Today we farewell Ed & Linda. We are very thankful to God for the part they, and their son Ben, have had in the life of our church over the past nearly eleven years. As Senior Pastor Ed has lead us through some great times, and also through some very difficult times. From his first very first message on the God who brings growth, through significant events such as births, deaths, marriages, and of course earthquakes, he has provided valued spiritual direction and insight. We have benefited from Linda’s heart for worship and ability to hear from God, and her strong support for Ed has provided them with a strong partnership.

We will miss them, but as they heed God’s call to Mt Roskill Baptist, we know they will take on this new challenge with the same dedication and dependence on God’s Spirit that we have experienced, and we ask God to continue to bless them and their ministry. Go in peace and joy.

Recently I have been reading through first John and I can imagine the aged apostle John pacing the floor as he begins to dictate the first of his letters to the churches he has such a love and concern for. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched –this we proclaim to you concerning the Word of life.” He is aware of the difficulties they face with false teachers spreading different and confusing messages, and through his letter he seeks to remind them what constitutes authentic Christianity.

In his letter he provides three ‘tests’ that his recipients can use to ascertain whether the various teachers have a message worth listening to.

Do they acknowledge Jesus as The Christ?

Do their lives reflect the teaching of Jesus?

Do they express love for those around them?

Throughout the letter he returns to these three themes as reflecting the core of what authentic Christianity looks like.

As we move through this next phase of life at Papanui Baptist I am convinced of our need to remain focussed on the core of our faith. We have a strong sense that God has some new things in store for us and we have an excited expectation of what this might be, however the uncertainty of what this will actually mean can make for a rather unsettling time. Jesus must remain central, and the strongest evidence of this will be in the way we continue to respect and love one another.

“My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us –perfect love!”

1 John 4: 11-12 (MSG)

May we together experience the reality of God’s love over this season.