7th March 2017

In Scotland they might call it a Gathering, a time when friends and family draw together and renew familial bonds or create new friendships. Edinburgh East church hosted such a gathering on Sabbath 25 February at their home in Musselburgh, just outside Edinburgh.DSC_0925

The Southeast Scotland Day of Fellowship saw members and friends of Edinburgh, Edinburgh East and Dunfermline churches meet at Musselburgh Rugby Club, the home of Edinburgh East church since its recent planting. Clearing skies and sunshine greeted over 130 attendees and it was evident it was to be a blessed Sabbath.

The theme for the day was The Homecoming, a topic that was thoughtfully and personally addressed by invited speaker Pastor Paul Tompkins, President of the Scottish Mission.

DSC_0930Pastor Tompkins' sermons centred on the familiar parables contains in Luke 15; the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and particularly the lost son.

He pointed out that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has many of its own lost sons and daughters. In some parts of the world there are as many "former" Adventists as those current members.

The rhetorical question. "Do you know someone who used to attend the Church but no longer does?" Saw many people nod.

Since recent surveys suggest many of these former members still consider themselves Christian, the question must be asked. "Why do they no longer attend church?" and "How can we draw them home?"

As a vehicle for this discussion Pastor Tompkins used the famous painting by Rembrandt, "The Return of the Prodigal Son".

This painting shows the prodigal son being welcomed home by his father, and the clear love and joy of having him home. It also shows a man on the right wearing a more ambiguous expression. Is this the elder son?

Drawing together the Church’s lost sons and daughters and the prodigal son depicted in Rembrandt's masterpiece, Pastor Tompkins quoted a phrase by the evangelist Josh McDowell - 'Rules Without Relationships Lead to Rebellion'.

This, he suggested, indicated that there are three phases to life, and perhaps church life in particular.DSC_0960

Rules phase – we simply follow rules prescribed by those in authority.

Rebellion phase – we rebel against those rules and authority in general.

Relationship phase – we build a relationship with those we rebelled against.

As a parent Pastor Tompkins clearly recognised these phases and stressed the need to develop the Relationship phase. Simply having a set of rules to be followed without building a relationship with God and each other will only lead to more rebellion and lost sons and daughters.

In the parable the prodigal son has clearly experienced the rebellion phase but his father is still there to forgive and build a new loving relationship. We can only pray that his brother’s heart feels the same. Through a loving relationship with Christ the Church family too must be prepared to welcome home those lost sons and daughters and establish strong and loving connections.

loving-father-prodigal-son-rembrandtPastor Tompkins then invited those of the congregation who had left the Church and returned to tell their story. The Holy Spirit acted on several hearts and a number of personal and moving testimonies were given.

Cards were then handed out upon which names could be placed of those who are still lost that they might be prayed for and be drawn home. Names were placed on many cards which were distributed amongst those gathered.

Prayers then closed a blessed day which was generously and warmly hosted by Edinburgh East church. Thanks must go to all involved in organising the event, especially the wonderful and copious lunch!

We pray that our church family will be brought together again soon.

[Paul Norman]


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