Steve writes: Thy Kingdom Come . . .

‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is the title of a special time of prayer to which we and all  churches are invited by our Archbishop Justin Welby. He’s encouraging all Christians to pray specifically for people we know to become Christians and to especially do this between Ascension Day, 10th May and Pentecost, 20th May.

At All Saints’ we’ll have the chance to begin to pray for family members and friends whom we long to see becoming Christians by coming to our Church Prayer Meeting at 6.30pm on Sunday 6thMay . There are also great resources for individuals, churches and families at the website www.thykingdomcome.global.

Though it’s always great to see new people coming to church services, what we really need to pray is for people to enter the kingdom, that is that people will become Christians, making a heart commitment to follow Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. Many of us who did the Alpha course recently were encouraged and enthused by hearing again the good news of the gospel. Some of us recommitted our lives to Jesus while, wonderfully, others asked Jesus into their lives by his Holy Spirit for the first time.

Jesus asks us to be passionate about helping people of all ages to start following him and then to grow as his disciples, that’s why Archbishop Justin has begun this prayer season of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. We need to take Jesus seriously when he says: ‘Don’t you say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are already ripe for harvest’.

Let’s lift our eyes from our own pre-occupations and look to Jesus and the harvest that he calls us to work for . . . and there’s no need to wait until the Church Prayer Meeting or the ten days of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ to start praying for friends or family to come to know Jesus.

Here’s one of the Thy Kingdom Come prayers we can use to ask God to help us see the importance of working for his Kingdom and helping others to enter it too.

Oh God of the new day,
Your Son Jesus knew what it meant to watch and wait through the dark silence of the longest night.
Teach us how to wait with heaven’s indrawn breath on tiptoe with anticipation, until all of our being reaches towards you, all our desire is for you, and all our onward movement is for your Kingdom coming. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

Steve

Home Group meetings in May

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
Monday 14th 7.15pm 28 The Pines Bridget Adams
240 532
Bring-&-Share Supper
Tuesday 8th & 22nd 2.30pm 2 Leamington Gate Barbara Mapley
615 009
TBA
Wednesday 9th & 23rd 7.45pm 2 Leamington Gate Barbara Mapley
615 009
Abundant Life
Thursdays 10th & 24th 8.00pm 10B Coxwell Street Andrew & Clare Sargent
242 753
Women of God

Prayer Calendar for May

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

Tues 1st Mission of the Month – Christian Aid.
Wed 2nd Paul Walker, our appointed Curate, his wife and family.
Thurs 3rd “Open the Book” at the Infant and Junior School this morning.
Fri 4th For all new members of our PCCs at All Saints’ and St Mary’s.
Sat 5th Steve, Graham, Helen, Barbara, Dick, John, Max, Paul and Jim.
Sun 6th Saints Alive this morning. Church Prayer Meeting this evening.
Mon 7th Thanks for improved health of Lynn Treneary in South Sudan.
Tues 8th For all Home Groups meeting during May.
Wed 9th Psalms Course continuing throughout this month.
Thurs 10th Ascension Day today.
Fri 11th Flower Guild decorating the Church.
Sat 12th Rogation Sunday Service at St Mary’s tomorrow.
Sun 13th Christian Aid Week starts. Cake sale in Church this morning.
Mon 14th Christian Aid House-to-House collection all week.
Tues 15th Christian Aid Coffee Morning in Barber Rooms.
Wed 16th Outreach to people in the new houses.
Thurs 17th “Open the Book” at the Infant and Junior School this morning.
Fri 18th  Magazine preparation this weekend.
Sat 19th Christian Aid Concert at All Saints’ this evening.
Sun 20th Pentecost today. United Service at Baptist Church this evening.
Mon 21st Little Allsorts this morning.
Tues 22nd Worship and music at All Saints’ and St Mary’s.
Wed 23rd The Wisbey family.
Thurs 24th All who are ill, recently bereaved or in any other kind of need.
Fri 25th Work of Churches Together and the Family Centre.
Sat 26th Wardens, Vergers and Welcomers, Intercessors and Readers.
Sun 27th Our Bishops Steven and Colin, and our Area Dean David.
Mon 28th Bell ringers practicing this evening.
Tues 29th Work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Wed 30th Our witness to friends and neighbours.
Thurs 31st All who help run our Churches.

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.

