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From the Minister ...  

trevor-neill-2-600x450
Dear friends
Time is moving on. The days are growing shorter, the leaves have almost all fallen from the trees and we are edging closer to the New Year. A couple of weeks ago, when the clocks were turned back, I came across someone on social media who suggested that we should scrap that particular practice this year. They commented that 2020 has been so grim a year that there was nothing to be gained from having an extra hour of it. Better instead, surely, just to have these twelve months over and done with as quickly as possible.

It can’t be denied that 2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year for all of us. The fallout from Covid has been different for all of us, but none of us will have been able to escape it. We will all have our own Covid stories to tell, how this was the year of home working, GCSE or A-level predicted grades, socially distanced and smaller wedding and, of course, all those hours spent on Zoom. Tragically, all too many people will also remember this year as one when the virus took the life of a loved one.

As the New Year approaches us, it’s possible to spot a few more signs of hope. Recent reports of a breakthrough in vaccine research mean that there is now a basis for confidence about a slow return to normality in the Spring. I also wonder if the optimism we might be feeling about 2021 is borne from the promise and potential that every New Year contains, how turning the calendar  from December to January is a moment when we all feel a ‘reset’ button can be pressed.

As the old year is consigned to the past, we sense that we can put behind us recent disappointments and setbacks and so we resolve to break old habits and form new ones.

Around this time of year, I invariably find myself drawn back to a poem written by the German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s called ‘New Year 1945’, and was composed by Bonhoeffer in a cell in the Gestapo prison in Berlin, during a period of heavy air raids on the German capital. Bonhoeffer was being held there because of his association with plans to assassinate Adolf Hitler, having long been a brave and outspoken critic of the Nazi regime.
The poem begins with a statement of trust in God:

With every power for good to stay and guide me,
comforted and inspired beyond all fear,
I’ll live these days with you in thought beside me,
and pass with you, into the coming year.

Bonhoeffer then goes on to speak with conviction of his belief that God will be with him, and his determination to follow him regardless of the pain which may lie ahead. The last verse of the poem sums up these themes powerfully:

While all the powers of Good aid and attend us,
boldly we’ll face the future, be it what may.
At even, and at morn, God will befriend us,
And oh, most surely on each New Year’s Day. 

What makes these words especially poignant is the fact that Bonhoeffer died just over three months after they were written. He was hanged at Flossenburg on 9 April 1945 by special order of SS chief Heinrich Himmler, his murder taking place just a few days before the concentration camp was liberated by the Allies.

Bonhoeffer’s poem, along with the story of his life, provides a stark reminder of a tension that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Even though the future seems full of uncertainty, we can always be sure of the preserving love and care of God and his presence in every situation.

Before too long, we will read again the Christmas story including Matthew’s account of an angel’s appearance to Joseph in a dream. Matthew tells us that,

‘All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”)’ (Matthew 1:22,23).

The gospel which begins with this famous statement about God’s nearness to us concludes with a similar promise, spoken by Jesus himself:

‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (28:20). We can be confident of his presence and yet we also realise that this promise is not a free pass to a life without any problems or pain. As we’ve been reminded in our recent sermon series on Romans, to share in Jesus’ glory also means to share in his suffering (Romans 8:17).

I’ve been reflecting on these verses recently, as well as Bonhoeffer’s poem and the witness of his life. As I hold these various thoughts in my head, I look to the New Year and find myself confronted with searching questions:

  • What do I really want for 2021?
  • If this is to be a year of greater possibilities and one when personal freedom returns, how will I use that? What do I really think of as ‘the good life’?
  • If I accept that God’s very best for me is more about my character and growing to become like Jesus than it is to do with personal accomplishment, am I willing to accept the challenges which may lie ahead?

Please be assured of my prayers for you personally, and for the whole SBC family, as we look ahead to the coming twelve months, placing our confidence not in our own strength or resources, or even a vaccine, but looking instead to Jesus.

While all the powers of Good aid and attend us, 
boldly we’ll face the future, be it what may.
At even, and at morn, God will befriend us,
And oh, most surely on each New Year’s Day.

Blessings
Trevor

Rev Trevor Neill, 05/12/2020
Glenys
Hello and welcome to our church. If you are a new visitor, we have a page for you to get to know us and learn more about planning a visit.
Click here to see more.

Planning your Visit

Welcome 

We’re glad you've chosen to have a look at our website, and hope you’re interested to find out more about Selsdon Baptist Church.

A church is primarily about people, and we are a friendly group of people who love God and live in Selsdon and nearby.

We have a church building on Addington Road, Selsdon, but at the moment we have only very limited use of the building because of the Covid pandemic. But that doesn’t stop us worshipping God – only we have to do it over Zoom and YouTube!

Most of us watch together at the same time (10 30am) on Sunday, and then join to chat and discuss on Zoom just afterwards.
We’d be delighted for you to join our YouTube worship, listen to the midweek reflections on YouTube, listen to the Ask the Ministers Podcast, or join the Zoom meeting.

Depending on the current restrictions level, there is the opportunity to join us to watch the YouTube service in the church building itself – check the service details for each Sunday for instructions.

If you’d like to find out more about us and about our Christian faith, please browse the website. The Blog page will give you a feel for our recent ideas and activities. If you would like to talk to someone, please fill out the contact form below for a chat.

Hopefully when the pandemic eases, you’ll be able to come and see what we’re like on a Sunday and at other events – watch the website to see what becomes possible and when.

You may find the following pages useful to read more about  us:

What we Believe
Baptism (we are a Baptist church!)
Latest News and Announcements (what’s going on at the moment)
Blog (what we’ve done recently)


 

Get in touch with us to find out more or if you would like to chat
We can arrange a time that suits you.
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Next, we will contact you by email to say hello and see if we can help.
 

Leadership 

trevor-neill-2-600x450   denzil-2-600x366
Rev Trevor Neill   Rev. Denzil Larbi
Ministry Team Leader   Associate Minister with a focus on Evangelism
 
We hope that whoever you are, you will feel at home at our church.