Sunday, 14 August 2016

'Contentious Jesus' - transcript of Sermon St Anne's Brown Edge 14/08/16

Jeremiah 23.23-29, Hebrews 11.29, 12.2   12.2, Luke 12.49-56

I imagine a goodly number people tasked with preaching today when they turned to look at the Lectionary readings felt their hearts sink and thought to themselves, as I did, what on earth do you make out of this passage from Luke’s Gospel.




These words of Jesus might be near the top of the list of ‘things we wish Jesus hadn’t said.’ With talk of divisions among close family members, casting fire down upon the earth and calling people hypocrites.

Therefore, I did as I inevitably do when faced with some difficult Biblical questions. I seek out two of my favourite Biblical scholars to see if they can help shed some light upon the matter.

They are Paula Gooder and Tom Wright. I highly commend their books to you. 

In particular, I would really recommend reading Tom Wright's ‘Everyone’ series on the New Testament.


Tom Wright, like Paula Gooder, has an expansive knowledge of the Bible and both are literate in Greek and Hebrew.

Therefore, what is going on here in this passage - and don’t worry I am not a Biblical scholar and this is not going to be a lecture or anything like that.

However, I hope to offer some insights that may begin to help us understand at least a little bit more of what this passage might be about.

Firstly, we need to understand a few important things.

One of those is that it was not until the 13th century that the Bible was divided up into chapters and then further divided into verses in the 16th century.

Whilst chapters and verses are a useful addition for referencing, it can mean when we read the Bible we see it only in bits and pieces.

The short passage we read from Luke must been seen in the context of a wider story.

Luke tells his Gospel story in two halves with sub-divisions.

The first half is set in Galilee and his early ministry and the calling of the disciples. 

The second half tells about Jesus’s journey down into Judea as he heads towards Jerusalem, enters into his final week, then the crucifixion and resurrection and for Luke ending with the Ascension. 

(Picking up the story of the Ascension is how he will begin his second volume work, The Acts of the Apostles)

The critical hinge verse is Luke 9.51…

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

It is also worth remembering that journeys are an important feature in Luke’s Gospel. (Emmaus Road)

As Jesus makes his way down to Jerusalem, you can feel the tension mounting and see the dark clouds looming on the horizon.

It is not exactly clear whom Jesus is addressing in this passage under our consideration. In chapter 12. Verse 41 we read, ‘Peter said, Lord, are you telling us this parable for us or for all?”

Then in verse 54, ‘He (Jesus) also said to the multitudes….’

Another important thing to bear in mind, which is obvious, but sometimes so obvious we do not see it…

That is the use of metaphors and allusions. For example, we might say that someone or something has made our blood boil. Which incidentally is about 100c and if your blood ever did boil, it would kill you. We know it is a metaphor and our blood is not actually boiling.

Yet another important factor is that many of the allusions and metaphors used in the New Testament would have been well known and recognized by Jews at the time of Jesus.

Take for example the divisions among families that Jesus talks about here in Luke’s account. In the book of the prophet Micah 7.6 we read…

For a son dishonours his father,
a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

We always, always, always need to bear in mind that Jesus was a first century Palestinian Jew and would have been well versed in the Scripture. Something Luke alludes to in his story about Jesus in the Temple at the age of twelve.  Jesus would have read, studied and reflected deeply on the Scriptures.

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that we find similar words on the lips of Jesus about families being torn apart and not just on this occasion either. 

As Jesus journeys to Jerusalem, he says to the large crowd following him…

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14.26

This is the serious dedication of discipleship Jesus calls for – even today!

The prophet Micah continues in the next verse…

But for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
    I wait for God my Saviour;
    my God will hear me.

This is the hope that we hear of in the catalogue of the Faithful in the Letter to the Hebrews. This is a wonderful picture gallery of faithful men and woman who looked forward in faith to what God had promised and yet without receiving it in their lifetime.

Jesus comes as the Promise Bearer.

The Promise Bearer many are failing to see and to grasp while they have the opportunity.

Moreover, failing to see Jesus as the Promise Bearer, they bring judgement down upon their own heads like fire. 

John the Baptizer declared…
‘I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”


Within in families some will see and embrace Jesus as the Promise Bearer and others will not as prophesied by Simeon when Jesus was brought to be dedicated in the Temple.

Luke 2.34 ‘Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against…”

Moreover, fire will indeed come upon them, brought from Rome, as Titus, son of Vespasian put Jerusalem to the torch in AD70.

