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Holy Week – Tough Love

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The Reading: Matthew 21:18-21

“… say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,” (v.9) RSV

Last week we read of Jesus’ anger at the money changers in the Temple. Today we read of Jesus cursing the fig tree. Is our understanding of Jesus starting to change? Have we always thought that he was a rather generous ‘push-over’? Have we been taught that he only did and said ‘nice’ things? Well, the scriptures bear witness to a somewhat alarming toughness about Jesus.

Often people would not ask him questions because his answer might be more than they bargained for. People came up to Jesus and said: “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men.” (Matthew 22:16). In other words Jesus would speak his mind, and that can be an unnerving thing. Don’t ask him a question if you are not prepared for an honest answer!

Anyway, Jesus cannot be boxed up and he is not ‘safe’. Today we see him enacting a parable by cursing a fig tree. The fig tree was sacrificed for a higher purpose. God requires no less of us; we too serve his loving plan and purpose; it may cost us dearly.

One of the purposes of the cursing was to demonstrate the authority given to his followers. If we speak in accordance with his will then we speak with his authority. We cooperate with him to bring about great things. We can even “say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’.” (v.9). We are God’s agent to speak forth his word with authority. See what Matthew also records about moving a mountain: “… if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain …” (Matthew 17:20).

Lord, I have often restricted what you have been able to do through me. Help me to believe your promises and the promptings of your Spirit, and to speak forth your word. Amen. 

Explore More

1 How did God create the world?

Genesis 1:3, 6 , 9, 14, 20, 24 Hebrews 11:3

2 How did Jesus do his miracles?

Matthew 8:3, 8:26, 9:6, 12:13 (a few examples)

 

 

 

 

Dedication of the new Lights

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2013-02-20 - Enlightened Blessing_mini

A short service of dedication was held in the Chancel on 20th February. Simon and Steve (3rd and 2nd from right) represented Enlightened Ltd who designed and installed the new lighting system were joined by the churchwardens, clergy and caretaker.

The new lighting system has thrilled everybody and not a complaint has been heard.  The latest part was to illumine the angels in the glass entrance doors – this has attracted the appreciation of the town.

Cornerstone’s Future

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The closure of Cornerstone is a blow to the Christian community of Taunton.  For years the witness of a bookshop (‘Good News’ ) and then its enlargement to include a coffee shop (Cornerstone) has been an enrichment to many.  We now wish Tim and Lisa Westlake every blessing and prosperity in their future ministry.

“Dear Friends,

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”.  Hebrews 10:23

Some of you may be aware by now that a few weeks ago we had a wonderful time of prayer with our friends and leaders of the churches in Taunton. This meeting was a time to wait on God for his plans and purposes for Cornerstone in the near future. The meeting was a culmination of much prayer and waiting on God.

Wonderfully, the Lord met with us in a truly incredible way, with gentleness and clarity as well as with power and authority. The message was that Cornerstone in its present form must come to an end. God’s mandate for the work has been lifted BUT the vision remains intact. In God’s timing it will be resurrected into something far better which gives even greater glory to Him!

Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

We are thrilled that God has spoken so clearly but understandably sad, indeed bereaved for what we are now loosing. We believe that Cornerstone and Good News have not failed; we are not a casualty of the economic climate but carriers for a time of God’s vision to the town of Taunton and the surrounding area.

We would like to take this opportunity to share this news, to thank you for your incredible support practically, spiritually and financially over the years. It has been a wonderful 10 years for Tim and Lisa and 30 years for Mike and Beryl to be part of this vision. And to this end we would like to celebrate and give thanks to the Lord, so we are hoping to organise a time of celebration and fellowship in the summer which we will keep you informed about.

In the meantime we will continue trading until our lease runs out. Our plan is to trade until the end of June and we would humbly request that you continue to support us until this time. This will help us to pay our staff and meet our financial commitments. During this time we will continue to make customer orders.

We trust that you can join us in thanking God for this work for over 50 years in Taunton and trust in our Heavenly Father for the future. We know that his ways are not always our ways but he is faithful God.

God bless you.”

