|During September and October we have been following a short sermon series looking at
Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The letter was written from prison. Paul wrote three other
letters at about the same time: Ephesians, Philippians and Philemon.
Philemon is a personal note regarding a runaway slave called Onesimus who had become
Paul’s spiritual son. The other three letters are written to small and struggling churches in
Asia Minor. Paul writes to encourage the Christians in those communities and to help them
to understand what it means to follow Jesus.
Philippi in Paul’s day was a Roman colony. The people of Philippi had been granted the
privilege of Roman citizenship. This meant that they followed the laws and customs of Rome
not of Asia Minor. Philippi itself was supposed to be an outpost of Rome itself and its citizens
were expected to live as fully fledged Romans.
Interestingly in his letter to that city Paul writes; “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians
3:20). This simple phrase challenges the readers (then and now) with a vision of what the
church and what each one of us is called to be.
As followers of Jesus we are citizens of heaven. We follow the commands and teaching of
Jesus, not of the surrounding culture. We are people of forgiveness and mercy to all; we pray
for our enemies and we love those who harm us. Our values are shaped around Jesus’ Great
Commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength,
and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
As a Church we are supposed to be an outpost of heaven. What might that look like for us as
a community here at St Mary’s? The values of heaven, of God’s kingdom should shine out in
our worship and in our fellowship and especially in the welcome that others receive when
they come into Church. Whoever enters our Church whatever their story or their past, we
have the privilege and the responsibility of extending the Father’s welcome to them. Our
relationships with each other, our care for one another should make people ask what it is that
makes us so different, and our worship should come from our hearts as well as our voices.
May every person who enters St Mary’s find here not a religious institution, but a foretaste of
We are here to help people love and worship God.
We aim to be, and encourage others to become, committed and active disciples of Jesus,
who love God and worship him, who know the power of the Holy Spirit and who show
God’s love in every part of their lives.
|Prayer for the month
|Thought for the month
|Below you will find extracts from this month's Parish Magazine
First Words..., A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
|I like prayers that are memorable, ones that I can draw on wherever I am when needed
without having to look them up. This also means that they need to be short!
One of my favourite prayers is only one line long. Easy to remember, but it is also a deeply
challenging prayer; something to live up to.
Father, colour me Jesus!
It is a prayer that comes from the late John Wimber and characteristically it is memorable, it
raises a smile as we pray it and it makes us ask questions of ourselves. It is a prayer that is so
simple even a child can grasp it, yet it is so profound that we will never grow out of it on this
side of eternity.
John Wimber began life as a musician, he was a founder member of The Righteous Brothers,
but he left the band in the early 1960s when he became a Christian. Shortly after his
conversion he had a profound experience of the Holy Spirit which shaped the rest of his life
and through him began to shape the church.
Wimber founded the Vineyard movement and he began to influence the mainline churches
in America and the UK. Through Wimber and the Vineyard the Charismatic movement
began to bring new life and a new reliance on the Holy Spirit’s gifts and fruit to traditional
denominations. As someone said, ‘Pentecost came to Church!’
Father, colour me Jesus! This prayer reminds us that we are made by God and made for
God and that Jesus is the model of our life. Paul speaks of the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit,
given to Christians to make us more like Jesus in our life and character.
As I pray this prayer it makes me dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with my own weak discipleship,
my half-hearted following of Jesus. God reminds me of who and what I ought to be, and
having prayed this prayer I turn to the Father in confession and in asking for the Holy Spirit
to fill me anew, to re-shape me in the image of Jesus from the inside out; I ask the God who
made me and who loves me to ‘colour me Jesus’.
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The first word this month is ‘Thank-you!’
As October looms large in Church we begin to think about Harvest, a time to remember all
of the good things that we have, and to give thanks to God the source of all goodness and of
Being thankful is an important spiritual discipline and it is one of the foundations of
contentment. This year we celebrate Harvest on Sunday 9th October. We have a chance to
express our thanks to God in worship and in sharing with those who have less than us
through the work of the groups that we support who distribute food and other necessities to
people in our city who are struggling.
This year’s Harvest is an opportunity to say ‘Thank You’ to those who support the life and
mission and worship at St Mary’s through their prayers, their work and their gifts. This year
before my induction as vicar of St Mary’s you held a stewardship campaign and the
generous response of so many people will support our life and mission for years to come.
We also look forward to November’s service of Remembrance on Sunday 13th November
when we give thanks for the peace and the freedoms that we too often take for granted.
Finally in October I am launching Time for God, an opportunity to meet for worship, prayer
and teaching with a focus on the Holy Spirit who I often describe as ‘God in the present
tense’. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to discern and fulfil our calling as Christians. Jesus
spoke of the Holy Spirit to the Samaritan woman as ‘a spring of water gushing up to eternal
life’ (John 4:14); and at the festival of Booths He promised that ‘out of the believer’s heart
shall flow rivers of living water’ (John 7:38).
We will meet in Church on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays at 7.30pm during school term time,
starting on Tuesday 11th October.