Steve writes: Jesus is alive today . . .

. . . I laughed as I said those words about 45 years ago, down the road from here in a student’s room at Jesus College. The reason I’d said them was in answer to the question “were there any Christians at your school?” – “yes”, I’d said “just some crazy fifth form girls who went around telling people that . . . Jesus is alive today”.

But as I was the only one laughing in that group, the penny dropped rather loudly that the supposedly intelligent undergraduates I was drinking coffee amongst all believed it to be true. I guess that ensured that I did make the effort to find out for myself the truth of the astonishing claim those girls at my school were sharing.

If Easter didn’t really happen and Jesus isn’t alive today in 2018, then there’s no Christian faith, but then there’d be no New Testament either- because it’s difficult to write a gospel when there’s no good news. The Sabbath-changing event which shifted worship for Christians from Saturday to Sunday is so revolutionary that it changes everything else as well. If no resurrection, then no All Saints’ Faringdon or any church at all for that matter ancient or modern, here or anywhere.

As a former Bishop of mine Tom Wright has said, ‘the only possible explanation for the rise of Christianity and for its taking the shape it did was that Jesus of Nazareth, three days after being very thoroughly dead (Roman executioners were professional killers) was found by his followers to be very thoroughly and very bodily alive again. His tomb was empty… and his followers really did see, touch and share food with Jesus as a real, bodily presence. Had they not, they would have concluded that an empty tomb meant that the grave had been robbed. The combination of empty tomb and definite, solid appearances is far and away the best explanation for everything that happened subsequently.

John Updike insists on this realness of Jesus’ resurrection in his Seven Stanzas at Easter – here are four of them:.

Make no mistake
if he rose at all
it was as his body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the
molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as his Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as his flesh: ours.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity
of earlier ages;
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slowgrinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

Just as Jesus’ resurrection is real, so is our cause for joy and celebration (however we’re actually feeling inside just now). The Easter season prompts us to let it run for all 365 days of any year.

So let’s not soft pedal the reality which urges us to fulfil our church’s aim to ‘connect people with (the living, risen and present with us) Jesus, sharing his love in our everyday lives’.

Wishing you joy for the Easter season, which never ends,

Yours in Christ,

Steve

Home Group Meetings in April

Home Groups will restart after Easter. New members are always most welcome at all Home Groups – please contact the people listed below for more details.

Day and Dates Time Place Contact Subject
Mondays 7.45pm 28 The Pines Bridget Adams 240 532 TBA
Tuesday 10th & 24th 2.30pm 2 Leamington Gate Barbara Mapley 615 009 TBA
Wednesday 11th& 25th 7.45pm 2 Leamington Gate Barbara Mapley 615 009 Abundant Life
Thursdays 12th & 26th 8.00pm 10B Coxwell Street Andrew & Clare Sargent 242 753 TBA

April Prayer Calendar

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

Sun 1st He is Risen! For all Easter services today.
Mon 2nd Mission of the Month – African Children’s Fund.
Tues 3rd The Wisbey family.
Wed 4th Welcome Group meeting this evening.
Thurs 5th For all who help run our Churches.
Fri 6th Flower Guild decorating the Church.
Sat 7th CMS FUNdraiser this afternoon.
Sun 8th Civic Service this morning.
Mon 9th Home Groups restarting this week.
Tues 10th Work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Wed 11th Steve, Graham, Helen, Barbara, Dick, John, Max, Paul and Jim.
Thurs 12th All who are ill, recently bereaved or in any other kind of need.
Fri 13th All who serve our community in any way.
Sat 14th Men’s Group Breakfast this morning.
Sun 15th All Saints’ APCM after shortened morning service.
Mon 16th Little Allsorts restarts this morning.
Tues 17th St Mary’s APCM this evening.
Wed 18th  Lynn Treneary in South Sudan and the work of CMS.
Thurs 19th “Open the Book” at the Infant and Junior School this morning.
Fri 20th Magazine preparation this weekend.
Sat 21st Wardens, Vergers and Welcomers, Intercessors and Readers.
Sun 22nd Worship and music at All Saints’ and St Mary’s.
Mon 23rd Paul Walker, our appointed Curate, his wife and family.
Tues 24th Our Bishops Steven and Colin, and our Area Dean David.
Wed 25th Work of Churches Together and the Family Centre.
Thurs 26th Outreach to people in the new houses.
Fri 27th For our young people’s work.
Sat 28th Our witness to friends and neighbours.
Sun 29th For family bringing child for baptism this morning.
Mon 30th Bell ringers practising this evening.

