Editorial – March 2020

by Eddie Short

A Season Of Generosity

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to believe that we’re already into the third month of 2020! This year seems to be flying by and Easter is already just around the corner. In fact, the 40 day season of Lent – when Christians around the world spend time reflecting and preparing for Easter – is already underway.

Lent is a time when Christians have traditionally given something up as an act of sacrifice to honour the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us when he submitted to death on the cross. However, over the last couple of years, in The Rivers Team we’ve instead been encouraged to take part in the 40 Acts Generosity Challenge.

Created by UK Christian charity, Stewardship, for the past ten years 40 Acts has challenged followers of Jesus with this question: what if Lent could be about more than just giving stuff up? What if it could be a time of radical generosity as well as spiritual discipline?

Taking part in 40 acts is a great opportunity to live out our Christian faith in a practical way that can have a positive impact on those around us. That’s not to say that you can’t still mark the season by sacrificially removing something from your life. But, if you’ve already committed to give something up during lent, why not replace it with a commitment to a daily act of generosity?

So how does it work?

It’s easy to take part in 40 Acts by signing up at www.40acts.org.uk. You’ll then receive an email each morning for the rest of Lent with a short bible reading and reflection, together with the daily generosity challenge. Each of these has an overall theme and then three different ways of acting on it, each requiring an increasing level of engagement. So you can decide how far you want to take each day’s challenge.

40 Acts can be done alone, but – for those who can – engaging with it as a couple or family is a great way to build a culture of generosity within your home. We’ll also be encouraging each other during 40 Acts as a church family, through The Rivers Team WhatsApp and Facebook groups, while our Sunday sermons throughout Lent will also tie into the same themes as the daily bible readings and reflections, drawing on the book of Proverbs.

Generosity is, without doubt, central to the Christian life. Jesus not only tells his followers to be generous (“freely you have received; freely give” – Matthew 10 v8), but we see him modelling generosity throughout the gospel accounts of His life and ministry. Because, of course, generosity is about a lot more than simply financial giving. As Jesus showed by inviting Zacchaeus to eat with him, we can be generous with our time by giving it to those who are lonely or ostracized. As Jesus demonstrated when he feed the 5,000, we can be generous with our hospitality. And as Jesus modelled through his ultimate act of sacrifice on the cross, we can be generous with our love and compassion.

So, as we go through the season of Lent, building towards the celebration of Easter, let’s be deliberate in our generosity. Let’s live out the gospel message of salvation found through faith in Jesus, one small daily act of kindness at a time!

Editorial – February 2020

by Denise Cryer – Reader

Some thoughts behind the prayers following our sermon on Psalm 29.

The Psalms remind us how awesome God is! It’s easy to take His presence and love for granted. The first verse reminds me how often I fail to spend time in awe of Him:

“Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness.”

A great place to begin! From acknowledging God’s awesomeness, we can begin to pray in perspective for our world, our communities and ourselves.

“Lord, speak your healing into the nations” – Sometimes we feel decisions made by world leaders are out of our control. But “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it”. So there’s no problem too big or too small for God. We’re also encouraged in verse 4 that “the voice of the Lord is powerful [and] majestic”. We pray the world might hear His voice – and respond.

“Lord, speak into our communities and into the lives of Your faithful people” – Each community within the Rivers Team is diverse with different ethnic and religious groups. As Christians here we long to be lights that brighten and enlighten those we encounter. It’s hard to believe God will use us to speak to those of other faiths and cultures, but He’s the God whose love knows no barriers. Let’s trust Him to open doors to speak of His love.

Let’s not forget the enemy! He’s working tirelessly to destroy God’s work in our communities and the bridges built over the years. Lord, speak into unbelief, that Your church might grow, Your light shine in all that doesn’t glorify You.

We believe in a God of the impossible. But in our walk with God and our prayer life do we have faith to pray “big”, in the sure and certain hope that nothing’s impossible for God?

The end of Psalm 29 encourages us: “The Lord is enthroned as King forever; The Lord gives strength to His people; The Lord blesses His people with peace.” David in Psalm 85:5 says, “I hear the most gentle whisper from One I never guessed would speak to me” (Message Bible).

Let’s take time to sit in God’s presence, stop talking for 5 minutes, and say, “Lord, speak, for your servant is listening.”