Wednesday 2nd 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 4th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Sunday 6th 6.30pm Church Prayer Meeting (All Saints’)
Tuesday 8th 7.30-9.00pm Julian Meeting (call 244 905 for venue)
Wednesday 9th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 11th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Wednesday 16th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
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 7.30-9.00pm Julian Meeting (call 244 905 for venue)
Wednesday 23rd 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 25th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Wednesday 30th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
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)

Christian Aid Week 2018 – Mission of the month

Christian Aid Week this year will be from the 13th to 19th May 2018. Our theme is “Together, we are Stronger than Storms” which focuses on the plight of people worldwide facing relentless earthquakes, storms and hurricanes.

In Haiti, seven years on from the devastating earthquake, an estimated 38,000 people are still displaced and more than 40 million people globally are internally displaced but we rarely hear their stories. What’s more they’re often ignored or forgotten by governments. But even if the world has forgotten them, Christian Aid has not. As we come together for this Christian Aid Week, the fight for justice for these people will continue.

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.

This year’s events are as follows and if you would like any further information, please contact Julie Campbell on  242 589.

Sunday 13th May:              Cake Sale (after 10:30am Service)

Tuesday 15th May:            10:30am – 12:00noon – Coffee Morning (Barber Rooms)

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

All Week 13th -19th May:    House-to-House Collection

However we are able to support Christian Aid, we’re united in our belief that the world can and must be changed and that we are each called to love our neighbours, every one of our fellow human beings, wildly, wholeheartedly and sacrificially. This is our mission, this is the Jesus mission.

Let’s live it out this Christian Aid Week!

Missions News

News from the Church Mission Society

Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21) What does this mean? One answer is that we are sent together as a church. Together the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit send us, and they send us together. We may be praying at home, but we are not really alone, we are part of the church, praying daily for Lynn, our Mission Partner.

Lynn sent an e-mail at the end of March, saying, “I thank God for your love and prayers. They encourage me to keep rejoicing that God has won the victory. I have so much joy in sharing what you send and do tell people how supportive they are in the UK”

Thank you to all those who supported the board game afternoon on 7th April and a big thanks to those who organised the event. We have been able to send £330 to Lynn’s UK bank account. She is spending a little time in Kampala, Uganda when she hopes to be able to get this money to use in Maridi to help those in need.

Lynn has not been very well, after two bouts of malaria and was very run-down. We have just heard that she has had a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which plays havoc with concentration and memory. Following medical treatment she now feels well enough to return to Maridi.

One suggestion to her for spending this money we sent, is to help the Maridi Mothers’ Union, which is very active, to help to get treatment for children with ‘nodding syndrome’

You can read about this on Google but these are some of details about it. It attacks children between 5 and 16 who live in rural areas of Northern Uganda and South Sudan. These are children who should be running around playing, but they are seen just sitting in groups in their village on the ground.

Their bodies and brains stop growing, they have repeated epileptic seizures which weaken muscles in the head and neck, so that their head tends to fall forward, hence the term, nodding syndrome.

It seems that serious research for a cure only started in the 1960s. They now know that the disease is caused by a parasitic worm that also is linked with the disease river blindness. So far there is no cure, but if caught very early there are drugs which help to slow down the disease or in some cases to kill the parasite. Research is ongoing to find a cure.

Other CMS News

Meanwhile, there are still people offering to go with CMS to other countries of the world to take the message of God’s saving love. A few are offering to serve in the Lebanon, working with Syrian refugees. Do pray for these and others who are not able to be named as they serve in dangerous places. One couple writes, “It is exciting to be embarking on this adventure but it is different to any previous adventure we have done. We have gone travelling before but we have always known we are coming back soon. We have known that it might go wrong and we might not enjoy it, but it has a limited duration. But this time the uncertainty is similar, but the length of time is so long there is no visible exit.”

On Sunday 10th June, Jonathan Self is coming from CMS in Oxford, to preach at the 10.30am service in All Saints’. He will be able to tell us how CMS sees the future and about their current plans. There will be a Bring & Share lunch after the service, with the opportunity to talk with Jonathan and hear more about the work of CMS. Do mark the date and try to come to the service and the lunch.

Meanwhile can I draw your attention to the leaflets and prayer booklet on the table in Church. We can arrange for you to receive a copy of the CMS weekly prayer paper and there is always a welcome for those who can meet to pray on the 3rd Wednesday in each month at 8 Coach Lane, from 10.30 to 11.30am.

The Barber Rooms notice boards are kept up to date with news of Lynn Treneary, our Mission Partner. Do read it on the way to coffee!

Joan Plumptre

 

Summing Up (Exploring the Nicene Creed)

I want first to give an estimation of the importance of this Creed both for the Church as a whole and for each of us personally; then to mention briefly other Christian Creeds, Confessions of Faith, Articles of Religion, and such like. Then I shall close with a very different style of creed which I think ‘earths’ our glorious Nicean Faith in our present day world with its huge needs, despairs and challenges. It’s called “A Creed of Hope”.

