Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas vid

I was sent the below link today as a thank you for a small gift I made to Save The Children. It shows a beautiful baby who probably would have died without his mother having had support from the charity.

It's a happy moment and a poignant one. Of course, Jesus is not the only special baby to remember this time of year.

Please do add a gift to a charity to your list of presents to buy this year. Choose whichever charity you like or is easiest and don't feel guilty that you haven't given more, just please, make a gift somewhere it really counts.

God bless you all, merry Christmas, and a happy new year.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas Blues

I love Christmas. I expect most of you do too. Sometimes I think it's the only thing that keeps us going as we head full-speed into Winter! But do you ever get that niggling feeling around Christmas-time that something just isn't right?

I'm not talking about the commercialisation of Christmas (I could do, but who can argue with those coke adverts anyway?), I'm talking about that sinking feeling that maybe you're not quite as happy as you should be...

We do generally expect to be happy at Christmas. We're off work, we've spent a lot of time and money making everything festive and pleasant and we're looking forward to a celebration. But for whatever reason, that expectation or that pressure to 'be joyful' can sometimes get to you.

I wonder what your reasons might be for having that niggling, low feeling this year. Maybe it's the absence of a loved one, or having Christmas in a different place. Maybe it's that a few days of Christmas can't quite block out the difficulty in the rest of your life. Or maybe it's just the fact that as an adult, it's never quite as euphoric as you remember it in your childhood!

Really Christmas is a celebration of God coming to Earth. So if Christmas is difficult for you, then perhaps you can just pick out 1 or 2 things in all the Christmassy chaos as a reminder that, because you will always be loved by God, you still have hope and you can still carry on. A candle in the dark – a small but definite symbol of hope in dark times. Children enjoying their presents - a sure reminder that there is still happiness and innocence and good in life.

We believe there will always be hope and goodness in the world because Jesus came to Earth and his spirit is still with us, a spirit of good, if we care to listen to it. When life is hard, remember God, the one constant good, the one person who the world can never take away from you.

Even if everything else seems to offer small consolation or cheer at Christmas, the one hope you can depend on forever, is Christ.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thought Police

What are you thinking right now?

Whatever it is, is it any of my business? And can you help how you feel anyway?

In films and on TV we get told a lot, “You can't help how you feel,” particularly when it comes to falling in and out of love. But if that were true, why did Jesus make the following statement?

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5: 27-28).

Jesus seems to say, thinking about sinning is tantamount to actually doing it. Now, let me be careful here, some thoughts are very difficult to control, and not acting on sinful thoughts is better than acting on them! But what Jesus was saying was, sin starts in the mind, and we are not powerless to prevent it.

All too often we are saying to God ,“Lord, I feel like this... help me.” When perhaps we should be saying to ourselves, “Was this really inevitable? Do I need to be a bit more proactive in stopping this happening instead of just expecting God to take it away?”

  • “I'm feeling unsatisfied with my life,” (Spending too much time thinking about what other people have and you don't?)

  • “I'm feeling rebellious,” (Spending too much time wishing life was more exciting but never actually planning anything fun?)

  • “I'm feeling unsatisfied in my marriage,” (How many romantic movies/lingerie adverts/unrealistic sex scenes have you ingested in the last week? Now compare that to how much quality time you've spent just investing in your partner...)

These are just a couple of very simple examples, but there is an important principle at stake here. Sometimes we all have to analyse the causes of our feelings and consider prayerfully how we should address them.

Jesus goes on to say, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

He's deadly serious about not indulging the things that cause us to have sinful, wandering thoughts. Beware, sometimes (like our eyes), our unhelpful trains of thought are things we are fond of or have got comfortable with, things we didn't realise were leading us astray. They could be old memories, 'harmless' dreams, unfulfilled aspirations - stop hankering after a life you don't have and protect the one that you do.

