We Will Remember…

Remembrance Sunday 11th November

This year, following a Holy Communion Remembrance Service in church, we took part in the Village Act of Remembrance on the Village Green – remembering those who gave their lives in service.

Values: 9. Courageous

Joshua 1: 1-9 and Matt 28: 16-20

Over the last few weeks we’ve been thinking about our vision here at All Saints.

Our vision is to be a welcoming, growing, vibrant church for the community of Denmead.

We want to be a people who KNOW God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and worship Him each day.

We want to be a people who GROW in our faith, becoming more like Jesus through prayer and Bible study and trust in God.

And we want to SHOW God’s love by serving our community and telling them about Jesus…that there is hope.

And to be a welcoming, growing, vibrant church we need values that permeate and pervade every area of our life… values that shape and form who we are –

So in all we are and all we do, we want to be loving and welcoming, generous and prayerful, outward looking and missional, we want to depend on God’s word – the Bible, and be Spirit-filled – those who depend on God every day and invite his Spirit to fill our lives and lead us.

However, there is one last value – which I want to just touch on now:

In all we are and in all we do we will seek to be a community that has big dreams, courageous hearts, takes risks and is always looking to see where God is at work.

You see as a church, we want to grow and change, we don’t want to stay as we are, and we certainly don’t want to go backwards or reduce in size. 

Growth is our future:

  • We want to grow in numbers – we want to see people discover the love of God in their lives, know the truth that Jesus brings, and find healing and wholeness.  We want to see more and more people come along to church each week.
  • We want to grow in our spiritual commitment – this means we long that each of us, young and old, grows and develops in our relationship with God…that day by day we become more like Jesus, that our faith becomes stronger and deeper.
  • And then we want to grow as we reach out across our community.  We want our impact to be felt.  We want to make a difference and see the whole atmosphere of our community change.  We want our community to know who we are, what we stand for, to know God’s radical love and acceptance.

To do all this we need to be courageous…. We need to be able to see the big picture…to dream big… to trust God through thick and thin. 

We don’t want to be courageous in our own strength, or our own abilities, rather we want to be courageous based on who and what God is.

And this reminds me of the story of Joshua…

you see Joshua exemplified courage and commitment to the Lord,

and God blessed and rewarded his faithfulness.

After God freed the Israelites from bondage in Egypt and led them to the brink of the Promised Land, He commanded them to go take possession of the land.

But the nation rebelled out of fear and argued that they would be defeated by the enemy inhabitants.

Only Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb were willing to obey God.

Joshua pleaded with the people, “Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid… the Lord is with us.”

Although Joshua recognized there were dangerous enemies in the land, he found courage and confidence in the Lord.

Unfortunately, the people didn’t heed Joshua’s warning.

As a result, they were not permitted to enter the land.

Only Joshua and Caleb were later permitted to lead the next generation into the Promised Land and enjoy God’s favour and blessing.

The rest missed the opportunity to see God’s inheritance for them because they responded to His call in fear.

Remember, “God has not given us a spirit of fear (or timidity), but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Like Joshua, we may well face daunting circumstances, but we should find courage and confidence in the Lord, knowing that Jesus Christ is with us always.

Forty years later, God instructed Joshua to finish the mission.

God encouraged Joshua to courageously enter the land, trusting the Lord would give him the victory.

As Joshua prepared to lead the people into the Promised Land, God repeatedly challenged Joshua to be strong and courageous.

But God also repeatedly promised Joshua that He would be with him:

“Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Jesus Christ left the Church with a similar promise when He instructed His disciples,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

At times it may feel as though we’re marching into hostile territory as we go into the world, as we engage with our community.

Scripture tells us we are aliens and foreigners here because this is not our home.

However, the Lord Almighty has given you a mission – to serve as salt and light in this world, making disciples of all nations by sharing the love of Jesus Christ with those you encounter.

Be strong and courageous! Do not be dismayed.

Jesus Christ, the Son of the Lord Almighty, is with you wherever you go.

And finally, God greatly blessed and rewarded Joshua for his faithfulness and commitment to Him. 

Joshua successfully led the nation of Israel into the Promised Land, and they temporarily experienced the blessing and rest God promised to them.

God honoured both Joshua and Caleb because they honoured Him with their lives and followed Him fully when others refused.

God will also reward our commitment to Him.

We may not always experience success or prosperity in this world. 

But God has promised an eternal reward to those who follow and serve Him.

The Apostle Paul was motivated by this promise.

Paul wrote to the church, “Sisters, brothers, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

And so, for us individually and as a church there is an emphatic,

wholehearted call to be strong and courageous! 

To dream big, to take a risk, to trust in God, as Joshua did.

Joshua had little idea what lay ahead…but he trusted God at each step – and encouraged others to do the same.

We have a clear vision    we want to grow – we want to see new things develop.

We want to see people’s lives changed as they encounter God.

We want to see people grow in their faith – as they follow Jesus.

We want to be a church that is welcoming, vibrant and alive – making a difference in this community.

We’re already engaged in lots of different activities…  Alpha, Little Stars, Coffee mornings, Bereavement Group, Weddings, Baptisms, Sunday worship, Messy Church…. and much, much more….

But in many ways, we’re just getting started.

We would love to do and be so much more…. 

there are all sorts of things we could

  • it would be wonderful to have enough money to be able to employ a part time families worker – someone who could lead our youth group and support all our various children’s work and outreach to schools
  • It would be wonderful to have the money to develop our outreach through our bereavement ministry and pastoral care team
  • it would be wonderful to have the money so that we could install a projector to enhance our worship and services

To keep growing, to keep developing, to keep moving forward we need your help and support – we need every person, each Saint here to play their part, to pray and to give – to give of your time and energy, to get involved with activities, to help with Coffee mornings or Messy Church, or serve tea/coffee on a Sunday, to help welcome people to our services,  but also to give financially.  To support the work we are involved with, and to cover future developments.

I’m going to hand over to Derek who is going to come and share with us our Stewardship campaign.

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.