As Jesus draws near to Jerusalem in tears, he said…

 “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.  The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”


I hope we now have a better picture of what might be going on here, having seen it in its fuller context and the failure of many to see in Jesus their Messiah, the Promise Bearer, the Word of God in flesh, the hope of all the world.

Is there anything we can take from this story into our week ahead?

Firstly, there is a challenge to us to be faithful and diligent in reading our Scriptures. Here again I would commend to you Tom Wrights ‘Everyone’ series on the New Testament.

We also need to gather with others so that we can study Scriptures in community – helping each other understand and bring insights as we seek to apply the Scriptures to our daily living.

What happens here on a Sunday morning is simply not sufficient to help us live as disciples of Jesus in the 21st century.

It is a little like going into a swimming pool and standing around in the shallow end near to the handrail. God invites us down deeper where we have to take our feet of the floor and trust that all will be okay.

The second thing we can do is with regard to those who do come to faith and in so doing find they become ostracized by their family.

Some years ago, I met a young Christian man in London who was brought up as a Jew. When he converted to Christianity, his family held a funeral service for him. He was dead to them.

This happens frequently enough today.

Two charities that seek to help by standing alongside those who face rejection, persecution and death from family members are;

‘Barnabas Fund’ (www.barnabasfund.org/) 


 ‘Open Doors,’ (http://opendoorsuk.org/) 


I know a little of this personally. I become a Christian on the 1st January 1975 at the age of 24.  In May 1976, I was divorced from my wife who had successfully petitioned for the separation because I had become a Christian. My behaviour had become as such so that she could no longer be reasonably expected to live with me. I walked away from the family home, our two-year-old daughter and our marriage with nothing much more than a suitcase of clothes.

The third thing we can do is to consider where we stand – have we accepted Jesus as the Messiah, do we consider him to be the Promise Bearer and the hope of all the world?

If so, what are we willing to sacrifice and to give up in maintaining that faith, thinking back to our passage from Hebrews? 

Are we able to echo these words of Cardinal Newman…?

My God, you have created me to do you some definite service,

You have given me some definite work to me, which you have not given to any other.

I have my place in your plan; I may never know what it is in this life, but I will be told it in the next.

Therefore, I will trust you in all things.

If I am sick, my sickness will serve you.
If I am worried, my worry may serve you.
If I am in sorry, my sorrow may serve you.

You do nothing in vain; you know what you are doing.
You may take away my friends; you may put me with strangers;
You may make me feel forgotten; you may make my spirits sink;
You may hide my future from me;

Still – You know what you are doing, and I trust you.  Amen

Who or what are you going to put your trust in as you enter into the week ahead?



Sunday, 7 August 2016

'Jesus is coming back - quick look busy' Transcript of Sermon St Bertelins's (Stafford) 7th August 2016


Sermon – St Bertelins Trinity 11 2016

Isaiah 1.1,10-20 Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 Luke 12.32-40

‘Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.’

Words that we will shortly be saying. Words that encapsulate something of the core beliefs of the Christian faith.

At first glance, our Gospel reading today may appear to be saying something about Jesus’ ‘coming again.’

‘You must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’

‘Son of Man’ is a well-known phrase from the Book of Daniel.  However, we do not have time to explore all that means especially within the context of judgement outlined in Daniel 7, with the exception of this important piece.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Here, and in the passage we heard from Hebrews and in the opening words of our Gospel readings are important reminders that God is a God of promises and that He is faithful in keeping those promises.

There are those who put great store by trying to interpret the signs, the times and the seasons, the time when God will fulfil his promises to create a new heaven and earth - and bring judgment.  There are those who declare that we are currently in the last days and the return of Jesus Christ is imminent.

Indeed, you can find those who argue that Brexit was prophesied in the Scriptures, particularly in Daniel and Revelation. Because the European Union is one of the last beasts described in the visions and it will not prevail.

One of my under the radar ministries is responding to questions sent in by email to a web site set up by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK. www.peacewithgod.org.uk
I had one such question recently asking if Anita Fuentes was orthodox because some had been calling her out as a wolf.

(The wolf reference is to the false prophets of Matthew 7.15)

I watched a few of her video talks and I was unable to detect anything unorthodox. However, she was very firmly in that tradition that we are now living in the last days.

(However, one question must be, since the Ascension of Jesus, have we not always been living in the ‘last days’?) 

