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Saturday
Apr042015

Holy Week and Easter

Easter and Holy week, were celebrated with solemnity and joy.

The Church looked at its beautiful best, colourfully decorated with fantastic flower arrangements.

Throughout the week we joined wih our friends from the Benefice churches of St. John's, Fishponds and St. Michael's, Two Mile Hill to 'live' the drama of Holy Week.

Evening prayer, Canon Neville Boundy's,'Father, Son, Son, Father, povided an evening's meditation. Stations of the Cross, an Agape meal together  and a Watch through whole of Maundy Thursday night brought us to Good Friday.

A group walked from St. John's via St. Michael's and St. Aidan's, stopping for prayer at each, to Summerhill Methodist church where we joined with others for Hot Cross Buns. We then walked together to Troopers Hill for the annual and long established ecumenical service of the cross next to the prominent chimney, from where we are able to look over our city.

On Holy Saturday evening we celebrated Easter with a service of New Fire and Renewal of Baptism vows.

On Easter Sunday we again celebrated together by sharing the Eucharist. This was special as the three strands of our family came together for worship- Messy Church, The Bristol Deaf Church and the Sunday morning congregation.

During the Sunday service the Easter Garden was blessed and the Stone rolled away,  all the children had a 'front row' view.

Also during the service a cross made from the old Christmas tree was decorated with daffodils and other brightly coloured flowers by members of the congregation, so turning the drab cross of shame into a glorious cross of triumph.

After the service we all enjoyed Homemade traditional Easter Biscuits and the youngsters (of 'all' ages) went on an Easter Egg Hunt.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed, Alleluia.

A Blessed and Peaceful Easter to you all.

Pictures for all the events can now be found in the Gallery section here.

 

Monday
Mar162015

Mothering Sunday 

The Mothering Sunday celebration was very well attended, and an interesting, inter actice service was well led by Mrs. Sheila McKay Llm.

Youngsters and adults shared readings, and joined together in Craft activities, some to be brought back and used at the Easter Sunday service on April 5th.

After the service the congregation shared in a specaially made Simnel cake.

Thursday
Mar052015

Community Fair - Saturday 7th March

The Big Community Event, What a fantastic event. Large numbers of local people came to see just what happens in THEIR COMMUNITY.

And there is plenty, well done to all concerned with the event, bring on Next Year!

Keep an eye out for the pictures on the gallery.

The amount raised for our Chosen Charity - St. Peter's Hospice was £377.73.

An excellent figure given that it is the ‘supplementary’ benefit of the Fair.

 

Sunday
Feb222015

MOTHERS UNION RELIEF WORK IN IRAQ

Please click on Community and then Mothers' Union to read about the wonderful work MU are undertaking in Iraq. 

Sunday
Feb152015

Daily Prayer Card for Lent - now online

The Daily Prayer card for Lent is now online, offering the opportunity to pray daily during Lent. Daily reflections and scripture readings for the period can also be found here

Day 40: Philipians 2: In praise of Jesus

 

 

 

Verses 6-7 form one of the earliest creeds we have from early Church practice. It is likely that this letter was read a re-read and passed around different believing communities so we can have a good degree of confidence that this is how early Christians understood what Jesus. At the heart of this description is servant hood, not for personal gain or glory but from a place of humility and self-sacrifice. If we consider ourselves followers of Jesus Paul encourages us to seek to be united v3. To look to the interests of others – why is this so vital to living out our faith? Because Jesus who was and is God chose to give up everything that Godly glory offered, to show that he was more interested in our needs than his own. He became the servant of us all as a pattern we should model our lives on. This is a tall order but it is “God who works is [us]”v13 we do it through Jesus’ example and in his strength as well as our own.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

Christ made himself nothing v7; if he was living your life right now how might living like that look?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 39: 1 Corinthians 13: in praise of love

 

 

 

We know this reading so well, most people who have been to a handful of weddings will have heard this at least once but probably more. It is wonderfully rich in poetry. We recognize in those opening veres the truth about actions carried out without any foundation in love; they will always be devoid of true meaning. Then we come to the wonderful description of perfect love in verses 4-7. How do we match up? Do we manage to offer love at this standard or do we fall horribly short? In any meaningful relationship we swiftly learn we are not perfect in the love we offer, and in a good relationship we will accept the challenge to learn how to better at loving. God loves us like this and shows it through the giving of his son Jesus. To accept this relationship of love is to take on the challenge of becoming more loving in our relationship with God.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