Meetings for Prayer in April

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 3rd 2.00-3.00pm Julian Meeting (18 Eastfield Court)
Wednesday 4th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 6th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 10th 7.30-9.00pm Julian Meeting (call 244 905 for venue)
Wednesday 11th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 13th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Wednesday 18th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Wednesday 18th 10.30-11.30am Prayer for CMS (8 Coach Lane)
Friday 20th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 20th 8.00pm Prayer for the World (Call 240 509 for venue)
Tuesday 24th 7.30-9.00pm Julian Meeting (call 244 905 for venue)
Wednesday 25th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 27th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)

Julian Meeting (Tuesday afternoon):                     Pat Tylee (241 039)
Julian Meeting (Tuesday evening):                        Beryl Begg (244 905)
CMS Prayer Group (3rd Wednesday morning):   Bob & Joan Plumptre (243 388)
Parish Prayers (Friday am) and
Prayer for the World (Friday pm):   
                      Graham & Margaret Scott-Brown (240 509)

Mission of the Month for April – African Children’s Fund

Kenya was the first country African Children’s Fund worked in and our name there has now become synonymous with our “Porridge Clubs”. These run in eight schools in and around Thika and allow children to take up the free education offered and go to school.

When parents cannot afford to feed their children, they have to work, beg or scavenge for food when they should be at school. The provision of a nutritious porridge meal once a day eliminates this problem entirely.

What’s more, a hungry child struggles to learn or concentrate – so the introduction of “Porridge Clubs” into some of Thika’s most needy schools has produced remarkable results!

Our partner Watoto Kwanza (Children First) reports that:
• Absence rates are down by over 80%
• There are fewer cases of children falling ill due to better nutrition
• The children’s participation in games and physical education activities has improved
• Enrolment within the schools has increased with higher completion and retention rates once enrolled
• Children are achieving better results in their exams

Through Watoto Kwanza, we provide the schools with a basic kitchen, water and cooking utensils. After that the schools receive a supply of a nutritiously fortified porridge each month so the children receive a school meal each day. Some of the schools have planted their own kitchen gardens and are supplementing the porridge with fresh vegetables and beans.

Watoto Kwanza and African Children’s Fund are currently supplying 1,550 mugs of porridge each school day. This equates to 7,750 mugs each week which results in an incredible 93,000 mugs of porridge every school term! Impressive numbers, we’re sure you’ll agree!

Missions News

News About The Church Mission Society and CMS FUNdraiser

News about the Church Mission Society

Internet connection with Lynn Treneary in Maridi is a bit hit and miss at the moment, – very good when it works, frustrating when it doesn’t ! But we do get news of Lynn and the South Sudan via the CMS weekly prayer paper and MAF prayer papers, as well as Lynn’s e-mail.

Last year we reported on the launch of the New Testament in the language of the BAKA people and how thousands risked the dangerous roads to get to Maridi to receive it. From MAF we have recently heard some of the results.

Pastor Bennett Marona, the translation project manager said “God is not a foreigner any more. Jesus is one of us. He can talk our dialect”. Mama Eunice, a women’s leader in the Maridi church, said, “I was so happy as I held my own Baka Bible, I felt the Holy Spirit blow over me, finally now, I am able to read and understand God’s word in my own language.”

Phodunze Martin, one of the translation team said, “Before I joined the team, I was a Christian, but not to the extent that I am now. Now I know I have salvation in Christ. Now I follow Christ, now I live the life Christ wants for me. I can now encourage others with the word of God.”

It makes you think, doesn’t it. Does the Bible, the word of God mean that much to us? I once asked a keen member of one of my previous churches about the whereabouts of her Bible, and she answered, “Yes, it’s in the bookcase!” Reading these stories from the Maridi church members, I think, what a wonderful church it must be.

Lynn has sent some requests for prayer. Their own much loved Bishop Justin, is moving to Juba in July, where he will be installed as the new Archbishop. They are all very pleased for this, though they will miss him. A new Bishop has to be chosen for Maridi. At the same time the name of the college, where Lynn teaches English, is to change from Chaima Christian Institute to The Episcopal University, Chaima Campus. The college will need more qualified staff and they are praying that some refugees will be encouraged to return from the camps in other countries to which they fled.

They are also praying for more qualified teachers to return from exile. Haddow Secondary and Primary Schools and the Chaima Secondary school have many students longing for teaching but no one to teach them. It is not an easy choice to make, to bring your family back home to a country that still often flares up with hatred. Please pray for those who feel called by God to return.

