“Wow! What a number!”

I don’t do numbers. I realised this again re-reading Bill Bryson’s ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’. In this fascinating book on many things scientific he plays with numbers whose size is virtually impossible to get your head around. But then again, when I’m told that on average this Christmas parents will spend £121 per child, here is a figure I truly find hard to get my head around.

Over the last few weeks on our prayer menu hopefully you will have seen a figure whose size is something you might find hard to get your head around. This figure, which changes month by month and so can only be a rough figure, represents our liability as a church towards the most recent pension deficit in the Baptist pension fund. The reason why it’s on our prayer menu is to remind us of how serious this hard to get your head around figure is for us. It’s serious because it will have an ongoing impact upon us as a church as well as being a challenging question for us as a Union of churches too. At our last church meeting, when we were looking at the budget for the year ahead, we recognised that this hard to get your head around figure is something that will be part of our accounts for the next ten years.

One of the reasons why I enjoy reading Bill Bryson so much is not only because of the many interesting facts and figures you read, such that you feel obliged to tell them to everyone around you whether they want to hear them or not, is because of the clear way he connects them all together. The reason why I’m speaking about this hard to get your head around figure in my blog is not only due to its size, but it’s because we will all need to think carefully, prayerfully, thoughtfully about our giving as individuals; about our expenditure as a church and about how we manage our assets.

Walking this tightrope demands courage from us as we may have to take steps of obedience we’ve never taken before. We’re to take steps of faith as we rely on the unfailing goodness and provision of God. We’re to take steps of hope even though we do not see the full picture before us. We’re to take steps of love as we rely on the fellowship of each other.

These three steps of faith, hope and love are the cardinal virtues on which we live our lives as Christians and as a church. These are virtues we will need to continue to practice and persevere in as we respond to the challenges this hard to get your head around figure brings to us.

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