There have always been those who have sought to interpret the times seeking to predict the time of Jesus’ second coming by trying to match up world events with Scripture and in particular the very complex apocalyptic writings.

When we do consider such a passage as we have before us today we must first let it sit in its own context.

We must remember that with either natural perception or with divine insight, (you can choose which) Jesus could see the way things we going to work out.

He could see that if the People of God continued along the path of rebellion against Rome on the one hand, and compliance and acquiescence on the other, things were going to turn out very badly. 

This of course happened with destruction of Jerusalem with the Temple razed to the ground by Titus the son of Vespasian in AD 70.

Reading the actual account by Josephus, a contemporary Jewish historian, brings the full horror into sharp focus.

Secondly, although we are encouraged to be attentive to signs, we are primarily to be about the business of building and proclaiming God’s Kingdom because we do not know at what hour he will return.

The idea of being ready for the master’s return reminds me of my time as an apprentice jockey in Newmarket.

We had one older stable lad who did not ride out anymore. When the horses had gone out on exercise, he would sit around and not do very much of anything. However, as soon as he heard the horses coming back he would dip his hand in the water bucket, splash it on his forehead and then begin to run around huffing and puffing. The Governor, Bruce Hobbs, was not fooled - nor is God.

This for me is the key to the whole ‘Christ will come again.’

I take my cue from Luke’s second book, The Acts of the Apostles. Luke begins his second volume in the same way he ends his first, by reference to the Ascension.

It is Acts 1.6 we read; ‘So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

And Jesus replied; … You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.

The story goes on to tell us that the disciples stood there staring into space – but then asked by angels why they were standing there looking into the sky.

As they would say in Lancashire, ‘don’t stand there gawping, you have a job to do.’

That job was to preach and proclaim the Kingdom of God. To announce that the last days were now breaking into the present. 

That there would come a time of judgment and of vindication in fulfilment of prophesies and promises, but how, when, and where – the answer to those questions are in God’s gift, not ours.

Therefore, we might ask what is our task as the People of God today, as the People of God at St Bertelins.

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again – are we not called to live in that reality.

The life, death, resurrection and ascension and the second coming of Jesus.

Are we not called to ponder very carefully where we place our treasure, where we place our energies, where we place our allegiances ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ 

We heard last week about a man who put his treasure in bigger barns he built – today’s Gospel reading picks up that story, encouraging us not to worry over things like this because God loves us, and wants to give us the Kingdom.

‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’   

As we live in the ‘now and not yet’ of God’s coming Kingdom are we not called to heed the words of the Prophet Isaiah that our worship, our gathering here week by week does not become mere empty ritual with no power of transformation?

‘I hate your new moon festivals and all this trampling of my courts.’

‘Stop doing wrong, learn to do right. Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless and please the case of the widow.’

What we do here only makes sense by what we do out there, in the world, amongst our families, in the neighbourhood, in the shops, at our places of work and our places of leisure.

We had a glimpse of what this looks like last week when over 500 young people came off camp at Soul Survivor.  I went up on the Sunday night and as I expected the worship was very loud, very full on, full of energy and passion.

This passionate worship spilled out naturally as these young people came to work alongside the churches in Stafford to bring a blessing to the town. They washed cars, cleared gardens, and picked up litter, prayed with people and did all manner of things as part of Love Stafford. Love Stafford because God loves Stafford and they helped us show that by demonstrating servant hearts.

I mentioned earlier an email question about Anita Fuentes. In my reply, making reference to the second coming I said that I was mildly interested when world events appeared to match up to some Biblical prophecy, but my main focus is on doing what God has called me to do.

If I have not been called to glory before Jesus returns, I am secure in the knowledge that God will know where to find me.

In closing let me ask; where is your heart and your treasure this morning?

What is it that God is calling you to do individually?

What is God calling you to do as the People of God set in this community?

Remember that the Church of God does not have a mission; the God of mission has a church.

Do you believe God delights in your worship?

Does this worship naturally spill out in acts of loving service, in proclamation of the Gospel in both words and deeds?

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.

However, should he come today would he find faith and faithful people here at St Bertelins – dressed and ready for service with the lights on?

 Let us pray…

O Saviour Christ, in whose way of love lays the secret of all life, and the hope of all people, we pray for quiet courage to match this hour. We did not choose to be born or to live in such an age; but let its problems challenge us, its discoveries exhilarate us, its injustices anger us, it possibilities inspire us, and its vigour renew us. Pour out upon us a fresh indwelling of the Holy Spirit; make us bold and courageous in sharing faith in both word and deed for your Kingdom’s sake we ask.

