Wholeness & Healing


Billy Graham said “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will have just changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God”.

Well Billy Graham, one of the world’s greatest evangelists who has brought many many many people to a living faith in Jesus Christ and has preached to more people than anyone else in history, changed his address on Wednesday, to live more fully in God’s presence and start a new life with him that continues that faith journey and promise of everlasting life in Christ.

In his last mission in 2005 Billy Graham proclaimed:

“I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Saviour, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins,”

One of his most memorable quotes for me was very simple. “You can’t change your past, but Christ can change your past”. You see in Christ the sins of the past that we bring to him are forgiven and the penalty paid by him on the cross, so that we are clothed in Christ, we are hidden in Christ. Christ is in us and we are in him. We live new lives in him. It is an amazing love story of God for people. As Justin Welby said when he was talking about the revelations of who his Father had turned out to be, “I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes”.


Billy Graham changed his address at the age of 99 to be more fully in God’s presence and at the age of 99, Abram (Genesis 17.1-7,15,16) sat in God’s presence as God came to him and told him “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my promises between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting promise, to be God to you and to your offspring after you”. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham meaning the ‘Father of a multitude’ and he changed Abraham’s wife’s name to Sarah saying ‘I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’ In return Abraham was asked to be blameless and to be faithful in every way to the Lord God. It is an incredible story of new life that is blessed by God and age has no limits when it comes to serving our Lord

The point that Paul makes in his letter to the Romans (Romans 4.13-25) is that God’s promises to Abraham are not just for the Jewish people who are righteous or right with God, but for all nations and for all people who are made right with God through the sacrifice on the cross of God’s son Jesus Christ. There are echoes of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac, a gift from God, as a test of his faithfulness to God’s commands. Abraham is saved from carrying out this command, but God gives his only son in sacrifice for us so that his promises to bring all people and all nations to him are met. All can know God’s love for them through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our past sins and faults so that through faith we can know him as our Lord and our Saviour and become right with God through faith in his resurrection. A living faith and presence of Christ in our lives.


Imagine then how hard it was for Jesus to turn towards Jerusalem where he would go to meet this horrific and painful death on a cross (Mark 8.31-38). This wasn’t a change of address for Jesus, this was actual death, a separation from God his Father, an experience of hell, a blackness and a darkness that is intolerable until his Father rescues him and raises him to new life so that all that follow Christ in their hearts will not know that death but will know this change of address like Billy Graham.

Imagine how hard it was for Jesus to hear those words from Peter, which Matthew’s Gospel tells us, ‘God forbid it Lord! This must never happen to you’. No wonder Jesus turns to him and says ‘Get behind me Satan, for you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things’. Without this journey of Jesus to the cross we would not know God’s love for each one of us, we would be separated from it. Death would be death not a change of address.

But we are a lot like Peter aren’t we? We do set our mind on human things and not on divine things. We get lost in the melee of life. Thank goodness we can get to Church and have an hour and a bit focusing on the divine!

Hectic life

In the melee of life, there is a living to make, a home to keep, a garden to look after, children to be cared for, exams to be passed, food to cook, traffic to deal with, illnesses to be coped with, health to be taken care of, ageing to come to terms with, families to deal with, arguments to settle, trauma around the world and life to be led. Aren’t these human things? Well yes, until we see Christ in them and ask him to be part of them.

Paul’s words to the Church in Corinth tells us about the divine in the human. “Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers--all things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”

In Jesus there is reconciliation, there is wholeness and healing for all Creation. Sometimes in our journey of faith in Christ, we need reminding that through our faith in Christ, God is present in our human circumstances. I have often appreciated the prayers of others for me when life’s circumstances become difficult, or I have decisions and choices to make, or I am ill, or concerned about a family member, in my anxiety I can lose the connection with God and I need someone to pray for me in Jesus name, on my behalf.

Sometimes all it needs is someone with a gift to pray for healing, to listen and to care and to show compassion and to bring prayers on my behalf to God in Jesus Name. Sometimes it might be that there is a prophetic word to give to me, that God actually wants to encourage me or to say something to me and I need someone to facilitate this for me in Jesus name.


Prayers for Wholeness and Healing are about the divine in the human, they are about our relationship with God, they are about our spiritual and physical needs, they are about our need for peace in the midst of anxieties, they are about us seeing the divine in the human.

I am delighted to announce today that we are launching a prayer team who will be present in our 10am Communion services to listen to us and to pray for us in Jesus name. This prayer does not take away any prayer that you would like from the Clergy.

Paul tells us that “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” It is into our human lives that the divine grace is given to us, even in suffering and sometimes we need help and to be prayed for.

Our prayer team have themselves been examining in front of God their calling to pray for others in a confidential, unconditional, non-judgemental and compassionate way and they have undertaken a course on Wholeness and Healing Prayer and also a course on Safeguarding from the Diocese. 

Billy Graham’s words are worth repeating. “I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Saviour, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins,” Amen

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New Wine, new life!

Big Conversation

Well Bishop Martyn’s 3 day mission to Broom Leys and Coalville is over! It was an exciting time and thank you to everyone who took part and helped and who came to the events. The 3 day mission was called, of course, Bishop Martyn’s Big Conversations because we were opening up conversations to talk about life and faith, about God and our world, about heaven and hell. Having these conversations is important because we no longer live in Christendom when it was expected that all would come to Church in a Christian nation, today many will make a decision about their worldview and their life style and the options they will choose in life. So it was really good I thought that the Bishop was a likeable and approachable Christian person with energy and the ability to answer many questions quickly and sharply with integrity and honesty.

There were many highlights during the 3 days, but some that stuck out for me were the amazing number of young families that came to our family fun get-together on Saturday. There were over a 100 people who came and we were overflowing! The prayer breakfast at Wetherspoons was interesting in that the breakfast was really good and good value and the conversation amongst those who were there was vibrant and caused a bit of a buzz in the restaurant and the Bishop was able to talk to a few people about their lives, some of which were quite moving as people talked about their loneliness. Then of course the time in Castle Rock with groups of 20-30 youngsters asking questions, which Neil, our Curate, had put so much hard work into preparing, was I think really good and wonderful of Castle Rock to open up the school in such a way to all 600 students to talk about faith and life.

I thought it would be good to share you with you some of the young people’s questions and you can think how you would answer them.
• Is God real? If so where is the evidence?
• Is hell real or not?
• Who decides whether you go into heaven or hell?
• Is the Creation of the World True?
• Why is there pain if God created the world?
• Why does God let us hate people when we should love them?

They are all really good questions and I wonder how you would answer them? – Perhaps you would say go and talk to the Vicar?

In all the questions we ask though there is a perspective on life behind it, there is a worldview behind them. To answer some questions actually means changing a person’s view on life and the world, that they may have grown up with or educated with.

