Clergy Letters 2014
Remembrance Day is a time to remember not only those who died in the two World Wars, but also more recent conflicts and those who still suffer the effects of war.
On Remembrance Sunday, many people will wear a poppy as a sign of remembrance. The money from the poppy sales helps those who have been wounded in war and their families. In St. Peter’s Church, on 9th November, as in other churches we will keep silent for two minutes at 11am as a sign of respect. On Armistice Day, the day which marked the end of the First World War, people all over the country and world will fall silent at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. Many poppies grew in the fields where much of the fighting in the First World War took place. A Canadian doctor, John McCrae, was caring for wounded soldiers; he wrote a poem, which begins: "In Flanders' fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row." After the war, in 1921, imitation poppies were first sold in Britain to help children in areas that had suffered from the fighting. Later, poppies were sold by the British Legion, to help disabled ex-servicemen and their families.
Nowadays, the poppies are made at the British Legion's Poppy Factory at Richmond, Surrey. A team of 60 people, most of them disabled, work all year to make more than 34million poppies, 5 million remembrance petals, 750,000 remembrance crosses and nearly 100,000 wreaths, including those laid at the Cenotaph in London.
Join with us at St. Peter’s at 10.30am on 9th November as we remember and give thanks.
Go with the flow!
Every church needs money for ministry and mission but tackling the subject of money can feel like hard work – much like paddling down a river. Everything changes when we realise that giving is not about balancing the books but being caught up in the flow of God’s generous giving to us. Let me illustrate with a true story I often tell.
At the drive thru Steamin’ Bean coffee shop in Blue Springs, Montana, a woman paid for her coffee – and then bought a coffee for the driver behind her in the queue. The driver behind could have thought it was just his lucky day; instead he did the same thing. A week later some 1300 people followed suit.
Giving is deeply attractive, compelling, life changing and folk at the Steamin’ Bean were caught up in the flow. Truthfully, sometimes our giving can be grudging, reluctant, casual, even complacent. But as Amy Carmichael said long ago, we can give without loving but we cannot love without giving. When we are caught up in the flow of God’s generosity to us then good giving, generous, joyful giving becomes a natural part of following Jesus.
But good giving does not just happen. Like all those in line at the Steamin’ Bean there is a decision to make. Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). What we do with our money will always reflect our heart, where our priorities lie. But the passage suggests also that our money decisions can shape our hearts. The decision to give can change our lives.
Generous giving is one of the key ways in which we grow as disciples of Jesus. That is why Luke especially links money and discipleship. A rich man is challenged by Jesus to give his wealth to the poor (Luke 18:18-30), why John the Baptist told those he baptised to be honest and generous (Luke 3:10-14), why Zacchaeus stopped fraud and started giving (Luke 19:1-10), why the poor are blessed and the rich sent empty away (Luke 6:20; 1: 53). Not because money is wrong, dirty or evil but because generous giving sets us free to follow Jesus.
During the month of October, using a Giving in Grace programme,
we are asking:
- That everyone who currently gives to St. Peter’s Church prayerfully review that giving.
- That those of you who don’t currently give to the ministry at St. Peter consider doing so.
In either case if you would like to know more please contact me on (248072) and I would be more than willing to come and talk to you about this.
At a recent Faith, Mission and Action Committee meeting it was decided that as a church we would support the Bishop’s Harvest Appeal in 2014, supporting the work of Christian Aid and Mothers’ Union in Angola and Myanmar. Bishop Julian writes:
One of the first things I was asked to do as Bishop of Blackburn was to decide whether there should be a further Bishop’s Harvest Appeal in 2014.
I very gladly said ‘Yes’ because while it is one thing to look after needy neighbours who are close at hand (through supporting food banks, campaigning for an end to poverty and the like), it is all too easy to overlook the needs of neighbours who are at least as needy but who may live far away.
This applies especially to people who are not overtaken by obvious catastrophes such as earthquakes and tsunamis, when typically millions of pounds immediately flow to the rescue.
That is why I am pleased that the proceeds of the Harvest Appeal for 2014 are to improve things appreciably for people in Angola and Myanmar and across the world who are not suffering from any sudden catastrophe but are having to scratch along from day to day – often with next to nothing – simply in order to survive.
And it’s also why I am asking everyone in our Diocese – both in our schools and in our parishes – to support my 2014 Appeal as best they can, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who made no distinction between neighbours far and near and had extreme compassion for everyone.
Bishop of Blackburn
How to make a donation
A leaflet giving more details is included with this Magazine along with an envelope for your donation.
