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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Marcus’ March Letter

It has been a fantastic few weeks at St Matthews over the Lent period! I hope you have enjoyed the Stories Behind the Stained Glass Windows as much as I have. It’s both very exciting and deeply challenging to see how those who have gone before us lived and what is possible in the Christian life. The Church Family Day was also very well supported and a very encouraging and helpful time for many of us. It feels as if spring time is long overdue and with Easter so early this year, we may all have finished our eggs before the days get any warmer and brighter. The events that we celebrate and remember in the run up to Easter Sunday, really are events that have changed the world forever. What an amazing reality that our Lord and Creator should actually have taken all that is wrong with us and the world upon himself and gone down into the grave to destroy it, and then to walk out the other side and begin a new creation.

Today at St Matthews we follow a Living Saviour who will soon return to set everything right and complete his new creation. The good news of Easter for each one of us is that our sin has been taken away and that a new life has been made available now and a new future opened up for us all. We want to experience more and more of Jesus and walk in his life and power as we move into Easter time and beyond. We want to show our trust in Jesus and dependence upon His great Father as we pray together, day by day, week by week and month by month. After Easter we are going to re-launch our Monday evening prayer meetings as the very exciting new St Matthews Night. We hope to meet monthly on Wednesday evenings; to spend time together as we learn, praise and pray. Thank you so much for your support and love for the people and place of St Matthews over the years and especially for your generosity on the Gift Day. Giving so generously will allow us to continue to extend the ministry and mission of our church over the coming year.

It was so encouraging at a recent prayer meeting where some friends who have only become Christians quite recently prayed so sincerely and movingly alongside others of us who have been Christians for many years. What an encouragement and blessing it was to us all, that is what we are all about. Spring time is the season of new life and growth. How exciting that there are also new shoots popping up all across our church life every day! Let’s all give ourselves with renewed commitment to our risen Saviour Jesus and in his strength walk in his new life day by day together this Easter time.

With love and every blessing in Christ, Marcus

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