Dear Friends

There are a couple of characters in the early part of the Bible who are given an interesting description. The two are Noah and Enoch (Genesis 5&6) and they are both described as people who "walked with God". I liked the phrase; it’s a short one, but seems to say a lot.

Firstly, it seems to me, it is very difficult to do walking by standing still! The sense I get here is that as they went through the different parts of their lives so they knew God in many places. It isn’t so easy to walk with God if you stay in one location.

So (for us)  – whether it be in church  – or into the office, school or your workplace – or during your leisure or shopping – or wherever it is – God can be known and discovered and “walked with” in these places. This chimes in with our "verse for the year" where we are encouraged to "offer our bodies as living sacrifices" (Romans 12 v1). Here, the writer is making a particular point by using the word "bodies" – it would have brought together all aspects of life; not simply those we instinctively think is "spiritual". So, we might ask, what might it mean to walk with God when it comes to Monday morning and - with our weekend over – all the issues of normal life that we have to face? What might it mean to walk with God with those things which are really worrying us at the moment? What might it mean to walk with God in areas such as our time and our money?

Secondly the phrase reminds me that my Christian life is not something I do by myself. To state the obvious, it's walking with God. I think that says something about falling into the pace at which God is walking – not trying to force things along but looking to God and what He is doing and going with that. Usually I want to get to places quickly and it's easy to get impatient – but walking with God is about doing things in his time, at his pace and often visiting unexpected places on the way.

It's a simple phrase but I must say it's one I like. Maybe there’s something to learn here for both you and me about looking to him for our direction and knowing his presence in all the different parts of our lives?           Tom

We seem to be getting an increasing number of incidents recently hitting the headlines suggesting that Christians are being marginalised in this country, and in some cases penalised, for openly showing their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Some of the incidents have gone before the courts and there are some now waiting to go to the European Court of Human Rights. I wouldn't wish to comment on any individual cases without knowing all the facts, which I don't. However some seem to involve the simple fact of wearing a small cross and the suggestion that this is now unacceptable in certain situations. We all know we live in a multi faith society and have to be tolerant of one another, so what about tolerance for Christians?

Meg HillBy the time you read this we will have come to the end of an exciting week in the history of our two churches.  We will have completed the interview process for our new vicar and will be looking with expectation towards the future.  We will also be at the beginning of Lent.  A time when we do some particular reflecting on who Jesus is and what He might mean to us - where we are on our personal journey of faith?

I am so grateful to Andy for organising the week of prayer leading up to the interview days.  It will have given us an opportunity for having extra hours alone with Jesus – Mark 3 v7 ‘Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake’.  As Jesus was aware of His need to be alone with the Father – Mark 1 v35 ‘while it was still dark Jesus went to a solitary place where he prayed’ so he knows our need to be alone with Him.

One of the great strengths of a church family is the opportunity it gives us to encourage each other and support each other.  A vacancy may be a challenging time in the life of a church, and maybe that challenge is, does it draw people closer to God or does it push them away from him - Matthew 7 v14 ‘But small is the gate and narrow the path that leads to life’.

Rev Keith HallettFor I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29 v 11)

Jeremiah who wrote these words had had a very difficult time.

As God’s representative he had stood almost alone and faced real hostility. When he stood up for the truth he was abused by the authorities and almost lost his life. He complained to God that the people only wanted to hear comfortable things and that he was being punished for telling the truth. Today standing for the truth can still be hard. God stood with Jeremiah as he will stand with us and it was his talk with God in prayer that encouraged and sustained him.

Jeremiah had to stand and say that if you disobey God there will be consequences. It was very unpopular, as it is today. The consequences were a second invasion and the destruction of their nation. Only a few older people were left behind but the others were taken as slaves to another country. Today too many ignore God and there are consequences.

Chris Cole - ReaderDear Friends, As I write this in early November there are groups of people camping out in tents in various prominent places all over the world. Apparently they are protesting about.......
well I'm not quite sure what.  I think it's all got something to do with the frustration many of us feel when the, so called, “fat cat” bankers seem to keep on getting richer while the rest of us are feeling the pinch and as tax payers suspect we may be paying for it.

John BirkettAs I write this I am sitting on the verandah of the villa we have rented in France, refreshed by warm sunshine, the silence disturbed only by birdsong, and the distant splashing of water.

We travelled here in hope not knowing what we would find at the end of our journey.  We arrived slightly disappointed in what we found, but have grown to realise that it is perfect for our needs.
As we approach the end of the Christian year, and look forward with anticipation to Advent it is good to reflect on our journey of faith over the past year.

As Christians we journey in hope, and in the knowledge that the Christ journeys alongside us.  The way is not always smooth, and the signposts not always clearly legible, the occasional detour inevitable, but deep within us there is a longing that drives us to seek out God.

St Augustine wrote; “You have created us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

In the garden of our villa, standing out against the green background was a solitary red flower.  Wherever one looked one’s eyes were instinctively drawn to that flower.  During the fortnight we have been here we had two days of consistent rain.  The day afterwards, as the sun re-emerged from the cloud filled sky we noticed, three red flowers, where there had previously only been one.  As we journey towards God, taking on the image of our creator, we become like the solitary red flower, standing out against the crowd, drawing the eyes of the world towards, and as we soak in the nourishment of God’s word, so more will come to stand with us.

As Advent approaches we look forward to a time when the sacred takes prominence over the secular, a time when we are challenged to stand out from the crowd, and as we do, we do so in the confidence that our Saviour stands alongside us. John Birkett

Jeff Morgan - ReaderWe are now well into the vacancy period.  This interregnum is a new experience for many of us and offers an experience for growth in our following of the Lord Jesus Christ. Earlier this year, at the PCC Away day, Geoff Hobden suggested Philippians 2 verse 2 as an ideal to aim at. ‘Then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.’ This verse could be a battle flag to muster ourselves around during the Vacancy. However, we are not clones.  Praise God we are not all ‘same-minded’ but we can be likeminded.  Of course people disagree about various issues, particularly when they are overburdened and under stress, again we often see matters in different ways.   Nevertheless if we do disagree may it always be with the same mutual love ready to apologise or perhaps to explain more clearly, for we are all to act as one in spirit and purpose.  May our united aim be to proclaim the ‘crown rights of the Redeemer.’