Ministry Letter

Rob Writes....(February 2020)

I was recently at a conference, where this picture was created by the well-known cartoonist, Dave Walker. It made me think and I thought it would be good to share with you all.
At this present time, we are without a rector in the parish, so we could say that we are missing a rector or a leader from our parish table. But the job specification has been put together and the advert has been published and we look forward to moving forward.
I am regularly being told that we need to attract young people and families into the Church. They could also be seen as missing from our table. 
Over the last few months, we have lost several regular attenders at Church, they are missing from our table. It might be the same for you in your family, you may have lost a loved one. As I sit and write this, I am very aware that during January, between the two parishes, we had six funerals. That is another six families who have someone missing from their tables.
But as we move forward, we continue to focus on our prayer lives. During February, we begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Lent is the season in the Church that takes us towards Easter. Lent is also traditionally a time for taking stock of our lives and is often thought of as a time for giving something up, be that chocolate, alcohol or something similar. I personally like to give up time, perhaps by watching less TV or have less time on-line and to create opportunity for some extra prayer and study in the time I give up. During Lent this year, we will be looking to meet in groups and to use the resource created by our Bishop that encourages us to examine our Everyday Faith, to try and recognise that a living faith is something that continues throughout the week and is not just for Sundays.
We need to appreciate that we are all different and that we all have different gifts to not only the Church but also to the community around us. Some of the spaces at the table might be better if filled by the people with the right gifts. Some, might be able to offer the gift of hospitality to a person who lives on their own. Maybe you are able to offer to assist someone by supporting them as they visit the doctors, dentists, hairdressers or similar. Perhaps you might be able to drive someone to the shops. All gifts, and things that might want to be at the table.
So who or what is missing from your table?

Tony says...January 2020

Dear Friends
A recent article listed the five most popular resolutions made every year.  5th was to take up a new hobby, 4th was to make more money, 3rd was to improve relationships, 2nd was to stop smoking, and the most popular new year’s resolution, you guessed it, losing weight.
A woman walked into her bathroom at home.  As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, "he thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach." so, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, "that’s not going to help." her husband said, "yes it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers." not at our house – honest!
Often this time of year, after the over-indulgence of the holidays we make resolutions to change our habits and our way of life.  A new year gives us an opportunity to start fresh and better ourselves.  But come the middle of January we somehow forget our resolutions and go back to our old ways.
So what has this to do with the birth of Jesus – well right from the start, god signalled that Jesus, his son, was for everyone – a simple girl became pregnant, her fiancé was nothing special, the child was born in a stable and visited by shepherds and magi alike.
His disciples were fishermen, zealots and tax collectors – he frequented with all and sundry, healed whoever needed him and eventually died for us all.
God wants us to tell everyone about him in order that we might have eternal life.
And the signal that God was giving is that word “everyone” whether they be pious churchgoers, charity workers that dedicate their lives to helping others or people that have had and do have problems, some serious –
Jesus got beside all such people, lepers, criminals, flawed individuals – even saducees and pharisees and of course even Paul who persecuted his followers
As we have been saying throughout the Christmas period – Jesus is the light of the world he came to shine that light of goodness upon all and he expects us all to help shine that light.
God often shines that light into our lives and because we don’t anticipate it, we miss it and an opportunity to tell others about Jesus falls by the wayside.
Sometimes we ignore him because we don’t feel that we are good enough Christians to tell others.
Christian writer Rick Warren once said that "the New Testament teaches that: I’m not okay, you’re not okay. But because of Jesus that’s okay."
God gives us enough light that we might search for more. Sometimes we get the idea that the only place god can speak to us is in church. That is not true of course – he can even speak to us in the cinema, in the car or even in Tesco’s.- . God works through the many circumstances of our lives to direct our attention to him; and quite often those circumstances involve where we work, in the midst of our families or in the pub, restaurant or shop.
Moses was tending sheep; Gideon was harvesting wheat; peter cleaning nets after a night of fishing, Matthew at a table collecting taxes, the wise men whilst studying the stars
he ever given you the opportunity to tell someone about Jesus and you have changed the subject – I know I have in the past.
I’ll finish with one suggestion for a common new year’s resolution
At least once in 2020 tell someone about Jesus and how he has changed your life – not a theological explanation, just how he has changed your life
Happy New Year

Rob Writes...November 2019

What does it mean to be a disciple and to lead a servant like life?
As we enter this period of interregnum, and as we start to examine what and who we are as a Church. We need to identify what we have already and what are our desires for the future.
Recently I have been reading several books that challenge us to consider these. We need to ask ourselves what it means for each of us and how are we formed?
This desire to find out about ourselves, very much sits alongside with +Martyn’s challenge of “Everyday Faith”, the recognition that our faith is not just for Sundays.  It has been recognised by people that those either on the fringe of the Church or outside of the Church are more influenced by what they see and experience with us than what they hear us speaking.  To me, this means living a life that can show what a life centred on Christ is like. We are all called to a life of Servanthood, not just those in full-time ministry.
One of the books I have read is called “Servant Ministry – A portrait of Christ and a pattern for his followers.”  It focuses on the servant song in Isaiah 42.  It caused me to reflect on my life and on how I relate to others.  I can only commend it to you.
To be a disciple is to be a risk taker. Our modern consumer society can seem very risk averse – seeking to maximise safety and minimising risk. To truly follow Jesus is to walk an exciting path that requires us to take risks, for us to often step out into the unknown.
But, in this month when we will gather to Remember, to look back and remember those who lost their lives during times of conflict, as we look back, we can also look back with memories of all that Tom has brought to us over the years and I am sure that we will be influenced by these memories as we seek to write our desires for the person we want for the future.
I believe the following verses from Isaiah are good guidelines and reminders of how we should be living.
Isaiah 42:1-3 (MSG)
1 Take a good look at my servant. I'm backing him to the hilt. He's the one I chose, and I couldn't be more pleased with him. I've bathed him with my Spirit, my life. He'll set everything right among the nations. 2  He won't call attention to what he does with loud speeches or gaudy parades. 3  He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won't disregard the small and insignificant, but he'll steadily and firmly set things right.