Amen







Sunday, 10 July 2016

'Nice and Neighbourly - plus' - transcript of sermon St Anne's Brown Edge 10/07/16


St Anne’s Brown Edge Seventh Sunday after Trinity 2016

 Deuteronomy 30.9-14, Psalm 25.1-10, Colossians 1.1-14, Luke 10.25-37.

Question – should Christians be nice and neighbourly?

Answer – Yes, of course they should be nice and neighbourly.
Question – is that it then; are Christians simply those who are nice and neighbourly?

Are there not a lot of non-Christians who are just as nice and neighbourly – sometimes even better at it than Christians are?
Is that not the difficulty when we come to consider such a well-known parable as the Good Samaritan?

Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt and know what it is all about.
It is Jesus offering a good moral lesson about being a good neighbour – and that neighbour happens to be anyone in need we might happen upon.

Even taken at that level this parable is deeply challenging – well at least I find it is.
When for example, I see people begging on our streets, or little fly covered brown children with big potbellies and skinny arms and I am being asked to give the cost of a couple cups of coffee.

With modern technology and communication, neighbourliness keeps on expanding.

It is good if we take a deeper look at this multi-layered parable. First, we have to look at what gave rise to this story Jesus told.

We need to remember that Jesus is heading to Jerusalem where he knows what awaits him at the hands of the Jewish authorities and the Roman rulers.

Luke is a Gospel of journeys, similar to mountains being an important feature for Matthew’s Gospel.

Therefore, journeys and stories about journeys are always important in Luke’s Gospel. (Emmaus Road)

Jesus is on a journey to Jerusalem and as he sets off it is interesting to note in Luke 9.51

‘As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, he set his face towards Jerusalem.’

Following this, we have a strange little incident of a Samaritan village not wanting to welcome him. Perhaps they didn’t want to associate with this troublemaker and bring yet more opprobrium down upon them.

Perhaps Jesus’s encounter with a Samaritan woman at the well had not yet filtered through to them.

On this occasion, for their lack of hospitality, James and John, the sons of thunder, ask if they should bring fire down from heaven upon them. They receive a stern rebuke from Jesus for making such a suggestion.

Jesus journeys with a large group of disciples walking alongside him. They are sent off in pairs to preach the Good News that the Kingdom of God is near at hand.
Those numbers will all fall away until he climbs Calvary’s Hill accompanied only by a few devout women and possibly the young disciple John. Woman and children were of no account and of no threat whatsoever.

Along the way, an ‘expert in the law’ came to Jesus with a test question.
The question was common enough, to which as an expert in the law he would of course known the answer.  He wants to see what answer Jesus gives – to see if Jesus is orthodox in his teachings.  Jesus, as he often does, turns the question back to this expert in the law.

You tell me, what does the Law say?
The ‘expert’ quotes a summation of the Shema Prayer. A bedrock prayer for Jewish people, both then and now.  

 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind]; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

The ‘expert’ pushes this further; he has a point to make. Perhaps he has heard that Jesus has been keeping company with tax collectors and sinners, prostitutes and harlots. He had touched dead bodies and lepers, even healing a Roman centurion’s servant. 

Jesus was apparently, openly and flagrantly disregarding the purity laws, the exclusivity, and the peculiar calling of God’s people. To be holy and kept from defilement by not engaging with Gentiles and sinners.

The stage is set for Jesus to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan.

This is one of those lovely parables where, with a bit of imagination, we can we enter right into the story.

It is worth reading like this and to imagine yourself as one of the characters in the story.

On the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, we have a man who fell among robbers.
Well, he was unfortunate but then again a bit stupid travelling down that dangerous road alone.

Those who rescue people off mountains or pluck them from the sea always intrigue me.

On occasions it would appear it is pure stupidity that has brought people into danger. Yet the rescuers never see it like that. Here is person in danger and difficulty, let see if we can rescue them.

‘Those people who depend on food banks and other handouts, they have only themselves to blame.’  All that war in Africa, it’s the way they are, it is all tribal. It is their own fault really; we can do little to change things.

So, the story continues first with a Priest passing by down from Jerusalem to Jericho.

This direction is important.
Why?

