Mission Barbecue…

Come and meet our new Mission Partners!

On Sunday 16th September we’re launching our 5 mission partners that we’ll be supporting this year.

To find out more, join us at our 9.30am service and a BBQ from 11.30am. Tickets for the BBQ are £3 – either purchase from church office or on the day.

Read more about our Mission Partners here.

Advent 2017

Advent Waiting….

I wonder… are you any good at waiting?  Do you wait patiently, or do you get frustrated and anxious?

Revd Emma has written a sermon which further explores the idea of Advent and waiting through the lens of 2 Peter 3 v 8-15a.  You might like a look….

Read Revd Emma’s Sermon for Advent….

 

Advent and Christmas Services at All Saints:

Sunday 3rd December at 4pm – Christingle Service – All Saints’ Church

Sunday 10th December at 9.30am – Toy Service – All Saints’ Church

Sunday 17th December at 6pm – ‘Churches Together’ Traditional Carol Service – All Saints’ Church

Sunday 24th December CHRISTMAS EVE 4pm – Crib Service – All Saints’ Church

11.15pm – Midnight Holy Communion – All Saints’ Church

CHRISTMAS DAY  9.30am – Christmas Celebration & Holy Communion – All Saints’ Church

Remembrance Sunday – 12th November

Denmead Village Act of RemembrancePoppies

This year for the first time we will be joining with the Parish Council, Scouts, Guides and other local organisations for a joint Act of Remembrance in the village. 

This will begin at 10.30am with a procession through Denmead from the Memorial Hall to the Village Green.  At 10.55 we will gather at the  Village Green for a Christian Act of Remembrance and laying of wreaths. 

There will be limited seating under cover for those who need it.  After the service finishes all will be welcome to All Saints, either for refreshments in the church hall or for further, quiet reflection and prayer in the church.

Please note, there will be no 9.30am service at All Saints.

1 John 4

In his commentary on the Epistles of John, John Stott, an Anglican cleric renowned for his leadership of the Evangelical movement, cites an early Church Father, St Jerome, as saying that when the apostle John was in his extreme old age, he was so weak that he had to be carried into the church meetings. At the end of the meeting he would be helped to his feet to give a word of exhortation to the church. Invariably, he would repeat, “Little children, let us love one another.”  His disciples began to grow weary of the same words every time, and they finally asked him why he always said the same thing over and over. He replied, “Because it is the Lord’s commandment, and if this only is done, it is enough”

John has already emphasized the importance of love in verses in chapters 2 and 3 of this letter, so it would be easy to say, “Okay, brother, we’ve got that now. Let’s move on to something else.” But John wants to make sure that we understand that love is not an optional virtue for the believer. It is to be the distinguishing mark of the church in the world. John goes so far as to say that if you do not love others, you do not know God. So we all need to examine our own lives by this supreme standard.

Yet, note that while love is the inevitable result of being born of God, it is not the automatic result. John states…“everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” The implication is that when we know God in our lives His love manifests itself in love for others. If we are children of the One whose very nature is love, then we will be like our Father. But at the same time, John commands, “Beloved, if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another.” It is not automatic or effortless! There is always room for growth in love.

Note also that truth is an important aspect of that love. John has just spent six verses warning us not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. He did not say, “Let’s just set aside those points of doctrine where we disagree and come together where we do agree, loving those who differ on these matters.” Because these men denied essential truth about Jesus, John calls them false prophets. Love does not mean that we set aside the truth for the sake of unity. We have to exercise wise discernment. Some doctrinal differences are not essential to the gospel, and we do need to love others who differ with us on these matters. But some of these doctrines are important for how we live our Christian lives, where believing or rejecting them will make a difference to our faith. On these issues, we must never compromise truth for the sake of love. To deny what Christ did for us by his death and resurrection or that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, apart from our works, would be to deny the gospel. To deny the Trinitarian nature of God, or the divinity of Christ or His perfect humanity, would be to deny the gospel. We do not practice God’s love if we set aside such important truths for the sake of unity.