Creation & Evolution

For instance, is the creation of the world true? Well you only have to look around to see that it is – it is a created place, so yes it is true. But the question comes more from the debate that schools and society have entered into on the creation of the whole world in six days as stated in Genesis versus the evolution of the world over millions of years. The premise of the questions is from a worldview that is flawed. The Bible talks about God creating a world for human beings because he delights in us and wants us to know his love and how special we are to him and how valued each individual is to him. It explains the evil that gets in the way of knowing God’s love and separating us from him. Six days can also be translated from the original Hebrew as six ages. Evolution on the other hand is a scientific theory to try and explain what is happening in our world and where we have come from and how we are developing. In both of these God is very much present and not absent at all.

It’s like the debate on science and religion which is put forward as though they are different. Science is out to disprove that God exists whereas religion is out to prove he does exists. The premise of the debate is wrong, the worldview it comes from is incorrect. If you have a view that God doesn’t exist then you will set out to use science to prove that case, if you have a view that God does exist then you will see so much in science that shows God at work, not least to see that our world is special and uniquely positioned from the Sun for life to exist. There are many scientists who carry out their work from a Christian viewpoint.

You would have heard the story of the scientist who came to God and said, “We’ve figured out how to make a man without you.”
God said, “OK, let me see you do it.”
So the scientist bent down to the ground and scooped up a handful of dirt. But God stopped him and said, “Oh, no you don’t. You get your own dirt!”

Our view then determines how we answer questions about God. Why is there pain and suffering if God created the World? Immediately we are assuming that if God is in something then there shouldn’t be any pain or suffering, yet actually there is much pain and suffering on Jesus journey to the cross, there is much grief in Jesus when he sees the world suffer and it is actually at these times that he comes very close.


100 years ago, when medical science wasn’t so much advanced, people lived in the knowledge that they would die. Death was part of life. But we have built our culture today to expect suffering to be fixed and pain to be solved and death to be put off as long as possible, so much so that when tragedy occurs we have to question if God exists because if he did then tragedy wouldn’t exist, but that isn’t scriptural at all. Our worldview has changed.

In actual fact death is part of life and God through Jesus Christ is very much part of this, in fact so much so that he brings us to new life in Christ, our identity is in Christ and eternal life is in Christ. Our God is a God of the living not the dead. Out of pain and sadness comes treasures in Christ, the dying process is a deeply deeply spiritual experience where Christ is with us taking us onto to a new life with him. Often we can’t have this without pain.

I remember being with a parishioner and her husband during her terminal illness, we had some immensely spiritual moments with Christ. I have sat with another m,emeberr of our congregation in her pain and known an immensely close healing presence of the Holy Spirit. I was compelled by God’s Holy Spirit to see a man in his illness. Central to Christ’s mission is not merely deliverance from sin but the provision of a state of wholeness and blessedness in which a person realizes the purpose of God for them. Jesus ministry was to those who were in need so that they could know this renewed wholeness in their lives, not just physical, but spiritual and emotional and in relationship with God.

forgivenessWhy does God let us hate people when we should love them? There is a premise and worldview behind that question, assuming that God will take control of everything for us and that we have nothing to be blamed for. Well Jesus teaches us how to forgive because we have been forgiven and how to love even those we hate. He doesn’t allow us to hate he shows US how to overcome the sin of hate in our lives.

Our questions then are dependent on our worldview.

Jesus talks to this in our passages this evening. (Mark 2:18-22 & Acts 2:1-13). No one will take a piece of cloth that hasn’t been washed and shrunk and uses it to mend an old cloak because once it is washed it will shrink and tear the cloak. No one will put new wine that is potent and lively, into already stretched old wineskins, because it will break the wine skins. The new that Jesus is bringing to us doesn’t’ fit with the old viewpoints and worldviews, it is something totally different and you can’t understand what Jesus is doing if you stick to the old views. On the day of Pentecost God did something new. He filled those who would believe in his son Jesus Christ with God’s Holy Spirit and gifted them for God’s work and purposes in this life. They became excited and they challenged the old views on the world as Jesus challenges the world today. You will never know God’s Holy Spirit if you never know Jesus Christ as God’s son and that means that you have to make a conscious decision in faith to believe, the decision is ours to make, not God’s to make on our behalf. Jesus challenges the worldviews that we might have inherited and been taught and in answering questions about life and faith, we too challenge those old worldviews.

At our Churches Together Prayer Morning yesterday we heard many stories of the new wine in our communities, the people praying at Christ Church, the Youth Worker here at St David’s, the 80 young people that Heartland Youth for Christ come into contact with, the new Pastor at GCC and the new Vicar at Christ Church and all were enthusiastic about the new confidence that the Bishop’s Mission has brought to us and the realisation of the strong relationships and regard that the Church, especially this Church, is held in our community and the hunger to know something new and different.

The Spirit is moving and doing something new let us follow and be faithful and tell our story, but let us beware of being drawn into the old worldviews and old viewpoints that many questions are asked out of. The new wine will not fit into old wineskins it will burst them. Amen

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Who are you Jesus?

who-is-jesus-4x3-1024x768During the last few months at Evening Praise we have been looking at the Miracles and Healing conducted by Jesus in his Ministry. There have been miracles that have defied nature, science and logic. Turning Water into Wine, feeding 5000 men and women and children, walking on water and calming the storm. There have been miracles that bring life back to people who are suffering. Healing the cripple, the lepers, restoring the sight of Bartimaeus, healing an official’s son and a centurion’s servant. In all of these Miracles there has been an amazement at who Jesus is, there has been a demonstration of his compassion, there has been signs of the kingdom of God and an expression of faith in who Jesus is, God’s son, God on earth, Emmanuel, God with us. Many came to faith in Jesus and through the miracles and the healing he conducted, Jesus touched lives and through touching lives he healed the brokenness.

For some, like Peter, (Mark 1:14-19) they followed Jesus and stood as observers of all that was miraculous in his ministry. Ordinary fishermen, with families, hardworking people running their own family businesses and yet they become disciples, chosen by Jesus to follow him and told by him that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It is through discipleship that others will come to know of the goodness of God’s love for them and that God’s kingdom will come amongst us.

Peter changes from the small time fisherman to an incredible missional man full of God’s Holy Spirit, full of the spirit of Jesus within him and he speaks powerfully in Jesus name as thousands were baptised on the day of Pentecost and Peter is able to be a channel for the Holy Spirit to work through him.

peter and the lame manIn the Acts of the Apostles they know the awe and the wonder of God amongst them and Peter and John find themselves going up to the temple to pray at a place called the Beautiful Gate and there they find a man lame from birth asking for charity to survive in life and Peter says to him “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And the man walked. There is a compassion in Peter and a love for the man that means he offers him what he has, the power of prayer in Jesus name.

Do we, I wonder, know that compassion and love for others that only comes from God. It is a love that is non-judgemental and totally unselfish, it sees the person as God would see them, in all wholeness, not as people might see them and there is a desire for God through Jesus Christ to work in their lives? If you know that compassion and that calling you may be called to pray for wholeness and healing for others.

