Christmas letter

Dear Friends

‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel – which means, “God with us.”’

Matthew 1:23Open Link in New Window

Paul Tournier, a 20th century Christian physician said, “You can never establish a personal relationship without opening up your heart.”

Relationship is the heart of God—relationship with you and me. This is what love is all about. We cannot love on our own. We need relationship to both give and receive love. And we all need love.

In this past year at St Matthew's (and how fast a year has flown by!), we have focused on building relationships, both inside and outside our church community. As a Christian Church family which seeks to ‘love God with heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbour as ourselves,’ nothing could be more important to our whole sense of meaning and purpose, than to build relationships of love with God, each other and our communities.

At the heart of building relationship is invitation—the invitation to be known, loved, and valued by someone else. In each most precious, affirming and life-giving experience of our own lives, we find someone else—the someone who has noticed us, cared about us, listened to us and is interested in us—and who loved us enough to invite us to share in their life too.

God notices you, is interested in you, and cares for you more than you can ever know; so much so, that he came to Earth in Jesus, called ‘Emmanuel’, which means ‘God with us’. He came to share our lives, both the ups and the downs, and to invite each one of us to share in his. God in Jesus Christ opens his heart to us in the most personal relationship we could ever have.

May I invite you and your friends and families this Christmas and New Year, to come and see for yourself how much we love you and value you, and to come and explore life and the Christian faith for yourself in a safe, friendly and open environment.

Our Alpha Course starts on Tuesday 7th January at St Matts, 7pm. Come and see. You’re invited!

As we anticipate the celebration of Christmas and all that follows, please know that as a family, we thank God for you all, for travelling with us on this journey of faith in so many different ways, and for inviting us to share in your lives.

May you all know the love and presence of God with you this Christmas and into 2020.

Ian Tomkins
Vicar

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Prayer, Involvement & Invitation

In May and June, we have significant events as a church., all about Prayer and Invitation.

Thy Kingdom Come: We are joining with Christians in this diocese and throughout the world ,from Ascension Day to Pentecost, specifically for more people to know the love of Jesus in their lives.

‘Party in the Garden’ & Invitation Service :
We are organising special events for our community, friends and families, to invite them to St Matthews.

Your Church Family Needs you!
Please can I ask you to prayerfully think about what you can do to help build the Kingdom of God in this season. What you can do, and how you can be involved.? We really need everyone’s help and involvement as much as we can. Please speak to me, Richard or Chris. Thank you!

Ian Tomkins

‘For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another.’

Romans 12Open Link in New Window

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An Easter Message from Ian

Dear Friends

‘The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said’…… ‘Go quickly and tell his disciples’.

Matthew 27.5-7Open Link in New Window

I am writing this on the morning following session 5 of our Lent course this year, ‘Talking Jesus’. During this session we heard accounts from five people, who told of how God had changed their lives, giving them hope where there was despair, purpose and meaning when they were lost, love when previously they had known no love. They were deeply moving personal accounts of how God’s story of creation, fall, redemption and hope connected with people’s own life stories, transforming their lives.

Each one of us has a life story, and when it connects with God’s story, we too discover the comfort and joy of knowing we are precious to and loved by the creator of heaven and earth.

As a Christian church family at St Matthew’s, we long for those around us, our families, friends, colleagues and communities, to know and experience this saving love too, to know ‘strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow’ that comes with knowing Jesus Christ, our risen Saviour.

During this year, as a church we are particularly focusing on encouraging a culture of invitation. As the ‘Talking Jesus’ evenings have reminded us, you and I are the right people, in the right place, at the right time to invite others along to church to experience God’s love for themselves. We all have a unique and special faith story that we can share which will connect us with our family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues.

People want to be invited to share our lives and our faith. This year, alongside much that already happens week by week we will have two special opportunities to invite others to our church:

  • Party in the Garden on Saturday June 15th
  • A special Invitation Service on Sunday June 23rd.

I ask us all to be thinking about who we can invite and then to pray for them.

Please also pray that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can be a church family with roots down in Holy Scripture and our faith in Christ, and walls down to our friends, neighbours and communities.

‘Do not be afraid; I know you are looking for Jesus…he has been raised…Go and tell…’

As we celebrate the Good News of the risen Christ this Easter, may you and many others who you love and pray for, know the hope and love of the risen Lord Jesus.

Deborah and I and our family wish you a very Happy Easter.

Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel.

Ian

Revd Ian Tomkins, Vicar.

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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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