Meanwhile the Mothers Union goes on at full strength. In late February they had a conference to discuss ‘how to avoid abject poverty’ and ‘how to mentor girls in the church’. The ladies of the Mothers Union work so hard, do pray for them.

The situation in South Sudan is still not stable, despite the work of many from outside. Do pray for them all at Easter, that they may know the peace that only God can give.

Below, you will find the details of the games afternoon we are holding on Saturday 7thApril . Do try and support this as we raise some extra funds for Lynn to support the returning teachers from the refugee camps and the work of the Mothers Union.

Later, on Sunday 10th June Jonathan Self, a member of staff at CMS headquarters, will be preaching at the 10.30am service at All Saints’. We will have a bring & share lunch after the service, when Jonathan can show a short film and/or chat about the work of CMS around the world. I hope he will also talk about the Pioneer work in this country, where CMS members are trained to reach out to those who have no contact with a church, but are looking for something missing in their life. Book that Sunday and stay for the lunch

We still welcome anyone who is able to pray with our small group that meets on the 3rd Wednesday in the month from 10.30 to 11.30am. at 8 Coach Lane.

For more information about CMS contact: Joan Plumptre (243 388)

CMS FUNdraiser!

Afternoon of Tea, Cakes,

Board Games and Fun

Saturday 7th April, 3.00-5.00pm

Barber Rooms

In aid of Lynn Treneary (CMS Link Missionary)

Entrance Free Donations welcome

 

Christian Aid Week 2018

Christian Aid Week this year will be from the 13th to 19th May 2018. Our theme will be “Providing life saving new homes to poor communities at risk from disasters”.

Christian Aid stands with the most vulnerable and excluded people of the world – both in times of crisis and for the longer term. They give people survival essentials when they are without shelter or refuge, and help them find the strength and resources they need to flourish and protect themselves from disasters. They support people to stand up for their rights and to build stable, secure lives they can enjoy living.

There will be more in-depth information as we get closer to May, but in the meantime we would be very grateful if you would “Save the date” for the following events:

Tuesday 15th May – 10.30am – 12 noon: Coffee Morning in the Barber Rooms

Saturday 19th May – 7.00pm: Concert at All Saints’

We will  be doing the House-to-House Collection during Christian Aid week and it would be much appreciated if you would consider volunteering to help with this or any of our other events. If you would like any further information please contact:

Julie Campbell on 242 589.

 

Marcelin still hasn’t recovered from Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti in September 2016, destroying his home, possessions and livestock. ‘I lost pigs, goats, everything in the house. I have nothing left,’ he says.

He now in an old concrete shower block, a tiny space he shares with his teenage daughters. There are no windows or doors, and the only furniture is a single bed for the girls.

Marcelin has fought hard to raise his children alone but can no longer afford to send them all to school. He gets up at dawn each day to work the land, but the changing weather frequently destroys the food he grows and the family often go hungry.

Marcelin fears his daughters’ hunger could lead them to be exploited by predatory men in exchange for food.

Ringing for the market

The Town Council held a ceremony in the Market Place on Tuesday 6th March to mark the 800th anniversary of the grant of Faringdon’s Market Charter by King Henry III.

They asked All Saints’ to ring our bells before and after, which we were pleased to arrange. We were not able to raise a local band so we asked an enthusiastic group of ringers who regularly ring at towers around Oxford to attempt a quarter peal between 9.00 and 10.00am. They were not successful but they enjoyed themselves and the message to the public was the same – that the church is alive and well and a part of the community.

After the ceremony and ringers had been served coffee, four All Saints’ ringers joined the visitors until 11.30am.

We hope you enjoyed the music

Update on the Fabric Group

The last few months have been a very busy period for the Fabric Group – much has been achieved, but we still have a long list of points that we would like to see addressed over the next year or so. The Fabric Group provides a focus for managing the range of building issues facing the church; the group is made up of Bruce Garfield (our Buildings Manager), Andrew Sargent, Geoff Edgington, Jon Chamberlain and myself. We are a diverse group with very different skills and experience – and that diversity seems to help us to work effectively together. We are always on the lookout for additional members, so please talk to any one of us if you are interested in finding out more.

One of our key tasks last year was to review the list of ongoing building issues and agree with the PCC which issues we should treat as the priority for resolving. After much discussion, we agreed upon eight priority issues – and of these eight issues, six have now been completed, while the remaining two are top priorities for the current year.