How might we love God better? To open ourselves up to knowing fully, through Holy Week, Christ’s suffering and to join together in the resurrection. Developing beyond a childish faith into a mature adult understanding of the gospel that is bigger and more transforming than anything we know, bigger even that death

 

 

Day 38: Romans 5: Christ reconciles pt 2

 

 

 

These two chapters, yesterday and today, are so rich in the spiritual comfort they offer it is almost impossible to do justice in such a short reflection. In the opening verses we have words which tumble over the reader like a warm fluffy cosy blanket - Peace, grace, hope – God has poured out his love into our hearts. Imagine if we could live with these wonderful truths as if they were tangibly with us always. We may not notice them but they are so very present for all who believe and seek to follow Jesus. Why? Paul puts it so beautifully in verse 7“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die”. – God did not wait until we were ‘good’ he went right on and wrapped us up in words of comfort whilst his son stood with us in the sorrow and pain of life. Just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam) v 12 so ………the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life to all [humankind] v18

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

Where sin increases, grace increase all the more v20. When we acknowledge our sin we realize the extent to which we receive Grace. Blessed are the humble in heart……. For they will receive the comfort blanket of Peace, grace, hope and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 37: Romans 3: Christ reconciles pt 1

 

 

 

Paul’s letter to the Romans was intentionally addressing the ‘niggles’ that had begun to spring up between the Jewish and gentile believers, his aim was to draw them more closely together into one united community. We are all likely to have experienced strained relationships in our lives so this theme offers wisdom for us too. Jewish believers in Rome appear to have leant towards upholding the importance of law (such as circumcision) whereas gentile believers naturally adopted justification by faith alone v28. Paul attempts to reconcile these seemingly disparate groups by unpacking the history and importance of the law, as the original relationship with God, whilst also promoting the importance of faith as the key to salvation. In more recent times this has been explained by viewing Paul’s teaching as conveying that there has always been a way to be reconciled with God; through adherence to the law but that the grace Jesus taught opened wide the gate for anyone to be reconciled. After all “There is no difference for all have sinned and fall short of the gory of God” v22-23

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

As lifelong Christians, committed to shaping our lives around good and positive moral parameters it can be difficult to welcome new people whose lives seem like a moral mess. Perhaps this is how the Jews felt in Rome – “We have always followed, these people should earn their place too”. But Jesus said to love him and follow him is enough new or old – law can guide us but it can also restrict love.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 36: Ephesians 3: Ministry and prayer

 

 

 

Being in the ‘in’ crowd, being picked first for the team, these things make us feel good and wanted and boost our self-esteem. Hearing all your friends have been invited to a party but not you, being picked last for the team, these things can hurt. Before Jesus Jews perceived themselves to be the only ones invited and picked – the chosen ones. But Jesus opened the way for everyone to know that God chooses everyone equally. That God wants who all who seek him receive equally…..

 

Strength in your inner being through his Spirit

Rooted and established in love

To know God’s love which surpasses all knowledge

And [that God] can do immeasurably more than we ask

These are promises for us all, young old, male, female

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

As we pray for one another and for those we love and those we find it difficult; to love to pray that they all would know these truths completely may transform our world, one person at a time.

 

 

 

Day 35: Acts 28: Mission in Rome

 

Paul was convinced Jesus was sending him to Rome to preach the gospel. Did he expect to find himself a prisoner, unable to travel around, unable to speak with the masses to share the Faith of Christ? House arrest could not have felt much like a successful mission especially when the Jewish leaders are asked to visit and they know nothing about him. This may well have been a demoralizing turn of events. Perhaps Paul spent many a day frustrated that his vision of a mission to Rome looked nothing like he expected. As Christians with bibles in hand we look at the numerous encouraging letters Paul wrote under house arrest. Letters that encouraged the believers in the places Paul had visited to hold fast to the truth of the gospel. Letters that have enabled generations of Christians to consider the wisdom, and teachings of the early church, and apply it in our current circumstances. The legacy of Paul’s mission in Rome has touched the whole world. Paul however, was under house arrest and could not see this future. All Paul saw was the importance of getting up everyday and continuing to be faithful to Jesus no matter what life was throwing at him.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

We can never know where our actions will lead or what our legacy might be. To live faithfully, day by day, with the gospel of Grace and mercy and peace and above all love is to change the world.

