Steve Writes … urgent harvest(s)

The upside of being a family history nerd is that some of the things you find out are quite interesting (at least to you). Some years ago I discovered to my surprise that my great grandfather, William, was a Primitive Methodist lay preacher in Nottinghamshire in the 19th century. It was even more of a discovery to find him and his brother Charles mentioned in the minutes of the East Retford Circuit.

At one point they were being ‘admonished for missing Ranby’- meaning they’d got a telling off because they’d not fulfilled an open air preaching engagement one Sunday. Later in the minute book however, the next meeting exonerated them as it heard that their reason for missing the preachment was that they had to get the harvest in. The harvest of the land was urgent and it was necessary for everyone to get involved immediately when the crops were ready and the weather was right. So much so, that bringing in the harvest was even an acceptable reason to miss one Sunday’s preaching.

Of course on every other Sunday, they’d be engaged in bringing in another kind of harvest – the sort Jesus referred to when he said ‘the fields are white for harvest’ and ‘the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few’. Normally this harvest of lives being transformed by Jesus was the one uppermost in their minds. It demanded all their skill and effort as they exhorted and preached and pleaded with people to turn to Jesus and follow him.

This month we celebrate the harvest of the earth which God graciously provides for us. And some of our harvest hymns have within them the dual meanings of harvest- thankfulness for the harvest of crops as ‘God our maker doth provide’ but also rejoicing at the harvest of people who are safely gathered in ‘free from sorrow, free from sin’.

Just as both harvests were vitally important to our ancestors, so they should be for us today. That’s because God is both the creator and saviour of the world. That means our discipleship includes both caring for our planet so it produces a harvest that feeds the hungry and also working and praying for the harvest of changed lives.

Yours in Christ,

Steve

Home Group Meetings in October

Day and Dates Time Place Contact Subject
Monday 10th & 24th 7.45 pm 28 The Pines 240 532 Ephesians
Tuesday 11th & 25th 2.30 pm 2 Leamington Gate 615 009 Beatitudes
Wednesday 5th & 19th 7.45 pm 2 Leamington Gate 615 009 Transformation
Richard Rohr
Every Thursday 7.30pm 2 Ferndale Street 241 161 Romans
Thursday
13th
8pm 10B Coxwell Street 242 753 John 16 & 17
Thursday
27th
8pm 8 Coach Lane 242 753 John 16 & 17

Prayer Calendar for October

Please continue to pray for the life and work of our parishes

Sat 1st Mission of the Month – Bible Society and Open the Book.
Sun 2nd Harvest Festival services today; Harvest Lunch at All Saints’.
Mon 3rd For Lynn Treneary in South Sudan at this time.
Tues 4th Community activities in Faringdon and Little Coxwell.
Wed 5th For Faringdon Food Bank and all involved.
Thurs 6th Choir practicing this evening.
Fri 7th Men’s Evening at All Saints’.
Sat 8th St Mary’s Harvest Supper this evening; Macmillan concert.
Sun 9th United Service this evening at Friend’s Meeting House.
Mon 10th Bishop Steven as he visits the deaneries in the coming months.
Tues 11th For all who help run our Churches.
Wed 12th The work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Thurs 13th Open the Book’ team today at the Infant and Junior Schools.
Fri 14th Wardens in both our Churches.
Sat 15th Steve, Graham, Helen, Barbara, Dick, John, Max & Paul.
Sun 16th Families bringing children to baptism today.
Mon 17th Bell ringers practicing this evening.
Tues 18th Work of Churches Together and the Family Centre.
Wed 19th All who are ill, recently bereaved or in any other kind of need.
Thurs 20th Vergers and Welcomers, Intercessors and Readers.
Fri 21st All churches in the Vale of White Horse Deanery.
Sat 22nd Magazine preparation this weekend.
Sun 23rd For all refugees fleeing persecution.
Mon 24th For all on half-term this week.
Tues 25th For the formation of a Baptism Preparation Team.
Wed 26th The Music Group.
Thurs 27th For all Christians in Nepal.
Fri 28th The Flower Guild as they decorate the Church for All Saintstide.
Sat 29th Little Coxwell Village Sale.
Sun 30th All Saintstide evening service for those recently bereaved.
Mon 31st For the setting up of a Vision & Strategy Group.

Meetings for Prayer in October

All Saints’ seeks to have an active and regular prayer ministry with a number of informal meetings during the month to which all are very welcome.

