Some Thoughts on Mission

The poem “Crossing the Bar” was read and sung at a funeral here in May and it got me thinking of many things, and particularly brought my mind back to when we lived in Branscombe, Devon. There, we used to enjoy sitting out in the garden on a warm summer night when the wind was from the South East because we could hear the sound of the sea on the shingle beach some half a mile away. It was a soothing sound – a kind of audio-massage – de-stressing at times when life was busy.

That sound was mentioned, too, in another poem, Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” where it says, “Listen! you hear the grating roar /Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,/At their return, up the high strand, /Begin, and cease, and then again begin, /With tremulous cadence slow, and bring /The eternal note of sadness in.”But I had forgotten that it goes on to say, “The Sea of Faith /Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore /Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. /But now I only hear /Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, /Retreating, to the breath /Of the night-wind,/ down the vast edges drear /And naked shingles of the world.

Today we live as Christians in a world from which the tide of faith has withdrawn. So what can we do? Arnold’s lament at the passing of the full tide of religious faith was reflected by my grandson. He enjoys surfing, and for him the outgoing tide meant no more fun. He sat on the beach chuntering away. I told him to be patient and wait for the tide to turn. But for his sister, low tide opened up a fascinating new world in the rock pools – crabs, sea anemones, star fish, razor shells and many other wriggling delights. She was happy in this new world revealed to her and was absorbed for hours.

Thinking back, my grandchildren’s reactions to low tide were like a parable of how the church looks at today’s world.

Are we sitting in Faringdon waiting for the tide to turn, chuntering because the church and faith no longer have the status they once had? Are we hoping for a revival of the past, when it seemed from our full churches that everybody believed? Or, can we realise and recognise that the new world revealed by the retreating tide is just as full of God’s glory and presence as was the old world in which faith played a more overtly prominent part? People in today’s world aren’t the naturally religious animals they apparently once were. So should we stop trying to impose our faith upon people and agree that the Christian faith is a private world-view equally valid with all other world views?

Attractive as this idea may be, it is impossible to hold it and be true to the Gospel. God is present everywhere, already – if he was absent from anything it’d cease to exist. And it would be arrogance to think that it was the work of Christian mission that introduced God into a situation. But the witness of the New Testament is that we must grasp two things: the fact that God is king over all his creation and over his people, and; that we can enter into a loving relationship with him. So I see mission has a double task.

First we have to help people realise that they are loved and cared for by the God and Father of Jesus, and that the acknowledgement of the God who is present everywhere sets people free. The light which has dawned on the people who lived in darkness, is the new situation which has come about through the presence of Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is close at hand, Jesus proclaims that God rules over all. This doesn’t, of course, mean that Jesus thought that God had not always been king, but that, with his coming a new age was dawning in which the true nature of God’s Lordship could be understood and acknowledged.

Secondly, our mission task is to encourage people to enter into a saving relationship with God. Jesus challenged his disciples, and through them, challenges us to be ‘fishers of men’. One of our primary tasks as Christians is to share in the missionary work of the church. And that means not only supporting the work of those who are full-time missionaries, but also recognising that each of us is commissioned by Christ to proclaim the God who is present wherever we live.

But we can’t go on using past methods in today’s world. It is inescapable fact that the sea of faith has ebbed to a new low water mark that is probably unique in history. Just as in the past our overseas missionaries’ first priority was to learn the languages of the people to whom they went, so we must give time and effort to the job of learning. We must learn what makes western secular society tick. We must engage with the underlying philosophies by which our lives are unconsciously shaped, and measure them against the Gospel of Jesus.

As Paul struggled to interpret the Christian message for the Greek speaking world, so we must struggle to interpret the message for our culture.

Max Young

JESUS . . . “Will come again in glory . . .” (Exploring the Nicene Creed)

The Return or re-appearance of Jesus, with the subsequent Judgment and final new unending Kingdom is by far the most difficult section to grasp fully, i.e. with an understanding that accords with every aspect of our Faith, and makes sense of all that we have come to believe about the eternal God. In the next article we shall specially think about the Glory and the Judgment.

In this series we thought first about the One and only true God as Creator and Father. Next his unique and only Son Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer, who lived amongst us giving all for us. Then the Holy Spirit of God who makes all this true and real in our lives just as he did for the very first Christians. That same divine Spirit also reveals the whole plan and purpose of God stretching across all time and eternity. So now we think about the great end goal; the glorious final purpose of God. To sum up: our first two articles dealt with the Christian doctrine of the Creation: “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1); now we look at the grand conclusion, or as we might briefly say, “in the end God”.

