Monday, 14 May 2018

Guest preacher and blogger!

Gary Jenkins - former Vicar of HT - returned to preach yesterday. Although I didn’t hear Gary preach I have read his account of his visit on his blog, and you can read it here:

Gary is the first of a number of former HT Clergy invited to make a return visit to the pulpit during my sabbatical - I’m disappointed I won’t hear them live, but look forward to catching up via our website sermon page:

Thanks to Gary for making the journey back to Redhill, and for staying for the day!

Meanwhile, Libby and I paid a visit to St Saviour's, Guildford for their evening service. More to follow on our visits to other large Anglican churches in due course.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Welsh mountains, lakes and weather

Week 2 of Sabbatical:

Have just returned from 3 days in stunning scenery around Lake Trawfynydd in Wales.

Libby, Esme, Fergus and I enjoyed a packed few days of outdoor activity and indoor loafing.

We experienced welsh weather of both extremes - beautiful sunshine on the day we got there, followed the next day by lashing wind and rain which beat us back from our attempted ascent of Snowdon (in trainers and coats more suited to Redhill town centre).

Trawsfynydd is also the site of a now decommissioned Magnox power station, which sounds grim, but even that has its own beauty when viewed from the lakeside cafe!

When it was active the power station produced sufficient output to provide for a city the size of Manchester.

Zip line adventure
The final day included a trip to the Slate Caverns and a hair-raising, death-defying, scream-inducing ride on Titan - the worlds longest zip wire! Travelling at speeds of up to 60mph over a distance of 2,000M, hanging from a harness clipped to a zip wire c.80M above a slate quarry. Memorable stuff!

Thanks to Alistair and Kath for letting us stay at The Beehive!

Trawsfynydd has a famous son in the Welsh poet Hedd Wyn, who was killed in battle at Ypres in 1917 aged 29.

His Christian faith made him a reluctant soldier, believing that he could not kill a man, and for a while he remained in a reserved occupation as a shepherd. Eventually the family had to send one son - Hedd Wyn was conscripted and was killed after only 3 months on the battlefield.

His poem 'War' contrasts the horror of Passchendale with the peaceful life he lived in Trawsfynydd - the seemingly godless experience of the battlefield compared with the relative peace of his former life.

Why must I live in this grim age,
When, to a far horizon, God
Has ebbed away, and man, with rage,
Now wields the sceptre and the rod?

Man raised his sword, once God had gone,
To slay his brother, and the roar
Of battlefields now casts upon
Our homes the shadow of the war.

The harps to which we sang are hung,
On willow boughs, and their refrain
Drowned by the anguish of the young
Whose blood is mingled with the rain

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Sunday in Palm Bay

Paddling in the North Sea isn't my usual way to start Sunday, but it was a great way to kick off the first Sunday of my Sabbatical! Assorted dogs and their owners were the only other occupants of the beach. 

Then it was off to St Philip's Church, Palm Bay (not as exotic as it sounds...) in Margate for their 10am service.

Part of my Sabbatical plan is to visit other Anglican evangelical churches to see how they function, and St Philip's came recommended.

St Philip's meets in in a modern building set in the middle of a housing estate, and the building welcomes members of the community for a variety of activities midweek. The church Mission Statement is Honouring God, Serving the Community, Growing the Church.

A number of people welcomed us and introduced themselves to us when we arrived, including the Vicar who told us 'There's a bloke over there who moved here from Redhill a couple of years ago.' I began to wonder...

The service began informally with notices followed by silence, before sung worship, a Bible reading and then an encouraging, Jesus-focussed expository sermon from the Vicar on Hebrews 1

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Communion followed, during which time I spotted the bloke from Redhill...

St Philip's felt like a happy, welcoming and active church: notices included details of an evangelism training session immediately after the morning service, and the news sheet told of a couple of events that Holy Trinity people would be familiar with - a group of 20 young people going to Berega (Tanzania), and a week-long 'Holiday from Home' event in August for the retired community.

