|On Saturday 29th April we held a planning morning in Church to begin to seek
God’s vision for St Mary’s. This was the culmination of a time of prayer as we tried to
understand what God is calling is to be and to do as His Church here in Ecclesfield
in the coming four to six years. The results of the morning were reported to the PCC
and fed back to the Diocese.
In September’s magazine I will be writing more fully on the outcome of that meeting.
One of the things that I have been trying to find is a short phrase
which sums up our calling as Jesus’ Church.
Many people from the PCC and the leadership team have been helping with suggestions.
Finally I have arrived at six words which I and others believe are the right ones.
Finding only six words was difficult. A paragraph or even a page would have been easy.
The point of having six words is that it is easily memorised.
The words should do three things: firstly remind us of what we believe
our vocation as Jesus’ Church in this place and time is.
Secondly they should tell our neighbours and those who visit our Church
who we are, or at least who we aspire to be.
Finally the words should challenge us; they are something for us to live up to.
The six words are:
Following Jesus. Celebrating Life. Welcoming All.
I hope that we will begin to see these six words around Church and online.
I pray that people will associate St Mary’s with these words. I hope that
if anyone ever asks any member of St Mary’s what we are about
as a Church these words will come to mind.
I must confess that I almost went with “Following Jesus. Eating Cake. Welcoming All.”!
Fellowship and celebrating good things together is a characteristic of St Mary’s -
I pray that we will always enjoy eating good cake and chatting with one another after
services or in the Coffee shop! Life is God’s gift, and God made us to enjoy it
and to enjoy one another’s company.
During the 10am services on the 10th, 17th and 24th September,
the sermons will focus on each of the three phrases and ‘unpack’ them in terms of our
worship, our prayer, our ministry and our outreach.
I truly believe that these six words,
‘Following Jesus. Celebrating Life. Welcoming All.’
are God’s word for us at this time.
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
|The Lord’s Prayer, Part 4.
Towards the end of his rule, King David offered this prayer:
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, for ever and ever.
Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty;
for all that is in the heavens and on earth is yours, …
For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”
(1 Chronicles 29:11 - 14)
If God is God; the source of all life and of everything that exists, then it follows that anything
which we offer to comes from God in the first place: it also means that absolutely everything
that we have comes ultimately from God. Everything is a gift; everything is grace, and our
offering is a generous response to God’s gift.
This idea lies behind the fourth phrase of Jesus’ prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread”.
We ask God to meet our needs. As we pray this we are reminded that we depend on God for
absolutely everything. Every skill and ability that is ours is God’s gift; time and life itself are
gifts, as are the people that we cherish, who make our lives better.
Beginning to trust in God’s gracious provision is an important part of learning to live as a son
or daughter of God our Father. Asking God to meet our needs is the trusting action of a child
of the Father.
Notice that Jesus doesn't instruct us to ask for our weekly or monthly bread. During the
Exodus centuries before Jesus' birth, God supplied the slaves who had escaped from Egypt
with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16). Each day they gathered one day’s supply of
manna. Those who tried to stockpile the miraculous bread found that the excess rotted! The
point was that God’s people had to learn to depend entirely on God each day.
To pray this prayer is also to be reminded that far too many people in the world will not
receive their daily bread. For too many of our neighbours are hungry and malnourished. In
recent years in Britain, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we have seen a rapid
growth in the number of food banks; many of those who have to turn to them for their basic
needs are in full-time employment. When we pray this prayer God nudges us; asks what we
can do to ensure that others receive their ‘daily bread’.
As we pray Jesus’ prayer, so our thoughts are shaped by His thoughts, and our lives begin to
reflect His; and so we ourselves begin to look more like God's sons and daughters. We
become more like Jesus both in our learning to depend on God and in our noticing the needs
of our neighbour.
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|In August many members of our Church family will be taking a break and most of the
regular meetings are taking a holiday too!
If you are around during August why not take the opportunity
to do something different?
The Church will be open every week-day morning during the school holidays
from 10am until about 12noon. I love being in Church when nothing is happening.
There is a wonderful atmosphere in St Mary’s - the walls have soaked up
the prayers and the worship of God’s people for hundreds of years.
The people of Ecclesfield have gathered in these walls to celebrate births and weddings,
and to mourn for centuries. When I sit and pray in Church I feel surrounded
and supported by those who have faithfully offered their prayers and praise before me.
I feel that my prayers are part of an ongoing conversation with God across the years.
Sitting quietly for half an hour, perhaps looking at a passage of one of the Gospels,
in the presence of God can be a life changing experience.
Why not take time during August to be still in God’s presence?
Every Tuesday and Friday morning from 10am until 12.30 Church is open for
Coffee Shop. An opportunity to eat excellent cake, mix with interesting people
and in doing so support our Church.
If you are having visitors during August why not treat them to a visit?
Finally every Thursday morning at 9.30am we have a simple Communion service in the
Chancel. It is a more informal and intimate service than the Sunday Parish Eucharist.
If you have never been along on a Thursday morning why not make time during August?
A quiet August is a gift to enjoy. It could be an opportunity to draw closer to God or to our
neighbours. Whatever you do this month, whether at home or away or a combination of
both, I pray that you will be refreshed by God’s Spirit and draw closer to Christ.
Finally, at the back of Church are some slips of paper for visitors to sign up to
if they would like to be kept informed of special services and events here at St Mary’s.
If you are in Church and see any visitors, please draw it to their attention.