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Christmas & New Year 2020

A new beginning – Get it done

I write this on December 13th the day after the General Election. No matter what your Political affiliation the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’ is unambiguous even though the finer details have to be worked out. Boris says “Come what may, no ifs, no buts we leave the E.U. on 31st January”. There is clarity in the slogan and we know, without doubt what his mission is. On the other side of the Political coin, commentators say the opposition was a mishmash of undeliverable manifestos. I must admit that I’m fed up of hearing MP’s say “Let’s be clear about this” only for them to say nothing with any clarity at all. I use the General Election for illustration purposes only in order to ask a pertinent question.

 

Are you clear about our mission? 

Perhaps the problem is that we don’t actually know what our mission is. There is no slogan that captures what everyone wants from our church. Consequently are we trying to please everyone? If so, do we also end up losing sight of our real purpose? Such lack of clarity may come from having a wide range of faith experience; from the fully engaged to those on the edge, undecided or young in faith. Being the ‘Established Church’ we don’t have a narrow manifesto to sign up to. We are a church for everyone; believers and non-believers, those who see church as a safe haven of yesteryear and those who want to see radical change. It is the nature of our diverse church into which we all bring something different.

 

Yet to fulfil our mission with any great clarity, we need to know what it is. We can’t fulfil aims and objectives if we don’t know what they are, and we cannot afford to simply do nothing  otherwise we drift into oblivion. Our ‘2020Vision’ statement captures something of the essence of what I believe our mission is:

 

  1. Deepening our faith.

This is about discipleship, developing a richness of commitment and becoming more Christ-like. It includes aspects of worship and faith development.

  1. Growing the church.

This is about outreach, evangelism and fellowship; growing deeper in our faith and enabling growth in numbers.

  1. Serving the community.

This is also where the rubber hits road, God’s love in action through us and crucially to all ages. It includes social action, care of the environment, acts of kindness and working for  justice etc..

In other words, our mission it is to be the people of God who get on with the task, come what may, no ifs, no buts. It is to align ourselves with God’s manifesto; The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

God’s mission, unambiguous in the coming of his Son. (See John 1 and 3). When we grasp the mystery of this truth, it can be that moment of a life-changing realisation which changes the rest of our story. An epiphany you might say.

 

So I believe our mission is simple, but challenging:

  • To continue developing as disciples.
  • To help people come to their epiphany.
  • To help one another grow in the likeness of Christ.
  • To reach out into our community with the love and peace of Christ. Or as our Christmas poster says “Jesus – Love in Person”

 

In 2020 we are going to be exploring discipleship. We will investigate how we sustain the work of our churches through our financial giving. We will develop our mission by grasping what it means to be a church beyond walls. March is going to be a ‘Month of Mission’ that will help us develop telling our story through outreach and social action. We will invite people to come and see for themselves. I want Alpha or Start groups, and I want to develop Baptism and Marriage preparation. Finally I’m more determined than ever to – get 2020Vision done!

 

So, I invite you all to join me in this new beginning in our mission to grow.

 

A very happy Christmas and Blessed New Year to you all.

 

Nigel Chapman

Vicar

A Morning Prayer

Morning Sun

Although this prayer is often attributed to Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, a Russian Orthodox priest of the 18th Century, it may go back to the famous mystic, theologian and spiritual director Archbishop François Fénelon of Cambrai who was born in 1651. (I didn’t know that until I looked into it just now)! It is though, a daily prayer that has been in use for centuries and a prayer I often use when my day is busy and I (perhaps foolishly) cut short a daily devotional.  

O Lord,

grant that I may meet the coming day in peace.

Help me in all things

to rely upon Thy Holy Will.

In every hour of the day,

reveal Thy will to me.

Bless my dealings with all who surround me.

Teach me to treat all that comes to me

throughout the day with peace of soul,

and with the firm conviction that Thy will governs all.

In all my deeds and words,

guide my thoughts and feelings.

In unforeseen events, let me not forget

that all are sent by Thee.

Teach me to act firmly and wisely,

without embittering and embarrassing others.

Give me the strength to bear the fatigue

of the coming day with all that it shall bring.

Direct my will.

Teach me to pray.

Pray Thou Thyself in me.

Amen.

As Christians we know that prayer is an important activity. It is not meant to be a passive shopping list of requests or an appeal to God to put right that which we believe is wrong.

Prayer connects us with God and by the Holy Spirit at work in us, to then bring to fruition God’s holy will. This particular prayer helps me to connect. Not only to connect with God but to connect with the people I meet and the world around me in which we all live. I realise not only my need of God but it helps me to be aware of his presence throughout the day in those I meet or the situations I find myself in. So, when I get tired or frustrated, concerned about people, Politics or the environment, intimidated by people or situations I find myself in, I remember that I have beside me and within me the Holy Spirit. This prayer appeals to God to guide me, help me and enable me to see through his eyes and respond in his way of love. Sometimes I’m stopped dead in my tracks for my own good and even compelled to rest.

The final phrase “Pray thou Thyself in me” or in the modern version “Pray in me” captures something of the essence of relationship with God. It is about (for me at least) being a co-creator and co-worker. It leads me into active, not passive discipleship. Personally I tend to use a modern version of it, but whatever version, I commend it as a daily morning prayer.

Nigel Chapman

Vicar of Filey

Live by the Spirit.

There are a number of different pictures used in the New Testament to help the emerging church of the first century get a handle on what it meant to follow Christ. The ‘Body of Christ’ in 1 Corinthians 12, ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ in Galatians 5. ‘Armour of God’ in Ephesians as well as instructions to ‘encourage one another’ and have ‘generous hearts’.

They were working it out as the Spirit of God revealed to them who they were, what to believe and how to conduct themselves. The majority of 1st Century followers were Jewish. They worshiped at the Temple of Jerusalem, and attended the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Yet, one defining constituent of this Jewish sect was that Christ was for all people. Jew, Gentile, Greek, men, women and children, free and slave. As challenging as it was, all were invited to come to Christ. They were learning together who could belong, what to believe and how to behave and it was so counter-cultural that it both appalled and appealed, even Roman rulers. Nero tried to obliterate the Christians and later Constantine became a Christian.

Today of course, we continue to work out what it means to be a follower of Christ in our own time. It is certainly different now to what it was then, but some things are as relevant today as they have ever been, only context has changed. For instance, all Christians are to ‘Live by the Spirit’. They are to work at and display the Fruit of the Spirit in their church life, home life, work life, social life and now social media life. Characteristics such as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Indeed all these are fruit singular not plural. In other words we are to work at these as a whole and not just pick which ones we like the best.

Paul is saying that those who belong to Christ are to be different from the norm; they should live by the Spirit and be guided by the Spirit.  Not conceited, competing against one another or envying one another”.  (Gal 5: 25f)

Part of this discipline is to share what we have and to give generously of our resources to God’s Kingdom work. As one parish, one church, one body we are not in a competition for those resources, but seeking to give generously to God. Thank you to everyone who, for instance, gives their time, abilities or finances to the ministry of our churches in whatever way. We have exciting times ahead. This month the PCC will be considering Stewardship with the diocesan Generous Giving Team and now that we have diocesan approval for the refurbishment of St John’s Centre, we are also going to be fully involved in growing the finances we need for the 2020Vision project. This is not simply about fund raising, it is about responding to God’s generosity to us.

We may have just entered ‘Ordinary Time’ (from now until the beginning of Advent), but with open generous hearts to what God has done for us, and what God is able to do in us and through us, we may also see extraordinary times ahead, as we endeavour to ‘Live by the Spirit’.

With every blessing

Revd Nigel Chapman

Vicar