Author Archives: Chris

‘We cannot see the glory!’

Vicar’s thought for 8th Sept 2019

A couple of years ago, some of us had the privilege of being in the same room as an older North Korean Christian woman who had finally escaped from her country. She had been through unimaginable suffering for being a Christian – imprisoned, made to stand naked in the freezing cold all day, and many other tortures. At the end of that freezing day, she heard her Lord say to her, “My dear woman, you have suffered all that for me, you are precious beyond measure”. I might have said, “Well, thanks for that Lord, if I were that precious might you not have saved me from this freezing day?!” But no, she just radiated a simple beauty, joy and thankfulness. In fact she was like a bit like a child, laughing as she freely ran around taking pictures of us all worshipping! St Peter wrote, ‘It is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!’ [1] You see we are bearers of His glory, His Name. Let us too keep walking faithfully, listening out for our dear Lord’s voice through it all. For as Jesus said, “No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.” [2] We cannot see these things, do more than occasionally glimpse the glory, but we bear the name of the one true Messiah.

[1] 1 Peter 4.16 [2] John 10.28-29

September Family Activities at Ascension

Sunday 1st 10am Croissants in the church

10:30am All-Age Baptism Service with activities for the children

Sunday 8th 10:30am Church with EPIC

Sunday 15th 10:30am Church with “What’s in the Bible” DVD in the Crypt

4:30-6pm Ascension Springs Plus (Sunday gathering – games, crafts, discussion, chat and tea)

Sunday 22nd 10:30am Church with EPIC

4pm Film in the crypt

Sunday 29th 10:30am Church with EPIC

Friday 4th October 6 – 9:30pm Hoedown (family American dancing with supper in between sets – come for all or half, more details soon)

Sunday 6th October 10:30am All Age Harvest Parade Service

Every Tuesday and Thursday prayer in the church 8:30 – 9am

Every Thursday 8:30-11:30 Ascension Springs Cafe in church – coffee, cake, toasted sandwiches, and bacon butties are back! etc.

Keep up to date on Facebook: Ascension Gateway More details contact Sarah: / 07779 781465

(EPIC – is our name for children’s church – usually includes lively songs, games, stories and craft to get to know God)

This week’s Vicar’s thought 21st July

Today we start our new series on 1 Peter. Peter specially highlights the great themes of the Christian gospel, It is a letter full of certainty about our inheritance and our home, pointing us to the day when Christ will be revealed in glory and reminding us that ‘the end of all things is near’, but in doing so he is concerned that we also live the life of heaven here and now. We should have our eyes on the horizon, but our boots on our feet!

Living Hope that gives great encouragement and joy

By ‘hope’ Peter does not mean something we merely wish for, or would like to happen in the future. It is much more definite than that. It is our inheritance – our new birthright -preserved for us and indestructible. The hope is of eternal life with God, made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It takes real faith to focus on this hope when we are going through periods of struggle and difficulty. Peter is so aware that Christians may well have to face all kinds of sorrow, yet believes this need not defeat our faith; it can refine it. Peter encourages us to trust in Jesus and to ‘rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy’. [1]

[1]1 Peter 1.8

The blessing with the greatest reward – Vicar’s weekly thought 14th July

The blessing with the greatest reward…. ….is the one attached to persecution and suffering for the sake of Christ! Very strange. Does it mean that those who seriously suffer persecution have some kind of special reward tucked away in heaven that somehow makes it all worthwhile? You might think so, for the reward Jesus mentions is: ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs’. But then Jesus also said that the Kingdom of Heaven is already among you. Perhaps we can experience that Kingdom among us even now, and find that the joy of that Kingdom is far more special than we thought…..? Jesus makes it plain – his Kingdom is the main thing. Rather shockingly he suggests that other things really are much less important (‘Let the dead bury their own dead’ and so on[1] ).

So, what is the cost of following Jesus to you? Perhaps it’s just that lies are told about you? (that’s the one Jesus mentions). I don’t know. We had some moving answers to the question of the cost from our Small Group leaders at a recent session – it’s OK we won’t share them – and they were different for each person. So what do you make of these questions? What is the cost to you of following Jesus in your time and place? What do you think others will say when they come to hear about the cost of going Jesus’ way? I can only say there is no other way as amazing as Jesus’ way, full of his life, his joy, his peace – in whatever circumstances. As St Peter put it, ‘In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus’ [2]

[ ]1 Luke 9.57-62 [2] 1 Peter 5.10

Look at this! – This weeks Vicar’s thought 6th July

Look at this!

Just one seed, yes one seed, produces a flower head with over 20 petals (I tried to count!); and well, how many seeds do you reckon!? (answers please!)

Today’s theme is seed planting – one of Jesus’s own favourites. For the truth is unless we plant seeds nothing grows – it’s no use leaving the seed bag on the shelf! Today we celebrate the raising of £300 by our young people over the last many months to go via the locally based charity ‘Send-a-Cow’ (welcome Alan!). It’s in support of 10 African families to help get going with farming that is sustainable for them. We think it’s also a visual illustration of a very different kind of seed planting that we all need as human beings. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.” [1] But happen it does! His apostle St Paul also wrote, ‘Remember – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.’ [2] The true fruits of God’s Kingdom are beautiful, ‘love, joy, peace…..’ [3] . Jesus Christ came to bring us new life, new hope, new fruit. Those African families will be planting seed – will you plant in Jesus’s Kingdom, in his ground, his seed in your life?

