THE CLERGY LETTER
Letter from the Licensed Lay Minister
As we turn our thoughts to Advent and Christmas we would normally be filled with joy and hope. Celebrating these two seasons, especially our Darkness to Light service, would mean a packed Church, beautiful music, joyous singing and candlelight. Whilst all these things may be difficult to do as we find ourselves in lockdown again, they are not impossible.
This year offers an opportunity to re-think and re-imagine many of our long-standing Christmas traditions.
On one hand, we share a strong desire to continue the Christmas traditions we know and love. On the other, we can create new approaches to celebrating these seasons rising from our pandemic-caused limitations.
2020 will live long in the memory as the year of the Coronavirus pandemic. Daily life changed dramatically and suddenly. For many, the coronavirus lockdown has brought an acute sense of loneliness and isolation.
Being separated from the people we love, and unable to do the things we love to do together, has been extremely difficult. It’s just not how we were made to be. We need hope, we need to know that Jesus is walking beside us.
On the first Sunday of Advent we would normally light one candle in Church, the candle of hope and give thanks that Jesus is our true hope. The vision of life that Advent gives us is twofold, it looks back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, and it looks to the future when Christ will come again. In the time between these two events we find meaning for our life as a Christian.
First, we celebrate Christ being human. Christ came to show us what life can and should be. Jesus knew that the human heart could not live in isolation.
He formed the Church around the concept of a people being held together by love. In that community we discover unlimited possibilities and meaning. Alone we can do
nothing. Together we find real meaning.
Advent is our time to become more involved, more caught up in the meaning and the possibilities of life as a Christian community. We need to stand together as a Church
community supporting and loving each other as God loves us.
Christmas and Advent is a time to celebrate Christ with others, our relatives and Church families, and this year more than ever, let us be untied together as a Church family.
When we ask for help and then seek God, He will open our eyes to experience Him in new ways that bring us closer to Him.
Philippians 4: 13 “I can do all this through him who gives me
Thank you all for your continued support with everything you do in and out of Church.
God bless you all,
A Message from Martin & Sue…
We would like to express our thanks to you all for the cards and personal gifts we received
as Martin retired and we moved on from St. Peter’s. Thank you also for the generous gift
from the church family which will be put to good use – we will send you a picture of what
the money is used for.
You will continue to be in our hearts and prayers as we move into a completely different
way of life.
Every blessing to you all,
Martin & Sue
Letter from the Licensed Lay Minister
Who would have thought this time last year we had just celebrated Harvest?
The Church was beautifully decorated with colourful flowers, the children brought gifts and there was music, singing, laughter and fellowship.
How different it all is now. The Church has seen many changes since March and with God’s will and prayer we have begun to flourish again.
As Martin and Sue have retired to begin a new chapter in their lives, more than ever it is crucial we continue to grow as a Church. St Peter’s could not function without the support
of each and every one of you. I pray that we will all continue to support and fulfil our roles throughout the vacancy. I thank you all for your dedication and hard work.
God led me to St Peter’s 10 years ago, I could never have predicted the ministry he had in store for me. I am truly privileged to serve God at St Peter’s, however, not as a reader
now but as a Licensed Lay Minister as my title has now been changed. As a Church, my prayer is we continue to work together to keep our Church doors open. We also need to
pray for our new vicar, whom God already has his hand on.
We are blessed as a Church, please keep a strong faith through scripture and prayer as we move forward.
Blessings to each and every one of you.
From the Vicarage...
When many of you read this I will already have retired, and Sue & I will be in the process of moving out of the Vicarage.
For Sue and I this has been such a wonderful place to live and a great community to be a part of. We have some very special memories, which will live on in our hearts & minds.
It has been a privilege to serve at St Peter’s Church, Salesbury School and throughout the various communities that make up the Parish of Salesbury. Thank you for allowing us to be part of the happy, as well as the sad and difficult times in life, something we haven’t taken for granted. We want to say a special thank you to Keith Sowerbutts & Sue Grime for listening to God, eight years ago, and bringing us here.