The connection between what John says in verses1-6 and his abrupt change of subject in verse 7 stems from what he said in chapter 3 verse 23 “This is His commandment that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” In verses1-6, John explains the first part of that commandment, namely, believing in the name of His Son Jesus Christ. Now, he turns to the second part of the commandment, the need to love one another.

He points us to the supreme illustration of love, the Father’s love in sending His Son to die for our sins. Then he restates the commandment in light of God’s great love.

Our culture uses the word “love” in many different ways: “I love pizza!” “I love the mountains!” “I love my children.” We often think that love is a sentimental, syrupy feeling. So we need to remember the biblical definition of love.  A definition could be that Biblical love is a self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved.

At its heart, biblical love is a commitment, and thus it may be commanded. But it is not a commitment without feeling, but a caring commitment. In other words, biblical love involves delight, not just duty. Also, this caring commitment is not just an attitude, but an action: it shows itself in deeds. Those deeds often require self-sacrifice, seen supremely in Jesus going to the cross. The goal of this commitment is the highest good of the one loved, which is that the person be saved, and `conformed to the image of Jesus. John states that, “love is from God,” and then he goes farther and states, that, “God is love.”

Of course, even unbelievers may demonstrate sacrificial love for others. Unbelieving parents often sacrificially love their children or their partners. Unbelieving soldiers may lay down their lives for their comrades. These loving deeds stem from God’s common grace and while such love is caring and self-sacrificing, it never can be genuinely biblical, because unbelievers cannot seek the highest good of the one loved, namely, that the other person may come to saving faith and conformity to Christ. John wants us to know that whenever we see genuine biblical love, it did not originate with the person. It came from God.

To say that God’s love is unconditional is true but as Christians we need to understand that we abide in God’s love only when we obey God.

So, the seemingly simple statement, “God is love,” is not quite so simple after all! But John wants us to know that the foundation for our love for one another is God, who is the source of love and whose very nature is love.

If everyone were easy to love, we wouldn’t need this powerful example of God’s love or this strong exhortation to love one another. The world loves those that love them. But Jesus commands us to love even our enemies

Implicit in what John is saying here is that we must love those who may not be especially lovable or easy to love. There may be people in this church whom you do not love. John says, “Beloved, if God so loved us so much, we also ought to love one another” even that difficult person. It is in these difficult situations that God’s amazing love in Christ shines forth in us. If you’re having trouble loving someone, remember that God loved you while you much less than perfect. If you are His child, then you must be the channel for His love to flow to those who may not be very lovable.

I spend a lot of my working week with men in HMP Winchester who it can be very difficult to love or believe have any redeeming features. In such an environment it is that commandment to love one another that is the driving force to keep trying to show God’s love is for everyone and that there is hope and redemption with God’s grace.

I recently read an amazing story that came out of the Korean War. A young Communist officer ordered the execution of a Christian civilian. When he learned that his prisoner was in charge of an orphanage and was doing much good in caring for small children, he decided to spare his life, but kill his son instead. The 19-year-old boy was shot in the presence of his father.

Later, when the tide of events changed, this same officer was captured, tried, and condemned to death for war crimes. But before the sentence could be carried out, the Christian father pleaded for the life of this Communist who had killed his son. He admitted that if justice were followed, this man should be executed. But since he was so young and blindly idealistic, he probably thought that his actions were right. “Give him to me,” he said, “and I’ll teach him about Jesus.”

They granted the request. That father took the murderer of his son into his own home. As a result of his self-sacrificing love, that Communist became a Christian pastor.

Thankfully, most of us will never have to go through that kind of ordeal But  if God so loved us, shouldn’t we work at loving one another in our homes and in this church in our community and our world, even when it is difficult?

“Little children let us love one another” It is the Lord’s commandment and if this only is done it is enough. Amen

I John 2: 1-17

Walking in the light…..

Last week, we saw very clearly that God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all, no shadow, no hidden corner…. God is purely light.

And this light is fully revealed in Jesus, God’s son, who came to earth to live among us, show us the way and then opened his arms wide, dying for us.

Our gospel passage records Jesus’ words…. ‘I am the light of the world’.