Remember: Unhelpful feelings are natural in a fallen world, but it doesn't mean you can't recognise them, pray through them, cut them off at the root and be free of them.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Just Joseph?

Last Sunday I talked a little bit about Joseph ( Mary's Joseph) and the magnanimous way he decided to treat Mary after she turned up preggers, even before the angel of the Lord told him what was going on.

It was a difficult talk about properly forgiving people, but what I didn't have time to go into was how super Joseph was in respect of his relationship with God! I was reading the beginning of the book of Matthew and Matthew spends a lot of time pointing out how God is working, how God has paved the way and showing God's plans being fulfilled. It's all very clever.

Joseph was very involved in this. His obedience to God fulfilled many of God's plans, for example Jesus being born in Bethlehem and being exiled into Egypt (Matthew includes old testament references to these events prophesied hundreds of years before!)

God spoke to Joseph in dreams and Joseph took these things seriously. Where most men would probably have discarded their future wife for unfaithfulness, (as proven clearly by this week's episode of Merlin – sort it out Arthur!), Joseph's strong trust in God saved both he and Mary a lot of pain, maybe even saved Mary's life. Later Joseph's continuing faith and relationship with God would save Jesus' life, as Herod plotted to kill him.

A studious friend of mine also points out that Joseph sets Jesus up with a good trade that is locally renowned and he is also the father of at least two early church leaders (James and Jude).

Oh boy, what a guy! Gentleman, how's that for an example of Godly manhood? Ladies, do we even expect as much from ourselves as the little-celebrated Joseph did?

When was the last time someone said to you, “Oh, I'm not quite sure what to do here,” and you were able to say with certainty “I know the answer to that! I'll take responsibility for that decision! I've prayed it through and I'm at peace with God about it. I know what we have to do...”?
My blog is now available on our website.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Roars and in-laws: Getting away

Last week I took Sunday off and Chris and I went away for the weekend. After all there's nothing like being sicked on by a friend's baby, charged by a lion and hanging out with a large group of your in-laws to give you a relaxing break!

Actually all these things did happen, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a nice break! I'm really very fond of lions, babies and my in-laws, so we had a wonderful time.

We spent a relaxed Friday evening with some friends, hit the Woburn safari park hard on the Saturday and had a lovely Sunday lunch with Chris' family. Leaving did cause a little bit of havoc, as select members of my congregation will attest, but it didn't affect our Sunday service, which I hear went really well. Thanks to everyone who stepped in!

Sometimes it can be difficult to get away from your usual duties and responsibilities. But resting is really important (even God rested on the 7th day of creation!) Sometimes upping and going is the only way to properly stop working and rest.

Beyonce once tunefully told a man “Don't you ever for a second get to thinking you're irreplaceable!”.... Whilst I suspect there are only certain circumstances in which that line is useful and productive in your lovelife, I think it IS useful as a reminder that we CAN stop and rest. Are you really irreplaceable, just for a day or two? God can manage without you, life will go on. Even if your ministry stops for a week, even if you feel a bit guilty. You really are likely to be less useful to God and to others when you are run-down and shattered.

Consider this, a few more people get to use and develop their gifts if you hand over the reigns for a week. If you go with a partner or a friend a proper break is normally a really nourishing time for a relationship. And it doesn't have to be expensive either, borrow a tent or a room, take the mega bus for a pound, get a dinner deal from Top Table.com (no I'm not on commission...) Just take a rest sometime.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Don't let 'em get you down

Today I've been thinking about the problem of constantly being asked to prove yourself. It seems to be all around us. Pop stars are only as good as their last performance or their last haircut. Schools are only as good as their last Ofsted report. Businessmen are only as good as the profits they made last quarter.

Of course we know in our minds that this can't be right. These judgements are all a matter of opinion, and aren't representative of everything you are and do. But it can be very demoralising to be told that you “could do better” when you are trying hard. It is easier to criticise than recognise in our culture, especially when there are targets to be met.

