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If you are pushed for time, on this page we provide a bite-sized version of the sermon in this week's service

24th September -  It's all Topsy-Turvey

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Taking Jesus' story in Matthew Ch 20 about all the workers in the vineyard being paid the same daily wage regardless of how long they worked for, local preacher Judy Tasker asked us to consider what meaning that might have for us today and what we could do about it.

 

The essence of the story is that the workers who had been hired earliest had complained that they should be paid more because they'd done more work than those hired later in the day. Even to us 2,000 years later it doesn't seem fair but what this parable is really telling us is that everyone who comes to God will receive the same gift of eternal life even if we only arrive at this point of accepting God at the end of our earthly lives.

 

But there's something else we can take from this story and that is that our acceptance by God and receiving His generosity, love and kindness, cannot be earned. All these things are given by God as a free gift as long as we genuinely ask for His forgiveness of our wrongdoings and reorder our lives reconciled to what He wants of us.

 

Ok then, what can we do? Because in God's topsy-turvey Kingdom He puts the last first, and the first last, the answer lies in our attitude, love and care for other people, particularly those less fortunate than we are. Asylum seekers, the homeless or those whose existence is precarious, perhaps for example as a result of disability, ill-health, unemployment or zero hours contracts. So do all you can, whenever you can and for as long as you can. This isn't earning God's Grace - we have that anyway - it's the result of His Grace changing our lives.

Due to holidays unfortunately there is no video this week 

17th September - Seeing Disability

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This week, Local Preacher Joan Murray spoke about how disabled people, of which there are nearly 15 million in the UK alone, are often excluded in society and sometimes even in church. But that's not how God wants it to be!

 

We watched some moving videos from a Christian disabilities charity Through the Roof which showed some incredible, inspiring people with disabilities, overcoming enormous odds to succeed.

 

in Luke Ch 5 Jesus heals a man let down through a roof by his friends because they couldn't get him through the crowds. Yet before healing the man physically, Jesus prioritises forgiving the man's sins, much to the disquiet of the religious teachers present. In doing so, Jesus was setting out His credentials to them and the world but He was also recognising what the man - and ourselves here and now - needed most of all, which is to know Jesus and achieve a reconciliation with God for the eternal life with Him that is to come. And that's because any disabilities we are suffering now, are restricted to our short earthly existence.

 

Through the friends, this story shows human nature at its best because they put the disabled man's needs before their own. Loving him before themselves, it's what real friends do.

 

And what does this teach us 2,000 years later? This story shows that God can use disability but it's also telling us what Jesus wants us His disciples of 2023, to do. Can we change our perspective of disability? With over 90% of the world's 1 bn disabled people never having heard the Gospel of Jesus because of their mental or physical disabilities one way might be to support Through the roof who break down barriers by providing not only practical disability aids to Third World communities, but also Bibles in local languages.

Enjoy the service here in full:

17th September - Seeing Disability

healing-7305131_1280.png

This week, Local Preacher Joan Murray spoke about how disabled people, of which there are nearly 15 million in the UK alone, are often excluded in society and sometimes even in church. But that's not how God wants it to be!

 

We watched some moving videos from a Christian disabilities charity Through the Roof which showed some incredible, inspiring people with disabilities, overcoming enormous odds to succeed.

 

in Luke Ch 5 Jesus heals a man let down through a roof by his friends because they couldn't get him through the crowds. Yet before healing the man physically, Jesus prioritises forgiving the man's sins, much to the disquiet of the religious teachers present. In doing so, Jesus was setting out His credentials to them and the world but He was also recognising what the man - and ourselves here and now - needed most of all, which is to know Jesus and achieve a reconciliation with God for the eternal life with Him that is to come. And that's because any disabilities we are suffering now, are restricted to our short earthly existence.

 

Through the friends, this story shows human nature at its best because they put the disabled man's needs before their own. Loving him before themselves, it's what real friends do.

 

And what does this teach us 2,000 years later? This story shows that God can use disability but it's also telling us what Jesus wants us His disciples of 2023, to do. Can we change our perspective of disability? With over 90% of the world's 1 bn disabled people never having heard the Gospel of Jesus because of their mental or physical disabilities one way might be to support Through the roof who break down barriers by providing not only practical disability aids to Third World communities, but also Bibles in local languages.

Enjoy the service here in full:

10th September - Love IS Everything

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In mirroring Jesus' Great Commandment to us all to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, Rev Dawn Brown reminded us this morning of what St Paul said in his letter to the Romans in Ch 13 vs 8 - 14, that everything in the law is summed up in love (vs 10).

 

We all know Tina Turner's (image above) famous song What's Love got to do with it but not everyone appreciates that it was written out of her personal experience of an abusive marriage. So is Love an old fashioned notion?

 

CS Lewis wrote that it's easier to be enthusiastic about humanity with a capital H than it is to love an individual, man or woman, if they are uninteresting, deprived or unattractive. He concluded that loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.

 

But the Bible's answer to the question what's love got to do with it, is Everything It challenges us to love constantly, in every moment and in every relationship. Paul's letter tries to make us understand where we are going wrong when he says in vs 8 that no debt remains outstanding except to love one another.

 

John Ch 3 vs 16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son in sacrifice. Jesus came to teach us that love puts aside any deeds of darkness and forgives. Love never harms. Loving your neighbour as yourself can be hard if we find someone unattractive but the commandment He gives is to love.

 

We need God's Holy Spirit to fall afresh on us each morning enabling us to live within the Spirit every day.

 

So don't get lost in darkness, go and make a difference - with love - which IS everything!

Enjoy the service here in full:

September 3rd - Love changes Everything

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Can a leopard change it's spots? that was the question asked today by Local Preacher Peter Walsham because when we use that term it's usually to question the ability of someone we may know to change their bad habits and how difficult it is to see how change might come about. Could certain behaviours be genetic? Or is it just the way they were brought up?

 

It's difficult to change people but in Make Me a Channel of Your Peace a famous hymn written by St Francis of Assisi, it suggests that if we can demonstrate God's love in our interactions with others, they can be changed from hate to love, turning their negatives into positives.

 

And yes, this is challenging. In Matthew's Gospel in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides us with a blueprint for life and makes it clear that His narrow, correct, way is difficult but that following the wider ways of the world ultimately leads to our rejection by God at the final judgement, even though God sent Jesus not to be a judge but a Saviour.

 

Jesus was the essence of love and we love because God first loved us in sending and sacrificing Jesus on the Cross to pay the cost of our sins. Jesus commands us not to condemn but to love our neighbours no matter who that neighbour might be and 1 John Ch 4 vs 13 reads that if we have love for our neighbour we will live in union with God.