This week in no uncertain terms John says that anyone who believes and trusts In Jesus, anyone who abides in Him, anyone who has fellowship with Jesus must walk just as Jesus walked….

There is no room for compromise, or an easy complacent faith….

John’s advice encourages an active, disciplined faith… not just a belief, but a life as a follower of Christ.

A faith which is an adventure of growing and learning and walking openly in Christ’s light.

OK – that sounds good – but how, what does it look like for us to walk in the light?

Well John gives us some advice….

The first thing John says is we can walk in his light if we obey his commandments. 

Now when we hear the word commandment we often think of the ten commandments that were given to Moses… a list of directives  – 

to honour and worship God alone…

to not make any other idols,

to not kill or steal, to honour our parents,

to keep a day of rest. 

And of course, Jesus taught further still on these commandments, saying we should love God with all our hearts and mind, soul and strength and that we should love others, our neighbours as ourselves. 

And Jesus fully embodied this teaching….Jesus loved his Father with all his heart, he spent time in prayer and quiet, communing with his Father, 

and in his interactions with others Jesus constantly displayed love, compassion, healing, and goodness.

Jesus served others first. 

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples,

Jesus healed the sick,

he spent time with those who were considered to be unworthy,

Jesus broke divides, reaching out to those in need,

Jesus challenged assumptions.

So, when John gives the advice to obey his commandments, it’s not just about following a list of laws, rather it is seeking to live as Jesus lived. 

To lives in such a way, that we bring hope to others,

we serve one another, we speak out for those with no voice,

we care for the marginalised…

That day by day we make it our aim to share love in practical ways with those around us.

John’s second bit of advice reminds us that we can only walk in the light if we actually get to know the one who is the light…Jesus.    

Now knowing the light isn’t just some vague, whimsical, erratic belief….

It’s not just vaguely trusting that Jesus is real…

It’s not just about attending church, or even doing the right thing….

Knowing the light, means intentionally spending time, getting to know Jesus….

John puts it this way…..he says we should abide in Christ….   

Now the word abiding is used to refer to a relationship that is long lasting, enduring, life long, eternal, constant, permanent, stable, steadfast and unchanging. 

And this sort of relationship takes commitment, time and energy. 

This means we need to be those who are committed to growing in our relation to Christ, we should be those who are committed to reading our Bibles, praying, worshipping,

not just at church on Sunday, but daily. 

Then we can really get to know Christ, and his life will fill our lives and help us to walk in his light.

John then says… we can only say that we walk in the light if we commit ourselves to loving one another, and forgiving one another when we make mistakes and hurt each other. 

You see Jesus lived a life of love and forgiveness…in fact Jesus died because his love and forgiveness was so vast. 

Walking in the light means choosing to forgive, even when it is difficult, even when it hurts. 

Walking in the light means working for reconciliation.

And then finally walking in the light involves a rejection of the world and its ways.

John expands saying the ways of this world are full of pride and are centred on material wealth and riches. 

Today we live in a society which is obsessed with material wealth, on buying things, on craving for more and more.   

It is too easy, for us to become focussed on owning the latest gadget or piece of technology, to desire a better car or home….

Now these things are not wrong in and of themselves,

but when we make it our hearts desire to seek these things,

to focus on the material, to make decisions that are selfish,

then we are allowing, albeit quite subtly, darkness to slip in….

Walking in the light, says John, involves seeking God’s ways…ways of equality, justice, fairness, peace.

So walking in the light…. Is an active faith…..

choosing to follow Jesus commandments – indeed the very way he lived his life,

it’s about growing in our relationship with Christ-intentionally abiding in Christ,

it’s about forgiving one another and living in love,

it’s about rejecting all that is evil or selfish, and instead seeking God’s way of peace, truth, righteousness. 

If we don’t walk in the light…. We’ll find ourselves walking in darkness….

And then we will encounter problems….

One further quick point……

Walking in the light doesn’t mean we suddenly get it right and become holy overnight…. Rather it is, what it says,

a walk, a journey, a process,

an adventure of transformation and change.   

All the verbs that John uses in this passage are in a form which means they are actions that began in the past, continue now, and will continue in the future.