So let’s take a well-known verse from Scripture as our starting point. Writing to the Christians at Colossae St Paul makes this key statement of faith and hope: “Your life is hid with Christ in God [and] when Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:3-4). This is short hand of course, and like many passages in the New Testament speaking about the second coming or ‘coming again’ of Jesus (the first of course being his birth), it has been interpreted in differing ways. Moreover it has often been completely misunderstood, and then taught as true doctrine by many people and groups within the church, and outside the church.

The New Testament itself does show development in the meaning of Christ’s teaching and promises about the end times, and with differing emphases. Like much of our holy Faith, it rings real and true in our innermost heart and feelings, yet makes full rational, thought-out understanding very difficult. We are wrestling with crucial truths of faith with limited human language and knowledge; with beliefs that relate to both our natural order and world and the supernatural at the same time. The things of time and eternity intertwine and overlap, so it is far from easy to find adequate words to express these important beliefs; yet are nevertheless totally real and true. We have to hold in balance two different but related perceptions and consciousness of life here and life hereafter.

Hence the important question we now have to consider is this. How far (especially in our scientific and rightly critical era) must we take literally these Second Coming passages in the Gospels and other writings? For plainly they do speak of the physical return of Jesus which every human eye at that time would see. (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7; etc). Indeed, in the early years after Pentecost such a coming again was regarded by most Christians as imminent, even longed for, and might well actually happen in their own life time (Mark 9: 1; 2 Peter 3:8-10; etc). Note also that the Kingdom which Jesus would inaugurate at his return is sometimes expressed as a glorious transformation of this present world order, yet also and most emphatically, is also seen as totally other and beyond our created world. (Revelation 21:1-6; 7:9-17; John 14:1-6; etc).

Jesus did not return soon as first expected. And the church’s prayerful reflective thought in the New Testament era and the following centuries gradually lifted belief in his Return from purely physical and down-to-earth concepts, to something absolutely real, but spiritual; within time indeed, yet transcending time and this created order, linking it to the eternal world of heaven. The new Kingdom is also seen as inexpressibly wonderful and perfect; all beautiful and lovely, unfading and unending; and above all, close to and somehow within the very heavenly life of the Holy Trinity.

About all this, apart from symbolic picture language, we are given little further explanation. And though future in one sense, we are linked to it now by faith and anticipation, looking forward to its complete fulfilment. This is because we are forever “hid with Christ in God”. Our lives are indeed firmly placed in this good world with present urgent tasks of love, but our eyes are also focussed on a far far greater future.

To sum up, after the Ascension and Pentecost Jesus did return again and again in countless good and wonderful ways; and whenever he came all was put right. (We shall think about the final putting right and ultimate judgment in our next article). Supremely this coming again was experienced at its most real and deepest in the Christian Eucharist (1 Corinthians 10: 16-17), in the Fellowship and the Prayer (Acts 2:42; Matthew 18:20), and as God’s nurturing Word of Holy Scripture is opened up (Colossians 3:16-17). All this is the first phase of the great final unending Kingdom: the very Kingdom of God ushered in by Christ for which we pray in the Lord’s Prayer. To this very day Jesus still returns to us, again and again and again.

At some point in time there will be a final Return and a final putting right of all things, though actually when and how that will be, and just what it will be like, we have no detailed knowledge. It is pointless to speculate about it, because we do not know God’s timescale or his full detailed plan, nor the future path of our Universe, or the progress of the human race. We do know however, with firm confidence, that within the sovereignty and loving purposes of the Eternal God everything from the beginning to the end is securely and safely within his hands and power. Nothing but nothing, within the time and space of our great universe of infinite capacity, and everything beyond all this in the heavenly eternal world, is outside that great Saving Love revealed in Jesus. The Incarnation, and the Death and Resurrection of Jesus with the glorious Ascension, confirmed and sealed at Pentecost, are the sure proof and guarantee (Romans 8:31-39).

One day, in God’s good time and merciful purpose, when our human life here is ended, you and I will indeed be taken to our eternal home by Jesus (John 14:3;1 Thessalonians 4:14). We will truly share in the ecstatic mystery of the final glorious return of Christ our King, seeing our beloved Lord face to face in joy forever (1 John 3:2). We will share eternal joy too with countless Angels and Saints (Hebrews 12:22-24; etc); with our loved ones already there, and with Mary the blessed mother of our Incarnate Saviour who at incalculable cost gave himself for us so that all this might be so.