For about 1700 years the Nicene Creed has been the official bedrock or public Confession of Faith of almost all Christians. Its phrases have a depth of beauty, clarity and meaning that has enabled it to stand the test of time, and to weather many turbulent days and eras in the Church’s history. It was, and so still is, a truly ecumenical creed.

As I have explained earlier it was first promulgated by leaders from all local Churches across the whole of the Christian world. So in a true sense it is still the basic essential Creed of all Christian Communions today, whether Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Anglican or whatever. It is therefore a Creed of Unity which holds us together and unites us whatever our relatively small differences on some aspects of our faith and practise might be.

In my very first article I wrote: “… standing and proudly but humbly declaring that Creed with others is immensely important and helpful, both individually, and as a communion and fellowship of believers. It undergirds our personal faith. It reassures us when necessary. It bonds us together in Christ as Church and family, and above all it gives glory to our God”. In other words just as our spine and bone structure supports and undergirds our whole body, so this Creed is like the spine of our faith. Like the Lord’s Prayer it is something we could do well to know by heart.

Through 1700 years of Christian history there have been many other Creeds and Confessions of faith. The shorter “Apostles Creed” as it is called is even older than this one and is still used at Anglican Services, Confirmations etc. You can find it in the Book of Common Prayer or Common Worship.

Another creed compiled some years after the Nicene Creed is called the “Creed of St Athanasius”. It was formulated to express in depth and detail the nature and harmony of the Persons of the Trinity. That can also be found in the Book of Common Prayer after Evening Prayer. At the time of the 16th Century Reformation many splits from the Roman Church sadly took place (arising from the errors, wrongful teachings and practises of the later middle ages).

New national or regional Churches then formulated not a new basic essential creed but what were called Articles or Confessions of Faith, setting out the theological and ecclesiastical position of each Church with its understanding of the Christian Faith.

At this time the Church of England adopted what was called “The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion”, and they can usually be found as an appendix to the Book of Common Prayer. Such articles are not of the same standing or importance as the catholic or universal creeds like that of Nicea. They dealt in part with controversial issues of the time; and also made clarification of other aspects of our faith. Though they do have value still, many of those 16th century issues have largely been resolved. And thankfully nowadays there is far more common understanding and practice of our holy faith on the part of most Christian Churches.

A useful exercise is to sit down and compile one’s own personal creed setting out how we as individuals see our faith, what it means to us, and how we try to live it. After all the Creeds are not just cold cerebral academic statements but living expressions of living people living out the Christian life. Some time back one of our Alpha Courses here as a group compiled how it saw its creed. They came up with a very worthy document, very Christ centred, heartfelt, and certainly challenging. I will close now with a very modern style of creed. Read it and use it, hopefully I pray as your personal creed too.

A Creed of Hope

  • I believe in God, the God of all truth, the God whose word is life. I believe in God who accompanies me along every step of my path on this earth; many times walking behind me, watching me and suffering with my mistakes; at other times walking beside me, talking to me, and teaching me; and at other times again, walking ahead of me, guiding and marking my pace.
  • I believe in the God of flesh and blood, Jesus Christ; the God who lived in my skin and tried on my shoes; the God who walked in my ways, and knows of lights and shadows. The God who ate and starved, who had a home, and suffered loneliness; who was praised and condemned, kissed and spat on, loved and hated. The God who went to parties and funerals; the God who laughed and cried, and shed his blood for me on a cruel Cross.
  • I believe in the God who is still attentive today; who looks at the world and sees the hatred that segregates, divides, sets people aside, hurts and kills; who sees the bullets piercing the flesh, and the blood of innocent people flowing on the earth; who sees the hand that dips into another’s pocket, stealing what somebody needs to eat.
  • I believe in the God who sees the dirty rivers, and the dead fish; the toxic substances destroying the earth, and piercing the sky; who sees the future mortgaged, and man’s debt growing. I believe in God who sees all this … and keeps on crying.
  • But I also believe in the God who sees a mother giving birth, a life born from pain; who sees two children playing; who sees a seed growing, and a flower blooming out of the debris, a new beginning; who sees three crazy women clamouring for justice, an illusion that doesn’t die; who sees the sun rising every morning, a time of opportunities. I believe in a God who sees all this … and laughs, because in spite of it all, there is hope

George Abell

Just listen to those bells

The deadline for this article is the day before I’m involved in a Songs of Praise Service with the Vale of the White Horse Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers – an annual celebration in which they will make the following resolution:

Almighty God, you have called us to be bell ringers in your Church: make us united and faithful in your service, so that our ringing of the bells may be done to your glory and for the benefit of all your people. As bell-ringers, we dedicate our energy and skill to God’s glory, and determine that our ringing work will be our prayer. That is our resolve.

