God's beautiful creation and wonderful promises.
People who live and work in the countryside have a particular connection with the land. Throughout my life …… in the village where I grew up, in my previous ministry in rural Warwickshire …… and perhaps especially this year, among the beautiful villages and countryside of Mid Trent …… I have always been struck by the beauty of God's creation, as summer begins each year.
Of course, I'm not a farmer, so I have the privilege of enjoying the beauty of the land, without all the hard work of taking care of it!
At some point during May each year, the church marks Rogation. This was traditionally a time when Christians prayed for God's blessing on the crops, land and farming work in their parishes. It was called "Rogation" from the Latin word for "asking", because the Bible reading for the day included the words, "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give to you."
In the days before maps, Rogation prayers for the parish were often combined with "Beating the Bounds": walking the parish boundaries to remind everyone where they were, and to ask for God's blessing on their land and their work.
Sometimes a boundary stone or tree would be beaten, but traditionally the children of the parish were beaten, or bumped on the boundary stones or markers, to imprint the boundaries firmly on their memories!!!
Whatever else has changed in the world since those days, the Bible says that God's promises never change. Whatever our circumstances, there are times when all of us feel that we cannot continue in our own strength.
One day, when teaching the crowds gathered to hear him, Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me …... For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
The rural folk listening to Jesus would have known that a farmer often yoked together a strong, older and more experienced ox with a youngster. The older ox would bear the greatest load and the younger one would learn from him as they worked together.
Today, as we enjoy the glory of God's creation, let's remember that his promises never fail. We too can rely on Jesus to guide us and lighten our loads. We simply need to ask.
Yours in Christ Mike
and from our Team Rector, Reverend Philip Daniel.
I'd like to express my thanks to all those who have been praying for me over the last few weeks. Also for the tremendous number of cards and acts of kindness.
It was a shock to find a cough ending up with pneumonia and associated complications, enough to put me on a ventilator for two days.
The staff at the County Hospital and Royal Stoke Hospital can't be praised enough. I don't think it's too big a statement to say that they saved my life.
The best medical advice says that I should take my time coming back to work. The Bishop of Stafford has also reiterated this.
For once, I am going to do as I am told. I would love to be able to say that I will be back to work by the end of May, but this will depend on how things progress. It could be a long haul.
My thanks go to Rev. Mike Cadwallader and all those in the Team that have covered my absence.
Many thanks, Philip.
Our Team Vicar's Message for June.
To boldly go!
At the beginning of June, the Christian Church will be celebrating Pentecost: remembering the time when God first sent his Holy Spirit to empower and enable Jesus' disciples, who had been hiding in fear of their lives, to fearlessly proclaim the Good News; to boldly go out and talk about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and tell others what Jesus had revealed to them about Father God.
The Bible (Acts Chapter 2) says that Jesus' friends were gathered together, when suddenly they heard a sound like a mighty wind blowing, and they saw what looked like little flames of fire resting on each person as God's Holy Spirit filled each one of them.
That morning, Peter the uneducated fisherman, having been emboldened and empowered by the Holy Spirit, spoke with such passion that over 3,000 people invited Jesus into their lives as their Lord and Saviour. And so this day marks the birth of the Christian Church.
It is a celebration of the day when the disciples were empowered to get off their backsides…..leave the security and safety of their home……and step out in faith to lead others into an intimate and eternal relationship with God.
The Holy Spirit had come and settled upon them like tongues of fire and as a result they went out and spoke with fire….with passion......transforming the lives of all those who heard them.
And today, the celebration of this event challenges each and every Christian to step out in faith: to 'walk the walk and talk the talk'.
The people of the Mid Trent Churches are continually being stirred to look for new ways in which they can 'step out in faith' to build God's church here in these eight parishes. Such initiatives have, for example, included Messy Church and the Breakfast Service at Weston, renewal of Baptism Vows at Stowe, Christingle and Crib Services across the team, Bible Study & Prayer Groups and informal Craft & Chat times…… to name but a few.
Thus, Hixon is celebrating not only Pentecost (the birthday of the Christian Church) this June, but also the first birthday of a new adventure of offering a Breakfast Service in the Guide Hall once a month. Hixon church may not have grown by 3,000 but its congregation has tripled in size; and perhaps even more importantly, with it has come a new excitement….a new boldness….a new willingness to step out in faith to chat about their Christian faith. An example being that one group have boldly stepped out and formed the 'Mid Trent Open the Book Assembly Team', bringing the Bible alive for the children of Hixon and Weston Church Schools.
There is perhaps no better day in the year to make a decision to ask questions ……to dare to doubt …..to explore the Christian faith wherever you are on your voyage of discovery of the meaning of life. So this June may I invite you to ask questions and explore the meaning of life through our Breakfast Services…..or the more traditional church services …or through any of the more informal church gatherings …. and 'taste and see' that the Lord is good.