Five Marks of a Healthy Church

What do you have to do to celebrate your 90th birthday? Or in Peggy’s case, your 94th? Do listen to Peggy’s story, which is now online. We don’t know what Her Majesty the Queen’s exercise programme has been like over the decades. We will probably never know if she has had a personal trainer, or how often she went to the gym. How she has coped with a gruelling daily schedule of public and private engagements for more than 70 years I do not know.  Along the way she must have eaten an awful lot of rich food at state banquets, business lunches and garden tea parties. I suspect one reason Her Majesty has enjoyed a long reign and healthy life has been because of regular appointments with her doctor. When was the last time you went to see your GP? Not just when you were sick. When was the last time you saw your GP for a health check? You know, blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, kidney function, glucose, PSA, etc. Its free so, no excuse.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

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A Spiritual Life Check-up

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Are you married? Do you love your spouse? Do you have children? Do you love them? You have parents? Do you love them? What about brothers and sisters? How do you prove you love those closest to you? Providing for them is one way. Let me give you a simple but very revealing test of the quality of your love. When was the last time you went to see your GP? I don’t mean because you were sick. When was the last time you saw your GP for a health check? You know, blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, kidney function, glucose, PSA, etc. Its free so, no excuse.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

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Peggy’s Story

If you would like to contact Peggy please write via Christ Church, Christchurch Road, Virginia Water, GU25 4PT.

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Jesus Christ: Crown Him Lord of All

servantqueen

I wonder if you have taken time to read the booklet you received this week from the government? It explains why the government believes the UK should remain in the European Union. Both those in favour and those wishing us to leave the EU, focus on the same thing – sovereignty. Who is in control of our borders, our economy, our laws, our resources, our security?  It has also been another stressful week for our political leaders, both those deemed to have not paid enough tax as well as those who paid late or have even paid too much. I suggested on Facebook that perhaps, having remained in office for well over 60 years and having survived 13 successive Prime Ministers, it might be better if Her Majesty the Queen dissolved Parliament and we went back to an absolute if benevolent monarchy.” Then when I had thought about it some more, I realised she didn’t need to, because we already have one. To mark Her Majesty’s 90th birthday we are distributing to local school children as well as seniors, copies of, The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.  It tells in her own words, of her personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Christian Fruitfulness by Richard Bewes

A sermon based on Colossians 1.

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Pentecost and Power Evangelism


One word could just about up the news stories this week, “revelation”. Whether it’s to do with the Prime Minister’s integrity, global warming’s intensity, the government’s popularity, the Archbishop’s paternity, Her Majesty’s longevity, or Apple’s security, we are fascinated when secrets are revealed – except it seems when they are, our own. Those deeply personal things that matter the most to us – our children, our family, our bodies, our emails, our text messages, our age, our photos, our income, our bank accounts, we keep these private, and in many cases wisely so. The more important, the more personal, the more sensitive the information, the more likely, we will want to keep it private, confidential, or concealed. And many people feel the same way about their religious faith. Its personal. Its private. And it remains concealed. How ironic that Jesus commanded us to do the very opposite.  And he sent his Holy Spirit to energise, empower and equip us to share him with others. On Easter Sunday we celebrated the birth of the Church. Today we are considering the baptism of the Church under three headings: the context, the message and the experience of Pentecost. Please turn with me to Acts 2. Continue reading

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Succession Planning: How to Choose a Leader

Our family moved to Virginia Water, nineteen years ago today. At my induction here, Bishop John Gladwin preached from Luke 5. It’s the story of how Jesus delivered the man called Legion. He was possessed by many evil spirits and Jesus cast them out into a herd of pigs who drowned in the Sea of Galilee. Bishop John tried to make a joke about Virginia Water and its association with the Holloway Sanatorium (now Virginia Park). The sanatorium was made famous by Bill Bryson in his book, Notes from a Small Island.  He worked at the Sanatorium in the 1970s and met his wife there. Bishop John said “Many of you will think Stephen is mad, but he will be at home here.” Some laughed but others were not so sure. With hindsight you may think he was being rather prophetic. How do you choose a church leader? This Summer Joanna and I will have been serving in full-time Christian ministry for forty years. My ministry has been shaped by the Lord’s mandate:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

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Easter Sunday and the Birth of the Church

When Britain first, at Heaven’s command,
Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never, shall be slaves.

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never, shall be slaves.

Sung with gusto at the Last Night of the Proms, “Rule Britannia” was composed by James Thomson and set to music by Thomas Arne in 1740 to commemorate the accession of George II.  How do you feel when you hear those words sung? Do you join in, or do you keep your lips tightly sealed? Patriotic or jingoistic? It depends on your nationality doesn’t it? We all identify with a nationality, a country or a kingdom.

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Why the Resurrection of Jesus Changes Everything

15087-he-is-risen-crown-thornsOn a recent flight I read an article in the airline magazine about a rather unique watch called a Tikker. It doesn’t just tell you the time – it tells you how long you have left to live. The author of the article, Ben Hamersley writes, “Do you have any idea how long you have left, well, actually? In total? To live? I do. It’s counting down on my wrist as I type this. I have, according to my watch, 44 years, ten months, five days, six hours, ten minutes to go. Even less by the time you read this, of course, and the information is coming to me every time I glance at my wrist. I’m wearing a Tikker watch, calibrated against my date of birth, nationality and other pertinent things, and displaying a forever depleting time left to my, actuarially predicted, statistically average, time of death. The brainchild of Fredrik Colting – a Swedish former gravedigger…” Fredrik obviously had plenty of time on his hands. We all do, and one of the things I love to do on a flight is watch the map of the world going by and the timer ticking down to the arrival time. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have one for our life journey? Fredrik hits the nail in the coffin by observing,

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The Death of Death in the Death of Christ

cross-and-crown-of-thornsI wonder if you have ever been to a Death Café? There are or have been nearly 3,000 around the world since the first was held in London in 2011. Visit www.deathcafe.com, enter your postcode and you will be directed to the nearest. There was one at Virginia Water Library last week. “At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. The objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’. A Death Cafe is a group directed discussion about death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session. – With no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action – Alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake!” I welcome this initiative to break the taboo of talking about death. But how much more helpful and above all hopeful to discuss our mortality in the light of the most significant death in all of history.

John Owen, the 17th Century pastor and theologian, who became chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, managed to squeeze ‘death’ into the title of a book about Jesus, three times. “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ” dwells on the love of Christ and the deep conviction that Christ’s work on the cross literally saves us from the deadly nature of sin.

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