Sunday, January 21, 2018

Giving for Growth

Text for the week: we pray that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. Colossians 1:9-12

Welcome to our services today and a special welcome to any worshipping with us for the first time. Our Highbury Church family is made up of everyone who belongs … and everyone has a part to play, however small that part may seem to be. Today we are launching Giving for Growth. Do the quiz. Use the leaflets on Time and Talents and on Money and decide what you can do and what you can give as together we seek the growth of our church to the glory of God. Today is a day, Robert Pestell suggested last week, for us to “dream dreams, be brave, think the impossible, love one another and love God.”  He invited us to reflect on three things: “What is God calling me to do in my life and in the life of this worshipping community here at Highbury? What is God calling us to do, as the worshipping community here, to further the Kingdom of God in his place? Are we ready and willing to take up the baton, the challenge of sharing and passing on the Good News to others, with energy and enthusiasm as confident Christians, knowing that if we are listening to God He will speak to us and bless our efforts of obedience to His will? And he challenged us “above all to be a prayerful community, seeking day by day to grow closer to God both as individuals and as the Christian family in this place.”

We live-streamed this morning's service for those who couldn't get to church. To follow the live stream and to access a recording of the service please email richard.cleaves@blueyonder.co.uk for details to the private links.

Welcome and Call to Worship

510 Jesus calls us here to meet him [Blaenwern]

Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Something old … something new

Our Highbury Church family is made up of everyone who belongs … and everyone has a part to play, however small that part may seem to be. Today we are launching Giving for Growth. We’re going to think about our church and the part we can play in the life of the church. It’s timely doing this in January. It’s going to be a year of change for all of us as Felicity and I move on in retirement and the church begins the process of seeking someone else to share in ministry and leadership of the church. So we began the year  by inviting people to reaffirm the profession of faith they made on joining the church and the promises they made too – if you haven’t already, you are invited if you are a church member to sign the Church membership book as a statement of that renewed commitment.

And today … we move on to think about the church and the part we can play in the life of the church.

Have you had a go at doing the quiz Roger has prepared? It’s surprising how many pastoral visits we do, how many young people Highbury has helped train for ministry of various sorts, how many children come to Highbury each week, how many outside groups use our premises, how many local organisations we support, how much the weekly FoodBank contributions weigh, and how much we support through the Congregational Federation.

It’s the morning in the month when we celebrate Communion … and we thought we would do communion differently today. That last supper Jesus shared with his disciples was a Passover celebration – and so we today are going to make just a few connections between what we do in Communion and Passover.

Passover is a family celebration that involves the whole family – from the youngest to the oldest around a table at home – we aren’t at home, but we are a church family and so we are meeting round tables – and everyone counts – from the youngest to the oldest. The Passover celebration is a fun  occasion and before it begins there’s a lot of cleaning that needs to be done – as the whole house is cleaned. And then as the celebration begins there’s a bit of fun involving the children – so we’ll get the children to do the last little bits of clearing – Bridgette was hard at work getting the place clean as she always does on Friday, and Grace earlier in the week too.

Passover marks the last night before the people of Israel fled from Pharaoh to safety – they didn’t have time to make the bread … they were in such a hurry they left the leaven out of the bread.

That’s what makes the bread rise and be lovely as it usually is.

And so at a Passover meal it’s a unleavened bread that is used. And there’s a game of hide and seek – there’s a piece of ordinary bread I have hidden – and I’m wanting the children to find it!  Can you have a look to see if you can find it?

It would be brushed up on to a wooden spoon with a feather – and then disposed of …

Maybe shaping what we do involves as a church family realising there are some things we cannot do – maybe it’s good to have a clear out of what we have been doing.

And then people make sure they’ve washed their hands.

When Jesus got his close friends together as it were his family – he noticed it was really sticky and hot, a mucky day and there was one thing he determined to do.

He washed his disciples’ feet.

Kate is going to read to us the account of what happened in John’s Gospel – listen carefully to what happened.

Reading John 13:1,2b-5,12-15,34-35

Now before the festival of the Passover,
Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world
and go to the Father.
Having loved his own who were in the world,
he loved them to the end.

And during supper Jesus,
knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands,
and that he had come from God and was going to God,
got up from the table, took off his outer robe,
and tied a towel around himself.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
After he had washed their feet,
had put on his robe, and had returned to the table,
he said to them,

‘Do you know what I have done to you?
You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have set you an example,
that you also should do as I have done to you.

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.’

Jesus sets us an example – that we should serve one another.
He gives us a new command – that we love one another.

And that’s our starting point as we launch Giving for Growth – we are called by Jesus to serve one another, to have a servant heart, and to love one another. That’s the way everyone will know we are his discples.