The six areas that we have completed so far are:

  • Creating a Church Office in the Barber Rooms from the old store area;
  • Installing new boiler for heating the Church;
  • Installing an additional audio-visual screen to improve visibility for the Music Group;
  • Brighter lighting on main platform (under tower crossing) – and at the same time we also upgraded the bulbs in the Unton Aisle;
  • Installation of speakers in Barber Rooms;
  • Installation of wifi in the Church & Barber Rooms.

The priority areas for the current year include extending the Pye Chapel platform (we received approval for this work just a couple of months ago) and repairs to the roof, gutters and sky lights – which was an issue highlighted in our last Quinquennial inspection. We will provide more updates on these and other building matters over the next few months.

Thank you for your ongoing support and if you have any questions or comments about building matters in the Church over the coming months, please speak to myself or any of the other members of the Fabric Group.

Jim McGowan

Max Young writes … Can We Be There?

Confusing or what? Things just didn’t make sense. A couple of days ago they’d known where they stood. They’d seen Jesus crucified, then sealed into a tomb, and their world had come to an end. They’d put their trust in Jesus, but now he was gone. The disciples were in mourning but they’d have to get things together again and get on with the rest of their lives. It was sad, but with Jesus dead, the life they knew with him was over.

But, suddenly, things were different and they didn’t understand what was happening. The women had found Jesus’ tomb empty and this had been confirmed by Peter, and then Mary told them she’d seen Jesus risen from the dead! It was incredible. Had his body been removed or stolen? Or was it just possible that Mary was right and he was risen? They didn’t know what to think, and it was very frightening..

Then, later, when they got together behind locked doors, they talked over what had happened and no doubt, debated Mary’s claim to have met Jesus, risen from the dead. Trouble was, she was a woman, and therefore in the men’s eyes her statement was debatable as it would not be allowed in law. Few would have believed her and developed a faith from her witness. Remember there were quite a few followers of Jesus and the room would have been fairly full. So up to the point of realising they had company and seeing Jesus in front of them, they were not believers in the risen Christ.

So, what Mary had claimed was true after all. The Lord was risen! There he was standing among them, talking to them. Their utter despair was turned to hope; despondency transformed into joy. Death had been overcome and replaced by life. Their fear and uncertainty was replaced with a new way of seeing things, there was hope for the future.

But Thomas missed all this – he hadn’t been there, for whatever reasons. When the others told him what had happened, he couldn’t and wouldn’t believe them. Just as with the other disciples, second-hand faith was not for him. He had to see it for himself. Only then would he be convinced and believe.

The next Sunday they got together behind locked doors again, this time with Thomas among their number. Once more the doors were shut, and once more the risen Lord stood among them and spoke to them, “Peace be with you.” Thomas saw, Thomas heard, Thomas believed. “My Lord and my God!” he said. Now Thomas knew for himself that when they met in fellowship on the first day of the week something wonderful and marvellous might happen.

What about us? Are we always in a Church on the first day of the week? Or do we sometimes give in to the temptation to have a Sunday ‘off?’ After all, these days there are plenty of fairly reasonable distractions to tempt our absence – family events, sports matches for the children, DIY that can’t be done in the week. It seems more and more difficult to give church-going the status of a commitment.

And even if we do go to Church every Sunday, now that most of us have wheels, we can go to the Church we find most attractive – its services may be at a more convenient time; it may be one where our children’s friends go; it may be more child-oriented; or may be more to our musical or theological taste, there are any number of reasons. The pull of loyalty to the parish in which we live can be lessened when we have so many alternatives.

Do we do a Thomas and, as it were, go AWOL? Do we miss out on the fellowship of our Parish Church with our actual Christian neighbours? Are we sometimes inclined to have a Sunday without worship?

If we do miss a Sunday we may, like Thomas, miss the day when those attending felt blessed; a day when they were uplifted, energised and encouraged by the prayers and praise; when the Bible readings had a real impact. Could it have been one of those days when the preacher’s words just flowed as though their heart had been set on fire and God’s Word had been spoken – and heard? And was there the feeling in it all that the Risen Lord had been among them bringing his blessing and his peace?

But we’d have missed it! We weren’t there! For whatever reasons, we weren’t there, and so we missed the fellowship and lost the rich blessing.

There are now so many claims upon a Sunday that compete for our attention and time. Can we give priority to our faith, and a commitment to God, and make a habit of meeting with other Christian people within the fellowship of the church so that we may be strengthened and encouraged by one another? Can we, with God’s grace, find the risen Lord among us? We know the Lord is risen – can we be there?