Came away without having coffee (having been told that it was of variable quality!), but not before having chatted with the bloke from Redhill... and Ian Buckland, formerly of this parish!

Thank you to the members of St Philip's, Palm Bay, for welcoming us - we came away encouraged in faith!

Monday, 30 April 2018

Time out!

Today I begin a 3-month Sabbatical, returning to Holy Trinity on 1st August. 

Below is a rough itinerary of how I plan to spend the time - a happy balance of study, rest, family time and a bit of travel!

Sabbatical Plans

Family holiday in Snowdonia; a visit to Northern Ireland; attendance at a week-long Leadership Conference in Keswick.

London Men’s Convention along with others from Holy Trinity; attendance at the 3rd GAFCON Conference in Jerusalem followed by a retreat in Galilee; time away with Libby.

 Time to read, reflect and to visit other churches; a day conference at Oak Hill College ‘Images of Glory’, looking at what it means for us to bear the image of God in the world.

Sabbatical leave follows the biblical principle of Sabbath - a time of rest, refreshment and renewal, and it is offered to Clergy in the Southwark Diocese after 14 years of Ordained Ministry. It was 16 years ago that I came to Holy Trinity as Curate and during that time covered for the Vicar as Gary Jenkins went on a 3 month Sabbatical!

In addition to the list above, I plan to spend time visiting my parents in Burton on Trent, and time away individually with Esme and Fergus doing something of their choosing. There is also a slim chance that Derby County will make it to the play-off final at Wembley on 26th May, and I hope to be there!

I am looking forward to visiting other larger Anglican evangelical churches with a view to seeing what we can learn for the way that we structure our services here at Holy Trinity.

I also look forward to having time to read - there is reading to do in preparation for the Keswick leadership conference, and I plan to work through a pile of books that others have recommended. I have also discovered the Mick Herron spy novels and plan to relax into the world of international espionage…

My Sabbatical is made all the more restful in the knowledge that Holy Trinity is in good hands.

The weekly staff and leadership team meeting will take place with Sarah Alexander chairing them; the PCC and PMC will continue their business under the chairmanship of Paul Taylor.
The work of preparing for our Holiday Club and autumn Mission will gather pace, the search for a new Families and Children’s Worker will continue, and repairs to the Vestry will begin.

Sundays will see some familiar faces returning to the pulpit – Gary Jenkins, David King and Luke Ijaz (former Vicar, and Associate Vicars) will be preaching, as will Andrew Harland and Charlie Robinson who both grew up at Holy Trinity. I am gutted that I shall not be here – don’t miss them yourselves!

But the church is the body of Christ, and he has equipped his body very well with all that we needs to continue our week by week worship, witness and welcome.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Cor.12:27

I look forward to seeing you on my return, and will be praying for Holy Trinity whilst I am away. I hope to return from the Sabbatical feeling rested in body, refreshed in mind, and renewed in spirit – do pray!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Billy Graham - change of address

One night in June 1984, I boarded a coach with dozens of others from St Peter's Church, Stapenhill in order to hear Billy Graham preach at Villa Park. He was visiting England for a 3-month long 'crusade' called 'Mission England'.

I can still remember the power of his voice, the persuasive preaching ('the Bible says...') and the warmth of his invitation to 'get up out of your seats'. Thousands responded that night by getting up out of their seats after Billy preached, and walking onto the Villa Park turf -  I'd love to be able say that I responded to his invitation, but I didn't! However, his message made a deep and lasting impression on me, and I responded to the gospel later that year at a Mission England follow-up meeting in Derby Assembly Rooms.

No doubt there will be thousands upon thousands of people with a story to tell in coming days of how this gifted and humble man pointed them to the life giving relationship that they now know with Jesus. Billy has said that the first question he will ask when he gets to heaven will be: 

“Why me, Lord?  Why did you choose a farm boy from North Carolina to preach to so many people, to have such a wonderful team of associates, and to have a part in what you were doing in the latter half of the twentieth century?”

I have no idea why God chose Billy Graham, but Billy unstintingly used the evangelist's gift that God had given him.  The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) reports, "nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries" have been reached through his ministry.