 

Day 34: Acts 27: shipwrecked

 

The end of chapter 26 King Agrippa agrees Paul could have been set free had he not appealed to Ceasar, but as he did this journey is set. I have only been in a really bad storm aboard ship once, it was 36 years ago and I remember it vividly. My journey lasted one night the storm Paul’s transport is caught up in lasts 15 days! Just the thought of it makes me feel seasick. Paul continues to encourage the men with the vision he is given that all on board will be saved and probably at times the men believed him and at others their confidence may have waned. Life’s storms, like Paul’s journey, will come whether we seek them or try and avoid them. Also, much like the sailors, we will at times have confidence God will bring the storm to an end, and at other times feel no certainty of resolution. Experience teaches us that storms do end and often we can see where God was in it after the fact.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

If we think back over our lives can we recall storms which have resolved themselves? Can we also see where God was active in the resolution of those storms? Perhaps not in the timeframe we hoped for or in the way we anticipated. Offer thanks for those memories. Now consider any storms brewing currently – has experience shown us that is it likely God will be in the centre of it guiding and offering passage to safer waters?

 

Day 33: Acts 26: witnessing to a king

 

 

 

Apparently the thing feared most by individuals is being asked to speak in public. Perhaps as we read this we are nodding in agreement. How might we feel being asked to speak in front of a king? Paul seems unafraid of this task, it is true he has some experience of public speaking but this speech requires a little extra. He is not offering well thought out and charismatically delivered rhetoric. Instead Paul opens his heart and begins with his own failings. Most of us at this point might be thinking “I am standing in a public place, in front of the King and his loyal supporters, and I choose to be vulnerable?!”. Beginning with the moment it becomes clear to the disciples that our Saviour Jesus was choosing death and humiliation instead of immediate glory we the narrative of God’s kingdom is defined – it is in our weaknesses through which the glory of God can shine most brightly. We could say Paul found his task easy because he had

 

a ‘vision from heaven’ v19 and perhaps some of us have had the privilege of such an experience but for many we rely solely on faith in things unseen and that requires courage.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

Courageous acts often occur when we have reached our personal limitations and step out beyond what we perceive we are capable of. Perhaps this is because it is in a moment such as this that God can ‘fill the gaps’. Ask him to fill the gaps of your faith.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 32: Acts 12: Jailbreak in Philippi

 

 

 

“My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose went forth and followed thee”. It is so impressive that Peter is unflustered by being slapped round the face by an angel v7, perhaps that is because he believes himself to be dreaming – angels don’t generally help people break out of jail. The surprise carries through the whole story, even after Peter has realized and accepted this is really happening the servant who answers the door in v13 is so surprised it is Peter she forgets to open the door! Before anyone returns to open the door there is some discussion as to whether to believe this servant girl at all. Eventually Peter is let in and his freedom is secure. We can find ourselves adopting a similar mindset to the stresses or ‘prisons’ we experience in life – ‘this is my lot, I cannot possibly be free of this’ but God does miraculous things. He acts to free us in unexpected ways with seemingly impossible outcomes. After all who would have thought that Nelson Mandela would one day be freed and more than that; become the president of South Africa?

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

Picture the biggest mountain you perceive in your life, Gods invitation is to place it in his hands, offer him control of it and trust he will take care of it. After all, even Prison and probable became a hurdle overcome for Peter.

Day 31: Acts 10: Clean and unclean

 

 

 

For a long time a certain man had felt nudged to go to church; that he would find what he craved to nourish his soul in that place. Finally one morning he plucked up the courage to walk through the doors of church, not knowing what he might find but fearing he may be unwelcome. By his side a voice piped up “you’re not planning to go into Church dressed like that are you?”. Taken aback the man turned to the speaker and said “thank you, for a moment there I thought Church would be the place I would find peace but you have reminded me it will likely be a place of judgment” and he did not go in. Christians don’t have rules around food and clean and unclean as a result of this encounter Peter has with God on the rooftop in Acts 10. What we slip into are expected rules of behavior, not because they are bad guidelines but because it is easy for us to understand a faith defined by parameters. The picture of God Jesus brought us is based on what is in our hearts, not shown by our appearance. Jesus welcomed prostitutes, drunkards, swindlers, the down and outs. He did not judge their behavior or appearance he sought simply that their hearts desired God

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

To welcome the broken as Jesus did is to be constantly challenged by the question ‘is what we do/think a reflection of Jesus gospel or our cultural interpretation? Remember even Peter found this one a challenge, that’s why God gave him this vision.