Walking in the light, doesn’t mean sudden exposure,

rather in means honesty, integrity and transparency, to keep walking in the light,

this is a necessary condition whereby God in his mercy and grace transforms us into something which is holy. 

As we walk in the light God works through us to shine his light into others’ lives.

So, can I encourage you to keep walking in the light – Jesus….

make him your target, your centre, your vision as you journey through life.

And as you leave here today….. have a think what could you do, this week to walk in the light? 

What could you change, what could you be more intentional about that would keep you walking in Christ’s light?

Amen.

1 John 1

Character of God 1 – 1 John 1, (Matt 18:21-35)

There are two things that puzzle me:

What are wasps for? And what is lettuce for?

Wasps – I discover, are pollinators and consumers of garden bugs we probably don’t want.  Lettuce – I don’t know.  It’s a good way of taking balsamic vinegar!  And at 96% water maybe it’s just a drink in itself.

An easier question is what is 1 John for? 

And what does it tell us about God?

In a confused society, it tells us God is from the beginning of all things.

In a pluralistic society, that God is light.

In a relativistic society, that God is truth.

In a lost society, that God knows our way.

In every society, that God has given us life eternal in Christ.

It’s a good book; and it’s a short one.

And in chap 1 I’d like us to explore something of what it tells us of the God we can know for ourselves in Christ.

A word about its authorship, its links and its message

1 Authorship

1 John doesn’t name its author but, having much in common with the gospel of John, the church has always accepted that John wrote it. 

It is written with the wisdom and authority of one who has been ‘around the bazaars’, now bringing teaching, encouragement and warning to Christians at the close of the 1st C AD. 

He may have written from Ephesus, modern Turkey, where he is thought to have spent later life.

Preacher and commentator, David Jackman, has said of 1 John:  There is a deceptive simplicity about John’s style.  So often the simplest vocabulary is combined with the most profound theology.  Ideas that on the surface appear easy to grasp are shown on further investigation to possess ever increasing depth.

So look out!  This book could change your life.

2 Links

1 John has clear links with other books of the Bible – most obviously Genesis, the gospel of John and Revelation. 

John begins this letter:

We declare to you what was from the beginning . . .

It’s a flying start which pulls no punches, reaching back to the beginning of all things when God initiated the universe – the very beginning. And John justifies this astonishing claim, referring to God as word of life, saying:

We know what we are talking about.  We have seen this word of life, we have heard it, we have touched it, and it has touched and changed us.

C.f. Genesis opens, In the beginning God . . .

John’s gospel opens, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word

was God.

Revelation 1:8, I am the beginning and the end, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

1 John opens, We declare to you what was from the beginning.

So the links and the purpose are clear.  The letter is speaking about God himself, inseparable from the Word, the word of life, life eternal which John says was with the Father and has been revealed to us in Jesus.

Straight away in 1 John we learn that God is a good God, a giving God and a gracious God who in Jesus:

  • has shown himself
  • has given himself
  • has brought us a new, full experience of life
  • has lifted our sense of purpose and hope beyond our present existence onto a scale of eternity

John doesn’t want the growing church to be short-changed.  He doesn’t want them to settle for a comfy faith limited by their own imagination.

This is not ‘God in a box’.  John’s message is from the transcendent God who is from the beginning.  And this God is also immanent, one in whom we live and move and have our being.

God is far and He is near.

3 Message

John’s confident and unequivocal opening brings a message about God – We declare to you . . .

What’s the message? 

1  It’s about God’s gift.  2 It’s about God’ nature.

1  It’s about God’s gift,

the word of life, who has come to us in Jesus. 

And, says John, it’s our first-hand experience that makes us believe who Jesus is as we’ve heard his teaching, seen his extraordinary miracles and acts of healing, and spent public and private time with him. We’ve touched him, watched his self-sacrifice and rising from the dead, we have personal experience of who He is and what He can do.

John adds, 1:3-4: We’re telling you of our first-hand experience of Christ, the word of life, so you may share our conviction and hope; and that we may be even more thrilled as we share knowing him together!