 

Billy Graham the American evangelist wrote that the love God wants us to have is not an emotion but a conscious act of will. A deliberate decision on our part to put others ahead of ourselves. This is the kind of love God has for us.

 

So be humble and think of others before yourself because love changes everything.

Enjoy the service here in full:

27th August - Modelling Jesus

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For his closing service as our Superintendent Minister before retirement, Rev Alf Waite read from the Old Testament book of Zechariah where despite the Jews having been disobedient and exiled in a foreign country, we read about God rebuilding His church in Jerusalem from small beginnings. Ch 4 vs 10 saying  "Who dares to despise the day of small things."

 

Today, due to declining attendances, it is a time of small days for many churches but we can all experience a contentment that we are where we are meant to be and doing what we ought to be doing because God can still work through us. Sadly, rather than concentrating on the needs of others, too many churches are preoccupied with themselves. For God to be with us at the centre of things, leading and inspiring us, we need to ensure that we continue to focus on what God wants.

 

In Matthew Ch 28, following His death and resurrection, Jesus is leaving this world but He tells His disciples to continue His work of bringing people to God by making new disciples who will spread the Good News of salvation that belief in Him offers. We are here today because the Gospel has been shared across the world over many generations.

 

But how do we make disciples? It means modelling our faith on Jesus, not by beating people over the head with our Bibles but by being welcoming, spending time with people, building a life of prayer and building relationships. Remember, it's not about us - it's about Jesus - that's who our lives should model.

 

In  big churches people can disappear but in small groups, open to God's leading, we can build relationships by modelling Jesus not just in words, but in the way we live. This is the worship that God wants from us. It's the way His Kingdom will grow.

Enjoy the service here in full:

20th August -Uncomfortable Encounters

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None of us like change very much and get set in our ways but at times we are faced with new challenges and we need to be brave, motivated or even pushed to meet them, because they are often scary and take us out of our comfort zones. Faced with uncomfortable encounters caused by ageing or illness for example, our faith is challenged and we forget that there are so many blessings we need to thank God for.

 

So today Rev Dawn Brown spoke about a story in Matthew Ch 15 where Jesus heals a foreign woman's daughter. But this isn't like any of Jesus's other miracle healings because at first, He ignores the woman's pleadings and the disciples want Him to send her away. This would seem to have been an uncomfortable encounter. Did Jesus not hear the woman or was He just not prepared to listen on this occasion?

 

In living the Christian life of faith we are not provided with the proverbial bed of roses, there are difficulties we will meet and so it was for the woman in the Matthew reading. The lesson for us here is that she didn't give up her pleas and because of her faith, Jesus granted her wish.

 

But there's something more we can learn here. When we pray we need to remember that sometimes we need to wait because the Lord knows best and will do things in our best interests in His time not ours. And that waiting can be an example for us of an uncomfortable encounter, one where our faith is tested. But the Lord both hears and is always with us. We have to have the faith to know that He will heal, help or rescue and answer us when the time is right.

Enjoy the service here in full:

13th August - Faith overcomes Fear

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After reading the story in Matthew Ch14 of Jesus walking on the water toward His disciples and calming the storm that was besetting them, Local Preacher Peter Walsham spoke today about how we can have faith that God is in control and that He is in the boat with us whatever the adversity we may be facing.

 

Not many of us will be faced with dangers at sea like the disciples in the boat but it is worth considering that any difficulty we are confronted with may in fact be used by God to strengthen our faith because with Jesus in our lives and having the faith to trust Him whenever we are confronted by problems, we can experience a sense of calm before we find that in most cases, the things worrying us dissipate.

 

And this isn't the first time God shows that He is in control of the general rules that govern the world. Right from the outset in the Old Testament books of Genesis and Exodus there are examples of this. In the Creation story God separates land from water and when the Israelite nation are rescued from Egypt, God through Moses parts the Red Sea to give them safe crossing.

 

Most of us will have felt frightened and on our own at times and that our faith has been less than it could have been. In this story, Peter at first trusts in Jesus' saving power and jumps out of the boat when Jesus invites him to, but then He doubts and starts to flounder. Sometimes it's necessary to consider the cost of following Jesus before jumping in but Christian people believe that when we take that step, reaching out in faith, then Jesus will come to you in the storms of life and help you through.

Enjoy the service here in full:

6th August - Use Your Gifts

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Joan Murray asked us to recognise the work of God's Holy Spirit, which can be seen if we care to look carefully for Him because by taking a few moments out from our busy days, we see people helping others in all sorts of ways. Assisting an elderly person off the bus perhaps, or someone volunteering and doing a litter-pick. Often these acts of kindness and generosity just go unnoticed.

 

We read the famous story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 people in the wilderness from which we could see that from a gift of a few loaves and fish, everyone present was satisfied, with a great deal to spare. God took and developed a small gift to enormous effect. Perhaps as the meal began, other donations of food were made, but it took that first small gift to unleash the miracle.

 

How often we hear people saying that there's no point in trying because we are so small and our resources are so limited? But Jesus is telling us in this story that if we trust in Him, great things will ensue.

 

Earlier, we read from Isaiah Ch 55. Written 600 years before Jesus' time, the people of Israel were in exile in a foreign land but still God was offering them good things and a bright future if they returned to Him, obeying and following Him in faith.

 

Do you feel that what you have to offer is of little value? Well, the lesson here is that God has given us gifts to use in His service and that when we freely give of those gifts, be they in time, talent or material resources, God can make a difference, sometimes a big difference and sometimes to those we cannot see.

Enjoy the service here in full:

30th July - Treasure and Pearls

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We read again from Matthew Ch 13 today with Worship Leader Margaret Wakefield, this time looking at Jesus' teachings about Faith as told in the parable of a tiny mustard seed, which eventually grows into the tallest of trees and then His story about the effect that only a small amount of yeast has when it is added to the dough. What Jesus is demonstrating in telling His disciples these tales, is that seemingly tiny and insignificant things can have a massive effect!

 

And we all need Faith in Jesus in order to accept what He wants us to know about God, what He wants from us and to make sure that we stay focussed on the really important matters of life and death.

 

The above lesson is carried forward into two more parables, those of the man who finds buried treasure in a field and then goes and sells all he has to buy the field he found it in and that of the merchant who comes across a single priceless pearl amongst fairly ordinary ones and who then puts all his money into buying the job-lot in order to possess the one that's really worth something.

 

Jesus is reminding us here that Judgement eventually comes to everyone and there will be consequences for not having concentrated our lives on God and what He wants us to do.

 

Some very young children were asked what 'Thy Kingdom Come' meant in the Lord's Prayer. One said feeling safe with love and cuddles, another described a beautiful garden full of flowers and a third, who came from a difficult family, said a place without arguments and fighting. Can you ensure that you are looking for the right things in life which will herald the coming of God's Kingdom?