Praise be to him! Amen.

George Abell

Steve Writes . . . Why is it easier to jump off a cliff backwards than to talk to my friends about God?

So begins an article on a brilliant website www.thykingdomcome.global which helps us to take part in ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. Thy Kingdom Come is a special time of prayer between Ascension Day, 25th May, and Pentecost, 4th June. It’s the initiative of our Archbishop Justin Welby. He’s inviting us and all Christians across churches and countries to pray specifically for people we know to become Christians.

At All Saints’ we’ll be offering special opportunities to pray for friends and family to discover a living faith in Jesus (see the weekly notice sheet in May). There are great resources for individuals, churches and families at the website mentioned above.

We’re not alone in struggling to talk about our faith to our friends – indeed Archbishop Justin recently spoke about his difficulty speaking about his faith when at university. He relates how a mission was being planned at his university and how there was someone he was wanting to ask to come along. He explained, “I was terrified, absolutely terrified, and I prayed for him every day but I couldn’t quite get up the nerve to ask him to one of the talks.” The mission started and he still hadn’t asked him. He described feeling like a complete failure because he hadn’t had the courage to invite his friend to one of the events. But God had been at work and his prayers were answered in the strangest way.

During the week of the mission he was in the library when the friend he had planned to invite came up to him. Welby recalls, “He said, “Oh Hi, Justin… I hear there’s some kind of Christian thing going on this week in the university.” and I said, “Yep, yes there is.” He said, ‘Is there any chance I could be allowed to go to it?’ And I said, ‘Yes… you can come with me if you like!’ He said, ‘Oh, can you spare the time?’ I said, ‘Yes.’

The friend went along and through that mission he found Christ and is still walking with Him today. According to the Archbishop, “The Holy Spirit is the one who opens ears and warms hearts, not us.”

No need to wait until 25th May to start praying for friends or family to come to know Jesus, but watch out for what All Saints’ is doing for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.

Yours in Christ,

Steve

Home Group Meetings in May

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

Day and Dates Time Place Contact Subject
Monday 8th & 22nd 7.45pm 28 The Pines 240 532 Revelation
Tuesday 9th & 23rd 2.30pm 2 Leamington Gate 615 009 Ephesians
Wednesday 3rd, 17th & 31st 7.45pm 2 Leamington Gate 615 009 Book by Judy Hirst
Thursday 11th & 25th 8.00pm 10B Coxwell Street 242 753 TBA

Prayer Calendar for May

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

Mon 1st Mission of the Month—Christian Aid.
Tues 2nd Home Groups restarting.
Wed 3rd Lynn Treneary in South Sudan in the current situation.
Thurs 4th Psalms Course this afternoon.
Fri 5th Flower Guild decorating the Church this morning.
Sat 6th All who are ill, recently bereaved or in any other kind of need.
Sun 7th Saints Alive with Baptism.
Mon 8th Bell ringers practicing each Monday evening.
Tues 9th Our witness to friends and neighbours.
Wed 10th Preparations for the forthcoming General Election.
Thurs 11th Open the Book at the Infant and Junior Schools this morning.
Fri 12th Wardens, Vergers and Welcomers, Intercessors and Readers.
Sat 13th Men’s Group. United Service tomorrow at Baptist Church.
Sun 14th Christian Aid week starts. Cake Sale at All Saints’.
Mon 15th Christian Aid house-to-house collection starts.
Tues 16th Christian Aid Street Collection and Coffee Morning.
Wed 17th Our search for a Director of Music.
Thurs 18th For all who help run our Churches.
Fri 19th Magazine preparation this weekend.
Sat 20th Earth & Faith Plant Stall. Christian Aid Concert at All Saints’.
Sun 21st Family bringing child for Baptism this morning.
Mon 22nd The work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Tues 23rd Steve, Graham, Helen, Barbara, Dick, John, Max & Paul.
Wed 24th Community activities in Faringdon and Little Coxwell.
Thurs 25th Open the Book this morning. Ascension Day service this evening.
Fri 26th Allsorts this morning.
Sat 27th For all involved in children’s and youth work at the Church.
Sun 28th Rogation Service at St Mary’s. Messy Church this afternoon.
Mon 29th For all on holiday today.
Tues 30th Volunteers and helpers for The Wave.
Wed 31st Young people taking exams at this time.

