Message of the month

MESSAGE OF THE MONTH (October) from SARAH CUSHING, Reader.

“All good gifts around us are sent from Heaven above, then thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord, for all his love”.  Those words are from the wonderful hymn “We plough the fields and scatter” and how wonderful those words are.  Autumn is now here, chillier mornings set in, but how many of God’s good gifts are around us, when we look out and see the beautiful changing colours of the season.  Burnt oranges and yellows and pretty reds on the leaves of trees and the hedgerows.  It is a time that reminds we us as we celebrate the Harvest Festival, that from His creation, and all the produce we bring to share with our charities and communities, are all good gifts sent from Heaven above.

The farmer ploughs and scatters the good seed on the Land, from which many things grow by his sowing and harvesting.  All things are planted, seeds and all, they are then carefully watered and weeded and finally when all things grow, by God’s grace, they are harvested.  It is a time when we thank the Lord, for all those in faith where his seed of righteousness and love and humility and goodness has been planted.  We are cared for and as the seed of faith is sown and grows and is nurtured, so good is the harvest of people who believe and give thanks to God for being with them in their lives. 

We are fortunate to welcome Revered Patrick Taylor who will be leading our Harvest Festival morning worship on October 7th.  It is a time when we can give our thanks to God for all the good gifts, when we at Shottery can bring forward to this morning service, our many different items to be shared out to those who are in need.  God’s gift of love for others feeds our spirit, which in turn gives us joy to be able to serve God and help others in this way.

Earlier than in previous times, we will hold our Time to Remember Service on 14 October at 3.00pm, a time when we can come in a moment of reflection and of peace of heart as we remember with love those who have now become a part of God’s heavenly kingdom.

Joan Whyman will be holding our Wholeness and Healing Service on 21 October at 6.30pm.  A time to come forward and receive spiritual wholeness and healing from God, to be renewed and refreshed.

STAY Café will be holding their evening worship at 7.30pm on that same evening, 21 October.  If you haven’t had the chance to come along to this thus far, it is worth supporting.  A different style of worship music is sung and teaching on a particular bible subject or theme is offered, this time particularly working through the wonderful Beatitudes.

When we continue to think about God’s good gifts around us, one of the first places to start is the Bible.  Scripture is an amazing nourishing, seed planting, faith growing and a spiritual awakening element, which can sustain us so much in our daily lives.  Bible Sunday will be approaching on 28October, when Archdeacon Sue Field will be presiding at our morning     worship. 

As we walk, or drive to many places this month, let us view all Good gifts around us, from our autumn colours, to our fellowship with all whom we meet in this church and out in our communities each day, and know that these graceful gifts are sent from Heaven above.  And let us indeed thank the Lord.

 

 

 

MESSAGE OF THE MONTH (September) from Revd. Joan Whyman.

For the last five years the beginning of September, for me, has involved a weekend at St. Stephen’s House, Oxford, an Anglican theological college. I attend as part of a team leading a Vocations Conference for those who wish to explore what they believe to be a call from God to the priesthood. The timetable is  tightly packed and includes an in-depth explanation regarding the whole  process of application and selection for training and, ultimately, Ordination, further talks on mission, and the session on ‘Ways to Pray’ which I deliver. Two priests who minister in very different parishes, one rural, one urban, describe their joys, sorrows and difficulties during a typical week, if there is ever a week in parish life that could be described as such! Opportunities are offered to speak with Bishop Norman Banks, and other clergy and I offer an afternoon of Spiritual Direction sessions.  Each person attending the conference is encouraged to learn to voice their sense of call within a small group situation, and is expected to attend Morning and Evening Prayer and the Sunday morning worship service.  It is a hugely inspiring, if exhausting, weekend, greatly appreciated and enjoyed by both the attendees and the leadership team.