Sorry - we do not have a video of this week's service

23rd July - Keep Gardening

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This week we read Matthew Ch 13 vs 24-43 where Jesus tells the parable of the harvesting of the ripe wheat and how the weeds that the Devil has sown in it will be collected and burnt at the end of time. Rev Dawn Brown told us that in order to spread the seed of God's good news we need to take time to clean our own gardens by taking a good look at ourselves to ensure that we ourselves are growing fruitfully.

 

The parable is telling us that although Christian people live in an imperfect and sinful world we should stay alert and not get led astray by its temptations as warned in James Ch1. But what does this mean in practice?

 

Ask yourself: is your soul tangled with the world's weeds? Well, in order to grow the good seed God plants in each one of us which we are told to spread, we first need to let God plough our hearts to produce good soil by not expending all our energies on either work or leisure pursuits over spending some of our time nurturing friends, family and community in love and service. That way, our own growth can influence those around us and if we don't do this then we risk being swamped by weeds and not set a good example.

 

Can your words and actions, refresh the gardens of those you meet providing them with good soil and life giving rain?

Enjoy the service here in full:

16th July - Get the Picture

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Rev Derek Aldridge led service this week and took his message from John Ch 14 where we see the disciple Philip asking Jesus to show God to them.

 

At this point Jesus is nearing the end of His ministry here on Earth and He explains, possibly with some exasperation, that He had been painting a picture of God ever since He began his work with them.

 

So how do we see God and what do we know of Him?

 

When a picture is painted the artist has to very carefully choose how he is going to frame his subject in order to get the his message across.

 

In the Bible's Old Testament, God is often displayed in dark colours, reflecting vengeance and retribution in a climate of fear but Jesus paints a completely different image of God, one of compassion, love and the forgiveness of sinners, a God who never condemns or gives up on us whatever we've done. It is this God that Jesus had been revealing to the disciples all along, a picture of God they hadn't seen before.

 

But pictures are two way things. The artist does his best to portray one message, but the beholder may view the picture entirely differently. In Jerusalem the religious authorities saw much of what Jesus did as blasphemous, hence their wish to destroy Him, yet many others believed in Jesus, seeing a better way of following God.

 

To be able to paint is a talent only some of us have but not all paintings are expressed in water colours or oils. Each one of us displays to other people a totally unique picture, so Rev Derek asked us how the likeness of God is displayed on the canvas of our lives.

 

Do you get the picture?

Enjoy the service here in full:

9th July - Rely on God

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We looked at Romans Ch 8 vs 1 & 2 with Rev Alf Waite this week where St Paul states that by following God's Holy Spirit that we are forgiven for past wrongs and set free from the control of sin and the laws that govern it.

 

Up to this point Paul has been wrestling with the conflict between the desires of the flesh and the ways that God's Holy Spirit direct us, but in these two verses he comes to his conclusion. It's a hard concept for anyone to grasp and many struggle with it! Even people like St Augustine one of Christianity's earliest scholars and Methodism's founder John Wesley had to redirect their lives when they learnt to accept this.

 

Because our identity is formed by what we rely on so following the promptings of the Holy Spirit which leads us to rely on God and not on the directions of the world is what He wants from all of us.

 

In Old Testament times before Jesus came, the Jews practised annual animal sacrifice as an offering to God for their sins but through Jesus' death and the shedding of His blood a permanent sacrifice has been made and through God's Grace, free to all who accept Him, our sins are forgiven and remembered no more.

 

Grace, Freedom and God's Holy Spirit are God given and free, but we have the freedom to choose to between the World's way or God's way.

 

Lord we surrender to You - let's all walk that path!

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25th June - The Jesus Way

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This week we welcomed Peter Wallace from Lakeside Baptist Church who spoke about Jesus' meeting with Peter after His crucifixion and resurrection, as told in John Ch 21, when Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him.

 

Why three times? We don't know for sure but maybe it referenced the fact that when Jesus was arrested, Peter had denied Him three times.

 

But a better answer might be linguistic. In English, different types of love are described by a single word whilst familial love, romantic love and the love we have for friends all have different words in Greek. So which love was Jesus talking of and in what way do we love Him?

 

'Love' may be summarised as that which takes, for example consumption - 'I'd love to own that' - or a love that gives. Jesus tells Peter that if he really loves Him he must express his love by serving people and 'feeding' His sheep spiritually.

 

This is true for us as well. Jesus wants us to love one another, not for what we might GET but for what we can GIVE. Can we help, encourage and be a shoulder to cry on for someone else? That's the sort of love Jesus is talking about.

 

But Jesus' love is also sacrificial. Peter is told "when you are old you will be led where you don't want to go..." The language is that of the crucifixion in that Jesus says we must be prepared to die for Him, but do we love Jesus enough to LIVE for Him?

 

Do we trust and love Jesus enough to follow His instructions, dying for Him if necessary?

Jesus demonstrated what true love looks like by giving us everything. We know deep down we are loved by Him so what we say and do matters in demonstrating that we follow Him.

 

Are we praying enough, being kind enough?

Enjoy the service here in full:

2nd July - "Welcome Stranger"

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Local Preacher Jean Shotton spoke to us this week about the importance of giving people the Good News that God loves them and how as Disciples, our message can be measured by the welcome we receive. In Matthew Ch 10 Jesus commissions His disciples to go out into the world and in vs 40 Jesus tells His disciples ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me and whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me.'

 

So, in our generation, we are the ones set apart for the task God gave the original twelve disciples, not offering our own thoughts on what life is about but rather, as a modern day journalist would, we are reporting Jesus' message and those who welcome it are welcoming the God who the message is about. And as we speak His word, we are blessed by God for doing His work.

 

Part of the Good News is the opening of barriers between people. Maybe we can help to do this by starting a house group and inviting people to come along as they are, regardless of their social or cultural background.

 

Or might it be that in receiving something, perhaps as trivial as a glass of water on a hot day, we can find the opportunity to begin a conversation? Missionaries abroad often speak of receiving amazing hospitality from people in countries where they have arrived as strangers.

 

And finally, let's not be afraid of getting involved, turning a blind eye when we are able to assist someone. a good example here is how many people have offered accommodation to refugees from the Ukraine war.

 

Look for ways to practice and proclaim hope. Can we build a culture of welcome, hospitality and sanctuary which puts community and compassion in place of conflict and humanity over hostility.

Sorry - there was no video service this week

25th June - The Jesus Way

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This week we welcomed Peter Wallace from Lakeside Baptist Church who spoke about Jesus' meeting with Peter after His crucifixion and resurrection, as told in John Ch 21, when Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him.