Because if the Priest had been going to Jerusalem it could be a little more understandable that he left the injured man alone. It would have been a great honour and privilege to be called as a Priest to Temple Duty. Like Zechariah, John the Baptizer’s father,

If he was going to the Temple to fulfil this calling he would not want to defile himself with blood and possible a dead body. That would make him ritually unclean and therefore unable to attend to his duties.

I couldn’t possibly turn aside and help you, I am in my Sunday best and simply must get to church because they are depending on me.

Going the other way, from Jerusalem to Jericho, after the Temple Duties are over… "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Straight from Church singing, Lord, Lord and straight into an argument, or bad temper, or ignoring someone in need or whatever…

Straight from serving in the temple and ignoring someone in need – hello Mr Priest heed the prophet Hosea 6.6. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Ditto the Levite – who in some ways was slightly higher up the ranking than Priests. They were descendants of the ancient tribe of Levi and in charge of worship in and around the Temple.

Then along comes the Samaritan – and if this was Panto you would all be booing now.
Because of this parable becoming so well known,  the word ‘Samaritan’ has changed from being a word of scorn and derision, certainly among first century Palestinian Jews, to one that for us means someone one doing a worthy act. Or, indeed the organisation that has taken that name, helping thousands of people rethink taking a path of self-destruction.   

The Samaritan appears to be very resourceful and have about him the wherewithal to help the man who had fallen among thieves.

Most importantly, he had the donkey on which to transport the injured man to the nearest Inn.

What and where are the ‘donkeys’ today that help us meet the needs of those we encounter? Those who find themselves in some distress or other.
That might be a Foodbank for example.

We might then want to ask another question about the safety of travelling down that road. Isn’t there something that could be done to make it safe for single people to travel down that road?

We might want to ask why is that we have got ourselves in to such a place in 21st century Britain that more and more people are having to rely on Foodbanks?

As well as being well resourced and having a donkey, the Samaritan shows incredible vulnerability and a willingness to be taken for a ride - but not on his own donkey this time.

Notice he gives the Innkeeper two silver coins and says to give the injured man whatever was needed and he would pay the cost next time he passed by that way.

(By the way, let’s just remind ourselves this is a story and you will not be able to find archaeological evidence for the Inn of the Good Samaritan.)

Pay the Innkeeper any extra expense – that would have probably had a few laughs and side comments from those listening. 

Umm, yes, you brought in a man injured. Well now let me see, yes there were certainly some additional cost…

In effect offering a blank cheque – extremely rash and foolish, but that is outrageous love for you!

Therefore, says Jesus, you tell me, who do you think was neighbour to this man. 

The one who showed mercy was the lawyers reply.  ‘Then, go and do likewise’ says Jesus.

Question – should Christians be nice and neighbourly?

Of course and much, much more than simply been nice kind and neighbourly.

This is about the Kingdom of God and what it looks like through the eyes of Jesus.

Jesus would indeed have known about Hosea 6.6.

Also from the prophet Isaiah 1.14 I hate your New Moon Festivals and your appointed festivals. They've become a burden to me, and I'm tired of putting up with them.

Moreover, there is much more of that sort of stuff in the Old Testament.

The chosen people of God had become experts at straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

I think Jesus got annoyed and even angry at times when confronted with this blindness. The love and mercy of God hidden behind the strict adherence to the Law and the customs.

Matthews 23.24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Now we as the People of God today wouldn’t do that sort of thing would we?

We are nice, kind and neighbourly.

Brilliant as a starting place – but we need to go way beyond that to give our all to the building up of God’s Kingdom. Labouring to make the Lord’s Prayer a reality.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

I want to leave you to ponder on what the will of the Father is for you, for this place, for this Church, for our Nation and for the world.

Let us pray;

O Saviour Christ, in whose way of love lays the secret of all life, and the hope of all people, we pray for quiet courage to match this hour. We did not choose to be born or to live in such an age; but let its problems challenge us, its discoveries exhilarate us, its injustices anger us, it possibilities inspire us, and its vigour renew us.


Pour out upon us a fresh indwelling of the Holy Spirit; make us bold and courageous in sharing faith in both word and deed for your Kingdom’s sake we ask.
Amen

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Captain's Log July 2016

 
 Staffordshire County Show


We had a great time and the weather was kind enough, especially on the Thursday when we were kepy busy all day. Always on the look out for more ‘team members,’ so if you would like to join us next year do let me know.