We want to encourage you to pray for and support practically the church wardens at St. Peter’s, Sue Grime and Diane Foote, who have been charged with caring for the parish in the vacancy and also with appointing a new vicar. Sue and I commit ourselves to praying for you everyday, as we have done since our appointment.
As for the future, Sue and I plan to take a time of reflection as we settle into the community of Rainford and to find our role as members of our local church family. We are anticipating being able to spend more time with our families and are excited to learn what plans God has for our future – for there is no ‘retirement’ in God’s Kingdom.
Every blessing to you all
Martin & Sue
From the Vicarage
In the July/August Magazine I wrote about the importance of prayer. As St. Peter’s moves into a period of interregnum I continue with that theme this month and end with a challenge
Dr. Wilbur Chapman related his experience when, as a young man, he went to become the minister of a church. After his first sermon, an old gentleman said to him, "You're pretty young to be pastor of this church. But you preach the Gospel, and I'm going to help you all I can."
Wilbur Chapman thought, "Here's a crank."
But the man continued: "I'm going to pray for you that you may have the Holy Spirit's power upon you. Two others have covenanted to join with me in prayer for you."
Wilbur Chapman said, "I didn't feel so bad when I learned he was going to pray for me. The 3 became 10, the 10 became 20, and 20 became 50, the 50 became 200 who met before every service to pray that the Holy Spirit might come upon me. I always went into my pulpit feeling that I would have the anointing in answer to the prayers of those who had faithfully prayed for me. It was a joy to preach! The result was that we received 1,100 into our church by conversion in three years, 600 of whom were men. It was the fruit of the Holy spirit in answer to prayer!"
Perhaps there is a lesson here for St. Peter’s as you prepare to welcome a new vicar at some point in the future.
The time to start praying for them is here & now!
From the Vicarage
Prayer is a basic part of life as a Christian. We pray in church, at home, together, on our own… We offer thanks to God, ask his forgiveness when we get things wrong, pray for people we care about and much more. Often we pray ‘on the spur of the moment’, responding to situations as we meet them. Choosing to pray in a disciplined way, though, is a step further in life with God.
There are lots of patterns of prayer which we can use. Please do share any ideas that have helped you to pray – we’re all in this together, and have a lot to learn from each other. We can print your ideas in future editions of this magazine.
One thing is vital if you’re going to build a pattern of prayer – time. It doesn’t need to be a lot, but you need to set aside at least a few minutes regularly, and to make yourself do it – even if that means leaving some other things undone for the moment.
Get yourself comfortable, and don’t feel that you need to rush straight into praying. Often it helps to spend a few moments being still and breathing deeply to let your mind slow down a bit.
Then comes the praying part. If you’re trying to get started in this, why not use the prayer Jesus taught us? It’s both a wonderful prayer in itself and a great pattern for our own prayers.
Our Father, who art in heaven
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power
and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen
Try praying it slowly and thoughtfully this way for a few days.
Then take a bit longer, and perhaps once a day, stop after each line to think and pray about the kind if things the prayer mentions. So after ‘Our Father in heaven’ just take a moment to think about God – what do you believe he is like? Ask him to help you to know. After ‘Hallowed be your Name’, think of three things to praise and thank God about. Think through what each line of the prayer means, and spend a few moments praying about those things.
Why not try this for a week, and see how you feel about prayer then!
Vicar’s Retirement an update
As you will be aware, I was due to retire on 31st July, with Sue and I moving to our new home in Rainford at the beginning of August.
Due to the current situation I contacted Bishop Julian at the end of March and offered to delay my retirement so that I can help as the church comes out of ‘lockdown’. It has now been agreed that I will retire on 30th September 2020.
From The Vicarage
We’re in a period of waiting. We know how hard our carers and NHS staff have been working, but there is also a sense of waiting in hospitals which, having made extraordinary preparations, are waiting for the Coronavirus peak to hit whilst hoping it will not. All of us are waiting at home, wondering what happens with the lockdown. And it looks like this time of waiting is set to continue for several weeks yet.
