Volunteer, Janis, with half of the craft bags she stuffed
"Doing church" has become a lot more complicated these days! As this season continues many things we once took for granted have become difficult, or in some cases not possible any more.
It's easy to become weary when the first round of resolve to make the best of a bad situation wears off. Some of the Bible's biggest heroes had moments of extreme weariness (Psalm 42:11, 1 Kings 19:4), especially following times of great energy and focus, and even Jesus became weary from time to time.
It's hard to keep going when we don't know how things will end, and yet the Bible shows us many examples of people who persevered in faith, even though they couldn't see the way ahead (Hebrews 11).
This week, if like Elijah we feel like we've had enough, let's let God minister to us and give us what we need to get our strength back. If we're doing OK let's pray for ourselves and each other for more of that gift of faith that allows us to advance confidently into unknown places.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK
A few shots from Martha's final service. We're very thankful for the Simpson Family!
SUMMER SESSIONS: CHURCH CONNECT 1
Sunday 26th was a significant and emotional day for several different reasons. On a personal note, after a few weeks away on my mini-sabbatical, it was great to be back worshipping with you all, but more than that, it was our first opportunity to meet for a full service in St Mary’s since March. Eighty or so of us - a mixture of all ages - grappled with the strangeness of having to wear face-masks, sit at an appropriate social distance, and worship without being able to join together in singing.
Despite it feeling distinctly different to anything that we’re used to when we come together, it was still very moving to look out and see the pews occupied with God’s people praising him and worshipping him after so many weeks, and there was a strong sense of rejoicing at being able to gather once again and praise God for all that he has done to sustain us and even grow us through the experience of recent months.
Significantly though, after 6 years as a Curate-in-Training, it was also Martha Simpson’s last Sunday with us in that capacity and - as well as hearing her preach powerfully on ’The Face of God’ - it was wonderful for the church to have the opportunity to express our love and appreciation to her, to Tom and to Alex, Libby and Simeon for everything that they’ve contributed to the life of the church in their time with us. The church rose to their feet in sustained applause as the family stood at the front before we prayed for God’s blessing and guidance as they step into the next chapter of their journey of faith. If you weren't able to be with us on Sunday, click the link below to watch the video.
On a related note, as our online service went out, Jonny Lowe preached for us for the last time before he leaves to start training for ordination at Wycliffe Hall in September. Obviously, as a church, we’ll want to say our goodbyes and thank and pray for him, Katie and Poppy too, so we'll be doing that at 3pm when we all next meet physically on Sunday 30th, so do please make a note of that in your diaries and come along if you possibly can.
God is the Lord of all creation, so we shouldn’t be surprised how much weather features in the Bible. God uses the weather to convey judgement, displeasure, direction, provision, hope, sovereignty, majesty and much more. Of course it’s a normal part of our every day lives too. After all - what would summer be without the highs and lows of the British weather?!
We’ve all had a very serious and weighty time, we hope this summer sermon series is a chance to enjoy the richness of Scripture open to us. Wild Weather will be on the website and the podcasts every Sunday morning from 2nd - 23rd August.
PRIMARY SCHOOL LEAVERS
Henri, Zach and Charlotte have all finished at Chadlington Primary School after surviving a very unusual year 6. Here they talk about life in lockdown and their worries and hopes for their future at Chipping Norton School.
With Lenny and Jonny off in Peru and others on holiday, throughout August we are pointing you towards some lego bible stories for you for to enjoy. Watch some of the legends of the Bible with some popcorn (or another snack of your choice) on summer Sunday mornings wherever you are. This week, it's the story of Noah!
Normally the first week in August sees many of us gather together under the canvas at New Wine. Rather than camping together this year, New Wine is coming to us with an online offering, “United Breaks Out’. From 30th July - 3rd August, there are a range of talks, seminars and worship which you can access completely free using the following link. Don't panic if what you want to watch all happens at once, the videos will be available for a while after too!
There is something for everyone, along with special sessions for children and young people. Why don’t you give it a go and check out the timetable to see what is going on and use this as another opportunity to be fed spiritually at home.
Everyone has questions about what life is all about. We believe that everyone should have a chance to share those questions, explore the Christian faith and give their point of view.
Alpha is a place where you can ask those questions in an honest, friendly and open environment.
In recent months at St Mary's, God has been extending our vision to serve the town in an exciting, ambitious and creative way at a time of substantially increasing need for many within our community...
So many people in our community feel the weight of debt, and we are passionate about helping to release anyone we can from a life sentence of debt and poverty. At St Mary's we are working with Christians Against Poverty to bring good news, hope and freedom. If you need support, we'd love to hear from you.