Steve writes … time to remember

In November, we remember- and do so in a number of different ways. With All Saintstide beginning the month, we recall how God has encouraged and helped us through the loss of those friends and family members we have known and loved but are no longer with us. The biblical definition of ‘saint’ extends far beyond those commemorated on special days or in stained glass.

The saints of God are the faithful Christians of every church in every age. The New Testament makes that clear when we read in various letters to churches, ‘Greet all your leaders and all the saints’ (Hebrews 13:13); ‘All the saints greet you’ (2 Corinthians 13:12) and ‘All the saints greet you, especially those of the Emperor’s household’ (Philippians 4:21).

Later this month, we have Remembrance Sunday on November 13th when the nation pauses to give thanks, many of us during a time of worship, for our deliverance in wartime and the maintenance of our peace. We recall the millions of costly sacrifices in this and earlier generations which were made to win our security and freedom. Many of us will be remembering, with love, friends or family members who were lost or harmed in war.

Alongside these special annual moments for remembering others with gratitude, we regularly remember, at Holy Communion, what Jesus has done for us. But there’s an amazing difference when we obey Jesus’ command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’. Our times of thankfulness are important and thought-provoking when we remember Christians who have helped us through their loving examples and also when we celebrate our liberty won by members of our armed forces. But our remembering at the Lord’s Table is of a different kind. This is because the one who died on the cross for our eternal freedom is no longer dead but risen and alive and with us today. This remembrance is done in the living presence of the person we’re remembering.

All these kinds of remembering can inspire us to reflect on how our lives can be lived more thoughtfully and fruitfully. But remembering at Communion what the Living Lord has done opens us up to Jesus actually remaking us. He can change our opinions and attitudes, increase our ability to love and serve, forgive and renew us as he graciously fills us with his Spirit.

Yours in Christ

Steve

Home Group Meetings in November

New members are always most welcome at all Home Groups – please contact the numbers listed below for more details.

Day and Dates Time Place Contact Subject
Monday 14th & 28th 7.45 pm 28 The Pines 240 532 Ephesians
Tuesday 8th & 22nd 2.30 pm 2 Leamington Gate 615 009 Beatitudes
Wednesday 2nd, 16th & 30th 7.45 pm 2 Leamington Gate 615 009 Transformation
Richard Rohr
Every Thursday 7.30pm 2 Ferndale Street 241 161 Romans
Thursday
10th and 24th
8pm 10B Coxwell Street 242 753 John 16 & 17

Prayer Calendar for November

Tues 1st Mission of the Month – Tearfund.
Wed 2nd Lynn Treneary in South Sudan and thanks for an email from her.
Thurs 3rd ‘Open the Book’ team today at the Infant and Junior Schools.
Fri 4th The Flower Guild.
Sat 5th For all who help run our Churches.
Sun 6th Saints Alive this morning.
Mon 7th Wardens in both our Churches.
Tues 8th All Churches in the Vale of White Horse Deanery.
Wed 9th The Music Group practice this evening.
Thurs 10th Bishop Steven as he visits the deaneries in the coming months.
Fri 11th Festival of Remembrance concert. Mustard Seed AGM.
Sat 12th All who are ill, recently bereaved or in any other kind of need.
Sun 13th Remembrance Day services at Faringdon and Little Coxwell.
Mon 14th Bell ringers practicing this evening.
Tues 15th Home Groups and Prayer Groups in our Churches.
Wed 16th For all Christians in Nepal.
Thurs 17th ‘Open the Book’ team today at the Infant and Junior Schools.
Fri 18th Magazine preparation this weekend.
Sat 19th For Faringdon Food Bank and all involved.
Sun 20th Families bringing children to baptism today.
Mon 21st The work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Tues 22nd Work of Churches Together and the Family Centre.
Wed 23rd Steve, Graham, Helen, Barbara, Dick, John, Max & Paul.
Thurs 24th Choir practice this evening.
Fri 25th Allsorts this morning. “Max’s Fabulous Feast” for WATSAN.
Sat 26th Vergers and Welcomers, Intercessors and Readers.
Sun 27th Messy Church this afternoon, and United Advent Service.
Mon 28th St Mary’s Christmas Planning Meeting today.
Tues 29th For all refugees fleeing persecution.
Wed 30th Community activities in Faringdon and Little Coxwell.