Peter’s journey with Jesus wasn’t without healing itself for him. He experienced the most powerful working of God in his life, the compassion of forgiveness from God himself, paid for by his son’s life, so that Peter may know that new and transformed life coming out of brokenness to fulfil a new role for Jesus Christ himself, to tend his sheep and feed his lambs and we see Peter speaking powerfully and praying God’s healing into the lame man’s life.

Imagine the scene right at the beginning of Peter’s journey with Jesus, he is a bit of a rebel, a hot head, unhappy about the state of the country, working hard at his fishing business, worried about the future of his family and looking for something better. He encounters Jesus through his brother Andrew, someone who was following the prophet John the Baptist, a fiery man of God, preparing the way for God’s Messiah, his anointed King who would change everything. John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to Andrew and Andrew brought Peter to him as the promised Messiah.

fishers-of-men1It wasn’t then with any surprise that Jesus should pass by the family fishing boats where Peter and Andrew where casting a net into the sea and call out to them to follow him, so they could be fishers of men. Given the brothers desire to change the world around them being fishers of men probably meant to them that they would catch and kill their oppressors under this new King from God who had arrived, just like King David had in years gone by. But they experienced something far more powerful, the compassion and forgiveness and healing of God that transforms lives.

Peter observed the miracles, Peter heard the teaching about God’s kingdom and how we should treat God and one another, Peter proclaimed that Jesus was God’s son, Peter witnessed God coming to Jesus in the transfiguration on the mountainside, he saw him come into Jerusalem in triumph and he saw him being arrested and executed on a cross.

Peter Denies JesusImagine the scene right towards the end of Peter’s journey with Jesus, around a charcoal fire where Peter tries to keep warm in the courtyard of the high priest next to the building where Jesus is being questioned about his teaching and who his disciples were. Peter is asked if he is one of Jesus disciples and Peter denies knowing Jesus at all in his hour of need, actually just as Jesus had predicted. How do you come back from that? You have denied God and seen him sent to his death on a cross without doing anything about it?

But the miracles don’t stop with Jesus on the cross, they continue with the miracle of the resurrection, the penalty for the world’s sins is paid by God himself on the cross and Jesus is resurrected and comes to Peter not in judgement but to gently bring him forgiveness, full of compassion and love, to mend a broken man.

Imagine the scene, Peter is broken, his world has collapsed around him and he is back with his family. He goes out fishing with his brother, a reminder of the first time he met Jesus, but instead of elation at the future and all it holds, there is misery and in that misery they can’t even catch any fish, never mind men. (John 21:1-14)

Then to cap it all there is that smell of a charcoal fire, bringing back all those painful memories of Peter’s denial of Jesus, the smell and the lack of fish bring about pain that is unbearable and in that pain as the light breaks through the darkness a voice calls ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat and you will find fish’.

Jesus and the charcoalThe resurrected Jesus doesn’t tell Peter off, he doesn’t judge him, he only shows him compassion and love. He invites him to bring some of the fish, even though Jesus has fish, and he cooks for him and he feeds him and he forgives him. The smell of fish and the smell of charcoal burning, are no longer painful memories, they are ones of joy and Peter is healed and transformed and becomes the person that Jesus always knew he would be.

prayer-partners-1343236998I have sat with people in utter brokenness, where tears have been shed and desperation has set. It is at these times that the person doesn’t know how to pray, they become separated from God and yet by praying for them in compassion and in unselfishness we allow God in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit to do his work and I have seen total transformations as God comes near and God heals not always in the way we think he might.

It is through being prayed for that we too come to know God’s presence through Christ in our lives and we don’t know how that will work out, except that God will be in our brokenness bringing his compassion and love and transformation and healing.
Why don’t we turn to our neighbour and simply ask what we can pray for them and then in Jesus name out loud or silently pray for them. Amen


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The Mountain Top Experience

Finding Glory in Brokenness

There is a phrase that is sometimes used called ‘the mountain top experience’  and it aims to describe a powerful Christian encounter with God. Scripture has many Mountain Top Experiences.

Abraham showed his faith to God by being prepared to sacrifice his son on a mountain top, now believed to be where Jerusalem is built.

Moses receive the 10 commandments from God on a mountain top.

Elijah met with God on Mount Carmel.

Jesus starts his earthly ministry being tempted by the Devil on a mountain top and he ascends into heaven at the end of his earthly ministry from a mountain top.

Being on a Mountain top can bring another view of our world as you look down onto the world below. Asturias 2

Last year my wife & I where fortunate enough to visit Northern Spain, to a place called Asturias, full of Mountains. We travelled up the mountain side by bus getting higher and higher until we moved above the clouds to look down onto mountains poking up through the clouds, it was glorious and on top of this mountain was a beautiful lake surrounded by snow topped mountains and cows grazing. It was really beautiful and you felt as though you were on top of the world.Asturias 1

Another experience was to have some photographs given to us by the steeple jacks who came to make the Church Tower safe. The views from the Tower showed how incredibly green it is in the place where we live. Greenhill Road lives up to its name. What a different view we get from a higher place.Church Tower

I was fortunate enough to go up onto Mount Tabor, south of the sea of Galilee, up the mountain reputed to be the Mount of the Transfiguration, this is what I wrote at the end of the day.

“We finished the day with a visit to Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration took place. The Mountain is very high and we had to get mini buses to take us up there as the road is very windy. Jesus and the disciples must have been very fit and taken a long time to get up the mountain, which was the highest in the region. A Church had been built at the top and it was possible to reflect in the small downstairs chapel and to reflect outside by selecting a quiet spot overlooking the terrain. I can understand in this place the physical presence of God, Moses and Elijah being at the top of this mountain, almost in the clouds”. There is a Glory about being on a mountain top looking at the world in a different way.

Jesus walks up Mount Tabor for many hours, perhaps even days until, with Peter, James and John, he reaches the top, not to see the glorious view but to be glorified himself and Peter, James and John see him in a very different way. Peter later writes “For Jesus received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.”. It would seem to be a pinnacle in Jesus ministry.

Mount Tabor

The Transfiguration is written about in Matthew, Mark & Luke, the synoptic Gospels and it marks a turning point in Jesus ministry. In the first half of his ministry he is teaching about God’s kingdom, about God’s love for his people, about how to live a Godly life, about turning away from sins and receiving forgiveness and being free to start a new life in God. He shows his authority and who he is ‘God on earth’ through miracles of healing and driving out demons and confronting evil. This part of his ministry culminates in Peter declaring to Jesus “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” and Jesus declares that he is turning to Jerusalem to face his destiny where he must “undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” to pay for the sins of the world, to replace the judgement we would receive and to bring us into an intimate living relationship with God, if we seek this.

