Thursday, 31 July 2008

Thursday 31 July

Last day of July already. The day started early with a van parked outside before breakfast. They had come to replace an old sliding patio door that would not slide properly any more and could not be securely and reliably locked.

Whilst they were working I went to take the 9.15am Holy Communion where the gospel reading and the talk were on the strange ending to Matthew 13 on Parables.

Afterwards there was a meeting with Derek and Siv at the Rectory until midday, when we discussed issues relating to all the churches and the planning of services during August and into the autumn.

Godly Play this afternoon in the Methodist Chapel, where Davida taught the children about the Great Family using a sandbox and characters such as Abram, Sarai and Isaac.

Sunday, 27 July 2008


27 July 2008 Mentmore


My love of meaning in the miracles, parables, metaphorical stories and allegories

Matthew 13 – mustard seed; yeast; treasure hidden in field; pearl of great price; good and bad fish

Mustard seed – relevance to baptism? No, all refer to Kingdom of Heaven.


20So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. Genesis 15

Jacob was buying a wife

Swindled brother out of inheritance (birthright)

Impersonated brother to deceive father and receive Isaac’s blessing

Escapes brother’s fury

Has dream at Bethel – ladder to heaven – wrestles with God – conversion experience

Meets cousin Rachel by a well. Love at first sight. Kisses her.

Uncle Laban gives Rachel to Jacob as wife – 7 years service. Swindles – gives him elder sister Leah instead. Serves another 7 years.

Serves 14 years for Rachel – difficulty in becoming pregnant – Leah and servants produce many sons before Rachel conceives. Such love

God is Love

We cannot fully understand – but can get glimpses of what God’s love means

Romans 8 – All things work together for good for those who love God

Sometimes hard to accept – natural disasters; premature death of babies; pain and suffering

Romans 8 in context of Suffering – “God’s Spirit helps us in our weakness and suffering and intercedes for us with God”

We also see God’s love mirrored in human love

Jacob’s love for Rachel

One human being’s love for another

Parent’s love for a child

From human love we can learn more about God’s love for us

Wanting to be with the loved one – test of desire to marry

Desire to talk to each other

Sacrifices we are prepared to make for each other

God’s love shown to us in that God did not withhold his only Son

Rom 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Friday, 25 July 2008

Getting to know people

Two weeks in the village and a week at the church. Getting to know people quickly. Not good at names, but doing my best to remember as many as I can. It's hard to walk around the village - takes so long as I stop and talk to people I meet. Some stop me to chat, and others who have little to do with the church want to ask questions or talk about issues in their lives.

Village life is very different from London, where few people greet strangers and even those who do are regarded with suspicion. Here everyone greets everyone else, and a clerical shirt means most people smile or wave.

There are callers at the Rectory but not many. Mostly I am left in peace, but every day there are events for all ages and I have made a point of joining in. Pram service for the mums and babes. Then on to a coffee and games morning for the elderly. Last weekend a murder mystery dinner. Fetes and village fairs all around. Dinner invitations. Baptisms. Confirmation candidates. Lots of kids everywhere especially during the day. It will probably be quieter during the holidays, and the church services will move from village to village as we combine and I get to see the other places in the cluster and meet more people.

Thursday, 24 July 2008


Matthew 13:10-17

Parable of Sower

Comes with an explanation

Makes matters plain

Word of God broadcast indiscriminately

Some falls in good ground and bears fruit

Other falls in less good ground and does not bear lasting fruit


Disciples ask why Jesus speaks in parables and not plain words

Jesus replies that parables reveal and hide at same time

His words depend on the hearer

TNIV explains better than other translations

Revelation is to those who will believe

Not to those who those who will persist in unbelief

Those who hear the Word and do the Will of the Father will receive and understand

Those who do not do God’s Will will remain in ignorance

This is why we call it a Mystery

The Word however falls on closed and open ears

May our ears be open to the Word of God and may the parables not be to us a mystery that remains closed.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


A Celebration of Baptism

Cheddington 20 July 2008


We have a gospel to proclaim


Welcome those baptised in last 5 years
Oldest and newest baptised people

Can anyone remember?


