Presbyterian Herald October 2016

Sarah Harding

23.9.2016 | Presbyterian Herald

The October 2016 editon of the Presbyterian Herald is now available.

Humble and thankful hearts

I always enjoy the hymn, We plough the fields and scatter, at this time of the year. In it we are told that the seed is “fed and watered by God’s almighty hand”, reminding us that our toil of the land is meaningless without God’s gracious provision.

As in all things, without Him, we are nothing. Constantly striving with a reliance on our strength alone will only serve to make us weary and frustrated. It is perhaps with this thought in mind that we should contemplate our declining church members. In this edition Lisa Skinner addresses this issue and quotes Rev. Gordon Best who describes it as a “make or break” stage for some of our congregations. Discussing the variables of tradition and culture, Lisa raises key questions that our denomination must grapple with. Yet we must remember that, to be fruitful, this grappling needs to be done in partnership with the will and power of the Holy Spirit.

It could be argued that Presbyterians have traditionally been lacking in their embrace of the Holy Spirit. Alfred Thompson will be delving further into this subject over the course of three articles. In this first one, he identifies fear and control as two contributing factors to our hesitancy. In the article, Rev. Drew Gibson says, “Our desire for a quiet, predictable life, in which we are in control, can blind, or even make us hostile, to what the Holy Spirit is doing.”

It is difficult to overcome that desire for comfort and control, which permeates so many areas of our attitudes and behaviour. The recent refugee crisis has produced a mixture of emotions played out in the media, from loving kindness, to an overarching fear of change and a desire to maintain the status quo.

Rev. Richard Kerr challenges us to take action and to choose empathy over apathy. He provides us with an update to the crisis and helpfully points us to organisations that we can support financially and prayerfully as they work through the crisis.

The idea that we can control our lives is an illusion, as the harvest hymn reminds us. Not only that, but when we seek to make our Church a movement of our own making, devoid of the Holy Spirit’s input, there will inevitably be, as Drew Gibson describes it, “a creeping deadness” to what we do.

The last lines of the hymn are, “…what Thou most desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.” Just as Ruth Sanderson encourages us to re-engage with our harvest services this month, perhaps we should use them as an opportunity to reaffirm our humility and submission to all three aspects of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Sarah Harding, Editor

The Presbyterian Herald is the official magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. It provides a forum for debate and discussion on a wide range of topics and aims to challenge and encourage Presbyterians, as well as inform them about what the wider Church is involved in. It has a readership in excess of 25,000 and is distributed throughout Ireland.

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