Good News, of Great Joy, for all People

Dear Friends

As the waiting through Advent nears its end, we anticipate with growing excitement, the celebration of Christmas, the coming into the world of Emmanuel—God with us, Jesus our Saviour.

This will be our first Christmas with you as a family since I started as vicar of St Matthew’s only three months ago, and we hugely look forward to meeting many more members of our communities and visitors to St Matthew’s during this time.

We have greatly appreciated the warmth of your welcome and your prayer for us—thank you. Thank you too, to all who give so much supporting the ministry of St Matthew’s.

At my institution as vicar, Bishop Lee Rayfield shared what was on his heart for St Matthew’s, that we would go deeper in our relationship with God, with each other and with our communities. In my conversations with many of you, I am hearing this same desire—to strengthen the foundations of who we are and what we do: firstly, by going deeper in our knowledge and experience of God’s love. Vital to this is prayer. Secondly, by strengthening our relationships with each other. This will form the basis for reaching out into our communities.

This is a wonderful message of hope for the future, both for our church family and also for those with whom we long to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Christmas gives us fresh opportunity both to continue deepening our own relationships and also to share what is so precious to us with others. The coming of Jesus is good news—the BEST news, of great joy, for ALL people—and especially for those who struggle, those who feel lost and numbed by life, and those who grieve.

As we understand more about how we totally and utterly rely on God’s grace for all we are and all we do, we build that strong foundation for all that God has in store for us.

Thank you—to all of you, for who you are and what you bring to the life of this church family.

We are truly blessed to be together, and I am filled with hope for the future.

May you, your friends and families know Emmanuel, God with us, this Christmas time and in the year to come.

Ian

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Letter from Ian


I am very excited to be the new vicar of St Matthew and St Nathanæl Kingsdown. I firmly believe that God has his hand on our time together and on my strong sense of call to serve this parish. Some of you will know me from my time spent supporting the church during two vacancies and from my work for the Diocese of Bristol. To others I will be new. Deborah and I are looking forward to getting to know you all.

Before becoming your vicar, I have been the Advisor for Ministerial Support for the Diocese of Bristol, working with wonderful friends and colleagues in the diocese and supporting and encouraging those who so faithfully serve as our clergy across our diocese. It has been a huge privilege and I am so thankful to them all.

A little bit about us… We have lived in Bristol since 2010, when we moved here from Bradbourne in Hertfordshire where I was the Rector. We have three children, Alexandra (26), Christopher (24) and Nathaniel (17). I was brought up in Swindon and I support Swindon Town FC (sorry Bristol!).

We both love gardening and music. I enjoy sport and exercise, enjoy all things to do with history, especially reading historical biographies and we have a real heart for living in, supporting and helping to build our local community.

We hold you in our prayers and know that you have been praying for us. Thank you. We continue to pray for God’s grace and guidance as we begin this new journey together with a real sense of optimism and hope.

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Easter Message

On Palm Sunday we begin a journey as we accompany Jesus through Holy Week and into Easter. In walking with him and spending time remembering his passion, death and resurrection we are led deeper into the mystery of God’s love and what it means for us. It’s a journey of love and hope.

The writer, Tim Muldoon, says that loving another means giving up something of oneself, in effect a dying to self, a sacrifice, but that paradoxically this result in life*. On Good Friday we contemplate the ultimate expression of love as Jesus, God incarnate, who came to be with us, gives up his life so that we might have life in him in his death and resurrection. It is this kind of love he speaks of to his disciples in the Upper Room. He commands them, and us, to love one another with that same self-giving love (John 13:34-35Open Link in New Window, John 15:12-17Open Link in New Window); “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13Open Link in New Window)”.

Alleluia, Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia! The great acclamation of Easter Day. Love spent to the uttermost on Good Friday was not the end but the beginning bringing us new life and hope in Jesus. It was a new, if initially somewhat confusing, beginning for his followers. It is the hope that we are given and hold to.

We pray that, as we journey through Holy Week and arrive at the joyful celebrations of Easter, we all will come to an ever deepening understanding of the depths of God’s love in Christ and the riches of his grace. May we as individuals and as a community grow in his love so that others may recognise that we are his and be drawn to him.

As we move beyond Easter, much of our focus will be on the appointment of a new vicar. Please pray during the coming weeks for all those involved in the process: John Fisher of CPAS, Bishop Lee, Archdeacon Christine, Sandra O’Shea from the Diocese, Rod Symmons our Area Dean and our parish representatives, Andrew Lucas and Ruth Rimmer. Pray for wisdom and discernment both in the shortlisting and interviews. Pray also for the person God is calling to St Matthew’s.

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who has given so lovingly and so generously of themselves both in everything that has taken place during our Holy Week and Easter celebrations and during the past seven months. Thank you all.

With our prayers that you will have a blessed Holy Week and a joyful Easter

Minty and Richard

*Muldoon, TP. 2004 The Ignatian Workout. Loyola Press, Chicago, p142

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Christmas Letter

God with us.

A huge thank you to everyone who has worked so hard and contributed to all that we have been able to do at St. Matthews during Advent and over Christmastide. All that you have done is really appreciated. You are what makes this church the vibrant Christian community that it is.

As we gather with families and friends to celebrate Jesus’ birth, it is a great time to reflect and share God’s infinite love and Christ’s life-changing message. Sadly, there will be friends, neighbours and others who’ll be spending Christmas on their own, who, in the midst of the all the festivities may feel lonely and isolated. This is an opportunity for us to share the love of God in looking for ways to remember and include them, loving one another as God loves us. Perhaps, there’s someone you know who would value you spending time with them or inviting them round?

Do remember the work of our mission partners, Changing Tunes and the Sisters of the Church, in your prayers as, respectively, they deliver Christmas gifts to prisoners and provide food parcels for those in need.

We wish you and those you love a Very Happy Christmas as we look forward to an exciting New Year in 2018.

With God’s Blessing

Minty and Richard

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