He Billy lived his life simply and with a disciplined determination to honour Jesus in every area of his life. He lived with great personal integrity, never travelled alone with his secretary, and no scandal has ever attached itself to him. 

He once said: 

"Some day you will 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 just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God."

Thanks be to God for the life of Billy Graham. May God raise up another one like him soon.

Billy and Ruth Graham - married for 64 years.

Seeing the Saviour

‘Seeing the Saviour’

At the turn of the century the National Gallery hosted an exhibition entitled ‘The Image of Christ: Seeing Salvation’ – the exhibition involved a wide variety of paintings that depicted Jesus, telling the story of how different generations in church history have ‘seen’ Jesus. I know that a number of people from Holy Trinity went along and, like me, found it fascinating.

In our Lent Series this year we are following Luke’s account of the last days of Jesus' earthly ministry – from the events in the Upper Room to his resurrection appearance on the Emmaus Road.

Each session has an accompanying painting for us to reflect on prior to coming to the Bible passage.  In each case the artist has taken an event in the gospel and presented his own interpretation of it. We’ll spend a few minutes each time looking at the painting, and asking questions about it e.g. How does the artist want us to see Jesus? How does this painting make you feel? Does it bring any other Bible truths / passages to mind? etc.

There will also be bible exposition, time to pray, and opportunity for group discussion during each session.

We begin our series this evening with the events in the Upper Room:  As the disciples eat the Passover meal, Jesus speaks to them of his suffering and betrayal, of his blood 'poured out for you', which point them to him as the perfect fulfillment of the Passover.

I look forward to joining those of you who are able to come along on Wednesday evening, and I pray that each of us will see Jesus more clearly as we approach Easter through Luke’s gospel.

‘Seeing the Saviour’

Week 1         The Last Supper (Luke 22:7-23)
Week 2         Jesus in Gethsemane / Jesus’ Arrest (Luke 22:24-53)
Week 3         Jesus’ Trial (Luke 22: 54-71, 23: 1-25)
Week 4         The Crucifixion (Luke 23:26-56)
Week 5         The Risen Jesus on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:1-35)

Monday, 1 January 2018

Iron sharpening iron (NY resolutions) 

This is a report from Day 1 of 2 resolutions that revolve around 3 Apps:

Resolution 1: App 1 The Bible in One Year. 

This App will take me through the whole Bible in a year - with a Psalm, a reading from the New Testament, and then a reading from the Old Testament each day. 
I’m planning on listening to them rather than reading them - as the first hearers would have done... 
Today’s Psalm was Psalm 1 which includes its own encouragement to draw near to God day by day:

1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

I look forward to my time just listening to the Bible read to me each day by the voice of Poirot (David Suchet). 
I'm not doing this on my own, as a number of others from Holy Trinity are committed to this daily routine. Some of us will be meeting up occasionally to talk about what we’ve read and how God might be changing and challenging us from his word. You can find out more about BiOY here.

Day 1 of Resolution 1 completed! 

Resolution 2: Apps 2 and 3

These 2 Apps involve helping me to continue running (my 2nd NY resolution). 

I began running in August 2017 and have kept it up since, running 5k 3 mornings a week. I’m loving it, and feeling the benefits. Just Do It (if you can)!

I ran my first Parkrun last week - alongside a few others from Holy Trinity -  and think I may be hooked by the enjoyment of running with others...and the competitive element of having your times published online.
I ran the Reigate Parkrun again this morning:  Day 1 of Resolution 2 completed. 

The 5k-10K App is more of a challenge. I began in August by using the superb 'Couch to 5k App' - with Olympian Michael Johnson as my personal trainer! - and this is the follow on to take me from 5 to 10K. 

I’m starting this one on Wednesday, but I reckon it’s the one of the 3 I’m most likely to give up on!

The benefit of all these 3 Apps is that you don’t do any of it alone - you ‘run the race’ with the encouragement of others alongside you. The Bible has a lot to say about that!

Proverbs 27
17 As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

Stay sharp in 2018!