Author Archives: Nigel Chapman

Ordinary Times?

In the Church of England liturgical calendar, we have just entered into what is called ‘Ordinary Time’. It stretches out before us for 23 weeks until the Sunday before Advent at the end of November. Having had the celebrations of Easter and Pentecost you could be forgiven for thinking that this period of time is a bit of an anti-climax where church becomes rather ordinary and every day –  even boring! We do like our high days and holy days and crave the special events where we can pull out all the stops. In her brilliant bible study book ‘Everyday God – The Spirit of the Ordinary’ eminent theologian Paula Gooder writes: “Ordinariness is not exhilarating; it does not imply stimulation or interest [but] in these periods is a richness, a depth of potential experience which we need to encounter”.

 

In what appears to be the ordinariness of life we can continue to glimpse the extraordinariness of God involved in our everyday life, especially if we care to keep on seeking and connecting. I love the Celtic invocation of the Holy Spirit to come to us from “where ordinary is made glorious and glory seems but ordinary”. It kind of makes the point I’m trying to make here.

 

God is an everyday God! We can know God to be among us in the ordinary rhythm of life not just on Sundays, special events or festivals.  We can know God while cutting the grass, cleaning the pots, doing the shopping because God is not apart from us. The Incarnation ‘God with us’ is not just for Christmas, it’s for life! The early Christian church learnt this as they began to reach out into their communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Studying together, praying together, eating together, worshipping together and doing evangelism together they learnt that God was among them always in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Their spiritual lives became established in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary times of life and the church grew because of this. Faith strengthens when little and weak faith is put into practice. Even when persecuted and tormented or facing death by those who sought to put an end to Christianity, faith grew during the ordinariness of life.

 

So instead of seeing ‘Ordinary Time’ as a period of spiritual wilderness or treading water it should be a time of growth while prayerfully seeking God in all areas of life, both as individuals and as the church.

 

To this end, our day together as a benefice on 15th July is an important day and I would encourage you to make it a priority as we seek to be an ordinary church serving an extraordinary Lord. It is a day of exploring where God may be leading us in the coming months and years. Let us continue always to Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

 

Nigel Chapman

Vicar

Thy Kingdom Come

What could you talk about ad infinitum. What passion could you talk endlessly about?  Gardening, mending clocks, history, model making? When my brother in law and I get together it’s not long before we talk about anything photographic. In fact, family now take bets on how many minutes it takes before the word “Camera” is mentioned. I find it quite interesting, but others don’t share my interest. Then again, I can appreciate model making but I don’t want to listen to someone talk about it.

 

We all have interests that we can be passionate about, but what about our faith? Are we passionate about that? It seems no one really wants to talk about matters of faith. Is it any wonder? Politicians are berated for their beliefs and Christians scoffed at as simple souls with bonkers ideas. Christians are often painted with the same negative coloured brush. Consequently, it is easy to shy away from speaking up about our faith. Best keep it private and personal. It’s safer that way.

 

When the disciples shut themselves away after the crucifixion the dread of being rounded up and executed themselves was a very real fear. They felt it was best to stay out of harm’s way. Yet Jesus promised that he would send to them the Holy Spirit. I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24)
 

When that day came, the disciples were transformed. They became passionate about Jesus, but not in a boring way. In fact, they changed from being downhearted disciples to powerful apostles of Christ. An apostle is an advocate or a champion.  Are you a champion for Christ? Qualifications are not necessary, just a living faith!

 

Between Ascension (25th May) and Pentecost (4th June) as part of the national ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ project Revd. Liz Kitching and I have decided to organise 12 days of prayer walks and we would invite as many as possible to come along with us. We are going to quietly and humbly walk the streets for an hour each day simply to pray. Will you join us? Alternatively, would you walk with us in spirit, by following a daily prayer route on a map at home?  Details and maps will be available at the back of our churches, or from the office.

 

The Day of Pentecost is an important day in the life of the Church when we remember how the apostles were clothed with power from on high. It is the day that the Holy Spirit was released upon a fearful band of Christ’s followers who were changed into people able to speak about Jesus without fear and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  On a daily basis, God worked in and through them to the extent that thousands of people started to follow Jesus and become people of Christ. That same Holy Spirit and same power is available to us all, because God wants to work out his purposes not just in us, but through all who call themselves Christians. Qualifications are not necessary, just a living faith, an openness to the Holy Spirit and a willingness to step out! Let us pray!

Revd. Nigel Chapman

Vicar

Easter Message

Genesis 12: 1-4  God Calls Abram

12 The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country and your people. Leave your father’s family and go to the country that I will show you.I will use you to bless all the people on earth.”So Abram left Haran just like the Lord told him.

 

What scares you? Spiders, snakes, the dark or perhaps heights? I’m personally not good with heights and I’m in no hurry to go up St Oswald’s tower. One thing most of us are probably wary about is the unknown. Familiarity may breed contempt, but it also brings a sense of security. The thought of venturing out into the unknown can be a daunting challenge we might prefer to avoid. Change can be disorienting.

 

This though, was the challenge faced by Abram, later called Abraham. He and his family were settled in the town of Haran, when he suddenly felt God’s call to move on. Yet the destination was unclear, as were any details as to what he might find when he got there. It was a real step into the unknown, a journey of faith. We may or may not be called to make such big changes but there are times when we need to let go of the tried and trusted. We may be called to new ventures or new responsibilities not knowing what is around the corner or what will be demanded of us. We may need to embrace new ideas or explore new horizons and have no way of telling what will happen.

 

Easter

This was certainly true for the disciples of Jesus. Easter is now upon us, that great and joyful celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet before resurrection comes the pain of crucifixion. Through these events the frightened and bewildered disciples find that their whole lives change. Yet in spite of their fear and the traumatic events they encounter, they move on encouraged by the presence of the risen Jesus Christ. They may be in grave danger themselves, but they bear witness to the most mystifying of changes – of Christ who was crucified, dead and buried, being risen. One of my favourite stories of Easter is the encounter between two disciples heading to Emmaus when they meet a stranger. It turns out to be Jesus, and as they reflect upon the experience they say “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24: 19-35)

 

Easter is a time of great change. A change from death to life both literally for Jesus and spiritually for us. It is a turning point. The risen Jesus challenges us to constantly change to become the living, joyful and welcoming ‘Body of Christ’ here on earth.  A body of believers who are not afraid to step out in faith, who seek where the Lord is leading, to be renewed and alive, like a resurrection. Same old same old is not good enough for Jesus and it should not be for us either!

 

May you be richly blessed by the risen and glorified presence of Jesus this Easter.

Revd. Nigel Chapman

Vicar