Meetings for Prayer in November

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.

Tuesday 1st 2.00-3.00pm Julian Meeting (18 Eastfield Court)
Tuesday 1st 7.15-8.15pm Mission for Faringdon (Barber Rooms)
Friday 4th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 8th 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Friday 11th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Wednesday 16th 10.30-11.30am Prayer for CMS (8 Coach Lane)
Friday 18th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 18th 8.00pm Prayer for the World (Call 240 509 for venue)
Tuesday 22nd 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Friday 25th 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 November -Tearfund

November is the month we support Tearfund, a charity unstinting in its efforts to help and support the people less fortunate than us. In Nepal, with clean water, in Burundi feeding the hungry, water and sanitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo – these are just some of the projects supported together with Tearfund’s partners.

A wonderful story of Wara, a mother who survived Ebola, she was actually taken away, very very ill, eventually pronounced dead, wrapped in a body bag and as she was put into the earth, she sneezed. The priest who was praying as she was lowered, along with the crowd were shocked to hear a noise coming from within the body bag. Wara tells her story “Lady Lazarus” in the autumn Tear Times available on the Mission Table in Church.

Please do take time to stop by the Mission Table and pick up a prayer leaflet for the month of November.

For more information about Tearfund, contact Audrey Jeffries

Missions News

NEWS ABOUT CMS, Matt and Liz Wisbey and The Children’s Society

News from the Church Mission Society

Happily, our Mission Partner, Lynn Treneary, has managed to get an e-mail letter out of Maridi to say that Maridi is peaceful, the surrounding areas have quietened down and the road to Yambio is safe. Sadly that is not true for Yei and the area around it. More of this below, but first, part of Lynn’s latest letter.

“My main focus this month has been getting MSF (Drs Without Borders) to come and assess and treat the burns victims from the petrol tanker explosion a year ago. They attended to 29 patients here but unfortunately there are 100 to 175 nearer to the explosion which was Faraksika, about an hour’s drive (40km) away, who were unable to get here because the road is too unsafe. Motorbikes would have brought them in convoy but at SSP2000 (about $20) a round trip it was unaffordable. I am waiting for the report from MSF on the patients they did see so that we can at least apply (somewhere) for antibiotics and bandages etc and then find a way to get it to them.

“People are still dying from infections a year after the event. I’m applying to ICRC ( Red Cross) to try  and get those who need plastic surgery out to Egypt. It’s a tall order but God is my Father.

“Chaima is going well if somewhat lacking in money for tutors and food. We are still trying to persuade the internet server co. to come and fix the internet. (Editor: Lynn still has no internet connection so cannot send e-mails, nor receive those we send to her) But the lessons are going well. I have started a group for adults wanting to learn to read and write in Juba Arabic. They had originally come to learn English and thought they could read but unfortunately they have only learnt how to write and cannot read what they have written. It is a common problem with over 100 pupils in a class that some slip through the teacher’s net.

“Money for food is short and some extra that has been sent to provide food for the children has had to be spent on new pit latrines as the old ones fell down. As you can imagine, with around 100 school children around, a toilet is a priority. My watchman Matthew is building the new one. I am so happy to have helpers around the house. They are called “watch men” (I have two who do one week on and one week off) because they do guard the place but they do so much more, including helping the wider community. This week they helped to re-build the car-port whose tin-roof was threatening to fall on top of the car because the wood posts had been eaten, they helped to prepare the guest house for MSF coming and dig the latrine! This week I hope they will raise the hen-house up higher as cats keep getting in and stealing the little ones.

“I am aware that we are in some kind of protective dome of the Lord, but all around me things are not so great and I ask you to pray about that too as I’m sure you do. I want to say I think of myself as ‘we’ not just me. I am we. The Lord showed me I am one of many with you on this mission, all kneeling before the throne.”

As mentioned at the start of this article, the situation around Yei is very bad. 100 orphans en route to Uganda have been trapped by the fighting and several hundred more are reported trapped in Yei. All roads are blocked in and out of the city, schools, health centres, and markets are not working and no one can get to their crops to tend them. A convoy was attacked on the Yei to Juba road in mid October and 21 people including 5 women and 15 children were killed It is reported that the gunmen divided the travellers by ethnic group and shot all those who were not of the gunmen’s group, including the children. The roads around Juba and Yei are all unsafe, there is looting and burning of crops and livestock killed in areas that were once known as the bread basket of South Sudan. 1868 cases of Cholera were recently reported in Juba. The church in South Sudan is working hard to bring reconciliation and peace. Do pray for them.