In the light of this I was stuck by the words written in one of my study notes for today (21st April), words which I have reproduced below:
The Most Important Thing
Here are two enemies that threaten your spiritual life:
Boredom. Missionary and educator Frank Laubach said: ‘If you are weary of some sleepy form of devotion, probably God is as weary of it as you are.’ Walking with God is the most rewarding life possible. ‘In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16: 11).
Busyness. Jesus told Martha, ‘You are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it’ (Luke 10: 41-42) And what was Mary doing? Sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to him! Martha loved Jesus and she couldn’t do enough for him. But she was so busy serving him that she didn’t know how to relax and enjoy being with Him.
Maybe like Martha you think that unless you do the job yourself, it won’t get done properly. And you may be right. But God will never ask you to do anything that takes His place in your life. He wants to be your top priority.
Sometimes we approach God with a list of requests the length of our arm because we are more interested in His presents that His presence. David said, ‘The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple’ (Psalm 27 Verse 4).
Can you imagine having ‘one thing’ at the top of your agenda at all times: needing and desiring to spend time with God? Think how that could revolutionise your life.
‘Word for Today’ from United Christian Broadcasters
I wonder, during this time of lockdown, what God is saying to us all as individuals and as a church, locally and nationally? May I suggest that he is saying: Now you have time to reassess what is important in your lives. Now you have time and space to make Him the top priority in your life.
May God bless you in the waiting
From the Vicarage…
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 it!
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.
From the Vicarage…
Following an 11 year career as an Accountant, I was Ordained in Rochester Cathedral in July 1988 and after what will be 32 years I have decided to retire at the end of July 2020.
Sue and I went to see Bishop Julian last October to inform him and he asked us to wait until the New Year to make this announcement.
Our decision also means that Sue will be leaving her post at Salesbury School at the end of the Summer Term.
The initial plan is for us to spend more time with our family, especially our four grandchildren and also to visit friends in different parts of the country.
On 13th December we became proud owners of our retirement home in Rainford, a village on the edge of St. Helen’s. Which we will move into at the beginning of August.
We are also very excited about what plans God has for us for the future and are open to his leading.
We will also continue to keep St. Peter’s Church and the ministry in this parish and Diocese in our prayers.
Martin & Sue
From the Vicarage
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour
has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2 v 10-12
The birth of Jesus is God’s gift to the world. I asked a group of children what this meant to them and had some amazing responses including: excited, joyful, happy, wonderful, ecstatic and friendship.
So why is the birth of Jesus proclaimed as both a gift from God and Good News?
It is because in and through the birth of Jesus, we see God who is perfect, coming into our broken and hurting world to put things right. Our world needs not just hope, but an alternative way of doing things. As an imperfect people we need a perfect saviour to help us and to show us how we can live differently. A perfect saviour who can help us restore broken and hurting relationships, and who lead us into a new and brighter future.
The birth of the Christ Child offers this kind of hope and brighter future. That is why Christmas is such a wonderful and joyous occasion.
But this hope and bright new future can only begin to happen when we welcome the Christ Child into our lives. When we allow Him to teach us and lead us into this new life, through the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus as a gift, like any gift, is only useful when we receive it, unwrap it and use it! What good is the gift of chocolates if they are left in an unopened box?
Welcoming Jesus into our lives is a bit like the story of Roger Hargreaves ‘Mr Wrong’. Everything he did or touched went wrong until the day he met and shared his life with ‘Mr Right’. And then bit by bit, day by day he became more and more like Mr Right.
That is the hope to be found in the gift of Jesus this Christmas. When we share our lives with Him then, bit by bit, day by day we become a bit more like Him. And bit by bit, day by day the world becomes a better place for all.
With every blessing for Christmas and the New Year,
From the Vicarage
As I write for the November Magazine my thoughts are already turning to the Season of Advent and the preparation for our Christmas Celebrations. As they do I would like to issue and encourage you in 2 Challenges:
To BEGIN A NEW CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE
Join with me, beginning 1st December, reading one chapter of the Gospel of Luke in the Bible each day. There are 24 Chapters. By Christmas Eve you will have read an entire account of Jesus’ Life and will wake up on Christmas Morning knowing WHO and WHY we Celebrate!