To mark this change, Jesus walks up the mountain and meets with the heavenly figures of Moses and Elijah representing the law and the prophets. It is Jesus Mountain top experience, but this isn’t to be the pinnacle of his achievements, this mountain top experience is to prepare him for the final journey, the final Exodus. In the first Exodus, Moses led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, Jesus will lead the final Exodus, taking all God’s people out of the slavery of sin and death, out of brokenness, to the new Promised Land, redeemed to God himself bought by the death of Jesus, no wonder his Father says ‘This is my Son, the chosen, listen to him’. Jesus is glorified between Moses and Elijah and the disciples see Jesus in his heavenly glory, the divine person bringing the kingdom of God to our world. There are links to Easter morning where the disciples encounter the empty tomb that confirms all that Jesus has been telling them, there are links to the ascension of Jesus into heaven to be glorified and sit at God’s right hand. There is the anticipation of Jesus coming again in glory to bring the whole world under his judgement. The Transfiguration is linking all that has been prophesied such as that in Daniel and all that will be such as Peter writes about as a witness to the glory of God in Jesus. It all becomes together in Jesus at his Transfiguration, but his glory is not the pinnacle of his ministry.


As he is glorified standing between Moses and Elijah we have a glimpse of the brokenness he is about to enter as he is nailed to a cross between two criminals.

In his glory Jesus descends the mountain top into the brokenness of the world healing the demon possessed boy,  confronting the sin in the Temple, encountering the aggression against him, teaching about God’s love and how we should live and then submitting to arrest, torture and execution as he is broken on the cross for us, so that our sins are taken onto him.

Jesus in his Glory, the Son of God, God on earth, immerses himself in the brokenness of our world and then becomes broken himself for the broken.

Last week I prayed with people unfamiliar in so many ways with who Jesus Christ is as they grieved in brokenness the loss of a family member and friend and Christ came and gave them strength and peace and hope to live their lives. Last week I prayed with someone who is experiencing great sickness and the Holy Spirit came in such a powerful way in this brokenness showing Christ’s love and presence to give peace and strength and hope. Last week I was with someone who sought to put their total trust in Christ for their life ahead and to know peace and strength and hope.Prayer1

Christ in his Glory doesn’t separate himself but enters the brokenness of humanity and becomes broken himself so that we in our brokenness can know his Glory and know his peace and strength and hope in our lives. It is through Christ in his glory entering our brokenness that we can come together as a Church and enjoy the Summer Fair and welcome others to experience the joy and peace of Christ’s presence.

Do we deserve this pouring out of God’s love to heal us? Are we worthy of this sacrifice of God on our behalf to mend our brokenness? Are we thankful and grateful for what he has done for us, even in suffering and especially in joy?

We cannot possibly be worthy enough or thankful enough or deserving enough for God’s grace, but Christ allows us in our brokenness to enter his glory, because in his glory he has entered our brokenness and become broken himself for us.

Our Mountain Top experience is to come to seek to know Christ in our brokenness and to receive his healing and his glory and to be transformed.

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Unity in the Church?

Dwelling in Christ together

A talk from our Joint Church Service

It is a really good to come together for worship and these times I think are important as God’s family, the Church.FishermenYou may have heard the story of a Roman Catholic, a Methodist, a Baptist, and an Anglican who were all out fishing together on an ecumenical fishing trip. They got into a discussion on what denomination Jesus would be. The Roman Catholic said that there was no doubt he would be part of the Mother Church. The Anglican said, “No, no. When you consider all that Martin Luther did for the Christian faith, there is no question he would unite with the Reformed tradition.” The Methodist said, “Well maybe but when you also consider all that John and Charles Wesley did for the Christian faith, there is no question he would unite with the Methodist conviction. The Baptist looked perplexed for a few minutes and then said wisely, “Dear Friends, I am pretty sure that Jesus isn’t going to change!”

Our Church has been split and divided many times over the years. I once met someone who was part of a Church that I hadn’t come across before and when I expressed surprise that I hadn’t met them at any of the Churches Together events they expressed reservations about contaminating themselves with Churches who didn’t have the same doctrine as they did. This did take me aback somewhat.

Brokenness and division is so much part of our world and our country. We perhaps wonder what is happening with political divides and changes, communities expressing so much discontent on the way that people are treated, aggression against a western way of life from faith groups, religion and God’s name being used to promote evil, the ever increasing gap between rich and poor and I can’t help but think of Paul’s letter to the Romans (8:22-23) where he says “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies”. Creation was groaning in Paul’s time and is groaning now. The Church of England is currently groaning under the debates on the Church and human sexuality and the use of Facebook and social media seems to be aimed at promoting divisions and exchanging insults rather than civilised and reasoned debate based upon scripture and the Holy Spirit.

Yet… We, Christians on the street, are gathered here today to worship our saviour Jesus Christ together and to respond I think to that incredibly prayer of Jesus which we can read in the Gospel of John that brings unity out of brokenness. (John 17:20-26)


Jesus farewell prayer isn’t made on a sickbed but at the end of the Last Supper shared between his disciples to commemorate the Passover. It is made as Jesus goes out of Jerusalem to face his destiny, across the Kidron Valley up the Mount of Olives and into the Garden of Gethsemane. It is made as he prepares to meet his betrayer. It is made as he is prepared to let go of all control over his life and to suffer and be executed. It is made as he in all his wholeness and fullness of life in God, enters the brokenness and division of humanity.

Mount of Olives

Incredibly, Jesus prays for you and me. He prays for unity and not division, but what does that unity mean? Primarily Jesus is praying that you and I and those who come to believe in him and follow him, know the redeeming and saving work of God in the world and that we are part of it. This work is redeeming the broken relationship of you and me to one of unity with God, in the Trinity.

God the Father sends out his love to the world and it becomes reality in Jesus Christ, his son who mends the broken relationship that we have with God and who would then send us the person of the Holy Spirit to equip us to grow deeper into this love and to bring this love to the world. In fact Jesus prays that as God the Father has an intimate relationship with his son Jesus Christ and his son Jesus Christ has an intimate relationship with God the Father, so may we also know the SAME relationship, that we may call God the Father, our Father and that we may call Jesus Christ his son, our brother. He prays that we may know that he is exalted by God our Father so that we may know his love for the World and that we may also partake in loving service to the world.

This is why Jesus prays that we may know the love of the Father and the Son and that we may exchange that love between ourselves in unity, not division. Once we are able to know and exchange the love of God, in the Trinity, between ourselves, the world will see we are loved by God and want to be part of the redeeming and saving work of God, the Trinity in our world.


This unity, God’s unity through his love, transcends all human efforts in reconciling the conflicting interests of people, including those of Christians, in our endeavours to harmonise our own interests.

It is so wonderful, I think, to be able to come into any Church around the world and receive the love of God shared between Christians, no matter our denomination, culture, tradition, social norms, political persuasion, background or foibles, of which there are usually many! It is the love of God (not our own love) that we share and it is this love that bridges all differences.