Our CMS Prayer Group meets every third Wednesday in the month. We would love more to join us in this mission of prayer. If you can come, even occasionally, you will be very welcome. As a church we have promised to support Lynn and the work of CMS in the world, and we know that our loving Lord wants his people to pray and he will answer in amazing ways beyond our imagining

For more information about CMS contact Joan Plumptre 243 388

News from Matt and Liz Wisbey

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1

While many of us believe the above is true, sadly the reality in our world today looks very different. There is much beauty and wonder, but also much destruction and pain. The condition of our planet should be a concern for us all, yet there seems to be a growing disconnect between the environment in which we live and our individual and collective well-being. Somehow, somewhere along the way, we have lost sight of the importance of the planet’s health for our own health.

The world’s climate is changing, and it is now almost unanimously agreed that this is as a result of human actions. The effect of these changes cannot be underestimated, as we see extreme ‘natural’ disasters happening more frequently and with increased devastation. These changes will ultimately impact us all, both directly and indirectly, but the communities who will be (and already are being) most strongly affected are those living on the margins, the communities we support through language, education and development activities.

Believe it or not, finding and supporting ways for these communities to increase their resilience to the changing environment and climate is part of Matt’s work with LEAD Asia (Language, Education And Development Asia). As a team, LEAD Asia is committed to working with linguistic minority communities across Asia to see their lives transformed through right relationships with God, with themselves, within their communities, with others outside their community, and with the environment. As the verse at the top of this letter says, we believe EVERYTHING in the world is God’s and that real transformation will only be seen when people recognise and respond in ways that respect and reflect this.

Within LEAD Asia, Matt currently heads up a small team with a particular focus on finding ways for communities to use their languages and culture to find creative solutions to the range of problems they face in their daily lives. One way is to integrate environmental issues and responses into education programmes, and Matt and his colleague were recently at a large multilingual education conference in Thailand presenting on this topic.

Matt is also responsible for coordinating a communications team at the event and, afterwards, pulling together a publication summarizing the key themes from the conference. Please do remember him as he shares about the work LEAD Asia is doing and that through his conversations communities across Asia and beyond would be truly transformed.

For news of Matt and Liz Wisbey see http://wisbeys.blogspot.fr/

The Children’s Society

This is the month when The Children’s Society Boxes are opened. If you have a Box would you let me have it during November so that it can be emptied and the contents sent to the Society.

Your continued support for the Society is very much appreciated by them, and your gifts will assist them in carrying on with their excellent work with so many vulnerable children and young people in this country.

Please contact me if you wish me to collect your Box from you or let me have it at one of the services at Church.

Very many thanks.

Hazel Catling (242 355)

JESUS . . . “through him all things were made” (Exploring the Nicene Creed)

We come now to one of the very difficult sections of this Creed to understand. So to help we must look again at last month’s article, stressing the uniqueness of the Christian Faith. The claims made about Jesus by the first Apostles and later followers, have no comparison in any other world Faith or Religion. Neither the Buddha, nor any one of the many Gurus of Hinduism or Sikhism, nor any Hebrew prophet, nor the prophet Mahomet of Islam, are claimed to be Divine: to embody, that is, the very Nature and Being of the Eternal God in a wholly human body.

We use the term Incarnation meaning taking our flesh, to sum this up. The first Christians, who had been so close to their Lord in those early years, having only human language to speak of God and eternal realities, could find no other terms to speak of Jesus, but to call him the unique and only SON OF GOD. It is a truth of faith, and love, and hope of course; a profound mystery beyond our inevitably partial and proximate understanding. In heaven it will all be fully clear in ways beyond our highest imagination now; a delight and joy surpassing the best of present human joys. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10; Romans 8:38-39; and especially 1 John 3:2).