 

 

Day 30: Acts 9: Paul’s conversion

 

 

 

Ananias, a faithful follower of Jesus. Probably feeling the persecution of Saul and others is faithfully praying, as many of us might do. He finds God asking him to go and pray for his most feared oppressor – Saul. In verse 13 he respectfully points out to God that this man is not a nice or good man by all accounts, and we can surmise from this Ananias is not a fan of God’s idea. There are times we find the promptings of God uncomfortable and challenging, just as Ananias did. Of course God goes on to explain why Saul is important v15 and we have the benefit of being able to see his impact on history. God’s kingdom come has never been entirely comfortable; it wasn’t for the slaves in Egypt who feared leaving the security of oppression, it wasn’t for many faithful Jews of Jesus’ time who wanted a warrior as a Saviour not a servant hearted ‘nobody’. When God prompts us to act or acknowledge what others are doing in his name we may feel challenged, but perhaps when we leave our comfort zone we may find God is able to do something amazing, as he did with Ananias’ prayer for Saul.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

Where might we be feeling challenged to embrace something God is doing in our community, or wider world? Might it be worth saying our ‘yes’ to God as Ananias did?

 

Day 29: Acts 7: Stephen stands firm

 

 

 

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by trying to understand the enormity of the story of scripture? 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, 66 in all. To have a grasp on the whole bible is no easy feat and many believers have never even managed to read it all, let alone dig deeper into its meaning or background. Stephen was a Jew who knew his scripture; A man ‘full of God’s grace and power’ Acts 6:8. He had paid attention and learned the meaningful theme which runs through all scripture; of God intervening to draw humanity back to himself, and how God had done this over and over again. Often seeing humanity stumble and fall, and always offering more opportunities for redemption. If anyone wants to understand the Old Testament, Stephen’s Summary is a great place to start. It ends with him challenging the religious leaders, those who know their scripture inside out, to not simply follow the law but to allow it to permeate their hearts through God’s Holy Spirit v51. Stephen’s verdict of his listeners is not well received and he is stoned to death. Even in that moment Stephen stands firm to his beliefs and ends his life forgiving those who are hurting him. Jesus’ message of grace and peace and love defined Stephen’s life and his death.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

We all fall short of perfect, Jesus came to offer grace for when we do. The Sanhedrin (religious leaders) do not wish to face their imperfection so remove Stephens voice from their hearing in a dramatic way. How easy do we find it to own our failures? Does it help to know that Jesus owns them with us and that God’s Holy Spirit is with us whenever we pick ourselves up and try again.

 

 

 

Day 28: Act 2: the Holy Spirit comes.

 

 

 

Peter is a wonderful example to us all. He is entirely human, always seeming to miss the point of what Jesus is up to and finding himself being corrected. He is full of zeal and is happy to jump right in, quite literally at times – like when he tries to walk on water. But when Jesus is no longer among his disciples Peter, like the other disciples, is fearful and sits in the upper room praying for guidance. No matter how much we enjoy our job, or the tasks our lives hold, there inevitably comes a moment when we doubt ourselves. We choose to shy away from action just as the disciples do here. But God chose for us to shine with the brightness of the Son of God. To lighten the darkness and heaviness of this world with a message of peace and reconciliation. The Spirit – our counselor and guide is what transforms Peter from uncertainty to absolute determination and it is God’s Spirit within us which carries and inspires us when we feel unable to step out in our gifts and abilities.

 

 

 

Thought to Ponder

 

 

 

In Nelson Mandella’s inaugural speech he quotes these words by Marianne Williamson

 

“...Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

 

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

 

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

 

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

 

Actually, who are you not to be?

 

You are a child of God….”

 

Find space today to sit and pray ‘come Holy Spirit, show me how God sees me’

 

 

Day 27: Luke 24: Seeing Jesus again

 

 

 

“I am busy, I have a lot to do you know”. “There are some difficult things going on for me right now and I need to focus on them” “I just do not have the time right now I am only just keeping my head above water” we have all felt like this, like life is weighing us down, and sometimes it really is. The women chose to deal with their grief head on and went to the tomb to care for their Rabbi’s body. The male disciples travelling here are heavy with their woes and confusion. Little wonder they did not recognize Jesus. Yet there was something about this stranger that was appealing; they wanted him to remain with them not leave. There is something inherently appealing about Jesus that many in society see and acknowledge and still somehow miss seeing him completely. Perhaps it is because we focus on the pain of the cross when the real ‘happy ending’ is Jesus resurrection. That he is still with us. That nothing, not even death, is more powerful than our Jesus with a message of redemption and grace to all who seek him.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

If we truly believe that Jesus is among us, dwelling in our hearts by his Spirit, what would it mean to spend all of today searching for signs of that presence in ourselves and in the hearts and minds of those we meet today?

