Nick’s Notes December 2015

Sue and Peter’s grandson Levi was born on Sunday 22nd November.
He weighed 8lbs 4ozs. Please give thanks with us for his safe delivery.  
Rachel had a very difficult labour & required an emergency ‘C section’. 
Mum, and baby are now doing well as are Dad and big sister!

Christmas Preparations
We are decorating Holy Trinity for Christmas on Saturday 19th December from 10am to about 12pm.  All help welcome.
Thanks,   Sue

Nick’s Notes

During the weeks of Advent, which begins this Sunday 29th, we are handling and facing difficult yet hugely relevant themes. As we prepare for Christmas and look forward to the Lord’s Return (Second Coming), we are focusing on the brokenness and suffering of the this once perfect world. The themes are God’s Justice, Human Trafficking and Migration. The preachers may choose to include why we have these huge issues, what the Bible has to say and how the Church and the individual members should respond. We are told by Jesus the King to be ready and active when He returns. To be sheep rather than goats. See the calendar for the readings. As they are very difficult issues please pray particularly for the preachers, Mike (Pilling), Michael (Wilderspin), Pauline (Key), Jon and myself.   Helpful websites are:

 On Saturday 5th December Pauline and I are going to a day on Modern Slavery in Danesmoor to which you’d be most welcome. Please see the advert elsewhere in the Notices and book in.

Our Christmas Theme is the very familiar John 3 v 16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” This morning we’ll be choosing the publicity logo from the   excellent CPO website leaflet/invitation/ post. See

At the November Church Prayer Meeting an excellent idea was put forward to offer prayer this Christmas to the residents of our Parishes. We hope to do this via Parish Council News Letters and on the Christmas services publicity (invitations/posters/flyers.)   The ‘prayer request’ invitation is in this News Letter. As I said last Sunday at Holy Trinity Church we do need to pray for this venture as it will certainly up the spiritual warfare anti! It coincides nicely with the hullabaloo about the Lord’s Prayer advert in cinemas! In these Notices there’s an article reproduced from the Diocesan website about ‘Just Pray’ and link to a video

Practically we’ll very probably do the praying for the received ‘prayer requests’   at services, Home Groups and provide a prayer list for you all carefully, and       confidentially as necessary.

At the Church Army AGM in mid-November Rowan Williams, the retired Archbishop of Canterbury, (what a godly and lovely man) spoke eloquently and into the church Army’s witness to Jesus. He asked the assembled evangelists ‘what are we doing when sharing the Good News? He had three points, the one that’s stuck with me, and I see as relevant to us not only in our sharing of the Good News but in our church life together, is this: are we giving people an end   or a beginning? Rowan used Jesus as our example. ‘In the gospels Jesus doesn’t end things rather encourages and brings new beginnings and energises.’

This is my thinking in response to the question ‘are we giving people an end or a beginning?’

As the Lord covered mile after mile preaching the good News of the Kingdom of God was He offering people an end or a beginning? What do we offer people?

Think of the people He met and served, this humble King, the son of Man. Was Jesus offering Zacchaeus an end to his tax collecting life style? Or was He giving him a beginning? Did Zacchaeus give half his goods away and make restitution?   It would seem so. And then what for Zacchaeus?

What about the people Jesus had compassion on and healed? Or the challenge He gave to the Scribes and Pharisees as they vehemently opposed Him? Sure He longed for them to change, to repent, to leave behind all that was harming, yet He also was saying ‘now go forward.’ Walk in the light of life that I’ve given you.’ ‘This is only the beginning for you.’

Isn’t this true for thee and me? Jesus constantly seeks to take us forward, longs for our growth in maturity to continue. Not only end things but much more     importantly see and grow in the constant new beginnings. We are justified,  saved by grace, and the Spirit’s work of sanctification in us as individuals and as congregations is continuous and very often new.

I’m going to link what I’ve just written in to some revelation that was given to   one of our visitors on Sunday 23rd November offers us as from the Holy Spirit.  A good number of Val and my old friends came to my birthday party and  worshipped with us the following day. Mike Vine has been a Reader for many years as often has words of knowledge from the Spirit. Mike gave the revelation to me after the service, went home and prayed about it and has now sent us this:

 “the church (and that would include you as part of the church)  needs to throw off the shackles of the past and that  growth will only come when you are prepared to do so.”

Wow! Mike spoke straight into my life as I constantly need to leave shackles behind and live in the new! I thank Mike for his faithfulness in giving us this edifying word.

May I suggest a way of understanding this revelation? It involves a six letter word . . change! Something that we so often resist! Alastair, our Diocesan Bishop, and Christine, Archdeacon, are bringing a huge change to the Diocesan structures that they believe are so very important, that is to rearrange the Deaneries. (More about this in the January Notices.) How are the clergy reacting? Very mixed I think, some of us don’t like it because it’s that six letter word! And somehow   innate in us there’s a resistance to change! There is so!

Over the years hasn’t the Lord done some wonderful things at St. Mary’s and Holy Trinity? And He continues to do so. Some months ago Kerry Dixon brought us the challenge of ‘walking on a bridge whilst building it.!’ Scary! Very scary!

What to you are very important things in your life with particular reference to our 2 churches? They will most probably be good and treasured things. Perhaps things we do out of habit, without noticing, because we’ve always done it this way, always thought like this. Some things may have become sacred cows.

Read Mike’s revelation again, ask the Holy Spirit to speak clearly to your heart and to give you great grace. Let’s take it as the Head of the Church saying to us ‘here are new beginnings, have courage, be excited, enjoy what I have for you.’

A couple of quotes from Rowan Williams talk to us.

  •  ‘To be human is to keep growing.’
  •  ‘Pick up a method of execution and follow Jesus.’
  •  ‘ ..hardness of knowing our need of God’s grace.’ ‘
  •  ‘ ..growing into the riches of God.’
  •  ‘ . . to be secure enough to take risks.’
  •  ‘.. be deeply secure doing risky things.’
  •  ‘ have a blend of confidence and risk.’
  •  ‘ Look the worst in the face and prepare for a miracle.’

A reminder that the next Church Prayer Meeting will be held in Holy Trinity at 7.30pm on Wednesday 9th December. John and the choir/musicians will be rehearsing in the body of the church for the Carol Service.

Following up on Following and Fishing, have any of you any ideas on how to build on our Harvest witness? This with residents, traders or tourists. Please ‘talk among yourselves’ and let me know .

Let me gently say that when we are tempted to miss meeting together on a Sunday morning do your very best to resist and come to fellowship which, please Lord, is a place of love and warmth and healing and encouragement.   Of course there are times that we just can’t make fellowship.

Have a challenging Advent and a wonderful Christmas,