Monday, 16 October 2017

Drinking from the well of Living Water

Attention HT members!

If you enjoyed the recent sermon series on Working from a Place of Rest, based on Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well,then here is an opportunity to take up Jesus' invitation of living water:
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”


In the second of the sermons we looked at how Jesus gives spiritual refreshment and life to those who come to 'drink from the well' of his word, and sit in his presence each day. I spoke from personal experience of 'the real me' meeting 'the real God' day by day, and the important place of daily Bible reading for that to be possible.


Today I used the Word Live daily Bible reading notes, which I have used for a number of years now. The contributor this week is Dr Paul Woodbridge, who taught me and Aneal (and probably Gary Jenkins!) New Testament at Oak Hill College - so I can vouch for it being a great week to join Word Live if you don't already have good daily Bible reading notes. The quality of Paul's commentary and application is always excellent.

You can sign up for Word Live notes to come into your email inbox daily, for free. It also has a podcast option so that you can listen rather than read, if that suits you better. Go on - drink up!


Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Reader, the Youth Minister and the Canon

A happy event at Southwark Cathedral this evening as Jan Greaves was licensed as a Reader along with 5 others (see previous blogpost). See photos of this event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/southwarkcofe/albums/72157661435844348

However, the evening ended with unfortunate scenes, as a youth minister (rumoured to have Baptist sympathies) had to be evicted from a seat belonging to an Honorary Canon. The otherwise peace-loving Canon Jenkins had to forcibly remove her from his seat. 





 



Shocking.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A new Reader for Holy Trinity!


This Sunday evening at Southwark Cathedral Jan Greaves will be licensed as a Reader in the Southwark Diocese. Thanks be to God!

This comes at the end of an initial selection process and then 3 years of training for Jan. She has held down her job at St Bede's School and been active at Holy Trinity (particularly at Timperley Church), alongside the academic work, placements and the weekly trip up to Southwark to receive her training.

It has been a great joy to supervise Jan over this period - I have enjoyed discussing her placements and her essays and answering her particular questions about why we do things the way we do at HT (or don't do them!). Jan has a keen theological mind and a passion for Jesus that will be a great asset to us as she begins this new chapter of ministry.


If you are wondering what a Reader is, then see this quote from the C of E website:
"Readers are lay people who have been selected, trained and licensed by the Bishop of a diocese to preach, teach and lead worship in a pastoral context. There are more than 10,000 active Readers in the Church of England. Most are licensed to a parish but some are chaplains in prisons, hospitals, hospices or schools, a few are in charge of parishes."
You could also talk to of the other Readers at Holy Trinity - Ray Nash, David Storer or Trevor Watts.

Jan plans to continue exercising her ministry across Holy Trinity and Timperley Church, and we look forward to a formal commissioning of her in the services here at Holy Trinity in coming weeks.

If you would like to attend the service at the Cathedral on Sunday evening you are welcome to do so - the service begins at 6.00pm, and it is open to the public without tickets.
If you can't make it to the cathedral we shall be praying for Jan here at our Sunday@7 service.

Congratulations to Jan, and to Paul, Katie and Tom!







Monday, 25 September 2017

Celebrating God's generosity at Harvest


Yesterday was a day of celebration at Holy Trinity!




We celebrated Harvest Thanksgiving...

Lizzie Baker preached to our 3 All Age Congregations on 'Our Generous God' - reminding us from Genesis 1 of the God who has given us a world of abundant beauty and variety to rule over and care for, and then from John 3:16 of the God who 'so loved the world that he gave his only Son'. God's generosity and grace seen in creation and cross.

Members of HT brought their Harvest gifts - donations of non-perishable food and other items for the Salvation Army Food Bank.

The HT flower team (pictured below) had once again decorated the church imaginatively for Harvest so that we were reminded of God's variety and abundance in creation as we walked into church.

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We celebrated an update from our Connected Pledge Weekend...

The weekend before had been our Pledge Weekend, as we invited members of HT to come and pray on the Saturday before coming along to take part in a shared act of pledging to our Connected Building Project on the Sunday. It was a moving sight on Sunday 17th as so many members of HT came forward to make their response. 



