Shining a torch on 2011
We are challenged in the Bible to learn God’s ways to walk in his paths.
The word of the Lord, the psalmist tells us, is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
In providing us with a firm foundation for the year ahead Chrissie Foster encouraged us to be certain of what we believe and she also referred to this verse in Psalm 119. Part of what we believe will be our testimony and I asked you to consider your testimony from the last year.
The problem we have with looking back, even on the most recent past, is that it can seem like shining a torch into a now darkened room. We see just parts of the whole, that which our minds rest on. The glow of the light also changes the reality sometimes making it more than it is, and things that are not lit disappear in the gloom of our selective memory.
It is not for me to determine where you choose to shine your torch nor to hold your lamp in one place only. But I know that you can be encouraged, inspired, and provoked as I shine my lamp and reflect on our past months together.
I know that some of us might have a tendency to shine the light on those bits of our personal year and our life together which I will describe as not our best- times when we have lacked grace, compassion or courage. If you do so that is not wrong AS LONG AS having shone the light on that, you are able to say; I learned from that, I repented of that, I moved on from that.
In truth there are similarities to that approach in shining our light on that which we can celebrate
We must say we learned from it, resolved to walk in the good of it, and seek God as to how to move on from that- again as the psalmist says. ‘We go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion.’
In BOTh cases we fix our eyes on who? Jesus ‘who is the author and the perfector of our faith’.
So I believe God’s purpose in this is to bring us to a place of renewed faith in Him, gratitude to Him and to one another and a respect and honour for those who serve and work so very hard for the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
So put some spare batteries in your pocket and let me shine the light on 2011.
God’s Blessing on the Church in 2011
Times of fellowship In small Groups, around meal tables Picnics and parties all have filled the last 12 months with good things. Walks togther in the pouring rain and sunny barbecues or even sunny walks and barbecues in the pouring rain; Dedications and baptisms. Trips and holidays and days out.
Serving each other by providing meals and lifts and shopping and ironing, DIY and gardening. This is the stuff and life of the community that is Living Word.
Our involvement here at Wat Tyler at Easter was an amazing opportunity serving the community with craft activities and seeing that great crowd coming together on Easter Sunday. Alongside that there was the largest ever Churches Together walk of witness in the town.
At Christmas time we saw again great opportunities to be involved here at Wat Tyler, in the town centre and in the Hospital and a wonderful response to the invitation to come and celebrate the birth of Christ here.
The CTB Celebrations have on two occasions been heavily supported by Living Word the worship band and PA for the Celebration at the URC and then the amazing time we had together here in September when Mark Barford spoke.
In February we had a great time with our Hunger Lunch raising over £200 for Zambia and aagin over this Christmas time we raised £1400 to go to the orphanage in Cambodia through caft activity and special offerings.
Times in the word have marked 2011 as a special year.
I know many of you enjoyed the times in Letchworth on the ‘Lifelink Inspired Days’ The woman had a supper together with teaching and fellowship along with a great day at ‘Girl Talk’ The leadership team also enjoyed a great time at the Hothorpe Hall National Leaders weekend.
The ‘Word of God is living and active’ among us and we began the year looking at Small Groups and their role in the life of the Church, we have looked as well at the Gospel of John as well as the hallmarks of a healthy Church over the summer and then the amazing look at a life walking in step with the Holy Spirit. It’s been great to hear teaching from such a wide range of speakers and just to remind you of some that I shone my torch on
· Don & June Silbers lovely family service
· William Lee the battle won in the private place
· Adrian Clarke on the role of Grace
· Barbara Brockbank on the John 1
· Dave Donoghue on the Resurrection
· Peter Douglas remember the balloons for the vine
· Chrissie Foster on the Woman at the Well
· David Latham on the prophetic Lifestyle
· Sam Donoghues amazing Challenge from Matthew 28
· Keith Brockbank looking through the doorway at Small Groups
We also enjoyed teaching from Jeff Enfield and Hudson Luwi and Ewan Robertson and Joel & Beth Tarbutton and a few from me too!
