Tom

Thought for the Month - March

Thought for the Month - March

Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so people have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:20

Are you willing to step into a relationship with the Maker of the Universe, or do you want to play it safe? For those wishing to see the divine revelation, it is evident in the world, in our interactions with others and in the depths of our very being. Even though Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not have the Bible, they still knew God by the relationship called faith. That faith was an unshakable trust in goodness.

Faith goes hand-in-hand with revelation. It is not always obvious which comes first. On occasion it seems that God reveals more of himself in response to our stepping out in faith. Then we can build on that infant trust as God reveals more of himself to us - if we will let him.

Either way, it is meant to be an ongoing dialogue of divine disclosure and human response - an ever deeper divine disclosure and an ever deeper human response - just like any human love affair. People who are incapable of vulnerability thus cannot get very far on the journey of faith. They usually substitute either an atheistic denial or a casual indifference.

For to love is to become vulnerable, but what is the alternative? It is to build higher and higher walls around ourselves in a vain effort to be safe from hurt.

For Christians, the dialogue with and self-disclosure of God is summed up and encapsulated in Jesus. While present throughout all creation from the beginning of time - as “Christ” (Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:3-14) - Jesus makes the universal and cosmic message both personal and lovable and thus more easily healing.  

It is important to see that Jesus was not born fully mature: “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). He fully entered into the human journey. Many want to imagine that Jesus lying in the manger knew everything from the beginning (which would make his faith a mere caricature and he would not be the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” as stated in Hebrews 12:2).  At Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan, we witness Jesus’ dawning realization of who he is: God’s “beloved Son.” Throughout his life on earth, Jesus continued to discover his own ways of embodying God’s likeness through his ministry of teaching and healing, his non-violent resistance to religious and political power and his death on the cross.

But even at the end we see Jesus doubting God’s presence, just as we all do at various times: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46). I believe that prayer and plea was heartfelt and sincere.

Simply put, God reveals himself to us through what unfolds in our life, along with every visible thing around us. These ordinary revelations are there to be heeded and used as a bridge to mature faith. God respects each one of us as individuals. Jesus calls us separately to follow him and it is for us to respond, or reject him. The choice is ours.

Tom Cross

 

 

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Mark

Thought for the month - December 2019

Thought for the month - December 2019

Christmas lends itself to actions or rituals which by annual repetition become things of delight and deepened memory: oranges in stockings; Christmas pudding; watching (or studiously avoiding) the Queen’s speech; singing carols. For me it is also things like the prayer which begins “Stir up O Lord…” and most of all hearing the beginning verses of John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the word…” (commonly known as the prologue).

If we were basing our school nativity plays on the prologue, they would be short and unpopular with parents. There are few parts to play - there is no mention of angels, Joseph and Mary, shepherds or Magi, but despite this it cuts through to the meaning of Christmas and why we remember the birth of this poor provincial Jewish boy every year for over two thousand years after the event.

Christmas is important, because God entered into his creation. Christmas is important, because in this often dark world eternal light shines. Christmas is important, because it gives us hope that we may truly become God’s children.

In a way - because we don’t have the individual characters of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, Magi or angels to draw our mind’s-eye – the prologue leaves us focusing on Jesus and at the same time the wider perspective. If Luke and Matthew’s gospels are a portrait, John’s is a landscape.

The Christian pastor, teacher, preacher and scholar John Stott said “We must be global Christians with a global vision, because our God is a global God.” This is what the prologue of John’s gospel reminds us. Christmas is about a global God, who became local for the globe to be saved. And if we call ourselves God’s children, then we are required to share this global vision. Our Christmas vision must be so much wider than oranges, puddings, Christmas traditions and even carols.

That’s why in the New Year, beginning with the feast of Epiphany (which we are celebrating this year on the 5th January) we will be spending some time together looking at the place of a global vision for our Christian faith here and now.

We will be picking up the theme of inclusion which is at the heart of the visit of the gentile (and pagan) Magi to Bethlehem. We will explore the global scope of the Gospel “God so loved the world” and the centrality of the cross “Christ died once for all”. The gospel is always crossing boundaries, so we follow the call of Paul over to Macedonia and Paul’s deliberate argument that his mission to all is just a reflection of God’s zeal for all.

We then start to unpick the nature of partnership in the gospel – by focusing on the importance of body-thinking – we are one body across the world and we need each other, followed by a reflection on the privilege of being in partnership with others engaged in mission. Lastly we look forward and up to that greater unity which is in our future and the ultimate goal of all mission – when heaven and earth will be joined together in God.

So my prayer this Christmas is that all your Christmas traditions may be suffused and indwelt with God’s global vision of love and salvation for his world.

Happy Christmas and a flourishing New Year.

Mark McCaghrey

 

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Thank you from Mid Norfolk Foodbank

Thank you from Mid Norfolk Foodbank

Since this time last year the need for food boxes being given out increased by 50%. This is due to the benefit changes, benefit delays and the number of people on low incomes who can no longer manage financially, because of universal credit.

As you can see the need for food, unfortunately in these times, is desperately important to so many local people.

We still have a particular need for biscuits, tins of rice pudding, tinned potatoes and packets of mashed potato.

Mid Norfolk Foodbank would like to thank all those in the Benefice who donate the much needed food throughout the year and at Harvest and Christmas time. We are so thankful for all that is given and your kindness.

