Dear member of God’s family of Busbridge&Hambledon church,
We are living in a period of momentous change in the UK. Whether you voted ‘Leave’, ‘Remain’ or were one of the 28% who did not vote, we are all in a new place. We’re in this place together.
We could liken it to being in the pages of a new chapter of a book. We could close the book, shut down and do our own thing but then no-one would be able to read the book. We could try and rub our names off the page in a form of denial but it would no longer be a book to read. We could rearrange the words on the page to suit ourselves but we would be left with little meaning to anything.
Others with values and attitudes which have little to do with Christianity seem to have begun to write their own chapters and rearrange the words on pages to fill the gaps created by uncertainty (See Lev 19:34). This is a concerning outcome of the referendum.
The result has come and gone. That revealed by it begins a new national chapter: a chapter in which we are a nation self-divided in so many ways. Division is not the same as distinctiveness. Distinctiveness is where something is recognised, honoured and respected, and often acknowledges a higher power which brings ultimate unity (1 Cor 12). Division is where there are sides. Division has the power to descend into acrimony, personal-gain seeking, xenophobia, racism and the releasing of destructive spiritual forces (Mark 3:27).
Our first reaction last week was probably to do a quick ‘personal check’: the sort of thing that first responders do when they reach an injured person and check a body for signs that things are ok or safe. How is my family over all of this? What does job security look like? How secure is our income? What is happening to the mortgage? You’ll have done this naturally whatever your opinions on the EU because it is a human response to a significant change.
The ‘personal check question’ as Christians in the area around Godalming is this: what does this significant new chapter mean for us? How has it ignited and ‘proved’ your faith in new ways? A large part of the answer is about Busbridge Central.
Busbridge Central is not simply about a building. It has never been. It is about the place and purpose of the Church of Christ, God’s family and our call as a Christian community in this locality. It is about humbling ourselves to follow the Lord. Busbridge Central is about the values and virtues of a Christian faith which has confidence in the Gospel, bringing generations together to understand how we all belong to one another, equipping Christians for a clear and distinctive presence in the area, region and nation and offering an alternative to the emptiness of self-interested secularism.
We do not need to be locked into a new chapter of a book written by others. We can be part of shaping and writing it under God’s guidance, because the Christian faith has permeated this nation for two millennia. The first record of Christianity in the UK is in the late 2nd Century AD and if you look at the windows facing the doors into Busbridge Church, you will see an image of Queen Bertha, who was instrumental in the re-introduction of Christianity to England in the C6th, and of Tuesley church, witness to the Christian presence in our locality throughout the last millenia. Christianity has shaped the UK at the deepest level.
Despite this, Christianity (and organised religion) has had a bad press in the past couple of decades. However, for Christian’s truth is not found in good press, punchy headlines or popular votes: it is found in our behaviour built on solid beliefs. It is time to show our metal: that, whatever our vote last week, we will be united and we will demonstrate a way of doing things that does not descend into blame or anger, xenophobia, aggression, disunity, or vitriol. We stand for something distinctive which has served the UK well.
In the light of recent events, Busbridge Central, whatever it is, where-ever it is, how-ever the ministry flows from it is formed, is a matter of utmost urgency. Godalming and its people from every creed, nationality and background needs practical expressions of God’s love, care and grace like never before. If we are not to be the ointment of healing that binds people together then who is?
The family of God here is being called to a ministry which invites all of us everyone to participate in new ways. This will take us into unknown territory just as the recent referendum has. As we approach next week's gift day (10th July), please be reassured that we are not asking anyone to be so stretched financially that they lose sleep at night. If you have an overwhelming desire to give financially but your circumstances are simply not equal to the desire then your task from God is to pray that God’s answers will come from the most unlikely of places.
Our call is to be that which the Bible calls ‘a letter from Christ written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God’ (1 Cor 3:3). We are to show others that we have a confidence which is not based on creating false certainties, fostering division or fanning the flames of blame. Our security is centred on Christ and it is in times of change and uncertainty that our confidence is both ‘proved’ and shows through to others (2 Cor 3:4). The call of this church has not altered. We are to love God, make disciples and transform communities and this will lead to a changed nation. The difference is that we are living this call in new times, a new chapter and a renewed sense of direction and purpose.
 See www.bhcgodalming.org/church-congregations-qa/
For more on early Christianity in the UK see: www.biblehub.com/library/browne/the_christian_church_in_these_islands_before_the_coming_of_augustine/lecture_ii_early_mentions_of.htm