To BRING ONE FRIEND
I invite you all to bring a friend to one of our Advent or Christmas Services, beginning on Sunday 1st December, with our Advent Carol Service at 6.30pm or the Community Carol Service (including our Gateway Nativity) on Sunday 8th December at 10.30am.
This will enable us to be built up in our faith by reading God’s Words & also help others to come into the presence of God.
From the Vicarage
Love, loss and remembering
Autumn has traditionally been a time when Christians explore the big questions about life and death. Watching the leaves fall and the nights draw in is an opportunity for all ages to think about love and loss and remember in special ways.
Children ask questions about death for all kinds of reasons. It may come from seeing a local war memorial, or closer to home with the death of a pet. Or maybe your child has lost a great-grandparent, grandparent, a family friend, a teacher, a neighbour, an aunt or uncle.
For some children, the impact of loss has huge consequences, especially if it’s the death of a parent or a sibling. However and whenever those questions come, there are good ways to remember those we see no longer with family at home:
• Light a candle on important days and say a prayer. “Loving God, thank you for_________, help us to remember them well.” This is a simple prayer to say together.
• Gather some items that remind you of that person – letters they wrote, photos of
them, items of clothing – and keep them in a nice box. Children can add
things to the box.
• Taking part in charities connected to the person who died; Race for Life is a family-
friendly event that can honour people who died from cancer, for example.
• Children can help taking care of a gravesite – pulling weeds, choosing flowers or
other items to bring at special times, washing a memorial stone, etc.
The church also has ways of remembering those we love who have died. This happens at the start of November, at All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. A week later, at Remembrance Sunday, we remember those who died in wars, and pray for peace.
At All Saints’ Day (November 1st), we remember those Christians who have died, who we don’t know personally. A “saint” is someone whose life shows us how to follow Jesus.
There are all kinds of saints – teachers, artists, scientists, social reformers, troublemakers, writers, and many more. Is there a saint who shares your child’s name? Their birthday? Think of well-known saints, like St George for example, and discover together who they were and what they did.
On All Souls’ Day (November 2nd), the church remembers all those we know who have died.
At St. Peter’s we have a special service where we invite people to add any names they would like read out to a list – we can then hear the names that mean something to us and light a candle to remember them. This service will be on Sunday 3rd November at 6.30pm
Why not join us for this service of Remembrance and Christian Hope.
From the Vicar
September has always felt to me like the start of a new year – as much as 1st January. Perhaps it is because I’ve been involved with schools for over 30 years! The summer holidays are over… the children are going back to school… while the weather is often glorious, there is often an edge of chill, especially as the darker evening draw in…
There is a sense of things ‘getting back to normal’. But often September is a time when new opportunities present themselves and fresh challenges begin.
It’s an exciting time – what will the next few months bring? It can also be a daunting time – I’ve got no idea what the next few months will bring – how will I cope? Will I have the wisdom and resilience to meet what lies ahead?
I am reminded of an Epistle reading we heard in church recently from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 17: “For anyone united to Christ, there is a new creation: the old order of things has gone: a new order has already begun.” Knowing Jesus as our Lord and Saviour gives us a whole new perspective on life: we see things differently, we feel and think differently, we act differently towards other people. Whether life offers us an easy ride or the bumpiest of paths, or something in between, we can know the help of Christ at every step as we pray to see things as he sees them.
I recently found a quotation from the writings of Jean Varnier, the founder of the L’Arche, and international federation of communities spread over 37 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. It seems to me that these are very wise words that may well help us as we take up the reins of life again after the summer – and seek to live each day well.
“Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinarily or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness. So, we will simply live each day with new hope, like children, in wonderment as the sun rises and in thanksgiving as it sets.’
Happy New Year!
FROM the Vicarage…
One of the joys of summer is the explosion of green everywhere, even in cities. Dark green pine trees, soft green grass for picnics, tender green leaves that get darker through the summer.
Next time you’re out and about as a family, see how many different green things you can count, and maybe even collect a few things to take home and press inside a heavy book. Pressed leaves and flowers can make beautiful pictures. You can even use them to create home-made cards for birthdays and other celebrations.
