I’d like to begin by thanking God for the wonderful response to the Gift Day at St Leonard’s. A total of £11,949 was donated for the new Church Office/Clergy Vestry project and when Gift Aid is claimed the amount received should reach £13,964. A contract has now been signed with Atkinson Morley Construction Ltd of Padiham, and work is due to commence in November.
My thanks to the congregation of St Leonard’s for their generosity (and to those at St Margaret’s who also contributed.) The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:7 “Just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” So we learn that generosity with money should go hand in hand with spiritual maturity; one is the mark of the other. And so my greatest reason for rejoicing is the spiritual maturity that has been shown.
Secondly, I’d like to note another recent cause for thanksgiving: the unanimous verdict of the Supreme Court in favour of the Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland. No doubt many of you will have followed this story in the news with interest. The bakery is run by a young Christian couple, Daniel and Amy McArthur. Back in 2014 they refused to bake a cake with a slogan promoting same-sex marriage. Consequently they were taken to court by the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland and convicted of breaking sexual orientation discrimination laws. In 2016 the Court of Appeal upheld this judgement.
But the McArthurs argued throughout that their refusal to bake the cake wasn’t because of discrimination against the man who placed the order, rather it was based on their unwillingness to be involved in something that contradicted the teaching of the Bible. Or to put it another way, they objected to the message rather than the messenger.
Many will find it hard to believe that something as trivial as a cake could become such a big issue. But the real issue at stake was the way in which our courts were undermining religious freedom and siding with those who were intolerant Christians who wanted to act in keeping with their beliefs.
Consequently, the McArthurs were encouraged to take their case to the highest court in the land and in answer to much prayer the judges overturned the judgements of the lower courts. Over the last 4 years the McArthurs have consistently shown grace and courage in the face of very nasty verbal attacks. May we all be inspired by their example to stand firm for our beliefs.
Yours in Christ