Mission of the Month for May – Christian Aid

Christian Aid Week 14th-20th May

Christian Aid Week this year will be from the 14th to 20th May. Our theme will be “Refugees all around the World”.Christian Aid Week started 60 years ago to support the work that Christian Aid was doing with refugees in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. The situation then seemed every bit as challenging as the refugee crisis now.

Christian Aid week remains a massive movement of people today, uniting 20,000 churches to demonstrate Jesus’ justice. Today 65 million people across the globe have fled their homes because of disasters and conflict and do not have a safe place to call home.

During Christian Aid Week we are holding the following events:

  • Sunday 14th May   Cake Sale after the 10.30am service at All Saints’
  • Tuesday 16th May  Street Collection from 9.00 to 11.00am in Faringdon and Coffee Morning from 10.30am to 12.30pm in the Barber Rooms
  • Saturday 20th May “Instruments & Voices” Concert from 7.00pm at All Saints’
  •  All week from 14th to 20th May – House-to-House Collection, with an alternative “Delivery Only” option for this year.

We would welcome your support whether it is through baking, volunteering or buying a cake, a cup of coffee or a ticket to the concert.

If you would like any further information with regards to Christian Aid, how you can help or details of any of the events, please contact Julie Campbell on 242 589

Meetings for Prayer in May

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.

Tuesday 2nd 2.00-3.00pm Julian Meeting (18 Eastfield Court)
Tuesday 2nd 7.15-8.15pm Mission for Faringdon (Barber Rooms)
Thursday 4th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 5th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 9th 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Thursday 11th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 12th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Wednesday 17th 10.30-11.30am Prayer for CMS (8 Coach Lane)
Thursday 18th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 19th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 19th 8.00pm Prayer for the World (Call 240 509 for venue)
Tuesday 23rd 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Thursday 25th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 26th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)

Mission for Faringdon (1st Tuesday evening): 241 975

Julian Meeting (Tuesday afternoon): 241 039

Julian Meeting (Tuesday evening): 244 905

CMS Prayer Group (3rd Wednesday morning): 243 388

Parish Prayers (Friday am) and Prayer for the World (Friday pm): 240 509

Missions News May 2017

News from Church Mission Society 

News from the Church Mission Society

We have just heard that Lynn Treneary has been welcomed into the church and the college on Easter Sunday as a Lay Reader. Our congratulations have been sent to her and our prayer support as she extends her work in South Sudan.

You will have read on the notice board in the Barber Rooms about the continued fighting in South Sudan. It has also been on the BBC News and in the newspapers. Now there is a drought in East Africa to add to the problems. We can only pray for the mercy of God and for guidance to the church to know how to help bring those who are fighting together – to make peace.

CMS is also working with those in camps in the Middle East, where there are almost 5 million refugees from Syria. The conditions are not good and many have lost all hope, so much so, that, according to the papers many are committing suicide. One Lebanese couple living in the UK felt that God was calling them to return to Lebanon and help these people. They did not know how they could help and prayed for God to show them what He wanted them to do. They felt that God said to them,

“One day I will have you stand in front of my throne and I will ask you: ‘I was marginalised, and what did you do, I had nothing, I had no school, I was a child stranger, what did you do?

This couple set up a school for 80 children in the camp from ages 3-15 years. CMS is providing their living costs as they carry out this work.

Other couples are doing a similar work in the refugee camps in Iraq, Jordan and Egypt. For safety reasons they  cannot be named or written about,  and some have to be careful how they witness to their Christian faith. But, along with their setting up schools or health centres, they work to bring hope to those who have none, and to show them that they are loved by God and they are not alone.

It costs £36 a day to support these brave couples and make their work possible. Will you pray for them. We cannot support every request we receive, but pray to know if this is your call. Any gifts can be sent to Church Mission Society, Watlington Road, Oxford, OX4 6BZ

Date for your diary

The Revd Colin Smith, from CMS will be preaching on 11th June at the 10.30am service at All Saints’. This will be followed by a Bring-&- Share lunch with him in the Barber Rooms and a chance to talk further.

Members of our congregation meet every third Wednesday of the month at 10.30am at 8 Coach Lane to pray together for Lynn and CMS. Do join us any time, Jesus called us to pray together as well as individually. We look forward to more taking up the call to pray.