One aspect of the word of God this year that stood out for me was the time of prayer and fasting in September, sacrificially meeting every night of that week to pray. The prophetic word ministered into lives that week was awesome. A reall highpoint of my own year.
For the youngsters there was also an awesome time at New Day.
So we have seen that God’s blessing comes in many ways. I want to shine the torch on those that serve us –not to embarrass or to provoke pride, simply to honour serving hearts that give sacrificially.
In doing so you will see too how much is done in serving both ourselves and the community around us. To do this I have to name names (sorry) They don’t serve to acknowleged but to bring the Kingdom of God to us and the lives they serve.
I am going to start by talking about those that serve in the local community, some you will know about others you won’t. Please listen carefully because you may wish to get involved in one of these activities even to pray for them regularly -your support would be greatly valued.
· Every Tuesday Night, rain or shine Richard Cook, Bladimir & Lorena serve the youth of the town on the Bar n Bus and Richard also works regularly on the Bus that is on Festival Leisure Park.
· Mick Cronin started working this year on the 58:7 programme Every Friday night going out to feed the homeless
· There is a small team from the church still working at Steeple View on a Friday Night working at the Youth Club That’s Pete Douglas, Carol Punshon, Sue Blake and myself
· The Little Angels Mum’s & Toddlers Group at the Steeple View Hall- Ange, Chrissie Sue Francis with other helpers coming in when they can.
· The Schools Team Ministry Team in Basildon includes Hilary & David Donoghue – Hilary in particular works in the Infant Schools providing Puppet assemblies with folk from other Churches.
· The Woodbury Court Services held every two weeks are supported by Brenda Higginbotham and Ange Neale.
· Churches Together in Basildon has always been well supported by Living Word and in partricular Hilary & David Donoghue.
There are a couple of individual ministries that I will also mention which are not expressions of the Church so much as the individuals involved. I know too that each of us in our paid employment and daily lives reach out in ministry to those around us.
· Julia Everett tirelessly provides a counselling service which has helped many people across the district
· Jonathan & Beula Rentala provide a daily bible reading and spiritual support website for the Telagu community both in Southern India and all over the world.
· Whilst it is a paid employment you will know that Sam Donoghue provides Children’s Ministry advice to the Church of England Diocese of London but has also advised lifelink Churches and provided training here and is speaking at the CTB celebration next Sunday.
· Keith Brockbank is a Trustee for the Global Horizons board and has been working particularly with the Charity O2H providing relief all over the world.
So that’s serving out there, what about in here. Well it’s all of you really but yep I’m going to identfy the groups concerned so that we all get a sense of the sacrificial heart of the Church that God would honour all that we do for Him.
Serving the Church Community
There is a team of workers helpers and leaders who work week by week with our children some of whom, of course are outside with our children now. There are some significant changes to our Children’s ministry occuring in the coming weeks reflecting our growth as a Church and also the age range of our children. We need your help and your prayers.
The worship team doesn’t just happen. Every two weeks the musicians and worship leaders meet together to worship, pray rehearse and learn new songs for us to honour God together. Their heart is to serve God and help us all to make a journey to the throne room every time we are together.
Now that was the musicians and worship leaders the rest of the worship team is you.
We currently have a very small team of two –Carol & Robin who oprate our projection for us- we are keen with the new Small Group based set up arrangements to expand this group.
Ok so Set up teams who week by week pull together the equipment and resources we need to worship God.
Small Group Leadership is a crucial part of our Church life and we are so grateful for the leadership and pastoral care shown by our Small group Leaders- We are a growing Church and will be needing more very soon.
In the last year huge demands have been placed on one group in particular and I asked you to pray for them a few months ago and that is the Trustees who have wonderfully administered the Church’s legal and financial system enabling us to sell Church House and move to a new Trust status.
Each one of them is owed a huge debt of gratitude by all of us.
The overall administration of the Church is now overseen by David Donoghue and we are all grateful to him for his work, The day to day administration is looked after by Ange Neale and I would like to thank her for all the amazing hard work she does on our behalf.