Editorial – Dec 2019


Dear Friends

I have just watched one of the many adverts on the TV for this Christmas season and its really made me cringe as it talks about its Crimbo offer. I struggle when people talk and write Xmas, as this is missing the main component Christ, so this advert is just one step too far.

Many people will celebrate on the 25th December and will miss out on the real meaning behind this season.

What can you and I as Christians do about it? Perhaps we need to reflect on how we celebrate and ask ourselves how does, what we do communicate our Saviours Birth. Do we put Christ at the centre?

Our Christmas celebrations will not just happen, we will need to plan to make sure that everything is in its place and that’s just what God did that first Christmas he needed to make sure that everything would happen as he planned, nothing happened by chance.

The angels need to prepare Mary and Joseph who needed to take on their responsibilities, the journey to Bethlehem would have needed some preparation too and bit by bit everything else fell into place right up to and beyond our Saviours Birth.
Our journeys continue today, God is with us every part of the way if we allow him to be.

The Christmas song “The Saviour’s Day” says

Open your eyes on Saviour’s Day
Don’t look back or turn away
Life can be yours if you’ll only stay
He is calling you, calling you
On the Saviour’s Day.

So don’t forget to help others celebrate the real meaning behind the season and remember its not just one day that is special but every day as he journeys with us.

Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2020

Editorial – November 2019

by Denise Cryer

This year sees the Church of England celebrate 50 years of women Readers!

In 1961 the Bishop of Southwell had asked, “If a woman can be Queen, why cannot she be a lay Reader in the Church?”

I celebrated 10 years as a Reader last year but my journey started 20 years before that when my vicar said, “You should be preaching!” and then jokingly added “…but not in MY pulpit!” I often think I should preach from St. Lawrence’s pulpit just in memory of him!

In 1725 James Rudge of Trysull left 20 shillings per year “to a poor man to go about the parish church, during sermon, to keep people awake…” We’ve all heard good and bad sermons. But I believe passionately in preaching and believe it can play a crucial part in drawing people to faith in Jesus and to strengthen and encourage them in faith. It can equip God’s people to engage with our living God.

BUT it’s a delicate and fragile business and a HUGE responsibility! It’s easy to fall short of preaching the whole truth. I haven’t always got it right but I listen to what the Spirit’s saying and preach from my heart. If I can’t reflect on how the passage might impact my own life, how can I hope to help others?

As a Reader I also appreciate the privilege of sharing with others. I’ve been humbled and blessed as I’ve drawn alongside folk in prayer, shared in dark moments, and journeyed with them into healing and restoration. My ministry has had highs and lows, some parts have been a huge learning curve, but this is where God’s called me

As we move forward in the Rivers Team, there’s lots of opportunity for growth. I believe we are going to see “new growth” like never before! Is God speaking to YOU? Are you using the gifts He’s given you? Are you prepared to?

I’ve always tried to encourage people to share what God’s doing in their lives because I believe it’s important. I’ve often been encouraged through other people’s testimonies when it seems God’s been silent to me. 1 Thess 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage each other and build one another up, just as you are already doing”. So let’s encourage, listen to and pray for one another as we move forward into a new season of growth.


PS: Remember where my journey began!


Editorial – Sept 2019

by Chris Butler

Who would you consider to be the greatest role model for your Christian life? I’m sure that many of us know of many mighty men and women of God, yet perhaps most of us would list the Apostle Paul as the greatest Christian who ever lived and the one they would most like the emulate. In fact, Paul often held himself up as a pattern for all Christians to follow. “Imitate me,” he urged, “just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). He knew, of course, that he could serve as a godly example only if he faithfully followed the Lord Jesus.

Throughout September our services at the Rivers Team will focus on the life of Paul. We will be looking at the full extent of his life – his conversion, the change in his life, the training he received, his empowerment by the Spirit, his leadership and his preparations for those who would follow after him. No matter what stage we are in our Christian walk, whether a new convert to the faith or a church leader, there will be something from his life that we can apply to our own.

Paul’s life has inspired countless ministers, teachers, missionaries, and evangelists. If you read through the book of Acts it’s easy to see why. The exploits of Paul will take your breath away. He made three long missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire, planting churches, preaching the gospel, and giving strength and encouragement to early Christians.

The apostle was a spiritual father to many and his inspired letters to the churches he founded formed half of the New Testament, thus becoming the foundation for Christian theology, but despite those achievements he endured enormous physical hardships. He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, stranded, and faced dangers in the city and the country. He was also made weak through tiredness, hunger, sleeplessness, and the “thorn in his flesh” which continually tormented him, but he soon realised that it was through these weaknesses he was made strong as he depended more and more upon the Lord for his strength (2 Cor 12:9).