Yesterday we were able to announce that we are now past the half-way mark towards our required £3,000,000. We celebrated by using a verse from 1 Chronicles 29 - King David's prayer at the building of the Temple in Jerusalem:

 “But who am I, and who are my people, 
that we should be able to give as generously as this? 
Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand."

These ancient words came to life again as we - like God's people in every generation - were able to celebrate God's goodness to us and his abundant provision for all our needs.
At the launch of our Connected Building Project we had heard this quote from Hudson Taylor, the pioneer missionary to China: "In any great work of God there are 3 stages: Impossible. Difficult. Done!" It feels as though we have moved beyond the impossible stage, and into the difficult territory (by human standards at least).


We hosted a celebration of schools work in Redhill and Reigate...

At our Sunday@7 service we welcomed members from churches around the borough, as we hosted the annual Sparkfish Celebration Service.

Sparkfish is a Christian organisation, supported by local churches to go into local schools to present the Christian message so that children can hear it and make sense of it for themselves. They do this in a variety of ways - offering assemblies, seasonal events, personal mentoring and 'Think' spaces. Click here for more info.

Last night we were able to meet a couple of new appointments to the Sparkfish staff team, including Harriet Pearce the new Leader of Schools Work.

We also heard a report of the last year and how schools have welcomed Sparkfish in - so much so that there is more opportunity than the team can currently take up. Volunteers welcome!

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Adding prayers to the Sparkfish Prayer Tree!
It was a day to celebrate the goodness of God in his faithfulness and his generosity. It was a day to experience something of the joy of belonging to such a God, and to be among his people.

Thanks be to God for his goodness in creation; thanks be to God for his indescribable gift to us in his Son!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Nothing New Under the Sun?

The total solar eclipse seen in Guernsey, Wyoming.




Yesterday's total eclipse of the sun, causing 2 minutes of  day to become night for millions of Americans, was nicely timed...


...It comes around about once every 350 years, in the place where you live. The next eclipse coming to Redhill is due in 2024. The phenomenon that causes a total eclipse is fascinating and enlightening (pun intended):
Consider that the sun is about 400 times the diameter of the moon, which would make it awfully hard for the lunar disk to fit so perfectly over the solar one—except that the sun is also about 400 times more distant, meaning that the two bodies appear to be the same size in the earthly sky. Consider the way the moon’s ragged mountains, which are impossible to see from as far away as Earth, form a sawtooth pattern at the lunar edges through which the last of the sun’s light streams in the moments before a total eclipse is complete, creating the brilliant burst of light astronomers call the diamond ring effect.

...For our Space Explorers Holiday Club. Thank you, Lord, for a great reminder of the vast, beautiful, mind-blowing universe in which we live!


..Because this book excerpt came into my inbox a couple of days ago, and I read it this morning. It is a commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes. Some of the best known verses from this book of the Old Testament are these:

 2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? 4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. ... 9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 1




The writer of Ecclesiastes' observation is this: men and women long to come across something in their lives that will break the constant repetitive cycle, something to say or see or hear that will be truly new and therefore signicant—but there is nothing. No such thing exists. Whatever we see and hear has already been and gone, covered by the sands of time and simply rolling around again, perhaps in a different guise but basically the same as before. 
That explains our fascination with anything new or 'different' from the norm - such as an eclipse which thrills and fascinates because it is so unusual and causes us to lift our eyes above the routine to marvel at the beauty and complexity in our world.

But what difference would it make if we began to take a moment-by-moment interest in life 'under the sun'. Not to see things as simply routine, but to delight in the world that the Bible tells us God has made to point us to himself? To delight in the coming of a new season, in the repetition of the sun rising and setting, to delight in each day as a gift from God rather than 'same old, same old'. We need to see life through these new glasses to get a fresh perspective on life.