We have so much unnecessary, unhelpful criticism in our lives, who do we go to to get a clearer picture of ourselves? Who can we trust to tell us what we're really worth?

The bible teaches us we are children of God, loved by Him. All the good things about you, God loves, God sees and He values. All the other stuff, the things you'd rather no one else knew about, He knows about but He loves you just the same.

Nobody else on this earth has the capacity to love you without ever letting you down. No human can ever be as reliable and as loving as God. Why not try taking your sense of self worth from Him? Then you can believe in all the good things about you and know that they are important, because even if no one else ever says so, God says they are.

God knows that you are (delete as applicable):

sporty/clever/caring/strong/cultured/attractive/domestic/generous/practical/trusting/patient/conscientious/hard-working/talented/gentle/outgoing/friendly/fun/musical/faithful etc etc

And He loves and appreciates that. You don't have to be good at everything, you don't have to better than everyone else, you only have to be you. You are known to God and you are special to Him, you are an individual and God loves you.

“We love, because He first loved us”. (1 John 4: 19)

Remember that, when you're up against it. God thinks you're brill. So you can believe it too!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Trusting Anyway

I preached a sermon recently on how the Israelites had an 11 day journey to get through in the wilderness, to start claiming their promised land. But they lost faith, and through their complaints and mistrust in God their 11 days of difficulty turned into 40 years of waiting.

So when things at church seem slow or difficult, I keep saying to myself “11 days, just 11 days”. I know it won't (in all likelihood) be literally 11 days until big changes occur, I don't even know if it is big, sudden change God has planned, but He is planning the growth of His kingdom. And God's plan is not slow, it is timely.

Someone said to me, it is like Noah waiting to come out of the ark. If it took 40 days for the rain to stop, why was Noah in there all year? He was getting on with the job in hand (taking care of the animals and his family), while elsewhere, God moved. Outside, drying the land, growing the trees in readiness, God was working in the background.

Let's review God's faithfulness recently at Bures: we have four youth outreaches and a coffee morning, which all continue to be well attended, we have a new ceiling and lights in the hall, we have a lovely band of faithful workers who tend the garden, work the admin, manage the sound equipment, clean and maintain the building, play the music week in week out, we regularly have folks turn out to worship God on a Sunday and God has faith in us to do more. Let's have faith in Him to do the same.

After all, it may turn out that we're at the afternoon of day 11, just about to start claiming some serious promised land. Or it might be that we're just be coming up to coffee break on day 1. We don't know. But we can survive, if we just remember to trust. Because real faith develops when it's most difficult to trust and you do it anyway.

You can check out past sermons on our website. The one mentioned above should be added soon.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Prayer Scare

Hands up if the words “prayer” and “meeting” too close together make you shudder. Guilty? You are not alone in this I suspect.

Why is it prayer has become more of a “yikes” than “wahoo” for people these days? Even for people who like to pray, a prayer meeting can sometimes feel like a laborious experience. It strikes me, perhaps we have fenced prayer in too much.

Let's think about it for a second:

In order to pray you don't have to be anywhere specific.
You don't have to have any qualifications.
You don't have to have time spare, you can do it on the go.
You don't have to have anybody with you, but you can if you like.
You don't have to do it out loud.
Nobody even has to know!
You don't have to feel any response from God to know that your prayer was valid.
It doesn't cost you anything.
You don't have to say anything particular.

Prayer is your ultimate flexible friend!

Some of the most important prayers for our church are said by folks at home, by themselves, at their convenience, because they have committed to pray regularly for a ministry. Their prayers are so important. When there are good discussions at Friday Club, when we meet new faces at toddler group, when we survive another night at youth club, we know it's because people are praying.

Let's face it. If you believe in an all powerful God, it's worth having a word with Him now and again.

We've all got room for improvement, so why don't we try just offering up once sentence to Him this week, “Lord, motivate me to pray”.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Will you do ANYTHING God asks you?