Details of how to Gift Aid your donation are included in the leaflet.
Please make any cheques payable to St Peter, Salesbury, so that we can forward all gifts together.
Please return envelopes/donations to church by Harvest Sunday 28th September or as soon as possible afterwards.
Please support The Bishop’s Harvest Appeal in any way that you can.
I am writing this on Trinity Sunday and in the Gospel reading set for today, from Matthew 28, Jesus calls his followers to “go to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples”.
A disciple is one who accepts a teaching not only in mind but in life. A disciple of Christ, talks like Christ, walks like Christ and acts like Christ.
In the Autumn we will be running a course at St. Peter’s, which I would encourage you to be part of. It is called:
Discipleship Explored is a journey into the book of Philippians.
Philippians is a letter written to Christians, encouraging them to stand firm and live for Christ. It is compelling, challenging and inspiring.
As we study Paul's extraordinary letter, we can explore together the meaning of Paul's words:
"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Who is Discipleship Explored for?
Discipleship Explored is for anyone who wants to make the most of their Christian lives.
How long is Discipleship Explored?
The course lasts eight weeks, with each weekly session lasting about 2 hours.
What happens during a typical session?
Each session has a Group Discussion, a short study in Philippians, a short talk, and a further Group Discussion.
Watch out for more details in the September Magazine and on the weekly Notice Sheets.
March Winds; April Showers: Ne’er cast a clout til’ May be out. What is the month of June known for? Well it is a month of looking forward, because it’s not too long to go until the summer holiday break!
A time to look forward to a summer break in ‘Costa-del-Expensive’ or a trip to ‘Our-Gate’.
A time for children to look forward to a long break from lessons.
A time for teachers to heave a huge sigh of relief.
A time for parents & carers to reach for the headache pills as they struggle to entertain the children for six weeks holiday!
We also look forward this month to celebrating one of the great Christian festivals, Pentecost, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Traditionally Pentecost, or as the Jews call it, The Festival of Weeks, was a great time of celebration for the harvest. It was also a great time of looking forward to an even greater harvest the following year, and to a time when all the promises of God would be fulfilled.
And the Good News is that we are beginning to see those promises come to fruition…
JESUS is the first fruit of the harvest
JESUS is the one who came to fulfil the old law
JESUS is the one who enables us to claim the promises of God, the promise that we will be God’s children and that God will be Our Father
Now that’s something to shout about, isn’t it!
How excited are you about that long awaited holiday?
How excited are you about that break from work or school?
How excited are you about spending more time with your family?
How excited are you about claiming the promises of God for yourself?
Just as he did on that first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit will give his various gifts to all those who follow Jesus today.
Gifts that will enable us to understand God’s word better…
Gifts that will enable us to be more courageous in spreading The Good News of Jesus Christ.
Gifts that will enable us to pray with confidence for healing, physically, emotionally & spiritually.
Gifts that will enable us to be more effective in our welcome than we already are.
So, here we are, June a real time of looking forward with anticipation for an even greater harvest in many areas of our ministry here in Salesbury, Wilpshire, Clayton-le-Dale.
Let’s be a people who, having freely received from God, are looking forward to freely sharing with others the gifts God has blessed us with.
Our Annual Church Meeting on 23rd March provided a wonderful opportunity to both say some thank you’s and to look forward to what God has planned for us in 2014 and beyond.
Thank you to all of you who have served God, in any way, through your ministry at St. Peter’s during the past 12 months. Special thanks to Keith Sowerbutts who has faithfully served as Churchwarden for the past 6 years. Keith we are grateful for your leadership, wisdom & vision and we look forward to seeing what God has planned for you for the future.
So what does the next 12 months hold?
A full review and renewal of our Mission Action Plan is currently being undertaken, under the guidance of Rev Tim Horobin from The Parish Mission and Support Department of Blackburn Diocese.
This will enable us to:
- discover where God is working and help us to join in!
- help church members recognise, develop and use their gifts
- make better use of existing contacts with people
- deepen our understanding and experience of worship
Alongside this we are continuing to look at the development of the church building, including the building of a hall on one side, to enable more flexible usage and to enable our building to be more available for community and church use. The next stage of this is a community survey to confirm/discover the needs and aspirations of the community.
We also intend to:
- Continue to develop our links with the church school and we look forward to working with Mrs Clare Berryman who has been appointed as new the head teacher, from Sept 2014.
