Notices for Sunday 2 May 2021

This week

In-person services continue with increased capacity. Pre-booking is still required but please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household) here – contact Cathy Simon if for any reason you are unable to book.

Please note social distancing rules apply.

Sunday Services

Zoom Junior Church

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom. 
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings. And then add your name.

Gather to Pray

Do join ‘Gather to pray’ on Sunday evening 2 May · 6:00 – 7:00. This is a powerful opportunity to seek God’s heart for the work of the church and our local community.

Computer or smart phonehttps://meet.google.com/vjm-gkgi-obq
Telephone: 20 3957 3964‬ PIN: ‪916 886 270‬#

Elder & Deacon Elections

Nominations for three Elders and two Deacons close on Sunday 2nd May. You can find further information, nomination forms and teaching from Eddie about the biblical role of elders and deacons at the link here. Please read and consider prayerfully.

The Eventbrite tickets are now available for the Church Meeting on the 17th May

Please book here

Easter Thank Offering: Message from the Treasurer

Thank you church for your generous support for the Easter Thank Offering.

A total of £2558 has been raised to support the work of our mission partners (Compassion, International Teams Austria (The Oasis Centre) & Tearfund) who would normally have benefitted from the Harvest and Christmas Service offerings.  This will boost our Restricted Mission Fund to around £4575 by the end of April 2021.

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.
  • Youth Groups- Contact Dan for further details

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

Am I willing to move on from where I’ve previously settled?

This post by Nigel Coles was originally published at Seventy Two

On the face of it, it seems ridiculous to think of Moses ‘wandering in the wilderness’ for forty years, or is that just me? Apparently if they’d walked in a straight line it would be 5270.8 miles. Even today, even with a Sat Nav, that’s impossible, but forty years! However, when I factor in 603,550 men (Numbers 1:46), which easily equates to over two million people, it’s not so daft.

When I think about the shift from slavery to worship, for a whole nation, or from Israel’s bondage to Pharaoh to its bonding to the One, True, Living, God and especially when I think of how long it’s taken this single human (me) to get this far, it doesn’t seem so long at all. I like to think it’s my love of Tolkien and that quote from The Fellowship of the Ring, ‘not all those who wander are lost’, why I try and find such meaning in wandering, aimlessly. I suspect however, it’s more connected to my innate desire to settle, to stop moving, for a bit of comfort. But God…

But God is disturbing, disruptive, more concerned with why and how I’m going anywhere than where I want to go.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.’ After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:17-21

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, travelling from place to place as the Lord commanded. Exodus 17:1.

We are in a liminal space. The pandemic has created liminality around the globe for countless people in all walks of life. But for those of us in Christian leadership, especially across the Western world, the pandemic has merely drawn back the curtain on what was our present reality. The pandemic has revealed, not created, where we are.

I’ve been putting off taking some time to seriously reflect on this particular question, which I accepted on my list four months ago now. But I need to move forwards. I can be more comfortable teaching others how to navigate our cultural landscape than finding my own way. I get too settled. It’s not been a comfortable four months; the Lord has been continually at work, by His Spirit, nudging, cajoling, un-settling. I’ve made three commitments.

#commitment 1. I am re-focused on my ultimate destination

What kept Moses going? His relationship with the Lord, trust in his ‘commands’ and conviction about where he was headed. Terence Fretheim, in his commentary, talks about the wilderness wandering’s as a ‘community on the move from a past act of redemption toward a promised goal’. Keep that in mind. This is about people stuck between promise and fulfilment. I hear Jesus reminding me the reality of the kingdom of God is here, but not yet fully realised. That’s where I/we are called to live, to love, to laugh and to cry. Truth is, there’s no other place I can live and so many of the distortions, misconceptions and misunderstandings (deliberate or otherwise), which I allow to cause me dissonance are if not of my own making, avoidable

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3.

Is it as easy as this? Yes and no. Living it out is frequently far from easy, but staying true to keeping our eyes on Jesus, as our compass bearing, makes all the difference in the world.

I’ve not worked out the proportions, but reading Exodus again, it feels like it’s all about Moses relationship with the Lord. My feelings tend towards exaggeration, but don’t you recognise the sense it all depends upon you, the responsibility which weighs too heavily at times, as well as the exhilaration when the kingdom breaks through?

What I’m seeing in this wonderful adventure of Moses leading the people of God towards the Promised Land is providing significant encouragement to me as we start taking steps out of the pandemic induced restrictions. The wilderness period is a liminal period in the biblical narrative and carries the potential for being one of our most helpful guides in the present day.

Over a period of forty years the people of God transitioned from slaves to citizens, from a people with a nameless God to one who knows the personal name of their deity, and from a lawless people to a nation bound by covenant. They completed these transitions by following Moses through the wilderness, a period marked either end by water crossings at the start and finish of this liminal journey. Now if that’s not a gift for a Baptist, what is?