In addition to those listed below, there is Morning Prayer in church every Thursday at 9am.

Friday 2nd 7.40 – 8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 4th 2.00 – 3.00pm Julian Meeting (18 Eastfield Court)
Tuesday 4th 7.15 – 8.15pm Mission for Faringdon (Barber Rooms)
Friday 7th 7.40 – 8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 11th 8.00 – 9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Friday 14th 7.40 – 8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Wednesday 19th 10.30 – 11.30am Prayer for CMS (8 Coach Lane)
Friday 21st 7.40 – 8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 21st 8.00pm Prayer for the World (Call 240 509 for venue)
Tuesday 25th 8.00 – 9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Friday 28th 7.40 – 8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)

For further details contact:
Mission for Faringdon (1st Tuesday evening): 241 975
Julian Meeting (Tuesday afternoon): 01865 820 511
Julian Meeting (Tuesday evening): 244 905
CMS Prayer Group (3rd Wednesday morning): 243 388
Parish Prayers (Friday am) and Prayers for the World (Friday pm): 240 509

Mission of the Month for October – Bible Society

As the new school term starts, so does Faringdon’s ‘Open the Book’ team’s lively presentations of Bible stories to the Infant and Junior Schools. This is a Churches Together effort and it uses the Bible Society’s specially prepared material. The team is very grateful to the leadership of the two schools in being so welcoming to a once-a-fortnight Assembly takeover! Each time a Bible story is told or enacted in costume, it is to over 500 children from Faringdon and its surrounds.

Clear evidence of the impact of Open the Book during the last school year was obvious during The Wave Holiday Bible Club over the summer where the children were highly receptive to the stories, which were wonderfully told by Madeleine Clarke. They were fully able to recount the content and purpose of them during impromptu ‘on camera’ interviews. Moreover, they displayed a wonderful way with prayer itself – in words and pictures – queuing up each day to affix their prayers on the board, which was displayed at the Follyfest Churches Together service in the Market Place.

Missions News

News from the Church Mission Society

This month we have the quarterly newspaper, THE CALL on the bench in All Saints’. We ask you to take one and read it to see what CMS is doing in the world. We can replenish the copies so don’t worry if you take the last one!

If you regularly check the CMS board by the Barber Rooms you will know that Lynn Treneary, our Mission Partner, had two weeks in Kampala, Uganda, then returned to Maridi on 6th September. She needed the break, but also it was the only place she could get money from the bank as there are none open now in South Sudan.

As I write, Maridi is tense but the fighting has stopped. This is not true for other parts of South Sudan. In Yei, the theological college has had to close due to the continued fighting. The students fear for their families and so stay together in case they have to flee to the bush and hide. One student contacted a friend who was returning to Yei and said, please bring back salt and soap, there is none here. In Maridi too, basic needs are not available. There is no electricity and even if you have solar panels, when they break, no one can mend them. There is no fuel for cars and the water company has closed down. We need to pray for Lynn and the local people who struggle to just exist, that they may know that whatever happens, God is there with them and is able to give them peace.

We need also to pray for the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). They are the only means of transport in and out of South Sudan. The fighters are stopping anyone from travelling in and out of South Sudan and taking their money and goods. It has been dangerous for the MAF pilots to fly as airstrips are often watched by those who are fighting. But these men or women have given their lives to God and are risking their lives to fly to help the people trapped in these places. At the moment MAF are short of pilots to fly from Kampala in Uganda to Maridi in South Sudan. Pray too for the engineers and back up staff who keep the plane flying safely.

One outcome from the troubles in both Sudan and South Sudan has been to growth of the church in Gambella, a new large town just over the border into Ethiopia. Refugees, fleeing from the two Sudans, have settled in Gambella, 300,000 extra since December 2013, doubling the population. These refugees have shared their faith in Jesus with those around them and the 53 Anglican churches in 2012 are now 90 churches. Recently they have built a college to train the pastors. The local Christians said that they know how to tell others about Jesus and they know how to plant new churches, but their pastors have had little training. A young couple have now been sent from CMS to help with the training and teaching at the new college. Pray for them as they care for this huge number of people

This is just a snapshot of what is happening in one part of the world. If you go to the CMS (Church Mission Society) website , you can learn much more of what is happening in the world and how God is working and the Gospel of hope is spreading. We will update the notice board when we can, but there will be no more news from Lynn so long as she has no way of communicating. Only when CMS hears from MAF or other sources will we know more. Meanwhile, we know that our loving God is with them and will answer our prayers for them.

