Letter from Simon and Kathy Manchester – 14 June

Dear Friends,

Here are some answers to 7 questions put to your old (but still going) pastor.

  1. How is the new work at Moore going?
    Thanks to many of you who contributed (to make my “mentor” role at Moore College possible) I’ve been having some fine opportunities indeed to contribute to young pastors who preach to churches. As you know I’m a technological genius (!) so I’ve been preaching each week into a camera organised by various churches, I’ve sent twelve short talks to Kenny Lloyd in South Africa, I’ve listened to about twenty four talks sent by students (for feedback and catchup) and I have a Zoom meeting each week for Cornhill. All of this is weird and awkward but the truth is “unhindered”.
  2. What are you missing (and not missing) from St Thomas’?
    We are missing the people – the joy and privilege of being together – the blessing of seeing dear and keen brethren , the stimulus of planning and exploring how to “advance the gospel” , the delight of learning together and singing in a crowd, the gift of finding as “two or three meet together” that God is present in a unique and profound way.
    We are probably not missing the “cares” of rosters and meetings and deadlines but they are a small part of a great work. We have found it strange to walk the path of remembering so many friends yet no longer being in easy contact or having the pastoral position.
  3. What churches have you been visiting or preaching to online?
    We tune in (gratefully) to St Thomas but have ‘watched’ other services too. I’ve been preaching for friends (one or two talks) and each Sunday in May for Artarmon and soon each Sunday for Killara and the Cathedral. Talking into a camera is hard for everyone.
  4. What has life been like for you and Kathy in the lockdown?
    As for everyone it began with fear and easily moves into indulgence. Kathy goes to TAFE three days a week (helping students with disabilities) I tend to prepare talks , read, call people, go for a walk (often with another person) , do house things and keep up with family. But I can feel the “excuse” settling in of not having to do things that could and should be done. Mostly we are full of thanks to have so many blessings, so few dangers.
  5. What do you think are the lessons for unbelievers?
    This virus has thrown so many lesser issues into the background. Suddenly things to do with climate and rights and marriage – things that loomed big in the past – are seen to be very secondary to life and death. But greater still than health is the priority of salvation and we have had a God-given opportunity to say “ Jesus is right – what does it profit” to have the world – even health – if we lose our souls ?As a good friend of mine has recently written we are a wretched people if we have nothing to say to our community but “keep safe” when people outside of Christ are not safe. There are two safeties – short and long – and we should help people to appreciate the second not just the first. Keep the two safeties in mind – maybe try saying to people ‘safe in body is good – safe in soul is best’.
  6. What do you think are the lessons for believers?
    Without a doubt we will need “the mind of Christ” in coming days (Phil 2). He stepped out of His safe space to become a Man and become a Sacrifice. We will need (as Paul says) to “have this mind” and step out of our safe space to fellowship together – which will be a joy – and get on with the task of the gospel. Covid 19 has taught me I’m capable of following the comfortable flesh and I need to follow the Comforting Spirit.
  7. Any thoughts for St Thomas?
    Praise God for continued teaching, clever technology, faithful caring, generous giving and the way the Lord has put such a team together (the whole church) as you wait for the new pastor. Thank you for being good to us too.

 

With loving greetings – and daily prayers,
Simon and Kathy Manchester