 

Why three times? We don't know for sure but maybe it referenced the fact that when Jesus was arrested, Peter had denied Him three times.

 

But a better answer might be linguistic. In English, different types of love are described by a single word whilst familial love, romantic love and the love we have for friends all have different words in Greek. So which love was Jesus talking of and in what way do we love Him?

 

'Love' may be summarised as that which takes, for example consumption - 'I'd love to own that' - or a love that gives. Jesus tells Peter that if he really loves Him he must express his love by serving people and 'feeding' His sheep spiritually.

 

This is true for us as well. Jesus wants us to love one another, not for what we might GET but for what we can GIVE. Can we help, encourage and be a shoulder to cry on for someone else? That's the sort of love Jesus is talking about.

 

But Jesus' love is also sacrificial. Peter is told "when you are old you will be led where you don't want to go..." The language is that of the crucifixion in that Jesus says we must be prepared to die for Him, but do we love Jesus enough to LIVE for Him?

 

Do we trust and love Jesus enough to follow His instructions, dying for Him if necessary?

Jesus demonstrated what true love looks like by giving us everything. We know deep down we are loved by Him so what we say and do matters in demonstrating that we follow Him.

 

Are we praying enough, being kind enough?

Enjoy the service here in full:

18th June - Making Church Great

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Today we read from Matthew Ch 16 where we see Jesus founding His Church and appointing the disciple Peter to lead it after His death. Rev Dawn Brown then asked what qualities make the Church great.

 

The Church is characterised by many things. Some would say it's about the doctrines, the Ministers or by those who attend, whilst others cite the worship, the preaching or its evangelical mission.

 

On the face of it, the bigger the congregation and its finances the healthier the church is, but then there might well be a lot of deadwood, with the poorest churches sometimes having the most life. It's the same with the buildings. Big, majestic premises may be good but they might be cold and uninviting, compared with a small congregation meeting in a community hall.

 

Because it's what the Church does that really matters. In Acts Ch 1 we saw that the early church added thousands of adherents in its first days because their actions earnt the goodwill of the people.

 

It's all down to our relationship with Jesus and our love for God. Do people know us as Christians through our love?

 

Any church may fail because it's not in tune with God. We were asked to remember that we ARE the church every day and that we need to be building it in His might. Whilst no church is perfect, the Lord covers any imperfections with His love and Grace, evidenced by the shedding of His blood so church is a place where the imperfect gather to build a return to God for themselves and others.

 

Jesus is love, grace and forgiveness. His true church is not a building, it's you and I acknowledging that God is our Father, enabling us to become alive, surrendering our all to Him and having Him at the centre of our beings. We ARE the church and if we share His love, the church will never die.

Enjoy the service here in full:

4th June - Three in One

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This week it was Trinity Sunday so Local Preacher Judy Tasker spoke about the three facets of God which are God the Father and Great Creator, His Son Jesus who is God as our Saviour and the Holy Spirit of God who is within us at all times to guide us until the end of time when Jesus will return as the Almighty King.

 

Reading Genesis Ch 1 we were asked to consider how awesome God the Father is by tuning in to His Creation, from the 100 million stars above our heads right down to the symmetry of the tiniest seed. These days we can appreciate all these things so much more through the marvellous nature programmes we see on TV.

 

Many of the Psalms in the Bible invite us to lift our thoughts away from our everyday mundane problems to the majesty of God expressed through His Creation with a need to be aware of our responsibilities by looking after the environment and considering our carbon footprints.

 

John Ch 1 signifies the trinitarian nature of God introducing Jesus as the Word which at the beginning was with God. Jesus promised His followers that He would always be with them even after His crucifixion and ascent to Heaven and this is God's Holy Spirit whose arrival with the Apostles we celebrated last Sunday at Pentecost.

 

Christian people are God's witnesses in the world and so with the help of His Holy Spirit within us we are called to continue God's work of love for the world, inviting other people to come to Him in faith. Often the most effective sermons have no words at all because every kindness we show, no matter how large or small is to witness and demonstrate God's awesome love for everything He has made.

Enjoy the service here in full:

28th May - Climate Change

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This Sunday is Pentecost when the Church celebrates the promised arrival of God's Holy Spirit to Jesus' followers after His death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven.

 

In Mark Ch 12 vs 29 - 31 Jesus teaches us to love God and our neighbours as much as we love ourselves. Just as it was for the original disciples, the coming of the Holy Spirit should embolden and empower us to proclaim Jesus' message. The Spirit is both God's enabler and His call to action.

 

Climate Change and the degradation of the Environment is having a devastating effect on people everywhere. Whilst the Bible doesn't mention Climate Change directly it is full of texts that celebrate God's Creation, and our need to look after it and other people.

 

Depositing warming gases like CO2 and methane into the atmosphere is a devastating example of human selfishness and demonstrates a lack of care for God's creation. As the polar ice melts and sea levels rise, the lives of those living in low lying countries will be destroyed.

We need to develop new thinking where we value the natural world which we have taken for granted and in so doing, moderate the way we have lived for so long.

 

In Numbers Ch 22 the story of Balaam and his donkey leads us to imagine that everyone on the planet is represented by Balaam with the donkey being an analogy for the natural world. God appears to the donkey to stop him taking Balaam where he wants to go. Balaam whips the donkey without realising that he's being warned to stop and think that the path he is taking might be wrong.

So today we were told to pray and do all we can to measure and minimise our carbon footprint https://footprint.wwf.org.uk and to engage our friends and our elected politicians in the debate because as Tesco says, 'every little helps'

Enjoy the service here in full:

21st May - Witnesses

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We celebrate Ascension day this week and anticipate the day of Pentecost next week when God's Holy Spirit descended on Jesus' first followers.

 

In Acts Ch 1 vs 6-14 we see the Disciples looking up into the sky after Jesus had ascended to heaven and are told by angels that they will see Jesus return one day in the same way that they saw Him leave, so Rev Dawn Brown asked us to consider what was going through their minds now that Jesus had actually gone.

 

Jesus had told them that they would shortly receive the gift of God's Holy Spirit as a companion to help them because each having personally witnessed Jesus' life and ministry, their task - and the next stage of God's plan to reconcile the world to Himself - is for them to bear witness to all that they have seen.

 

When Jesus is to return is not a matter for us. It is for God alone to decide when the time is right for that but until then, it's our job, as it was for the first disciples 2,000 years ago, to listen to His Holy Spirit and give the world the love and hope that it needs.

 

Jesus lived a selfless life, dedicated to others and we can trust that He prays from heaven for each one of His believers, that the love He showed in His ministry should be witnessed through our own loving actions to everyone we meet. We are called to be Jesus' arms and legs and to be His servants in His vineyard because in so doing we are spreading His message of healing and salvation across the whole world.