Friends, their record is a foundation for our faith too, encouraging us to step out in trust and grow in our experience of Christ by his Spirit.  Their experience is important evidence for us.

2 The message is about God’s nature

‘God is light’ 1:5  (later, ‘God is love’ 4:8)

Seeing the light is an expression that has often been used to describe Christian conversion – notably the apostle Paul, who, meeting the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, described seeing a blinding light.  He saw the light; he accepted Christ.

Darkness and light are compared and contrasted by John in this letter and in his gospel.

1:5  God is light and in him is no darkness at all.

Both parts of this sentence are instructive. We understand better what light is when we are told that darkness has no part in it.  There is then no darkness in God; he is purely light.

1:6 challenges cheap faith and compromise.

If we say we have fellowship with God while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true.

This is one of those simple, but far reaching, statements which causes us, who deal in shades of grey as well as black and white, to search our lives and our motives.  Whatever they may have been or are, we are challenged to recognise that we fall short of Jesus who said:

I am the light of the world,

and of whom John wrote in his gospel as

the true light who enlightens every person.

Jesus added, Those who follow me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

The problem with belonging to a fallen race is that it is uncomfortable being compared with Christ, the living embodiment of a pure and holy God who lives in unapproachable light.  Jesus saw the problem, saying, Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. All who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.

In the recent Caribbean storms, the authorities tried to guard evacuated homes at risk of burglary.  In Miami looters raced police to damaged shops.

Remember too Peter, having taken an amazing catch of fish at Jesus’ direction, saying,

Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!

Thank God that he does not compromise.

And thank God that, though he is pure light,

In Christ he is also forgiving and accepting. 

1 John 1:8-9,

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

= make us clean from every kind of wrong.

As Christians we are learning to live with Christ who is the light; and to live more openly in the light.  For in John’s own words, v7,

If we walk in the light as God himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

John tells us:

  • In a confused society God is from the beginning.
  • In a pluralistic society, God is light.
  • In a relativistic society, God is truth.
  • In a lost society, God knows the way.
  • In every society, God offers us life eternal in Christ.

1 John will show us how.

Advent

(Excerpt from December’s Parish Chronicle)

Is it possible that in three weeks we will be celebrating Christmas? I expect many of you are caught up in the frenzy of preparation that goes with the season. The shopping, food preparation, and getting ready perhaps to welcome visitors. While others may be more concerned about the forthcoming holiday time because of the disruption in your usual routine or because you will be spending most of it alone.

However you spend Christmas it is not without some stress as indeed it was for Mary and Joseph at that first Christmas. Mary, a very young heavily pregnant girl, who has conceived her baby in strange and wondrous circumstances, having to travel a long arduous journey with Joseph to be registered according to the Emperor’s decree. And when they reach their destination there is nowhere for them to stay. Finally finding a stable to shelter in Mary has her baby with, we assume, only Joseph to help. While still recovering from all of this a group of smelly shepherds arrive directly from the hillsides where they have been with their sheep – sent by angels, they say, to worship her baby. Who would not feel stressed? But you will remember in Luke’s gospel it is written that Mary treasured all that she had heard and “pondered the words in her heart”. (Luke 2:19) She put her trust in God to guide her, whatever the future held.

Christmas is one of the Christian world’s major festivals where we remember God’s amazing gift to us, God made man in Jesus. The Word made flesh to live amongst us and share our human joys and sufferings. To bring the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness for each of us, if we believe and trust in his Word. Something to truly celebrate even if you feel that gift has got lost in the commercialism and gluttony of our age.

If we have tried to keep Advent as a time not just for shopping and eating chocolate, but to draw closer to God through worship, reading and contemplation it will not matter what the rest of the world is celebrating, our hearts and minds will be prepared to receive that gift in the form of a helpless baby needing to be loved and nurtured to survive. God makes himself vulnerable so he can know our vulnerabilities and bring his peace to those things that trouble us and give us stress.

