Editorial – November 2014

by Margaret Baker; Team Vicar

Dear Friends

In the month of November there are three occasions for us to remember.
On the 1st it’s All Souls’ Day when we remember those whose Christian lives on this earth have ended and now continue with God. It’s a day when we can give thanks and praise for the contribution that many individuals have made on our lives as individuals and as a church. I was amazed by the number of people who came to my mind as I sat and thought about it. What do we remember? Just the good? No, I guess a bit of both the positive and the negative, for one without the other would give us a lopsided vision. We don’t like to think about the bad times or mistakes that we’ve made, but that shows the reality of life and the fact that we are not perfect people; only Jesus was, however much we would like to be.

I find it very difficult when people never admit to anything being wrong; whenever you see them there is always a smile. Nothing wrong with a smile, but not from the same person all the time. We need to be ourselves and admit the mistakes or bad times we’re going through and not hide them. You know, there might just be someone around who is going through what you’re going through and you could support and encourage each other.

The second time to remember is the 5th November, bonfire night, the blowing up of the Houses of Parliament. I’m not sure why we remember this date in particular but I enjoy the fireworks just the same and the community spirit that seems to come about on an occasion like this. So let’s enjoy this time to remember, but also keep safe.

The third occasion for us to remember is Remembrance Sunday, 9th November, when we reflect on the many tragic results of wars, especially the people who lost their lives through conflict, and the desire for world peace, which is so badly needed in our world today. This Remembrance Sunday don’t let us forget to remember in our prayers especially those who have the responsibility of leadership and need to make decisions that will affect others. In the afternoon on Remembrance Sunday at 3.00pm at St Mary’s we also have the opportunity to come alongside those who have lost loved ones this past year within our parish as they come to remember their lives. Do you know someone who you would like to invite to this service?

They would be very welcome .

Editorial – October 2014

by David Bent; Team Rector

There is a story in the book of Acts where a slave girl, exploited by her owners for financial gain, finds spiritual freedom and emotional healing through the Christian gospel and the ministry of Paul (Acts 16:16-18). There are echoes of this story in the recently disclosed crimes that have been carried out over many years in Rotherham, where girls in our communities have been abused and treated as slaves for financial gain.

As I have reflected on these events I was reminded of the words of Jesus concerning the ill-treatment of children:

Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied round his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. (Luke 17:1-2)

The care of the young, the sick and the vulnerable is the responsibility of all of us in our homes, communities, churches and mosques and, according to Jesus, the punishment for harming our children is harsh. God is a God of justice and, as the truth gradually emerges, justice must happen and must be seen to happen. And yet the very next words that Jesus speaks show us that God is also a God of mercy. Jesus continues:

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. (Luke 17:3)

Where there is repentance there can also be forgiveness, and forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian gospel. We believe in a gospel of forgiveness, of healing and of reconciliation, where the love of God sets the captives free. If the victims of exploitation are to recover from the past they will need to find love and healing and if our communities are to recover from the past they will need to find reconciliation as people of different races and backgrounds learn to trust and respect one another and to live together in peace.

As Christians we are called to a ministry of healing and also to a ministry of reconciliation and so we have a role to play in our homes, in our communities and in our churches. Let us pray that the victims of this exploitation find healing, let us pray that the abusers find forgiveness through repentance and let us pray that our communities find peace and reconciliation. Let us also do all we can, through our words and our actions, to work for the healing and the reconciliation of our communities.

Editorial – September 2014

by Judy Leverton; Team Vicar

We all experience moments in life that are really memorable; events or times that are deeply etched on our minds and make us feel warm and bleary-eyed when we think about them: a wedding or anniversary, a particular birthday, a wonderful holiday, the birth of a child.

Then there are the simpler things in life like sharing a meal, watching a beautiful sunset with someone, the gentle touch of a friend, hilarity with friends and colleagues, sitting in companionable silence, receiving an unexpected gift or card…..the list is endless!

Over an eventful summer Chris and I have had cause to stop and ponder, to look back with great fondness and a measure of regret, on special times and special people in our lives that we have taken for granted.

It is so easy to neglect relationships without realising. We can get so caught up in the busyness of life that we forget to make time for others, often our family and friends. Sometimes it takes a bombshell to wake us up and make us realise how precious people are to us. At other times it’s the steadfast faithful display of God’s goodness, grace and love in people that finally brings us to our knees in repentance as we recognise how much they mean to us.

Family and friends, our church families, are a precious gift from God. Through them God is able to bestow gifts of compassion, the fruit of service, signs of hope and the many undeserved blessings. It is so important to value and appreciate them, to nurture them our relationships. Do we?