As a pastor, I tend to talk a lot about God's will. “Search for God's will”, “Ask for God's will to be done”, “Obey God's will”. I think sometimes people find this difficult. They say “I've asked what God wants, why won't He work things out for me? Why am I still in a mess?”

It can be heart breaking to keep asking the God you believe in to take control and improve a situation when things only seem to be getting worse.

If you are in this situation, ask yourself one question – what am I seeking God's will for? It is your finances? Your relationship? Your employment? Which part of your life is it that needs God's guidance and help?

Let me tell you, if you are localising your prayers for God's will in to any single part of your life, those prayers may never be answered.

God's will for your life is a grand scheme, it does not segment easily. You cannot make you own plans for one part of your life and ask for God's plans for other parts.

I have a scary truth for you today, either God has COMPLETE control of your life, or your life revolves around an idol. An idol is anything in your life which you put before God.

What does your life revolve around? Is it what you want, what your children or your partner wants or needs? Is it what you can buy or how much status you have? Is it just your safety and comfort?

What is the deciding factor in all your decisions? If it is not God, you cannot expect Him to dive in and sort out the mess you are in, you haven't given Him control of your life to do so.

Trust Him. It may be painful moving idols out of their place in the centre of your life, but you have to tell them “God comes first now. Whatever it takes. Whatever the cost to me.” God's plans are higher than your plans, they are plans for your good and the good of others. And whatever the cost to you, it will never compare to the cost Christ paid for you at the cross.

Give Him the right to do ANYTHING in your life. God will sustain you through it and you will be glad that you did.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Half term's a-coming!

This week I have been asked to change my blog titles to be more content orientated in case someone wanted to 'look back' at a previous blog and couldn't easily find the one they wanted. Duly astonished that someone might even consider doing this, but I do bow to superior wisdom.

It is the last week before half term. We have waved goodbye to the toddler group for a fortnight and we have despatched the harvest gifts to their respective charities. At the college where I used to work my former colleagues will be packing their suitcases and counting down the days, and employees of all other descriptions the world over will be snorting “Half what?” derisively.

Yes, my brain still thinks in terms. It's not that I have half terms off any more (or Summer. Or Christmas. Not even Christmas day actually....) it's more the result of being surrounded by youth ministries. But it has got me to thinking – this half of the term is a bit of a milestone! Hooray!

We did Harvest. A large undertaking. We started all the youth work again. It's going well. We have prayed and mulled and sang a lot. We have planned and dreamed and envisioned a lot. We've worked hard, and this is only the beginning! It's been a great half term working together for God, and I can't wait to see the view from the end of the next one. After all everything will be jingle-belled and candlelit by then. And I don't mind working Christmas day really. In fact I can't wait!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Minister Blog 12

Once a month we have an evening “praise and worship” service on a Sunday evening. They vary quite a lot in style, length and content because they are led by somebody new every time.

Last Sunday we had a particularly enjoyable one, led by Janet (thanks Janet!) She brought an evening of contemplating God's goodness, and asked in advance for people to bring contributions.

Personally I was blessed by how much thought people had put into what they were bringing. Encouraging stories, wonderful hymns, a lovely poem, answers to prayer. It was a brilliant example of the church as the body of Christ – each one played their part and God brought it all together in unity.

It wasn't a thunderous occasion, there were only a few of us present, but God has been reminding me that when one or two are gathered in His name He is there. I am very conscious that a lot of people are working hard for God in our church at the minute, and as they persist they hope for the things they have been promised, progress, growth, salvation.

In Romans 5 we read perseverance builds character and character, hope. They have hope because they persevere. So we mustn't forget to encourage and thank our fellow workers in the church – it may give them the extra boost they need to carry on persevering as they press on towards the goal.

Thank you all of you, who are working so hard, even though your progress may not be visible to you yet – God is working, beneath the surface. Keep going, you prove your faith, as you withstand the waiting.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Minister Blog 11

Anyone for a cat update?

