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Now, here’s a thing.  I noticed that it is now more than six months since we met together as a Church and that we have been using this Bulletin and electronic communication as a means of keeping in touch.  We have two unsung heroes to thank for that – Philip who has been putting out the Bulletin and Brian who has got us on-line and kept us there. So, thank you, Philip and thank you Brian.  Other people, of course have also played a role – Richard and Angela have organised our Saturday socials and various people have supported others and made a point of keeping in touch with them. Thank you all.

I don’t know about you, but the various restrictions we have been under have been getting me down, lately.  I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my excitement at being able to see two old friends who were holidaying in the Ribble valley. Well, unfortunately restrictions and circumstances  meant all we could manage was an hour’s walk with them along the riverbank.

It is easy sometimes to get discouraged in life, and in the Christian life, as circumstances and events seem to go against us. It is one of the Devil’s greatest weapons.  (At the start of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ – 1947 and in black and white, of course – angels are discussing George Bailey. ‘Is he sick’ says one’ Worse, he’s discouraged’ is the reply. )  But, it is also sometimes easy to be encouraged.  Did you  enjoy the Hymn we had on Sunday – ‘ We Rest on Thee, Our Shield and Defender’?  We did and we looked at which Church had provided us with that song. 

It turns out it was Grace Community Church San Antonio, Texas. (I’ve  been to San Antonio – we went to look at the famous Alamo. At rained heavily all day – it is easy sometimes to be discouraged!). But, I digress. The Grace community Church has a lovely website (you can see it here https://gccsatx.com ). If you look under the ‘About Us’ tab there are some interesting things there. They have a 25-page statement of faith, filled with biblical texts to buttress what they say and a Church constitution that is also well-thought through and informative.

They also have a 4 minute video in which one of their elders, Tim,  talks about the beginnings of Grace Community Church over 13 years ago, which they say is there as an encouragement to those out there who are also seeking to plant a church.  (you can see that here https://gccsatx.com/history/ ). We watched it and we were encouraged. “When we started we had 12 members only, and after 16 months we had… 2 less than that” he says with a wry smile. But they persevered and prayed and gradually God brought to them not only people who were already Christians but others who were converted and came to know the Lord.  Now they seem to be a very large Church with a team of 5 pastors and 6 deacons.

So, I was encouraged,  by my contact with the Grace Community Church in San Antonio. But, of course, our true encouragement comes from Christ ‘-

Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up.
For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. 
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Romans 15. 2-6