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14th May - Love, Obey, Receive

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Rev Alf Waite read John Ch 14 vs 15-21 today and asked, as the song says, "what's love got to do with it?" noting that to love can sometimes be a risky business.

 

God's powerful, enabling and never failing love brings unparalleled benefits but it's God who takes the risk of unrequited love, not us. As part of His great creation we were made by God and John tells us that He is actually a part of us and so He is always there for us when we turn to Him. God's love never leaves us, even when we turn our backs on Him and reject His love.

 

To understand this we need to know who God is. The disciples spent three years with Jesus to do that and in the same way, we need to follow Him in order for our love for Him to grow. The starting point is to listen to and believe in Jesus and in His mission to reconcile to God those who have turned away and who are following their own path.

 

Once we accept Jesus we must obey His commands by listening to the promptings of His Holy Spirit who is the Councillor that Jesus tells us about in passage from John noted above.  Our love is shown in our actions. Love means caring for our neighbours both near and far away and also for His Church of followers. We are called to serve and individually, we each have to determine what that means and what He is calling us to do in our own lives.

 

Are you ready to accept and foster a loving relationship with God and to love and obey Him and by doing so receive by His Grace His free gift of eternal life?

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14th May - Love, Obey, Receive

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Rev Alf Waite read John Ch 14 vs 15-21 today and asked, as the song says, "what's love got to do with it?" noting that to love can sometimes be a risky business.

 

God's powerful, enabling and never failing love brings unparalleled benefits but it's God who takes the risk of unrequited love, not us. As part of His great creation we were made by God and John tells us that He is actually a part of us and so He is always there for us when we turn to Him. God's love never leaves us, even when we turn our backs on Him and reject His love.

 

To understand this we need to know who God is. The disciples spent three years with Jesus to do that and in the same way, we need to follow Him in order for our love for Him to grow. The starting point is to listen to and believe in Jesus and in His mission to reconcile to God those who have turned away and who are following their own path.

 

Once we accept Jesus we must obey His commands by listening to the promptings of His Holy Spirit who is the Councillor that Jesus tells us about in passage from John noted above.  Our love is shown in our actions. Love means caring for our neighbours both near and far away and also for His Church of followers. We are called to serve and individually, we each have to determine what that means and what He is calling us to do in our own lives.

 

Are you ready to accept and foster a loving relationship with God and to love and obey Him and by doing so receive by His Grace His free gift of eternal life?

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7th May - True Royalty

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Today, Jean Shotton spoke about the Kingship of Jesus in the light of the coronation of King Charles the Third.

 

Jesus wore a crown too, but of thorns having ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey not in a golden carriage. Like King Charles, Jesus was anointed with oil by one of His followers and guarded by the military when He was taken to the Cross although then His clothes were auctioned between the soldiers. And yet it is to the sacrificial Jesus Christ that our new King asserted himself in the coronation ceremony, as a man for his people but more importantly, a disciple of the real King, Jesus Christ.

 

The Kingship of Jesus is essential to the Gospel message. Jesus came to Earth to serve God Almighty with the task of reconciling man to God through the shedding of His blood on the Cross. Through His intercessions for us, by God's free gift of grace, if we accept Jesus as Lord we are invited to join in God's eternal Kingdom.

 

St Luke's Gospel tells us that the angel Gabriel announced Jesus as the King to come and then in Chapter 3, when He is baptised by John, we read that God affirms Jesus as His true Son and that God has placed all things under Him, a message that stands for all time.

 

We need to share this message because where Death still has people in it's grasp, God's Kingdom is not fulfilled on Earth. At a funeral it is natural to feel a sense of separation but through faith in Jesus we can be sure that we will all be lifted up together again on the last day.

 

Be assured that everyone who believes and follows the King who is Jesus, will be liberated from the guilt of sin, becoming one with Him in Heaven. This is our hope for all time!

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30th April - Trust God!
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Rev Alf Waite preached about our need to trust God whenever life becomes difficult or when we are treated unjustly, particularly where our actions have been good ones.

 

Following Jesus' crucifixion, the first Christians had to address how they should behave in the face of their many difficulties and persecutions so in 1 Peter Ch 2 we read that St Peter, speaking to the early church, says that it is commendable to God if we suffer for doing good.

 

Peter refers his hearers to the example of Jesus - much of which he will have witnessed personally - who submitted to the political (Roman) and religious (Jewish Pharisee) authorities without retaliating in any way, like a 'lamb to the slaughter' as predicted by the prophet Isaiah (Ch 53) in the Bible's Old Testament.

 

St Paul emphasises that everyone, even those who are enslaved - sadly a situation that's more extensive across the world than it was in Biblical times - should submit to their rulers as Jesus did.

 

Jesus was an integral part of God Himself but who, as the only truly innocent and sinless man, was prepared to face death so that humankind might be forgiven and reconciled with God. Jesus trusted God completely, and we must do the same even when we are rejected or even mistreated for our Christian beliefs.

 

Sometimes life seems unfair with many people suffering more than they should but notwithstanding our perpetual human wrongdoing, Jesus' death signifies God's love for us, and accepting His freely offered forgiveness is the essential first step on the road of Faith.

 

As the song goes, Christians believe that God has the whole world in His hands. So trust in the goodness of God and that He loves and cares for you. Then whatever the issue we are facing, rather than ceaselessly worrying or trying to sort them out in our own strength alone, we can safely leave all our troubles with Him.

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Enjoy this service here in full:

23rd April - A Journey with Jesus
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We read the famous story of Jesus' meeting with two disciples, after His resurrection, on the road to Emmaus as told in Luke Ch 24 and Rev Dawn Brown asked us which way we were journeying - towards or away from Jesus.

 

Whilst there are many routes we can choose to take in life and whilst there are direction signs and guidance available, in the end it is our decision as regards which way to go.

 

Sometimes we drag our heels along a particular path whilst at other times we can't wait to get to a destination, but at whatever speed we travel at, Jesus is with us, just like He was for the pair on the Emmaus road if we look for Him. It's because Jesus meets us wherever we are whenever we ask for His help. He is always there to teach us.

 

In the Emmaus story we see two people who with heavy hearts are bewildered by the events in Jerusalem and Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus comes to them at the point of their confusion and explains everything with the result that after taking a meal with Him they race back to Jerusalem to tell others that they've witnessed the risen Lord.

 

In one sense, the two disciples were going the wrong way, just as we do in our own lives at times. But Jesus is there even when we go off track, meeting us when we feel most alone or lost. So at times of grief or when we have unanswered questions or when love looks a long way off, ask for Jesus' help in carrying your burdens.

