Compassion of God on our Streets

There are lots of people who think Christians make too much noise. All that preaching, telling everyone what to believe and how to live their lives – 'Do this! Don't do that!' And then there is all that singing on a Sunday morning. More noise! Given this bad press, it might seem strange that churches in north Bristol should get together and organise an event every May Bank Holiday and call it THE NOISE. The thing is, like many words, 'noise' has more than one meaning. While we tend to think of it as sound, often the kind that is unwanted, it can be used in another way: to make a noise is to make something known. And making something known doesn't necessarily mean making a loud announcement.

Last year, in Southmead, dozens of volunteers from local churches joined many more from the Community Church Greenway to work on projects aimed at transforming the local area and people's lives. Louise, a single parent who lives in Southmead, not only signed up as a volunteer, she experienced this transformation firsthand. “It was such a joy to know that you are helping people,” said Louise, reflecting back on THE NOISE 2010. “It's not just about being part of the church, it's about being part of the whole community.” Louise is right. Faith in God isn't simply about meeting on a Sunday morning to sing some songs and listen to a sermon. Church is community, existing for the benefit of the wider community. And THE NOISE is simply an intensive weekend that gives a sense of what the Community Church Greenway is trying to achieve quietly in Southmead, 365 days of the year: demonstrating the love of Jesus, not by preaching, but by serving the community through acts of kindness and generosity.

While Louise was serving the local community on a NOISE team, that same community was giving back to her. “My garden was quite shameful,” admits Louise. “It was overgrown and full of rubbish. But, after helping with The NOISE, I came back to find twenty people at work in my garden... I couldn't help crying because I finally had a space for my children to play in.” The transformation of her garden was a total surprise for Louise. She didn't get involved because she expected someone to do something for her. All she wanted to do was serve the community in which she lives. “I had people come up to me who I didn't know and say: Thank you for doing such a great job. It's nice to know that there are people who care and are willing to do these things for our community.” “I even got my children involved which really made them appreciate their lives. It's really hard work, and I was shattered by the end of it, but if I'd been asked to go and do it all again the next day, I would have been there. To see the faces of those you help out is hard to put into words.”

This May Bank Holiday Weekend (30th April – 2nd May 2011), the Woodlands, Highgrove and the Community Church, along with other churches, will once again be making the kind of noise that the church should be making. A noise that can't be put into words, but that can only be put into action! For more details go to www.northbristolnoise.org.uk

(taken from the Community News article by Alan Mann)

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