Loch Leven Church in Kinross invited me to speak at an outreach event they organised at Loch Leven’s Larder – a lovely café and shop in a celebrated beauty spot overlooking the hills and the loch. They’d booked the covered, heated outdoor seating area, from which we could listen to the band, and worship while watching the sun set behind the distant hills – enjoying good coffee and cakes. It was idyllic!
When we arrived to set-up, the café was buzzing with people – several of whom stayed for the worship once the open invitation was offered by the church, to anyone who wanted to stay. Stephen Jones, who was helping to run the event, (well-known to Solas readers from his contribution to the Frontlines series) said, “the fact that our church doesn’t own a building, and the school we often use isn’t currently available has been good for us in some ways. It’s forced us out into the community, to do the things we should have been doing anyway!” Richard Gibb from the church agrees, “temporarily lacking a venue has made us think innovatively. After speaking with management at Loch Leven’s Larder – we were delighted when they allowed us the opportunity to use this ‘neutral space’ for a very informal café church service,” he said.
Richard added, “We advertised this event to the wider community via our public Facebook page: “We Love Loch Leven” and it was brilliant seeing people come from a range of churches, bringing some of their friends, and also for the staff of the venue to be part of the event – as we were all reminded of the wonderful hope that has been made possible 2,000 years ago in the person of Jesus Christ who made it possible for us to be forgiven and reconciled with our Creator God.”
After the band had played, I spoke on the great subject of forgiveness and why it is the ‘glue’ that repairs fractured relationships between humans and between us and God. When someone has been wronged, denial and revenge don’t solve the problem – only forgiveness brings the parties together.
The issue of our need of forgiveness from God is remarkably similar. God offers to not count our sins against us, and not exercise his right to punish us, and calls us to confess and not deny what we have done wrong. Humans sometimes struggle to forgive one another because it requires vulnerability and there is always a cost. When God forgives there is also vulnerability and a cost. He approaches as – in vulnerability, so to speak – in the incarnation. When Jesus came, he didn’t come as a warrior to judge, but as a baby to forgive. Then at the cross he pays the costly price of forgiveness; taking the cost of sin into himself.
All of this comes together in two verses in the Bible, 1 John 1: 8-9, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” In Jesus there is truth and reconciliation between us and God. I encouraged people who were there to have a truthful conversation with God about their sins, because reconciliation with Him is possible, forgiveness is available because of the cross.
As well as seeing churches working together, and getting out into the community; it was especially encouraging to speak at the end to someone who is not a church-goer who was intrigued by the message saying, “I have never, ever heard anything like this before – I think this message was for me”.
At Solas, we love working with local churches sharing the gospel of Jesus with their communities all over the UK. If we could be of service to your church, please do get in touch using the connect button above to talk to us about what might be possible.