Conscious of the still living, active presence and power of Christ in their lives after the Ascension of Jesus and his return to heaven, those first followers knew and believed that it was God’s Holy Spirit inspiring, guiding and working through them. It was exactly as Jesus had firmly promised; that he would still be with them, and would make fully clear all the truths of our Saving Faith.

The New Testament presents a dynamic, living, and powerful Faith Story, gathering together the inspired thinking and praying of many Apostles, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers; all with strong, open and discerning hearts and minds. And all led by God’s Holy Spirit in trustful faith. It’s a Faith and Way of Life that has stood the test of over 2,000 years of history for countless millions. It is our story too, yours and mine. It will carry us along life’s journey with its many ups and downs, with many opportunities for good; testing us, many challenges indeed, and yes, doubts and fears also. Cling hard to that great Story. God does not deceive us, mock, or sell us short. (Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:16-17 & 16:13-15).

Moving on, I think we should now see a little clearer what this creedal section is saying. It’s presenting a kind of picture or analogy of what I’ll call the Family Life of the Triune God, who is both One and Three: the Father Creator; Jesus the Son our Redeemer; and the ongoing Life-Giving Holy Spirit. Again and again in the New Testament writings the truth is stated that it is through Jesus that all created things are made and have their existence. (Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3). We could express it this way. The Father Creator has made and given us all that is; the entire Universe and our Planet; all life, and especially all human life, by means of, and through, Jesus his Son because only he can make full sense of it all, and give true understanding of God’s great purposes in Creation. Moreover, that only he, Jesus, can enable us to fulfil that divine plan and purpose.

That must be realised by every human soul, if not in this life, then certainly in the next. (See again John 14, 6). John’s Gospel, in describing Jesus as the “Word made flesh”, is really saying the same thing. Jesus expresses the mind of God, and the Creative-Saving mind, for us. He is God’s Word. (John 1:1 & 14). But more later.

All this was gleaned by the first Apostles and others in an instinctively down-to-earth and very practical way. The life, teaching, dying and rising from death of Jesus, as they saw it, heard it, and touched it, convinced them that without him, we can only go so far in making sense of creation, of life itself and our human existence. As I said in a former article it completes the faith journeys (however good) of all other religions. It adds for them the highest and best possible truth and conclusion. (1 John 1:1-4; a key passage of faith).

Just think about it! Every time you see beautiful flower, a glorious sunset, a sparkling river, or a rugged mountain with grass and trees; and every other living thing you see; and every other human person you meet, is all part of a great Creation designed and made in love by the Father with his Son in mind, and actually brought into its very existence through him. And Jesus not only makes this clear and aids us in the full loving purpose of it all, but comes to our rescue when that good purpose is thwarted, damaged and weakened by human sin and evil. He is truly Saviour, Redeemer, Reconciler, whatever names we use, and this we shall think about later.

The early Church Fathers also wanted to affirm beyond all doubt that there was never a time or age when Jesus did not exist. Many had doubted this in those early centuries, or refused to believe it. Some still do. From eternity to eternity he is the Divine Son, not created or made. (See again the whole lovely poem about this truth in Hebrews Chapter 1). This is why begotten is expressed a second time in this creed, emphasising again the eternal Family Bond of Holy Love between the Father and the Son. The creed links the notion of begotten with creation through Jesus because the life experience of those early Christians dictated such belief. It was true for Peter, Paul, and all those other men and women believers. It is still true today for you and for me. It affirmed for them the plan and purposes of God for all human lives, every man woman and child. That we all are his greatly loved children. That he longs for us to share with the Risen Jesus, and through him alone, the gift of abundant life now, and one day eternal life within the Family of the Trinity in the Family of Heaven. (see John 10:10 & 3:16).

God our Father, amidst the vastness of space you treasure mankind and call each of us by name. You so love our world that, in the fullness of time, you sent Jesus your Beloved Son to live among us. Inspire us each day to live in wonder and appreciation of all that is around us.   Help us to see that the very Creation is designed to bring us all to Christ your Son. May your Love, seen fully in your Son Jesus, surround us, and all whom we love, this day and forever. And to him alone, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all praise and glory. Amen.

 Prayer based on Psalm 37:3-5

Dear Lord, nourish us with your truth. In you alone may we trust, and to you commit all our ways. So may our delight be in you alone now and forever. Amen.