Paul recounts the startling events of his conversion on the road to Damascus to King Agrippa as part of his defence against defiling the Temple in Jerusalem by bringing Greek Christians into it (Acts 26:12-18). These foreigners are separated from God by Jewish law, yet Paul affirms and defends his ministry as rooted in scripture, bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ as redeemer and saviour to the Gentiles as part of God’s family, redeemed through the suffering of Christ on the cross, who is raised from death so that God’s love may shine on all people alike. Paul lives out Jesus prayer for unity in God’s love, brought to us and bought by Jesus Christ.

This evening is an opportunity for us to worship together in the unity of God’s love, not our own love, but it is also one perhaps where we can go from here as examples to our community of a unity that the world cannot understand but will want to be part of. It is a unity in God’s love, a unity that emanates from the love God has for his people and his world, a unity that is known in God, the Trinity, between Christian people, even though we may worship in different ways.

How incredible that we can celebrate this gift from God and respond to the prayer that Jesus has for each one of us. In a world and a Church full of division, it is us, the Christian on the street, that can show the unity of the Body of Christ that expresses God’s redeeming love amongst us to our community.

Unity in Brokenness

My story about the Roman Catholic, the Methodist, the Baptist and the Anglican may have been a little bit of fun, but at least they all know the love of God and they went fishing together, not separately!

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Grace and the Broad Bean Blackfly

Cleansed through Christ

Romans 8:1-11; Luke 19:41-20:8

I come to you this evening a little disappointed. You see I have a small vegetable patch in which I love to grow vegetables. Being able to grow many vegetables in a small space is important to me. I have cut and grow lettuce that abuts closely to tightly packed carrots and beetroot with radishes spread between them. In one corner I grow beans. The broad beans are planted in a small circle around a wigwam of poles that they grow up. I have been successful in previous years with this method and had a good crop of broad beans to enjoy. But this year I am a little disappointed. You see I have had only 6 broad beans from these plants. The reason I think behind such a poor crop is that my broad beans have become contaminated by the blight of the beans, black fly!


These black fly have covered the beans, feeding off the sap and excreting a sugary honeydew that ants adore and I have ants hurtling up and down my broad beans in some sort of frenzy. The black fly are stunting and weakening my plants growth and reducing the number of beans that crop. I have tried to stop the contamination by nipping out the tops of the bean plants and using spray, but all to no avail and what a sorry sight these beans are and that is why I am a little disappointed.

However, about 2 feet from the broad beans I have planted a circle of runner beans which are again growing up a wigwam of poles. These beans were planted a little later than my broad beans and they are thriving! They have grown quite tall with plenty of flowers and plenty of young runner beans coming to maturity.  What a sight to behold they are!


On one side of my small garden plot we have the stunted broad beans bearing little fruit and contaminated by black fly and on the other side the vigorous and plentiful healthy runner beans. When I look at the runner beans I can see what the broad beans could have been like if they hadn’t become contaminated, given over to black fly and ants which I am of course hoping stay on the broad beans now and don’t contaminate my runner beans. The Broad Beans could have been so much better if they hadn’t become contaminated.

Jesus comes down the Mount of Olives and sees the city of God, Jerusalem in all its splendour nestling before him in the valley with David’s wall surrounding it and the Temple where God’s people meet with him and Jesus sees a city where God’s people have resisted his call for repentance and forgiveness, his call for peace and the message of grace that his son Jesus brings. He sees a contaminated city that could have been so much better. – Jesus knows that they will be handed over to God’s judgement, they have become contaminated by sin and their own ambitions and they will be stunted as a nation and bear no fruit for the kingdom. Jesus knows what they could have been, a healthy nation bringing God’s grace to other people, spreading his message of Good News and bearing fruit for his kingdom and he weeps! He isn’t a little disappointed, he weeps in sorrow at what could have been, he weeps in sadness at the judgement to come and he weeps in anguish at the suffering that he knows he will be subjected to from this contaminated people.


Jesus enters Jerusalem and comes to the Temple, the place where God is encountered, his Father’s house. The inner central room of the Temple is called the Holy of Holies and is where Solomon placed the Ark of the Covenant surrounded by a curtain and carried by God’s people, through the desert and where God spoke to Moses.

Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest enters into the Holy of Holies to present sacrifices on behalf of the people in order that their sins that contaminated them may be cleansed and that they could become pure in front of a living God and know his blessings.

People would come to the temple once a year and would enter its outer courtyards only after they washed themselves in special bathing places, so that they could be ceremonially clean in the temple, a holy place where God’s presence was expected.

They would then go into the temple courtyards and purchase a pure lamb that would be sacrificed on their behalf for their sins so that they could be clean of their contamination again in front of God. The lamb, rather than themselves, would be sacrificed for their sins. If you couldn’t afford a lamb then you would buy a dove.

herodsinnertempleHuman nature never changes though even in the Holiest of places, it is full of sin because you couldn’t buy a lamb or a dove with ordinary money, you would need to use temple money and you had to change your hard earned cash into temple currency and the money changer would take a commission.

Then you would need to buy your animal and this would be charged at an exorbitant rate because you couldn’t bring your own sacrifice in. Even the cleansing pools were charged for.

Then there was the temple tax to pay for the running of the temple and priests were becoming rich when surrounding them were the poor.

The temple economy was booming in very hard times and taking advantage of the poor, all so that people could become cleansed from their sin and contamination, in front of God and know his blessing! How Jesus wept at the human sin preventing ordinary people knowing God’s presence.

Jesus walks into the Temple courtyards and sees the contamination of his Father’s house, the house of prayer turned into a den for thieves and robbers, his Father’s house full of sin and he angrily turns out the money changers and the sellers of lambs and doves and he turns upside down the thriving temple economy, and the chief priests, in their sin, look for a way to kill him and asked him where his authority came from.


But Jesus knew that to be cleansed from contamination and sin, in order to stand in front of God and to be blessed by him, would turn the stunted growth of the people into the healthy vibrant plant bearing fruit.

God didn’t need the Temple economy to do this for him, instead he came himself as Jesus Christ, uncontaminated, sinless and pure; the Word made flesh, full of grace and truth and in his human flesh Jesus became like sin, taking all the contamination onto himself in the flesh and it was in his flesh, his body that he condemned all sin, our sin, taking it to death on the cross as the final temple sacrifice.

No longer do people need to come and be cleansed at the Temple in Jerusalem, because Christ has become the new Temple the new way to know God and the place where our sins are condemned. In Christ there is no condemnation for those who believe in and follow and belong to Christ. We have been freed from contamination, we are free to grow healthily and to bear fruit for God’s kingdom, no matter the state of our physical lives in the flesh. We are cleansed by the blood of Christ to receive God’s Holy Spirit into our inner being so we can live our lives in the Spirit and not in the flesh, we are free to know God’s love and to return that love. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.