For more information about CMS contact Joan Plumptre

News from All Saints’ PCC

Your PCC met informally over coffee on 23rd August. This gave the opportunity to meet with our new Vicar, Steve Bellamy to look at the way forward, air our thoughts and reflections and to ask questions. They also had plenty of time to chat, but in a useful, structured way.

At their meeting on 7th September, the PCC began by constituting a Standing Committee which would normally meet 1-2 weeks before each PCC. This Committee will prepare Agendas and has the power in Church Law to consider and transact business on behalf of the PCC, within the guidelines of spending limits set by the PCC.

The celebration of Harvest and a Harvest Lunch was planned for 2nd October. Details of this will be in the church notices.

To help us get to know one another better there will be a special ‘Members Page’ on the church website. We will all be encouraged to have our name and photo on this page and for those who don’t feel able to put the photo up themselves, help will be provided to take and then load the photo. We will then be able to put names to the faces we meet in church. This page will be password protected, so it will be for church members only. The Friendship List, which so many of you find useful, and gives contact details of those who wish to be on it, will continue as usual.

Steve is setting up new Vision and Strategy Group which will think, discuss and pray about what God may be calling us to do and be as his church at All Saints’. This group will in due course bring some ideas for consideration by PCC and the church as a whole.

We also need a Baptism Preparation team to welcome and prepare families who bring their children for Baptism. A group for men is being formed which aims particularly to reach men of working age outside as well as within the church. (see the notice elsewhere about the talk and quiz with food on 7th October). In addition, a meeting to encourage men already linked with All Saints’ in their discipleship will run occasional Saturday morning breakfasts.

The newly appointed Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, will be welcomed in the Dorchester Area at 3.30pm on Sunday 9th October at Dorchester Abbey and all are invited to attend. In order to get to know us he will be visiting all the Deaneries between November and June 2017.

Half way through the meeting, time was given for study and prayer. This will be a feature of all future meetings. From the October meeting onwards, the booklet ‘Gospel Centred Church’ will be studied.

Janet Deane is setting up a group to look after the gardens around the Barber Rooms (see note below). The PCC is grateful to Janet for volunteering for this, to carry on the work which Jo Harbour began, and also to all those who are presently helping. If you could help in any way please contact Janet. You don’t need to be a good keen gardener, just willing to help, as most of the work is keeping the area under control in the summer months.

There is now a Pastoral Order in place regarding marriages at St Mary’s Little Coxwell and All Saints’ Faringdon. This means that couples with a connection to one of the churches, can get married in either church.

Looking forward, the services for the Christmas period are being discussed, and details of all the activities will be in the pew sheet and the magazine nearer the time.

Note
Garden Area around the Barber Rooms

I have taken on the responsibility, through the PCC, of organising a team to look after this area. The gardening should involve mainly the months of March and October, with tidying-up in between. We know that Jo (Harbour) had a vision for this garden and I am hoping we might get an idea of this through contacting her daughter.

Please let me know if you are interested. You too could become a ‘Barber Gardener’ and join the team!

Janet Deane (see Church Directory)

JESUS . . . “God from God, Light from Light . . .” (Exploring the Nicene Creed)

In this article we shall to look at the very nature and being of Jesus, because central and of great importance to the Christian faith is the strong belief that Jesus is both human and divine; two natures within one person. Here again we have to use limited human language (for we have no other) to express this truth and mystery, which is altogether beyond our full understanding. Such a belief, as held in Christianity is unique. There is nothing like this in all other religions ever known in 10,000 years or so of human civilisations! No other World Faith to-day accords Jesus with the titles Lord and Divine.

For Jewish believers, much as we acknowledge their tremendous faith, devotion and admirable way of life, their very genuine faith stops at the conclusion of the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament). For them God’s revelation ceases at that point, and they still await the Messiah, whom we believe to be Jesus of Nazareth.

For Muslim believers Jesus is certainly held to be a great prophet and teacher; and along with Mary his human mother, is given an important place in God’s scheme of making himself and his purposes known to us; but he is not divine. For them the prophet Mahomet, though not divine, is by far the greatest and the last prophet. Other World Faiths have little or no reference to Jesus at all.

