Photograph courtesy and copyright www.henleystandard.co.uk
Dear Visitors and Friends,
Greetings to you from Brazil! We are here visiting our son and his family, who live in one of the southern states. Brazil is an immense country, thirty-five times bigger than Britain. While we’ve been here, parts of the south have had tropical downpours and flooding, but in states further north more than 1,200 separate wildfires have been raging because of prolonged drought. The people are as diverse as the climate and scenery: over the last two centuries there have been immigrants from every country of Europe, from parts of the Middle East, and from Japan and other Asian countries, living alongside the descendants of African slaves. Recently founded towns can have as many different cultures as there are different families. Tensions can be found under the surface, but cultural differences are nothing like as frequent a talking point as they are in the UK. It isn’t at all surprising that tensions do exist, because they have existed in all societies at all times, but we wonder whether the relatively relaxed attitude in Brazil is partly due to the continuing strong influence ouch more openly and with far less embarrassment than is usual at home in Britain.
The Christian message is that God loves all people without bias or favouritism. He offers to all a personal, family relationship with Himself through our Lord Jesus, God the Son; and to those who are in His family He gives the Holy Spirit, linking them all to Himself and all to one another. Laws in favour of racial equality and against prejudice and hatred can improve outward conduct in society, but you will be much more likely to develop an inner attitude of love if you know that God your Father has given to you, to live inside you, the very same Holy Spirit whom He has given to your brothers and sisters from every nation and culture. In the past, the Church has sometimes failed in practice – tragically so – but if it really lived out the message of Jesus and the apostles, it should be an example to the whole world of how people from vastly different backgrounds can live together in harmony and love. But to talk about ‘the Church’ is much too abstract. To talk about Brazil is rather too remote. How about us in Stoke Row? How do our attitudes and actions measure up?
David and Sonia Jackson
Take every aspect of our lives, individually and as a community, cleanse us from our sin that we may be used for Your Kingdom and bring glory to Your Holy and Righteous Name. We are not here to do our own bidding, to seek our own fulfillment or our own glory. We are here to please You.
We yield ourselves to You, to seek to know You, to love You, to obey You, and to grow in holy reverence as we seek to reflect Your light in our living in our community and beyond.
We choose today to love and honour You and to live in Your way. We believe and trust in Your promises that You will walk with us and guide us through the coming days.
We long to serve each other and be alongside each other as Jesus taught us - reaching out the hand of kindness and fellowship to each person we meet along the way.
We trust You, Lord to do that which we cannot do for ourselves. We open our lives to be filled with Your Holy Spirit as by his grace he bestows on us His spiritual gifts in your Church.
Teach us, lead us, and empower us to love and fear Your name; keeping us ever in Your constant love.
In Jesus name we pray together,