Grace is a wonderful thing….. How wonderful that in all my human failings, of which there are many, I can live my life in Christ and be filled with his Holy Spirit that calls me to be a minister and shows me God’s love for all people, no matter who they are and how they live. How wonderful is grace that you can be free to live the Christian life, not in your own human strength and weaknesses, but in the strength of Christ where your sin is condemned in the body of Christ on the cross.  Can we accept this forgiveness and grace and freedom from contamination? Can we live healthily in God’s grace and bear fruit for his kingdom or do we still live lives contaminated like the broad beans covered in black fly. Can we turn away from sin and turn to Christ putting the cross at the centre? Can we accept his forgiveness into our lives through faith and be free from contamination to live our Christian lives by and with the Holy Spirit, to Glorify God and share his grace with others?

We don’t need to be great amongst people to receive forgiveness, to be free of contamination, to know no condemnation. We come in faith to Christ, to the new Temple and receive the free gift of grace and trust in him for our lives. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, thank you that you know me, thank you that you would want me to grow healthily and bear fruit for your kingdom, I want to know you afresh, free me from my sins and I receive gratefully your forgiveness and your gift of grace. Amen.


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Faith and the Garden Hosepipe

Faith in God is really hard!

Holy Spirit Person

Faith in God, I think is really hard, because you have to do something first in order to know if God is true or not. You can look at all the evidence, but unless you are prepared to open your mind and heart to the possibilities that God is a living God who comes to make himself known to us by living with us, as his son Jesus Christ, who through his death, resurrection and ascension has victory over all evil and who comes to show us his love today through filling us with his living Holy Spirit; you never get to know God. Which is a shame I think, because our world needs to know our living God. Faith in God is really hard, especially if you are a thinking person.

Boy on park benchA boy was sitting on a park bench with one hand resting on an open Bible. He was loudly exclaiming his praise to God. “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God is great!” he yelled without worrying whether anyone heard him or not.

Shortly after, along came a man who had recently completed some studies at a local university. Feeling himself very enlightened in the ways of the world and very eager to show this enlightenment, he asked the boy about the source of his joy.

“Hey” said the boy with a bright laugh, “Don’t you have any idea what God is able to do? I just read that God opened up the waves of the Red Sea and led the whole nation of Israel right through the middle.”

The enlightened man laughed lightly, sat down next to the boy and began to try to open his eyes to the “realities” of the miracles of the Bible. “That can all be very easily explained. Modern scholarship has shown that the Red Sea in that area was only 10-inches deep at that time. It was no problem for the Israelites to wade across.”

The boy was stumped. His eyes wandered from the man back to the Bible laying open in his lap. The man, content that he had enlightened a poor, naive young person to the finer points of scientific insight, turned to go. Scarcely had he taken two steps when the boy began to rejoice and praise louder than before. The man turned to ask the reason for this resumed jubilation.

“Wow!” exclaimed the boy happily, “Thank you, God is greater than I thought! Not only did He lead the whole nation of Israel through the Red Sea, He topped it off by drowning the whole Egyptian army in10 inches of water!”

Faith in God is really hard, especially if you are a thinking person. I have a couple of close friends who cannot understand why I have faith in Jesus Christ so much that I would totally trust my life and the life of my family in him. One of my friends even states that he is leaving his options open. If he meets Christ when he dies then he will believe in him, if he doesn’t meet him then he has missed nothing in his life. Unfortunately without Christ in his life, he misses out on the richness of a relationship with God and when he meets Christ at his death, Christ will not know him and he will be separated from him. I also find it interesting that in their darkest times it is me they come to talk to.

We live in a world where faith, or trust, is in short supply. We do not put our faith and trust in each other easily. We only have to see the lack of trust by the people of Grenfell Tower in the authorities, over many years and the lack of trust in world leaders to provide a peaceful, caring and abundant environment for the people they serve.

TrustFaith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. No wonder that Faith in God is really hard for many people, because we are asked to put our complete trust or confidence in God whom we come to know through his son Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God is with us.

But without total trust in him, God cannot work amongst us, the power of God in our lives is reduced and sometimes disappears. Psalm 78 tells of the people of Israel testing God, “When the LORD heard, he was full of rage, a fire was kindled against Jacob, his anger mounted against Israel, because they had no faith in God, and did not trust his saving power”. Whereas Psalm 31 tell us “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in your hand.’”

Without faith and trust in him, God cannot work amongst us.

Our Bible passages this evening show extraordinary faith from Mark 5:21-43 and Acts 9:32-42.

Jairus was a synagogue leader, a respected member of the community, very much like a Churchwarden. People consulted Jairus, Jairus looked after the synagogue and he took on the administration tasks. Jairus was part of the religious leaders who were hostile to Jesus. Yet Jairus, in full view of the crowd throws himself at Jesus feet in quite an undignified manner and begs him repeatedly to lay hands on his daughter who was dying. It must have taken a lot of courage for Jairus to seek out Jesus and to have so much faith and trust in him that God’s power would work through him and heal his daughter.

Then we have the story of woman who is haemorrhaging, sandwiched between the story of Jairus and his daughter. This woman was an outcast, classified as unclean; she shouldn’t come into contact with anyone as they would be contaminated. Yet she has total faith and trust in Jesus that he will heal her, if only she could touch him and God’s power would work through him. How can she be brave enough to get to him, she couldn’t talk to him face to face as she was unworthy and unclean but perhaps she could come into touching distance of him.

Both Jairus and the woman came to Jesus in humility and in fear, but with true faith and belief in who he is and their belief brought healing. Faith becomes a channel for Jesus to work in our lives. Jesus says to the woman ‘Your faith has made you well, go in peace and be healed’. To Jairus he says ‘Do not fear, only believe’ and he goes and brings his daughter back to life.

Jesus main purpose is to bring God’s kingdom into our world, he confronts evil in our world and through his death, resurrection and ascension claims his victory which is passed onto the Apostles. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter heals Aeneas and brings Tabitha back to life, in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit working within Peter, something that only Jesus could do before. These were signs of God’s kingdom growing through Jesus disciples. Peter always tells the crowd that Jesus is the one that they should put their trust in. He is the cornerstone, the one they should build their lives upon, the one who cares and brings salvation and hope from God.

It is through building our lives on the foundation of Christ in whom we put our faith and trust that we receive God’s power in our lives. This I find is easier said than done when times become hard, when we experience suffering and sickness, but how important it us not to cut off this conduit of faith into our lives and the lives of others.

Garden HosepipeI have brought in my Garden Hose Pipe. Its purpose is to deliver water to my garden. But once it is unravelled, it’s defects appear and it is these defects that stop it delivering water. I go along the pipe straightening out the kinks so that the water can travel.

Our faith is like a garden hosepipe, God needs faithful people to deliver his power into our lives and those of others, but if our faith has some defects and some kinks, his power becomes limited and non-existent.

We don’t know how God will work in our lives in good times and bad times, but what we do know is to continue to have faith and trust in him. There are clearly many questions about the miracles.

Why didn’t Jesus heal all who were sick, why didn’t he raise all who had died to life again? These are valid questions but of course they miss the point of Jesus mission. His life was about bringing God’s kingdom into our world, he brought signs of God’s kingdom through healing, he showed the generosity of God’s kingdom, he confronts the evil that distorts our world and he brings new life, death is no more. Jesus Christ brings a new relationship with God, we receive forgiveness for confessed sins, we receive a new peace in our lives and we receive wholeness in our relationship with God that is beyond our understanding.