 

God has work for us all to do. Can you share the wonderful message of Jesus' help, love and forgiveness to other people who might need to know Him in their lives - and in so doing enable them to walk with Him in the light that He gives?

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16th April - Go and Tell

In John Ch 20 vs 21 Jesus tells His disciples "As the Father sent me, so I send you" and today for the second Sunday in the Easter season Rev Alf Waite spoke to us on that theme.

 

Just as the Shepherds at the nativity were told by the angels to 'go and see' we want others to know about and share in the love of Jesus which is the grace of God. 'Your Kingdom come' is a fundamental line in the Lord's Prayer, so the Church has always had this as its mission.

 

Mission is a whole Church thing. Every individual member of the Church has a part to play through word and deed in enabling God's people to share the Good News of Jesus both near and far and as Christians we support each other in doing this.

 

At times this will feel daunting and many Christians face persecution or rejection but we are never alone because Jesus promised that through His Holy Spirit He will be with us in the task and will never leave us. The Easter message, where Jesus defeats sin and death is central to the Christian story of God's love of everyone who comes to follow Him. God's way is always the best way.

 

So go and tell it wherever you are and whenever you can.

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9th April - Spread the Word

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Maureen Simpson led our service this Easter Sunday as we celebrated Jesus rising from the dead, the affirmation of our Christian faith.

 

We read Luke Ch 24 vs 1-12 which tells of the discovery of the empty tomb by a group of women who had gone there to embalm Jesus' body and are told by angels that He has risen. The angels remind the women of what Jesus had told them as to what would happen to Him but when they return to the apostles with their story they are not believed. Peter then goes to see the empty tomb for himself.

 

How often do we doubt what we are told? Or question witnesses, particularly those we don't hold in high regard? In Biblical times, women had no status and so their story at the tomb was not initially accepted.

 

But during His time on Earth Jesus consistently used and spoke with the most unlikely people, men and women who were disregarded or of a less regarded status. For example, the Apostles themselves were not educated men.

 

Christians are a priesthood of all believers, by which we mean that everyone has the ability and responsibility to share the Faith with those who are yet to hear or embrace it.

 

God's love for everyone is worth spreading so at Eastertime it's worth asking yourself, what the risen Lord Jesus means to you and when in your life God has helped you.

 

Are you able to share God's love through your words and actions as you go about your everyday life?

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2nd April - Strength from Weakness

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For this Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus rides into Jerusalem acclaimed by everyone yet soon to be rejected, Local Preacher Judy Tasker asked us to consider whether we are one of the fickle crowd or one of His loyal followers.

 

The masses must have been anticipating that Jesus would lead an uprising and  restore Israel's Jewish kingdom, free from Roman domination but Jesus, in riding upon a donkey as opposed to a powerful and masterful horse, was sending a quite different message, one of peace, humility and service.

 

Sometimes it's hard travelling the Jesus way but we are defined by the things we say and do. Following Jesus means being obedient, giving of ourselves and our property, whilst worshipping and praying for His guidance.

 

Jesus' ride into Jerusalem is told in Matthew 21 vs 1 - 11. Arrangements had been made for Jesus to take a donkey and it's foal for His journey but we are not told how the plans were made or who gave the donkey - which would have been a valuable asset. We just know that people loyal to Him did these things and made their gift. Are we as obedient and giving in our lives today as they were?

 

Jesus' disciples called Him 'Lord.' In the first century the only 'Lord' was the Roman Emperor so if the title was used by someone else then it could be seen as an act of treason. So how do we treat God? is He the Lord in our lives? How do we worship Him?

 

Will we take the risks that the first disciples took? We may feel weak but if we put our trust in Him and say 'Yes' then He gives us the strength and courage to go forward in His name.

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This week Rev Derek Aldridge spoke about Jesus' emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane immediately prior to His arrest and eventual crucifixion.

 

Jesus was a 'peoples person' and it must have grieved Him when His message of love and care for others was rejected. Matthew Ch 13 vs 54-58 tells us this happened when He preached at His own 'home' synagogue when, because He was a local boy, His hearers would not listen to Him. We can also anticipate it when He tells the parable of the Sower, because as much as the seed (His Word) falls on good fertile soil (that's us) many people are represented by the rocky ground where the seed that falls cannot root.

 

It is often said that there is strength and safety in numbers, but at times in Jesus' ministry on Earth and specifically at Gethsemane (Matthew Ch 26 vs 36-46), we get a glimpse of His anguish and heartache with His disciples asleep a man alone, set apart and fearing His impending death. In that reading we can see how, like us sometimes, He was buffeted by life, tormented by the thoughts of the suffering to come and so He asks God if there is another way, another path He can take, to get God's message across. Jesus is bereft at this point and estranged from God both physically and spiritually.

 

But unlike the first Adam in the Garden of Eden, who decides to go his own way, the second Adam (Jesus), chooses to do things God's way and through all His suffering comes out exonerated, having achieved victory over death itself.

 

Through Jesus' achievement our lives are dignified. The first Adam left us only the apple core but Jesus provides us with the full fruit, that of salvation and eternal life.

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26th March - Jesus' Anguish

19th March - Jesus IS Life

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Rev Alf Waite spoke today about who Jesus was and what He means.

 

Notwithstanding His human birth which we read about every Christmas, Alf said that Jesus pre-existed before Creation itself. This is explained in John Ch 1: "In the beginning the Word (that's Jesus) was with God..." so Christians need to hold both His humanity and His divinity in tension with each other.

 

Jesus' human side had to learn obedience. We see this after the 12 year old Jesus got lost in Jerusalem and Luke Ch 2 vs 51 tells us that when His parents found Him He became obedient to them. Later, His obedience to God leads eventually to the Cross.

 

Everyone has their own experience of Jesus. Gandhi read the Bible and loved Christ, but not the way Christian western countries lived because they exploited people and didn't seem to follow Jesus' core teaching to "Love your neighbour as yourself."

 

But most people still appreciate Jesus as a key influencer. The Church may be rejected but we don't often see Jesus and His values and teachings rejected. In 1 Corinthians Ch 15, St Paul who is writing just 20 years after the Cross, explains his faith saying that if Jesus' promises were not 'true' then of all people Christians are to be pitied the most.

 

Simply put, in looking at Jesus' life as a whole, believe that His resurrection after the Cross is the only thing that makes sense. Christians can't prove that belief in Jesus, His death and resurrection, leads to our enduring hope of Eternal Life with God as He taught, but that said, we know that lies fall apart quickly and that 2,000 years of faith would not have happened without His words being true.

 

So let's prepare for Easter, ready to listen for Jesus' words in our hearts - and then serve Him in the world as He requires.

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12th March - Rock Scissors Paper

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Rev Dawn Brown referenced this popular game today when she taught about the strong base we have in our lives if we follow and accept the rock that is Jesus.

