Stepping back and trusting God

The story’s told of two young cockney boys declaring their devotion to one another. ‘Oi Bobby, if you had a million pounds, would you give me half? Of course I would. If you had a thousand marbles, would you give me half? You know I would. If you had ten marbles, would you give me half? That’s not fair, you know I’ve got ten marbles.’

I’m sure you agree this is a silly story even by my standards, but it does raise an interesting question: many of us talk of what we would do if we had more money, or more time, but the more important question is this: what are we willing to do with what we actually have?

As you receive this April Newsletter, the well-known events of Good Friday and Easter Day are nearly behind us. What does/did Easter mean to you? Our twenty-four-year-old son Henry turned away from God and the church nearly eight years ago. This broke our hearts back then, but we know a relationship with God only makes sense when you yourself want it. How hard it is to step back and trust God to look after those we love. (Stepping back doesn’t mean stop praying!). Well, several months ago Henry went to a church in Cambridge and found Jesus again. Jesus had not gone anywhere of course, but we sometimes drift away for a time. Henry is being baptised in his church on the afternoon of Easter Day and we are so thankful to God. What will you do with what God has done for you? Will you love him? Follow him?

We as a family, with genuine sadness, have some news for you all. We are moving on from this lovely Benefice with our last Sunday on 3rd June. When I first became a Vicar I saw many amazing people already doing the work I was just starting, and wondered what I could bring? I knew most were better than me in so many ways, but I had unique skills to offer as we all do. Since then, Jill and I have used the God given gifts we do have, to help several churches find renewed spiritual life and direction, before passing this transformed work onto someone else. It is a privilege to help, but immensely sad when it’s time for us to move on. As we head to St. John’s, Upper Holloway, we will miss so many new friends we have made here but go on praying for that beautiful work God is doing amongst you. Thank you.

Alan & Jill Comfort

As long as you believe it?

I imagine we've all met infectiously positive people in our time - people who see positives wherever they look and regularly overcome things that seem impossible. Full of admiration, I often wonder what makes such people tick and whether the cause of their positive attitude is real or just imagined. Some might say it doesn't really matter as long as their quality of life is improved and on one level this has to be true. So, can we argue that it doesn't matter what a person believes as long as they believe it?

I recently read the remarkable story of Dr. Wendy Schlessel Harpham, a Dallas-based author of several books for people facing cancer. Twenty-seven years ago, she learned she had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. During the next 15 years of treatments for eight relapses of her cancer, she set the stage for happiness and hope by such measures as surrounding herself with people who lifted her spirits, keeping a daily gratitude journal, doing something good for someone else and watching funny, uplifting movies. Her cancer has been in remission now for 12 years. Wendy's is a remarkable story of positive thinking but also of belief in medical cures - feelings and facts coming together to bring healing. She needed both!

Back to that question: does it really matter what a person believes as long as they believe it? Well the answer has to be 'no' if a positive outlook is the ultimate goal of this life. But what if the question is different? The events of Easter address a very different question: how can we know God? The very beginning of the Bible reveals the problem as Adam and Eve turned away from God, a trait, the Christian faith says, that lives in all of us. But Easter reveals God's solution. As God entered this world in His Son Jesus, the barrier (sin) between every human being and God is finally removed as Jesus surrenders himself to a torturous death by crucifixion. His death and resurrection open the way for every person to know God's forgiveness and love, if we trust in Jesus. So, if there is a God who made this world and you and me, do we want to know Him? We need the right answers to the right questions.

Why not join us for our Easter Day Services on Sunday 1st April.

Alan Comfort, Rector

Response to God

On 21st January just past, we welcomed the Bishop of Hertford to St. Mary's for our Confirmation Service. This was a wonderful celebration, something all our churches are rather good at whether we are hosting the 'big' occasions in people's lives or significant moments in the church year. A Confirmation Service is a public opportunity for a person to make their own faith response to God. For some, these promises were made for them by parents and godparents at their baptism as a child, but for many more these days a baptism has not taken place, so the Confirmation Service includes the opportunity to be baptised as well. It was a great joy to celebrate with our nine candidates, four of them being under the age of sixteen.

What about you and me, what response have we made to God? You may not believe in God and I respect your right to choose, but I wonder if an interesting discussion on week one of our newly started Alpha Course will help us all to reflect. We began with that question: do we need God? All the adults confirmed could give the reasons why they need God, and Jesus even said in Matthew Chapter 9: 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick', so knowing you need help seems vital to finding help, but some in our new Alpha group suggested their lives were fine so why do they need God? A very good question. In the Alpha talk we heard earlier in the evening, Nicky Gumbel remembered watching the World Cup Final in 1966 when England beat West Germany on an old black and white television. He described a crucial moment in the final when the television went into lines and the picture was too hard to make out. He said it often helped to improve the picture if someone stood on a certain part of the floor nearby, or by putting your hand round the TV in a certain way, but what they needed, he said, was an aerial like we have today. They had no idea how much better the picture could be. Could that be true for many of us, even though life seems fine in so many ways, could it be that we have not yet seen how good life can be? How inviting Jesus deep into our hearts can change us and our lives in good ways that we could never have imagined. This is the story that most Christians can tell you. We wish you all a very good 2018, and if you wonder what knowing Jesus could do for you, why not come and find out?

Alan Comfort, Rector