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.

Spotlight on Mission – Kingdom Faith

spotlightKingdom Faith have Christians from many different cultures and backgrounds with one thing in common: they love Jesus Christ and have a desire to know God more and to help everyone discover how amazing He is! Right at the core and heart of Kingdom Faith is its culture. Not a culture of personal preference or ethnic background, but a Kingdom Culture. At Kingdom Faith Training College students are immersed into this culture. Together they are a:

House of God – this is their spiritual dynamic and is developed through the Word of God, in worship and by being a people of prayer.

Family of Believers – the dynamic of faith they carry as a House of God is expressed through love to those God has placed us with in the body.

Friends to the World – called to demonstrate God’s heart for the people in the world around them through personal witness, through reaching the community and through transforming society.

Kingdom Faith want to see a society where God is increasingly acknowledged, with people having a living and personal relationship with Him! A people who know the Word of God, who live by it, bringing positive change in their own world and the lives of others.

Kingdom Faith is mobilised to take the Gospel of the Kingdom into the world with a variety of different ministries.

To find out more about Kingdom Faith Training College, where our missionary support is invested, and about Kingdom Faith in general, why not visit their website, where you might like to listen to one of their teaching podcasts.

www.kingdomfaith.com

 

Thursdays @ St. Andrews

thursdays

Coffee Pot

10.30 – 12.45pm.   Join us for a cup of tea or coffee and meet with friends join in a variety of activities or sit and read the newspaper. Each week there will be an activity to join in if you want including quizzes, walks, crafts.

Lunch Stop

1.00 – 1.45pm.    Chat over a simple meal with a cuppa.

Soul Space

2.00 – 3.00pm.   Join us for an act of worship. Find out more about the Christian faith.

All Welcome

There are no set charges. Gifts towards the work of the church appreciated.

More details from The Church Office (01709 361630)

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Dear Theophilus… September 2014

Dear Theophilus

A leper came to Jesus and, on his knees, begged him for healing. And Jesus reached out and touched him. He didn’t need to touch him in order to heal him; ten other lepers came to him for healing and he sent them on their way and it was as they went that they were healed. But this one he touched. And in touching the leper he’d have become unclean himself if the guy didn’t get healed. Jesus took a risk and touched him. And in that touch Jesus brought the leper back into the community. (See Luke 5:12-14).

Now I know we need to be wise, and I know we’re not all touchy feely people (though I think some are just shy) but I also think most of us appreciate some form of physical contact, whether it’s a hand shake, a hand placed on the shoulder or a hug. You can’t really explain it, but something powerful is exchanged through physical contact. Jesus knew this when he healed the leper, when he healed Peter’s mother in law, when he healed the blind and the dumb, and when he raised the dead. He also knew it when he blessed the little children and when he said that his followers would lay hands on the sick and they would be healed. Something happens.

A touch can bring healing. A touch can give a blessing. A touch can also say, ‘You’re welcome here’. And when words are hard to find, or quite inadequate, a touch can say, ‘I care’.

For the leper, who had probably spent years excluded from the community, healing was important. But so was belonging. The word translated ‘salvation’ also means ‘healing’. The Christian gospel is a gospel of healing for the soul and spirit as well as for the body. It is also a gospel of belonging. Belonging to God and to family of God. And both healing and belonging can be communicated through a touch.

Let’s be wise. Let’s respect personal space. But let’s also take a risk and say to those outside and inside our Christian family, ‘You’re welcome here’.

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!

Bishop Peter’s Letter – September 2014

bishop2When I was young I faced the start of a school year with a mixture of excitement and dread. I recall doing obligatory shopping to get new shoes, blazer and PE kit, and even the school cap. There was also the compass, pencils, ruler, protractor and ink pen to buy as they got lost or broken every year. However, buying these things and getting everything ready was part of what led to the excitement and anticipation of what lay ahead in the academic year and beyond.

Many of the children in our churches and communities face similar emotions as they start a new academic year, change schools or starting school for the first time. As children share similar anticipations, I encourage you to uphold them and the staff in your prayers and to get actively involved as schools are an important part of our incarnational mission.

As a Diocese we are also looking to the future in anticipation of what is to come. Over the summer we have had a short break from the Centenary Celebrations, but like the start of a new term we are preparing again for the second phase of our gatherings and events. Everything is ready and in place and the organising committee are full of excitement and perhaps some dread, hoping that the weather will stay fine and people will turn out and have a good time in fellowship with others from across the diocese.

So far the Centenary has been marked by excellent weather, a good turnout from the parishes, a looking back with thanksgiving at what has made the Diocese what it is today and a real sense of fun, fellowship and worship together as the family of God.

The next phase of our celebration looks forward in anticipation of how we pass on our faith so that we grow new disciples who know Jesus as their personal saviour. The Archbishop of York says, “The Diocese of Sheffield has become a place of imaginative and thriving ministry, developing and nurturing disciples of Jesus Christ, and engaging with the challenges of a changing society”. Through God’s grace we will continue to be that sort of diocese, and we will see the mighty works of God.

So let’s not look to the future with a sense of dread and emotion, regretting the passing of 100 years, but start afresh in hopeful anticipation and excitement of what the next 100 will bring.