They shall grow not old

On Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday we will hear again the well known central verse from the poem For the Fallen that is regularly used as an exhortation and statement that tells those listening of our determination neither to forget, nor to overlook, the efforts and sacrifices of those who served our country and Commonwealth in the First and Second World Wars, and subsequent wars and conflicts.

Strangely though, this poem wasn’t written by a soldier who had seen action, but by Laurence Binyon, a 45 year old keeper of oriental prints and drawings at the British Museum. He wrote it sitting on a cliff-top at Polzeath in Cornwall in early September 1914, just a few weeks after the Great War began.

The poem has a smooth and rhythmic flow and uses formal, elegant language that, today, encapsulates the deep sense of respect, admiration and grief which marks our modern act of collective remembrance. The verse They Shall Grow Not Old… was actually written first, and its words, with their sombre repetitive rhythm, give it an enduring power when we hear them read aloud in public.

As the Great War progressed, and the casualties grew, its words resonated greatly with those who had lost husbands, sons, brothers and friends and neighbours. The whole poem has a spiritual depth and meaning, and its final verse, with its imagery of stars sparkling in the infinity of the heavens, gave those left behind both consolation and hope.

But at its heart its middle verse in particular means that, even now some 102 years later, we are determined We will remember them. The verse was set to music by several composers including Sir Edward Elgar in 1917. Their various compositions are for soloists and choirs, accompanied by orchestras and/or pipe organs.

And it was echoes of that same verse that came into my mind in the middle of the night. They seemed to amalgamate, quite naturally, with two events that happened earlier in the year. The first occurred when a Wednesday group, that meet and sing for fun, learned a short West African Song invoking the ancestors – it was a song that really moved me with its simplicity in line and harmony. It was called Pora samine and we sang it as part of an Oxfordshire choir in the Sheldonian Theatre in mid-March.

The second event was the service on the centenary of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July. In preparing for the service I came across a photograph of a grave in Amiens of a soldier who had fought for the French forces in the battle. He was in Les Tirailleurs Senegalais and would have been recruited from the French Colonies in West Africa.

Those two events and the verse from For the Fallen seemed to gel together, and I could imagine relatives of that soldier standing in the cemetery singing Pora samine just as I can imagine the tune adapted for They shall grow not old . . . being sung within the memorials at Menin Gate, Thiepval and Tyne Cot.

If you are able to attend the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance in All Saints’ on the evening of 11th November, you will hear the poem read in full, with our Community choir, conducted by Louise Woodgate, singing, unaccompanied, the middle verse They shall grow not old.

Book Reviews

Books reviewed this month The Way of Blessing and Life to The Max

The Way of Blessing by Roy Godwin

In The Way of Blessing you are invited into a spiritual pilgrimage to the windswept hills of Wales, and to the small praying community of Ffald y Brenin, where the deaf hear, the blind see, the lost are found and the broken receive healing.

Roy reveals how God longs to bless us and has given believers the authority to bless others, and teaches how to do it. He shares how this ministry began, stories of miraculous healings, and ways you can usher God’s manifest presence into your community.

Price: £9.99 available now from the Mustard Seed

Life to the Max by Jon Cox

This is a life story of the founders of the organisation Adventure Plus, based now in Clanfield, which aims to help young people to experience the fun, the challenge and the fulfilment in a life of following Jesus Christ.

It begins in 1986, when Jon was in his early 20s chatting to a friend, also in his 20s. His friend said “there’s got to be more to life than this”. Jon thought, how terrible to be bored with work and life in your early 20s and he thought of the many youngsters, also drifting through life with the same feeling. He felt that God was calling him to encourage people to ‘live the adventure of faith’.

From that day on he tested that calling, looking to positive guidance in his daily bible reading and his specific prayers for God to give him the ability he needed. His whole journey has been an adventure, experiencing amazing answers to prayer. It has taken him to the Sudan, Canada and different parts of the UK and now to Clanfield, where he runs adventure weeks for many young people, reaching a few thousands each year, and encouraging them to ‘grab life and live boldly’.

It is making a difference to these young people, because Jon and his helpers are learning to make room for God and to rely only on him in their busy lives.

As Adventure Plus is near to Faringdon you could easily see more of what they are doing in Clanfield. The book, which will inspire you and can be ordered from the Mustard Seed, costs only £7.