Liz Chappell

 

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Mel

Thought for the month - November 2019

Thought for the month - November 2019

November brings us into a season of remembering. Firstly, we have Bonfire Night, where we recall the Gunpowder Plot, when in 1605 there was a failed assassination attempt against King James I and Parliament. More importantly, we have Remembrance Sunday when we remember those who gave their lives in service to their country in the two World Wars and conflicts and wars since 1945. At All Saints Mattishall on Sunday 24th November at 4.00pm we also have a Memorial Service, where people from around the Benefice can come and remember loved ones they have lost.

Memory is very important. It is good to remember. In my voluntary work with those living with dementia, I see the impact of failing memory on the lives of those affected and their families. Sometimes though, failing to remember can be helpful. As a family we have had a very stressful, difficult year. Whilst there are things which have happened which I will always treasure in my memory, there have been some things which I would gladly forget. However, their significance will undoubtedly not allow me to do so.

How different it is with God. No matter what we have said, or thought or done, if we bring our sins to God and ask for his forgiveness, he promises “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) And in Hebrews 8:12 the writer recalls the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” We have an amazing compassionate God who sent his Son to die in order that our sins may be forgiven, and we might have eternal life. We are sometimes told to forgive and forget - how hard that is. But if we come to God, we can be assured of forgiveness and know that our sins will be remembered no more. God does not forget our sins, he chooses not to remember them. He does not treat us as our sins deserve and he sets us free to experience a new life. Hallelujah!

Mel Stevenson

 

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Alan

Video of All Saints, Mattishall, from the air.

One of the dads, James Peach, from Who Let The Dads Out? at ASM has very kindly done us a video of ASM using his drone. Do have a look at the video using the link below so you can see ASM in a way you've never seen it before. Yes, there is a lot of lead on our roof and yes, we do now have it protected.

Our thanks go to James for doing this. It is much appreciated.

See the video here.

 

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Joyce

Thought for the month - October 2019

Thought for the month - October 2019

I’m sure you will agree what a wonderful summer we’ve had! It’s been a pleasure to be outside, gardening or just relaxing. The farmers have safely gathered in the harvest crops for which I am sure they are thankful.

We live in such a lovely county, I’m amazed at the beauty we have around us. Our God created such a fantastic world, we have so much to thank Him for.

I do hope we remember to thank Him for the good things we have and don’t just pray to Him with a list of requests.

He is always there for us and we can always talk to Him in prayer, He will hear us and He will answer us, it will be in His time and it may be a ‘yes’, it may be ‘no’ or it may be a ‘wait’. He always knows what is best for us.

Prayer isn’t difficult, you just need to talk to Him as you would your best friend. If you would like prayer for anything, or would like to pray with someone, do please contact somebody in any of our churches and they will be only too pleased to be with you, I am sure.

May we continue to appreciate the beauty around us and the different seasons we encounter.

And may we all feel God’s blessing with us at all times.

Thank you,

Joyce

 

 

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Sally

Thought for the month - September 2019

Thought for the month - September 2019

Whenever I open the door of our garden shed, my eyes are drawn to a small green watering can that we bought for our grandson so that he could help me water the tomatoes. It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 3, verses 5-9, verse 6 of which says:

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”

During the next five weeks we have lots of harvest events taking place across the benefice with special services, suppers and school assemblies. Opportunities to come together and give thanks to our God who provides for all our needs and to give thanks for those whose labour brings food to our tables.

Living in a rural community, we witness first-hand the changing seasons that determine the farming year. Paul uses the image of farming or gardening to send an important message to the young church at Corinth, namely that whilst one person may plant, another water - it is God who makes things grow. We each have a job to do and working together, we can be fruitful.

In September, our grandson starts primary school. It strikes me that teachers are farmers of a different kind, as they sow seeds for learning to open up the world to our young people. I pray that my grandson will get a taste for more than just tomatoes!

May this season of harvest be one for giving thanks; and for remembering the generosity of those who donate to our local foodbanks, community fridge and who have provided meals for children during the summer holidays.

And finally, my prayer is that God will help us to grow his church in our benefice.   

Sally

 

 

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Jackie

GATE 2019 Project - Janet Clark Memorial Milling Machine

GATE 2019 Project - Janet Clark Memorial Milling Machine

Janet Clark, who with her husband Les, founded and operated GATE, died on 13th June 2019 after a battle with womb cancer. As a charity we want to build a milling machine in her memory in the first village she visited in The Gambia, Sasita Medina.

Pounding cous is very hard work and is done every day. The women in Sasita Medina have to walk 7 km(4 miles) to the nearest milling machine. A milling machine in Sasita Medina will also serve 7 surrounding villages, Sasita Toranke, Dighanteh, Sareh Bully, Sein Boboreh, Foreyaa, Sareh Saidy and Farumburregh and save the women there a 7km(4 miles)+ trek too! Providing a milling machine in their village will save the women labour and the need for the older children to mind the babies and toddlers while mum is pounding will be removed. Some years ago, when we installed a milling machine in Bakadargi 500 children were able to go to school the day it went ”live” as they were no longer needed to mind their younger siblings while mum was busy pounding millet to make cous so they could eat that day. This is why the Sasita Milling Machine project, will be a great and fitting memorial to all the hard work Janet did in The Gambia.

If you can hold a coffee morning, host a talk and slide show with craft sale, or organise any kind of fundraising event or make a donation please get in touch, as anything you can do will help! Please help us to raise the £6,500 we need for this project. We already have £2500!

Contact us through GATE's Facebook page, email: GambianAid@gmail.com or write to us: G.A.T.E c/o All Saints Church Office, Dereham Road, Mattishall, Dereham, NR20 3QA.

 

 

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