We are now living in a missional era. The most pressing need for the church across the western world is to transition into ‘being missional’, no longer relying on ‘doing mission’ to others, we must accept the calling of Jesus Christ to be as well, ‘as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you’. A missional church requires missional leadership. This is where you and I come in. Whether we consider ourselves primarily gifted as pastors, teachers, apostles, prophets or evangelists, we must all learn to lead out of our relationship with the Lord and our being, much more than our doing. It’s all about living faithfully according to Jesus’ call ‘come follow me’.

For Moses, it was his dynamic relationship with Yahweh and staying faithful, whether he felt like it and not, to the call from slavery to the Promised Land. For us, it’s towards ‘Christlikeness’ and the fulness of the kingdom of God we won’t dwell in fully until heaven.

We all need to wake up. If we’re asleep we need disturbing. Moses struggled with a lot but would not walk away from seeking to be faithful to God’s agenda. We are still living in a period of transition. It’s not called ‘post-modernity’ for no reason; we’re post/past something, but we can’t yet label where we are, because we don’t know when, or where we’ll land. If modernity lasted hundreds of years, it’s somewhat premature to try and be clear we’ve arrived at a new destination since the upheaval of the 1960’s in a mere sixty years!

A secular agenda, built around human beings at the centre, is not what it means to have arrived in the kingdom of God. I have not yet completed my call to follow Jesus. I have not yet experienced a total merger of ‘life in all fulness’ and the ‘normal Christian life’. Yet seeing Jesus changes everything, and we have seen Jesus. Keeping our eyes fixed upon him remains challenging, but re-focusing my eyes is essential whenever he gets blurred.

#commitment 2. I am re-aligned with God’s over-arching purposes

I’ve been approaching the question, “why did it take so long to get from Egypt to the Promised Land” from my own perspective. Of course, my perspective is always through the lenses of where I think (my understanding) I need to get to or how I think we should go about this (my personal traits). Note to self, “why do I always have my SatNav set on ‘quickest route’?”

Exodus 13:17-18 becomes more fascinating the more time I’ve dwelt in it. It highlights God’s concern the people might change their mind if forced into battle (‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt’. 13:17). The people of God, not for the last time, prove He had good reason for concern (What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 14:11). God knew the people of God were not ready to take on the challenges a more direct route would have brought. I wouldn’t have wanted to listen to any advice suggesting delay. Whenever I believe I know what the Lord is calling me to do, I tend to get out and get on with it. I tend towards living in the big picture and not worrying about the details. That has occasionally led to impatience with those who have legitimate concerns about today, or how they fit in, etc.

This episode tells me, if planning for the future makes a difference for the Lord to the shape that future will take, then I must take care. Irrespective of whether I’m wired as a pioneer or a settler, I need to check what I’ve fed into my personal heart SatNav – does this sit comfortably within God’s purposes?

I find it easy to be critical of those I see keen to grasp hold of the ‘pioneer’ label when I don’t see any expectation or intentionality of people becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. But it’s not always so easy to acknowledge the same limitations in myself. So here’s my antidote list:

  • What’s my motivation here? Is it truthfully about honouring Jesus or myself?
  • Who am I relying on to fulfil this step? Can I fulfil this myself, in my own strength? If so, I need to be concerned: it’s either of me or not a big enough step.
  • Am I being and remaining open to being re-filled by the Holy Spirit?
  • Am I ready and quick enough to repent and adjust my compass bearing?

What about my development as a leader? I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had with my wife Maggie, (she works in education) about teaching staff promoted to a level of incompetence. Surely not me! Baptists are always going on about the fact we’re not a hierarchical organisation, but we’re immune from what became known as The Peter Principle. Apparently, Peter and Hull intended their 1969 book of the same name, to be a satire, but it became popular as it was seen to make a serious point about the shortcomings of how people are promoted within hierarchical organisations. Honestly, I see this in churches all the time. The mentality a Baptist Minister is a Baptist Minister belongs to a period of history we’re no longer living in, but churches make massive assumptions when they appoint … well, people like me (and maybe you too?).

Check out John Maxwell’s Five levels of leadership, for yourself. I find it a helpful grounding in reality to identify where I am and recognise:

  1. If I’m to grow up a level I won’t do that by neglecting those gifts, skills and capabilities already acquired and practiced.
  2. If I’m to grow up a level I won’t do that if I think I’ve moved past the need to pay attention, firstly, to myself!

John Maxwell states:

  • The first person I must know is myself – self-awareness.
  • The first person I must get along with is myself – self-image.
  • The first person to cause me problems is myself – self-honesty.
  • The first person I must change is myself – self-improvement.
  • The first person who can make a difference is myself – self-responsibility.

