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

short

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

Margaret

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
Margaret

Editorial – Feb 2019

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby David Bent; Team Rector

At his last supper with his disciples, Jesus said to them ‘It is good for you that I am going away’ (John 16:7). Abba put it slightly differently when they sang ‘Breaking up is never easy, I know, but I have to go. Knowing me, knowing you, it’s the best I can do.’

I know we’re not ‘breaking up’ in the Abba sense, but moving on is not easy. I doubt it was easy for Jesus and his disciples or for Abba, but there came a time when it was right, and the moving on allowed something else to grow. For Jesus and the disciples it was the sending of the Holy Spirit and the growth of the Early Church. For Abba it was new careers. For us and for you, I believe ‘it is good that I go away’, and also that ‘knowing me, knowing you, it’s the best I can do’.

Helen and I have loved our time in The Rivers Team for what will be almost nineteen years. We have made some great friendships and have seen God at work in many lives. We have felt loved and supported during difficult times and have seen much growth and development in the mission and ministry of the church. These are things that we will take away with us and treasure. I trust there are things that you too will treasure.

The decision to move on was not easy, and had many facets to it. In ministry terms I believe that The Rivers Team is in a good place to continue its mission and ministry until a new Team Rector is appointed who will build on the foundations that we have laid together. I also feel that I would like to continue in ministry for longer, but not on a full time basis. And in practical terms, moving on now allows a decent transition for The Rivers Team in terms of the timings of mine, Helen’s and Margaret’s retirements.

Helen and I will be moving to Northamptonshire (Peterborough Diocese) in the middle of February, where I will take up a half-time post on March 2nd, leading The Walgrave Benefice. This is a group of four rural parishes with a total population of 1,900 people. The churches have a vision for mission and church growth and are looking for leadership to help them work more closely together as a joint benefice. Helen will be licenced to the benefice as Associate Priest while continuing with her work for RSCM / Praxis.

God says to all of us, through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11). Life has its share of change and challenge, of hardships and disappointments, but God’s plans and purposes for us are always for good. We look forward to seeing how his plans for all of you unfold and maybe you will look forward to seeing how his plans for us unfold too.

Editorial – Jan 2018

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby Margaret Baker; Team Vicar

I write this and Christmas is still 10 days away, so I wonder what will have changed by the time you read this?

It’s a little like that with a new year, such a lot of fuss is made and yet it is just the passage of time.

Our concept of time and God’s are so different, we all have a tendency to rush through life and yet perhaps our pace should be a lot slower. How often do we take a break from some things that perhaps we have always done to recharge ourselves? A new year suggests looking back and looking forward too. The custom is to do new things in a new year, but maybe we should be rearranging what we do, not giving things up or doing new things but managing what we do differently.

This new year in the Rivers Team there will be some things done differently. As we say goodbye to David and Helen and wish them God’s richest blessings as they move to a different parish, there are bound be some changes for everyone. Thankfully we know that God has everything in hand and will be with us all where ever we might be led.

One of my favourite Psalms is 139 which just seems so appropriate for the beginning of a New Year reminding us that things do not just happen by chance the Lord has plans for us all which are planned out in his time.

I praise you because you are to be feared;
all you do is strange and wonderful.
When I know it with all my heart.
When my bones were being formed
carefully put together in my mother’s womb
you knew that I was there you saw me before I was born.
The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book

May the Lord bless us all in this new year

Editorial – Dec 2018

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Margaret Baker; Team Vicar

I have just bought my first Christmas present and started to collect the items to go in my shoe box. My dilemma as always is what do I buy? I want my presents to have meaning for those who receive them and it’s so good after Christmas when I see the gift I have bought being used and appreciated.

God did that for each one of us at the first Christmas when he sent his most precious gift for us all his Son Jesus. How are we going to remind folk about what is really behind all the presents that are bought and the celebrations that are held?

It could be the card that’s sent tell of Jesus Birth or the invite to the Carol Service, it does not matter really, only that folk hear the true message and have an opportunity to accept the gift that God gives to everyone who likes to receive it.

We too need to think afresh about what we give to God in grateful thanks to him for his great goodness there is a story that I have come across that
illustrates this so well :

Matty wanted to give God a present. He spent a long time thinking and then wrapping his gift, and when the gifts were given out he told his Mum she could open it for God ‘cos he’s here with us’. Matty’s Mum eased off the sticky tape and undid the gold paper very carefully while the whole family crowded round. Inside was an empty tissue box. Matty’s brother made a face. “It’s just an old box,” he said in disgust. “There’s nothing in it! What would God want with that? “It doesn’t matter what it’s like,” Matty’s Dad said firmly. “None of the rest of us gave anything at all to God. I’m sure God loves Matty’s present.”

But Matty said, “It’s not empty. I filled it with all my hopes and dreams, to give them to God. He can see them, even if you can’t.”

I hope that your Christmas this year is very special and that you truly celebrate this wonderful time of year.

Margaret

Editorial – Nov 2018

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby Helen Bent, Associate Vicar

Remembrance Sunday will be particularly poignant this year, as we mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of 11th month, one hundred years on from the end of the First World War. Despite expectations, when war broke out, that they would all be home for Christmas, war raged on for over four years with tens of thousands of soldiers wounded or killed on a daily basis. There was huge loss of life on both sides, and village war
memorials bear witness to a generation of husbands, fathers, sons and brothers wiped out.

Recent research into the names on the Brinsworth memorial has drawn attention to the men’s ages. Barely men, many were in their late teens and early twenties. It is not easy reading, but at the same time I have been moved by the stories of selfless courage, heroism and sacrifice. Jesus said: “Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13) These local friends and comrades in arms alongside those from the Second World War and subsequent conflicts paid this ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy today.

Recently I have read about the lives of some significant others. British nurse, Edith Cavell served in a hospital in Brussels in enemy-occupied Belgium. She cared for many wounded, but alongside nursing duties she worked with the local Resistance Movement. The daughter of a Norfolk vicar, Edith’s strong Christian faith informed and motivated her actions. In 1915, there was outrage when she was executed by firing squad for her part in enabling many Allied soldiers to escape. On the night before her execution, she spoke to her priest and took her final Holy Communion. She told him: “Standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” Challenging words indeed!

On Sunday 4 August 1918, the fourth anniversary of the declaration of war, King George V and Queen Mary joined members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords for a special service at St Margaret’s Westminster. The king requested that this day should be observed by all as a national day of prayer. One hundred days later at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, WW1 ended. The following year, the king initiated the two minute silence that we still observe today.

On Remembrance Day, we too will stand together in silence once more to remember all the victims of war during the last century. Let us also pray for a determination to seek after reconciliation and peace between the nations and to harbour no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

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