our sense of sin and shame (James 4:9-11). But our grief over sin also touches the heart of our heavenly father and attracts his compassion over us! Charles Spurgeon would have been right when he commented that:

A child’s cry touches a father’s heart, and our King is the father of his people. If we can do no more than cry it will bring omnipotence to our aid. A cry is the native language of a spiritually needy soul, it has done with fine phrases and long orations, and it takes to sobs and moans, and so, indeed, it grasps the most potent of all weapons, for heaven always yields to such artillery.

May be some of us are weeping over our savage temptations and heavy responsibilities, or maybe it is our fears and anxieties about the unknown future that makes us want to cry! No doubt we weep and we shall go on weeping until the risen Lord says to us, why are you weeping, stop weeping, there is no need to weep, be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid!

What I personally learn from Mary’s encounter with the risen Christ is that Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ. Without a personal relationship with Christ, we go on our way weeping through life and nothing could dry our tears if he was dead and gone and never risen. So let us try to develop this special relationship with our Lord by studying the word of God daily and seeking to know Christ more closely, so that we can shout with Thomas, ‘my lord and my God’!

May God lead us peacefully throughout this month and let us hear the echo of his voice in our different situations, woman, man why are you crying’. Oh stop crying because he is alive and standing beside you!

Shalom!

Rev Amos Bongadu Chewachong

Locum Minister

Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasure of David: Spurgeon’s Classic Work on the Psalms, (edited) by David O. Fuller, 2004.

 

Rev Dr Jared Hay Update 25/5/14

from Rev Dr Jared Hay, Interim Moderator.

 

Update from Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee has been going about its business quietly and diligently in the background, but we want to bring you up to date with our progress.

 

Following the advertising of the vacancy, we had quite a number of inquiries, some of which resulted in applications being received. However, after interview, while the applicants had many strong attributes, the NC decided not to pursue the matter further, with one applicant withdrawing.

 

In that this is a mutual process of exploring the suitability of applicants for LN, it has worked well, but without a positive result as yet. However, there is still an inquiry that we are not yet in a position to follow up fully, and if it does not lead us to the appropriate person we will re-advertise in due course.

 

One or two of the NC have indicated that they have been asked questions about their work. Please resist the temptation to ask. We will be going about our work as expected and when we have something to tell you we will tell the whole Church to keep everyone informed. Keep us all in your prayers, and continue to ask for God to touch someone with a real sense of call to serve him here.

 

The Chewachong family

It’s a great joy to be with you today for the Presentation of Arielle-Amora Amosons. This is a pre-baptismal ritual within the culture of the Church in Cameroon, and we are delighted to share it with Amos and Florence and the children today, presenting their little daughter before God for his blessing. Remember them all in your prayers as they adapt to having a larger family within a different culture.

 

Blessings

Rev Dr Jared Hay, Interim Moderator. 22nd March

Rev Dr Jared Hay, Interim Moderator.

 

Good morning everyone! It’s good to be back with you here in Liberton Northfield.

 

Annual Meeting

Just a reminder that today at the end of the morning service we will hold the Annual Meeting of the Congregation at which we will hear a report about our financial affairs and an update on the vacancy situation. We will also try to answer any questions you may have about these and other things. Please join us if you can.

 

Amos and his family

I’m taking the opportunity of Amos being at Priestfield to let you know about his present situation. This week his wife, Florence, and their children have been at the British Consulate to go through the processes required to obtain visas in order to join Amos in the UK during the course of his studies. The cost of visas, together with the flights, is very substantial and someone suggested that the churches known to Amos might work together to help him raise the money required. It is hoped that we can find some way of helping them both now and after they arrive. If we can, then when arrangements have been made these will be made known as widely as possible among the local churches so that we can offer our support. I’m sure that whatever way in which you might contribute to that support would be appreciated.