Beginning of Journey with God for rest of lives

First step in response to God’s love

Joyful moment – serious promises – declaring our faith

Welcomes into body of Church

Reading - Paul and Silas in prison – Acts 16 (Michael Miles)

Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved


How many people did Jesus baptise?

Reading: Jesus was baptised by John– Matthew 3 (Amelia Cuell)

Jesus will baptise with Holy Spirit


Close eyes - scary

Light and darkness - judgement

Reading – John 12 (James Calver)

Jesus is light of the world – light banishes darkness, illuminates, shines out

Paschal candle


Lord the light of your love is shining


Sacred anointing oil – Exodus

Healing – Good Samaritan. Service of healing and wholeness. Book of James

Reading: Luke 10 (Sarah Miles)

Oils blessed by bishops

Cross reminds us that Christ died for us


What does water signify? Creation.

Wash – sins away

Reading: Romans 6 (Kristina Calver)

Drown – dead to sin – alive in Christ


Praise God who made heaven and earth,
All who keeps his promise for ever.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All It is right to give thanks and praise.

We thank you, almighty God, for the gift of water
to sustain, refresh and cleanse all life.
Over water the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.
Through water you led the children of Israel
from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land.
In water your Son Jesus received the baptism of John
and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ,
to lead us from the death of sin to newness of life.

We thank you, Father, for the water of baptism.
In it we are buried with Christ in his death.
By it we share in his resurrection.
Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.
Now sanctify this water that, by the power of your Holy Spirit,
we may be cleansed from sin.
Renewed in your image, we may walk by the light of faith
and continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Lord;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be all honour and glory, now and for ever.
All Amen.


Brothers and sisters, I ask you to profess the faith of the Church.

Do you believe and trust in God the Father?
All I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ?
All I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe and trust in the Holy Spirit?
All I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.



Take my life and let it be




On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry OR

Amazing Grace OR

Love divine all loves excelling


God poured out his promised Holy Spirit in tongues of flame
on the day of Pentecost.
You have been baptized with the Spirit and with fire.
May that same Holy Spirit send you out to tell his story,
and give you a voice to glorify God before all people.
And the blessing …


Acts 16
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone's chains came loose.

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.

Matthew 3
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

John 12
44 Then Jesus cried out, "Those who believe in me do not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When they look at me, they see the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 "As for those who hear my words but do not keep them, I do not judge them. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

Romans 6
2b We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Luke 10
30 Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

Thursday, 17 July 2008


My Yoke is Easy - 17 July Cheddington

Come unto me and rest

encouraging words of Christ, especially in times of trouble

Learn from me

I am gentle, meek and humble in heart

You will find rest for your soul

My yoke is easy – my burden is light

How come? It hardly seems Christ’s burden will be light. Far from it.

Does not refer to physical existence but to the Way of faith

Being accepted? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved

Worried? Take no thought for your life – what you will eat or drink or wear. If God looks after the plants birds he will look after you. Luke 12

Rules? Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Guilt? We must forgive others as God forgives us. Parable of unforgiving servant – Matthew 18

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 11: 28 - 30

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Licensing at Cheddington

On 14 July, the Bishop of Buckingham conducted the licensing service at Cheddington. It was wonderful to see so many people there, not only from the church and local community but from St Kats Westway, St John's Notting Hill and from Chaldon.

In between the formality, the legal oaths, and traditions were touching moments. Some of the hymns meant a lot to some people. They were Praise my Soul the King of Heaven; Take my Life and Let it be; Brother Sister let me serve you; I the Lord of Sea and Sky; O Lord my God when I in awesome wonder; and To God be the Glory.

The theme of the service was vocation and service, so the readings I chose were I Samuel 3: 1 - 10 and II Timothy 2: 1 - 13.

