The Alpha Course
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Alpha at Christ Church
Dear readers It has been very pleasing to note how many of you read this when it appears in the Moreton hall directory. I should also publish it as a blogg on the church website. I was amazed to find I had not done this for six months . I am so sorry . I have resisted the temptation to put them all at once. So here is August's - in good time- I hope you enjoy it and I promise to do better next time.
Minister's August newsletter.
Jesus said many memorable things one was “consider the lilies of the field” which shows his care of the environment. At the time of writing I have just come back from General Synod, the Church of England’s national assembly, in York. Over the course of the four days we debated many different issues including new baptism services, safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and ecumenical relations. The most important thing was the day given over to considering the environment and global warming. We heard many fine speeches, some wonderful Bible theology and studied various topics in small groups as well as voting on the key propositions.
I would like to wish you all a very prosperous New Year and hope you had a terrific Christmas. We had a wonderful Christmas at Christ Church, Moreton Hall. Approximately two thousand people attended our services. That’s not a misprint – it’s absolutely true. So my first thank you goes to all those people who attended the District Guiding and Brownie carol service, the Community Choir concert, the Bury St. Edmunds Concert Band and Sebert Wood Singers concert and the Sebert Wood School Christmas play. That’s not to mention the Shoebox Service, the Christingle Service, the Crib Services, the Nine Lessons and Carols and the services at Midnight on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day.
My heart really goes out to the community for their positive support for both the Shoebox appeal and the food-bank. When it was finished two hundred and eighty six shoeboxes were sent from this estate to Serbia. That’s two hundred and eighty six smiling happy faces which we have created. Also over one hundred and fifty food-bank bags went out and many of them were returned, emptied and sent out again. I cannot calculate how many families have been blessed and helped this Christmas time and early into the New Year by your generosity. From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you. It is so wonderful to see the community coming together to help people in need whether they are in Bury St. Edmunds or overseas.
As we approach Christmas, there is so much to do and so many human needs around us, as well as all the infuriating adverts, that it is easy to become exasperated and spoil Christmas long before it has happened.
The Christmas story of Joseph and Mary arriving in Bethlehem is both tragic and wonderful. Tragic because the Holy Family were rejected, they went without and were probably hungry as they lay in the cattle shed waiting for the baby to come. But it is also wonderful because all heaven celebrated, the shepherds stood in wonder, and the kings brought marvellous gifts after thousands of miles of travel and, of course, the history of the world was changed.
I was very pleased by the large number of people who came to our Harvest Festival. I am glad you all enjoyed it. I realise now that we should have told you that we would have two enormous tractors parked outside the church for the day. Many of you came and had your photograph taken and it was a joy to do that. If it is possible in future years we will have them again, or some other important agricultural machinery. If so, we will let you know in good time.
The generosity of God at harvest time reminds us that God would like us to be generous to those around us too. Therefore, in November we will be doing our Shoebox appeal for Christmas. The reason it is so early is to enable the boxes to get from Britain to the countries they are to be delivered to. Our special ‘Shoebox’ service will be on 23rd November at 10.30 a.m. and we hope many of you will be coming. In previous years we have filled over 200 boxes and we hope to exceed that target this year. One practical point is that if you would like to fill a box, we will provide you with one that is already pre-wrapped so all you have to do is fill it up and bring it back to us on 23rd November. It will be a great service and it will be fun to see the huge pile of shoeboxes go off to the particular country in need.
October is very much the season of harvest. By now most of the wheat and barley crops will have been gathered in across our region and in other parts of the UK they will be concentrating on bringing in the apples, plums and pears. We often forget that East Anglia produces something like 90% of the food produced in the UK. We all depend on a comparatively small number of people who work very hard and to a high standard to make this happen.
Jesus often used agricultural metaphors to explain profound spiritual truths. There are stories about the four different soils, the mustard seed, wheat and tares, and so on. Paul picks up this theme when he reminds us that the hard working farmer deserves the first share of any crop. But while Jesus and Paul understood fully the physical harvest, that was merely a starting point for them for they were concerned with the spiritual harvest.