Summer is a wonderful time for planting too. Try planting seeds or bulbs with your children or grandchildren to see how they can grow when they’re fed and watered. Amaryllis bulbs grow fast and have beautiful big flowers, which children will love. If you want to grow something to eat, why not try rocket, which can be harvested as soon as four weeks after planting?
Over the summer the main colour used at St. Peter’s will be green. During this time, Christians just get on with growing in our life with God, like the plants are doing. And like the plants, to grow, we need feeding spiritually. Praying is a great way to feed our growing faith.
Long summer days and nights can be a good time for prayers. Start with something as simple as saying thank you to God for something you’re really grateful for, or asking for God’s peace each night before you go to bed.
Below are three examples of simple prayers you could try:
Saying Thank You:
God the Father, who made us, we thank you.
God the Son, who saved us, we thank you.
God the Spirit, who holds us in love, we thank you.
God, who is everywhere, thank you for being you.
A prayer before bed:
God, who is like a mother hen watching over her chicks,
Keep me under your warm wings as I sleep.
Send me good dreams.
And help me wake up ready for another day.
A prayer for God’s help:
Father God, sometimes I am scared. Sometimes I am worried.
Sometimes I need help.
Sometimes people I love have problems.
Please be with me and help me,
Like shepherds caring for sheep.
A message from the Curate - June 2019
By now, many of you will know I am to move on from St Peter’s this month; my training as a Curate is almost complete. It’s timely to reflect on my walk with Christ to reach this point.
At times it seems like it’s been a long journey, yet at the same time it’s all gone very fast! My three years as a Curate, working with Revd. Martin has been a wonderful time of practical training in the duties and life of a priest. Prior to arriving here I had been an Ordinand, serving at St Peter’s, Darwen and All Saints Clayton-le-Moors. My training as an Ordinand was for three years, throughout which I worked full time. Training involved attending weekly tutorials; Saturdays training in Lancaster and three residential weekends each year. Prior to being accepted for training I had spent almost two years discerning God’s call, testing it and of course attending the national Bishops Advisory Panel interview. That’s eight years of my life yet it all seems like yesterday! That’s perhaps because it’s been one heck of a journey….one I never expected to make…. one my family have made with me….and one that fulfils me tremendously.
Those of you, who have got to know me well, will know how much I like to plan and be organised. If life had gone according to my plan, I would still be working full time, still very active in my ‘sending church’ All Saints, Clayton-le-Moors and certainly not be an ordained priest about to take up a first Incumbency! Things haven’t gone according to plan but whose plan are we referring to here…….? It’s God’s plan!! I often think of God manoeuvring us round on a giant chess board. Like in the game of chess, God has a strategy and He plans His moves a long way ahead! God has a wonderful way of working things out in His time and at His pace. He is the God of our past, present and future.
Thank you for walking with me during my time at St Peter’s. Thank you for your warm welcome, your prayers and friendship during my time here. As I leave I pray that you will all journey well with the Lord. I pray that you will all grow in your discipleship and prayer life. Pray…listen… and never be afraid to respond; you might not understand what or why God asks something of you but know God is faithful and wants the best for you. Trust Him.
My last services will be 8am and 10.30am on Sunday 16th June. Please do come along for our final worship together. My Institution as Vicar of St Anne’s, Fence-in-Pendle and St John’s Higham is at 7.30pm on Thursday 11th July. It would be fantastic to see you there too.
Love Lesley xx
FROM THE VICARAGE
Continue to Make Prayer a Priority
This time last year I wrote an article for the magazine calling on people to ‘Make
Prayer a Priority”.
This year during the period between Ascension Day and
Pentecost (30th May to 9th June) we are being called again by our Archbishops
to be part of the worldwide movement of PRAYER ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, and so
my simple call is for us all to ‘Continue to Make Prayer a Priority’. Details of
how you can get involved are on the front page of this magazine.
There’s never a bad time to take our cares to God. No matter where we are in our spiritual walk—
whether in a season of distressing hardship or joyful celebration— “in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving [we are to let our] requests be made known to God” (Philippians
Chapter 4 vese 6). Our heavenly Father is always ready, willing, and waiting for us to reach out to
Him, because not only does He listen, but He also wants to speak to us as well.