It was Alfred Lord Tennyson who coined the phrase, “Ring out, wild bells!” Why he said this, as an Englishman, I don’t know, because we don’t want to hear the clang and clash of chaotic continental bells. What we want to hear and relish is modulated, civilised, precise, and glorious English church bells, change ringing. Those beautiful tones that resound around English villages, towns, and cities and those places overseas that love the feel of England, bells calling the faithful to worship.

So let the bells ring out. Let them call us to worship almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who showed us how much he loves us by living amongst us and dying for us, a life and death costing not less than everything. Let the bells that call us to worship call those who ring them too. Let them call us, each one of us, to a life that offers worship to almighty God, to a life that puts the love of God above everything else, to a life that makes proper space for our relationship with God.

Here’s a bell-related story with a moral we need to heed. During WWII, one of the millions the Nazis sent to concentration camps was Corrie Ten Boom. She with her sister endured numerous indignities and humiliations and her parents died in the camps. After the war ended, she was freed, but found she was still ‘imprisoned’ by her hatred of those who had hurt her and her family. After much tears and prayer she finally succeeded in ridding herself of this hatred and began to speak churches throughout Europe trying to help others achieve the same objective.

She forgave person after person for what they had done. However there was one man whom she had great difficulty in forgiving. So she went to speak to her preacher. He thought about it for a few moments and then pointed to the bell rope hanging in the foyer.

“Do you see that bell rope?” he asked. “Every Sunday, the sexton pulls on the rope and rings that bell – announcing to the community that it is time for worship. As he pulls the rope, the bell rings ‘ding’, and ‘dong’, ding and dong. Eventually he lets go of the bell rope… but the bell, being heavy, still swings and rings ding, and dong, slower and slower until at last it stops ringing.”

“I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep niggling away. They’re just the ding dongs of the old bell slowing down. But the key thing is this: you’ve got to let go of the bell rope. You’ve got stop tugging at your grievances over and over again… or you’ll never forgive. So, have you let go of the bell rope?

Is there someone you have never forgiven for something they did to you in the past? Is there someone who – if you met them in the street, you’d try to avoid because their very presence makes you angry? Is there someone at ‘The Peace’ in church that you miss out? Is there someone who, when you hear their name mentioned, it sets your teeth on edge?

Then you need to let go of the bell rope. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us”.
Let me end with some words from Longfellow –

The bells are the best of preachers,
their brazen lips are learn-ed teachers,
from their pulpits of stone, in the upper air,
sounding aloft, without crack or flaw,
shriller than trumpets under the Law,
Now a sermon and now a prayer.

Max Young

All Saints’ Annual Parochial Church Meeting

The APCM followed a shortened service of Morning Prayer at 10.30am on Sunday 15th April, with 76 Electoral Roll members attending. The Meeting of Parishioners took place first to elect the Church Wardens.

This was followed by the APCM, where the Annual Accounts for 2017 and the Annual Review of life at All Saints’ were presented, together with a report from our Vicar. The Electoral Roll Officer, in her report, said we now have 196 people on the Roll. The meeting also elected four new members to serve on PCC for a three year term. Copies of the reports presented can be found on the notice board by the Servery.

Your PCC, following the elections, is now as follows:

Ex officio members:

The Vicar and Chair Revd Dr J Stephen Bellamy
Licensed Lay Ministers Dr Graham Scott-Brown and Helen Wilson
Church Wardens Katie Foot and Jim McGowan
Deanery Synod Reps Peter Foot, John Seedell, Margaret Starr, David Wilson

Elected Members

Until APCM 2019 Kate Butcher, Julie Campbell, Elaine Cox, Ibby Southerden, Peter Southerden
Until APCM 2020 John Coleman, Emma Kate Crebbin, Joanne Raybone, Wendy Tynan
Until APCM 2021 Jon Chamberlain, Linda Ritchie, Helen Jackson, Mark Jackson
Hon Treasurer David Wilson
Hon Secretary Linda Ritchie
Buildings Manager Bruce Garfield (invited to attend PCC when needed}

The PCC are your representatives, so please do speak to any of them about things you like about All Saints’, things which concern you, and hopefully, lots of ideas for the future.

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