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)

Spotlight on Mission – CMS

spotlightCMS are a community of Christians in Mission working all over the world, who want the world to know Jesus. It has five policies which shape its mission strategy and the way in which its purpose is put into practice:

  • Follow God’s lead
  • Put prayer first, money second
  • Success depends on the quality of those appointed
  • Begin small
  • Rely on the Spirit of God

The Rivers Team support the Irene family. Ronnie and his wife Nicky, with Natasha, Tamara, Daniel and Samuel. They are Latin Partners in Asuncion, Paraguay where Ronnie is in ministry with the Spanish and English-speaking congregations at the Anglican Cathedral, and where there is a need to train and teach leaders. He has also reopened the church in Villa Guarani where they live.

Nicky is a part-time teacher at St Andrew’s School, where Ronnie has been appointed chaplain, with a growing involvement in pastoral care and counselling for students and parents.

There is more information about the Irene’s elsewhere in this magazine. Please remember the whole family in their ministry.

If you would like to find out more about the CMS then why not take a look at their web site which tells you all about their work.

www.cms-uk.org

The Lord, the doctors, and the guardian angel

By Bob Lunt

Back in 2011, Susan Ithungu, a 14-year-old from Uganda, endured three months of brutal treatment from her father for leaving Islam to follow Christ. Susan spent over a year in Nairobi, Kenya, receiving specialised medical treatment, sponsored by Open Doors, before returning to her country and continuing her long period of recovery. This recent update has come from a local Open Doors worker.

“Susan is due to return to Kenya for one last medical procedure. She continues to depend on a crutch when walking, but specialists are hopeful that the final procedure will unlock her fused knee and enable her to walk unaided. She will, however, always have a limp. This is an amazing result, much different from the initial prognosis that had doctors fearing Susan would never be able to stand upright again.
“Susan is doing very well. She is maintaining a high academic standard; last term she was second in her class. She has many friends and is active in church. Her faith remains rock solid.”

A pastor who has regularly visited her in hospital said, “Every time I go to see Susan, I leave there feeling greatly encouraged! She is truly an inspiration.”

The Open Doors worker adds that “Susan’s guardian, Ms Dreda, is also doing well. The small business she started after receiving training and assistance from Open Doors is running well. She is now able to comfortably take care of all her children and Susan.

“It is amazing to see how Ms Dreda has loved Susan. She had barely been a Christian one year when she heard about Susan and went to see her in hospital. Because she was persecuted herself, had lost her husband and all marital property for choosing Christ, her heart just went out to Susan, especially when she saw the state of that child in hospital. We are so thankful that, after all the trauma and pain Susan had lived through in her young life, she now has a new family that truly cares for her.”

Thank God for the healing work he is doing in Susan’s life, physically and spiritually, and for her wonderful guardian, Ms Dreda.

Dear Theophilus… August 2014

Dear Theophilus

Most of us love to be invited out to share a meal with friends; Jesus certainly did. We know he ate at Peter’s home, as well as at Matthew’s, Simon the Pharisee’s and at Mary and Martha’s. He even invited himself round for tea with Zacchaeus.

But meals for Jesus were not just about the food or even about the friendships, they were also about the gospel. Jesus didn’t just eat with his family or his close friends like Peter, Mary and Martha. Matthew was a recent acquaintance, Zacchaeus was a stranger and Simon the Pharisee was part of a group who were some of Jesus’ main critics. But, by sharing a meal with Matthew, Jesus made a whole new circle of friends with Matthew’s work colleagues; his meal with Zacchaeus resulted in a transformed life and with the Pharisees he was able to share profound truths about the Kingdom of God.

One of the things that Jesus said to this group of Pharisees is that the Kingdom of God is like a banquet where there is more space at the table than there are guests to fill them. The servants were then sent out onto the streets it invite anyone they could find to come in and share the meal. The same is true for the banquet God has prepared in heaven. The banquet has been paid for, Jesus has seen to that, and the food has been prepared. Some guests have arrived, but there are still places to be filled by people who have not yet received their invitation. And that is where we come in. Our job is to take out the invitations, inviting people to come to the feast.

We have some great news to share, people just need to hear it. They need an invitation, whether it’s to Church, to Messy Church, to cell groups, to our homes for a meal or a coffee, or to other events that we might organize. Somewhere where they can hear the good news of Jesus. And when we take out the invitation, let’s not just take them to our family and our friends, let’s also take them to strangers like Zacchaeus, to new acquaintances like Matthew, and even to those, like the Pharisees, with whom we struggle to get on. Fulfilling the great commission starts with the invitations.

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!

Bishop Steven’s Letter, August 2014

bishopDear Friends,

In July the General Synod approved the Measure to enable women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England. At the same time the Synod approved some key principles to enable those who hold different views on these matters to live together within one Church and to work together in God’s mission.

The debate in July brings to an end a generation of debate on the ordination of women in the Church of England. The outcome will be a cause of great joy and celebration to many. To others it may bring some sadness. However I hope and trust that we will be able to move forward together in respect and trust and to be able to give greater attention now to other areas of God’s mission.

The provision for parishes unable to accept the ministry or leadership of ordained women is stronger than previous provision and intended to be for the long term. It is based on five key principles, outlined in the House of Bishops declaration on the ministry of Bishops and Priests:

  • The Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender;
  • Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has now reached a clear decision;
  • The Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;
  • The Church of England remains committed to enabling to flourish within its life and structures those who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests and
  • Pastoral and sacramental provision for this minority will continue to be made in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion across the whole Church of England.

In the words of Paul’s letter to the Colossians:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against one another, forgive each other; just as the LORD has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”

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