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Mar 22
In step with the ever advancing God

​This morning in Jeff Lucas's Bible notes we read this. I thought it was worth sharing.



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Mar 22
Benefice News - 25 March 2018
Mar 17
Benefice News - 18 March 2018
Mar 08
Benefice News - 11 March 2018
Mar 04
An army of adolescents

​In his baptism sermon this morning, George mentioned the anger about guns in America. It should make us angry, he said, just as the abuse of the Temple by profiteers made Jesus angry. I came home and read this excellent article, called "An army of adolescent", by Eve Balshaw of the Evangelical Alliance. It's worth quoting in full.


t’s unlikely to have passed you by that the US tragically witnessed another horrific school shooting last month. 17 lives were lost to a lone gunman in a Florida school, and sadly this is the ninth shooting resulting in death or injury in a US school this year. Barely two months into 2018 and this almost feels routine.

While you and I were processing what went on, teenagers across the US decided that this would be the last time this happened to them and their peers. Empowered by the eye of the media, students across the nation gathered together and left their classrooms in unison, demanding a change to the gun laws in their country.

I wonder how you reacted to this. As you watched thousands of young people walk out of their classrooms, did you see teenagers desperate to play truant?

Or did you feel moved by an army of adolescents, standing in solidarity with their fallen classmates, desperate that this never happens again? Not to their friends, not to their peers, not to any young person.

Their fearlessness, passion, and ability to articulate their stance, has garnered the attention of the world. Yet, any of us who’ve ever argued with a teenager shouldn’t be surprised.

At 23, teenage-hood isn’t all that long ago for me, and I’m sure the memories are still vivid for my long-suffering parents – that time I wanted a tattoo, a newer phone, another piercing, to move out... Whatever it was, I wasn’t going down without a fight.

Do we, the Church, realise what an asset that kind of commitment is?

Are we aware that, within our own communities, we have an army of devoted, resourceful, deeply compassionate young people, desperate to use their voices? Are those of us who have been there and done that when it comes to teenage passion and vision helping to guide and direct our teenagers in the Church?

Scripture doesn’t give exact ages for the 12 disciples but based on traditions for Jewish men at that time, it’s reasonable to assume that they were between thirteen and thirty. Jesus knew that if he wanted to start something, he should begin by investing in young people. As did Paul: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12).

We’ve heard the verse a hundred times but maybe we’ve lost a sense of appreciation for the fervour of our young people. In all our concern that they don’t swear, don’t have sex, don’t go on their phones, and certainly don’t wear ripped jeans on a Sunday, have we forgotten that our young people are a gift to God’s Church?

What might happen if, instead of asking our youth to get off their phones, we pointed them to apps that encouraged their prayer life? What if, instead of asking them to dress or talk differently when they show up, we asked them to bring a friend with them, ripped jeans and all?

It is reported that the reason the protests in the US have galvanised such support is due to social media. Through spreading the word, organising events, and sharing updates, a team of teenagers, built up together, supporting one another and being honoured by their elders, might just be able to create a movement that will change the world.

If there’s a movement we want to see in the Church, do we dare to ask our young people to lead the way?


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Mar 01
Benefice News - 4 March 2018


Correction: Family Service at East Challow is on 11 March, not 4 March.

Feb 25
Sermon gold in Lent

​I don't know whether there'll be a recording of Bishop Alf Cooper's inspiring and challenging sermon on the website, but for those who missed it here's a quite different half of a sermon on this morning's radio 4 Sunday Worship, given by the former diplomat the Rev Dr Sarah Rowland-Jones. It too was inspiring.

"Those words, from Psalm 23, remind us that God is with us, guiding and leading, whether we're in life's greenest pastures, or the darkest valleys of the shadow of death.  
       God trains us, whether through taking us outside our comfort zones, or through times of hardship, to hope in him. We learn to walk close to him so that when life is easy we don't stray off; and when times of trial come we know how to rely on him!
       I found this with my first husband, Justus, as he was dying of smoking-related cancer.
       Some of the feelings which we experienced then are summed up in words from T S Eliot's poem, East Coker.
He wrote,
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

     Justus and I didn't know what we should hope for, as his health lurched from bad to worse. We were afraid to love – or at least, to cling onto – the wrong things in life too, but we wanted to be there for each other as best we could.
     But we did have faith. We trusted in the God who shows himself trustworthy in Jesus Christ, and so we consciously decided we could and would hope only in him.  We would ask only for more of him, and for his will to be done – daring to call to mind St Paul's words that in all things God works for good, for those who love him.
     Through that suffering and endurance, habits of hope in Jesus Christ anchored us.   All things considered, it was a year of ridiculous love and joy and laughter. Through the awfulness of terminal illness and death, the peace of God which passes all understanding, all common sense, all rational analysis, always seemed to have the final word, for this life and the life to come.
     Even when life is far less dramatic, and we're tempted to think we can manage on our own, we still need to rely on Christ in all things.
     I'm reminded of this on days when I'm tired and grumpy and it seems everyone else is an annoying idiot. The penny soon drops: the problem isn't them, it's me; doing things my way.
     Recognising this of myself, in Lent, and more generally, I've found myself praying increasingly not for strength but for weakness.
     I need to keep being reminded of my dependence on the sure and certain hope that is ours in Jesus Christ, especially when I feel I can handle what life throws my way.  And whether or not I think I know the way ahead, I've also taken to praying for faithful obedience – it's another way of expressing total dependence on Jesus' authority and leading. 
     Perhaps you've heard the joke – if Jesus is the answer, what's the question? 
     I believe that Jesus is the answer to any question worth asking, any problem worth solving, and to all the challenges or dangers we may face.  And Lent challenges us to practise letting Jesus be the answer."


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Feb 22
Benefice News - 25 February 2018
Feb 15
Benefice News - 18 February 2018
Feb 08
Benefice News - 11 February 2018
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