This week Spartacus has been let out, allowed to roam free. The problem, we discovered at 8.30pm on Tuesday night, in the dark, is that while he is able to leap onto a bin and get over our fence, into the wide world, he is so small that there is no way for him to get BACK over the fence, should he choose to.

A bit of a night time rescue mission ensued and we now have made a little passage way through the bottom of the fence! But it got me thinking about committing yourself to something, and not being able to go back to what you knew before.

I think this can be a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes there are sins we leap into that are difficult to get out of , it's difficult to get back to who we were before they happened. But with Jesus there is always a way back. If we really want Jesus to help us out of sin, we must be prepared for it to be costly. You couldn't pull an arrow out of your side without it hurting, but once you'd done it, you could start to heal. It is the same with sin, you do what it takes to get rid of it, for the long-term, then things will start looking up.

Then there are good things we do in life that you don't come back the same from. Taking a 'leap of faith' (or a leap of fence...) can sometimes mean putting ourselves forward for a challenge that we really need to trust in God for. But if God has asked us to do it (perhaps through our prayer or our bible reading), then we can trust him to sustain us.

I'm not talking about silly risks, I'm talking about weighed up, prayed through, talked over, God-risks. Because in fact the safest place to be is 'risking' your own desires, because you're smack bang in the middle of God's will, doing what HE wants. Then you will start to find your desires becoming aligned with Christ's. And yes, you may find you've changed and grown, and you can't go back to how you used to be, but you'll also find it was a risk worth taking.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Minister Blog 10

This week I had to handwrite my blog first, while Chris was using the computer to research fridge/freezers. It has been the kind of morning when you have to park in strange places, blow dry your hair in the church office, when loo roll holders come off in your hand, the cat makes a mess, and the freezer blows up. Not to mention the fact that currently, if we flick on almost any of the switches in the kitchen, it short-circuits all of our downstairs electrics. Funny really, yesterday was a great day!

But that's life isn't it? Especially when you are a pastor. The bible tells us that Satan is the enemy of all God's good works. It may seem weird but as Christians we do believe in evil spiritual forces, just as we believe in good. Now I'm not necessarily blaming the devil for breaking off the loo roll holder, but I do think he wants to cause disruption in our lives when we are doing God's work. Big or little, we need to be prepared for his attacks.

I have heard amazing testimonies (sadly confidential!) this week of what God is doing in people's lives. I have seen hearts changed so radically in the last few days, that I almost haven't believed it possible. What the devil doesn't seem to understand is that it is not me changing lives, it is God. We're just here to help out. Attacking us is a desperate stab in the dark, because the devil cannot defeat our God. So, as Paul says in Philippians:

"Rejoice!...The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Minister Blog 9

Here is a youthwork update: There are kids. Lots of lovely kids. Everywhere!

Last Friday we had 3 clubs in one day. The after-school Friday club for 4-9s, the monthly Tweens club for 9-13s and the weekly youth club for 13-17s. It was brilliant! The school kids had a quiz and did craft, the tweens went swimming (for swimming read 'jumping in') and the youth club drank coffee and played games they were probably too old for. Fun!

It's particularly an honour for us in Friday club and in Tweens that we have the opportunity to teach the kids about Jesus, a tradition which is upheld throughout their life at Bures Primary School too. I have been there a couple of times now, getting to know the ropes.

Anyway, thumbs up to all our youth leaders who had given their all by closing time on Friday (10.50pm for some of us!) particularly those who doubled up on more than one club.

We also had some delightful young visitors with us on Sunday for our morning service, and we have had a few more parents, carers and 'little-uns' come along to Footprints toddler group these last two weeks too. God bless all these gorgeous kids! We are very blessed to work with them all.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Minister Blog 8

I have started my theology studies this week. It is just an access module from home but nonetheless it has some interesting reading and questions. However I do find I am overcompensating massively in my responses to simple tasks. Let me give you an example.