Joan Plumptre

The Revd Elizabeth Tyndall

27th June 1930 —13th April 2017

Elizabeth and her late husband, Nick Tyndall, came to live permanently in Faringdon in 1992 after they retired. Elizabeth had been in full-time ministry as a Parish Deacon in Feltham.

On Saturday 16th April 1994 at St Helen’s Church, Abingdon, she was Ordained and Licensed as priest to serve in the Vale of the White Horse. For Elizabeth this was indeed a ‘crowning moment’ and she was one of the first Anglican women priests. It was not the idea of being equal with men that made her rejoice, but rather she felt that women also have a vital role to play in God’s ministry. As a Non-Stipendiary Minister she soon became involved in church life – taking services in All Saints’ and also throughout the Vale. She was the first woman priest to preside at Eaton Hastings and Buscot and was a great help in putting together their first Deanery Review. Members of the church at Coleshill remember her with great affection.

When a group, which focused on contemplative worship and led by Father Leo of the Blessed Hugh, came to an end, Elizabeth re-formed another based on the style of Julian of Norwich.  A thriving Group continued for a number of years and continues today. Elizabeth was also a Committee Member of the National Julian Meetings and valued the experience of silent retreats and often led them.

Elizabeth will always be remembered as a calm, wise and well-loved friend, whose advice and support were always available. Having taken a problem to discuss with her meant there was a way forward after all.  She and Nick ran a welcoming home, with invitations to join them for coffee or a meal or simply to call in for a chat. Family gatherings or holidays were action-packed and always involved board games and, on one occasion, they even hired a horse-drawn caravan as transport!

When Nick died, in 2006, Elizabeth already had dementia; a Pilgrim Friends Society Nursing Home (Framland) in Wantage was chosen for her. Their care and compassion were no less than outstanding, a true Christian witness.  Indeed, they loved her and even quite recently one member of staff was able to make Elizabeth laugh.  It is good to know that Elizabeth still retained her sense of humour.

She is survived by their children, Simon, Sally, Rebecca and Daniel.

Joan Whittaker and Janet Deane

APCM 2017

All Saints’ Annual Parochial Church Meeting

All Saints’ APCM was held after the 10.30am service on Sunday 2nd April.  At the APCM the officers are elected for the coming year, the Annual Accounts are accepted and the reports from the previous year are presented.

The following people were elected:
Church Wardens:               Katie Foot and Jim McGowan
Assistant Warden:             Andrew Sargent
Deanery Synod Representatives – to serve from 2017 to 2020:
Peter Foot, John Seedell, Margaret Starr,
David Wilson
PCC Members – to serve 2017 to 2020:
John Coleman, Kate Crebbin, Joanne Raybone,
Wendy Tynan

PCC members already serving are:
Until 2018:                  David Barber, Jon Chamberlain, Geoff Edgington
Until 2019:                  Kate Butcher, Julie Campbell, Elaine Cox,
John Hignett, Ibby Southerden, Peter Southerden
Invited to attend:       Bruce Garfield  (Buildings Consultations)

Our Licensed Lay Ministers also serve on PCC:
Graham Scott-Brown and Helen Wilson

The bi-monthly PCC meetings are chaired by the Vicar

Independent Examiner:       Gill Garrard was appointed

A short meeting of the above members took place after the formal meeting and the following were appointed:
Honorary Treasurer:            Dave Wilson
Secretary:                              Beryl Begg

In his summary of the Annual Accounts, the Treasurer, Dave Wilson, said we are recovering well from the building of the Barber Rooms in that the loans are now paid, the Parish Share of £63,248 was paid in full, we made donations to Missions and Charities which were over 10% of our income, and with improvements in the value of investments in the Stock Market we are now in a good financial position.

However, we should not be complacent as in the coming year we face an increase in the Parish Share, Quinquennial repairs to the Church, and the need for a new heating boiler before next winter.  Dave asked everyone to carefully consider their giving, and maybe continue with pledges made to the Barber Rooms, which would enable us to deal with the maintenance of the Church and outreach to our town.

In his report to the meeting, the Vicar the Revd Steve Bellamy, thanked everyone for the warm welcome he and Wendy had received on their arrival. Thanks were also expressed to all those who help with the running and outreach at All Saints’, particularly Joy Blake, who is to retire after 40 years dedicated to the music at our Church.

Steve urged us to look forward to where God is leading us, and to identify His mission for us. This may mean changes that we will need to dig deep to fund, and work hard to fulfil, but by being committed, prayerful and open to the Holy Spirit we can achieve great things together, as we witness to the people around us.