15T H J A NUA RY 2017
ENCOURAGEMENT Vicar’s Blog
I shook a couple of thousand hands at Advent & Christmas. Yes, it may have been the cause of my man 'flu, but it was actually a lot of fun. The most memorable moment for me came when somebody, as they shook my hand, said: ‘Vicar, I’m an atheist, but your sermon actually made me want to be a Christian.’ I was moved that I had managed to engage with at least one person well outside the walls of the Abbey, and so very grateful, a little shocked even, that they took the time to encourage me. We’re all beginners. As I thought further about the impact and importance of encouragement across our congregations, a friend nudged me towards 1 Samuel 1:1-20, and helped me see what could be found there on this very matter. Hannah (an inspiring woman of faith) who has been praying diligently and in an honest, heartfelt manner is
blessed with encouragement by the priest Eli, who says in verse 17, 'Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him'. Words that would have touched Hannah deeply. Encouragement, with a prayerful edge; something we should easily offer to one other. However what I found most illuminating were the two discouragements that Hannah had to overcome in the preceding verses. First, Hannah, who longs for a child, is deliberately provoked by Penninah who, rather than showing mercy, draws mocking attention to Hannah’s failure to get pregnant. Instead of confronting this behaviour, their husband Elkanah allows this pointed discouragement to continue. (Coward). Secondly, the priest Eli is astonishingly quick to judge Hannah.
He is totally unaware of the facts, and, seeing a tearful woman making vows and prayers before the Lord, he dismisses her as a babbling drunk. He really couldn’t have been more discouraging if he tried. Perhaps we should identify and challenge the stumbling blocks that cause us to become a community of discouragement: lazy thoughtless words, sharp criticism, hasty and illinformed judgment. Before Eli saw Hannah how God saw her, he was quick to judge and quick to condemn. His harsh words could not turn Hannah away though; her faith was rewarded, she got to hold her child, an answer to her prayers. It is a testimony to the real depth of grace in her heart that she refused to be discouraged. But how many more have been, but for a timely word of encouragement? And perhaps we, as church, should consider a New Year’s resolution. Might we take every opportunity to speak words of blessing and encouragement to one another? The Abbey, and our community, will be stronger for it.
A B B E Y D I A RY THIS SUNDAY: January 15th 9am BCP Communion 10.30am Holy Communion 4pm Informal Worship & Junior Church THIS WEEK EACH DAY 9am Morning Prayer MON 16th 10.30am Little Stars WED 18th 10.30am Communion THUR 19th 10.30am Time for Chat 7pm Choir Practice
NEXT SUNDAY: January 22nd 9am BCP Communion 10.30am Holy Communion 4pm All-age Service & Thanksgiving
ADVANCE DIARY 29th Jan 6.30pm Choral Evensong 7th Feb 7.30pm Glory! th 12 Feb 10.30am Joint Service 13th& 14th 10am-12pm, Little Stars Feb Soft Play th th 15 -17 Malmesbury Abbey Feb Skate 2017 th 29 Feb 6.30pm Choral Evensong 1st March Ash Wednesday
JOHN 1:29-42 29
The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’ 32 Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.” 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.’ 35
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning round, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means ‘Teacher’), ‘where are you staying?’ 39 ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter). 36
Additional Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
DISCIPLESHIP 1. Take some time to discuss together the content of this week’s Vicar’s Blog on encouragement in the life of the church. 2. Now read the John 1 passage, perhaps twice, without rushing. 3. Discuss together what you understand by the phrase ‘Lamb of God.’ How would you explain this in a non-churchy way to your next-door neighbour? 4. Verse 29 uses the word ‘sin’, not the word ‘sins.’ What difference does that make? 5. Read verse 29 again substituting ‘all creation’ and then ‘humanity’ for the word ‘world.’ Does if feel different? In what way? Try the same with John 3:16. 6. How might Jesus call people to become his disciples in our community? How is the Holy Spirit prompting you in your discipleship currently? (Answer without reference to prayer or bible study.)
D A I LY R E A D I N G S Monday Psalm 146 Amos 6 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 Tuesday Psalm 132 Amos 7 1 Corinthians 6:12-end Wednesday Psalm 81 Amos 8 1 Corinthians 7:1-24 Thursday Psalm 76 Amos 9 1 Corinthians 7:25-end Friday Psalm 27 Hosea 1:1-2:1 1 Corinthians 8
REGULAR GIVING If you would like to give regularly to the mission and ministry of the Abbey as part of your discipleship, please e-mail email@example.com. m
JOHN CHURCHER Our May Moore Chaplain, Revd Mandy Churcher, would like to thank everybody for their wonderful love, prayers and support at the loss of her father. John Churcher passed away peacefully on Sunday 8th January. His funeral will be on Wednesday 25th January.
PREACHER We are delighted to be welcoming Revd Major Stephen Thatcher to preach at our 9am & 10.30am Abbey Holy Communions this weekend. Stephen serves as Garrison Chaplain at MOD Lyneham, a new military base for the Army that has taken over from the RAF. Stephen worships with his family at our 10.30am service as he awaits the opening of the new chapel at Lyneham in December 2017.
Many thanks to everyone who very generously contributed towards the CTiM Christmas Vouchers this year in whatever way. We raised about ÂŁ2,700 and have been able to help 64 local families. A great example of the church in action in our community!
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is the 17th to 24th January. There will be a united service at St Aldhelmâ€™s RC Church at 6.30pm on Sunday 22nd to which all are invited, and on each weekday there will be a half hour meditation at 12.30pm in the Hub at the Town Hall. It will be led by a different congregation each day, with the Abbey leading on Thursday 19thJanuary.
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NOTICEBOARD T H E M O N A GH AN S O F F TO WA LE S ! Many congratulations to Revd Alice Monaghan who has accepted the post of full-time Chaplain at Christ College School in Brecon, Wales. John, Alice and the children will be moving in the first week in April, and their last Sunday with us will be 2nd April. Please pray for God's blessing on their family as they prepare to move on and for provision of the right ministry for John in this next exciting season ahead.
B O B H YAT T I N U G A N D A The Lord has given me the health and strength, a call and the resources to enable me to pay for my flight and upkeep and so I am now planning to join the UK team going to share the gospel with the people of Uganda 7-28th February 2017. I would value your prayers and any other support that you can give me. The team takes gifts to schools, churches, hospitals, prisons, and visits people in very poor homes. We buy food and bibles in Uganda and need money for that; I hope to take at least £1,000. (If you can gift aid it please ask Bob for information) Other useful items are old bible notes, children’s groups materials, Spectacles – new e.g. Asda £1 or second hand -pens, rulers, pencils, blow bubbles for children, footballs, T-shirts, toys, sewing threads, buttons, material etc. Please get all gifts to me before the beginning of February. Many thanks. Bob Hyatt (Tel:829026).
THANKSGIVING & BAPTISM Two very special moments in the life of the church are coming up shortly. There is a Service of Thanksgiving for Wren Beebee on Sunday 22nd January at 4pm and the baptism of Laurie Cole on Sunday 29th January at 4pm. All are very welcome.
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