The title of the book (Living Life Backwards) reflects the author's main point: that if we see life simply as rolling on and on, one day after another, with endless cycles of repetition and 'meaninglessness', then we fail to live. But to recognise the truth that one day life will come to an end makes all the difference under the sun. Here is his opening line:
I am going to die. By the time you read these lines, I may even be dead. It’s not that I have a virulent disease or a terminal illness. A doctor has not pronounced on how I am going to die. I don’t know when I will die. I just know I will. I am going to die, and so are you. But here is why I wrote this book: I am ready to die.
He goes on...

Ecclesiastes teaches us to live life backward. It encourages us to take the one thing in the future that is certain—our death—and work backward from that point into all the details and decisions and heartaches of our lives, and to think about them from the perspective of the end. It is the destination that makes sense of the journey. If we know for sure where we are heading, then we can know for sure what we need to do before we get there.

'Life under the sun' ceases to be dull repetition and begins to feel like the 'life in all its fullness' that Jesus promises, with this perspective.

But you will need new glasses to see it - glasses which the writer of Ecclesiastes begins to see through, and which Jesus ultimately and uniquely gives to those who look to him. I reckon that buying and reading  'Living Life Backwards' might be a good investment of time spent under the sun.





Blast Off! (Space Explorers are Go!)


After months of growing anticipation and activity Holiday Club 2017 took off this morning.

The theme this year is Space Explorers (following last year's Polar Explorers and 2015's Epic Explorers). Space Explorers teaches the story of Daniel - carried off into captivity and finding himself in a strange land...but learning that God is still with him and ready to keep his promises to his people even in this strange land.

I have a bit of personal history with Holiday Club! In 2002, when I arrived at HT as Curate, I was thrown into the deep end of 'Mega Quest Holiday Club' - an open air extravaganza, with a whole 7-day program for around 400 kids with 150 leaders. It was an exhilarating, adrenalin-filled week and a great intro to HT.

This photo dates back to the year before that - 2001...see how many faces you can name:



Some things have changed: we've moved indoors for the 'Round Up' session, we have had to limit the hours we meet to mornings (or face an Ofsted inspection!), and we limit the number of children to 150. 

Some things have not changed: the overall aim of wanting to teach the Bible and present Jesus clearly to children, the dedication of the leaders (some of whom have taken time off work to lead groups), the commitment of many more members of HT who have given financially, and are praying and encouraging in other ways from the sidelines.

One new feature is the training of young leaders - a group of LiTs (Leaders in Training) who have undergone a short course to help them learn about Christian service. This week they will be available to help group leaders and to be an extra pair of hands wherever they are needed. It's a great development and bodes well for future leaders in the church! Here they are, ready to go...


And here are a few of the leaders who will, like Daniel, be discovering that God is with them and is faithful to them as they find themselves in strange situations and alien territory this week!





Thursday, 10 August 2017

August 1906 and August 2017


This was Holy Trinity on 6th August 1906!  Or, rather, The Henry Brass Memorial Church as it was known at the time. The view is of the North Side, and the photograph is taken from the ground on which the Church Hall would be built 14 years later. 

The land had been gifted by Lord Monson. What early photos of this building project reveal is that the site was a sloping, undeveloped piece of land - unrecognisable from the busy and developed London Road that we know today. 

111 years later we are involved in another building project! Our vision is for a Connected Church and Centre, linked via two doors that will be made through this North wall and come out onto a concourse within the new centre. A Connected building that will facilitate mission and ministry on this (now) strategic site for generations to come.



This week I have written a letter to all members of HT, with encouraging news about pledges made so far to the project. You can read the letter below.

If you would like to know more about the project - by viewing the video or the online brochure - you can find it on the Connected page of our church website, here.

If you have any questions about the project you can email us at connected@htredhill.com.


