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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Marcus’ February Letter

I hope you have been enjoying going through some of the most famous and well-loved stories of the Old Testament as much as I have! I always find that there is so much to learn and that the more I think about them the more wonderful and profound they become. They have so much to say to us today in our church life at St Matthews. Take the story of Noah for example. As Minty helped us see, it is all about a world which was wrong being set right. Often people say to me, ‘the world is much a messed up place, if there is a good and loving God, why doesn’t He do anything about it?’ They would sort it all out if they could and are very keen to help Him sort it all out, with a ten step plan that they already have in mind, if only they had some way of communicating professional standards and job expectations to Him!

It’s a good question isn’t it in a way, but can we see what it fails to appreciate. We always think that when the Living God draws the line in the sand between all that is good and all that is bad, that we will fall on the right side. We would never want to imagine that we might be part of the problem. To the question ‘What is wrong with the world?’ G K Chesterton, once famously wrote to a newspaper editor, saying simply, ‘Dear Sir, I am.’ If the line in the sand was drawn today and all that is wrong with the world was cleared away, I’m afraid that I would fall on the wrong side of the line. There is one way through judgement, out into new life on the other side. This way is through being joined to the only man who is really and fully good, the Lord Jesus himself. Isn’t it beautiful that out of love for us, He has been looking for us all our lives and refused to give up until He found us, and that when we place our hand in His, He takes it and never lets it go and will bring us out into his own wonderful and never ending future. It feels that in many ways there are dark storm clouds gathering over church life in this country and we feel it over St Matthews as well. It is easy to be discouraged by our financial pressures and feel that we are in a lonely and uphill struggle into the future. If we will like Noah so long ago, increasingly throw our lot in with the Lord Jesus and really entrust ourselves to Him and to his care, we will find a safe way through the storm and through to new life and a new beginning, more wonderful than we could have ever asked or imagined, on the other side.

Please keep praying for our church family life, for renewed vision and life and vitality as we move together into the future. It is going to be a busy month ahead of us with Lent beginning. I can’t wait to get together each Wednesday of Lent as we look at the stories behind our stained glass windows. How well do we know Tyndale, Cranmer, Bunyan and Wesley? They were extraordinary men, whose lives changed the world and will thrill and inspire us today as we look towards the future. The future is bright, the future belongs to Jesus!

With love and every blessing in Christ,
Marcus

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