Author Archives: Nigel Chapman

Faith Community

‘When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.’  Rudolph Bahro

 

As a faith community we have been – and are – united in our Christian beliefs which are expressed in a variety of ways and spiritualities. We should not be in an escapist, nostalgic quest for a golden era that didn’t exist, or merely trying to replicate the past. Instead, informed by our heritage (traditions) we endeavour to live out our faith in present day culture. We seek to be inspired by the God we serve, filled by the presence of the Holy Spirit in order to find ways to engage with the paradox and complexities of real life. This is what it means to ‘Worship’!

 

It is all too easy to say that God doesn’t change, and therefore neither should we. That somehow misses the point. The world in which we live changes, and therefore the Gospel needs to be presented and resonate with each new generation. That means to embrace, explore and express the heart of God in the everyday ordinariness of our lives and spiritually relate our faith to the world of today. Does this make you feel insecure?

 

Metanoia.

In Greek this literally means “change of mind”. In the New Testament the word is often translated as “repentance”. Yet this is not about regret, guilt or shame; it implies making a decision to turn around, to face a new direction. That kind of ‘conversion’ can make us feel very insecure as we step out of our comfort zone and begin to understand life differently.

 

Our 2020Vision is not simply about the parish centre at St Johns, but building on a history of serving the community and sharing Good News. 2020Vision is evangelistic in as much as we should become better equipped both by a new centre and our own ongoing faith development to offer fresh ways of engaging with the community. The Gospel may be the same as it was 100 years ago, or even a 1000 years ago, but it is expressed, explored, lived and understood very differently today.

 

When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 (Luke 4: 18) he outlined a mandate for change.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free”.

 

Same old, same old was not good enough for Jesus, and neither should it be good enough for us.  We live in an indisputable beautiful place, but hidden behind some doors are people who are lonely and isolated, some struggling with debt, some with grave illness, some with addictions, depression or broken relationships. Some feel marginalised because of the way they look, or dress or because of their sexuality. Whatever, if the Gospel is good enough for me, then it is good enough for everyone else too and we should always depart from that which cuts people off from Jesus, because that is oppression. Instead, God calls us to be a church with wide open welcoming arms!

 

Vincent-de-Paul was a 17th Century French priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor and was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity. His personal spiritual discipline was to see “Christ in all people” no matter what! In 1882 Wilson Carlile founded The Church Army, who’s personal spirituality was “To go for the worst”.  Now there’s a thought!

 

Lord, give to all your people a heart of compassion

that by word and action they may serve you in serving others in their need;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

The Provocative Church

 

Last month Revd Liz wrote about moving on to new things and challenged us to think:

“Perhaps we all need to try something before we say “No, I couldn’t possibly do that.” Perhaps we all need to be a bit less diffident about our talents”.

 

Her words come at a time when it appears that fewer people are stepping forward to fill the gaps left by those moving on or stepping back. That said, as a church fellowship we should also be aware that we cannot do everything and for this reason doing less, is not such a bad thing, especially if we do it better with renewed vision and enthusiasm. The trouble is, that some people just expect everything we’ve always done to carry on, or that it is a failure when something comes to an end. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Revd Liz said, quoting the writer of  Ecclesisastes, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”.

 

It is good to take stock and review. Problems arise when we do nothing about change, do only the things we like to do, continue for the sake of it, or protect at all costs what “I’m”  doing for fear of losing a particular power base. It then becomes easy to blame other people for the demise of whatever it is the church is or isn’t doing. On my recent retreat I was considering my own part in all this as a leader using ‘The Rule of St Benedict and Leadership’ to consider some disciplines of good leadership. Needless to say there’s room for improvement! But there is also need to travel the road of change. For this we need clear purpose.

 

In his book ‘The Provocative Church’ Graham Tomlin asks “When was the last time you sensed danger in going to church”?  He explores evangelism and offers some thoughts on how to spot an evangelistic church. This is about being a community and not a closed institution; a community that faces outward and not inward. He says “at all our meetings our purpose should be to focus on Christ.” This very much resonated with me. Our purpose is to be serving Christ in all that we do, if it doesn’t, then we have to ask questions and this includes our need to empower evangelism.

 

In the coming months, we will be considering what God is calling us to do, and for this to happen, we all need to step forward, have a go and take a risk. After all, risky worship is about meeting with the living God who by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit can transform our prayers. Instead of waiting for something to happen, we become part of the solution.

 

This will excite some and horrify others. Is Nigel going to insist on evangelistic campaigns, guest services, evangelical power preachers and the like? Nope! That’s not my style. What I do hope will happen though, is that together we can explore what it means to be in a new relationship with God (Adoration), a new relationship with others (Belonging), a new relationship with creation (Compassion), with self (Discipleship) with words and action (Evangelism).

 

To this end we have a few new things developing in the coming weeks and we need people to come on the journey and get involved.

Every blessing

Nigel – Vicar

Moving on

We’ll soon be saying “Goodbye” to Revd Liz as she moves on just down the road to go and help in the parish of Eastfield. This has been something on Liz’s mind for some time now and she made the decision earlier in the year to look more seriously at where God was calling her…..so Liz writes to us this month…..

 

“For everything,” said the writer of  Ecclesisastes, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

A time for England to win the football world cup, and a time for France;

a time for a Briton to win Wimbledon, and a time for a Serb;

a time for prolonged drought, and a time  for an English summer.

 

“A time for every matter under heaven.”

 

There was a time for me to come to Filey in  April 2013,  and now, a time for me to leave. I came because God called me here, and I leave because God calls me away! In the 5 years since I came I’ve taken services in Filey and Gristhorpe, and in lots of other parishes -those in vacancy,  or with a Vicar on maternity leave. I’ve (introduced) prayer-walking here – I hope you’ll carry it on.

I’ve started an “Open the Book” team who, under Pam Roberts’ leadersip, will continue to go into Filey Infants Academy to act out Bible stories. I’ve started a prayer-chain which will continue with Ann Simpson. I’ve been emptying the Food bank boxes which you generous people refill almost immediately – thank you!

 

I’m still running a Laughing Lunch outing to beautiful Wydale Hall every month. I’ve kept up the tradition, established by Mary Williams and myself in 2010, of holding Healing Services. They have recently expanded to become Deanery-wide. The Bible study group which began as an Advent adventure led by me, has grown and changed, being led by Marilyn Briggs and then by each member of the group taking it in turn.

 

Perhaps we all need to try something  (like leading a Bible study) before we say “No, I couldn’t possibly do that.” Perhaps we all need to be a bit less diffident about our talents. Jesus told a parable about that, didn’t he? Perhaps we could think a bit more widely, too, and venture out to see what happens in other parts of the Deanery?

 

I hope to see you there!

 

Revd Liz Kitching