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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Marcus’ January Letter

It’s been a busy Christmas season celebrating the birth of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. It has been so encouraging to be able to meet many of your wider family members who have come home for Christmas as well as welcome many local people into our services. Thank you so much to everyone who has worked so hard to make it such a special time. The church looked beautiful, the choir’s singing was inspiring and the dramas engaging, although no one quite realised that we had someone from the Republic of Ireland in our church family until recently! I hope that you have had a lovely Christmas and great rest with your families over the holiday time.

It’s hard to believe that 2015 has drawn to a close and that we are gearing up for a new year and all that lies ahead. The new year is a fresh start in so many ways. We’re very excited to be able to begin a new mid-week monthly group for retired members of our church family. Starting in mid-January we will be getting together over some food to chat, study the Bible and pray together. As part of our aim to improve communication we will be emailing and producing hard copies of our new ‘St Matthews Weekly’ to do our best to keep us all up to date with what is happening each week in church life. We are also very much looking forward to beginning a sermon series that should take us through most of 2016 going through the whole Bible and its leading stories to trace the one great and overarching story of Jesus and his love for us. It is going to be a wonderful time for us as the whole church family, of all different ages and stages, to begin the new year on the right foot and go back to basics of what we are all about as a church. We will be praying that as we explore and journey together that we will find ourselves more and more a part of this great story of the Bible. All churches are about Jesus Christ and St Matthews is also all about Jesus Christ, loving, trusting and serving Him. The wonderful thing is that He is also all about us His church, completely committed to us; wanting to love, care, draw near and bless us richly in this coming year.

With love and blessings in Jesus, Marcus.

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Marcus’ December Letter

‘Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy…’

Isaiah 60:1-5Open Link in New Window

Advent is upon us again and Christmas is just a few weeks away! There is so much to do and to get ready. Many of us are worrying about the cards we have to write, the presents we need to buy and where we are going to be able to get our turkey for the big day. No one can seriously dispute the impact that this one birth has had upon all the world. Nothing will ever be the same since Jesus was born, so much so that even many people that do not personally trust in Jesus still find themselves expending a great deal of money and effort to celebrate his birthday. Have you ever been to a birthday party where the merry making had taken over and the birthday boy himself was forgotten and overlooked? It’s sad when it happens to anyone but tragic when it happens with Jesus. What are we actually celebrating? How much do we know about what really happened that first Christmas? What does it mean that God the Son became one of us? Why would he have wanted to do such a thing?

In Advent we think about how the ancient church longed for its great Saviour’s birth and how we His church today with a same yearning long and look for his appearing. At Christmas, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of Father, was sent in love to make all our problems his own and to save us from our sins, to bring us into his own wonderful life forever and allow us to become sons and daughters of his own great Father. Let’s, over this advent period, read and re-read the great stories of our Saviour’s birth, and ask Him to show himself to us in new and fresh ways. It is the greatest thing ever to have come to know Jesus for ourselves. Why don’t we pray for all those who will be coming into our church building over the Christmas period? Don’t we long for others to know Him and be helped by Him just like we have? This period can be a very difficult and lonely time for many in our church family. How can we be living the new life of Jesus together and loving and looking out for one another? With Jesus every day is a holiday and a day of feasting and being glad. This Advent and indeed this Christmas, lets allow the only really good news in all the world to wash over us and lift our eyes to Jesus, who loves us so deeply and has already done more for us than we can ever imagine, then we will have something to really celebrate!

With love and blessings in Jesus,

Marcus

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