Higham Choral Concert in celebration of the 90th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth, Saturday 30th April 7.30pm St Mary Magdalene. Tickets £7, to include refreshments, are available from the Bookshop and Margaret Allen.
This promises to be a splendid evening and the good news is that all proceeds are going to our Organ Fund. Tickets are available from the Bookshop (£7.00) and refreshments are included. It would be wonderful if we could show those singers, who are travelling from Kent to help us out, that we really appreciate their efforts. Why not invite a friend or neighbour? It would be a great way to show your support for our Queen and help us to raise badly needed funds.
See Margaret Allen for further details.
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We now start to traverse the book of the prophet Malachi. It is framed around eight questions posed by people to the Lord. The general tone of the questions is that of perplexity and hurt. The people feel that God is being rather unfair. They plead ignorance as to their own failures. Sometimes we can reach a state of sublime innocence when in fact we are far from guiltless. Our conscience can have become used to our low spiritual state, and we need awakening.
The first question they lob to God is, “How hast thou loved us?” (v.2). They feel that they owe little to God since he has not done anything particularly noteworthy for them. When put like that it sounds rude and ungrateful. But to them it seemed fully justified.
God’s answer, however, may still not sound that convincing to us. Basically he is saying that he has “laid waste (v.3) their wayward neighbour “Esau” (v.2). So, they who are descended from Jacob have been protected, whilst their “brother” (v.2) Esau has been judged. As a result of this, they should be grateful to the Lord and say, “Great is the Lord, beyond the border of Israel” (v.5).
Whatever we may think about this argument we need to learn that often the Lord has blessed us by preserving us from danger. Just because we were not aware of the danger does not negate his active protection. The very fact that we are alive and well is sufficient reason to be grateful and to be convinced that he loves us.
Also, we can look at others around us and realise how fortunate we are. The lives of many others are far, far worse than our own life. How we need to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, a spirit that counts our blessings. As Paul says: “There is great gain in godliness with contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6) – see Explore More.
Thank you Lord that you continually watch over me and provide for me. Grant me a grateful heart . Amen.
“Thank you to those who came to the APCM meeting last Sunday afternoon. The attendance was good although the Management Team are considering holding it next year directly after a shortened morning service so folk don’t have to make too many journeys. We elected four people to the PCC, Eileen Cockerham, Rachel Lee, Sandra Hall and Margaret Laver and said thank you to Nik Hirst, Annie Tomlinson and Kate Cresswell who retired this year. It is concerning that we do not have a third Church Warden to serve alongside Derek and Valerie. We feel this is because too much is expected of our Church Wardens and on Wednesday we held a Management Team meeting where there was discussion about this and ideas put forward. It is vital that we support our two Church Wardens and that we do not place unnecessary burdens on them. We also thanked Caroline for her sterling service as retiring Church Warden. She remains in post until the Archdeacon’s Visitation which will be held on Wednesday 18th May 7.00pm at St Andrew’s Taunton.”
The Magdalene Fayre is happening this year on Saturday 23rd July (10.00 am to 2.00pm) and very soon we will have bright colourful posters designed by Angela displayed. We would welcome your help, donations, participation and fresh ideas.
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven”(v.23) RSV
One of the areas in which we need healing is in broken relationships and in guilt. Perhaps we are in danger of thinking that healing of physical ailments or deliverance from evil powers is more difficult and more impressive. But we would be wrong. Do you remember when the paralytic man was let down through the roof by his friends? When he lay before Jesus the first thing to be addressed was not his paralysis, but his sins.
His friends had brought him presumably in order for his physical problem(s) to be dealt with. But Jesus tackled the more difficult and the more pressing problem of his sins. It was only by the by, in order to prove that he had the authority to forgive sins that Jesus told the man to stand up.
This is why Jesus gave the disciples, in our passage today, the authority and the commission to deliver people from the bondage of their sins and guilt. He said: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (v.23). We are to do the same today.
The word ‘absolution’ is often misunderstood. Some people think that it means a priest is essential for the forgiveness of sins. But the priest (or indeed any Christian) is only the conveyor of God’s forgiveness. ‘Absolution’ is best illustrated in this way. A man in prison has a pardon issued by the King. However that pardon is only made effective when it is delivered and applied. The prisoner hears the footsteps of one approaching his cell who has the written pardon in his hand. That person unlocks the door and says: “You have been pardoned and I have come to set you free.”
The Church and Christians have the task of announcing forgiveness, speaking as the very mouthpiece of God. This ministry is not usurping God, but bringing his liberating forgiveness to those to whom we speak. We are told to “Say the Word”.
Thank you Lord for those who have assured me of your forgiveness. May I be bold in confirming that forgiveness to others. Amen.
“This Sunday afternoon is particularly busy. At 2.30pm we hold our Annual Parochial Church Meeting where we reflect over the church year and elect the Church Wardens who serve for a three year term. Caroline Lee will be stepping down as Church Warden this year and we are enormously grateful for the work she has done to help St Mary’s be the warm and welcoming place it is. Officially Caroline’s term ends at the Archbishop’s visitation and so we will thank her formally after that. Also, at 5pm we have our informal , 45 minute service called Worship @ 5. Dennis will be leading us and the theme will be ‘Does Faith Depend on Facts or Feelings’. Do come.”