A frequently asked question is, ‘How do I know that my call is from God and not just a fulfilment of my own hopes and dreams?’ This is not an easy question to answer; a call can come in different shapes and forms for different people and this is why the process has to be so intense and thorough.  We only have to take a look at the ways in which God called            various notable people in the Bible. For example, Abram’s call, (Genesis12:1) is a very clear , direct word from God, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”  In Exodus 3:4 Moses was tending a flock of sheep and then was alerted  by what appeared to be a burning bush. ‘When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

Samuel is only a small boy whom we are told does not at that point know the Lord, when he thinks that Eli, the elderly priest under whom he is serving, is calling to him. Samuel is told repeatedly by Eli to go and lie down, until eventually, ‘The Lord came and stood there,   calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”’  1 Samuel 3:10.

 

My own call came unexpectedly. I had never thought of such a thing occurring in my life. I was attending an evening service at Shirley  Baptist Church, and the lay preacher was taking the Conversion of Saul in Acts 9:1-18 as the subject of his sermon. As he read the  passage before preaching, I began to feel overwhelmed and tearful as I listened to the words, and in fact heard nothing after verse 10: ‘In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”  “Yes, Lord,” he answered.   I knew, strangely, but very surely, that, “Yes, Lord,” was the response God was asking of me.

 

I believe very firmly, though, that God doesn’t only call men and women to serve as priests and ministers, but to all those who profess their faith in  Jesus Christ, he issues His call to serve in the Church and in the world according to the gifts He has given. It is all too easy to be dismissive of our abilities and fail to develop and use them in the  belief that we have little to offer. I often reflect upon the discovery made by the gifted and renowned priest, theologian and writer, Henri Nouwen. He claimed that he learned more about Christ’s great love through the relationship he developed with Adam, a severely  physically and mentally disabled young man whom Henri was called to serve within one of the L’Arche communities, than he ever discovered from anything or anyone else. In one sense, Adam had nothing to offer yet he enabled Henri to learn what he needed to know more than anything else: the fact  that he was accepted and  loved just as he was, for who he was.

We are all called by God in one way or another and gifted to fulfil that call. Perhaps we so often do not hear it because we fail to listen through prayer, silence and the reading of God’s Word! Maybe we all need to take to heart and practice the words of Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)

 

MESSAGE OF THE MONTH (July And August) from

REVD. MARY CRAMERI

 

In his final service in the parish on Tuesday 29th May, James reviewed the 17 years he has been the incumbent here. He highlighted the spiritual growth of many in the parish and recalled the   various activities across the time span. This led me to reflect on how each of us sees any   particular  period of time. We often visit and value  ancient sites and  buildings including churches (he mentioned the mini pilgrimages!) and we marvel at their structures as well as the people who built them and used them in their every day lives.

 There are different levels at work for us as we consider time, and each level has something to say about the way we view time.      Time is a continuum of empty ages filled only by the substance we bring to it ourselves. The value of time lies as much in what we bring to the understanding of time as it does in what time brings to us. It’s our awareness of and interpretations of time that determine our place in the development of the  human spirit. It’s part of the progression of time because we make a spiritual impact today which affects the spirituality of tomorrow. James’ long service of love and duty here at St Andrew’s will undoubtedly leave an enormous spiritual heritage that during this time of the interregnum and further into the future, will feed our spirits and shape our actions. Above all it has provided a stable foundation for us to build on. Time is always an invitation to growth. How will we use the interregnum to grow, I wonder? The temptation is sometimes to try to dwell on what was, to look back, rather than focussing on what is now and what might be in the future.

The time span of the interregnum is unknown at the moment, and will  unfold in due course. How will we use this period wisely? Is it to be seen just as waiting time, until someone else comes as the next vicar?

The church is the Body of Christ, with many parts. (St. Paul).      The opportunities for growth in the interregnum are many, and each one of us needs to reflect on how God is calling us during this time. This is God’s gift to us to use to build the kingdom of God even further among us and those around us. Will you hear God’s call to do His will during this time, regardless of what has happened in the past, but building on the legacy James has left us?

My prayer and hope is that we will continue to gain strength from the past, focus on the present to play our part in continuing to show God’s love and move forward into the future together.