The question we now have to ask is: why do we believe this; is it absolutely necessary? In an earlier article I tried to show how probably all of us find this truth very difficult to grasp. We read the holy Gospels, especially the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5: 3-10), and a human person of the highest moral stature and goodness stands out. And certainly in the early Christian centuries and later, many did accept Jesus as a great and good teacher, worthy of high respect and emulation, but no more than that. Many sincere people today feel the same. The disciples themselves found it hard too, and it was not until after the resurrection that this truth really became fully clear and strong. St Peter in his travels with Our Lord did come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And this was the first step to grasp the fullness of faith in Christ’s Divinity. (See Matthew 16:13-17; Luke 9:18-22 & Mark 8:27-30. Note also John 1:49)

So to emphasise this vital but difficult truth the early Church Fathers (the Bishops and theologians) included these outstandingly beautiful phrases about Jesus “God from God, Light from Light, True God from true God”. They did so because their reading of the four Gospels, the Acts and the several Epistles, convinced  them that those first believers who had been so close to Jesus (including St Paul converted soon after Christ’s Ascension), were truly guided by the Holy Spirit, and had come to see and grasp this truth, to believe and trust it, and to faithfully write it down. It is a biblical witness that we also can accept with confident faith and sure trust, with assurance and joyful encouragement. Please read now or later some or all of these passages (Hebrew 1:1-3; Colossians 1:13-20; John 1:1-5 & 14; Philippians 2:5-11). Then pause, say thank you to Jesus for all that he is and did for you, and soak up that joyful encouragement.

In an earlier article I tried to show how Jesus is the only sure and certain mediator between all humanity, our whole cosmos, and God. (Hebrews 12:24). Jesus is both human and divine, because if he was not truly God in our flesh he could not be the sure Reconciler, Saviour and Redeemer of a fallen humanity and world. No human person however good could do this. Old Testament sacrifices, heartfelt atoning prayers, even the highest divine commandments, proved inadequate. So to say in grateful faith to Jesus “My Lord and my God” is truly to experience the gifts of forgiveness and freedom; of healing and wholeness: of renewal and new life also; and the abundant grace of eternal life with Christ. All which is Salvation. It’s a work of the immeasurably generous and amazing Divine Love.

Later I shall stress the fully true and real human nature of Jesus, and those key stories of miracle. That too is of major importance. We shall also take up fully the glorious theme of our Salvation.

The more we ponder these great words from the Nicene Creed the more we learn about God and his good purposes. Christ Jesus is “God from God” because he longs for us to know that all people are also the dearly loved sons and daughters of God, whatever their faith or lack of it. And this means sharing grace filled love with everyone; with family and friends and beyond; across all cultures, colour, racial and ethnic groups, and every kind of class or social group or sexual nature. (See 1 John 4:7-12)

Jesus also as “Light from Light” tells us that through him the whole meaning of life and purpose is made crystal clear. He helps us to answer the questions: why are we here anyway; is there anything more, or is death the end? And as I have said before he is the perfect role model and representative for us, the one who can show us how to live in relationships that are worthy and good, and help us to achieve them. The Gospel of John is very specially the Gospel about Light, the Light which is Jesus (John 1:9 & 8:12, etc.). It also means that Jesus is the very image and reflection of the invisible God, who thus makes clear to us the full nature and purposes of God. (See Colossians 1:15-20 & Hebrews 1:3)

In conclusion the very first Christians could only write of Jesus, the completely new earth-shaking belief for humankind, that he truly is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). In other words he gives the highest and most wonderful blue-print for life, the finest and most meaningful moral code, and the greatest possible hope. And as I have said already briefly, he is himself the embodiment of the very Truth and Being of the Eternal Creator & Life-giving God. The grandeur and depth of this Faith can be ours too if in simple trustful faith we can say: Jesus I too want and long for you; Jesus I too believe in you; Jesus I too accept and love you with all my heart and soul and being. And all this, because I too can first gratefully accept your huge love for me. This I believe is what those early Church Fathers meant when they wrote of Jesus in our Creed “True God from True God”.

All that I have written does not dispel our natural questioning, even our real doubting (common to us all), but it gives a degree of strong faith and assurance that puts all our hopes, longings and optimism on the highest possible human plane this side of Heaven and Eternity. Such is Faith in Jesus Human and Divine.

THANKS AND PRAISE TO HIM. AMEN.