#commitment 3. I am re-committed to living according to God’s direction

We know a lot about the first two years of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, but hardly anything is detailed about the next thirty-eight years. The presence of the Lord is not measured by the number of words:

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. (Deuteronomy 2:7) What a testimony, I’d be happy with that!

However, the next reference is more discomforting:

It took us thirty-eight years to get from Kadesh Barnea to the Brook Zered. That’s how long it took for the entire generation of soldiers from the camp to die off, as God had sworn they would. God was relentless against them until the last one was gone from the camp. (Deuteronomy 2:14-15 The Message)

God’s roundabout route is sometimes the best route he can take us, as these verses are reminding me, for several reasons and any one is enough for me:

  • I am more likely to acknowledge His presence if I take my time. ‘Keep in step with the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:25) comes to mind. Following the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, I had a chat with a man with a military past who reminded me (the army, navy, air force, plus representatives of the Royal Family all walked in step). He told me: ‘when you keep in step you walk forwards together, in unity’. I want to be at one with the Spirit of God.
  • I am more likely to rely on divine provision if I go at his pace and walk in his direction. Manna and quails were supplied super-naturally. My sustenance may not be as immediately, obviously, supernatural, but if I seriously believe (as I claim) this is God’s world of which we are but caretakers, my gratitude for daily bread and life will be a continuum of praise and thanksgiving.
  • I am more likely to co-operate with his purpose of transformation. The Father is intent on seeing through the ‘good work’ he began in me, which is about who I am becoming, much more than achieving any self-set targets.
  • I am more likely to live by the ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message) by having to rely on God.

I’m not sure what you think about the how of following a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day, but let’s think about this. A whole nomadic nation clearly didn’t break camp every single morning and move on. Maybe these thirty-eight years didn’t look so much different to my last thirty-eight years in one sense (only one, I hasten to add): we’ve lived in six different places, staying between one and fifteen years in each).

I can’t say I’ve moved a long way in four months, but I can say ‘here I am wholly available’. How about you?

 

The post Am I willing to move on from where I’ve previously settled? appeared first on Seventy Two.

Notice of nominations for elders and deacons

If you’re a regular here you’ll know that we have not held ‘normal’ church meetings for a while and indeed we did not hold our Annual Church Meeting last year. However, the leadership have met and feel the time is now right to catch up a little.

We plan to hold a church meeting and annual church meeting including elections for the leadership positions that have reached the end of their terms.

Our church rules lay out that we will announce that nominations for posts are open for two weeks and nominations must be complete three weeks before the meeting where elections will be held. To nominate a candidate you must first seek the consent of that person and then you and a second member must sign your support for the nomination. You can return these to the church office.

After nominations close existing leaders will interview the nominees to ascertain they have suitable spirituality, gifting, experience and character for the role.

It’s proposed that the church meeting will be held in the Sanctuary at Priory Street with appropriate Covid-precautions on Monday 17th May. It is important to the congregational nature of our church that we jointly undertake to discern the will of God. Votes will take place by secret ballot. If you have any questions please address them to a member of the leadership team. Because of the unusual situation at the moment we need to ask people to book and those bookings must be complete a week in advance (10th May) in order for us to make any changes, for example if every member wished to come we may not be able to accommodate them all with the current distancing requirements but we do urge and encourage you to give prayerful consideration to making nominations and to come to participate in the meeting and the vote.

Two elders’ terms (Norman and Ian) and one deacon (Roger) have been completed. In addition to which the leadership wish to stregthen the team with an additional elder and an additional deacon. So that means each member may nominate up to 3 elders and 2 deacons. Ian has indicated he is willing to stand for another term but Norman and Roger have decided not to stand again and so we thank them for their faithful service. Roger has however indicated that he would be prepared to serve until Jan 2022 to provide continuity and handover. That may mean he does stand for a shortened term but the church should be aware this is time limited.

Graphic representation of timeline in the text

You may read teaching and information on the role of elders and deacons or paper copies are available from the office on request.

UPDATED 23 Apr 21: The correct teaching that Eddie prepared a few years back is now linked above.

Notices for Sunday 18 April 2021

This week

In-person services continue this week with increased capacity. Pre-booking is still required but please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household) here – contact Tim if you are unable to book.

Please note social distancing rules apply.

Sunday Services

Zoom Junior Church

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom. 
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings. And then add your name.

The Ark

Please pray for the Ark team as they prepare for the next Ark Saturday 24th April. Check out the Ark facebook page here

Youth Study Groups

The Youth Study Groups will be starting up again in person from Wednesday 21st April. Please contact Dan Ovens for more information

Pray for the Muslim World

Ramadan started on Tuesday 13th April. We have an opportunity to pray through this important time. There is a daily prayer guide available here as a printed leaflet or a download for £2.00. https://30daysprayer.org.uk/order/

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

SAVE THE DATE!