The sermon was preached by the Archdeacon of Buckingham, the Venerable Karen Gorham. Here is the sermon for those who were unable to attend, or would like to hear it again:


1 Samuel 3:1 – 10 2 Tim 2: 1 – 13

It is good to be here tonight and to welcome Robert and Vicky to this new community and new ministry. Thank you for your willingness to come here, and to all those involved in the appointment, and who have covered the interregnum in these villages, Marion before she moved to pastures new and particularly to the churchwardens and to Derek and Siv.

Tonight we also mark a new phrase in the life of Mursley deanery. A sharing together of ministry across a number of parishes, as Robert takes his place in a team, made up of self-supporting, voluntary, stipendiary and house for duty ministers, lay and ordained. There is a commitment across the area to work together creatively in mission and ministry in a time of change for the sake of the kingdom. The key thing to say though is that everyone is being invited into a new way of relating as a deanery plan evolves. In practical terms that means living for a while with blurred boundaries as Marsworth joins formally with Ivinghoe, Slapton and Pitstone, and Cheddington and Mentmore informally begin to work with Wing and Wingrave. The formalising of the next stage will be a gradual and consensual process.

So it is exciting to bring Robert in at this time to use his particular gifts, which come from a lifetime of experience from Clarks shoes to Godly Play, and from John Lewis to two varied curacies in Notting Hill and East Action.

Tonight marks a new role for Robert as a focal minister here in Cheddington, working part time across the parishes. It’s a new relationship for everyone and a great opportunity for all of us here tonight and involved in the life of the church to consider the part we play.

I wonder what legacy we would all like to leave, or whether we have ever thought about the mark we’ll have made on the world during our brief time on earth? What kind of role will our lives have played in fulfilling God’s purposes on the earth?

For us as Christians that legacy is more than a nice inheritance for our children and a gold watch for twenty years of employment. It’s more than buying a nice car and enjoying our grandchildren. A legacy from God’s perspective is participating in the purposes of God in our world.
I am glad that Robert has chosen for our service a reading from the 2nd letter to Timothy as it talks about how we can live a life that is built to last. That kind of life is more than a successful life. It’s more than a happy life or a life that’s affluent. It’s more than staying married and having children who turn out okay. A life that’s built to last is a life that makes a difference.

As Paul reflects back on his own life and the legacy he’s leaving, he gives young Timothy some important advice about how to live the right kind of life and hopefully these five insights will be something you can all ponder as you begin this next stage of ministry together.

1. We are to be strong in the Lord (2 Tim 2:1)

‘You then my children, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.’This Greek verb ere is actually in the passive voice, so it’s more accurately translated, "Let yourself be strengthened" or "be empowered" In other words, we don’t get strong by trying harder or drawing from our own strength. Being strong in this sense is not a matter of gritting our teeth and flexing our biceps.

It’s the kind of strength which comes from outside of ourselves, from the grace found in Jesus Christ. If we want to make a difference we need to find our strength in God’s resources. When we are in connected to God, his resources flow into our lives to empower us to do that which we could not do on our own, the love we need to care about people, the patience we need when we’re frustrated, the courage we need in the face of fear…all these things come from being resources by God’s grace.

That’s one reason why we need to worship together week by week, as separate churches or combined, to be empowered by God’s grace. To admit that we can’t do it alone, that we need God’s powerful grace operating in our lives to be the kind of people God wants us to be. Our worship breaks the spell of self sufficiency, so we can embrace a sense of God sufficiency.
2. We are called to entrust our message to others (2 Tim 2:2)

‘And what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people.’