- Review our worship
- Continue to develop the preparation and after care of those who approach us about Marriage & Baptism.
- Explore how we can encourage the church family to pray more regularly and more effectively.
- Continue to run
- Christianity Explored Courses
- House Groups
- and develop Discipleship Explored
- Explore our stewardship through Giving in Grace.
- Play an active part in our Deanery and within the local partnerships we have with St. Leonard’s Langho and also with our friends at Wilpshire Methodists, Trinity URC and Holy Souls.
God bless you all
Do we sometimes want our cake and eat it?
Of course we do! The phrase has become well known because we all recognise the tendency in ourselves – though we may more often use it about someone else!
And when do we fall into this trap? Maybe we find ourselves criticising the commercialism that we find everywhere and then going right ahead with our own activities which are just as commercial as anyone else’s. We would like to see a more reflective world, we would like to draw back from all the go-getting we see around, but we still want to grab the deal on offer at just the right moment. We want to have our cake and eat it.
I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty with all this. What use would that be? What would be more helpful would be to raise some questions and make some suggestions that might shine a light on the situation.
We are just approaching the most important season of the Christian year. April 12th brings us to Palm Sunday. It begins Holy Week. On the following Friday we will mark the day of the crucifixion and then on Easter Sunday the day of the resurrection. Over the years Christians have learnt that it is good to put aside time during this most holy period in order to pray more than at other times. For centuries Christians have put aside time to read the Scriptures at greater length and with a deeper seriousness in Holy Week and for Easter.
At one time there was little choice but to join in with what was happening at the local church. I can remember a time when very few people would be at work on Good Friday, and certainly no shops would be open. Perhaps we would like such time to return…but then that’s just the sort of situation where we are in danger of wanting to have our cake and eat it.
At St, Peter’s on Maundy Thursday there will be a service of Holy Communion at 7.30pm, to remember Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper. This Service will be an opportunity to really think through what was happening the night before Jesus died.
Then on Good Friday at 10.30am, through readings and hymns, there will be an opportunity to spend time at The Cross of Jesus before joining with other local Christians for an Act of Witness at Holy Souls at 12.30pm.
What could be more important than making some time for God during this week? Of course we would love to do more…but then we want to have our cake and eat it. In days gone by there would have been nothing else to do, but surely we would not want to think that we were only joining in with worship because we hadn’t had a better offer. Just because it is no longer the only option is no reason to fail to make the effort.
And of course the climax is Easter Sunday. We will meet together to celebrate the resurrection and, you know, the joy of that celebration will be deeper if we have worked through all that led up to the day of the resurrection in that first Holy Week. That would be far better than any cake even it you could eat it and keep it, far better that any alternative we might possibly imagine.
The Body of Christ
Imagine you find yourself on a quiz show waiting to answer questions. There’s a moment of anxiety as you wait for the first question. Well aware of the danger of drying up, even over things you know well, this could just as easily be a moment of disaster and humiliation as of glory. The question comes and the muscles in your hand tighten and then you hear it: ‘Name one of St. Paul’s familiar ways of describing the church.’ Now you can relax you can even manage a smile – a relaxed smile – ‘The body of Christ’ you say with relief.
It is such a familiar image that we find ourselves in danger of missing its impact on our lives.
We’ve heard the message (and at times we’ve even said the same thing ourselves) but if we stop and think about it we may find that too often we have watered down what Paul actually did say and mean, to the point when he might not recognise it as something he had ever said. Ask a key follow up question and see if that helps to bring out the points Paul was making, ‘What Church?’
It is tempting to think that the answer is obvious, that Paul means the Church of God in its widest sense. It feels right. It seems to be true. In fact, we may claim, it is definitely the right answer and will become quite obvious on the day of judgement
Tempting as it might be, even a quick reading of Paul’s first letter to Corinth will show that is not what Paul meant at all. Skim reading of Paul’s letter will show that Paul is writing to an individual local church, which is full of arguments. There are different sorts of people with widely varying interests and backgrounds, and the church is dividing up into factions. Paul tells them in no uncertain terms that it is very wrong, and then gets stuck into some of the contentious issues that they are arguing over. Only after this does he turn to the picture of the body of Christ. It works as a good picture, because they can see at once that they are not all ‘hands’, and they can begin to glimpse that that is the whole point.
Brought up in a world where we are always being encouraged to choose just what we want to and to spend time largely with those like-minded to ourselves, we can find that we miss Paul’s point completely. Too often we’re tempted to think that we choose our church in the same way we make other choices (and change it too if we think that there is something ‘better’ on offer elsewhere). If our thinking has not been shaped by the Gospel we may seek out a church with like minded people in the hope that we will be able to fit in well. And that’s the thinking Paul wanted to challenge in the church in Corinth.
