Monday, May 29, 2017

Following the story.....

Some of you will remember the E100 series we did a few years ago when people were invited to read through a 100 key passages from the bible over a few months. Those who took part said how they could now see the whole story of the bible and this deepened their faith. 

The readings we use each week in church have been chosen by a group of experts from across the different christian denominations. During the period called “Ordinary Time”, the part of the year from Trinity to Advent, there is an option to use a reading from the old testament which, over a three year period, covers every main character and event found in the old testament. 

Given the feedback from E100, and that we begin the three year cycle of reading this year, we are going to commit to following the story of God’s people over the next three years. We start on June 11th with four weeks on Abraham.

Some of you were present when Nadine Parkinson from Tearfund came and spoke about becoming part of the connected church network. We will be discussing at June PCC about signing up and connecting with the Kigezi Diocese in Uganda and helping with their project to bring clean water to communities. The Kigezi Diocese Water and Sanitation Programme was started in 1986 with the aim of providing clean drinking water for its local community within a walking distance of not more than 500 metres. 

The Kigezi Diocese Water and Sanitation Programme also provide health education to people encouraging them to improve their sanitation.  The aim is to improve the health of the community (specifically decrease incidences of water-borne diseases), reduce the time taken to collect water, and as a result provide more time for community members to work or to attend school.

We commit to helping by praying and raising money for the projects. We will also get regular updates and the chance to visit! We also act as advocates for the project and spread the word about Tearfund and their work. Make sure you make your views known to PCC members.

During the summer we hope to start having Wadworth Church open every Friday between 2-4pm. We will need volunteers to help, so have a word with John Curtis or Paul Spargo if you are interested in helping. Opening the church will give an opportunity for people who want to look at church or just sit in church. We hope to have information for people on different parts of the church.  We also hope to develop a “sensory trail” around church, to help people engage with their spirituality. 

At Wadworth Gala on 4th June, yours truly is giving a talk in church at 12:45 and 2:30pm on Wadworth church called “Stones, Bones and Loans”; come and have a listen. There will also be a display about some aspects of church. 

Later in the month we have the Garden Party in the churchyard on Saturday 24th at 2pm, please tell people about this at help raise important funds for church.

Its a busy month and i hope to see you


Alun

God of Surprises

I write this in the week after Easter, the day a General Election has been called. Why this comes as a surprise I don’t know - patently obvious thing to do in my view. Politicians are a fairly predictable bunch - usually risk adverse and full of self interest. 
God however is the opposite, as Christians we should be living a risky life focused on others. Easter week is always unpredictable and this year did not disappoint. 
Even before Lent, God was on the move! I arrived at Balby church on Transfiguration Sunday to find a table trolley at the front of church, left there after the final table was put into use during the week. (Some churches measure growth by the number attending, we measure growth by the number of tables in use and the number of clothes racks we need)     For whatever reason the trolley didn't get moved so the service started with the trolley “in the way”. While preaching I was inspired to announce that during Lent we would transfigure this ordinary trolley into something special. I have to say the call to action was superbly answered, especially by the Thursday Craft and games group. 
On Plan Sunday the trolley went on its maiden voyage around Balby churchyard as part of the Palm Sunday parade. We decided to use the trolley for prayers at the Lych Gate in Balby. On Easter Saturday we rolled the trolley out to the Lych Gate at 6pm. We gave out easter eggs and wished people Happy Easter. We received a very warm and friendly response from most people. We offered prayers to anyone you wanted to receive. We posted what we did on Facebook and it was widely shared with over 1500 people seeing the post. This is the highest number for any our Facebook  posts.
I found myself surprised by God by all the above and that the  response was so positive - so we will be doing it again during the week before Pentecost - God seems to be opening a door and we need to push in. I’ve chosen the time between Ascension and Pentecost as this period is also the focus of a national initiative on pray launched by our Archbishops. I hope you can join us.
Friday 26th May 6pm
Tuesday 30th May 12-1
Wednesday 31st May 6:30pm - 7:30pm
Friday 2nd June 4pm - 5pm
As noted last month there are two Saturday morning dates when we making items for our celebration of Pentecost on Wadworth Gala Sunday - 10 am Sunday 4th June.So come and join us for two special craft mornings on 
Saturdays the 13th and 20th May 10am-12md. 
We need volunteers to help on the mornings and we need to know roughly how many will be coming so it would be great if you could tell us you were coming either on Facebook or by emailing wadwithlove@gmail.com or texting 07958685393. Contact details are at the end of the article. As it is the birthday of the start of the worldwide church we are going to decorate church with a theme of Red and Yellow. We are going to make some of the decorations and some of the items we will need as part of the special service.
The Apostles were certainly surprised by the events of Pentecost and we need to remember that we do not have a God of Boring but a God of Surprises. Come and be surprised by Godm come and join us.