 

Day 26: John 20: Jesus rises from the dead

 

 

 

Darkness to light a theme that permeates John’s gospel. We are in the season of traveling from the darkness of winter into the lightness of spring; new life. Jesus is risen, the disciples, having watched the crucifixion, hold no hope that Jesus will rise again – why should they? Its not as though they were used to seeing people return from the dead. But when offered the news by a woman, a person of no stature in society with no authority to be a witness of this great event, the disciples run and find the truth at the tomb. Mary confused and grieving struggles to see the truth straight away. This should come as no great surprise to us as ‘seeing’ Jesus in our lives is difficult and can be crowded out by grief and weariness. The disciple who does not see the empty tomb; Thomas, requires more evidence – wouldn’t we when faced with a story about someone rising from the dead? But when faced with the true Jesus both Mary and Thomas are more than wiling to give all of themselves to their Saviour and God.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

Society, even Churches can portray Jesus in such a way as to cover his true identity, but when we meet with the real Jesus he transforms our understanding of everything. How might our understanding of Jesus be clouded and shadow his deep love and compassion for all people?

 

 

 

Day 25: Matthew 26: Jesus last hours

 

Some years ago he film “The Passion of the Christ” was released with much debate as to whether it should have been made at all. I watched this cinema graphic depiction of Mathew 26 and was deeply and profoundly moved by the journey it took me on through the assault Jesus experienced on all fronts.

 

This chapter begins with the sneaky plotting by the Chief Priests appointed to uphold his Father. It is followed by the devout promises of Jesus’ faithful disciples that they will never betray him… and yet we are all too familiar with Peter’s Denial and we know the disciples flee from the garden of Gethsemane. We can read these denials as though separate from them: we would never betray Jesus like that! I imagine Judas had spent much of his 3 years following Jesus thinking along the same lines. We all betray Jesus’ heartfelt sacrifice of himself for us – a nasty thought here, a snide remark there, a decision to help ourselves before others. All these things betray Jesus. It is hard for us to bear our own failings. How much more is it hard for Jesus to carry them for us on the cross. He wanted to save us you see, and show us how much God loved us.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

Gethsemane means ‘oil press’ in Aramaic. Olives need tremendous pressure for the precious oil to be pressed out; a suitable analogy to the pressure Jesus was under as he prayed there preparing for his death. If you feel under pressure be reassured Jesus knows what that feels like and stands with you in it.

 

Day 24: John 14: Final instructions

 

 

 

If you have been to a Christian funeral recently it is possible these words will be familiar. Christians perceive the opening 6 verses to contain tremendous comfort because Jesus is offering the promise of new life and a home after death. Even at this point though it is uncertain that the disciples truly understood Jesus was about to leave them. Jesus knew though, and his priority was to encourage and comfort; “you know the Father because you know me”. Although we have never had Jesus with us as the disciples did, we do have the Jesus of the gospels which we can read any time. We do have the Jesus we meet in prayer. We all find ourselves carrying worry, big or small, life can be stressful and everyone seek greater peace. Jesus wants his followers to receive that peace. A peace which will not take away all the conflict we face, or bring war and suffering to an end just yet. But it will encompass and fill our souls and our hearts so that whatever we face, we know we stand united with Jesus and the Father and not alone.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

Jesus tells his disciples that to know him is to know God the Father. To read the gospels from beginning to end like they were a long story is to read the narrative where Jesus is revealed. I would encourage you to set time aside and to read one of the gospels in this way. Ask Jesus to reveal himself more clearly to you through this.

 

 

 

 

Day 23:  John 4: Jesus heals

 

 

 

Do you drink enough water? Probably like me your answer is no. Perhaps you manage to eat your daily quota of fruit and veg? Again I would probably fall short. The woman at the well knows she is falling short of society's expectations of her, so she hides and collects her water in the heat of the midday sun, rather than in the coolness of evening - to avoid the crowds. Unfortunate for her she meets the one person who can name her shame, and he does. She has serial relationships and no husband. But Jesus doesn't condemn her. Instead he names the root of her problem: you are seeking satisfaction, a cessation of your inner thirst, but it is not to be found where you are looking but rather in the Spirit which flows from me and the Father.

 

 

 

We seek satisfaction through meeting life's expectations, pat ourselves on the back for consuming our two litres of water today, but remain dissatisfied. Nothing fills the God shaped hole in us like God can.

 

 

 

Thought to ponder

 

We all have things we run to in an attempt to fill our souls - good food, good wine, physical comfort. I would invite you to name them, perhaps write them down and ask God to fill you with his living, satisfying, water instead.