Blog

Being Thankful

On a recent pastoral visit I was having coffee with a couple in their home and as we chatted one of them said:

‘The problem with today is that it is an attitude of me first.’ Now such statements are sweeping generalisations of course but there is a part of us that agrees with what they said. But we do have to be careful that we don’t think everything was better in the past (it wasn’t) or that people are more selfish than before. I doubt that is true but I do think the culture we now live in is dominated by consumerism which feeds this ‘me first’ instinct in us. As the old American Indian story goes, in our hearts there are two dogs fighting and the one that wins is the one we feed.  Advertising, a ‘my rights’ culture feeds the selfish ‘me first’ dog all the time. Which is why Harvest is such an important festival for us to celebrate and enjoy because if celebrated properly it makes us stop and think of someone else first rather than ourselves.

 

Harvest thanksgiving puts God at the centre and allows us a space to acknowledge all that he gives us and helps us be thankful. Now thankfulness is at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ and should be for every Christian the default setting of our hearts. Thankful for what God has done for us in Christ dying on the cross, our sins forgiven, the promise of his Holy Spirit, and a new eternal kingdom. We have much to be thankful for in our spirit. But we also have much to be grateful for in the real world. The daily life of all of us should have as foundational thankfulness.

 

We all spend too much time looking at the faults and mistakes of what is around us or what we don’t have rather than being thankful for what we do have. Certainly there are many things that need to be done better: the running of the NHS, our education system, our democracy and how we can help everyone feel included. But there is much to be thankful for. Many things have improved beyond all measure. A number of years ago Channel 4 broadcast a TV series called ‘The Mill’. This drama was based in a cotton mill in the early 19th century and showed the gruelling work day experience of children in the factory. I am extremely grateful that neither I nor my children have ever had to work in such conditions. Of course there are still places and situations in our world and in our country that need to be changed but we mustn’t lose sight of the many good things that are better and for which we can be thankful.

 

Christians should be known as thankful people. As the Psalmist puts it in Psalm 100:

‘Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;

Come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;

Give thanks to him and praise his name

For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever,

His faithfulness continues through all generations.’

 

But it isn’t easy is it? As we are bombarded by images, messages that say it’s all about you because you’re worth it we don’t hear the still small voice of God telling us that we are to live another way. Perhaps here is one small practical thing we can all start to do or continue to do every day and that is to always say a thank you before we eat a meal. We can do that out loud or silently and we can do it everywhere. It is such a simple thing yet do we always do it. By saying thank you to God for his provision for us we are living out a life that is not me first but rather God first.

 

To go against the prevailing culture of me first is not easy but Christianity is always the opposite of what we take as the norm. A man called R K Hughes summarised Christianity like this: Last is first. Giving is receiving. Dying is living. Losing is finding. Least is greatest. Poor is rich. Weakness is strength. Serving is ruling.

 

I would add one more: Thankfulness is joy. Harvest at St John’s this year is 29th Sept at 10.30am Do join us as we give thanks.

Blessings

Stewart Jones

Vicar

A challenging and exciting future

We are facing the challenges of a church which has an average aged congregation of 70 years.

There are 130 people on the Church Electoral Roll. 50 of those may never read this as they appear not have access to the WWW. To communicate with this group of people we use our weekly news sheet, verbal notices at services and the church magazine.

We are very much looking forward to an opportunity to work in a new way with our local school which will be opening a new Nursery from September 2019. Church members currently take assemblies each Wednesday in term time at the school. The school holds their end of term services in the church.

We realise that we need to step out and really seek God’s guidance concerning what programmes and activities we put in place, bearing in mind what people resources we have.

Our recently re-furbished Kitchen at the church will play a significant role in whatever way we decide the church buildings are used in the future months and years.

Exciting and challenging times! Please join us on this journey.

Sunday 4th August 2019

It’s August and we have church services on every Sunday. Why not come along this coming Sunday to the 10.30am Holy Communion or the 4.00pm Evensong.

Two very different services, the morning service is an up-to-date Common Worship Holy Communion celebration which will be led by our Vicar, Canon Stewart Jones who will be preaching. And, you know what, you will be able to enjoy a great coffee following the service from our recently refurbished kitchen.

The children’s MOSAIC group will not be meeting during August but there are child friendly facilities at the rear of the church for your use. MOSAIC will return in September.

The 4.00pm service is a contrast, from the Book of Common Prayer (1662) Evensong. Our small keen choir will be leading the service, helped by one of our Readers, Margaret Collis. Stewart Jones (Vicar) will be speaking. Fancy a quiet gentle time late afternoon - this is the place to be.