 

We read the story told in John Ch 4 of the meeting between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at a well. Samaritans were seen as unclean by the Jews but Jesus asks her for a drink of water, a request that surprises her.

 

That simple request opens up a discussion in which Jesus affirms His position as the long awaited Messiah and from her testimony of what was said many of her townsfolk make their commitment to Jesus.

 

There are many references to rocks in the Bible. In Exodus 17 Moses strikes a rock and God causes water to gush out for the Israelites in the desert. Jesus talks to the woman at the well about the 'living water' only He can give. That message remains true for us today.

 

The woman's life was transformed and she went away to tell people she had been avoiding about it. That's our job as well. If we let Him, accept the presence and guidance of Jesus and God will feed all our lives with something greater than food and drink.

 

Follow Jesus. Everything and anything is possible if you ask God for a drink! Even in the bad times we all go through, ask God for His help and He will be your Good Shepherd through the darkness.

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5th March - Being Born Again

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Just as the March daffodils herald the spring and summer to come, Christians anticipate Jesus' act of sacrifice and rebirth at Easter and today Local Preacher Joan Murray spoke about trusting God and being spiritually reborn by following and believing in Jesus.

In Genesis Ch 12 God asks Abraham, already 75 years old, to go on a second long journey. God had promised to make him the father of a great nation, but nothing had happened yet. We wonder how easy it was for Abraham to obey but he did so without really understanding why. That's a great lesson for us today!

Moving on to John Ch 3 vs 1 - 17 we see Jesus explaining to Nicodemus, a member of the Government, the need to open our hearts to God's spirit which will guide us the way God wants us to go.

 

Nicodemus admits to Jesus being ‘a teacher’, recognising that Jesus’ miracles came from the power of God. He seems to understand that it was Jesus who could answer his soul-searching questions.

 

Jesus tells him that to enter the kingdom of God he must be born again because only God can give spiritual life. At the same time as God’s spirit enters us, we are given a new, fresh human spirit and we become children of God.

 

Humans can only be transformed if that person responds to what the Bible, and in particular Jesus, says about God and the salvation He offers. 

 

It means starting over. It might seem impossible but don't worry about making the same mistakes again because Jesus heals all our sins, steering true believers on their journey towards everlasting life.

 

God paid dearly, through the sacrifice of Jesus, to save every believer. All we have to do is put our lives in God’s hands as Jesus did by responding 'Yes Lord' just as Abraham did.

 

So like Nicodemus, keep searching for a greater knowledge of what Jesus teaches. Eternal life awaits!

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26th February - Less than the Best

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Rev Derek Aldridge brought us some interesting theology on the subject of Temptation this morning when he looked at the temptations of Jesus (Matt Ch 4 vs 1 -11).

 

The Devil puts three temptations to Jesus as to how He should conduct His mission on Earth. The first is that He can feed the world if He uses His powers to turn stones into bread. At first sight this appears extremely attractive - who would not want to do that - but temptations often come gift-wrapped! Yes, Jesus could feed the world, but wouldn't it be better if everyone were to choose to follow God? That way, both physical and spiritual hunger would be solved! Solving physical hunger alone would be to give us 'less than the best'.

 

In Acts Ch 3 vs 1-10 the apostles Peter and John meet a crippled man begging for money. They had no money, but they had something better - they cured him! Giving only money would have been 'less than the best'.

 

Next, the Devil tempts Jesus by offering Him a partnership "worship me and you will rule supreme" - code for ruling the world by force. Jesus rejects this because God wants people's hearts to be changed, meaning that they follow Him from choice. Anything not meeting that standard is definitely 'less than the best'.

 

Finally, the Devil offers Jesus a showman's approach. Jump from the top of the Temple and people will love it! But following God is not a fan based gimmick, it's not an entertainment, it's a call to everyone to change your life. A bit of fun is great but it's definitely 'less than the best'.

 

The Gospel message of Jesus is not about being good - that's just a constituent part. The Gospel is about being faithful to God and with that, good things follow, so please don't settle for 'less than the best'!

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19th February - Jesus IS hope

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This morning Rev Dawn Brown spoke about the moment when St Peter had his personal confirmation of who Jesus really was. It's recorded in Ch 1 of his second letter to the early Church (2 Peter 1: 12-21) and recalls the time Jesus took him, with James and John, up a mountain to pray and the disciples had a vision of seeing Jesus with Moses and Elijah.

 

St Paul had a similar experience on the Damascus road, as have many other Christians down the ages in one way or another, including Methodism's founder John Wesley.

 

We may not all have a mountain-top experience but when we accept and understand who Jesus is and how He forgives all our wrongdoings, it is transformational in our lives, because with it comes hope for the future and the realisation that all the bad stuff going on around us is not what it's all about.

 

Jesus is saying to us that we must put away the questions and just look at what can come about if we live out our faith and His philosophy of love towards ourselves, family, community and the world. That is His gift of Grace.

 

And it's our duty as disciples to share Jesus' story with other people. Peter repeated his experience of Jesus on the mountain and we need to share our own personal stories when the opportunity arises. Back then, there was fighting and poverty and society seemed to have no hope. Sound familiar? As the saying goes, it was ever thus...

 

So back then Jesus was saying to trust Him. We must do the same - and tell that to the folks we know and meet.

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12th February - Sing the Song

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Rev Alf Waite referenced Moses' song in Deuteronomy Chs 31 and 32 when he spoke this morning. The song was written at the end of Moses' life as the Jewish nation were about to enter into their Promised Land but it has an enduring relevance for all generations and places.

 

We remembered that just as God had a plan for the Jews and all His creation back then, through the coming of Jesus and His sacrifice to cancel out our sins on the Cross, He has a plan for us in our time too, something which should assure us in difficult and uncertain times.

 

The song begins in praise of God before moving on to discuss how God had planned the destiny of the Jews as He does for us today, our Promised Land being eternal life with God thanks to Jesus' intervention.

 

Unfortunately, just as it was with the Jews, at times we want to do things our way and step out beyond the will of God. We have that choice. And it's not always easy to see God. In the light of terrible natural disasters we ask where God is - and the answer is, He's alongside us in all the suffering. The Jews were overrun by foreign powers but God remained available to them and Moses' song covers all this.

 

Future generations including ours were in Jesus' mind when He died so because Jesus paid the price for our wrongdoing we don't get the punishment our sins deserve. Instead we get God's free grace of forgiveness.

 

Moses' song affirms that God is in control and that's a song worth singing.

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5th February - All you need is...

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All you need is... Jesus said Rev Alf Waite this morning as he spoke about the core of our Faith.