Alun

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Time to Pause


When Jesus was sat in the Garden of Gethsemane he had a moment to pause before the chaos of arrest, trial, torture and execution that follows. The disciples are so paused they fall asleep! Pauses in our life can be awkward times (as it was for Jesus now as he awaited the pain and humiliation ahead), they can also be great times, times of expectation, anticipation. 
As we approach the Garden of Gethsemane we must also find time to pause, so we can reflect what is about to happen. If you anything like me,  you will find holy week an intense time, the triumph of Palm Sunday followed by the unfolding of the week as Jesus walks to his date with the cross. Then there is the agony of holy Saturday as we again pause - perhaps the biggest pause in history - as Jesus lies in the tomb, dead, awaiting resurrection. Then the joy of Easter Sunday.
It is a week worth savouring and pausing life to find time to breath it all in and ponder what it means. It is a week in history that we all have to come to terms with, because it frames western society. So please try and make time during each night of holy week to join us (see elsewhere in the magazine for details), feel the drama unfold, you will grow spiritually, I promise.
April also sees the beginning of new initiatives in our youth work. You may remember the plan for the first year was for our Mission Partnership youth worker, Anabelle, to become familiar with he work already taking place in St Francis Bessacarr. A little earlier than planned we see stage two - which was to see the work at St Francis spread to the “Balby Road Corridor” commence. On Wednesday 5th April from 5-6:50pm we have the start of a fellowship group for 11-18 year olds - like our mid-week group for adults but tailored to the needs of teenagers. 
After Easter we see the start of a weekly youth club at St James on Thursday nights called JJs (St James and St Johns) - from 6 - 7:30pm. More details to follow.
We bearly get through Easter and this year, we need to consider Pentecost, perhaps earlier than we would normally, as Wadworth Gala is this year on Pentecost Sunday!
This is now the fifth year of the gala and we will be starting in church at 10am on Sunday 4th June. 
As it is the birthday of the worldwide church we are going to decorate church with a theme of Red and Yellow. We are going to make the decorations and the items we will need as part of this special service.
To prepare, come and join us at Wadworth Church for two special craft mornings on 
Saturdays the 13th and 20th May 10am - 12md
Drinks and biscuits provided while we make some banners, windmills, flames, hats, learn some songs and prepare a little dance! Something for all ages! If the vicar can work out how to do it - we will even make some Pentecost biscuits! Children must bring an adult. 
While we are on the subject of the Gala - we need help with he general running of the Gala - so if you can volunteer to help set up or supervise an activity on the day that would be great.
Talking about volunteers I’ve had enquiries about starting a singing group for children in church - is there interest in this? Can you help? I’ve also had an enquiry about running a needle craft and cups group. The idea would be to do knitting or sowing or crocheting etc with a drinks, biscuits and a chat. Are people interested? We may have some pilot groups starting soon on these ideas but it would useful to know if people were interested, so please ring vicarage 01302851974 and leave a message expressing your interest.
All the above need us to pause - pause to volunteer, pause to help, pause to go and have fun, pause and reflect. Singing groups, kneedle and cupa, craft mornings all are good pause moments but they dont get us closer to the meaning of life, only the pause of holy week can do help us with the big questions. So this Holy Week come and pause with me in church, it could change your life.
Alun






Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Bishop New Beginning?

In deepest darkest November Jane and I attended a conference on specific problems of being Church in areas of poverty. The key note speaker was a bishop called Philip North. As he started to speak I thought he's going to make a good new Bishop of Sheffield. I thought to myself that's  an interesting thought - is this a word of knowledge from the Lord.