Christmas comes with many expectations: to enjoy time with family and friends, to give and receive presents that will be appreciated, to be happy and free from stress and worry. Not all of these will be met and for some this time will bring more troubles, not less. But if we look into the heart of Christmas and understand fully what God has done for us, however we keep Christmas, we will know the joy and blessings of that first Christmas all over again. We will be able to see beyond the noise and messiness of our lives and look into the eyes of a baby born to bring hope to us and our world. And maybe we can share that joy and hope with those who are not able to find it for themselves. Why not invite them to come to church for one of our services over the Christmas period, where they too can discover God’s love freely given in a very special gift.

Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10) I wish you a very happy and peaceful Christmas full of joy and hope.

With love in Christ,

Sandie

Christmas Services at All Saints

Sunday 4th December, 2nd of Advent

4.00pm Christingle

Sunday 11th December, 3rd of Advent

9.30pm Family Praise Toy Service

Sunday 18th December, 4th of Advent

6.00pm CTD Carol Service

Saturday 24th December, Christmas Eve

4.00pm Crib Service

11.15pm Midnight Holy Communion

Sunday 25th December Christmas Day

8.00am Holy Communion

9.30am Family Communion

Excerpt from Parish Chronicle October 2016

Change in the air

One of the challenges faced by children and young people in autumn is the new academic year – now underway. It can be a big thing to start a new class, college, apprenticeship, university or job. It’s not just new things to be learnt, but new routines and, above all, new relationships to begin. How will I get on? Will I like the people I work with? Will they like me?!

As adults we often like things to stay as they are – the status quo. Change brings uncertainty and possible threat to a chosen lifestyle. But nothing alive stands still, and growth and change are inevitable. The invention of printing, the industrial revolution, the advent of steam, the motor car, the aeroplane, medical advance and the digital revolution have radically changed daily life over 150 years – for good in many ways.

So too our church and parish know themselves to be on the brink of change – a change of leadership in a new vicar. Grateful for the best of the past we expect to find new direction, renewed spiritual life and new challenges. For the appointed person and for us all there will surely be change ahead.

For a new vicar nearly everything changes – home, work, neighbours, friends, community and schools, if with children. He or she will need our love, support, encouragement and prayer. For church and parish members there is opportunity to review and renew our contribution to the life of our church and village. What gifts and skills has God given you and me to
use for him in the growth of his kingdom in Denmead?

…nothing alive stands still, and growth and change are inevitable

In a new vicar we rightly look for someone who has living faith in an unchanging God; someone who has discovered God’s unchanging love, able to live it and teach it among us; someone with a vision of a worshipping community living out its faith and hope in Christ in the power of God’s Spirit.

“You are the body of Christ,” wrote Paul to a local church, “and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Everyone, then, who follows Christ has a role to play in his body, his family, the church. It’s not all down to a new vicar! The vicar will want to encourage us all to take a part in Christ’s church. That’s God’s way. An aim for a local church could be “Everybody doing one thing well”. Don’t just expect one person or a few people to do it all while you watch. Football has been described as a game played by 22 people badly in need of a rest watched by 50,000 people badly in need of exercise. Let’s not allow our church to be anything like that!

Will you ask God’s Spirit to strengthen and renew you in your faith in Christ, and so enrich our church and parish for a new day?

In Him,

John Byrne

 

Messy Church

Our next Messy Church takes place on the 15th October when we will celebrating our 5th Birthday.

All families with children, including Grandparents and carers are welcome to this fun filled afternoon of craft, singing and eating together.

We meet in the Church Hall from 3.30pm – 5.30pm. Further information from Rev Sandie Osborne 023 9236 2591.

 

All Saints Church Services

Sunday 2nd OctoberTrinity 19

8.00am Holy Communion 9.30am Parish Communion 6.00pm Healing Service

Sunday 9th OctoberTrinity 20

8.00am Holy Communion 9.30pm Family Praise 6.00pm Evensong

Sunday 16th OctoberTrinity 21

8.00am Holy Communion

9.30am Parish Communion 11.30am Baptism Service 6.00pm Informal Service

Sunday 23rd October Last after Trinity, Bible Sunday 8.00am Holy Communion

9.30am Family Communion 6.00pm Evensong

Sunday 30th October All Saints Day

8.00am Holy Communion 9.30am Parish Communion 6.00pm All Souls