Politically we are living in fascinating times. If you had told me a year ago that America would have Donald Trump as president and he would have signed an executive order to build a wall, temporarily closed down the refugee programme and banned seven nations from entering the US for 3 months - I would have thought you were joking. Even the idea that we would be on our way to a Brexit and with Theresa May now as Prime Minister would have been a stretch for me to believe. But this is where we are.
I am interested that, as political vision has shifted, economics has moved and changed with it. Trump has proposed that the Mexicans will pay for the wall through a tax on imports. The Mexicans have pointed out that, through the price rise in goods, the American consumer will ultimately pay for it. As the landscape of politics shifts, across the world trade deals seem up in the air and renegotiation is the order of the day.
As we look at our Vision to Share Life and Love Leeds - that too has economic ramifications. As we long to Preach Jesus, Make Disciples, Serve the City and Send Out Leaders, there is a financial cost. We have laid out some of the detail of our current expected income and expenditure in the extended letter (click here to view). As a church we are predicting a deficit of £110,000 in our budget next year. Once we have accounted for the surplus from Church Centre income this looks more like £40,000.
In the book of Haggai, the returned Israelite exiles have started to rebuild the temple. But they have got distracted and become focussed on their own living conditions. They have lost sight of the vision of rebuilding the temple that was ruined when they were conquered, now they are throwing their resources into luxurious housing.
Haggai is bringing a renewing of the vision of what the temple is for, and a correct perspective on their finances.
““This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
Lottie spoke this week of the 'Shalom' peace of God (click to listen), and this is at the core of God’s vision for the temple. It was viewed as the place that brings the nations together in the peace of God and was was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The provision to bring that vision into being is already God’s, as all things belong to him.
As we approach our Vision Gift Day on Sunday, we are encouraging members of the church to prayerfully (the risk starts with prayer!) consider their giving to the Vision of St George’s and come together to respond as an act of commitment and worship. We do this because we want to see the wholeness, fullness, peace and unity of the gospel in Leeds, in every life, community, and church across the city as we seek to Share Life and Love Leeds.