Ministry Letter

Rob Writes....(May 2020)

As I sit writing this, it is the week after what has been one of the strangest Easter’s for all of us.  Never would we have been able to envisage the closure of the churches, the inability to meet and worship on Easter Sunday. For me personally, it is the first time in over ten years, where I have not been in a Church somewhere.

One of the reasons I have been putting together the weekly services, is to encourage us to remember that we are the Body of Christ, and that even in these difficult times, we can still meet for worship. Many of you have been in touch and told me that you enjoy the services and that you make a point of taking part in them at 10:30 on a Sunday morning.  For me, it has been interesting to see the total number of views that we are getting each week.

It is a difficult time for all of us. I have to spend a lot of time speaking with families who had baptisms planned, couples with weddings booked, both of which have had to be postponed. At present, we cannot hold any funerals in the Churches, and any held at crematoria or at the graveside, must have a minimal attendance. It is, I feel, our responsibility to support the families afterwards, offering them the opportunity to return to the church, if they wish, for a celebration memorial that family and friends can attend.

As part of this difficult time, we are also waiting to hear about our new rector, Gareth, joining us.  We look forward to him and his family joining us when they are able, and I do feel that once we are able, we should plan to have one almighty party.

In the words of both Vera Lynn and our Queen, “We will meet again, don’t know when” but at least we know where.

Can I close with a prayer that perhaps, we can all use in this current time.

Lord Jesus Christ,

You taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you.

In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick and to assure the isolated of our love and your love,

For your name’s sake.

Amen

Take care and God bless you

Rob


Rob Writes.... (April 2020) 

MARKING GOOD FRIDAY

Marking Good Friday Children look forward to hot cross buns, Easter eggs, chicks and making bonnets around Easter. Good Friday is more than a Bank Holiday – in churches it’s a very special time to remember that Jesus died on a cross to save the whole world. Here are some traditional and new ways to tell children that Good Friday is all about the cross.

Hot Cross Buns Though many places sell them all year round, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. The cross on the top is a reminder of the cross on which Jesus died, and the spices are a reminder of the spices used in his burial. Many shops sell hot cross buns near to Easter, but there are lots of great recipes online if you’d like to make your own together. Find a cross If you go to church on Good Friday (and many churches have special activities for children and families), look round the church building and see how many crosses you can find. Even if you’re not in church, learn to spot crosses everywhere: window frames, aeroplane trails…there will be crosses everywhere!

Many people wear a cross as jewellery, some people carry a small cross in their pocket or bag. At a christening, the minister may draw the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead – the cross is a sign of belonging to God, and of the love that God has for us. One of the most famous bible verses says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” (John chapter 3 verse 16). New parents probably understand this sort of love better than anyone: the love that means you would do anything and everything for the sake of your child. We can pray “Our Father”, because God loves us like that – Jesus’ death on the cross was God being willing to do anything and everything for our sake, because he loves us.

Make an Easter Garden This can be anything from a simple plant pot ‘garden’ to something much more ambitious. Usually an Easter garden includes a hill with three crosses on it, and a cavetomb (usually a smaller plant pot laid on its side) with a stone against it. Some gardens also add a path made of gravel, and spring flowers such as primroses. You can even make an Easter garden picture instead if you don’t have the materials to make a 3D one from natural objects – try cutting the pictures out of the seed catalogues that are often delivered free from local garden centres. When you make the garden, put the stone in front of the cave.

On Easter Sunday, roll the stone to one side (or peel it off if you made a picture) to help tell the Easter story


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.

Rob