The thought did not go away and as time went on he was appointed as the new Bishop of Sheffield He is theologically opposed to the ordination of women and women bishops. However I feel God has prepared me for this appointment  and having had a word of knowledge I feel that this appointment is of God. It is, I believe God saying to the church get on with unity.

The lack of unity in church, I have come to realise is such an obstacle to mission. The early church had differences of opinion on matters theological. In fact the first Council of churches that took place in Jerusalem was about whether men should be circumcised before becoming Christians - a Jewish tradition that some believed necessary to be also Christian. There was a point where the early church also believed that only Jews could become Christians the message was not for the Gentiles - us! 

Some of Paul's letters are written to churches in clear disagreement amongst themselves. We think largely that the reading in 1 Corinthians 13 about love is for weddings. This is because this reading over the years has been hijacked as meaning the love that is reflected between a man and a woman. However it was originally written by Paul to a divided church in Corinth.

In order to agree to the consecration of female bishops the church came up with the concept of “mutual flourishing”. In essence this means that we respect each others views and that we do not let theological differences prevent unity and mission. A prerequisite to mutual flourishing is mutual respect. We very much need a fresh start in this area in this Diocese and with the appointment of bishops Philip North this is the ideal opportunity for us to do this. In doing this we need to heed the words of Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.

To remind everyone what Paul wrote

“If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. “

We need to reclaim this passage in its original intention for church unity, it is also a passage that draws us together as Christians as it teaches us to forget each other's faults, not to keep a record of each others wrongs. Therefore this coming Lent I wanted us to think carefully about the words of 1 Corinthians afresh and to heed the parting words of our Lord Jesus Christ "to love one another as I have loved you.”



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Celebration, Lent Project and Fairtrade ooh and of course St Valentine

It Is now almost four years since we first did the “Everyone Welcome” course within the Benefice. This led to out first proper Mission Action plan in 2014 and we have now done many of the actions that arose. We had poor provision for young people and we decided that we need to partner with other churches to improve. This resulted in a Mission Partnership with St James and St Francis and the deployment of a Centenary Youth Worker, Annabel Stott, who visits us on the second Sunday of the month at both morning services. 

It is now time to raise the profile of youth work and also raise some money towards the development of youth work within the Benefice. So this year Our Lent Project will be focused around the development of youth work in the Benefice. Please see the separate leaflet in this magazine for more information.

The last weekend in February promises to be an exciting time as we launch the Lent Project on the Saturday morning and then on Sunday Bishop Peter will be visiting in the evening at 6pm for a special service and faith supper to celebrate the formation of the Benefice. Please come along and join the celebrations. 

The 27th of February marks the start of Fairtrade Fourtnight. 2017 sees the 23rd Fairtrade Fortnight in the UK. It will also be one of the most uncertain years for a generation when it comes to trade. Following the vote for Brexit, the UK will be coming to terms with the urgent need to renegotiate more than 50 international trade deals. And no one knows yet what this will mean for farmers and workers in poor countries. or this country

At the same time, the spiralling price wars between supermarkets are set to intensify, putting even more pressure on the most vulnerable producers who deliver so much of what we eat.
It’s more crucial than ever that the voices of farmers and workers are heard – to combat the risk of undoing the progress of the past two decades of Fairtrade, and putting farmers in an even worse position in the future.

The simple fact we need to get across to as many people as possible this Fairtrade Fortnight is this: that many of the farmers and workers who grow our food aren’t getting paid fairly.
And the problem is closer to home than people might think. Thousands of farmers in countries such as Malawi, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire all contribute to the tea, coffee and cocoa we enjoy in the UK. And yet many of those farmers are still living in poverty. If people really knew the true human cost of exploitation, would they still make the same choices? Not if you tell them real stories about how farmers and their families are affected.

It is not just farmers abroad - we need fairness for farmers in this country and the best way we can do this is to consider carefully when we buy. Always check the source of food and if you can buy British - please do. Remember every time time we spend money we cast a vote. We are not snowflakes in the wind, the fight against globalisation is not impossible because we spend money and companies want our money so the more we spend local the more companies will foster local British production. 

So think before you cast your vote - every penny can be a vote against globalisation. Always try to buy Fairtrade. Always check to see if you can buy what you need locally and even better if it is made or produced locally. 

Remember think global but act local


Alun