Asking us what we expected to hear from a preacher, he concluded that at times we simply need to be told that the Holy Spirit in Jesus was sacrificed for us so that we could be freed from our wrong-doing and be reconciled with God.

 

Reading 1 Corinthians Ch 2 we see St Paul writing about his fear in speaking to the people of Corinth. In St Paul's time, Corinth was a wealthy city where many of the great and good lived, including the leading thinkers of the day. Eloquence and expert analysis would have been expected so even St Paul appears to have been concerned about how he would be seen when he spoke.

 

It's human nature that we all want to be considered 'wise' and learned when all we need is to hear of God's love for us expressed in the death of Jesus on the Cross, something the rulers of the day simply hadn't understood. Put simply, they missed the point, for if they had, they would never have crucified Him.

 

The Devil comes between us and God all the time, his purpose being to obscure God's Truth. We need God's Holy Spirit to move within us for the Truth to dawn.

 

The Bible is the living Word of God and we need to read and follow it, accepting the simple message that Jesus died for you and me, in atonement for all our sins.

 

Because now, as throughout all the ages, it's Jesus that the world needs, so our mission - your mission, should you choose to accept it - is to share the Truth that Jesus Christ crucified is the answer to all our ills.

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29th January - Switch On!

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We are all special in the eye of God and because we each have different talents He enables us to do different things to do for Him. And so Maureen Simpson asked us this morning if we were switched on and ready to begin working for Jesus however difficult life appears to be.

 

We learn from the Bible that Jesus went to the fishing town of Capernaum a number of times but quite early on in His ministry He recruited several of His disciples from there. Jesus brought light to that community despite it's being under Roman occupation.  Similarly, He brings His light to us now, whatever our circumstances and problems.

 

The people of Capernaum, as we are now, were called to repent. Yes, that means to regret missteps or wrongdoing, but the primary meaning of the verb 'to repent' is to change your mind, because being sorry about something isn't enough when a change in behaviour is what is really required. Genuine repentance offers a chance of something better.

 

When we say sorry, do we change? We are empowered and enabled by God and are called to follow Him. Where would we be if the disciples hadn't got out of the comfort zone of their lives as fishermen and followed the Light that was Jesus?

 

Repent He said, change your mind

Follow the torch I lead

Follow me and you will find

All the strength you need.

 

Leave behind the darkness

The worry, grief and pain

The aimlessness, fear, distress

Get a life again

 

This New Year, will we rise to the challenge and follow Jesus' light? How well-lit is our pathway? How switched on are we?

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22nd January - You're Family

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Looking at Matthew Ch 1 vs 1-6, Rev Stephen Lindridge told us that right at the start of his Gospel, even before the Nativity story is told, St Matthew is setting out God's character, His love and His intention for all of us through His son Jesus.

 

Although primarily writing for a first century Jewish male audience, Matthew begins by relating Jesus' family history and surprisingly includes four women, none of whom were Jewish, at a time when women were rarely mentioned. Back then, genealogies were written to emphasise the message the writer wished to relate and what we can take from this is that God' saving Grace through Jesus is equally available to everyone regardless of any discriminatory factor.

 

But the four women have greater significances. Tamar was an abandoned widow who tricked her former husband's father into fathering a child by her. Rahab was a prostitute; Ruth was a foreigner who demonstrated commitment and dedication to God, whilst Bathsheba's first husband had been murdered by the great King David. All represented uncomfortable parts of the Israelite nation's past yet were people who were restored to the national family.

 

This demonstrates that no matter how uncomfortable our past, no matter what we have done that we regret, God is calling us to offer our whole selves saying that He loves and welcomes us, 'warts and all' because God yearns to restore us to His family.

 

Rahab and Ruth put their lives on the line for a faith they didn't yet properly know which shows that God goes before us and it is through faith alone that we are saved.

 

So the message of Matthew's genealogy is that God can overcome anything and everything and that in God's family no one is excluded. With Him there is wholeness and forgiveness through belief and trust. That's a 'Good News' message worth sharing!

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15th January -Be A Hero

At the start of this New Year, Rev Alf Waite asked us to consider what God is saying and what He is doing for us and that we all need to look, listen and then act on the voice of God.

 

God is capable of shaking both Heaven and Earth and some might say that our world has certainly been shaken in recent years.

 

In Hebrews Ch 12 vs 18-29 we see words of encouragement to a church that is under pressure. 'Don't give up' the writer is saying but take note of the example provided by the heroes of Faith that have gone before because their witness shows that notwithstanding any tribulations, stand firm and you will get to Heaven and achieve the life Eternal with God you are seeking.

 

To keep going and to eventually succeed we need to keep our eyes on Jesus whatever the problems before us because Jesus obeyed God and did what was asked of Him. Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross enables us to be forgiven and therefore to come to the mountain of Grace, where God dwells. That is what the Hebrews passage is talking about because nothing can separate us from the Love of God and that His saving promise to us cannot be shaken.

 

Jesus looks down with compassion. He knows that you are not perfect, just as the people of God who went before you were not perfect, but He does want you to look and listen for the word of God and to obey and do His work.

 

In so doing you will be a witness to His great love because you are who you are and where you are for a reason. You may be called to go somewhere else in the Lord's service but until then, share His love with those around you, your friends, family, colleagues and community. Then in due time you will become an example for God to others - and a hero of their faith.

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8th January -God Needs You

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Speaking about the well-known story of the visit of the Magi (the Three Kings) to the infant Jesus, Judy Tasker's message this morning was the affirmation that God cares and loves everyone and that His message is a call to us all.

 

The Magi's story is told in Matthew Ch 2 vs 1-12 and they are a metaphor for us too. Whilst they'd followed the Star for many miles, they still got lost. Maybe their expectations got in the way because they clearly expected to find the King who is Jesus at King Herod's Palace when in fact He was to be found in the lowliest of circumstances. We can only wonder how they felt when they realised they'd gone wrong and when they finally found Him!

 

When the Magi encountered Jesus their perspectives changed and they had to adjust. We are told that they had a vision to go home another way and not return to the Palace to tell Herod where Jesus could be found. Whether they all had the vision or it came to just one of them we're not told but they were open to God's voice - and obeyed.

 

How about us? God still speaks as He has throughout the ages. Are we ready and open to listen to His voice? How do we love and care for God's creation? We do it by helping the helpless and seeking justice. What needs did the Magi see in the infant face of Jesus?

 

When we saw the baby Jesus last Christmas what did we see? How were we changed? Were we inspired to do something different? The Magi were none-Jews, as most of us are, but their story proves that God calls every human being. If you are unsure of that, read St Paul's message to the Ephesian church (Eph Ch 3 vs 1 to 12) which is in modern day Turkey, but like Kitchener over a century ago, God needs You!

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