There is no greater peace and no greater joy than when we make the connection between all that is worthwhile in our lives and the work of God.
Isaiah 26:12 says, ‘Lord, You will establish peace for us, for all that we have accomplished You have done for us’ (Isaiah 26:12). One of the joys of knowing you are involved in God’s work is realisation that you have or will have a story to tell. When it comes to that time when the hard work is done, when you look back, you can be absolutely sure that the joy you feel is not only the satisfaction one feels from making it through the storm, but the joy of sharing how you made it through.
Paul expresses this perfectly when he shares with the community at Philippi about his own trials. He says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” He then goes on to tell the story of his travels but as he does so he pauses to say – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
The Church at All Saints Highertown is in the process of writing a story and also telling a story.
It is writing the story of how All Saints lived through 2020 and 2021, through lockdowns, through Covid19, through challenges and through trials. It is literally writing the story everyday, learning how the Spirit moves, how the Word of God informs, how God is working through others.
All Saints is also retelling the story of Jesus, God with us. Who himself wrote the greatest story, as the author of all.
All of what I share in this update, the activities and plans of the church, has been inspired by the latter – of Jesus’ story, whilst being, in itself work in progress, a story in the making for the glory of God. It is both His story and ours.
Let me start with an update about the church community, who have faithfully served the church and the people of Highertown, Baldhu, Malabar, Gloweth, Threemilestone and all in between for many many years. I reflect upon our life together as it was and recognise that all that was worthwhile in our life was the work of God, and more specifically, the work of the Holy Spirit through individuals and situations.
But it goes without saying that things have been different, very different over the last few months, yet, and I stress this, the foundations of our faith are still the same, they are no less important. In fact, if anything, they are more important. For some of you, it may feel as though the make up of the church has changed, the church may feel different, and quite rightly so, as we make space for others in our life. But it is also worth noting that God does not change, the work of the Holy Spirit is just as evident in times of shift, maybe even more so, as at any other time.
Over the season of Lent we will be running a series of sermons and prayer gatherings that are shaped by the foundations of our faith. We will be reflecting upon the solid rocks that we can hold fast to, that have always seen us through the storms of the past. I will be asking us to lay down these foundations afresh in readiness for a new chapter in the church’s life – As we move beyond Covid, as we push on with Transforming Mission, and as we progress the Lifehouse Project, we will need these foundations set and established corporately and individually to launch this new time.
The Lifehouse Project is particularly pertinent here since we will be literally laying down new physical foundations in the coming months. As we build the Lifehouse, we will need to build deeper foundations, and therefore go deeper into our faith.
I really want to be clear here. I don’t think this is an optional extra. This isn’t a sermon series that we can choose to dip in and out of. I believe this is a period in the church’s life when we have to take stock, to pray, to be clear about our purpose, and move forward together with the foundations of our faith firmly in place.
And as such the ministry team will be wanting to share its own prayers and thoughts for the future with the whole church family over the coming weeks. Please pray for the ministry team as it meets on the 20th January to move this conversation on, and to flesh out ideas of what God is asking of us for the future. In February, we will be facilitating a whole church meeting to share plans and to invite people to also help shape our vision and our plans for the future.
So to recap.
During Lent – starting Sunday 21st February we will be running a new series of talks and prayer activities on the topic of foundations. Encouraging the church to go deeper as we build up and out.
And Secondly, that the ministry team will be sharing its plans for the future with the wider Church community during February in order to hear from you what would serve God, and support your faith over the coming months and years.
Which brings me on to the last point.
We are yet to complete the appointments for the remaining Transforming Mission team members.
Please keep this in your prayers, keep the whole team in your prayers too.
We are writing the story as we go. But we are also retelling the story that has so richly blessed us in the past, and will continue to do so. It is in this story that we find hope, promise, life and blessing.
Remember what Paul wrote, “I can do all this through Him who gives strength.”
And please remember that you are the church. You are his people. And therefore we are on the way together. Last week I sent out a letter inviting people to reply with their thoughts and ideas, at this time. Thank you to those who have replied. Keep them coming. It is very helpful. You’ll see the link on the newsletter, and on our website.
Thanks for listen. God bless and see you soon.
Lord, You will establish peace for us, for all that we have accomplished You have done for us’ (Isaiah 26:12)
This comes with greetings in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord who came to be with us here on earth - may your new year be blessed with the assurance of his presence, peace and joy as together we put our hope in him for the year ahead ..…”So we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
There is nothing quite like the start of a new year to re-focus our thinking, and a further national lockdown serves us well in this regard; our own personal plans are again needing to be reviewed and adapted, along with those of our local community and national leaders. As the worshipping people of God at All Saints Highertown, we are not exempt from this. So along with blessings, with this letter comes a question – how are you and what are you hoping for this year?
Being unable to meet as a whole church community means these natural conversations over coffee are not possible, but they are necessary none the less and your perspective on what is helpful during these challenging times is important. Therefore, as we again seek to be flexible and respond to these new circumstances and this new strain of virus, you are invited to share your own thoughts on what is/would be helpful as we seek to be faithful disciples of Christ serving each other and our neighbour. So that your position can be considered as we navigate the next few months and beyond, you are invited to email our Lay Minister, Debbie Mitchell, who has kindly agreed to coordinate the responses (firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can write to Jeremy at the vicarage address attached, it would be heartening to hear from you.
Joff, our Social Justice Missioner has also produced for your use a summary, attached, of winter support available during this difficult time. As the information is changing continually, if there is a specific need that you are aware of within our community please do not hesitate to ring him (mobile: 07772836646).
I’d also like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the spiritual resources in place that you may find helpful. This week we return to our pattern of online midweek prayer meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday (via Zoom), and daily morning prayer will be available through our phone line service (01872 306996), details of these can be found on the newsletter and website.
During this period of lockdown we will only be meeting for worship online until we are clearer on how virulent this new strain of the virus is, and how we can ensure the safety of all those visiting the church. During January and February our Sunday service will be online only, starting at 2pm via our website, youtube and facebook channels. This service will be followed by a time to share a coffee and a chat using Zoom online.
Again, please let me re-iterate how important it is that we continue to have conversations together so I really do hope to hear from you, whether on matters you consider small or significant.
To close, in God may you find “the grace and growth you need for fruit and fullness, and the love that will last you through the long haul of a ‘lived-for-others life’. May peace be yours.” (Extract from The Blessing – G.Kelly)
Yours in Jesus
Jeremy, Debbie, Janette and Patrick.
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.