Where the question was “who are the people for whom the author is writing?” (about a book on the New Testament), I skimmed through the preface and concluded thusly:

“Thoughtful Christians” [his term] those without formal training but with a desire for deeper Christian knowledge like trained ministers have.

The guide answers looked at the book's title and concluded: it's aimed at Christians.

When asked to consider Psalm 23 I formulated an in-depth poetry analysis, with comments on the use of repeated pronouns, imagery, declaratives and the three-stanza progressive structure. The guide answers theorised, “David was a shepherd, so he wrote about sheep”.

Nonetheless my enthusiasm remains unabated, and I have to say, there were definitely parts of the guide answers that I hadn't considered myself, in my whirlwind of literary fervour, so I am definitely learning! The real blessing of study at the minute is how faithful God is being in piecing together the “story” of God's people in my mind. The bible has so much to give, philosophy, history, comfort and centrally salvation. So for me, it's a real joy to journey deeper into it, with the living God by my side, speaking to me as I do so.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Minister Blog 7

September arrived with a bang! Lots of people at church on Sunday – thanks everyone, it was great to see you! After the service the room was buzzing with activity, everywhere you looked youth leaders were checking over lists, duelling diaries, sorting rotas. Genuinely, it was lovely to see.

I have been very encouraged this week already and it's only Tuesday! Parents back at Footprints (toddler group), people taking up the 2 week bible reading challenge and loving hearing from God, deacons mulling over plans for expanding ministries, it's all exciting.

I love the idea that while God has already put so much in place (and we certainly have enough going on to keep us busy in term time!), He's not done with us yet. I am convinced we have more we can do with our ministries and more ministries we can start – not because I'm ambitious, but because God has laid it on our hearts.

The what and the when are the interesting questions. Ask God and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Minister Blog 6

As I come to round up the events of this week since last Tuesday, I have to say I am finding it difficult to think what to say other than we got a kitten on Friday! I've never had a cat before (or anything bigger than a rather vicious rabbit) so I'm very excited and much of my thoughts this weekend have been about him. He's called Spartacus and as with most cats, I suspect I am thinking about him more than he is thinking about me.

And yes, it dawns on me now that I am going to compare my relationship with Spartacus to that of God's with humanity. God is thinking about us a lot more than we are thinking about Him. God's thoughts, we are told in Isaiah, are “higher” than our thoughts and in the Psalms we are told “they cannot be numbered”. Perhaps just as I am musing and worrying about and planning for and adoring the cat, while his concern is almost solely for his ping-pong ball, so perhaps God is musing and worrying about, planning for and adoring us, while we wander around absorbed in concerns of our own.

Of course God has a bigger perspective, we see in part, what God sees in full. I don't mind that. I am more than happy for God to be in charge, to be the one with the knowledge and the know-how. Spartacus' ping-pong ball is constantly stuck under the TV, he doesn't know to ask me to help, he just mews a lot and looks sad (I think). We KNOW to ask God for help, we just need to be smart enough to actually do it.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Minister Blog 5

So here we are creeping near to the end of August 2011. The rain has returned and I've heard a few people already lamenting that the summer is nearly over. We may yet have an Indian summer, but at some point the long evenings will draw in, the barbecues will finish and my resolve to do more exercise outside will drift quietly away into hot mugs of tea and snug jumpers.

Definitely too early to look forward to Christmas, I'm told. But there are plenty of new excitements just around the corner in this coming academic year! Our children's work is back, our lovely youth and children's workers have had a well-deserved break and are now gearing up ready for more fun in September, I'm starting some theology training, and will also be visiting the local school, and who knows what other new ventures God might be planning?

So as the kids enjoy their last few days watching Total Wipeout and keeping the biscuit tin clear, I think it's probably time to thank God for all the blessings of summer, roll up our sleeves and get ready show Him just how much we can do this academic year, with His strength in us.