Now just to review what’s happening behind this letter, remember that the author Paul is in a Roman prison cell. Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to help the church in Ephesus recover from a major crisis. In chapter 4 of this letter Paul is going to ask Timothy to come to Rome quickly. So here in v. 2 Paul gives Timothy a plan for how to help the church in Ephesus before he leaves for Rome. The command in v. 2 is to "entrust."
Notice the four generations mentioned here. It began with Paul, whose message of the good news was passed onto Timothy. Now Timothy needs to find reliable people to entrust this message to and these reliable people must also be able to teach others. Ultimately they too will have to pass the message on to another generation, so they must be equipped to find reliable people to in the next generation they can pass the message on to.
Now the immediate context is the preservation of the Christian message in the church in Ephesus after Paul dies. Yet we also find a principle here that applies to our lives which means finding people to entrust with the Good News for the next generation.

There is a film called Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s a film about an aspiring composer named Glen Holland who takes a job as a high school band teacher to pay the bills. His real passion isn’t teaching, but it’s to compose a symphony. But life has a way of edging out our dreams, and he spends the next 35 years teaching high school band,

never finishing his symphony. When he retires, all of his former students gather together to honour their high school music teacher. One of his former teachers is now a governor, and as she takes the podium she says, "We are your symphony, Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and notes of your opus. We are the music of your life."

Our task is to share the Christian gospel, which is why children’s work and encouraging younger families is so important, to reach the next generation. And it is most definitely the task of all of us and not just the focal minister.

We also multiply our influence through our involvement in Christian service. Whether it’s by serving as a volunteer in the local community, or being a welcomer on a Sunday or helping with various church groups, we share the gospel by playing our part in entrusting it to others through our teaching, our proclamation or our lives.

3. We are to be willing to Pay the Price (2 Tim 2:3-7)
Now this insight is not a comfortable one, it causes us to think about punishment or worse, and not something I would wish on Robert as he begins this new stage of ministry.’

‘Share in suffering’ says St Paul, which refers to a willingness to take the difficult road, the road less travelled. The kind of hardship Paul was speaking about can be found in three pictures:
The first picture, is that of a soldier. Soldiers endure hardship because being a soldier is a demanding way of life. Soldiers are exposed to the elements, to danger, to times without food or shelter. It’s a dangerous and demanding way to live. A soldier has to stay free from, getting tangled up in, civilian affairs. But instead wants to please his commanding officer. Literally the Greek word for commanding officer in v. 4 is "the person who enlisted him, the one who recruited their own soldiers to serve in their own units.

So the idea is that serving Jesus is like being recruited by Jesus to serve in his army. The focus here isn’t so much on fighting battles, as it’s on the single mindedness and self discipline it takes to stay disentangled from things to please Jesus. That kind of discipline and single mindedness is a kind of suffering, because it means us saying no to certain things.
The second picture is that of an athlete who competes in the ancient Olympic games. In order to compete as an athlete you have to meet certain requirements and an athlete who isn’t disciplined enough to meet the requirements will never win.

The training of a modern day Olympic athlete is sophisticated and comprehensive. I read an article that 1,000 hours of intense training will only achieve an improvement of a single percentage point in an athlete’s performance. Yet often a single percentage point is the margin of victory in today’s Olympic events.

Being a follower of Christ is like an athlete who trains according to the standards to compete. It requires self-discipline and single mindedness.

The third picture is that of a hard working farmer. Getting up at the crack of dawn and working in the blistering heat until your fingers bleed. Staggering into your bed at nightfall, only to do the same thing the next day. The idea is that while a lack of effort leads to a lack of crops, the hard worker can expect a crop.
All three word pictures involve discipline, effort, and single mindedness. Everything worth doing in life comes with a price. Keeping a marriage together through years comes with a price. Graduating with a degree comes with a price.

Building up a successful business comes with a price. The same is true of being a Christian today. Yes, church is hard work, and when there are fewer of us, it is harder work; It means having single minded devotion to the task; there are no short cuts.
4. We are to centre our Lives on Jesus (2 Tim 2:8-10)
In v. 8 of our passage we find our fourth command, to remember Jesus. Now I’m sure Timothy hadn’t forgotten about Jesus, so the focus of this command here means to keep on thinking about Jesus. Recall to your mind again and again who Jesus is.

