By the time you read this, our local churches will have elected our Churchwardens and Church Councils for the coming year. We as churches thrive as a direct result of the many volunteers who rarely want praise or even to be noticed, but always do their best to support what is important to them and many others within our communities. Thank you everyone for what you do to enhance the work of St. Mary’s, All Saints’ and St. Catherine’s Churches.

Experience tells me the backstory to why people do what they do is often inspiring. Let me tell you about Nic and Clare; Nic is an insurance broker and keen golfer who married the most delightful and incredibly organised woman you could ever meet. Normal people with a son named Ben in his last year at University, but behind their normal life is an inspiring story. Every year they seek to raise thousands of pounds to help women and babies at risk in pregnancy. In fact, over the past twenty years they have helped to raise over £500,000 to fund, support and research this critical area. Follow their story: in 1998 Nic and Clare became the proud parents of Lauren born prematurely after just twenty-four weeks. I had the privilege of baptising little Lauren in Kings College Hospital soon after and she survived against all the odds for nineteen weeks before she tragically lost her life. This beyond tragic loss inspired Nic and Clare to give a huge part of their lives to raising money and helping others (The Lauren Page Trust). The volunteers story is often inspired and inspiring. Many of us have a story to tell, a cause that means everything to us, like the Snowdrop Walk in Standon on 15th April that raised funds for Child Bereavement UK. Such occasions mean so much more than the event itself.

Perhaps we can join together to thank God for every person inspired to volunteer, to give up their time to make someone else’s life better, of faith or no faith, young and older, who deserve to be noticed. We say thank you for what you do. What inspires you? When I became a Christian thirty-four years ago, God stirred in me a love for other people. I would like to tell you it had always been there, but it hadn’t. But things changed when Jesus became the centre of my life and I wanted to love God and others as never before. Ephesians 2 v 10 says; ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Be encouraged.

Alan Comfort, Rector

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