[1]Mark 4.26-27 [2] 2 Corinthians 9.6 [3] read a whole list in Galatians 5.22-23

July Family Activities at Ascension

Sunday 7th 10:30am All-Age Garden Service (Send a Cow) with BBQ and games afterwards

Wednesday 10th 11-12 Mum’s bible study at my house (for more details contact me!)

Sunday 14th 10:30am Church with EPIC

Sunday 21st 10:30am Church with “What’s in the Bible” DVD in the Crypt

4:30-6pm Ascension Springs Plus – Reflection (Sunday gathering – games, crafts, discussion, chat and tea)

Sunday 28th 10:30am Church with EPIC

Tuesday 30th 10am onwards Ascension Rocks Holiday Club with lunch after (see separate page)

Every Thursday (until JULY 25th) 8:30-11:30 Ascension Springs Cafe in church – coffee, cake, toasted sandwiches, and hopefully bacon butties! etc.

Keep up to date on Facebook: Ascension Gateway More details contact Sarah: / 07779 781465

(EPIC – is our name for children’s church – usually includes lively songs, games, stories and craft to get to know God)

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God’ – Vicar’s weekly thought 30th June

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God’ [1] Quite a calling!

When asked what someone really wants to pray for, one of the most frequent answers is ‘Peace’. People may mean everything from world peace, through peace in their relationships, to peace within themselves – there are so many areas of life where there is no peace! But almost weekly at our Communion services we pray, ‘Let us pursue all that makes for peace and builds up our common life.’[2] I’m not sure how seriously we take that as we say it! Sure, the practicalities and dynamics of being peacemakers are tricky! (sometimes to say the least!) But the Christian message is at its deepest root one of peace and reconciliation – of all that makes for peace. St Paul wrote that ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.’[3] And that ‘God has given us the ministry of reconciliation’[3] . And Jesus beautifully explained how if we do this we will ‘truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.’[4] This desire for peace is quite simply on the Father’s heart. And if we will learn to find out what it takes, and by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit practice and pursue it, we will follow the very calling of His heart.

[1] The 7th Beatitude from Matthew 5.9 [2] Romans 14.19 (and the Common Worship Prayer Book!) [3] 2 Corinthians 5.18-19 [4] Luke 6.35

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’ – Vicar’s weekly thought

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’ [1]

The interesting thing is that so many people say that they want to see God but they don’t know how. Here, in Matthew, Jesus tells us that those who are pure in their hearts will see God.

However the problem is often no one understands what being Pure in Heart means.

Jesus had made it clear in other places we have pure hearts when we put Jesus at the centre of our lives and treat others as He would and as He does treat us. It’s not about making sure we look good to others, or taking part in the rituals of church, or even being seen to do good works. No it is about what is important deep in our lives.

So today’s question is, what is your heart centred on, is it family, career, hobby, money, enjoyment, something else or as Jesus said – Him!?

I have found that when my heart is pure, aligned with, centred on, Jesus then I see and hear God around me and in others and when I let my heart slip away then I lose that sight.

[1] Matthew 5 8

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy – Vicar’s weekly thought 16th June

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy [1].

The Bible is packed full of mercy, of undeserved mercy to boot. The Lord God shows himself time and time again as the one who loves beyond anything we expect, or have any right to expect. And giving mercy is costly, it means bearing some of the pain ourselves (but then just think of the Cross!). One of Jesus’ key teachings was to show mercy, given that the amount of mercy each of us receives from his Father in Heaven is always way beyond the mercy we manage to show others! But nonetheless, we are called to show it. And if you think about this Beatitude carefully, it is a bit surprising – it half suggests that those who don’t show mercy to others won’t receive mercy themselves. Perhaps it is can’t, not won’t!? Someone wrote, ‘The truth is, if we do not show mercy, we are unlikely to be able to receive it’. Put simply, Jesus taught that we should be merciful, because God is merciful to us. He always has been! Now this is not just theory! This is the first of the Beatitudes to call for direct action, not just about the attitude of our hearts (although that’s vital – for it is from our hearts that all our actions spring). So when we hear Jesus telling stories about forgiving debts, or helping the wounded by the roadside, we start to ask where can I show mercy? Certainly not because we’re better than anyone else, but because we know what it is to receive God’s amazing love and mercy towards us. And I would like to suggest that if you’ve not yet discovered that amazing love and mercy of God towards you, now may be the time! And after that, as Christians, we are called to ‘go and do likewise’ [2].

1 The 5th Blessing (Beatitude) from Matthew 5.1-12

2 The last line from the parable of the Good Samaritan

The Power of Pentecost – This week’s,9th June, vicar’s thought

This week the church has been full of excited children from our local infant and junior schools (and thank you to all who have helped!). They’ve come to ‘Explore Pentecost’ – a series of investigations into why Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit is so important to Christians. And you have a chance this morning to join in those explorations a bit for yourselves! To be honest, I was a bit uncertain as to whether there was enough to explore! How wrong could I have been! The week has been a refreshing window into the amazing extent of the work of God’s Holy Spirit, now spread right across the world: The Good News that has spread so far and wide, the significant changes in Jesus’s disciples, the courage love and compassion the Spirit enables, the shared life of Christians, the sheer joy and hope (even though we often have to wait!), the deep peace that the Spirit brings in an often difficult world – I could go on! 5 people from Ascension also got confirmed at St Barnabas this week, committing themselves to being part of this movement of God’s Holy Spirit and asking for His strength to do this. You may long for God to work in your life too! Good, let’s long! And today, let’s all pray that we too may discover, experience, explore more of the power of Pentecost!