It’s been nearly 17 years since Lindsay and I came to Liberton, and the thing we noticed straight away on our arrival all those years ago, and which hasn’t changed, is that people here love celebrating.
This is no bad thing in any community, because celebrations are good for us. They make us think of what we have, instead of what we have not, and what we have achieved, instead of what we’ve still to do. Think of the celebrations you’ve been involved in over the past years. There are weddings, when we celebrate a couple’s love for and commitment to each other, and anniversaries, when we celebrate their ongoing faithfulness. There are baptisms, when we celebrate a new life, and birthdays, when we celebrate a person’s uniqueness. We celebrate for all sorts of reasons, whether it is success, or happiness, achievement or impact. The only two elements which are essential for a celebration are having something to celebrate, and having people to celebrate with.
This year Liberton will be joining a number of other churches in South East Edinburgh in an enterprise called “The Discovery Programme”. This is a programme devised by TEAR Fund*, and designed to help churches serve their communities better. The key stages in the process are –
· researching the nature of your community,
· consulting with local agencies, (such as schools, GP Surgeries, Police),
· identifying the areas of need,
· matching these needs with what you can offer,
· devising an appropriate response.
This is not something we will be doing alone. Over the coming months we will be meeting regularly with the leaders of the other churches, so that we can share out our findings and make sure there is no duplication in our responses.
The first and crucially important step in the Discovery Programme, however, is to recognise and celebrate what is already going on, and, as you can see, there is a quite a lot. So, true to form, our leadership has planned a season of celebration. This season was launched at the Joint morning service on the last Sunday in August. It was one of those joyful occasions, combining recognition of the huge variety of things people do, with words of appreciation from community members who are benefiting. Added to this, we celebrated a baptism, a confirmation, and several others wanting to join our church. All in all, it was a bit chaotic, with lots of happiness and hugs, and plenty to talk about over tea in the halls afterwards.
The next major event in our season of celebration will be when we mark the completion of the renovation work being carried out on our church halls. Our aim is to enhance what we already have with a more accessible and welcoming entrance, with the potential for a real cafe in the foyer, and better facilities all round. Our hope is that the work will be completed by the end of September, and we will be able to have an official opening in October. So, watch this space, and be sure to come along and join in the fun.
In the meantime, here’s a thought. What do you have to celebrate in your life, and who would you wish to celebrate with? If you’re looking for people to share in your joy, I know a bunch of people who are very good at it.