Faith and trust in God are the conduits that allow him to work in our lives and those of others and for us to live our lives in the fullness of a relationship with God himself, no matter our circumstances, knowing death is no more. Faith in God, can be really hard, but Christ has the victory and in him we trust.

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A year in the life of a busy Church

A churchwardens report


2016 was, as usual, a busy year at St David’s, with many opportunities to serve God, each other, and our neighbours as we tried to live out our lives as disciples of Christ.

The PCC continued to meet regularly, and to be organised into teams so that everyone could use their particular gifts, skills and interests, and combine to fulfil the whole of the church’s ministry, and be Christ’s body in this place.

Sunday services consisting of Common Worship and BCP Holy Communions, All-age Worship, Morning Praise, Evening Praise and Evensong continued.

A new All-age Communion, with children taking part, was introduced, and two of our older girls, after a short preparatory course, were admitted into Communion.

The numbers attending Sunday services once again showed an increase on the previous year.

A Chill-Out area for parents and under 5s was available in the Lady Chapel during the 10am Sunday service.

The Thursday Holy Communion continued to be well attended and appreciated by all who attended.

There were quite a number of special services including Good Friday, Easter, Harvest, Memorial, Remembrance, Ascension Day, Ash Wednesday, Shoebox Sunday, as well as United Services. There was a good variety of Advent and Christmas services, including our best-attended service, The Christingle, and the Midnight Communion was transmitted on Hermitage FM. There was a service to which those who had been recently baptised were invited, and one to celebrate marriage, where flowers were presented to four couples celebrating their Golden Weddings.

The deanery’s Archdeacon’s Visitation service was held at St David’s.

During May we had our famous ‘Two Bishops Week’, when the church was visited by Bishop Martyn, our new Diocesan Bishop, and Bishop Stanley from the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro and Kiteto. It was an honour to welcome them both to St David’s.

A wonderful Confirmation Service led by Bishop Martyn was held at St David’s in November with 13 candidates, 4 of whom were from our church.

In celebration of our 50th Anniversary year a new Paschal Candle holder was commissioned and ready for Easter Sunday, and the Ministers Board was put in place.

Monthly services continued at Tillson House Care Home.

Café Church thrived and was enjoyed by all who attended. It continued to provide an opportunity for retired people or people on their own to socialise and worship in an accessible way.


Home Communion was taken to those who were house-bound or in care homes.

Some of us travelled to Leicester Cathedral in May to Bishop Martyn’s Service of Welcome, and even more of us were there in October as Jenny Holland was provisionally licensed as our Pastoral Assistant. Two wonderful occasions!

Our ministry team had to work even harder as we said goodbye to Revd Rhona Passey who retired in January and to Rev Derek Whittaker who was married in March in a joyful Spirit-filled service at St David’s, and moved to Yorkshire with his new wife.

Morning Prayer on each week-day continued to provide a good start to the day; the monthly prayer group met; some prayer triplets continued;the quarterly prayer mornings provided a welcome opportunity for quiet reflection; and a special time of prayer was held before Pentecost. All these things strengthened our prayer life and  helped to ensure that all our decisions and  initiatives are underpinned by prayer.

Home Groups continued to be invaluable ways of meeting together to learn more about God, our faith and one another and to deepen relationships. There were six regular groups and several seeker courses were held when needed.

Pastoral Link visiting continued, as did the sending of cards on special occasions, distribution of Hospital Bags, and the get-togethers for everyone. Under new leadership the Pastoral Link team looked at updating the scheme and finding new ways to build up the fellowship.

Door-to- door Parish Visiting was on-going as homes in Oakham Drive  were visited.

We continued to have working relationships with Hall Lane Methodist Church and Greenhill Community Church, having some joint services and distributing shared Easter and Christmas cards.

A new incumbent, Rev Liz Angell was appointed to our Mission Partners at Whitwick, Thringstone and Swannington. Meetings of the Mission Partnership, Cluster services and joint Lent Groups were held, and relationships were strengthened.

St David’s was a member of Coalville Churches Together with representation on the organising committee.

Sunday Club met with three regular leaders and a number of new helpers. During the summer volunteers provided activities for children in the choir vestry. The Brigade continued to meet weekly, and a small Christian drama group for teenagers began.

After School Church met every Wednesday during term time, with crafts, games, refreshments and a half-hour time of worship. There was much enthusiasm from children, their parents and carers and good relationships were built up.

After School Church

The church hosted services for Broom Leys School, Warren Hills School, CL&CGB and Heartland Youth for Christ.

Our work with young people outside the church building continued. We carried on taking Open the Book  into Warren Hills and Broom Leys Schools. It meant that well over 500 children, who might otherwise have had little or no contact with a church were hearing God’s story every fortnight. 

The after-school club Rock Solid  continued to meet at Castle Rock High School. There were additional visits to all three schools by members of St David’s for a variety of purposes, and we are  represented on the governing body of both the primary schools.

Visits were made to our Play Group and Warren Hills Nursery to tell Bible stories.

Our Child Protection Policy was updated and a Vulnerable Adults Policy began to be formulated.

There were a number of different social events to encourage fellowship between church members, some regular ones, and others included a lunch to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday and a treasure hunt.

The Golden Anniversary themed Summer Fair was a time of fun, teamwork and witness to the community, as well as a great fund-raiser, and the November Market  was a further successful fund-raising event.

Communication was maintained through the website, the magazine, posters and handouts, Facebook and Twitter. Sermons can now be found on the website and blog.  New outdoor notice boards were put place and have been well used advertising what is happening in our church. Monthly newsletters are emailed to baptism and wedding families.

St David’s was a referral agency for Food banks. The church continued to collect food donations, and members  were involved in food collections at supermarkets.

We continued to be represented within the Neighbourhood Action Group.

A Christmas Day Lunch for those who would otherwise have been alone was once again held in the church hall.

The Hall was well-used by both church groups, youth groups, charities and the community for both regular and one-off events, and the main hall was decorated.

The PCC had an away day in September to look at our Vision and Ministry, to assess where we are, and to ‘dream dreams’. During the subsequent PCC meetings  we started to prioritise these  and see haw they relate to our desire to ‘Grow in Faith and Live in Christ’. (You will be hearing much more about this from Andy very soon!)

Much was achieved in 2016, but there is still much more to be done. We are fortunate  to have so many people who are committed to the church, to each other and, above all, to God. And what a privilege it is that God has chosen us to carry out his work here! There are exciting times ahead so let’s dedicate ourselves once again to his service.  The future of this church is entrusted to us, so, together, united in one body, in the power of the Holy Spirit, let us give our all to further God’s kingdom and see his will done in this place.