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CONNECTED BUILDING PROJECT
Update: August 2017


Dear Friends,

In our Connected brochure we promised to keep you up to date with news and information on our progress with the Building Project.
We are in the period of praying and pledging as we approach our Pledge Day on 17th September, and I know a number of you will be prayerfully considering and discussing your contribution over the summer holidays. Below you will find encouraging news on pledges made so far, some information on a new ‘Connected Prayer Space’ in church and a new page on the HT website. Read on…

Update on Pledges
I am delighted to be able to share that we have so far received 19 pledges totalling £502,000 (inclusive of Gift Aid). Together with the £330,000 already in the bank that amounts to a total of £832,000. Thank you to those who have already made your decisions and encouraged the rest of us by your generosity.  We trust the running total will increase further as our Pledge Day gets nearer. Thanks be to God!
If you have questions or would like to talk further with one of the Connected Team before our Pledge Day, please email connected@htredhill.com or contact the church office.

Connected Prayer Space
To recognise the vital need for regular prayer as we approach this project under God, we are creating a special area in church for this purpose. The new Connected Prayer Space will be located where one of the two new connections will be made, at the front of the north aisle by the vestry door. With permission from the Archdeacon of Reigate, we are temporarily removing one pew and its bookrest to create a space suitable for use by individuals or a small group, with information and reminders on how we can be praying for the project. Please join others in the space if it would be helpful to you, either before or after a service, or when the church is open at other times.

Connected Prayer
During August we shall be meeting in the prayer space on a Sunday from 9.45am to 10.00am for 15 minutes of prayer before the Summer Services. Do join members of the staff team and prayer team as we pray together.
The church is also open between 2.00pm and 5.00pm on a Monday for silent prayer, and I encourage you to make use of the church to pray if you are free at that time. You won’t be alone! (‘Thank You’ to those who are staffing this slot to enable the church to be open). We are producing a prayer sheet for each of these Mondays.
Connected Prayer cards are available in the church foyer to pray for HT over the summer.

Questions and Answers
After the presentation in June we invited questions about the Building Project. Members of the Steering Group have been responding to these questions via the rolling notices shown on screen in church on a Sunday. A slideshow with all the answers provided so far now appears on the Connected page of the website, and this will be added to as the questions are addressed.

Connected page on the website
Have you watched the video recently to inspire your praying for the project? The video, plus an online copy of the brochure is available here: www.htredhill.com/connected
As I watched the video again today, I was struck afresh by the following:
·         The opportunities that the new facilities will give us to be more active and welcoming in our engagement with the community. The possibility of outreach through use of the kitchen facilities, and the improved spaces for creative youth and children’s ministry excite me. The impact of a welcoming concourse area and a friendly face on the reception desk are hard to put into words, but are all-important in terms of first impressions.
·         The increased visibility of Holy Trinity from the London Road. The glazed frontage and new access from this busy road will present Holy Trinity as a welcoming and thriving Christian community.
·         The importance of accessibility and level flooring has been brought home to me in recent days. The fact this new building is fully accessible will be a huge benefit for those who push a buggy, use a wheelchair, or have mobility issues.

A Lesson from History
As we looked at Nehemiah together recently we saw how a vision given to one person became a vision owned by a whole community. Everyone from the perfumers and priests to those more used to taking up a trowel were engaged in addressing a part of the wall, as the Lord used his people to rebuild the city’s defences. But a rebuilt wall was nothing without a rebuilt people, and the book tells of how the people gathered around as Ezra read aloud the book of the Law ‘and all of the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law…then they bowed down and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.’ Neh. 8: 3b, 6b
We’re reminded that this is a spiritual project. We’re called to read our Bibles to seek God’s wisdom and guidance. We’re called to pray for God’s provision and prompting. We’re called to respond in worship and sacrificial giving by offering ourselves to him in response to the ultimate sacrifice he made for us.
In Romans 12 Paul speaks about our ‘true and proper worship’. We’re to ‘offer (our) bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God’. He goes on to flesh that out in surprisingly practical and personal terms: ‘We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…if your gift is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously…’ Paul lists the ability to give generously as a spiritual gift that has been given to some. Generosity is an attitude of the heart rather than a number, and a generous gift will have a different figure against it for each one of us, depending on our circumstances. If you have not yet considered your pledge, then please do so and - as Paul urged the Corinthians - do so cheerfully!

Your friend and Vicar,       

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8th August 2017