In that church some said that they followed ‘Apollos’, some claimed to follow Paul. Others, possibly the most arrogant of all, said that they were the ‘Christ’ group. Paul saw clearly that there could not be a ‘Paul’ church: it would not be Christian. He opposed their plans to group together around something other that the Gospel and he brought them this very strong image of the body to help them work through the issues.
The whole point is that the church is made up of different parts. An eye cannot get up and go somewhere else so that it can be in a body full of eyes. Nor can an ear try to recruit other ears to come and join in.
The real choice we’re faced with is whether or not to let the Gospel shape our life.
Quiz shows never let the contestant go after just one question. If we’re prepared for the follow up questions about the church as the body of Christ, we are in for a treat as together we explore the
practical everyday discipleship that stands at its heart.
This year Lent begins on March 5th, and we will be joining with the folks at St. Leonard’s Langho for an Ash Wednesday Service at 7.30pm.
The dictionary defines Lent as: a time from Ash Wednesday to Easter, observed as a time of fasting in commemoration of Christ’s fast in the wilderness (Matthew Chapter 4, verse 22). Yet over the years the fasting element of Lent seems to have disappeared. Why not put fasting into practice this Lent.
There are different ways and reasons we can fast:
by missing a meal, perhaps once/twice/more a week (this should only be done if your health permits). Instead of eating, the time can be spent in prayer. There may be one particular thing that you decide to fast and pray for.
by giving up snacks and treats. The money saved can be given to a charity, for example The Solomon Project which we will be supporting as a church through Lent.
by giving up something that you enjoy, as a form of discipline. When you think about or crave it, take time to pray.
by turning the TV off for ½ hour/hour and spending the time in prayer or reading a Christian book, listening to God or exploring the Bible.
The benefits of fasting include:
- not letting food or other things dominate our lives, giving time to be freer and reach beyond our appetites to God with clearer minds.
- our going hungry is a way of saying to God that He is more important than anything. Whilst waistlines may decline, more importantly, fasting can help us grow spiritually and grow closer to God.
- a sense of God’s grace filling the spaces.
- more time to pray for the world, church and those in need.
- extra backing and power in our praying by showing God our longing that He answers our prayers – so much that we are prepared to go hungry.
Are you prepared to go hungry this Lent?
Let’s put the fasting back into Lent.
Perhaps there are other times when significant things happened and you can remember exactly what you were doing, or where you were? Like when England won the World Cup or Neil Armstrong set foot upon the moon.
The move into a new year is always seen as an important event, with parties and celebrations seemingly getting bigger and more elaborate as each New Year arrives.
I wonder though do you feel any different?
I remember, as a child, being asked the most ridiculous question every birthday: “Well Martin, how does it feel to be eight?” What a ridiculous question! There was no physical difference being eight that day and being seven the previous day. But if I had been asked that question 6 months after my birthday I am sure that as a much older and wiser eight year old I could have identified some differences.
Our lives change and time passes – we are, all of us, older than we were yesterday. I have to confess that there are some things which I used to be able to do easily, which I find more difficult today, due to an ageing process in my body and a growing sense of wisdom in my mind.
Our lives constantly change – it is a natural and normal part of life.
BUT God doesn’t change. “Great is the Lord” declares Psalm 145 and truly God is great.
Today we live in a changing society and the challenges facing us now are different from those in the past. If you take a few moments to think of what things are new you can quickly come up with a quite extensive list: space flight, computers, mobile phones, the internet, even McDonalds!
If we are to tell people today of God’s mercy, love and provision we will need to use new ways and methods of getting the message across and the church must change if it is not to be more and more irrelevant to the world we live in and the people we live amongst.
However, just as God does not change neither does the gospel message. St. Paul said that there is only one gospel and the psalmist presents a timeless message. Because of what God has done for us, we should tell others and if they call out to God with sincere prayer – He will save them. In 2014 we have the opportunity to present the Good News to the people of Salesbury, Wilpshire, Clayton-le-Dale & Blackburn. We need to rise to the challenge and accept our responsibility, both as individuals and as a church family, so that no opportunity is missed.
In our changing world the consistency of God in our lives is as vital today as it ever has been. So let us tell our families, our friends and our neighbours about the God we follow and worship.
God bless you all in 2014