Mary Smith

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Lost and found

lost smiley

Have you ever been lost, or has a member of your family been lost? I don’t know about you, but I find it is such an awful feeling. It can be quite a lonely and anxious place to be.

In my previous job before I became a minister, I visited many different companies in this country and abroad. I was fortunate enough to get a new car to use to drive to companies and to airports and it had a satellite navigation system. Now for those of you who have such a system you will know from experience that you need to be careful how you use them, they aren’t infallible. I didn’t know that, I thought they would know better than I how to get from A to B. So I needed to get from Coventry where I worked to Stansted airport to get a flight to Stockholm in Sweden. I was the main speaker at a meeting with a potentially important new customer. I would normally have travelled on the A14 and then the M11 to get to Stansted, but I dialled in Stansted airport on my new SATNAV and it said go down the M1 across the M25 and up the M11 and I thought that must be a quicker way. Except that it wasn’t and not only that it took me to a roundabout with roadworks on it that it didn’t know about and all the exits where blocked except the one I had joined on and I could only go back the way I came. I thought, no problem, I will drive a bit and the SATNAV will re-route me and it did, only to take me back to this same roundabout again and I was stuck and lost and panicking and already late for the plane. I had no idea where I was, I was lost. So, I rang my wife on my hands-free phone and said quick get a map out and find a way for me to get to Stansted from this roundabout. After many many minutes she finally managed to guide me onto the right route and I arrived at Stansted late and missed my flight.

The consequences were not good. The team I was working with in Sweden were not happy, we arranged a conference call with the Customer for the next morning, but the Customer was not happy and we lost the sale and I became an unpopular person, an outcast and I felt awful and quite lonely.  Getting lost brings about such an awful feeling.

Wiping tear emoticon

Well we can also find ourselves lost in our lives as well, outcast from the main stream, not being part of the crowd, it can be an awful feeling.

(Luke 18:35-19:10) Jesus comes to seek out and save the lost and here we have two examples of those who find themselves lost and are saved by Jesus and they both take place near and within the city of Jericho.

Jericho is a significant place, this is the place that Joshua came to when he brought God’s people out of the desert wilderness into the Promised Land. Here in Jericho is a flat plain amongst the mountains and the desert. It is the lowest and oldest town on earth and therefore the place of probably the oldest civilisation on earth. It is a fertile plain with natural springs forming an oasis. Jericho is surrounded by the Judean desert a place where bandits, thieves and freedom fighters controlled the paths through the desert to Jerusalem. You can imagine that this was a place of plenty, of food and drink, and sanctuary for God’s people lost for so many years in the wilderness of the desert.

Yet amongst saved people thousands of years later, are those who are outcast and lost, lonely and on their own. They are regarded as sinners, not suitable to be amongst God’s people.

the-jordan-valley-and-jerichoThe blind beggar on the roadside outside Jericho looking for some means of supporting his life. He hears the crowd and asks them what all the fuss is about and when he hears it is Jesus of Nazareth coming into Jericho, he seeks his face. Jesus reputation as the Messiah, the promised king in the line of David, has gone before him, his reputation that he is a man from God who heals has gone before him.

The blind man doesn’t sit there though questioning who Jesus is in his own mind, or hoping that people might bring Jesus to him. No he takes his destiny into his own hands and full of faith in who Jesus is he calls out ‘Jesus, son of David have mercy on me’ and even when the crowd tell him to be quiet, trying to keep him as the unworthy outcast beggar lost to society, he cries out again ‘Son of David have mercy on me’. He actively seeks the face of Jesus and is brought to him. Jesus asks him what he would like and his sight is restored and he is restored and he is no longer lost and outcast but accepted as part of God’s family, saved by Jesus Christ.

During our life we experience sickness and doubt and we may have people praying for us, it is up to us as well to seek the healing face of Jesus and put our total trust in him? Sometimes shouting out ‘Jesus, have mercy upon me’ is a cry we need to make and believe in. After all, he is a merciful God.

In this almost heavenly fertile place of Jericho, given to God’s people, there is oppression by the Roman occupiers and Zacchaeus, works for them collecting taxes. Tax collectors didn’t receive a wage for doing this job. The job would go to the highest bidder that is the one who agreed to return the highest amount of taxes to the Roman occupiers. To earn a wage the tax collector would take more money from the people than they needed in order to earn a living and of course many became very rich.

zacchaeusZacchaeus though wasn’t a tax collector, he was the Chief Tax Collector in Jericho, the one who organised the tax collection and he made sure that he became very rich. Zacchaeus was understandably, despised, outcast and lonely. He was lost and he knew it. So he decided to seek the face of Jesus and there he encounters Jesus in a very personal way as Jesus honours him, a despised sinner, by eating with him in his home. The encounter saves Zacchaeus and he responds in a remarkable way by giving half his riches to the poor and paying back 4 times the amount he has defrauded. He is saved back into God’s family because he knew he was lost and he sought the face of Christ.

During our life we may well take wrong paths, we may well find ourselves subject to temptations in life. We have seen many examples in our society today of pursuing wealth for the benefit of one person and not for the common good. It takes courage to admit we are wrong, but seeking the face of Jesus can bring us back into his fold.

It was seeking the face of Jesus that changed the lives of the blind beggar and of Zacchaeus and some might say that this was only for Jesus time. But we live in the presence of the resurrected Christ who when ascended into heaven released the power of his Holy Spirit into the lives of those who believe in him. Peter and John filled with the Holy Spirit brought an encounter in the name of Jesus Christ to the beggar at the beautiful gate. This beggar was another outcast who is restored into God’s family.

The-Name-of-JesusIt is in the name of Jesus Christ that we live and worship and pray and serve today. There is power in the name of Jesus as God’s Holy Spirit points us to him and empowers us and guides us in our life if we seek the face of Jesus Christ.

We live in a society today that looks at different faiths on an intellectual level and people decide to follow one or none at all. It is as though faith is a life choice and consequently people become lost and confused. But seeking the face of Jesus Christ is a life changing, spirit filling, saving experience of God our Father.

Jesus tells his disciples before his death and resurrection that they will be filled with the Spirit of Truth, whom the world will not know, but they will know and “on that day” he tells them “you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you”. We seek the face of Christ and we seek his filling with the Holy Spirit which the world does not understand. There is power in the name of Jesus.

lost & savedI have seen people come to seek the face of Christ in Church services, lost and in desperate need and leave as changed people. I have seen people come to seek the face of Christ lost and living in torment and in the name of Jesus have found peace and release. I have seen people lost in terrible illness, find a future and a hope in the name of Jesus. I have seen people lost, seek the face of Jesus and find a new life. There is power in the name of Jesus.

This is why we are encouraged by our Archbishops to pray in the name of Jesus Christ for the lost to come to know Christ and to seek his face. It will change our nation.

I check my SATNAV now when I go on a journey and I have learnt to seek the face of Christ in my life and the life of others because Christ is alive and his Spirit moves amongst us so we and others need never be lost again. Shall we pray?

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