From our Minister
Lent by Jean M Watt.
Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf,
Barer than blackthorn in its winter sleep,
All unadorned. Unlike Christmas which decrees
The setting-up, the dressing-up of trees,
Lent is a taking down, a stripping bare,
A starkness after all has been withdrawn
Of surplus and superfluous,
Leaving no hiding-place, only an emptiness
Between black branches, a most precious space
Before the leaf, before the time of flowers;
Lest we should see only the leaf, the flower,
Lest we should miss the stars.
This poem is one from the book I have been reading this Lent; The heart’s time by Janet Morley. It fascinated me because it looks at Lent and at the bare winter trees from a new perspective. Instead of seeing bare branches as barren and lifeless the poem directs us to the stars which can be seen between the branches as a sign of light and hope.
It stuck me whilst reflecting on this poem that there are many things we can reflect on from different perspectives, seeing either positive or negative, but often it is important that we hold the balance of both. The cross is one such thing and this becomes particularly relevant as we approach Holy Week and Easter and see so many different images of the cross on Easter cards and church posters.
Sometimes our images focus on the suffering of Jesus – carved crucifixes showing the figure of Christ twisted and in pain – and it is important that we remember the reality of the suffering and that Jesus stands alongside us in our own. However we need to be able to look beyond to see the hope that resurrection brings.
Other images dress the cross in Spring flowers as a sign of joy and new life and this has as much to teach us as the crucifix as we remember that it is the cross that brings us life and hope. However it is important to remember that the cross does not start as a thing of beauty, but as the place that Jesus died for us. When we remember both the reality of Jesus suffering and the joy of the resurrection then we get the full picture of Easter and we know that Jesus is both alongside us in our earthly struggles and calling us on to the hope that awaits us in his kingdom.
Perhaps this way of seeing the cross from two perspectives can teach us about the way we view events in our lives too. Maybe it can help us to acknowledge our suffering when times are hard and to stand alongside others who are suffering in true empathy. But maybe it also reminds us that we can look beyond the bare branches in our lives to see the stars which shine in every season.
They hung my Lord upon a cross; they hung Him there to die.
Forgive them God we heard Him say, that was His final cry.
Forgive them God forgive them for they know not what they do.
Forgive them God forgive them they will find their way to You.
Your Church – ‘Its Comings In and Goings Out’
At the Church Council on 19th February, a summary of the current financial situation o the church was shared and discussed along with a projection covering the period up to the end of 2018. The information that follows is shared with you for you will want to know how things are with your church now and as much as can been foreseen, into the future.
Using the figures for the year ended 31st 2013 adjusted for 2014, it is apparent that at the present time the church is spending more money each week than it is receiving. On the income side, an average of a little over £300 each week comes from through the collection plate and a further £80 comes from gift aid, interest and donations. On the outgoing side, £317 goes each week to the circuit to pay minister’s salaries, pension contributions, travel costs and to maintain manses. In addition, the costs of running the church (light, heat, repairs and maintenance, etc.) plus our subscriptions works out at an average of £115 per week. A little piece of mathematics shows that we are currently operating what any Chancellor of the Exchequer would call ‘a deficit budget’. In fact, we are spending about £50 a week more than we are receiving. This is not all ‘doom and gloom’ for prudent housekeeping in previous years has built up a reserve and this could keep the church solvent for the next five or so years. However, in view of the fact that by the end of 2018, this reserve will have been used up, the church council agreed at its meeting that we should be looking to prune the running costs of the church where we can and to seek new income from lettings as well as striving to attract new members and adherents to our church. Of course, if those attending the church at the present time were able to give a little more, it would all help but it is appreciated that the current economic climate is not an easy time for any one of us.
Our possible options are:
To prune our costs
Consider our giving
To seek possible sources of income – e.g. hire out the Garling Room, organise fund-raising events
Prayerfully consider other options
Please feel free to share any thoughts and ideas with us.
Stephen, Derek and the Church Stewards.
The Hymn Writers
Graham Kendrick was born on 2 August 1950 in Blisworth, Northamptonshire. He is the son of a Baptist pastor the Revd. M.D. Kendrick. He now lives in Croydon.
Kendrick began his song writing career in the late sixties. His most enduring accomplishment is his authorship of the words and music for the song “Shine Jesus Shine” and is among one of the most widely heard songs in contemporary Christian worship worldwide.
His other songs include -: All I once held dear, Amazing Love, Such Love, The Servant King and Meekness and Majesty. This is just a small number of the Christian hymns and songs he has written. As well as this he has also been in the UK charts with his song “Let the flame Burn Brighter in the late 1980s.
Although now best known as a worship leader and writer of worship songs, Graham Kendrick began his career as a member of the Christian beat group Whispers of Truth. Later, he began working as a solo concert performer and recording artist in the singer/songwriter tradition. He was closely associated with the organisation Musical Gospel Outreach and recorded several albums for their record labels. On the first, Footsteps on the Sea, released in 1972, he worked with the virtuoso guitarist Gordon Giltrap.
He received the Dove award in 1995 for his international work and honorary doctorates in Divinity in 2000 and 2008 from Brunel University and Wycliffe College in Toronto respectively. Kendrick worked for a time as a member of "In the Name of Jesus," a mission team led by the Rev.Clive Calver who went on to run British Youth for Christ. Calver left the United Kingdom and went to live in the United States. Kendrick, however, has remained firmly fixed in the UK church as probably the most influential Christian songwriter of his generation.
Thank you to everyone for their contributions to this quarter’s newsletter.
Please let me have articles for the Summer 2014 edition by the start of June.
Christine Beesley – Editor