Setting the world on fire! Being ‘salt and light’ in our communities
Sometimes, a different translation of the Bible can really help to open up new imaginative possibilities. And last Sunday’s Gospel reading was a case in point: I’ve read it a million times before, but not like this. I love the image of us, as followers of Jesus, being poured out into the world around us, in order to bring the God-flavours and God-colours in our midst to life. What an incredible commission! What a momentous task! What a reminder that the Kingdom of God is both already here and not-yet. What a reminder, too, that each one of us can play our part in helping to reveal the Kingdom of God to others and bring it to fruition.
We are salt and light to the world. What we do, and how we are, matters and - whether we like it or not - we are having an impact.
In three weeks’ time, we’ll have our third gathering of Ignite: our cross-church group of pioneering volunteers who are doing new things in our communities. If you consider that our very first gathering was in May 2022, it might blow your mind to think about what we’ve done in less than a year….
We’ve run a Four Week Introduction to Sewing Course, with community quilts created for Project Linus (a non-profit organisation providing homemade blankets to children in need) and a successful Fundraising Coffee Morning in October.
We have launched a monthly community bereavement group, called ‘Circle of Support’, which starts in February.
We have launched the Cheam Community Hub, a direct response to the cost-of-living crisis. This weekly initiative offers a warm space and a warm welcome, as well as the chance for people to relax, chat, work and play games.
Through partnership-working with our local NHS PCN and with Sutton United Football Club, we have been able to support the opening of the Gander Green Community Fridge and Pantry. The aim is to build community in West Sutton, address issues of food poverty and provide services in a community building. We have also been asked to help run a community plot on the Gander Green Lane Allotment site, bringing schools, local groups, volunteers and churches together.
We have developed plans for Club OK - an After School Inclusive Kids Club. There is already an agreement now in place that individual DBS Checks will be valid across all three parishes/five churches. We would like to pilot Club OK in one church as soon as possible, with a paid part-time Co-ordinator.
And that’s not all of it, by any stretch…
It’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon with us. It’s not too late to be ‘salt and light’ to our communities in this way. This diagram sets out a tried and tested approach for growing new church communities, new expressions of church, and it’s something that really underpins the work that we’re doing here in Cheam, Worcester Park, Belmont and beyond.
Over the past 9 months, we’ve been deeply listening to the needs of the people around us, and we’ve found ways of loving and serving, through the various initiatives above. Through the things we are doing, we are building community and beginning to look at our how we can explore the first steps of discipleship with the people we’re connecting with.
It's important to point out that things don’t always happen in this linear way! And we are all different, of course. But I wonder: if you look again at the circles, above, where do you see yourself in them?
What, in these 6 circles, are you already doing in your day-to-day life?
Which of these 6 circles do you feel especially drawn to?
And where in this parish - in this group of parishes - do you already see this sort of thing happening?
Whoever you are, and whatever you do best, you are salt and light to the world around you. How you are, and what you do, matters. And it just might set the world on fire, in the process…..