Queen’s Birthday – two particular events I was invited along to support.  Doxey Parish ran an Afternoon Tea Party and we got away with out getting wet!  Then at St Bertelins for a Teddy Bears Picnic. I had most of my Games out plus the badge making. I also preached on the Sunday when people were invited to bring along their Teddy Bears. After receiving the Communion I invited people to pick up a small piece of florist ribbon and write (Sharpie Pen) the name of a not-yet Christian friend or relative. The bear then became their Prayer Bear. Next year we hope and pray to see the person there with their own bear. For those who were exploring faith I invited them to write Jesus and when they saw their bear they were to ask Jesus to make himself known to them. Also to check out www.christianity.org.uk   This website was  written on an excellent hand-out to let people know the times of Services and especially Messy Church.

This is The Hermitage were I go every six weeks to spend a day alone in quiet prayer and reflection. Because I had so much on I nearly cancelled until Jane said, if you are that busy it is even more
important that you go. What a wise and supportive woman my wife is.

A trip to Sheffield to the Wilson Carlile Centre for a Church Army Regional Day. It is good to catch up on the various ways the Church Army is morphing and shifting. However, I am of an ‘age’ when some of the new thinking leaves me just a tad baffled.

I had my monthly trip to St Anne’s Brown Edge. Thankfully, I have been invited to lead the ‘Service of the Word’ and so could tweak it slightly. I would really value your prayers here and for the Vicar, Alan Betts. As well as trying to breathe some new life into St Anne’s there is small ecumenical group making plans to plant a new church, possibly in the school based around ‘Hot Potatoes.’

On the 24th June, I celebrated 30 years as a Commissioned Church Army Officer and an Accredited Lay Evangelist. On Sunday, we had a fabulous Celebratory Service that included a recommissioning and a commissioning of the congregation. I had the privilege of preaching and here is the link to my Blog and a transcript of the sermon.




 Some Appointments in July 

Throughout the month I am working with a colleague, David Cundill, on researching Mission and Evangelism in a rural context. The findings will be part of  recommendations that will be be made to Diocesan Synod on the report ‘Released for Mission.’

Saturday 2nd
Brown Edge Carnival, Games Badge Making

Sunday 3rd
Preaching at Priory Church, Tutbury

Monday 4th
Helping at RDA County Fun Day

 Tuesday 5th – Thursday 7th
Residential Conference on ‘Handling Change and Power.’  (delegate)

Sunday 10th
Preaching at St Anne’s, Brown Edge

Tuesday 12th
‘Chew & Chat’ – lunch time meeting with friends at Rising Brook Baptist. In the evening with the PCC of St Peter’s Rickerscote, helping them think through a MAP.







Wednesday 13th
I have a meeting at our local CAB for Pension Advice.  In the afternoon going to Dovedale House for ‘Afternoon Tea’ and viewing the premises as a possible venue for St John’s Littleworth to have Parish Day or Weekend.

Friday 15th
Vision Breakfast for ‘We Are Men.’ They are organising a big men’s gathering next May at Stoke City Football Ground. Then meeting with Andy, curate at Trentham Parish Church. They are shortly to go into a Vacancy and we are exploring a Away Day in September to help them consider a revised MAP to take them through the Vacancy. 

Saturday 16th
At ‘Follow Me’ day with a home parish group. http://www.readers.cofe.anglican.org/follow2016

Sunday 17th (Rural Mission Sunday:  Resources are here.)
In the afternoon, St John’s Littleworth ‘Hot Potato’

Wednesday 20th
‘Frontline Discipleship’ diocesan group meeting. www.licc.org.uk

Monday 25th
Meeting with David Cundill to review our work on the Mission and Evangelism in rural areas.
In the evening a MAP meeting with the PCCof St Bartholomew, Norton – le Moor.

Wednesday 27th
Meeting with my Spiritual Companion and in the afternoon at MAP meeting with Anslow, Rolleston and Tutbury benefice. (ART)

Thursday 28th - Friday 29th Saturday 30th

Soul Survivor (https://soulsurvivor.com/summer/week-a/) are at the Staffordshire Showground at the end of July. As part of the Gathering this year the young people are being invited to engage in various initiatives working with Churches around Stafford, based around ‘Love Stafford.’  http://www.lovestafford.org.uk/

My home church of St John the Baptist Littleworth (http://www.stjohnsstafford.org/) have a team of young people down to help out with a Skip Day.  Dave Blake and I are heading this up.

We plan to have a skip or a bin/recycle lorry (Council provided)  by the Church - which will be open with refreshments and other stuff going on.