Appreciation cannot be an occasional after-thought. It’s a way of life where we show that we are truly thankful for those around us through good times and bad. So as we move into the autumn let us ask God for eyes to see, a heart to appreciate what has been given to us and a will to nurture our relationships, and maybe step out develop new ones so that others too may be blessed by God’s gifts of love, mercy and grace.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)

Editorial – August 2014

by Margaret Baker; Team Vicar

Dear Friends,

It’s a beautiful day outside, the sort of weather we expect for the season, and yet they say tomorrow it is going to rain. I don’t know about you, but the weather makes a big difference to how I feel, and today I would quite happily put my feet up and let the world go by! But that’s also a nice thing to do when the weather is awful. I guess we should just be thankful for what we have.

August is often the month for holidays. Many groups and organisations take well earned breaks and so the pace of life changes. For some it will be a hectic month, while for others it will be a time to relax, unwind and perhaps spend extra time on ourselves.

Jesus tired to create some space for himself and his disciples on one occasion, but the crowds followed him and he ended up feeding 5,000 people. You can read about in John 6 verses 1-15.

Jesus didn’t tell the crowd who gathered around him to go away, but responded to them very practically; something that I pray we all do within our local communities.

At times we don’t always know the best way to respond to situations, but faith and prayer can have a positive effect on us. Things may not always change, but they do become more bearable when we trust that Jesus is ultimately in control, and when are thankful for what we have.

The picnic that would have only fed that young boy was offered to Jesus and it was used to feed so many other people as well.

So, as the summer unfolds, let’s reflect and ponder on what do we can give to Jesus that he can then use to further his kingdom on earth, so that our Christian family grows and we grow too.

Jesus says in this passage from John:

“If you have eyes use them and if you have ears listen and hear the truth”.

Editorial – June 2014

By David Bent; Team Rector

As we watch the situation in Ukraine unfold, we see a people formerly united as one nation now dividing into those who see their future allied more towards the West and those who see their future allied with Russia. Closer to home we await the vote in Scotland for, or against, Scottish independence, where a ‘Yes’ vote would end over 300 years of united government that followed the formation of the United Kingdom in 1707.

I guess few of us here in South Yorkshire can influence either situation, except through prayer, but we should pray for wisdom, righteousness, peace and grace for all those involved and affected by these situations.

But the underlying roots of these situations are common to us all as the quest for power comes up against the desire for independence and a yearning for change challenges the status quo. We see it in family relations, local and national politics, we see it in our communities and workplaces, and we can see it in the church.

As a church we have a responsibility to work for unity with diversity. Jesus prayed for unity and St Paul describes the Church as the Body of Christ, where Jesus himself is the head and we are the individual parts of his body, each with a unique role to play. Within a body it is the unity of the many parts that gives it its strength, while it is the diversity of each part that gives it its flexibility and its beauty.

I rejoice in the journey we have made together as the four churches in The Rivers Team and I pray that we may continue to enjoy the diversity that we have together within the unity that we share. But our responsibility for unity goes further. In his death and resurrection, Jesus destroyed the barrier that separated individuals from God and, in doing so, broke down the barriers that separate individuals from each other. And when Jesus returned to heaven and sent his Holy Spirit on his Church, he commissioned us to continue this ministry of reconciliation. Maybe not in Ukraine or in Scotland, but certainly in our homes and in our communities.

In the words of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

“Where there is discord, harmony.

Listening to God – Ten Days of Prayer…

Listening to God during the Ten Days of Prayer 2013

Thank you so much to everyone who took part in the Ten Days of Prayer this year. It has been exciting to see so many people engaging in serious and sincere prayer around the Rivers Team in a variety of different ways.

  • ‘Something to talk about’ at the Sidings pub asked the question ‘Why pray?’ concluding that if Jesus needed to pray then so do we! There was also discussion about how we pray for ourselves and for others.
  • The youngsters of 7 Up wanted to know: ‘How long should we pray?’ They were keen to pray for their families, their friends and their schools.
  • Praying at the Waverley

Prayer postcards were a new resource for the diocese this year. We had prayer collecting boxes at various strategic points across the community and we delivered over 3000 cards door to door. People shared prayer requests for their sick family members and friends as well as raising local, national and international concerns. There were many prayers for justice and peace.

The Ten Days culminated in a walk right through the whole team. With much new building, including the Waverley Development, our parish boundary is expanding. This was a significant act of ‘claiming the land’ and praying for fruitfulness and blessing on our communities. We were reminded that like Esther, we have been called ‘for such a time as this’.

As we approached our Pentecost services, we were reminded again of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones. This is a powerful picture in which the Word of the Lord is heard and the Spirit of God breaths life into a mighty army.

Our continuing prayer must be: Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Spotlight on Mission (June 2013 – CPAS)…

Spotlight on Mission – June 2013

This month’s Mission in the spotlight is CPAS who are patrons of our churches and are an evangelical organisation working to support local churches in mission. They describe themselves as an organisation that enables Churches to help every person  hear and discover the Good News of Jesus.