So let us continue to make prayer a priority in our lives!
FROM THE VICARAGE
The wonder of new life and growth continually fills me with amazement and awe.
Flowers, stems and leaves carefully springing form tiny seeds & bulbs buried in the soil
Huge, towering oak trees from small acorns
Blossom, leaves and fruit ladening previously bare branches
Tadpoles changing into frogs, fluffy chicks into ducks, caterpillars into beautiful butterflies
- Tiny human babies growing into six-foot tall adults.
New life and growth are fundamental for Christians too. Spiritually we are given new life when we put our faith in Jesus Christ: ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 17).
We are then to keep changing and growing through the Holy Spirit working in us, so that we become more like Christ, more mature in faith, developing spiritual gifts and fruit, contributing to the building up of the church.
For years I have been challenged by some words on a bookmark that I was given:
“Who you are is God’s gift to you
Who you become is your gift to God.”
God does not want us to stay the same, but to keep growing; His light and beauty getting stronger within us.
As we see the wonder of creation around us, the rich varieties, shades, colours, shapes and textures, let us give thanks for:
The gift of life
The gift of each other
The gift of the Holy Spirit who renews and strengthens us
The new life we can have in Christ, because he died for us.
As we walk through this season of Lent, let us pray that we will go on being changed and becoming like Him:
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians Chapter 3 verse 11)
A message from the Curate
The beginning of a new year can be a funny old time! For some it is full of excitement for plans to come…for some it’s a bleak time where the thought of another year, going through the motions without a loved one just seems so hard…. for some the new year just seems a big anti-climax after all the busyness of Advent and Christmas…the bills are coming in and it’s getting cold!
And yet, we are filled with hope. We hope that this year will be somehow different and perhaps better than the last one. We hope that we can improve our lives for the better…maintain or improve our health…maintain or improve our finances….keep in touch and perhaps enjoy many more happy times with loved ones, friends and family.
As the days become quieter after the busyness of Christmas, we can find ourselves thinking about past times…reflecting on the good and bad bits of our lives. I encourage us to do this and to do it prayerfully. I want to encourage each one of us to look at the health of our relationships with each other. Are they in a good state or do they need some attention? We must also look at the health of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Are we a good disciple or have we lapsed a bit as the years roll by? I think we all might lapse…we all might stray a bit from the straight road…The Way, The Truth and The Life which is Jesus Christ. Life today, no matter what we think, is pressured. There are subtle pressures on us from the media…from our work colleagues…from our friends and families that cause us to get our priorities confused; that maybe cause us to put our relationship with God on the backburner for a while.
This New Year…this month…I urge us to wipe the slate clean, to make a fresh start in our discipleship with Jesus. Let us get our diaries and calendars out and mark dates when we will attend the Bible study group…join the essence group … commit to attend Thursday Morning Prayer once a month….or maybe to attend church every week…….
It’s time to welcome Jesus right back into the centre of our lives again because Jesus is our hope. He is waiting for each one of us
Love Lesley x
FROM the Vicarage……
O come all ye faithful
Christmas should be a time of hope, but all around there are worried faces. There seems to be a lot to be worried about.
Should we be spending this year?
Can we really afford it?
What about Brexit?
What will the New Year bring?
For some the times are really hard. For many the anxieties are strong and real.
If we were offered a quick fix we would wonder where the catch was. If we were hoping that someone would come up with a solution that would make everything alright again, we would also guess that it would be too good to be true. What we need at a time like this is a hope that will keep us going through a long haul, something that keeps us going when things are really tough.
The Christmas carol has got it right, talking in one breath about hopes and fears. That’s the sort of thing we can relate to. Fears that are real, but then hope too. The words come from the first verse of ‘O little town of Bethlehem’:
The hopes & fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
Then it goes on in the next verse:
For Christ is born of Mary
That’s what we will be celebrating this Christmas, and what we will be working out together as we go into 2019. Do join us this Christmas and let’s work alongside each other in 2019.