No other churchman has had a greater impact on Christianity. And Paul’s attitudes, motivations, and methods are elements that we can reproduce in our own lives to help us impact lives the way he did. And as we copy Paul, who himself was copying Christ, then we in turn will become role models for the next generation of Christians who follow after us.

Editorial – August 2019


A Break From Work, Not Worship

by Eddie Short

August is traditionally a time for family holidays, for taking a break from work, relaxing and recharging our batteries. Which, of course, is a biblical principle. After the creation narrative in Genesis 1, we read at the beginning of Genesis 2 that God took a break on the seventh day, setting it apart and blessing it. It is good and right to balance our work – both secular and serving God – with time off to reflect, recharge and relax.

Time away on holiday is also a great opportunity to experience different expressions of church. We are part of a global fellowship of believers, which means however far we travel, in this country or abroad, there is likely to be a Christian church within easy reach. Visiting other churches, especially those in different parts of the world, gives us the opportunity to broaden our horizons and strengthen our faith. There is something quite spiritually profound in worshipping with a group of complete strangers from another culture who share the same faith in Jesus. Over the past couple of years I have had two very different, but equally positive, experiences of visiting churches while away on holiday.

When Nic and I were visiting Nashville a couple of years ago to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, we visited a ‘mega church’ on the outskirts of the city. The worship was more like a concert than a church service; not something we’d want to be a part of on a regular basis, but great as a one-off. However, it was the sermon from a visiting preacher that I really connected with. It spoke directly to my situation at the time and afterwards I looked him up online. Since then I have found the podcasts from the church he was in the process of planting to be a huge blessing.

Then, earlier this year, we visited Norway over Easter. While we were there we attended, as a family, the Easter Sunday service at the Anglican Church in Bergen, which is also incidentally called St. Mary’s. This turned out to be a joint service between the English-speaking Anglican congregation and the Norwegian-speaking Church of Norway congregation. While the sermon was (thankfully) in English, the liturgy and hymns were in a mixture of the two languages. Being part of this multilingual celebration of Jesus’ resurrection was both poignant and affirming: Jesus defeated death for all people, of all nationalities, from all over the world!

At both of these churches, and the many others we have visited while traveling, we were made to feel very welcome and included. So, the next time you are away on holiday, I’d encourage you to seek out a local church service and expand your ecclesiastical horizons! And, even if you aren’t going away, there is an opportunity to worship at three different churches throughout August without leaving the team! There will be just one joint service in each of our four churches on the four Sundays of this month. This isn’t an excuse to have three weeks off, but rather a great opportunity to experience all four of the congregations that make up our team and also to get to know the wider church family a little better.

I won’t be there, as our family is spending the summer in America. But I will be joining you in worship, visiting yet another new church…

Editorial – July 2019

Ilsa Aug 2014 1 - CopyWhat am I doing here?

by Monica Walker

It is just 44 years this month since I arrived in Rotherham to face a new job, new home, new friends and new church and after a few months I began to ask myself “what am I doing here”? But God had a plan!

I feel a bit the same as I begin to write my first editorial for the magazine, “what am I doing here!” I am however, reminded of so many bible characters who must have said or thought the same thing. What am I doing here!

We have recently finished a sermon/study series on the book of Exodus and in it we’re told Moses had to contend with grumpy complaining Israelites, so he probably had similar thoughts as the they objected to everything he had to say, even though they were promises from God. There must have been times when he thought, what am I doing here!

God has His plans and we are told they are…just and upright.

Sometimes God’s plans are disturbing, we get uncomfortable with change but change can also be exciting. We are facing many changes in the way church happens in our Diocese and Team very different from what we have known and our comfort zone will be shaken.

We don’t always understand or see the sense in the challenges of God’s plans but it is at these times we need to hang on in there and trust our faith in the Lord Jesus.

As this magazine goes to print, I will be with friends in Scotland, friends I would never have known if I hadn’t moved to Rotherham all those years ago.

I’m glad God has a plan and pray that we can all be obedient to listening and following His plan as we face the future for the Rivers Team with all its challenges and blessings.