A Hy-Spirit Song

Activities for all over 3

Giving for Growth Time and Talents

Giving for Growth invites us to think about the life of our church, and then the time and talents we have that we can share in the life of our church.

Have a look at the first of our leaflets – it starts and all of is it underpinned by prayer.

Karen explored at Explore on Tuesday how we can pray for our church family – she pointed us to the prayers that Paul makes for the church. She is going to read the opening of Paul’s letter to the church family at Colossae – it could be written to our church family here at Highbur.


Prayer: Colossians 1:3-6,9-12

In our prayers for you
we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
and of the love that you have for all the saints,
because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth,
the gospel that has come to you.
Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it
and truly comprehended the grace of God.

For this reason, since the day we heard it,
we have not ceased praying for you and asking
that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will
in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord,
fully pleasing to him,
as you bear fruit in every good work
and as you grow in the knowledge of God.
May you be made strong
with all the strength that comes from his glorious power,
and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience,
while joyfully giving thanks to the Father,
who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Have a look at the leaflet – all of  us can share in prayer – but it’s good to get together with others for prayer as well – Judi, can you explain the prayer partners idea … the regular prayer meeting on a Wednesday. Or sometime else?

Worship, Care and Children
Youth, Discipleship, Mission

Sharon is needing to hand over the reins as worship ministry leader, but is going to be helping as part of a team to sort out services – which will become important as we lead – we already have plans to do some services in-house, ourselves – the first Tuesday of the month, alongside the craft evening we are going to do an evening preparing services.
All sorts of ideas – sometimes people will come and speak, but would like us to lead – so have a think … what might you be able to contribute to our Sunday services?

Pastoral Care – Lorraine,

Children- Andrea – particular need to help with Messy Church – cooking, crafts, celebration.

Young People – helping out with Hy-Tec – as Adrian will be finishing at Easter – and joining the team of leaders – Mary for comment

Discipleship – help lead or plan – Judi?

Mission and Outrach – Jean

Support behind the scenes – making it happen.

Helen not able to continue as Church Secretary – going to re-shape it, appoing an administrator - need someone to be over-all responsible, Church Secretary in a different way. Other helps with Admin – and room bookings too.

Pause a moment – around the tables – have a think about filling in what you feel able to do – on the leaflet or on another piece of paper. Make sure you add your name.


I will offer up my life (Hy-Spirit)

Giving for Growth – Money

All our financial commitments we have to meet ourselves – we don’t have any external source of funding. Roger’s work as Treasurer is backed up by our Finance Group.

Ted, who has been Treasurer with Jenny, is going to read for us some reflections paul made about giving.

Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-12

The point is this:
the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each of you must give as you have made up your mind,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance,
so that by always having enough of everything,
you may share abundantly in every good work.

As it is written,
‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
   his righteousness endures for ever.’

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed for sowing
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity,
which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints
but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.

Roger is going to explain our Giving for Growth – money leaflet. Something for you to reflect on , think about … and Roger has forms to fill in for a standing order or for gift aid too.

Make sure you return the forms with you names on so that we can then build together for the future.

502 Take my life, Lord, let it be

Prayers of Concern

When we renewed our profession of faith and our promises to the life of the church we sang a hymn – we are going to sing again … it captures something of our vision for church here at Highbury.

522 The church is …

Communion

Children to join our tables.

At Passover there were bitter herbs on the table – a reminder that sometimes there are difficult times to go through – and there’s no escaping those difficult times.

And then green herbs – a reminder that God provides, and God cares for us.

There were four cups – and at different points people drank from each … and then a fifth cup was left untouched – a reminder that Elijah would come at the last days.

There are a number of different accounts of what happened that last supper night – most have one cup – was this the cup of Elijah – because the kingdom was ushered in by Jesus.

But Luke records two cups – maybe one is for fellowship together that we are bound to God

Let’s drink that cup of fellowship together – on each table is one of our leadership team – a Deacon or a Ministry Leader.

I’m going to ask them to pour out the fruit of the vine into a glass for each of us.

And then let’s drink a cup that binds us in fellowship with each other –

We share the cup of fellowship

And then unleavened bread. Three pieces – one for the Priests, one for the Levites, one for the ordinary people. It’s telling Jesus had just one piece – we are all in this together – as one people, the body of Christ.

Let’s be really quiet as I invite that person to take the bread.

And listen … in a moment as we break the bread – break the bread and share it around – you can hear the snap as the bread is broken – a reminder that Jesus’ body was broken for us.

THe Passover would have had a shank of lamb to eat – roasted – but we don’t have that because Jesus is the lamb of  God who has taken away the sins of the world

Let’s eat of the bread.