George Abell

Reunions make you think, don’t they

I’m writing this article having just returned from a reunion weekend in Romsey with three couples with whom I served in the Army. I’ve known them for 54 years in the case of the men and about 48 years for the ladies. We are all married with golden wedding anniversaries spread over the next five years and apart from a bit of hearing difficulty, we are all blessed with reasonable health. The thing that struck me was that although our career paths diverged, after the Army, we are all content with how our lives have panned out and respect the variety amongst us. We had much to talk about and our hosts had arranged an interesting itinerary – altogether it was a most enjoyable reunion – it’s my turn to host next year.

Our time together reminded me of a story of a reunion of past pupils of a school run by a religious order. One of the priests, who’d been abroad for years, returned for the reunion and found himself surrounded by a host of ex-pupils whom he hadn’t met since they left school. To an observer it would have been obvious that he was much loved and respected.

He had a natural graciousness that seemed to trigger an outpouring of the details of their post-school lives. There was an architect who’d built a number of public buildings, including two churches; a university professor who was the author of a number of learned books; the CEO of an international company; a highly successful farmer who used the most modern technology in improving his harvests; a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church; and the Principal of a famous public school.

What a pleasure it was for the old priest listening to all their impressive successes and achievements. It appeared that there wasn’t a failure among those who had returned for the reunion.

He didn’t say much as he listened to them, just nodded and smiled. When they’d done, he congratulated them on their achievements. Then, opening his arms to them he asked them, “And now, tell me what you have made of yourselves?”

There was a long silence. They didn’t really want to talk about themselves. It was clear that they’d been so absorbed in their careers, with their energies focused on efficiency and success, that they hadn’t the time to grow emotionally, and so, in terms of relationships, many of them were impoverished.

There are people who may have done great things in their public lives but failed in their private lives. Most people who are successful at their careers leave their personal lives a long way behind. Indeed, their successes are often achieved at the expense of their personal lives.

Do you remember how in the parable of the Talents the first two men were commended by Jesus because they used their talents, but he berated the third because he had buried his talent?

When Christ talked about talents, he wasn’t meaning say, a musical talent, or a footballing talent. Those talents are important, and full marks to those who have, develop, and use them. But nowadays they are, in my opinion, outrageously over-valued and over-rewarded. Christ’s parable goes a lot deeper. Ultimately the only thing that matters is what we make of ourselves.

But we’re wrong if we think it is about making something of ourselves in a materialistic sense, though this is not ruled out. The ‘wife of noble character’ mentioned in the final chapter of Proverbs could hardly be described as being either successful or famous. Yet she is held up as a model. Why? Because of the person she is – industrious, caring, wise and virtuous. She’s got something more valuable than wealth or beauty. She has a loving heart. She has put her talents at the service of her family, her neighbours, and the poor. And so she is respected by the whole community.

Life is God’s gift to us. What we do with life is our gift to God.

Max Young

Faringdon Food Bank

Harvest Festival Donations 2016

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you as your congregation kindly donated food to us last year, to update you on where that food went and to let you know our needs should you be considering donating to us again this year.

The Faringdon Food Pantry is organised by Churches Together in Faringdon and relies primarily on donations from our church congregations in town, together with annual donations from some of our surrounding parishes including All Saints’.

We provide food to those in our community who find themselves in need, for whatever reason, be it job loss, benefit problems or ill health. Those receiving food are referred by local agencies and are from within our community.

In the last year we have delivered to Faringdon, Stanford-in-the-Vale and Southmoor, although we serve all the villages which fall along our stretch of the A420 and are within the (Anglican) Oxford Diocese Deanery of Vale of White Horse. We have delivered 2,493 items to 57 families, approximately 170 people.

We would greatly appreciate your support again this year including delivering the items to us in Faringdon, from where we unpack and sort for distribution. A specific time can be arranged to suit you on this.

All food should be tinned or dried with at least one year sell by/best by date clearly visible (no split packages). Buying items in twos helps makes meals for a family easier.

We now try to stock only specific items (see note below) which helps us manage our limited storage space, avoid wastage and generally makes running everything so much easier!

If you have any questions or would like further information please contact the pantry via e-mail at faringdonfoodbank@gmail.com or Faringdon Baptist Church on 01367 243 455

Thank you

Eleanor Warner
Faringdon Food Bank
c/o Faringdon Baptist Church
The Library, Gloucester Street
Faringdon SN7 7HZ

Note
The list of items required is fairly extensive. If you wish to donate to the Food Bank during the Harvest Festival service on Sunday 2nd October, please check first with the list of items on the notice board in the Barber Rooms and provide only those items requested (avoiding pasta if possible). If you wish, you can make a financial contribution instead.
Jeni Summerfield