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13th May 2020

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25

Welcome to (not quite) Church

How should we think about what we’re doing on Sunday mornings at the moment? In some ways it feels like church – we pray, read the Bible, have a sermon. We even interact with each other over coffee.

But then, we know it’s also not quite church. And I don’t just mean the lack of candles. We are not physically together, we miss the casual greetings and conversations, we can’t hear others singing and praying with us, we don’t know who’s there (or who’s missing). We can’t see who’s smiling and who’s struggling.

The verse from Hebrews reminds us of the importance of meeting together and encouraging one another. We are not simply individual Christians, we are part of the one body of Christ, and the local expression of that at St Peters IPC. Currently our body is dislocated, and it hurts. Meeting online is no substitute for being together with our church family - “it doesn’t quite cut it,” as one friend put to me.

You’ll also have noticed that we’re not having the Lord’s Supper at the moment. The reason for this is that being physically together to share the physical bread and wine is an essential part of what it means to have ‘communion’. When we eat and drink, we commune with one another, and with the Lord Jesus, who is spiritually present.

In 1 Cor 11, discussing the Lord’s Supper, Paul says “when you come together [as a church]” (v18, 20, 33). Clearly, he didn’t have YouTube in mind. (there’s been a fair bit of online discussion about this – I found this article by Scott Swain helpful). For now, we have to go without this precious meal, longing for the time we can share it again.

Of course, it’s also true that by going online, some have joined us who otherwise couldn’t (through distance or illness), and most of our sofas are more comfortable than pews. But, to quote David Gibson (IPC minister, Aberdeen), under lockdown, our Sundays are meant to be getting worse, not better!

So I’ll keep welcoming you to (not quite) church, and we can all keep finding creative ways to encourage one another, with our eyes fixed on the Day of Christ’s return.

An Online Conference

Zoomutopia Free Online Conference – Thursday 14th May, 3pm-6pm.

Suffering and the Glory of God, With Kevin De Young, Garry Williams and the IPC’s own Jonty Rhodes. Will be well worth a listen if you’re available. Details here.

What’s in a name?

The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that this is called a ‘Pastoral Letter’ whereas in previous weeks they’ve been called ‘Public Letter #’. The change is not that significant. The public letters were pastoral, and the pastoral letters are public!

When I sent the first few letters, the emphasis was on how we as a church were responding to the coronavirus related restrictions, hence calling them public. But as the weeks have passed, it feels more appropriate to focus on the pastoral aspect. What does that mean?

Well, pastoral relates to the word pastor, which in turn means shepherd. So a pastoral letter is about caring for and guiding the church family – which is part of my role as an under-shepherd of Christ (1 Peter 5:1-4).

I will continue to write each week with the aim that these letters encourage, inform, provoke (in a good way) and maybe occasionally entertain.

The Joseph Story Continues

We’re carrying on with our series on the life of Joseph this Sunday, as we look at Genesis 41. I’ve borrowed the title from the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical - “Greatest Man Since Noah?” I preached with the same title at our last church leading to this slide being projected. Thankfully, I’ve grown in humility since then.


Website (for information, and links to resources) –

To request or offer help - ,

Bible Study Groups – Thurs, 8.05pm, looking at 1 Peter. Contact James to join.

The prayer corner team are available to chat or pray. Details in ‘Public Letter 3’.

Sunday’s YouTube service will be at 10.30am. The link will be sent with the service sheet, but find us on YouTube by searching for “St Peters IPC Liss”.

Sunday School (for under 11s) – 4pm Sunday -

Together in His hands,

James Buchanan

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