Tim & Lisa Westlake

‘Revival’ at the Vicarage

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For people new to Revival, we are a 20’s – 30’s group of Christians from different churches in and around Taunton, who meet for informal bible study on the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month. We meet at 7.30 pm in the Vicarage next to St Mary Magdalene church in the centre of town (the entrance to the Vicarage is to the left of the white gates as you walk past the church to Canon Street car park. We generally start with a chat over a cup of tea, followed by the study and a short time of prayers, usually finishing by 9.00 pm.

The dates for Revival for the next couple of months are:-

  • Friday 1st March
  • Friday 15th March
  • Friday 5th April
  • Friday 19th April

We have started looking at Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.

If perhaps you haven’t been before, or for a while, you would be very welcome to join us.

For more information, please contact Michelle Durnell at michelle.durnell@yahoo.co.uk

News from Paul

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2013-02-17 - Lunch Paul in Birmingham_mini

Curate Paul is now installed into his new parish and has been made very welcome by the locals.  Here he is pictured with some of his new congregation at Water Orton, looking thoroughly at home.

Spring/Summer Stalls

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SATURDAY 9th MARCH at 10.00am in the Coffee Shop there is a meeting to discuss SPRING/SUMMER STALLS.

Please come if you are able to help in any way. There is a sign-up sheet in at the back of church if you are not able to come to this meeting.

Intended stalls:

  • Books
  • Toys & Games
  • Puzzles
  • Gardening
  • Bric a Brac
  • Cakes
  • Tekna Activities
  • Tombola
  • Flower Displays

 

Hilasmos – Temptation or Testing?

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Service:  10:00 am Holy Communion

Preacher:  Revd Dennis Cavaghan

Readings:  Deuteronomy 26:1-11 & Luke 4: 1-13

Did you know that the Greek word “Hilasmos” means both temptation and testing?  Our trials and tribulations can be seen as either the devil tempting us to fail or God testing us to make us stronger.

Holy Week – Right Anger

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The Reading: Matthew 21:12-13 

“… Jesus … drove out …” (v.12) RSV

Anger is one of the Christian virtues! Not of course selfish, uncontrolled and destructive anger, but anger against injustice and corruption. Anger and love are two sides of the same coin. Love does not stand by and do nothing when the poor or innocent are downtrodden.

Now exactly how that anger is expressed and to whom it is addressed is very important. Jesus went into the Temple and dealt face to face with the perpetrators of the problem. He did not rant on to his disciples about it or go and sneak to Pilate. He simply took a comparatively non-violent weapon (a whip of cords – John 2:15), and also took his righteous tongue. He lashed with whip and words.

This was a highly charged protest. Jesus was incensed with the way that the Temple had been commandeered by racketeers and profiteers so that the ordinary person in the street, far from being able to worship and pray, was being fleeced. “My (Father’s) house shall be called a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11); but you make it a den of robbers.” The anger of our Lord was focused and purposeful. Whether it was effective or not is not recorded. I doubt if it made any long term difference but it was effective as a prophetic message.

We have been told to be witnesses and prophets whether people listen or not. More often than not the Church is ignored. Isaiah was ignored and so was Jeremiah. But as Ezekiel was told (Ezekiel 3:18) if he did not speak up then the guilt of those whom he had not warned would be on his head. It is our duty to live in such a way that our lives are not only beautiful but also a (silent) rebuke.

Lord, forgive me when I melt into the background like a chameleon. Help me not to be ashamed of Jesus and his Gospel. Help me to stand up for the truth. Amen. 

Explore More

1 Did Jeremiah find it easy to speak up for God?

Jeremiah 20:7-9

2 Was Isaiah’s ministry successful in his lifetime?

Isaiah 6:8-13

First Sunday of Lent

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Sunday 17th February is the first Sunday in the season of Lent.

Our focus at this time is to prepare – through prayer, penance, giving and self-denial – and make ourselves ready for the joyous celebrations of Easter.

This morning’s Gospel reading takes us to the desert where Jesus is tempted by the Devil – Luke 4: 1-13

Paul’s Induction & Institution

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2-2013-02-11 - Paul's Institution

On Monday evening, a party of approximately 50 of us travelled by coach to Water Orton, to see Paul inducted and instituted as vicar at St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s. It was a very happy occasion and we were treated to a fine supper afterwards. Paul looked well and ready for the challenges ahead. Please pray for him. Going to your first incumbency is not easy and Paul will have much to do.