Thanks to God!

This morning I awoke full of thanks to God. I’m not sure why today and not every morning, but today I looked up towards God and not down to all my struggles. King David describes such a moment in Psalm 145 v3; ‘Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.’ Taking a moment to look up as I put it, or to notice everything around you is life giving. Everything around us is a gift, isn’t it? Not ours because we deserve it and not ours because we have made and control it, but a gift. Extraordinary advances in technology falsely convince us now that the world revolves around us, but life is still out of our hands. Surely this is the lesson of hurricane Irmer, or the bomb damage on a London Underground train recently? Life is as fragile as it ever was, but I believe one constancy exists: God. Not everyone agrees with this conclusion, but a God-framed view of the world makes sense to me.
Noticing and celebrating are vital parts of our lives and we as churches need little excuse to do so. As a benefice, we recently celebrated the re-opening of St. Mary’s Church with an amazing service of praise and thanksgiving to God. On Saturday 4th November from 8.30-10am, 'St. Mary’s at the School', in partnership with Roger de Clare School, are welcoming former professional footballer Linvoy Primus MBE to speak at a family breakfast. Why not come and hear Linvoy speak of his recent football career, as well as his faith in God and how it helps him. (For catering purposes, please let us know if you're coming, how many adults and children and how many require the vegetarian option, by emailing Marion Smith on benefice.administrator@ubsms.org..uk).
Perhaps this is the question that constantly needs answering; does having a faith in God really help us? Why not come and decide for yourself?

One last thing, as we thank God for all we see around us, we also remember those we miss and see no longer. They are in our thoughts every day but sometimes it’s helpful to come together to remember them. Our special ‘Service of Memories’ is at 3pm on Sunday 5th November at St. Mary’s. Be assured of a special welcome as we remember our loved ones, no matter how recent or distant this loss is. If you would like us to read out the name of your loved one, please email Marion on benefice.administrator@ubsms.org.uk

Alan Comfort, Rector

You are invited!

We as a church family are full of excitement as preparations gather pace for the re-opening of St. Mary’s church on Sunday 10th September. The church being closed for nearly four months has challenged what we unknowingly take for granted; that someone unlocks the church doors every morning and countless jobs are lovingly carried out by too many people to mention. But moving to Roger de Clare School for our Sunday worship has confirmed what we knew to be true, that St. Mary’s is at heart an amazing group of people loving God, who happen to meet in a very special Grade 1 Listed church building. Jill and I certainly experienced this recently, when Jill suffered a frightening infection in her face through an initial tooth abscess. The terrible pain and visits to Guy’s Hospital were met by countless meals left at the doorstep, overwhelming offers of help, and continuous prayer! Thank you. (Ollie and I loved the food)

Of course buildings do hold a special place in our hearts, but people hold our dearest memories. The re-opening of St. Mary’s and the unveiling of several wonderful background improvements, cannot compare with the personal memory of my father who died in September two years ago, or little Charlie Gard who tragically died of a genetic disorder after just eleven months of life, but our wonderful church building will continue to play host to many more of ‘our’ memories in the future.

At 10.45am on 10th September a special celebration service will take place at St. Mary’s. Why not come? We can announce the return of our much loved former Vicar Revd. John Pelley and his wife Audrey who will be taking part in the service. Although Revd. David Payne and his wife Jo are unable to be with us due to current parish commitments; we will be honouring David who spearheaded the PCC that first dreamed up this project. We hope a full church will experience the best of St. Mary’s; glorious worship of God and a glass of fizzy to mark the next step in our desire to show and share Jesus to all who live near or come to visit us.

Alan Comfort, Rector

Community

It is difficult to write something this month without referring to recent tragedies. Since I last sat down to write for this newsletter the Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Finsbury Park terror attacks have all taken place, not to mention the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire that claimed so many innocent lives. I imagine you feel just as overwhelmed as I do knowing there seems so little we can do. Some of us will pray for the families, others from the same desire to do something to help will offer whatever is right for them. It seems to me that the majority of people in our country, from faith groups or no faith at all, share a desire to show that love is greater than hate, and love will not be defeated.

Sadly, such horrific events do remind us that evil exists in our often beautiful world and thrives on exploiting our differences or should I say distorting our differences. Yes it is true that Christian beliefs are different to Muslim, or a socialist ideology, or a secular approach, but our ideological differences should never result in hatred and separation but a common love for all. It seems to me that this is the message of the past four weeks, in fact the hope of these past weeks. We are one community bringing different beliefs and gifts to one another for the good of all. It is the Christian belief that evil will continue until Jesus returns, but love will not give way before his victorious return. 1 John Chapter 4 v 7 says; ‘Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.’ v8; ‘Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.’ Many bad things have happened in history claiming to be done in the name of God, but no evil act can ever represent the heart of my God. Jesus said the greatest commandment is; ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart ……… and love your neighbour as yourself,’ (Matthew 22). We join together as a community, no matter what our different perspectives are, to look after one another in love.

As I wish you a peace filled and joyful July and August, I am uncertain what our news stories will be. No matter what happens, remember, we can overcome whatever evil brings. On Saturday 17th June over 120,000 events took place across our country under the umbrella of ‘The Great Get Together.’ All these events were planned in memory of the beautiful but tragically murdered MP Jo Cox. She believed in the power of community as her memorable maiden speech in Parliament expressed; ‘We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.’ May we continue to prove her right!

Alan Comfort, Rector

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