We share the bread

And then another cup – this cup is the cup of new beginnings, that new partnership we have with each other and with God, that new covenant, sealed by the blood of Jesus.

Let’s take this second cup and as we share together sense the presence of the love of God in jesus Christ, renewing that partnship we have with each other and we have with God.

We share the cup of new beginnings

Communion Collection – a plate on each table – to bring to the front – as a sign of our commitment to the wider world as well – this month it is for the Cheltenham branch of Samaritans.

Communion

When the last supper was over at the very last they sang a hymn and went out into the future that lay ahead of them – the death, the resurrection of Jesus, the outpouring of the Spirit and that great new life as the body of Christ on earth.

At Passover they would have sung one of the great Alleluia Psalms – 116-118.

Hymn 46 is Psalm 117 – as paraphrased by Isaac Watts.
146 – Psalm 117

From all that dwells below the skies
Let the creator’s praise arise:
Alleluia! Alleluia!


Words of Blessing

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Belonging and Believing - a New Commitment for a New Year

Text for this week: Make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:2

A Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first services of the New Year and a special welcome to any who are worshipping with us for the first time.


The Highbury Church family is made up of everyone who belongs … and everyone has a part to play, however small that part may seem to be.

Today we are inviting all who belong to the church family to make a fresh commitment to the life of the church.

All are welcome at our church ... and we hope all feel that they belong. We belong not because anyone at church has invited us, important though such an invitation can be! We belong because Jesus in his love for us invites us to belong and be part of his church family.

And so our service began as we all of us stood in a circle around the church, linked hands and shared our prayer concerns.

But Jesus asks us not just to belong to his family but to follow His Way just as he called the fishermen, James and John, Simon and Andrew, the tax collector, Levi, the Woman at the Well, Martha and Mary. And he invited people to believe.

There is the confident faith of a distraught Martha when her brother Lazarus had died.

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

There is the hesitant faith of the father who so wanted healing for his son.

the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ 

We invite all who feel at home with us in the church family to become church members by making a simple profession of faith in God and in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. We welcomed a number of people who have joined us in recent years into church membership today. We asked those who have been church members over the years to renew their profession of faith.We invited those any who feel moved to make that profession of faith to have a word with one of our leadership team

At the heart of our Church family is the most basic of all statements of faith - that Jesus is our Lord and our Saviour.

We heard Paul's challenge in Philippians 2 and then read together his account of Jesus and his vision that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

Jesus Christ, though he was in the form of God,
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
   and gave him the name
   that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
   every knee should bend,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
   that Jesus Christ is Lord,
   to the glory of God the Father.

We invited those who joined today to sign our Church Membership book and those who were already members to sign a reaffirmation of their profession of faith. In our card marking church membership is a challenge to us all.

 Jesus said ...
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  Love your neighbour as yourself.”                             Mark 12:30-31

Therefore Church Members are called to ...

o worship God regularly with the whole Church family
o remember the covenant with God in the Lord’s Supper
o read the Bible and pray regularly
o share in the life and work of the Church Meeting gathered together in Christ’s name
o witness by the power of the Holy Spirit to the truth of the Gospel through what they are, what t            they do, and what they say.
o give their gifts of time, service and money to the work of the Kingdom as they are able

All the church family have been invited to join in reading the Bible together with the help of Fresh from the Word, the International Bible Reading Association's Bible reading notes. Nathan Eddy in his introduction to this year's notes explains the theme for the year. It has a particular appropriateness for us at Highbury as Felicity and I will be moving on this year and the church will soon be starting the process of seeking a new Minister.

It's the third year we have as a church family shared in a Bible reading programme through the year. As I began the notes this week for this year I found it very moving to see that this was the theme for the year - how important as the church seeks new leadership that that reflect not just what people want but much more what God wants for us. And where better to discern that than in seeking God's Word for our church in the words of the Bible?

This year we turn to the theme of leadership in our Bible  reading.
What does the Bible imagine good leadership to be?
What are the qualities of a good leader?
These are very timely questions we put to scripture, to God, and to you, this year.

As people of  faith we belive we can be part of the flourishing of our communities. We believe this can happen through reading and pondering the Bible; that God in the Spirit will work through our reading practice to help us be the leaders the world needs.

You can follow those Bible reading notes online by following this link.

n 21st January we are launching Giving for Growth as we invite all who belong at Highbury to reflect on the part we can play in the life of the Church. And at Explore on Tuesday evenings we will be focusing on the prayer that supports all we do individually, as a church family and in our mission and outreach.

So much to pass on at Highbury

If you give a little love you can get a little love of your own

A blessing shared at Highbury

Now and the Future at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions

Darkness into Light