Their  vision statement reads:

We are committed to mission and equipping churches for their God-given task of evangelism. We believe the most strategic way for us to help churches become more mission-focused is by developing         effective leadership.

We long to see a Christ-centred, Bible-based, mission-focused Church where leaders are clear about their call to discipleship, growing in Christ-like character, and competent to lead in a time of rapid change;  where leaders discern God’s direction, enable action, build teams,   develop leaders, facilitate communication, and nurture  people;  where leaders work in teams, reflecting the diversity of   ministries, and model themselves on the servant character of Jesus; where leaders help transform inherited churches,  pioneer emerging churches and deliver creative residential ministry, effectively helping children, young people and adults hear and discover the good news of Jesus Christ.  This    includes:

  • Making disciples of young people and developing leadership       potential through Ventures and Falcon Camps.
  • Resourcing churches in developing missional leaders.
  • Developing key local church leaders for mission.
  • Taking a national lead in furthering missional leadership through our patronage work.

Why not find out more about CPAS by visiting their web site

www.cpas.org.uk

Dear Theophilus (June 2013)…

Dear Theophilus… ,

Sometimes, throughout the history of the church, numbers have grown phenomenally as they did at Pentecost when over three thousand found faith in Jesus.  At other times, the church grew in ones and twos as people like Cornelius, Lydia and the Philippian jailer  became Christians.

The same happened during the 3 years of Jesus’ ministry.  Sometimes large crowds followed him and sometimes he met people in ones and twos.  People like Jairus and his daughter, Zacchaeus and Matthew.

The disciples also shared in this ministry to the ones and twos as Jesus sent them out in pairs to the people in the villages around about (see Luke Ch. 10).  He told them to meet people in their homes, share with them the peace of God and if they were met by “People of Peace” (as opposed to people who were hostile to the gospel) to stay there, eat with them, heal their sick and tell them about the Kingdom of God.

As Christians today we meet many people in ones and twos in their homes, their neighbourhoods, their places of work and socially.  Can we do this like Jesus instructed his disciples to do, and get into conversation with them, share with them the peace of God and discover who among them are “People of Peace”?

These are the people Jesus has called us to invest our time and energy in for the Kingdom of God.  These are the people he has asked us to pray for, to share meals with and to tell about the Kingdom of God.

We all long for times, like Pentecost, when thousands suddenly find faith in Jesus.  In the meantime, let us be thankful for the ones and twos we know who are “People of Peace” and let us be committed to investing in them our time, our energy and our prayers.  I suspect that, in the overall picture, more people have found faith in ones and twos, than in large crowds.

David

Theophilus is the guy for whom Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. (Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1) Theophilus means ‘Lover of God’ so, if you love God, it was written for you.

An Update from David Vickers

An Update from David Vickers

Revelation 3:8 says, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no-one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

God has been making this word clear to me over the last months.  On my last visit to Lebanon, doors were opened in Tyre in the south, in the  capital, Beirut and recently in the Bekka in the east.  The most recent development concerns a remote Palestinian refugee camp which has an archaic water supply and distribution system which has remained essentially unchanged since it was used by the French cavalry at the beginning of the last century.  The water is highly polluted and ever year results in the deaths of many vulnerable young and old from kidney failure,.  No one is taking the initiative on this, each waiting for someone else to address the problem.  It now seems likely that a group I worked with in Pakistan, who are now setting up projects in Gaza, may be persuaded to find funds for a new well, distribution pipes and quality control.  The links are there from previous work in Lebanon as a result of prayer and ministry by  a group of Palestinian Christians who are now supporting over 100 Palestinian families who have escaped  the conflict in Syria in the last two years.  In fact Syrian Palestinians have now doubled the size of this small camp.  Please pray that this project is completed quickly and Jesus will be glorified as prayers for this are answered.

Last month I went to the Crimea Peninsular of Ukraine.  This is another    corrupt country.  In Crimea, I met up with previous contacts who run the Young Leaders of Crimea Group.  I had the opportunity of sharing the Gospel and my testimony with around 23 young people from different backgrounds, including Tatar Muslims.  I encouraged the group to use quiet times to listen to the voice of God.  This resulted in atheists accepting that God speaks to them too – Halleluiah.

Back home, God is on the move in Brinsworth Comprehensive School.  I have recently become chairman of a School/Community Forum, bringing key people together to address issues shared by school and community, particularly racist incidents and misunderstandings. This has also led to me planning to take school assemblies later in the year. I would be interested in talking to families in our churches who have children at the school.

God has opened a door for me to visit North Korea in October.  It’s marvellous how He does it.  More news on that later.

Keep praying.  The walls are coming down!

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