The focus here is on Jesus’ resurrection and his descent from the ancient Hebrew King David. Both of these factors uniquely qualified Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ.

We are called to centre our lives on Jesus. That’s what Paul did, that’s what he encouraged Timothy to do, and that’s what the Bible encourages us to do as well.
It is sometime helpful to picture our life as being like a cycle wheel. Each spoke on the wheel represents something in our life: our spouse if we’re married, our job, our children, our church involvement, our house and possessions, how we spend your time, and so forth.

This text is encouraging us to make Jesus the hub, the source from which all the spokes meet. When we make the good news of Jesus the hub, then our devotion to Jesus effects everything we do. It brings about transformation in us and in all that we do. It’s what Bishop John calls our sacred centre, and we need to sustain it. That is true for Robert, for everyone else in the team and for all of us here – we all need to take time to make sure that Christ is in the centre of all we do.

And our final insight from this passage is
5. Don’t Give Up (2 Tim 2:11-13)
We are given in this passage a kind of encouragement. And we all need encouragement!

We are given a series of four conditional statements: if this, then that. The first conditional statement is that if we died with Christ, we will also live with Christ. This refers to baptism; If we endure we will reign with Christ. Endurance isn’t giving up, but it’s persevering when you feel like giving up. If we deny Christ, he will deny us; and if we are faithless he will be faithful.

This is a huge encouragement to us, when the Church has a bad press, and everything seems on a bad day rather hopeless. But it is also an encouragement on a day when we have many possibilities in front of us about ministry and mission, and a new person willingly bringing their gifts as an offering of service. And it is personally comforting if I make it personal:
Robert when you can’t imagine getting up another morning and facing the day, remember Christ’s faithfulness. When your faith in Jesus is assaulted with doubts and questions, remember his faithfulness. Don’t give up no matter what.
So here we find five insights into how a Christian can live a life that makes a difference. We are to be strong in the Lord, called to entrust our message to others, to be willing to pay the price, to centre our lives on Jesus and no to give up.

In the 1800s Alfred Nobel woke up one morning and opened the newspaper, only to see his own obituary printed. Imagine the shock. You see, Alfred’s brother had died, and the newspaper mistakenly printed Alfred’s obituary instead of his brother’s. Now Alfred had already made his fortune by inventing dynamite.  But as he read his own obituary, he wondered if that’s what he really wanted to be remembered for:  Alfred Nobel, creator of a weapon of mass destruction. 

Alfred decided he wanted his life to count for more than that.  So he started making changes.  When he died, he left most of his immense wealth gained from his invention of dynamite to a foundation designed to honour people who made a difference. Thus was born the Nobel foundation, with prizes each year in five areas, including peace.

Tonight as we affirm Robert’s ministry, let’s remember that each one of us is called to make a difference for the kingdom. My prayer is that you all take up the challenge of new opportunities, support one another in doing a new things and rejoice in the wonder of seeing God at work in new ways.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Licensing Weekend

The Rectory is now nearly ready. The new furniture fits in well. Vicky has been busy making curtains - the two remaining important ones are the living room and the kitchen, where the light is very bright when the afternoon sun shines straight into the room.

There have been unforeseen difficulties. The vent in the Utility Room had been blocked in by one of the new kitchen base units. That had to be moved to provide adequate ventilation for the ageing boiler. The water is far too hot for safety, and this was tracked down to a motorized valve which had been removed years ago by a lazy plumber and not replaced. The sliding patio door does not slide - this will mean the entire wall of glass will have to be refabricated as the door is too old for spares to be available, and a big double glazed adjacent panel is leaking.

There area few other things which are not unexpected in a house that has been unoccupied for more than 2 years, and closer to 4 years uninhabited.

On Saturday we rehearse the licensing service, and this takes place on Monday 14th at 7.30pm. The small church will be full, as it was last Sunday when the Morris Dancers stayed in the village all weekend and did an 'offertory dance' of jingling bells and waving handkerchiefs during the Communion.