St John the Baptist Parish Church

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News from the clergy

Vicar's column - November 2016

The Christian life isn’t a Sunday only affair but is inextricably bound up with who we are and what we do for the rest of the week. In recent weeks some of us have been participating in the “Fruitfulness on the Frontline” course where “frontline” is defined as “the place where you spend significant time through the week in contact with non-Christians.” Do we ever stop to consider how we come across as Christians and what opportunities there are for us to influence people and situations for the good? The course covers the “6 M’s”, which are inter-related:

Modelling Godly character: How we can grow in Christ-likeness and manifest the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control).

Making good work: What we do and how we do it – both paid and voluntary work. Doing good work that serves other people, contributes to human flourishing and the stewardship of creation, consciously for God’s greater glory, seeking his wisdom and strength.

Ministering grace and love: through the way we respond to both day to day and difficult situations. We were challenged to consider how we engage with the people we meet, for instance, the supermarket check out person when we have be stuck in a long queue.

Moulding culture: The influence we have on the way in which things are done. We can take steps, however small, towards transforming the culture of a place. It may entail challenging the values, conscious or unconscious, that people hold.

Mouthpiece for truth and justice: Being a disciple of Christ entails speaking out against things that are unfair, unhealthy or untrue and speaking up for truth and justice. Since we live in a global village, this includes getting involved in things beyond our own doorsteps.

Messenger of the gospel: Be ready “to give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Evangelism isn’t about standing on a soapbox but being open to the everyday opportunities that present themselves to us; responding to the promptings of the Spirit. Who is God bringing to our attention that we can pray for, show some care to and perhaps invite to explore the Christian faith?

If you weren’t able to come on the course, the “Fruitfulness on the Frontline” book will be available to borrow from the Church Library for you to discover more for yourselves.

Rev Lisa Cornwell

Vicar's column - October 2016

The season of Harvest is upon us. In our more urban existence, where we can generally buy whatever we like on supermarket shelves throughout the year, we have largely lost a sense of the farming cycle and when different fruits and vegetables are in season. However, it is still important that we take stock, at this time of the year, to give thanks for the fruits of the Harvest and the daily provision that we often take for granted. The theme of thankfulness also needs to be entwined with one of responsibility for creation. Since modern times, the human inclination in more “progressive” societies has been one of subjugation and plundering of the earth’s resources rather than sensible stewardship. It is has become all too apparent that the earth’s resources are finite and unless the Western world reigns in its excessive consumption future disaster will befall us. For a sobering read on this subject, I recommend John Naish’s book, Enough.

As part of our Harvest celebrations and reflections at St John’s, it is a time to give to others less fortunate than ourselves and, as in recent years, we are making our donations to the Crowthorne foodbank. There remains need locally, as well as further afield. Then on Saturday 8th October, Harvest will be the focus our Messy Church event. I understand that the Pathfinders have also been gathering Harvest Festival images and ideas for their noticeboard, so do peruse that over coffee.

In the creation story we are told that God saw that the world that he had made was “very good”. Human activity often diminishes this. May we commit afresh to preserving the goodness of creation, as expressed in the Harvest creed included in our Harvest worship this year:

We believe that creation is a gift of God,

an expression of our Creator’s goodness.

We believe that as human beings we are part of this creation and that we share in a special way

in the creative power of God.

We believe that the resources of our land and waters and air are precious gifts from our Creator,

to be used and looked after with loving care.

We believe that there is a rhythm to God’s creation,

like a drum beat;

When we lose the beat, or the drum is damaged,

the music is out of tune.

Prayers and Poems, Songs and Stories, WCC, 1988.

Rev Lisa Cornwell