So, we say “what am I doing here” in the Rivers Team in 2019? We are in this together, waiting to be part of God’s plan as we see it unfold for His people here in our communities.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord Jer. 29

Editorial – May 2019

by Carole Robinson

Try Honking not Bleating

At the time that I am writing this it is still the Easter Season. Fields are filled with the sight and sound of bleating young lambs and there are still some Easter Eggs on the Supermarket shelves, bur before long we shall be hearing different sounds.

At the end of summer when the harvest has been safely gathered in, the village of Treeton is blessed by a visit from a large skein of Grey Lag Geese. They come at the same time every year to glean on the grain that has been left behind by the Combined Harvester. I have no idea how they know what time of year it is or how they find their way to Treeton, but I was so impressed by them that I looked up some facts about the geese, these are just some of them:

  • The geese fly in V formation, this reduces the amount of effort each goose needs to lift them into the air and to keep them on the right track.
  • When the lead Goose gets tired it moves back and a new leader comes forward.
  • When a Goose becomes ill and drops out of formation other geese go down with it and don’t leave it until it gets better or dies
  • Throughout the flight the Geese at the back are continually honking to encourage the geese at the front

I think we could learn a great deal from the Geese, don’t you.

At the moment, the Rivers Team and the Church of England as a whole are facing great changes. Like the Geese, we need to work together as a team, if we are all working together for the same goal the job will be much lighter. During the season of Lent, we looked at the Early Church and learned how they worked together sharing everything they had, their possessions, and their gifts. Working together in unity made them more effective and their numbers grew.

We need to comfort the sick, and champion the used and abused in our society.

We need to support our leaders especially Margaret and Philip as their work load grows and we need to recognise and raise up new leaders. As we continue to grow as a church, let us remember to always to do more Honking than Bleating

Editorial – April 2019

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby Margaret Baker, Team Vicar

Dear Friends
As I write this editorial Lent has just begun. I wonder if you have managed to do whatever you have planned during this time or perhaps it’s been rather a struggle. Like many of you I have had my ups and downs, as life has thrown a few curved balls and I have not quite achieved everything I wanted to. But one thing I know I will be able to do, and that is celebrate Easter: the most important date in the year for Christians.
The first Christians did not know what would happen like we do. They needed to trust that God was in control even when things were so bleak. We know that some even denied their faith like Peter, one of the disciples, but that did not mean that God gave up on them as he never will give up on us.

There are occasions in our lives that are a struggle, and it’s then that we need to trust that God is in control. I am sure you know people who don’t even have that belief and that’s our challenge to share Easter, our biggest celebration, with others for the real reason.

Easter is not about chocolate eggs, lambs, chickens – to name just a few things which are portrayed about this season. It’s about the fact that Christ died on the cross and rose for you and me, so that we might have life and be able to live it in its fullness. And that’s what we need to share through our words and actions

We need to make it special for ourselves and those around us as we praise and thank God for Jesus and his great love and care for everyone. We need to remember that God is not dead but lives through you and me.

The Christian faith is based on this wonderful occasion, and it’s just amazing if we really ponder the great sacrifice that God gave for all of us.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” said the angel.

Happy Easter

Prayerful Best Wishes


Editorial – March 2019

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby Margaret Baker; Team Vicar


Dear Friends

Just like you all, I am wondering what is in store for the Rivers Team and the Diocese of Sheffield as David and Helen have moved on and new opportunities are on the horizon for our Diocese.

Change is on its way, has already started really but that is always the case for we never travel back in time only further on.

It’s the fear of the unknown that can be unsettling, but it can also be a time to learn and develop new skills along the way.

When my ministry as a Church Army officer began, I never dreamt that I would be a Team Vicar and yet it feels just the right place and role for me to have. I have learnt so much, it’s not always been an easy path but looking back I see the highs and lows knowing that God truly guided and helped me change direction when I have needed too.

A change of direction is what is in store for all of us as members of The Rivers Team and the Anglican church in Sheffield.

We sometimes would just like to continue doing things like we have always done, and its difficult to get our heads around new ways of working for a while eventually getting caught up in how things go.

One thing that is very certain we do not go back as I have already said even if some changes need to be developed or even stopped to carry on.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6: 33-34 to first seek the kingdom of God

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well. 4 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As Lent approaches, I hope you will be able to find time to reflect on your own journey through life and acknowledge the changes that have taken place for you and your Church. Looking forward to everything that God has in store for us as changes happen within our Team and our Diocese.
Prayerful Best Wishes

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