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

WHEN: MONDAY, 26 APRIL

TIME: 7:30 PM

WHERE AND HOW: IN YOUR HOME ON ZOOM!

Women’s Ministry Team is having a praise evening along with special guest, RUTH LANCASTER, who will be sharing with us! Please join us!

Riding the Next Wave

This post by Joth Hunt was originally published at Seventy Two

I’m not a surfer but I did grow up by the sea and I have always enjoyed riding a wave by body boarding. I understand that the best surfers are those who know which are the best waves to ride. They patiently watch the horizon to learn the language of the sea before choosing the largest and best waves. Missional listening and leadership is partially about watching the societal and cultural waves on the horizon and then, with the help of the Spirit, getting ready to ride those waves in the best way possible.

No one saw the wave of COVID coming, and if they had, they probably wouldn’t have realised what a huge impact it was going to have. It was like a wave that understandably caught even the best surfer unawares! However, as we see the vaccines roll out and the potential of life returning to some kind of normality, it is worth looking out to the horizon and asking what cultural waves might be heading our way and whether it is possible to missionally serve our communities by riding some of these waves.

I can’t say with great certainty what these waves might be, but I do want to suggest three possible waves worth considering:

Mental Health

The first wave I think worth highlighting is the potential for a wave of mental health issues as people come out of lockdown and restrictions. Many of us are aware of how lockdown has challenged our own mental health and wellbeing. Some of us have been quite surprised by how we have reacted to the challenges that we have faced. Personally, I have yearned to get out of the routine space of home and find a new scene. During the winter months this, of course, has been much harder to do. I have found myself become restless, frustrated and very tetchy and my sleep at times has been inconsistent. If we are aware that our own mental health has been challenged during these times, it can’t be too difficult to imagine the amount of mental strain there has been for others.

As we slowly come out of lockdown, I find myself wondering how the Church will be available to others in society to help them find their way out of this tough period. I’m fascinated that before COVID hit our shores the Wellbeing Cafe movement was well underway. My understanding is that during COVID a number of communities have begun virtual Wellbeing Cafes. Spaces for people to just be and to be listened to. Ruby Wax, the founder of Frazzled Cafe, once said, “Being heard, to me, has always been half the cure.”

I’m encouraged when I hear of churches that are beginning to consider how they might respond to this need through ‘Wellbeing Cafes’, listening services and support groups that will give people time and space to process what has happened but also rediscover their feet through new rhythms of health and wellbeing.

A Time to Grieve

One of the most difficult things during this time for many people has been the lack of opportunity to mourn and grieve the consequences of this pandemic. I am wondering whether there might be a wave of unexpressed grief both individually but also corporately. The vast majority of people will have known at least one person who has died of COVID or passed away during this time when a full and ‘proper’ process for giving thanks and the availability to comfort each other just hasn’t been allowed to take place. I fear that it would be very easy for this lack of formalised grief to be forgotten as we celebrate the easing of lockdown and restrictions. Churches could have a key role to play in giving people time and space to give thanks for those who have passed away and to grieve together in an appropriate and respectful manner.

We could also prepare ourselves to be available to pastorally support those who have lost loved ones during this period and who are still dealing with their own grief alongside the guilt of having a funeral process that fell below their expectations and needs. Churches again could be playing a key role here in revisiting those who are grieving and giving space and time to allow this extraordinary and unprecedented grief to be expressed and comforted.

A Time to Re-evaluate

The third wave that may be on the horizon is one of re-evaluating all that has happened and how that has impacted the things that we hold as being important. I can’t imagine that there are too many people who have not stopped during the past year and asked themselves some very deep and fundamental questions about their lives, values and beliefs.

I have been encouraged in recent months by a number of churches that have been hosting ‘Alpha’ type events online and found a good uptake of people wishing to engage. I have just heard from one of our pioneers of a number of people that have sought him out for conversations during this time of lockdown, wanting to find a person to reflect with and process their thoughts and emotions. This seems to me a real opportunity. Moments of disaster and crisis will always create a desire to question and to review.

I’m not sure how large this wave might be or how long it might last but I think it might be significant enough for those churches who dare to ride it to discover opportunities to share the story, values and beliefs of the Christian faith with people who are keen to re-evaluate.

Of course, I might be wrong about all these potential waves and there may be others that are heading toward the coastline but I do think all three are worth considering and possibly attempting to ride as we come out of this long period of lockdown.  The period of COVID that we have experienced has been unprecedented and challenging but the season that we are about to enter into may be one that brings waves of fresh and new opportunities. May the Spirit of God prepare his Church for such a time as this and lift us up onto each new wave, enabling the good news of Christ to be seen and shared with all that will hear.

 

The post Riding the Next Wave appeared first on Seventy Two.