Pastor Cath

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Minister Blog 4

Another exciting week last week. Lots of prayers answered. Resources both material and human have started to turn up in wonderful ways.

In the youth work area we have prayed for help from the our sister Anglican church – and it turned up unprovoked, qualified and excited! I also prayed for someone with a heart for 9-13 year olds and some one turned up with exactly that. We prayed for more young people at youth club and two new faces arrived. I'm not sure we even prayed for finance and that turned up – what a blessing! We prayed for more male help, that arrived, I prayed for help with a tricky issue I was facing, that went smoothly. I could go on!

It's such an honour and a pleasure when God shows you the way He's going and lets you participate. So many 'coincidences' seem to affirm his guiding at the minute. Our deacons meetings are turning into a series of “I was just reading this in the bible” “Oh, so was I” or “I've been thinking about this, this week”, “so have I!!” It is amazing to see God moving.

I think from the view of pastor you have your fingers in every kind of pie and you are privileged to see more of the big picture, so it's good to be able to share some of these things with you here.

If anyone else has testimony of prayers answered for sharing – let me know!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Blog 3 26/07/11

Dear blog readers,

An exciting week this week, we have been preparing for the opening of our new summer youthclub (for “preparing” read making posters, chatting over tea and trying out the pool table/xbox etc). Actually, quite a lot of hard work has gone into it to, but I'm finding it an enjoyable project and I think my co-workers are too. We've felt prayerfully that it was the right thing to do, so this Friday, hopefully we'll have some 14-17 year-olds along to try it out!

Something else I'm enjoying is the weekly meetings we've started having as deacons. We start our weeks with breakfast together on a Monday morning and we seek God's guidance for the church, praying and bible studying together. We've only had two so far and we plan to carry on for eight weeks, but already God has been speaking and helping us to plan. Great people, exciting mission and, to top it off, the countryside here is absolutely beautiful too! (Check out our developing website if you don't believe me – www.buresbaptistchurch.org) Dibley eat your heart out.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Week 2

Having decided and publicised with much certainty that Friday would be my blog day, I now have to admit, in my very first week my new routine failed me and I am here on Monday of week four penitently adding a blog I wrote two weeks ago! Apparently church ministry is a bit busy...

Week 2

The week so far: this morning I was at a coffee morning with some of the charming older folks talking car adverts, preserves and and broken bones. This afternoon I went to a strawberry tea raising money for Breast Cancer. I am also working at a rate of at least one BBQ per week, and two kids events (obviously with biscuits). Someone today told me they had put on two stone since they had moved into the village. I'm not sure they were joking.

It felt like a good service on Sunday, we compared Jesus to Pilate and considered how following Christ can sometime means looking bad, suffering and having your life disrupted (unlike Pilate who tried to avoid all these things). Sounds depressing, but the point is God gave Jesus strength to go through it and he does the same for us! So not so depressing really.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Week 1 (w/c 20/06/2011)

It is Friday (which I have decided will be 'Minister blog day', since I'm part time...) and by Sunday I will be the minister of Bures Baptist Church. This has puzzled many people, not least myself, since I have yet to undertake any training! However I am certain after many months of praying that this is the right thing and many wise and faithful people seem to agree. Sweet.

This week I have been preparing the service for this Sunday and mulling over the order of service for my induction in two weeks time. I am preaching on Zechariah and the rebuilding of the temple – a message of hope for our small church too, as we set out to build it up together.

I've learnt a lot looking at this period in Jewish history, flicking furiously back and forth through the old testament trying to pin down the bizarre chronology. I have been reminded how spookily accurate Jeremiah was when years before he predicted 70 years of exile for the Jews. Sometimes I think it's strangely easy to forget how supernatural God is. And yet, it DOES explain how I will miraculously have a congregation to look after in two days time...